The Twelve Steps in My Bravoholics Anonymous Recovery

WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE (Image Credit: BravoTv)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE (Image Credit: BravoTv)

1.) I admit that I am powerless over Bravo–that my TV watching life has become unmanageable.

Every night after a long day at work, I plop onto the couch, grab the remote from where I last left it, and hit power on. Before my mind even realizes what my fingers are doing, I am in a trance, typing in the channel numbers to tune me into Bravo. It’s as natural of an act as turning on a light switch. It does not matter what day of the week or what time it is. I’m not even looking for a specific show to be on. I am paralyzed by the channel, tuned in with a half-conscious stupor, as the voices of The Real Housewives and Below Deck casts become white noise. My DVR is set to record each series, including “first looks” of new episodes, making watching any other channel or show impossible. I don’t make after work plans with friends if there is a new episode of Top Chef on and I would miss its live airing. Bravo consumes me, and I am powerless against it.

2.) I’ve come to admit that Andy Cohen, a power greater than myself, can restore me to sanity.

With his salt and pepper hair, self-diagnosed “wonky eye,” and boyish smile, I am under the charm spell of Andy Cohen, former head of development at the network and current What What Happens Live host. Because the way he talks to viewers on WWHL, how he referees the Housewives reunions each season, and his love for side ponytails convince me that we could actually be friends in real life if our paths ever crossed (I’ve hung out in the East Village…I’ve yet to be so lucky as to run into him and his dog, Wacha). I’m drawn to the network because of all the addictive shows that he has helped create, making him the only one that can rehabilitate my sanity so that I can go back to a state of living where Bravo does not run my TV watching life.

 

3.) I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of Andy.

Picture a door that is both closed and locked. All one would need to open and get through it is a key. My Bravo addiction is the locked door, and the only key to unlock it is willingness. I am making a decision that relinquishes self-will, consciously giving up control of my Bravo-watching over to Andy to rely on him to help stop my obsessive behaviors. I trust in him to stop executive producing shows that contain chemistry-filled casts who serve up drama on a platter so that I am no longer hooked and can free myself to watch other TV shows and channels. Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, The Bachelor…these are all shows I am sadly missing out on because I cannot stand to change the channel away from Bravo.

 

4.) I made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.

My Bravo addiction has inhibited me from reflecting honestly about the state of my own life. In the past, I’ve justified bad TV-watching behavior by blaming it on others and the casts of these reality shows. Now I am ready to look within and chickity-check myself before I wreck myself. I now admit that my own life lacks drama in relationships and friendships, so I watch these shows to experience the drama. I don’t gossip about my friends, so watching conversations occur between Stassi and Katie about Sheana make me feel like I am right there with them, just behind a glass screen. I’ve never been in a physical fight. I am far too afraid of other people and of consequences, not to mention I can barely lift an iPod so I lack the upper body strength it would take to inflict any physical pain onto someone else. Watching the Atlanta Housewives reunion where Porsha goes after Kenya exhilarated me and made me feel like Rocky, even if I was just an outsider looking in. I hate to clean (doesn’t everyone?!), so I just tell myself that I am Zoila from Flipping Out, cleaning for Jeff. Even though he is yelling at me for being so lazy, he shows his appreciation for my loyalty and pays for me to get plastic surgery. This has made the act much more fun for me to perform. I’m single and don’t know why (except for the fact that I’m too picky, but that doesn’t count, right?), so watching Millionaire Matchmaker has taught me how I should approach first dates (and millionaires if I should ever be so lucky as to meet one). Wow, it feels so good to finally admit all of this to myself.

 

5.) I admit to Andy, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.

What ego deflation…admitting my addiction to others. Explaining the magnitude with which Bravo has impacted my TV watching to my loved ones…Freud would have a field day with this. At least I would no longer feel like I have to draw the blinds when watching Bravo to hide the fact that I’m not watching the news, but rather “junk reality,” as some of my family members endearingly refer to it. Now my BFFs, family, and hotline blings will be aware of just how much of the network consumes my day, and how out of touch I am on actual reality. They will laugh, they will make fun, they will look at me with “judgy eyes” like Shannon Beador, but they will know my struggles and help hold me accountable on my road to Bravoholic recovery.

 

6.) I am entirely ready to have Andy remove all these defects of character.

It’s time to separate the men from the boys (or in my case, the woman from the girls). I’m willing to clean house and let Andy release me from my mania of his Bravo.

 

7.) I humbly ask Andy to remove my shortcomings.

At this point, I now have a clearer picture of myself and the reasons behind why I have slipped into Bravoholism. I ask Andy to take away my craving to experience drama through the attractive disaster cast relationships of Southern Charm, Don’t Be Tardy, Shahs of Sunset, and company.

 

8.) I made a list of all persons I harmed and am willing to make amends to them all.

My parents, sibling, dogs, friends, love interests, and potential happy hours have all been harmed by me through my addiction, and I am willing to make amends with them to right my wrongs and clear my conscious.

 

9.) I made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when doing so would have caused injury to them or others.

To my parents, I’m sorry for screening your calls in the evenings because I did not want to put Manzo’d With Children on pause. To my brother, I’m sorry I treated your girlfriend like Teresa treated Melissa because of her relationship with Joe. To my dogs, I’m sorry that I tried to dress you up like Giggy…you two have your own sense of style; I should have not tried to turn you into him. To my friends, love interests, and potential happy hours, I’m sorry that I skipped out on you to watch new episodes and repeats of Vanderpump Rules. There were many drinks to be cheers to between us, and I apologize for watching Jax and Tom make “Pumptinis” instead.

 

10.) I’ll continue to take personal inventory and when I am wrong I promptly admit it.

I recognize that recovery of Bravoholism will be an eternal battle for me. I’m human, so slip ups are going happen if I have a stressful day at work and want to unwind by experiencing the problems of other people. However, if I catch myself watching Million Dollar Listing, for example, I can admit my wrongdoing and change the channel (or do some adulting and go look at actual real estate).

 

11.) I will seek to improve my conscious contact with Andy through prayer and meditation, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.

I plead to Andy that he will produce shows that are not as drama-filled, so that I am not compelled to tune in to Bravo and can instead make my TV-watching palate more refined and watch other shows and channels.

 

12.) I had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, so I now carry out this message to Bravoholics and practice these principles in all my affairs.

After self-reflection in performing the twelve steps, I have come to the spiritual conclusion that it is not a bad thing to be a Bravoholic. Sure, watching Bravo on the regular may stop me from attending a few happy hours or watching another show, but who cares? My life is not filled with drama, nor do I want it to be. Maybe Bravo is the reason why it’s not. I learned from the hot messes on the network how I DON’T want to act. After this process, I might flip the channel every now and then to something else, but I don’t feel bad about loving my guilty pleasure – Bravo.

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Lara James is a professional napper and amateur people watcher. She wonders why Wendy’s sells square burgers on round rolls. One time, she met Larry David on the street of NYC and made him laugh.

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