Phaedra Parks: Real Housewife of Atlanta? Or Real Waste of an Opportunity?
I hate to admit it, but I am an avid fan of Bravo TV’s, Real Housewives of Atlanta. The outfits, the makeup, the shopping, the bickering, the pop songs and wigs … what a great formula for irresistible trash TV! (Don’t judge me, I also read – just finished “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen. It’s all about balance). So of course I was more than excited about this upcoming season as I heard that an attorney (and a criminal defense attorney at that!) would be featured as one of the Housewives. I was wondering what kind of casting Bravo had done – would she be a cliche?
Episode 2 of Season 3 was entitled “Model Behavior”. They introduced the final housewife, who is in fact, a model. It was of course, a play on words as good behavior is always an issue with the any of the housewives. This episode also shows Phaedra Parks in her office and that particular scene surprised me.
Living in Los Angeles, I am surprised I don’t bump into a reality TV production crew on every street corner. When I was a public defender, I heard rumors of a reality show focusing on some of the attorneys in that office. Another time there was an email being sent around our office about some filmmakers who wanted to do a documentary on the lives of public defenders. My understanding was that most of these projects got shot down because of issues of confidentiality. How would the producers of these projects be able to capture criminal defense attorneys in their natural habitat? Getting cameras in a courtroom would be problematic, and certainly cameras wouldn’t be allowed into lockup or during client interviews…
So that was why I was so surprised with that particular scene. I’m assuming she had him sign a waiver of confidentiality for that particular scene. Even still…I found it disturbing. She allowed her client to make a statement about his case ON CAMERA.
I spend most of my time telling my clients not to say anything to anybody, ESPECIALLY if they know they are being taped or recorded. That is my gut instinct as a criminal defense attorney – the less statements from your client, the easier your job is, the better you can protect them.
Of course her clients’ statement was a denial, and was it just me, or did the whole thing seem staged? I’m not questioning his innocence, because after all, we are ALL innocent until proven guilty, right? And I shouldn’t be surprised that reality shows are often staged…it’s just that the whole scene just didn’t sit right for me.
I understand that these women go on these shows to promote themselves and maybe make some cash (Don’t be Tardy for the Party – Woaaaahhhh, woaaahhh), but that scene got to me. I don’t care that she’s married to an ex-felon, and I don’t care that she used to represent Bobby Brown (and as Nene artfully pointed out – “EXCUSE ME, Bobby Brown was 10 years ago!”). But if she wanted to expose the inequalities of the criminal justice system, she wasn’t doing that in that scene. She was just promoting herself - that was all about how great Phaedra was – you see her receptionist in the front of her posh office which appears to be in a highrise building. She meets him in a tastefully appointed conference room, dressed to the nines, makeup perfect, and not a hair out of place. She posts something on Bravo’s website “Phaedra on Felons” but the comment seems more like an after thought and an opportunity to – surprise – promote herself further and justify her upcoming nuptials to an ex-felon.
First of all – no one cares – you’re not the first attorney to marry a client or an ex-felon, and you probably won’t be the last. Secondly – what a waste of a unique opportunity! You’ve got a national platform to talk about the criminal justice system and instead you sandwich that between 2 paragraphs about your fiancee on Bravo’s website?!?
What a Real waste.