When you think of The Real Housewives, you might think of exaggerated arguments, wine tossing, and wealthy lifestyles that sometimes seem (and are often proven to be) too good to be true. As a Sociology major, I am fascinated by groups of people and their interactions, and from its inception, The Real Housewives garnered attention from all over the world, due to the over-the-top dynamics that the women have with one another, and how, despite many fights (that sometimes get physical), they usually manage to get through it all. I know some of you might be thinking that The Real Housewives isn’t that deep and does not need a dissertation about women who sometimes fly off the handle and spout phrases such as “monkey’s asshole” or “you’re a slut pig”. But for me as a Black Queer kid growing up, watching these women broadcast their successes, vulnerabilities, and adversities molded me into the person I am today.
The first franchise I ever watched was The Real Housewives of Atlanta. As a Black kid, watching Black women being their authentic selves, while living the life of luxury, was amazing. The reason Atlanta has been the most popular franchise since it has aired is because of its multi-layered and dynamic cast. You have a powerhouse like NeNe Leakes, for example, who has given us amazing one-liners such as “Bloop” and “close your legs to married men”, which are hilarious and iconic. However, what has always stood out to me is NeNe’s ability to be unflinchingly open about her personal life. When her husband Gregg was diagnosed with colon cancer, NeNe was open about the impact it had on her and how it led to her going through depression, and seeking out mental health treatment in the form of a life coach. The reason this had such an impact on me is due to my own mental health struggles. I struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression, which is not often shown in the media. Dealing with this can lead to the deterioration of friendships, relationships, school life and work, along with the fact that within the Black community there is a huge stigma attached to mental health. As a viewer, to see NeNe, a Black woman, be so open about having to rebuild the relationship with her husband and her friends as a result of getting a life coach and wanting to improve her mental health was inspiring. It also taught me how to go about conversations with the people around me as it pertains to mental health. Having anxiety, I have my guard up most of the time, so it can be hard to be vulnerable and face the issues you have with other people. I truly credit NeNe with helping me through the times that I have struggled mentally.
Another area of my life that the Real Housewives have helped me navigate is my career. No, I don’t want to start my own line of low-calorie vodkas or anything, but watching the shows has helped me reimagine my own career path and realize my own potential. Growing up as a Black kid, there were conversations I would have about what I wanted to do with my life, and I was encouraged to try to pick something “safe”. “Safe” does not necessarily mean easy—as far as I was concerned, “safe” translated to a career that would make money and be in high demand. I mean, I don’t blame my elders for wanting to push me in this direction; it’s totally understandable. However, to be quite honest, I have never been one to excel in math or science, nor am I savvy/motivated enough to start my own business from the ground up. Anyone that has the ambition to do those things, I commend you a million times. But bitch, I just don’t have it in me.
On the other hand, I’ve always loved writing but was discouraged to do so. It’s kind of understandable—I was not born into a family of rich media personalities or writers, nor was I born into any type of privilege that would help me excel in any of those areas at a faster rate than everyone else. But watching The Real Housewives helped shake me out of those feelings of discouragement. No matter the franchise or season, you’ll pretty much never see a Housewife let someone who doesn’t believe in her get in the way of chasing her dreams. You have Bethenny Frankel, alumna of The Real Housewives of New York City, for example. I remember watching her in the early days of RHONY, and remarking to myself how much drive she had. She would promote her product any way she could, no matter how it was perceived. Whether it was driving a Skinnygirl-wrapped car to the Hamptons during one of the infamous cast trips while Luann looked on in disgust, sampling her products in grocery stores to disinterested customers, or fighting with Jill over Skinnygirl signage at a benefit, you can’t say the woman didn’t put herself and her brand out there. Bethenny showed me that if I wanted something, I needed to prove to myself that I was ready and willing to do anything for my dream to come to fruition, while also being ready to face rejection. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and she really instilled that concept in me during her days as a Housewife. (Bethenny, please come back for Season 13, and bring Heather “Holla” Thomson with you!)
