Learning to Love Andy Cohen's Little Show

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Bravo executive Andy Cohen has been doing his little basement boozefest chat show Watch What Happens Live for a while now, and beside taking a few curious peeks in now and again, we had long avoided it. It was all so silly and awkward, isn't it? And so pointed towards Bravo programming in a kind of embarrassing, shill-shameless way. So we balked when they made the show five nights a week, unable to understand how something that was at turns both insufferable and unintelligible one night a week could possibly be bearable significantly more than that. But then we started watching it.

Maybe because the show just popped on the TV after something ended, or because there was one particular guest whom we were curious to see — whatever the reason, we tuned in once and that became several times and now it's almost a regular thing. And we're not that upset about it! It feels like the show's expansion has loosened it up somehow, made it embrace the loopiness that initially drew people in, while shedding, through sheer merit of constant practice, the amateur, cable-access feel of the show's earlier episodes. Sure there are still dumb games and Andy is still not a natural at the hosting racket, but there's something endearing about celebrities — actual celebrities at this point, not just various Bravo clowns — whooping it up and talking about grubby reality TV shows off in a basement in New York somewhere. It's still cable access-y, but in a polished way. Whoever is running the show over there gets what about its amateurishness is charming and what about it used to be obnoxious. It's become sneakily elevated trash, which is of course Bravo's M.O. as a network. The show feels less like a tacky embarrassment now and more like part of the bigger painting. Sure it's a velvet painting that no self-respecting person would hang it in their foyer for all to see, but it's somewhere in the house, hidden away to be enjoyed privately.

One need seek no further proof of the show's strange, gonzo-lite delights than this brief clip from last night, of Real Housewives of New Jersey star Jacqueline Laurita swearing on live TV in front of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Murphy. What a strange thing to happen on television! This shouldn't exist! And yet it does. And, weirdly, we're glad for it.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.