Real Housewives of Orange County’s Shannon Beador is dealing with the fallout of her arrest this past weekend after being booked for two misdemeanors, a hit-and-run and a DUI. TMZ reported that she allegedly left her car in the middle of the road after the incident, after crashing into a Newport Beach home, which caused property damage.
Yesterday, Shannon’s close friend and Bravolebrity Jeff Lewis shared an update on the situation on his SiriusXM radio show, saying:
"Unfortunately she got a DUI on Saturday night. She was also in a car accident. She was injured, so she’s going to be recovering."
He touched on his friendship with Shannon, adding:
"Shannon and I have been friends for a very long time. I was shocked — she called me yesterday and we talked for a while — and I was shocked because I’ve never known Shannon to ever, ever drink and drive."
Then, he said this:
"I will tell you she’s accepting full accountability. She is ashamed, she’s embarrassed. I personally, as her friend — cause people are like, 'Oh she needs rehab,' 'Oh she’s an alcoholic' — I don’t think Shannon is an alcoholic. I think she’s been going through a lot of personal struggles right now, and I think she has been leaning on alcohol — but I don’t think she’s an alcoholic."
Where do we begin? Let’s start with his mention of accountability. What part of leaving the scene of an accident is taking accountability? It’s one of those cases where you have to ask whether she’s sorry it happened or whether she’s sorry she got caught. Then, there’s the chat about rehab and alcoholism, and her “leaning on alcohol”. But there’s a reason people are talking about alcoholism, and it long preceded this DUI.
Shannon is a staple of a reality show centered around privileged women arguing with each other at alcohol-fueled parties, and I say this as a die-hard fan of the franchise; at its core, that’s really what it is. In watching these shows, you see people, who tend to grow so familiar with being filmed, not that they forget the cameras are on, I mean how could they, but who, over time, show more and more of themselves on camera.
One of the storylines this season on RHOC is Shannon drudging up castmate Gina Kirschenheiter’s 2019 DUI, and driving the narrative that she somehow prevented the cops from arresting her during filming, and intervened when her kids were possibly going to be taken away by Child Protective Services.
“Shannon says s–t, and then she wants to pretend that she didn’t do it, and if you can say things that are that f–king hurtful and not even remember you said it, you need to go f–king check yourself into rehab,” Gina said in a confessional, enraged that Shannon refused to “let it go”.
And just days after that incident, and her bringing it up on the show, Shannon herself got a DUI. I don’t think the story is so much about Gina getting her lick back, but about how these are real people who do real things and make real mistakes (or choices) and how that, in turn, continues to fuel the cycle of reality TV.
In the same way that fans and even non-watchers of the show tuned into Real Housewives of Salt Lake City to find out how Jen Shah’s arrest went down, and ultimately how her sentencing would unfold, in the same way that people are amped to see the latest season of Summer House to see how Carl and Lindsay’s engagement call-off will unfold, and in the same way that the excitement for the upcoming season of Vanderpump Rules is at an all-time high to see the fallout from Scandoval, we’re addicted to the drama, and there’s no shortage of it. Especially when these are the things happening off camera.
As someone with a very solid understanding of what substance abuse can look like, it becomes difficult to find entertainment in this at a certain point. There’s a bit of a moral and ethical hangover that comes with watching people who are in complete denial of the fact that they need help go on and make decisions that impact people outside of just themselves. But by that same token, I find that to be part of the reason I’m so invested in the shows.
Watching Carl get sober has been an incredible journey to witness, even if it’s culminated in his realization that the person he thought he’d spend the rest of his life with wasn’t, in fact, her. Watching Lala Kent, who I find to be so mean-spirited, navigate sobriety on one of the booziest shows there is on Bravo, makes me respect her, at least in that regard. And watching Kandi Burruss sip water while the rest of her Atlanta housewives castmates drink alcohol paints at least some of the picture of why she is one of the most successful of the bunch.
I imagine that over time, it gets hard to separate the two areas of real life vs. taped life, particularly when the pressure for them to be one and the same is applied by producers, executives and fans alike. It’s one thing if you’re filming and production has arranged a driver to get you back to your home or hotel. But if that’s not the case, and snapping yourself out of your TV persona will mean safer environments for everyone involved, including the innocent people who may now have to deal with getting their home repaired after this alleged crash, I hope reality stars get better at drawing the lines in the sand.