Speaking of chasing your dreams, the last important thing that Housewives has taught me is the importance of representation. Diversity is often an oversight when casting television in general, and Housewives is no exception to the rule. People automatically assume that, when talking about representation, people are trying to make shows more “woke” and “politically correct” by casting women of color. But the reason representation is important is because it makes your audience feel seen. Recently, I have felt like Bravo has been listening to the viewers and our demand for more authentic representation. For example, Garcelle Beauvais recently joined The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. For 10 years, the show did not have any Black women featured on the main cast. As a Los Angeles native, it furthered my questioning as to whether Black people were a prominent part of Beverly Hills society. To see such a dynamic and unapologetically Black woman as a part of this cast has really given me the confidence to not be scared to work in an area that I might be the minority in. Her presence on the show is also unmatched. She’s quick-witted, showcased her life as a working Black woman in Hollywood, and talked about how the infidelity she faced in her marriage was heartbreaking, but ultimately led to a healthy, copacetic co-parenting situation. She represents what so many people have had to go through. Also, to see Dr. Wendy Osefo, a Professor at Johns Hopkins University, political commentator, and a Black woman with FOUR degrees on The Real Housewives of Potomac has really been inspiring. As a college student, I often get super discouraged and have the urge to drop the f*ck out every other day, so to see her accomplish what she’s accomplished on top of being of a mother has really given me the boost to get the f*ck up and get this degree and push myself to do better.
The Real Housewives has been my favorite show to watch since I was about nine years old. Not only because of the drama that is showcased, but because of the real life stories and lessons that the women have bravely shown to us for years. I’ve learned so much about business, friendships, navigating my mental health, and pushing myself to be better because of these women. Each franchise holds a special place in my heart and not to be all like, uncool, but I am eternally grateful to the Housewives for being so open and vulnerable to us over the years.
Images: Tommy Garcia / Bravo
It would be an understatement to say that Galentine’s Day is a big deal in my friend group. It’s a day to celebrate friendships, new and old, without the overbearing presence of cis-heteroxual male energy. It’s a day to turn an absolute look, because you cannot spell “lifelong friendships’”without “photo shoot.” And it’s a day to drink prosecco. So much prosecco. Scholars and theorists alike might even say too much prosecco. Galentine’s Day is always one of my favorite days of the year, but when I think of Galentine’s Day 2020, it can be characterized by one defining moment: the day my friend Danny and I reached peaked anti-social status, and left mid-party to start watching The Real Housewives of Potomac. (Also, it’s the day I discovered what a ring light is, and that I firmly believe that access to free health care and an affordable ring light are basic human rights).
If you’re like me, The Real Housewives are your lifeblood: you breathe Herman Munster Louis Vuitton; you bleed SHE by Shereé Joggers (release date: tbd). You would never accept a stuffed bunny for your grandson unless it had the right energy. You meet the knowledge of someone being engaged 19 times with the flip of a table. You know every franchise inside and out, which means you also know there is currently an opening for the best Real Housewives franchise.
It’s an unfortunate, yet known fact that previous Real Housewives front runners are, frankly, losing their elite status. New York is currently in a transition period, still trying to find its footing without Bethenny, while our usual favorites (Dorinda, Ramona, Sonja) are growing less and less lovable. Beverly Hills is begging for plotlines—making an entire season not even about an actual threesome, but the mere discussion of hypothetical threesomes, and bringing back Brandi Glanville in what can only be described as an act of desperation. Atlanta is a close front runner, but current speculations of a future without NeNe Leakes create an air of uncertainty surrounding the strength of the franchise. This all leaves the perfect opening for The Real Housewives of Potomac to take its rightful spot as the supreme Real Housewives franchise.
As we watched in our too-much-prosecco hazed state in the aftermath of Galentine’s Day, my friend and I immediately realized that The Real Housewives of Potomac wasn’t like any other franchise—and that’s what made it so hard to look away. While all of the ladies of Potomac are Black women, their lives are diverse in ways that make for excellent TV. Of course you have the women who are uber rich, with mansions galore and glam-squads at the ready (Karen, Monique, Katie), but you also have women who are just, dare I say, middle class—they’re doing well, but also have to go to work to pay the mortgage, and in some cases, the rent (Robyn, Gizelle). You have women in happy marriages to lifelong sweethearts, and you have women who are divorced, dating, and thriving—and you have one woman who is divorced from, but still living and sharing a bed with, said lifelong sweetheart. The women of Potomac also widely vary in age, with Karen Huger, the self-proclaimed Grand Dame, who began her Housewives tenure at the age of 52, and Ashley Darby, who made Housewives history as the youngest Housewife at the age of 27.
Potomac is also different from any other franchise because it takes place in, well, Potomac. Andy Cohen is known for giving us inside looks into the lifestyles of the rich and famous with women reigning from notable, big-named cities like Beverly Hills, New York, and even Dallas. But, he took a sharp left turn in choosing to establish a franchise in a place like Potomac, a small town in Maryland that, while boasted as one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country, very few people could place on map. In short, I will boldly claim that The Real Housewives of Potomac reinvents the wheel and challenges what it means to be a Real Housewives franchise in new, exciting, and unique ways.
