Let me rank the best Real Housewives for you: 1. Sutton Stracke, 2. Frank Catania. While I’d love to dive into my obsession with Frankie Sr., I’d rather talk about why the Southern-belle-turned-Beverly-Hills-socialite is simply a television masterpiece. Sutton combines the campy-ness of Sonja Morgan with the storyline-pushing skills of Rinna, and the elegance of Eileen Davidson with the natural-born ability of Dorinda to deliver memorable one-liners (“Jealous of what? Your ugly leather pants!”). Simply put, Sutton is the opposite of Kourtney Kardashian —- she’s the most exciting to look at.
Besides her likeability, mild delu-lu-ness, and her determination to read 3000-word LA Times articles, what makes her fun to watch is that she comes across as herself and not someone who learnt to act from watching The Bachelor. Reminiscent of early Real Housewives of Orange County days, watching Sutton feels like a camera crew is simply following someone who has agreed to give the public a glimpse into their life, with no ulterior motive to gain social media followers, land a podcast deal, or sell mugs that say “Blue Stone Manor.”
Because she’s not caught up in all the usual Housewife tropes, she actually comes across as real (which contrary to the name of the franchise, is not a prerequisite for castmates to be). But if you’re not convinced that she’s the best Real Housewife yet, see my thesis on Sutton below.
She’s Doesn’t Act Like a Used Car Saleswomen
It should be forbidden for Housewives to join a cast if their main motivation is to promote their business. As someone who now pays for my own Hulu account rather than bumming off of my parents cable, I feel especially cheated when even 45 seconds of a 45 minute episode is spent advertising a Housewife’s unoriginal three-wick candle line or “athleisure” brand (cough, cough, SHE by Sheree). I’ll admit it was entertaining seeing Bethenny’s VW Bug wrapped in a Skinnygirl car decal… BUT, one decade and 700 new Housewife businesses later, it’s mentally exhausting to watch nine out of every 10 cast members waste valuable scenes promoting their singing career or pretending to be an entrepreneur (when really they just hired someone with an MBA to build the brand, while they slap their name on it for a fee and promise to promote it on IG).
While you may counter argue that Sutton’s on the show to promote her store, your argument is DOA. Unlike Robyn and Gizelle’s podcast or Jill Zarin’s rug line, the average viewer is not Sutton’s target audience. I mean, do you really think she is trying to appeal to viewers (me) who spend five minutes a day questioning whether we can afford to sub oat milk in our lattes, when she’s selling $970 sconces at her boutique?
So why TF is it so great that Sutton doesn’t cosplay as a used car saleswomen? Because us viewers are rewarded: rather than watching forced product placement (take a shot every time you hear Kathy say “Casa Del Sol” on season 12 of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), we finally get a nepo baby wife that doesn’t implore selling tactics from the Bethenny Frankel Branding-via-Bravo Masterclass.
She’s Not Obsessed with Bravo
PSA for all Housewives: If being a “Bravoleb” is your main personality trait, I strongly recommend you get a hobby, friend, or job.
Countless Housewives have proven to fans that they literally have no life outside of filming/Bravo, and spend time between seasons starting beef with Bravoleb fan accounts (Rinna), hosting Bravo-themed podcasts (RIP to our latest victims: Jackie Goldschneider + Jenn Fessler), and slapping their notable one-liners on kitschy swag items (the way Dorinda is selling a tote bag that says five of her famous quotes is *facepalm*). Sutton, on the other hand, treats the show like her hobby… AKA, she apparently has things to do other than scroll through the #RealHousewives hashtag on TikTok in her free time. Instead, she actually uses her $300K/month spousal support to do normal rich people activities — I.e. buy a horse and accidently put salted caramel in her ears… experiences that feel fresh to watch, and that are SO much more interesting than who-said-what-to-Page-Six (need I remind you about Puppygate).
She Doesn’t Treat RHOBH Like A Popularity Contest
While Dorinda’s go-to is to “make it nice,” the same can’t necessarily be said about Sutton. Sutton’s foray into reality TV was saying “Teddi, you are a little boring,” quickly followed by her blow out with Crystal in season 11 where she called Crystal’s leather pants “ugly.”
In season 12, Sutton could have easily pandered to the core Real Housewives of Beverly Hills group as means to fit in by blindly supporting Erika amidst the Tom Girardi legal scandal(s)… but no, our Southern Queen had no qualms speaking her mind after gathering her own facts from the 3,000-word LA Times article that detailed the case. Sutton not only questioned Erika directly, but came for Rinna (Erika’s biggest supporter), as well: “The soap actress in Lisa never leaves her body. It would take an exorcism to get the soap actress out.”
Because Sutton’s already an established socialite and high on the guest list for Kathy Hilton’s Christmas party , she doesn’t need to spend time playing Switzerland or catering to castmates to get invited on PJs (Gina x Heather Dubrow). She’s confident in her outside-of-filming friend group, and as a result isn’t nervous about voicing her opinion… which for us viewers, means we’re blessed with seeing the good (playing contrarian to Erika), the bad (taking her shoe off to scratch her foot during a date), and the questionable (wearing a cat sweater while meeting a potential suitor for the first time).
And because she isn’t caught up in playing the usual Housewife popularity contest game, she’s also able to be self-aware — a concept that escapes most (or dare I say every) Housewife both past and present. Sutton’s aware of her quirkiness and habits, and I was wildly impressed when she had openness to share her experience with her ex-husband and even call herself a “one date wonder” because she “doesn’t click with many people.” The honesty is refreshing, especially amidst the cookie-cutter fame-and-social-relevance-hungry Housewives that we’re so used to seeing on our screens.