Jennie Nguyen got fired, but Real Housewives still has a racism problem
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star was fired for a trove of racist posts, but she is just an extreme example of what has always plagued the franchise.
Jennie Nguyen’s Real Housewives tenure has come to an end. Bravo announced it is no longer filming with the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City cast member, days after a trove of Facebook posts she had shared, featuring anti-Black, anti-vaccine, and disturbingly conspiracy-minded pro-Trump stances, had resurfaced online.
“Bravo has ceased filming with Jennie Nguyen and she will no longer be a cast member of ‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,’” the network announced in a post on Instagram. “We recognize we failed to take appropriate action once her offensive social media posts were brought to our attention,” it reads. “Moving forward, we will work to improve our processes to ensure we make better informed and more thoughtful casting decisions.”
The posts Nguyen shared featured writings and memes spreading misinformation about the vaccine and, most consistently, extreme anti-Black Lives Matter, pro-BlueLivesMatter content. The same day they were compiled and spread on Reddit, Nguyen deleted her posts and addressed them in an apology on Instagram.
“I want to acknowledge and apologize for my deleted Facebook posts from 2020 that resurfaced today. At the time, I thought I was speaking out against violence, but I have since learned how offensive and hurtful my words were,” she wrote. “It’s why I deactivated that account more than a year ago and why I continue to try to learn about perspectives different from my own. I regret those posts and am sincerely sorry for the pain they have caused.” But it was not enough, it seemed, to sway fans or her fellow cast members, each of whom vocalized either vague messages of empathy or shock and disgust over Nguyen’s online history.
As Bravo likely determined the backlash was too strong to keep Nguyen on, the incident serves as a microcosm of the tricky balance the franchise faces between managing an identity of no-holds-barred, messy drama, and espousing what is in fact unacceptably offensive and discriminatory views. This is particularly true in a post-Trump era and with a franchise whose cast members have repeatedly been caught in this bind — Nguyen, herself, ironically clashed with another cast member, Mary Cosby, who has made numerous racist comments, for making a comment about Nguyen’s “slanted eyes.”
Granted, Nguyen’s situation was exceptional: her posts were extreme, numerous, and recent. Compiled all together, it paints an undeniably disturbing, overtly racist picture. But considering the behavior many others have exhibited, it’s also a reminder of how close any of the franchise’s stars are from juicily toxic to entirely off-putting. As Real Housewives of New York star Leah McSweeney put it last spring, “How do you be the shady bitches that you’re supposed to be without looking like racist shady bitches?”