That’s not at all to say, however, that Potomac doesn’t know how to deliver classic, Housewives-defining elements that every franchise is required, by Bravo law, to possess. You have your overbearing mother (à la Atlanta’s Mama Joyce and New York’s Dale) in Candiace’s mom, Ms. Dorothy, who never provides a dull moment in being both a therapist but also someone who hits her daughter with her purse at social events. You have sightings from random celebrities you have not thought about in years (à la Fetty Wap in New Jersey) in Macy Gray, when she appears in season 4 to teach Karen’s daughter, Rayvin, how to sing. And of course, you cannot have real Real Housewives drama without the husbands getting involved. Much like PK and Ken in Beverly Hills, and the New Jersey Joes, the husbands of Potomac also reluctantly become roped into plotlines, most notably with “Did Michael Touch That Man’s Butt-gate”—a fascinatingly complicated plotline that transcends season lines.
One of my favorite Housewives tropes is the classic power struggle between the queens of the franchises: Teresa Giudice and Melissa Gorga, Lisa Vanderpump and Kyle Richards, Jill Zarin and Bethenny Frankel. Potomac follows suit with the constant back-and-forth between Karen Huger and Gizelle Bryant. These women have a unique friendship, in that Gizelle’s achilles heel is not being able to recognize when she’s wrong, and Karen’s achilles heel is only being able to recognize when Gizelle is wrong. The women begin their tussle early on in season 1, and the cycle of “fight, no apology, fight, bad apology, fight, real apology” has, without fail, occurred every season since. However, what sets Karen and Gizelle’s friendship apart from other franchises is that it’s clear that there is genuine respect and love between them. We learn that the two have been friends for years, far preceding the Real Housewives cameras—and that is apparent. Yes, Gizelle hits below the belt when she wears a T-shirt that says “#FreeKarenHuger #TaxReform,” after Karen and her husband’s tax debts come to light, but she is also the first one to wipe away Karen’s tears when she breaks down at the season 3 reunion after the deaths of her parents. The ladies fight hard and love hard, a prime example of how Potomac gives you classic Housewives, while also pushing and redefining the Housewives narrative.
Past seasons have been nail-bitingly thrilling, but season 5 is where I expect The Real Housewives of Potomac to really come into their own, and secure the currently empty slot of best Real Housewives franchise. The season 5 trailer gives us broken wine glasses, the introduction of a new Housewife, and wigs both good and bad. But, I’m most excited to see how the fifth season of Potomac will handle and discuss our current social climate as it pertains to race. It is true—we are living in unprecedented times, and the culture we consume, especially culture that is centered upon the lives of seven black women, should reflect that. Simply going based off Instagram posts, the women of most other franchises (except, you guessed it, Atlanta) have missed the mark incredibly when it comes to the anti-racism discussion. But the ladies of Potomac have never been strangers to the discussion of race on the show, from season 1 when Robyn and Gizelle cling tightly and proudly to their blackness, despite the lighter hues of their skin, to season 4 when Gizelle hosts a trip to New Orleans and the women emotionally tour a slave plantation. I’m excited and optimistic to see how the ladies of Potomac approach the current racial movement and show the women of other franchises that posting a black square to the grid, or simply ignoring the movement entirely, simply ain’t it.
I was asked the other day who my favorite housewife was on Potomac, and I didn’t have a clear answer. Not because there are not personalities with a capital P within the franchise, but because these women are all connected, a cohort of women who pristinely works off each other to serve the plotline. You can’t have Ashley without Monique and Karen; you can’t have Robyn without Gizelle; you can’t have Candiace without her mom paying half the mortgage. The Real Housewives of Potomac is storyline-driven, which I think is where their lasting power lies. I simply cannot wait to see these women sweep the #1 Real Housewives spot with the premiere of their fifth season.
If you love RHOP, check out our video with Ashley Darby:
Photo by: Sophy Holland/Bravo
Just weeks ago, a grown woman was caught on film having a meltdown while on the job. She yelled at her boss, suggested that she was the reason for his success, and publicly shamed a coworker with same-sex proclivities, saying, “We don’t do that” and “Turn it down!” In any other functional workplace, this behavior would get a person immediately fired, but in Real Housewives land it gets you ratings and a promotion. Of course, this isn’t the first time Vicki Gunvalson has gone off the rails, but it is the first time it has felt like a palpable line had been crossed. After her entitled and delusional outbursts at The Real Housewives of Orange County season 14 reunion, it became clear that she had fallen prey to some classic Real Housewife pre-retirement symptoms, suffered by many fellow Housewives, past and present. Read on for the signs a Real Housewife should leave the party.
