Photo: Bobby Quillard
In ‘Most Hated’, Kara Alloway Dishes the Dirt on the Unreality of Reality Television
The Former 'Housewife' talks with Zoomer about her famous buds in the business, how she really feels about her not-so-stellar portrayal and whether or not anyone snorted cocaine / BY Rosemary Counter / June 2nd, 2023
Anyone familiar with The Real Housewives franchise knows Kara Alloway: The fashionable villain of Toronto’s instalment of the popular TV show is back with her debut novel, Most Hated, a “fictional” take on a “reality” show about bitchy, backstabbing housewives (among them, a fading pop star, a sex toy CEO and a star footballer’s bored wife). Sound a bit familiar? Zoomer called up the former ‘housewife,’ mom of three and gusher of all the goss about what’s real in the book and what’s not.
Rosemary Counter: Congrats so much on the book!
Kara Alloway: Thank you. Did you read it?
RC: Of course I did, that’s my job. I also went back and watched the show … for research. So, let me get this right, this is a fictional novel based on a real-life reality show that’s actually mostly fiction.
KA: There’s a lot of layers, yes. I always knew I wanted to write a book about female friendships, because I grew up in a very female-centric world. Which is kind of ironic now, as I have three boys. Even as I signed up for the show, I think I knew within the context of reality television I’d find my book. I mean, what a perfect, modern backdrop! I don’t know if I’m allowed to tell you this, but who cares. I knew I was going to write this book so much that I had a clause written into the contract. It’s called the “Bethenny Frankel” clause because when Bethenny did Housewives, she didn’t sign it. Everything she does is all hers.
RC: Sweet. She’s probably sipping on Skinnygirl vodka and enjoying every penny right now.
KA: I’m friends with her, and Kim and Kyle Richards from Beverly Hills Housewives, and watched their meteoric success through their participation in the series. So I went in thinking it was going to be great, I’d just be my authentic self and speak my truth. I knew I’d say what I say but I didn’t anticipate the way they’d weave it all together. And I definitely didn’t anticipate that I’d be the villain. I thought I was the Jim Halpert character from The Office, doing side-eye at the camera. After the show wrapped, I was a mess. I was in a really bad way, oh my gosh.
RC: When you watch the show now, do you feel like that’s an authentic version of yourself?
KA: I feel like it’s hard to even recognize me — and it was hard for my husband to recognize me. He knows me, he knows who I am, and this wasn’t her. We’d been married at the time for almost 25 years, but this put a ton of stress on our marriage. For example, all the time I used to say, “Come after my kids and you’ll see flames shoot out of my nose.” I said it once on the show, but the edit became, “Come after me and you’ll see flames out of my nose.” But I’d signed the participant and I was, for all intents and purposes, the pig in the bacon and egg breakfast.
RC: The book does a great job showing how things are taken out of context and edited accordingly. It’s not a very flattering portrayal of the producers … do you care what they think?
KA: Thank you for asking that because I love to talk about this. Within the world of reality television, there are different production companies. Some people, like Alex Baskin who does Vanderpump Rules, in my opinion should teach ‘Reality Television 101’ at a university. He’s a genius. My friend’s who’ve worked with him say they don’t screw with the edit. The producers of my show were new, having done Housewives of Vancouver for two seasons, and their claim to fame was The Bachelor Canada, where you can throw everyone under the bus because the participants aren’t coming back for Season 2. I don’t think [my producers] understood the technique of the Housewives franchise. I’m sorry, guys, but it’s the truth. They should have gone to Alex Baskin.
RC: Why do you think the show wasn’t renewed?
KA: It lacked authenticity. People doing weekly commentaries on the show said things like, “Come on, who rides around Toronto in a stretch limo?” So, your question was, am I worried [about what they think]? No, because I’m only talking about my experience. You’ve read the book, so spoil alert here, but the producer in the book is off her rocker — she does whatever she needs to do for ratings. At the same time, it’s fiction.
RC: I took notes as I went and thought it might be fun to play a game True or False. I’ll read you a statement and you tell me ‘book or show or neither’.
KA: Okay …
RC: Before the show, you had to do a full psychiatric evaluation and medical exam.
KA: True. But that’s not true of every franchise. I was talking to Brandi Glanville and she had to do it for Traitors but not Beverly Hills. She goes, “It is bad that they ask if I’ve ever wanted to murder someone and I said, Yes?” It was a corporate psychological evaluation place so I called them and asked for a copy of mine. The nice doctor said yes, because he lived in my neighbourhood and we had a nice chat. The first line was “Kara Alloway has an incredibly high emotional intelligence.” I later sat in on a how to cast a reality show session and learned that for the villain they’re always looking for someone with a super-high emotional intelligence. So, yes, go on.
RC: … they remind you not to interact because they want everything on camera.
RC: … they move the furniture around in your house and add props as necessary. Was that really your pink wall?
KA: That’s true, but my pink wall was really my pink wall. They moved my furniture all around, added flameless candles everywhere and tacky sequinned cushions.
RC: … somebody has a maybe-gay husband.
KA: Haha! Can I say ‘pass’?
RC: You can, but you only get one pass. Okay, next: An off-camera apology.
KA: No, that never happened. Only because we never had the chance to have that happen.
RC: Did someone almost drown because their dress was too tight? Did that happen?
KA: It did not. False.
RC: Somebody forgot that they were on camera.
KA: All the time! Which seems crazy, I know. At the beginning, you’re so keenly aware, because you’re wearing the mic belt and you’re getting all wired up under the lights. But, soon you’re so used to wearing the live mic that you start to forget, which is what they want.
RC: Okay, we’re working our way up here: They stole your phone passwords.
KA: Fiction, entirely fiction.
RC: In party scenes, the people in the background are hired models.
KA: Well, not for my parties! For the others’, I can neither confirm nor deny.
RC: Producers give some people shots of water while others get shots of vodka.
KA: Hmm, good one. On the show, there was an individual who I had to wonder if she had something added to her drink. She wasn’t drinking a lot, but she got so drunk. I thought, what the heck are they doing to her? Is there monkey business here? We were all sitting at the table sipping together. It didn’t make sense to me that she’d be so unglued, but I have no evidence.
RC: Did you ever check your drink being poured just in case?
KA: No, but I should have. There was a point that I was nervous about what production had planned for me. I had a friend warn me that a glass of wine in real life looks like a bottle on tv. There’s alcohol at every turn, everywhere.
RC: I saved my best one for last: Cocaine!
KA: Oh, come on, false. It’s a fiction novel! Let me have some fun.