Reality bites: The truth behind Kyle Richards' controversial new show 'American Woman'

The series starring Alicia Silverstone, is about a single mom, in the '70s who decides she'd rather get a job and raise her daughters on her own than live with a cheater.

                            Reality bites: The truth behind Kyle Richards' controversial new show  'American Woman'
Kyle Richards (Source : Getty Images)

Kyle Richards' 'American Woman' has not even premiered yet and it is already battling controversies. The actress has turned co-producer for the show. Few know that before she became a reality TV star she has been in front of the camera all her life. Not to mention her family connections. 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' fans should be knowing Kyle as actress, socialite and sister to Kim Richards and Kathy Hilton (Paris and Nicky's mom).

When it was revealed that Kyle was working on a scripted TV show, fans were eager to know what it would all be about. Bits by bits, details poured in that the story was on Kyle's upbringing. The news was not pleasing to her famous sisters, who are of the notion that Kyle will be revealing a bit too much of their childhood. But isn't that what reality TV is all about?


Actress Kyle Richards, Kathy Hilton and actress Kim Richards arrive at the premiere of Oxygen's New Docu-Series 'The World According To Paris' at Tropicana Bar at The Hollywood Roosevelt on May 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The series starring Alicia Silverstone, is about a single mom, Bonnie Nolan, in the '70s who decides she'd rather get a job and raise her daughters on her own than live with a real estate agent who cheats and lies to her. The '70s wasn't even necessarily an era of women empowerment, so the show champions Bonnie as an epitome of strength and resilience. 

In the preview, the young girls are being told that a “liar is the worst thing you can be,” and also a "stripper". Bonnie’s husband is seen having an affair after telling her that he had an emergency at work. This leads to the couple splitting up and the mother trying to find a job and take care of her daughters.

The series is said to be loosely based on Kathleen Richards, the bold matriarchal figure for three of Beverly Hills' now most famous women. In a recent interview with People, Richards stated that tensions had been simmering with her oldest sister because Kathy fears the show would reveal too much about her mother's life and their unconventional upbringing.

Even Kim is reportedly as upset about the show coming out. However, Kyle has been positive and hopes her sisters will change their mind once they watch 'American Woman'. The show's official synopsis by Paramount Network reads: "Inspired by the upbringing of co-executive producer and Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Kyle Richards, this series follows an unconventional mom named Bonnie (Alicia Silverstone) struggling to raise her daughters with the help of her two best friends Kathleen (Mena Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels) as they discover their own brand of independence amid the rise of second-wave feminism in the 1970s.”

"I hope when Kathy sees the show, she'll understand," Richards said. "I would never tell anyone else's stories. And I felt bad because she thought it was something that it wasn't. I was inspired by my mom being a single mom in the '70s. It was a crazy, fun, reckless time. But it's not based on my actual life."

Whether Kyle is being honest about the show just being "loosely" based on her mother or if her sisters' concerns are valid, only time will tell after the show debuts on Paramount Network on June 7.  Nevertheless, it looks like a fun watch and the released trailer looks like the show is on point.

As we get started on our summer must-watch list and do our bit of research, let us take a look at the truth behind 'American Woman.'


LA Times reported that the show is actually Kyle's "love letter to her late mom." In Kyle's own words, this is how American Woman came to be; "I like to write, but it's hard when you have four kids. But I would write sometimes when, you know, everyone was sleeping or whatever," she said.

"When my mom passed away, I thought, “I really wanna share who she was, because she really was a special and unique woman.” And it took my being a mom and an adult to have that extra appreciation for her. I always appreciated her, you know, but I had perspective as I got older. She's strict, and she could get, you know, a temper sometimes or whatever it was. But as an adult you're like well, yeah, hello, she was raising these kids on her own. She was stressed. She wanted the best for us, and you know, she was doing her best like we all are trying to do. And I just really wanted to share that story once I lost my mom as a, I guess, sort of love letter to her, too. And just inspire other women," she added.

And we must admit, this is truly beautiful. Kathleen Richards, who was known as "Big Kathy" died in 2002 after battling breast cancer.

During a panel discussion at the 2018 Television Critics Association, Kyle talked about making a show based on her own upbringing. USA Today reported Kyle saying; "The idea was inspired by my life growing up with my mom. My mom really was a woman before her time. In the '70s, it wasn't a popular thing to be a strong woman. If you were strong and had a voice, you were thought of as a pushy broad where, nowadays, it's like boss lady. It wasn't like that back then."

However, the cause of concern for the other Richard sisters regarding the show is the way Bonnie has been portrayed. The comedy series follows Bonnie partying and hooking up with handsome Hollywood men as she tries to navigate her way to being a successful working woman raising two children on her own. This is also where Kyle's reality deflects since there are two daughters instead of three. 

Bravo TV recently reported that Kyle has been through some bad-blood with her sisters over the years on the set of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. And despite the reunion and reconciliations, their relationship turned sour again because of Kyle's 'American Woman.'

Kyle hopes Kathy watches the show because it is going to change her mind about it.

In reality, Kyle and her two famous sisters were raised in Los Angeles, and like her siblings Kim Richards and Kathy Hilton, she started acting at an early age, specifically at the age of 5. Kyle starred roles in 'Love Boat: The Next Wave,' 'ER''90210' and many more. Kathleen was the matriarch of the family, much likened to today's Kris Jenner and she, of course, is the inspiration to the show her daughter is co-executively producing.

However, as dramatic license goes, Kathleen's story influenced the universality of a strong mother. As Silverstone told Entertainment Weekly in October 2017: “A lot of the stories that you’ll see are things that happened to Kyle Richards and her mother, but a lot of it isn’t; it’s taking dramatic license, but the storytelling is so good. My character is inspired by Kyle Richards’ mother, but she’s also inspired by our creator John Riggi’s mom. Like any art form, it then became about everybody’s mom. John Wells, the producer, it’s about his mom, and I used my mom as inspiration. Bonnie is this collective [mother]. There’s relief watching her. Because this woman loves her kids ferociously, but she’s also really reckless and does really bad things. She’s a contradiction: she’s a wild, ferocious creature, and she's a bad*ss, but she’s also terrified underneath.”

While we may have an entire week to go for the series to air, here's a look back to that 'RHWOBH' episode where everyone cries a river after watching the first episode of Kyle's 'American Woman.'