1. Not Fully Participating in Filming and Reunions
There are always going to be parts of our jobs that we don’t like, for example, having to interact with other human beings partnering with coworkers on group projects. However, we’re paid to fully execute our responsibilities, and a Housewife’s duties are no different. This means showing up to all filming obligations, regardless of whether you feel like it or are getting along with your fellow castmates. Unfortunately, Lisa Vanderpump didn’t seem to understand this concept throughout season 9 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, when she just decided to stop filming midway through and chicken out on the reunion because she wasn’t getting along with the other women. It’s no wonder she was fired won’t return for the upcoming season. NeNe Leakes is also currently suffering from a similar delusion on this season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. She’s barely been a presence and is leaving the heavy lifting to “friends of” like Marlo Hampton. It’s like asking an intern to bear your entire workload. Aspirational, but not how it actually works. If the Bravo execs have any sense, they’ll give Ms. Leakes her walking papers.
2. Forgetting The Show Is An Ensemble Effort
It’s natural that in any season there are going to be fan favorites and breakout stars. But Housewives get into trouble when they start believing their own hype and convincing themselves that they are the stars of their shows and their fellow castmates are merely supporting players. Vicki demonstrated this over and over again on the season 14 reunion, constantly making references to “my show” and saying “Get her off my show!” in reference to Braunwyn. Teresa Giudice is also guilty of using similar language on multiple occasions. What both Vicki and Teresa fail to realize is that they are on a show that thrives—nay, depends—on the interactions between cast members. Unless you’re Bethenny Frankel, you’re not compelling enough to carry your own show. Suck it up and know your role before you find yourself out of a job.
3. Crossing Moral And/Or Legal Boundaries
As Housewife fans, we live for drama, but when that drama derives from behavior that is immoral or downright illegal, it becomes hard to stand by the Housewife in question. We can never forget Vicki’s entanglement with real-life Dirty John Brooks Ayers, who spent the bulk of season 10 perpetrating a cancer scam, and although she was fully aware of this claimed to know nothing about it, she lost a lot of her luster with fans and the storyline was widely considered a low point for the series. Behavior that goes even further and ventures into criminal territory will get you fired, as Phaedra Parks learned after the revelation during the season 9 Atlanta reunion that Phaedra spread defamatory rumors claiming Kandi and Todd wanted to drug Porsha in order to take advantage of her. Attorney Phaedra should have known better than anyone that no one wants to deal with lawyers.
4. Being Inauthentic
We’ve all deduced by now that “reality” television is hardly real in the way, say, documentary footage or live news reporting is real. Plots need to be fleshed out, and at times that leads to storylines that can come off a bit contrived. However, when a Housewife herself is inauthentic, it’s a deal-breaker, and a telltale sign that she has no business being on the show. Tamra Judge on Orange County is a perfect current example. A woman who was once a pot-stirring firecracker prone to taking her top off is now, over a decade later, a pot-stirring firecracker prone to taking her top off. Only now it’s no longer novel and comes off as a desperate attempt to stay relevant on a show that is evolving without her. Another party guilty of inauthenticity of a different type is Dorit Kemsley on Beverly Hills. Forgetting about her put-on accent, Dorit’s refusal to air any of her real-life controversies makes her one of the phoniest Housewives we’ve ever had. It’s unclear what she brings to the show, other than a piggish husband and a penchant for over-the-top, label-displaying fashion she can’t actually afford. Yawn.
5. Avoiding Drama
Just like part of the job is showing up to filming at the appointed times, another integral part of being a Housewife is getting into it with other Housewives. Yet, year after year, there are always several women who complain that they “don’t want any drama” and refuse to go toe-to-toe with the others. In fact, aside from Puppygate, the entire cast of Beverly Hills built a whole season around this ethos, leaving us with one of the most boring seasons of the show we’ve ever seen (and that’s saying something). Even Namaste Teresa is a shell of the table-flipping, prostitution-whore-calling woman she once was, staying out of the fray and letting other people like Danielle Staub do her bidding. One might say this is growth and one might be right, but we all know dignity and maturity have no place on reality television. If I wanted to watch respectful and thoughtful people politely interact with one another, I’d put on The Great British Bake Off. Pick a lane, people!
