In Bravo’s long running “Real Housewives” franchise vanity and excess share center stage along with the spouses of the super-elite. However, the rose tinted lenses of Hollywood often mask the reality of reality television. Russell Armstrong, who starred in a season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” along with his wife, Taylor Armstrong, was found dead in what is speculated to be suicide by hanging. The Taylors' were portrayed as free-wheeling socialites, with Russell citing his fortune resulting from a successful career as an “investor.” The couple was notably documented by the series as spending upwards of $60,000 on their four year old child’s birthday: this among other feats of fabulous wealth. The truth has emerged that the couple were not nearly as endowed as they seemed and even faced upwards of $12 million in debt. Further exacerbating the tragic façade of wealth, it emerged in late July that the couple were being sued by investors for allegedly diverting funds to the remodeling their Bel-Air mansion. It’s a common assumption that the events and actions seen on so-called “reality TV” are not actually found in reality, but how much can an expectation drive the people involved? Did Russell Armstrong face his downfall under the pressure to compete?
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