I’m sure Bravo has the legal right to air episodes of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills that feature the late Russell Armstrong, who seems to have grown increasingly unhappy with his portrayal on the show and convinced that his participation in it had ruined his marriage before he killed himself earlier this week. Reality show legal departments are devilishly comprehensive that way. It seems that Bravo intends to delay the start of the second season of the show, and perhaps to edit it substantially.
Irrespective of what they can do, it seems at minimum what the network should do is edit out all appearances by Mr. Armstrong, acknowledge his death at the beginning of the season, and make a substantial donation to a well-vetted suicide prevention resource. Bravo’s always walked an extremely fine line between classiness and traditional reality-show tackiness, and the fact that it’s walked it so well has been of critical importance to maintaining the brand. This is the kind of thing that’s meant to happen to sloppier, sleazier networks like VH1, which cancelled an entire category of reality show programming when a former contestant on one of its shows killed his ex-wife. Bravo should think of its whole brand here, and be sober as a pack of judges.