It will be interesting to see what Bravo does with its OGs, who are some of the worst offenders when it comes to this list. While there’s something comforting about keeping around those who have been there from the beginning, getting rid of the women who aren’t pulling their weight keeps the others on their toes, especially those who lack the self-awareness to course-correct like Lisa Rinna, who does her best despite her drama-eschewing castmates. What other signs are there that a Housewife needs to go and who do you think needs to get off our screens? Let me know in the comments!
Images: Paul Morigi/Getty Images; Giphy (4); Tenor (1)
Any Real Housewives Bravoholic knows that our ladies are at their best when they go on vacation. Something about the change of scenery and being out of their element makes these already unhinged women go completely off the rails, and there’s beauty in the breakdown. But which trips deserve a spot in the top tier of the Real Housewives canon? Fortunately for you, I’ve done the lord’s work and broken down the most iconic trips in Real Housewives history.
10. Hong Kong, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Season 7
This trip is a standout for two primary reasons. The first is Ms. Erika Jayne’s completely over-the-top “You don’t know what I deal with every night!” freakout at Eileen, which may be the most emotion we’ve seen from Erika, well, ever. The second is Lisa Rinna’s accusation that Dorit was doing coke in her bathroom at a recent party. It came completely out of left field and is totally may not be true, but cut with the producer’s footage from that night, was one of the realest moments we’ve seen on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. And that’s saying something.
9. Whistler, Real Housewives of Orange County Season 8
Despite her demotion to “friend of” this season, there’s a reason that Vicki Gunvalson is the OG of the OC, and the cast’s trip to Whistler in season 8 is a perfect example. After Lauri accuses Vicki of having a threesome at an insurance conference, Vicki reacts in a way that can only be described as, “not well, bitch!” Vicki in full ski gear screaming “I HAVE NEVER BEEN WITH MULTIPLE PARTNERS IN MY LIFE!” will haunt me for the rest of my days.
8. Anguilla, Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 5
This trip cemented Kenya Moore’s status as one of the greatest Housewives of all time. Upon arriving in Anguilla, she somehow manages to take control of the boat and tells everyone to “hold onto your weaves!” She then proceeds to throw a tantrum at the hotel when she finds out her room does not have a bathtub. As if she hasn’t contributed more in this episode than the entire cast of Beverly Hills has in several seasons, she gets into an epic brawl with Porsha that culminates in her proclaiming, “I’m Gone With the Wind fabulous!” and twirling away. For that, I am forever indebted to her.
7. Marrakech, Real Housewives of New York Season 4
There were so many unforgettable moments on this trip. A fortune teller predicting (what we now know is correctly) that Mario was cheating on Ramona. The camel being so sick of the Countess’ pretentious bullsh*t that it tried to buck her off two separate times. The most Ramotional fit of crying ever to be seen on national television. And finally, Alex trying to confront Luann in her “Herman Munster shoes” like a “buffalo,” only to be thwarted by Kelly’s constant demands that she “re-enter” because she’s “not authentic” and Luann saying, “Go back to the cabinet you came out of, witch.” So good.
6. Lake George, Real Housewives of New Jersey Season 5
The Gorga-Giudice dynamic is arguably the most compelling part of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. The tension between the two families reached a pinnacle on the cast trip to Lake George in season 5. Melissa literally gets on her knees and begs Teresa to “stop hurting us!” Then, after accusing her brother of being disloyal, Joe Gorga calls Teresa “scum,” triggering an epic Battle of the Joes that leaves these two grown men wrestling on the floor and the venue forever stained with Joe Gorga’s black spray-on hair dye.
5. Turks and Caicos, Real Housewives of New York Season 7
Despite how insufferable Luann has been in recent seasons, I can never completely forsake her. This trip is the reason. Hungover and clad in a white bathrobe and sunglasses, Luann is confronted by Heather about an unattended naked man in their house. Luann simply responds, “Be cool. Don’t be all, like, uncool.” She gives negative f*cks and it is not just a mood, it is the mood. This star turn allowed Luann, who’d been demoted to “friend of” that season, to ascend right back to a full-time cast member the following season, where she rightfully belongs. I stan.
