As someone with a Film Studies B.A (Honours) and a career in film post-production, never did I think I would be writing about the Real Housewives franchise. However, after spending the last two years recovering from three surgeries (endometriosis excision, hysterectomy and open-heart), I found myself with a lot of couch time. As I felt the weight of my depression and anxiety beginning to crush me, I started to crave something a touch lighter than my usual true crime shows and movies about murderers (though I still love you, Forensic Files).
So, I fed my shame monster by bingeing The Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA), New York (RHONY), Orange County (RHOC) and Beverly Hills (RHOBH). After ingesting multiple seasons and countless hours of these women and their knack for causing mayhem and carnage, I’ve noticed they have a few things in common and have some important life lessons to share.
1. KEEP IT SECRET, KEEP IT SAFE
You know that old adage, three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead. Well, nothing could be more accurate than for Bravo’s Housewives. Across the four series, I’ve witnessed friendships dissolve as quickly as their bond was once formed. Even the ride-or-die friends tend to succumb to the pressure of being a part of the over-dramatized franchise. Depending on the friendship, make sure you have the popcorn close.
Phaedra Parks and Kandi Burress of RHOA had their close friendship end during the explosive season nine reunion episodes. Phaedra scorches their friendship earth by telling fellow housewife Porsha Williams that Kandi and her husband Todd had planned to drug her and take her to their basement sex dungeon. This outlandish rape claim solidified no future for this friendship; it has indeed been destroyed beyond recognition.
2. THERE ARE SECRET TALENTS UNDERNEATH ALL THOSE LASHES
Andy Cohen and his production team have not only created reality stars but have provided a platform for moguls like Bethenny Frankel of RHONY. Starting the show as a private chef, throughout the years, Bethenny built her brand based on low-fat treats, which eventually blew up with the birth of SkinnyGirl Margarita. Her empire continues to grow with the recent launch of bstrong, a disaster relief program.
3. FOREPLAY ON CAMERA IS CRINGEWORTHY
Behind the gated communities of Orange County, episode three of season six ends with newly divorced Tamra Judge lighting candles before calling out to then-boyfriend, Eddie Judge, as she slips into the bath. I believe she meant for them to share a nice bubble bath but must have used the wrong bottle. After downing his red wine, Eddie strips down and enters the sudsless tub. The pair then decide to take advantage of the camera crew and work on their Red Shoe Diaries episode. No thank you.
4. MANIPULATORS WILL EVENTUALLY HANG THEMSELVES
It tends to take a few seasons before the worst offenders are caught on camera in a web of lies, forcing them to take their inevitable walk towards the gallows. Traditionally, the women will then exit the show and are replaced, in most cases, with a newer model. Occasionally, some women have been to know to weasel their way back from the dead. Rising from their mean girl ashes of character assassinations, rumours, and pitting the women against one another for sport. I would like to say those women change, but most continue to pull the puppet strings, walking the green mile.
R.I.P: Phaedra Parks of RHOA, Lisa Vanderpump of RHOBH, Tamra Judge of RHOC, Vicki Gunvalson of RHOC
Walking the Green Mile: Kenya Moore of RHOA, Kyle Richards of RHOBH
5. TRAVEL INSURANCE IS ESSENTIAL
Depending on the franchise, the trips always promise something more memorable than the landscape, especially on such classic girl’s trips as Scary Island in season three of RHONY, Amsterdam in season five of RHOBH and the Jamaica trip in season eight of RHOA.
For the ladies of RHOC, a trip would not be complete without a visit to the emergency room. The biggest offender, Vicki Gunvalson, has even been dramatically airlifted to hospital after her dune buggy rolled over in Glamis, during season eleven. The following year, in Iceland, Vicki calls an ambulance in fear she’s having a heart attack. Spoiler alert: She wasn’t. The Adderall fellow housewife Kelly Dodd provided most likely caused the high blood pressure Vicki had experienced. So, you, know, just your regular run-of-the-mill weekend for these ladies.