The first half of The Real Housewives of Vancouver’s reunion show is set to air tonight, and the show’s senior director, Mike Bickerton, promises lots of drama when the ladies sit down together for the first time in six months.
“Trust me when I say that all of them came to set with a lot on their mind and a LOT to say,” Bickerton recently told us at Shaw Media’s headquarters in Toronto.
The reunion show will cover Christina Kiesel’s real age (she claimed she turned 30 at the beginning of the season) and the rumoured sexual liaison between Christina and fellow housewife Jody Claman’s daughter, Mia. Also expect Jody’s feud with Reiko McKenzie to be discussed, which boiled over when Jody stiffed Reiko on a $2,000 merchant fee at her store and accused Reiko of cheating on her husband.
“Reiko has something to say! I feel like it’ll be really satisfying for the people who enjoy the show,” Bickerton says. “The women really do take the opportunity to say a lot about everything and it was really intense.”
While the season’s main feud involved Jody and Mary Zilba, which started over a quip Mary may have made about Jody’s background, Bickerton says that things between Mary and Jody were sour from the start. “Everything really started in Whistler, there was just something between these two women that rubbed each other the wrong way. These little disagreements and fights spun out because of it.”
The reunion show will also give us an update on the relationship status of Mary and Ronnie Negus, who had been best friends long before doing the show but had a falling out when Ronnie came to Mary’s defense in the season finale.
How does one ‘direct’ a reality TV show? Says Bickerton: “Reality shows do need directors because the cameras need to know where to point to and what storylines need to be followed. It’s also sitting down with the casting and doing the interviews that you see throughout the show where you not only get the women to talk about their experiences, but also what they were thinking at during that time. You bring them back into different scenes that we shot and have them narrate it. The women get to tell their own story in their own words, which is what makes it so personal and interesting.”
While directors usually know when events are going to start, there’s no telling what time the event will end – or even how it’ll end. “We have to listen to the conversations and see what’s actually happening. They’re not actors and we can’t script a party.”
Bickerton’s closeness with the housewives is evident on Twitter, where he refers to all five of them as his wives.
“I had five wives for five months – or I guess a bit longer now! I feel like I know them fairly well,” he confides. “We sat down each week to do an interview for two and a half hours. They were all really open about who they were and you really do get a sense of who they are.”
Despite becoming close with the cast, Bickerton did not let the lines of friendship and professionalism blur. “My role wasn’t the friend. You tell them to talk to me as a friend, because you want them to talk to the audience like you would talk to a good friend.”
Bickerton admits he wasn’t closely following the Real Housewives franchise before he began directing the Vancouver version.
“I had only seen The Real Housewives of Atlanta because I had seen Nene Leakes on The Celebrity Apprentice and I had to find out what her reality show was like,” he admits.
Once he landed the position on the show, Bickerton began watching other versions of the hit Bravo franchise. “When you do a format, you have to learn what the other shows are like. I ended up watching full seasons of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills as well as some of the ones set in New Jersey, New York and Orange County. I did my research to understand what show I was making, but I’m not sure if it was a priority for the housewives to understand them.”
Bickerton says the setting offers clues about how each version of the franchise will turn out. “The women and the mood in Atlanta is different than Orange County or Miami. I think Vancouver was definitely its own set of women and showed off the city and lifestyle that is there. I think what worked so well for us is that we didn’t try to emulate another city. The women were who they were and we didn’t try to fit them in a mold where we’re like, ‘You need to be an Adrienne Maloof or Nene Leakes.” They were just Jody, Mary, Christina, Reiko and Ronnie. I think that worked really well. That’s why people liked watching it. It was different but it was still familiar enough to brand as a franchise.”
So how did a senior director become the host of the reunion show?
“I never had any ambitions to host anything but when they asked to me to host this, I felt like I knew the women enough to do it – but I did receive some training,” he admits. “It was a hard process, but I’m really proud of the job I did. We shot it at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver and it’s beautiful. We had that reunion look. We’ve got a couple of wives on one side and a couple on the other end and I’m in the middle. I wasn’t expecting the reunion show to be as heated as it was. The reunion shows for the U.S. versions are all so different. Some of them are fun and light, while others are not! Just like a New Jersey one where host Andy Cohen got shoved for trying to break up a fight. There were no hosts harmed during the making of our show!”
The two-part Real Housewives of Vancouver reunion show airs on June 27 and July 4th at 10p.m. ET/PT on Slice.
Dose.ca Exclusive Cast Blogs:
Episodes 1 & 2 – Christina Kiesel
Episode 3 – Jody Claman
Episode 4 – Reiko MacKenzie
Episode 5 – Mary Zilba
Episode 6 – Jody Claman (Round 2)
Episode 7 – Kevin Chase
Episode 8 – Mary Zilba (Round 2)
Episode 9 – Jhordan Stevenson
Episode 10 – Christina Kiesel (Round 2)
Episodes 11 & 12 – Ronnie Negus
Episode 13 – Mike Bickerton