Friday, August 14, 2009

Turning The Tables On Those Real Housewives...

You may have assumed that a show entitled Househusbands of Hollywood (Fox Reality, Saturdays at 9 pm) has been a long time overdue. After so many seasons (and incarnations) of Bravo's Real Housewives series, it just about seemed inevitable that someone would want to show the other side of things. But in reality, it took an economic downturn and the WGA strike of 2007 for someone to broach the subject.

Charlie Mattera has no trouble admitting-- always with a laugh-- that the idea came about because his wife kept telling him he had to get a job. The kid from the school of hard knocks who grew into the man everyone sees as a "papa bear" thought about it for a little while and came up with the idea, in part because he never expected to be "the married guy with a baby." He brought it to pal Lisa Bernstein (Good Day LA) and the two got to work bringing in guys from different perspectives and points in their own lives but all of whom made one very important choice: all five of the men on the show have opted to take time away from their own careers to stay at home and raise the children, help with their wives' businesses, and/or take care of things around the house.

Former Dodger Billy Ashley is refreshingly candid and honest when explaining why he signed up for the show. "Can I be purely selfish for a moment?" He asks, almost asking for permission. "[The show] came at the perfect time-- when my wife's teen skin care line was just getting started." And Ashley, who's fans will probably tune in hoping to see him in his Dodger blue one more time, truly commits to this new role. Though there are times when his athleticism shines in the show-- like when he is training fellow Househusband... Darryl M. Bell for a Men's Fitness cover-- no one can ignore that Ashley is now surrounded by women and their wiles. With two tween daughters, he endures shopping sprees that feel endless, fielding phone calls about cosmetics, and an unforgettable focus group that would make just about any guy squirm in his seat-- not just the jocks.

The once-sniper-turned-actor, Grant Reynolds is in a similar spot as Ashley, going from the intense pressure of potential enemy fire to the intense pressure of being alone in a big house with a toddler and a gaggle of animals. Though being married to Good Day LA's own Jillian Barberie Reynolds should have him accustomed to having his "dirty laundry," so to speak, aired every morning on live television, having cameras follow him around and catching what he is saying at all times (and what others are saying about him-- namely, a couple of housewives of the San Fernando Valley at his daughter's play group!) still seems somewhat unbelievable to the down-to-Earth motorcycle enthusiast from Virginia. "To get paid to just be at home and raise my kid...only in LA!" He laughs, but he has found the pot of gold so many look for at the end of the rainbow: he is doing what he loves and wants to do and being recognized for it.

If we were comparing these Househusbands... to the Real Housewives... (which we're not because then this article would truly turn into an epic), then Darryl M. Bell would be the equivalent of Bethenny Frankel (...NYC). After all, Bell can be fast-talking, and he truly lives up to his IMDb credit list of comedies with his interview segments being the funniest ones in reality television in a long time! He also continues to work, booking acting and hosting gigs, as well as magazine shoots, during the show. He and partner Tempestt Bledsoe aren't married and don't have any kids...yet-- which may make him an unlikely choice for a show with “househusbands” in the title. Though Bell claims "the subject of what's for dinner? comes up more often than [when are we going to have kids?]," one of the best moments of the first few episodes is when Bell plays poker with his friend's two boys, both under the age of ten. And they school him!

As the youngest member of the cast, aspiring actor Danny Barclay, can be seen as being the quote-unquote "glue" that held them all together. After his wife banished his "kegerator" (patent pending, I suppose) to the garage, Barclay made the best of it and created a whole "Man Cave" in there so that the guys could have a place to come, unwind, and drink a few beers. Though he claims he has never been in a fraternity, his laid-back demeanor and enthusiasm to hang out on crates in his garage seems to suggest otherwise. Or maybe he's just a really, really good sport. After all, he willingly dons a chicken costume for someone else's kid's birthday party! Barclay's wife wants to get started on having a family, but he himself still harbors an impish, man-boy smile and at times appears like the younger brother of the wise and yearly Ashley and Mattera. "I tell [him] all the time not to worry," Mattera stresses. "[He's] still young and has plenty of time."
Househusbands of Hollywood never tries to stereotype or compare these guys to any female counterparts on any other network. It never forces them into awkward or overly melodramatic situations...though it does not shy away when arguments or otherwise tense moments arise (such as a dinner party fight between the Reynolds' or Mattera's internal struggle with telling his in-laws about his checkered past). Instead, the show just focuses on the most important work these guys are doing but which usually goes unmentioned, let alone unthanked. The show allows the men to speak for themselves, and it allows the audience to make up their own minds as to whether they find it "weird" or "unconventional" or "extraordinary." However, after watching only one episode, it is quite obvious that the only valid description out of those three is the latter.

To hear my exclusive interviews with all of the Househusbands of Hollywood, please head over to I'm Not Here To Make Friends. There you can also enter to win some cool Househusbands of Hollywood swag! And while the show officially premieres on the network tomorrow evening, you can get a sneak peek at Hulu, iTunes, or if you're a DirecTV customer, on channel 1 on VOD.

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