When news broke of the suicide of Russell Armstrong, husband to The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills cast member Taylor Armstrong, many wondered whether the grim turn of events would cause Bravo to scrap its entire upcoming second season. After all, given how much drama the show had mined out of the couple’s faltering marriage—and especially the claims of Armstrong’s mother that his fear of being “crucified” during the upcoming season may have contributed to his decision to kill himself—it seemed natural to question the appropriateness of proceeding with a show that made their relationship into a “plot point,” and may have even contributed to its, and thus Armstrong’s, demise.
In fact, since Armstrong's death, many have pointed a finger at reality television's standard tactics of manipulation as one of the major culprits. For example, Armstrong's attorney blamed Armstrong's spiraling money problems—which also contributed to his depression—on his desperate attempts to maintain the illusion that he and Taylor were wealthy enough to be on the show, draining his savings and accruing massive debt in an effort to keep her happy and maintain her newfound fame. After he and his wife divorced amid public allegations of abuse this summer, Armstrong openly blamed the show for "destroying his life." You can probably see why some might question the tact of allowing it to continue.
But rather than take such a drastic measure as canceling it entirely, Bravo says it will attempt to salvage the upcoming episodes by re-editing them, thus bending the reality series away from so much, you know, reality. Though the producers haven’t given specifics, presumably this last-minute reshuffling will address the wishes of the extended Armstrong family, who recently requested that the producers cut any and all footage featuring Russell. However, the family had also requested the removal of “any characters affiliated with him,” and it’s doubtful that this will extend to Taylor, given that she plays such a prominent role in the series. Instead, it seems as though the second season of The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills will attempt to continue with business as usual, and just allow itself to be haunted by the constant reminder that one of the wives’ husbands is only months away from killing himself over the very show the audience is watching. Come September, that “Watch What Happens” tagline is going to sound especially morbid.