4. Amsterdam, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Season 5
If the women of Beverly Hills could give up the dog drama and channel some of the energy from the season 5 trip to Amsterdam, we’d be back in business. Brandi, who I sorely miss, slaps LVP. In another scene, Kim goes in on Rinna, implying that she knows something untoward about Rinna’s husband. Eileen tries to intervene, but Kim snaps and calls her a beast. Eileen summons her years as a storied soap opera star and responds with the perfect “Beast? How dare you.” Kyle literally flees the entire restaurant, too overwhelmed to deal even a little bit. And if that wasn’t enough, Rinna smashes a glass on the table. It’s heaven.
3. The Berkshires, Real Housewives of New York Season 8
They don’t call it the Berzerkshires for nothing. Though the ladies have been there several times now, this is the one that will go down in history. Bethenny mercilessly takes down Luann for sleeping around and not owning it, screaming “You f*ck EVERYONE!” and calling her every synonym for “slut” in the thesaurus. Just when we think things may finally calm down, Luann makes the fatal mistake of insulting Dorinda’s mom’s cake, sending Dorinda into an epic tirade that will live on in Housewives history: “I decorated, I cooked, I made it NICE!”
2. Cartagena, Real Housewives of New York Season 10
Just when we think the New York ladies have peaked, they outdo themselves. This trip has it all: not one, but two fights happening simultaneously at a dinner table, a drunken Dorinda slurring her words with red lipstick smeared across her face, a boat ride so frightening that the women fear for their lives and nearly sh*t themselves, and, finally, a bout of food poisoning that causes almost all of them to actually sh*t themselves.
1. St. John aka Scary Island, Real Housewives of New York Season 3
No one travels better than the women of The Real Housewives of New York, and this trip is the jewel in the crown. There are so many quotable moments that it would be virtually impossible to list them all. Jill Zarin’s “HAAHHAIIIIIIII” as she crashes the trip is bone-chilling. Alex’s attempt to walk seductively during Kelly’s “photoshoot” while channeling her “Johan face” was blood-curdling. But nothing was more frightening than Kelly’s complete and utter mental breakdown “breakthrough” where she rambled on about Al Sharpton, satchels of gold, and jelly beans. I couldn’t GO TO SLEEP even if I tried. At least among all of the darkness we had Turtle Time.
St. Barth, Real Housewives of New York Season 5
“TAKE A XANAX, CALM DOWNNN!”
Beaver Creek, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Season 2
Taylor in a suitcase.
The Berkshires, Real Housewives of New York Season 6
“Who are you to get me wet?”
Cape Town, Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 4
Shereé and Marlo’s fight, comprised entirely of unintelligible shrieks.
Bali, Real Housewives of Orange County Season 9
Lizzie provoking Tamra to run away and threaten that we would never see her face again (unfortunately she did not make good on that promise) should have earned Lizzie another season.
Of course, only crowning 10 trips with this distinguished honor means that some memorable trips had to be left out. Which were your favorite trips? Let me know in the comments!
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (9)
The ladies of The Real Housewives are the gifts that keep on giving. I love the franchise because it’s a space where women are not only allowed, but encouraged, to be unabashedly themselves. Many are quick to dismiss the show as frivolous and superficial, but for me and my fellow Bravoholics it’s a fascinating sociological study on what it means to be a woman in today’s world. This inevitably gives us a glimpse into the men our gals choose, and more often than not, the results are pure, unadulterated trash not pretty. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I ventured into the deepest, darkest depths of House Husband Hell and compiled a list of the most garbage men to grace our screens over the years.
9. Bill Aydin
Bill is a relatively new addition to The Real Housewives of New Jersey, but he immediately made an impression with his condescending attitude towards his wife, Jennifer, and insistence that she stay at home with their children at all times. Jennifer memorably had to ask Bill for permission to go on a “girls’ trip” (in other words, do her job), a request that displeased her controlling traditional husband. This should end well.
8. Brooks Ayers
While not technically a husband (despite Vicki’s numerous attempts to make him fill her love tank), Brooks may as well have been one with the amount of screen time he took up during his tenure on The Real Housewives of Orange County. He immediately pinged fans’ creep radars when Vicki’s daughter Briana recounted that he sexually harassed her while she was pregnant. Brooks really cemented his status as the Dirty John of Bravo when it came out in season 10 that he perpetrated a cancer scam that Vicki was definitely *not* in on. Just thinking about him makes me want to take several showers.
7. Michael Darby
Ashley’s marriage to Michael was shaky even in the earlier seasons of The Real Housewives of Potomac, with the two arguing over their fledgling restaurant and having children together, culminating in a separation just two years ago. Unfortunately, Michael is looking even worse this season with allegations that he sexually assaulted a cameraman on the show. Despite the charges being dropped, more allegations persist. And now he and Ashley have a baby together, which won’t complicate things at all.
