“Real Housewives” was once a single series focused on women in one particular community, but the production has since spiraled into a nationwide franchise, following the lives of affluent women in various parts of the U.S. And the whole thing started, according to one cast member, with her family.
Jeana Keough was one of the leading women featured on the debut series, “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” As Keough tells “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”, the original concept for the show focused on her.
“The producer, Scott Dunlop, wrote the show about my family,” Keough says. “He was my next-door neighbor.”
Keough and Dunlop lived in the exclusive gated community of Coto De Caza, about 60 miles away from downtown Los Angeles.
“When he started pitching the idea, he filmed us and sent it to Bravo,” Keough says. “They said, ‘Yeah, we like it, but let’s see some other families.’”
Other women were brought in, and “The Real Housewives of Orange County” became a hit, which Keough attributes to timing.
“Back then, the writers’ strike was on, so we became hugely successful for lack of anything else on TV,” she says.
However, not everyone was a fan of the show. Keogh’s neighbors in Coto De Caza were some of its most outspoken critics.
“The show was a huge disappointment to Coto,” Keough says. “They were afraid it was going to make them look stupid. They were boycotting and having big news conferences at the club about, ‘Let’s stop this filming. It’s disruptive. Our children are all going to be kidnapped.’”
Eventually, though, Keough says that sentiment shifted.
“Four or five years later, these same people are saying, ‘Oh, my God, I traveled to Japan and the conversation stopped when they heard we lived in Coto De Caza.’ It was like the buzz word,” she says. “Wherever we went, we were treated like princesses.”
Keough reveals more about her “Real Housewives” experience on “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”, airing Saturday, Aug. 20, at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.
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