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(Image : The Spinoff)
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Pop CultureNovember 6, 2020

TV makers defend show starring former Real Housewife following online backlash

(Image : The Spinoff)
(Image : The Spinoff)

The announcement that a controversial New Zealand reality TV star would be returning to the small screen has been met with outrage on social media. Stewart Sowman-Lund reports.

Free-to-air television network Bravo has defended the casting of former Real Housewives star Gilda Kirkpatrick in a new local reality show following a rush of negative comments on social media.

Kirkpatrick, one of the main cast members of the Real Housewives of Auckland series that aired in 2016, is set to star in Get Housewived later this year. According to pre-publicity, the show will reunite Kirkpatrick with her friend and fellow Auckland Housewive Michelle Blanchard for “their very own mission impossible”.

Posts by Bravo on social media announcing the new show have been swamped by replies criticising Kirkpatrick’s inclusion, most pointing to claims she has made offensive comments about the LGBTQI+ community. 

One post claimed Kirkpatrick’s views were “outdated and harmful”; another asked Bravo to continue producing the show but remove Kirkpatrick.

The Spinoff has chosen not to reproduce any of Kirkpatrick’s comments that have been deemed offensive.

(Image : Instagram)

Several of the comments on Bravo’s posts accuse Kirkpatrick of making harmful statements about trans people, while others ask Bravo to directly address Kirkpatrick’s alleged views.

There are also several comments criticising Bravo for allegedly deleting comments that criticise Kirkpatrick’s casting.

“Why are you deleting comments when you should be deleting the show,” one user wrote on Instagram.

In a brief statement, Bravo defended the new show. “Through its diverse programming, Bravo New Zealand promotes diversity and inclusion while respecting a breadth of opinions and views,” said a spokesperson for the network, based in Sydney.

When asked to specifically address concerns around comments made by Kirkpatrick, Bravo directed The Spinoff to two tweets posted by Kirkpatrick.

In the tweets, posted two hours after The Spinoff first approached Bravo, Kirkpatrick rejected the criticism of her views on the LGBTQI+ community.

“I am disappointed and saddened to have recently received some inaccurate accusations. I am a strong advocate of the LGBTQI+ community and will continue to support my trans and gay friends,” Kirkpatrick wrote.

“In New Zealand, I feel very privileged to live in a society that supports and celebrates LGBTQI communities and I do not condone transphobic or homophobic behaviour.”

Bravo would not specifically address concerns raised by social media users around giving Kirkpatrick a platform.

Despite only running for one series, the Real Housewives of Auckland made stars of the five key cast members, who included Louise Wallace, Julia Sloane, Angela Stone and Anne Batley-Burton.

The new show – a one-hour special – has been described by Bravo as a “world-first” spin-off to the Housewives franchise, and will bring Kirkpatrick and Blanchard together to “put their skills to the test and bring to life an unforgettable experience for a deserving Kiwi family”.

On the original Housewives series, Kirkpatrick was a fan favourite due to her outspoken personality and the way she leapt to the defence of Blanchard after a racial slur was used against her by a fellow cast member. 

“I could see this beautiful, proud woman has literally been shattered inside,” Gilda said, after witnessing the incident unfold.

Kirkpatrick also became an internet meme after her comment to co-star Angela Stone in episode one – “Do you know what I’ve heard about you? Not a fucking thing” – went viral.

Most recently, in 2019, Kirkpatrick was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, where she was eliminated in the first round. 

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