6. Jim Edmonds
This marriage always seemed suspect to me, not only because it was lucky number three for Jimbo, but also because he appeared completely and utterly checked out in every interaction with his wife. His abandonment of Meghan during her painful IVF treatments was particularly damning. Just when it seemed he couldn’t be more awful, news broke earlier this year about Jim’s involvement in a nude text message scandal in which, among other things, he was sexting a woman while Meghan was about to give birth to their twins. Inexplicably, they are still together.
My advice to Meghan:
5. Shane Simpson
There’s no way around it: Shane sucks. This human embodiment of the word “twerp,” as he was brilliantly called by castmate and certified genius Kelly Dodd, has been a walking wet blanket since his debut last season on The Real Housewives of Orange County. He threw Gina out of his home last season for being too loud during a party and proceeded to handle the aftermath with the same grace as a whiny toddler who’s been denied his binky. Shane has done nothing to redeem himself this season and can’t be bothered to hide his disdain snark in every scene with Emily, even going so far as to leave his family at home to escape to a hotel under the guise of “studying for the bar” (which he failed, btw). Instead of being grateful to his wife for singlehandedly taking care of their children and throwing a party for his parents in his absence, he snaps at her for disturbing him. Emily can do so much better.
4. Jason Hoppy
This is where the list really starts getting dark. Like many serial killers eligible men, Jason initially seemed like the dream guy Bethenny had been searching for her entire life. He supported her dreams and together they started the family she always wanted. For a while, it looked like Bethenny really did have it all. But cracks started to show in her spin-off Bethenny Ever After and it quickly became clear that Jason had a dark side he’d been hiding from the viewers. Once Bethenny filed for divorce, Jason fully unleashed his crazy by refusing to leave their apartment, threatening her, and bad-mouthing her to their daughter. Yikes.
3. David Beador
Seeing old footage of David Beador and his White Walker eyes still sends a chill down my spine. Shannon was completely humiliated when she revealed during season 10 of The Real Housewives of Orange County that David had a long-term affair. Though the pair did try to work through their problems, David’s attempts to reconcile always seemed forced and inauthentic. During season 11, Vicki alleged that David was physically abusive towards Shannon during their marriage. Though both David and Shannon denied any physical abuse, David was arrested for domestic battery years earlier. The stress of the allegations led Shannon to gain 40 pounds, and instead of supporting his wife during this difficult time, David began aggressively working out as if to mock her and would eat in front of her in a way that can only be described as hostile. Thankfully, Shannon divorced him.
2. Jim Marchese
Until I began preparing this list, I had somehow forgotten that this O.T. (Original Twerp) ever existed. Jim was hated by just about every cast member during his mercifully short run on The Real Housewives of New Jersey for getting in the women’s faces repeatedly like a rabid dog on crack and saying unspeakable things about his castmates. Jim has continued to reach new lows after his stint on the show. He revealed during his appearance with Amber on Marriage Bootcamp that he blamed her for getting cancer, was arrested shortly thereafter for felony domestic violence against Amber and, most recently, has been accused by his own son of refusing to continue paying his college tuition because he is gay. What a mensch.
1. Joe Giudice
It admittedly doesn’t get much worse than Jim Marchese, but Juicy Joe still reigns supreme as the worst of the worst husbands. The repeated rumors of infidelity were bad enough. Who could forget that uncomfortable scene where he was caught on camera talking to his mistress one of his workers and referring to Teresa as “my bitch wife” and a “c*nt”? But Joe cemented his status on this list by committing fraud and implicating Teresa, causing her to serve time in prison and miss out on valuable time with her mother, who died less than two years after her release. It’s unforgivable, but it does look like karma is coming for Joe and he’s probably getting deported.
Of course, this isn’t a complete list because choosing among the toxic men on these shows is an embarrassment of riches. There were many more I wanted to include (looking at you, Jim Bellino, Kelsey Grammer, Slade Smiley, Paul “Peekay” Kemsley and Simon Barney), but I can’t afford to quit my day job. Sound off in the comments with your worst House Husbands!
