In his memoir Pillow Talk: What’s Wrong With My Sewing (no time to discuss that title, moving on), Craig Conover of Bravo’s Southern Charm writes about how an addiction to Adderall got so bad, he couldn’t film the show without it. According to Page Six, he was taking three 15mg pills a day, which is a lot (the maximum recommended dose for adults is 40mg/day).
Conover said, “The need to finish my work caused me to take Adderall. The anxiety of needing to ‘be on’ when I went out to the bars caused me to take more Adderall. And so on.”
This much was fairly apparent to viewers. He was gaunt and angry. At a Southern Charm reunion in 2019, Cameran Eubanks accused Conover of abusing Adderall. And for those of us who spend any amount of time in the seamier corners of Bravo online fandom, we know Adderall is likely the only way to get stuff done around there. How else do these people binge drink for three months straight while filming a show and stay so impossibly thin? Especially on shows that feature young people marooned in resort towns with nothing but a wet bathing suit, like Southern Charm and Summer House.
I’m sure there’s a lot of cocaine usage on Bravo as well, but it’s too illicit of a substance to accuse castmates of using on air. The closest we’ve gotten is Bethenny Frankel accusing her Real Housewives of New York City castmate Dorinda Medley and her boyfriend John Medessian of being “lit up” on air, and when Lisa Rinna (who carries a sandwich baggie of loose pills on her person at all times) once asked her Real Housewives of Beverly Hills castmate Dorit Kemsley if she was doing coke in the bathroom at a dinner party. I’ve also read that “tequila” is the codename for “cocaine” on Vanderpump Rules, which gives new and alarming context to the texts sent by Gawker Woman of the Week Katie Maloney when she’s embodying her alter ego “tequila Katie.” Former castmate Jax Taylor almost certainly has to have had three reconstructive nose jobs for some reason or other.
But those cocaine moments come and go, or only remain as reaction gifs. Too dirty for mothers and women of means to discuss. Plus, investigating the coke usage on these shows would make us Bravo Heads complicit in feeding an addiction. But accusing your castmates of Adderall usage, no matter how precarious of an acquisition that scrip is? Totally fair game.
Adderall is everywhere on these shows. Even the prudish Vicki Gunvalson did it. Hannah Berner, ousted star of Summer House, said “there was Adderall going around” the cast during filming at all times. Stassi Schroeder abused it while filming Pump Rules, and has said the entire cast did too. Jax Taylor plainly said he used Adderall to lose weight on the show, even if it made him hulk out.
Bravo is a workplace and the Real Housewives et al are coworkers, not friends who happen to be captured on film. Workplaces, especially at places like NBC Universal, have legal teams on retainer to cover their asses. I’ve heard rumors that the network paid for rehab for New York’s LuAnn DeLesseps lest they be liable for something tragic happening while she was drinking and filming. Allegedly, the network parted ways with Kim Richards on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills when it could not adequately insure her during the height of her addiction.
Will Conover’s book will spark a sort of reckoning for Bravo’s blind eye toward prescription pill addiction, especially when it often yields as-unhinged performances as alcohol does? Adderall seems to have ruined Conover’s life in the way any addiction would. If he was taking it to film, is Bravo liable for that too? Are we as viewers liable?
Duh! Bravo Heads love a freak-out more than anything, and those instances are fueled by gallons of alcohol and likely other things, based on dilated pupil observation. The problem here is that we don’t love sober Bravo stars. Dorinda Medley was asked to dry out before returning to film New York and season two of Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip at her estate in the Berkshires. The mostly sober season without her was a disaster, and Bravo has gone so far as to reboot the series to rectify that. We want these people fired up and borderline psychotic. Bravo shows without alcohol aren’t really Bravo shows and I suspect that they’re not really Bravo shows without Adderall. And that, unfortunately, is on us, but mostly on Andy Cohen.