Why “Bethenny” failed

Audiences said No to "Bethenny".
Audiences said No to “Bethenny”.

Lack of experience, awkwardness, and arrogance kept viewers away from former Real Housewives star’s daytime talker

In a project that never should have seen the light of day, Warner Bros. (or Telepictures, or Lorimar, or whomever) decided last week to put former Real Housewives star Bethenny Frankel’s talk show out of its misery after just five months on the air. Her show was primarily cleared on the Fox-owned stations.

A Telepictures spokesperson came out with the typical bullshit press release: “We are incredibly proud of the creativity, passion and professionalism Bethenny and her staff brought to daytime each and every day and look forward to finishing out the season with more great original episodes. While we are disappointed not to be able to bring the series back for a second season, we remain convinced that Bethenny has a unique voice and that she will continue to be successful in the future.”

Yeah, whatever…blah, blah, blah.

In a rare show of comeuppance against a powerful station group, many non-Fox owned stations who carried Bethenny balked at renewing the series for a second season, though Fox wanted to (explaining why would have to wait another day since Fox-owned stations are the shittest programmers in the marketplace, next to Tribune and Sinclair.) According to Deadline Hollywood, the program lost clearances to Meredith Vieira’s new talk show, set to launch this fall. One of those were in San Francisco, where NBC-owned KNTV – the largest Bethenny affiliate outside the Fox O&Os, picked up Meredith.

So far this season, Bethenny averaged a 0.9 household rating ranking fourteenth out of seventeen talk shows. In the key female 25-54 demo – where Bethenny had been trending upward lately – is tied for eleventh.

But in Chicago, it was clear Windy City viewers were not interested in anything the heffer had to say. Airing over Fox-owned WFLD in October 2013 (the latest ratings data yours truly has available), Bethenny earned only a 0.3/1 household rating/share at 4 p.m., down 50 percent from what Dr. Oz earned in the time slot in October 2012. Bethenny ranked seventh in the time period, with the 11 a.m. rerun faring no better (0.5/2). In fact, the 4 p.m. airing of Bethenny was the lowest-rated program on WFLD’s schedule from noon through 12:30 a.m.

Oh Bethenny.
Oh Bethenny.

Bethenny seemed to be on track to a strong future after her show was successfully tested on several Fox-owned stations in 2012. But when the series went to a full national launch last September, it was a train-wreck disaster. Reports of behind-the-scenes turmoil surfaced with some staff, guests, and even audience members complaining of her icy demeanor – which may have led to most A and even B-list guests shunning the show.

The series’ appearance on the air was just as bad, with rampant sex talk, awkward interviews, and rather bizarre segments, even by Jerry Springer-like standards. One of these featured former Apprentice star Omarosa Manigualt, who won a bet against Frankel and wanted her to channel Allison Payne and write her a check on the air. The confrontational segment was so obviously staged, you can see Vince McMahon smiling in the background. Add Frankel’s constant whining about her personal life – notably her recent divorce – and its easy to see why viewers fled for the exits – and why many never came through the doors to begin with.

Given all of this, and her inability to handle herself on-camera, Bethenny Frankel was more qualified to be a talk show guest on Springer or Maury than to host one of her own. Her talk show didn’t mimic the style of Oprah Winfrey or Phil Donahue so much it wound up mimicking the style of Morton Downey Jr., Richard Bey, and Geraldo Rivera instead.

And as a result, its off to The T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame. And look! Bethenny’s already started celebrating…