Images: Getty Images (7); Shutterstock (2); NBCU; Bravo; Giphy (2)
OK, I have to vent. I am a huge Housewives fan, probably bordering on unhealthy. But the heart wants what it wants. Last week, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills finished their ninth season with a three-part reunion. Normally after a reunion, I feel a sense of closure or find myself Team *Insert Housewife Name Here* but this time, nothing. Completely empty. When I say that it felt like the longest season ever, that’s an understatement. Every episode felt like a filler episode. The entire season was made up of a storyline that felt so forced and over-produced, it almost made it unwatchable (I am trash so I will literally watch anything Bravo puts in front of me—even if I’m not happy about it).
At one point, these women were trailblazers. A breath of fresh air. We had a cast of complex characters who gave us wish fulfillment on a level we had never seen on a Real Housewives franchise. When Beverly Hills first aired in 2010, the Housewives were still relatively new but picking up momentum. The women didn’t know how to produce their own storylines. Instagram didn’t exist. Twitter was still so new, and no one really knew how to utilize it. All they had were Bravo blogs. It was a different time. So how the hell did we get here? How can a franchise that gave us so much betray us like this?
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills first aired in 2010, and I specifically remember this because I had gotten my wisdom teeth out that December and watched the “Dinner Party from Hell” episode. Allison Dubois smoking an e-cig while reading Kyle Richards still haunts me to this day. What a journey that was on pain meds. Anyway, I digress.
We started out with a bang. We were introduced to Kyle and Kim Richards, who are sisters (and Paris Hilton’s aunts, NBD). We saw their complicated relationship throughout the first season and that all came to a head when the two sisters got into an explosive fight and Kyle outed Kim as an alcoholic. Everyone gasped. This was not something they had been public about or even brought up on the show until this point. We tackled the breakdown of Camille’s 14-year relationship to Kelsey Grammer. She often would project her own feelings of being inadequate without Kelsey onto the other ladies, which gave us “You’re such a f*cking liar Camille”.
*Cue everyone’s shocked face*
As the seasons went on, we watched Taylor Armstrong (who was a main cast member since the beginning) go through an incredibly difficult time. Taylor was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with Russell Armstrong, and that was well documented on the show. We would often see Taylor with a black eye covered by a heavy side bang. She eventually left the show after trying to cope with her husband’s suicide and the legal troubles that followed. Adrienne Maloof’s possible surrogacy was brought up, and she threatened legal action against fellow castmate Brandi Glanville. Lisa Rinna joined in season five and repeatedly came for Kim Richards and her sobriety, claiming she was worried for her. Yolanda Hadid struggled with Lyme disease. I’m telling you, a lot has happened.
But something has felt off for the last few seasons, and during this last reunion it became very clear that Lisa Vanderpump and other cast members would often discuss what they will bring up and what not to bring up on camera, which left viewers frustrated. Understandably. And I am in no way Team LVP, but my frustration reached a serious high when, at the reunion, Andy Cohen (the king of Bravo) asked the ladies some questions about some of their own financial issues that had been going on while filming, which they never discussed. The women were quick to dismiss these claims and brushed it off. Instead of confronting these things throughout the season, we went to another Boy George concert and discussed Dorit bringing a dog to a shelter for 10 episodes. Come on. Thank god for the shady producers who blessed us with some BTS footage of a woman chasing Dorit and Lisa Rinna around a pool asking her about her ongoing lawsuits, but again: why wasn’t this shown during the season?! This is why we watch!
In the earlier seasons, the Housewives didn’t cherry pick what they wanted to show; they just lived their truths. Even though at times things could get incredibly dark, I appreciated it. They put themselves out there in a real way, showing the good and the bad. But as the seasons went on, the Housewives began to manipulate the production aspect. They started to discuss details about the upcoming season with the other women prior to filming: what parties to throw, how to perfectly time their engagements and weddings to make sure they happen while filming (or maybe aim for a spin-off). They would orchestrate drama to cause friction with the other Housewives in an attempt to make their adversaries look bad to the viewers. And even though the ratings were steady, for many viewers the franchise itself is at an all-time low. That’s saying a lot considering one of the most notorious housewives, Lisa Vanderpump, had quit and didn’t show up to the reunion. You would think when a cast member dramatically departs a show after nine seasons, we would be on the edge of our seats. But nope, we got nothing.
I really don’t know what will come of RHOBH. I am excited to see which cast members will go (looking at you Erika), and which ones will stay, and who they will bring on. It will be interesting to see the dynamic especially now that Lisa Vanderpump is gone—will they set up someone else as the protagonist? Hopefully. And either way, I will be watching. What can I say, Bravo has me in its clutches.
Images: NBC; Giphy (2)