Bethenny Frankel Says 'RHONY' Premiere Felt Like a 'Proverbial Middle Finger'

"The women have definitely had some unpleasant things to say about me," Bethenny Frankel said

Bethenny Frankel
Bethenny Frankel. Photo: John Lamparski/Getty

The Real Housewives of New York City has moved on without Bethenny Frankel — but the SkinnyGirl mogul is making sure to get in the last word about her former costars.

In a recent interview with Extra, Frankel, 49, reacted to the opening scene in last week’s season 12 premiere, in which Housewives Luann de Lesseps, Sonja Morgan, Ramona Singer, Dorinda Medley and Tinsley Mortimer threw some shade after learning of her abrupt departure from the Bravo series.

“The beginning of the show was the proverbial middle finger to me,” said Frankel, who announced her exit from the show in August, just before filming for season 12 began.

“The women have definitely had some unpleasant things to say about me,” she said. “I wish them well.”

The ex-reality star is now fully focused on the coronavirus pandemic, raising funds and donating masks to hospitals in short supply through her disaster relief initiative, BStrong, and their partner, Global Empowerment Mission. Frankel claimed to Extra that Real Housewives ratings have been dropping.

“It’s sort of not maybe the content that is inspiring people to do what they need to do right now. Or maybe they want to watch either the news or something uplifting or some way to pay it forward,” she said.

However, a rep for Bravo tells PEOPLE that RHONY‘s season 12 premiere had “very similar” ratings to the average season 11 episode, noting last year’s season premiere benefitted from a Real Housewives of New Jersey reunion lead-in. “You could argue even more people showed up intentionally to watch RHONY this year,” the rep explains.

So far, streaming viewing for last week’s premiere is up by 13%. As for other franchise extensions during coronavirus social distancing, Bravo says RHONJ enjoyed its highest-rated episode of the season on March 18, Vanderpump Rules hit the same mark on March 24, and marathons of old Housewives episodes boast double-digit ratings.

In a recent interview with PeopleTV’s Reality Check, de Lesseps, 54, said she has not spoken to Frankel and “found out like the rest of the world that she wasn’t coming back to the show.”

“She didn’t let any of us know,” de Lesseps said. “I thought that was kind of not very thoughtful after all of these years of working together that she would let us know before the rest of the world.”

When asked if she was relieved or happy over Frankel’s decision to leave the franchise, the cabaret singer said, “I was all of the above.”

As for how the other women of RHONY reacted to Frankel’s news, de Lesseps said, “We were shocked, surprised and somewhat relieved.”

Bethenny Frankel, Luann de Lesseps
Bethenny Frankel and Luann de Lesseps. Heidi Gutman/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

In February, Frankel shared that after multiple seasons of RHONY, she had become emotionally exhausted.

“People across the franchise will tell you they develop anxiety, and it’s very stressful,” she told Variety. “And that’s not how I am in the relationships that I’ve cultivated over the years.”

Frankel was part of the debut cast of RHONY, helping launch the show into a massive success. At the end of season 3, she exited to lead a Bravo spinoff, Bethenny Getting Married (later titled Bethenny Ever After). She went on to host a self-titled talk show, Bethenny, from 2012 to 2014 before returning to RHONY from seasons 7 through 11.

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