Top Real Housewives Franchises and Stars on Bravo
It’s hard to believe it’s been over 10 years since Bravo premiered its Real Housewives franchise. Conceived as a real life soap opera and named after the popular ABC show Desperate Housewives at the time, the initial outing — 2006’s The Real Housewives of Orange County — became such a massive hit, it spawned eight shows in the United States alone. Over the years, The Real Housewives shows have become iconic television viewing and made celebrities out of many of it’s 99 stars (not to mention launched tons of products). Below, a rundown of the Real Housewives’ top franchises and most memorable stars.
Premiering in 2008, The Real Housewives of Atlanta was the third series in the franchise to premiere — but it quickly became the most-successful, continuously placing as the highest-rated show on the network. Offering a diverse look the lives of five sassy Southern mothers and outspoken entrepreneurs, RHOA is currently in its ninth season and has spawned a handful of spinoffs, including ones with breakout star NeNe Leakes (now of E!’s Fashion Police) and “Tardy for the Party” singer Kim Zolciak-Biermann. But the real drama remains on the main series, where its all-black cast — Grammy-winning “No Scrubs” songwriter Kandi Burruss, former Miss USA Kenya Moore, criminal attorney Phaedra Parks, supermodel Cynthia Bailey, Dish Nation host Porsha Williams, and author Sherée Whitfield — are known to butt heads, throw shade and occasionally snatch wigs.
The sixth series to premiere in the franchise, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills premiered in 2010 and quickly turned into a fan favorite with its glamorous stars pulling back the curtain on their California mega-mansions, extravagant vacations, and designer wardrobes. While Camille Grammer‘s divorce from Kelsey Grammer and the suicide of Taylor Armstrong’s husband Russell made headlines early on – the friendship between restaurateur Lisa Vanderpump and former child star Kyle Richards (the aunt of socialite and reality star Paris Hilton) has remained at the center of the show. The two friends have had their share of disagreements over RHOBH‘s seven seasons, but they’ve stayed close allies as they navigated life’s rough waters. (Richards helping her sister Kim Richards through addiction to recovery, and Vanderpump fending off “manipulative” labels by Melrose Place alum Lisa Rinna, soap star Eileen Davison, supermodel Yolanda Hadid and reality star Brandi Glanville). Only one spinoff has come from the show — Vanderpump Rules, the hit unscripted soap following the relationships and romances of the staff (and former staff) at Vanderpump’s SUR restaurant.
The Real Housewives of Orange County
The franchise that started it all, The Real Housewives of Orange County introduced viewers to five women living in and around a gated community in Coto de Caza, California — including Vicki Gunvalson, the longest-running Housewife on Bravo. Throughout its 11 seasons, the show has documented everything from contentious divorces (Tamra Judge‘s bitter end with ex-Simon Barney), to cheating scandals (David Beador cheating on wife Shannon Beador), to cancer schemes (courtesy of Gunvalon’s ex Brooks Ayers, who admitted to forging cancer documents). The show has had two spin-offs — a dating competition show with season 1 Housewife Jo De La Rosa and a three-part special around Judge’s 2013 wedding.
The head-strong and humorous broads of the Big Apple have remained a source of entertainment since premiering in March 2008. The second installment in the franchise, The Real Housewives of New York City has featured 15 women through its nine seasons, but none have been as outspoken as Bethenny Frankel. The 46-year-old Skinnygirl creator came to the show having come in second place on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart — and soon became RHONY‘s breakout, captivating viewers with her quick wit and quest for love). She found it in 2010, leaving the show after season 3 to marry Jason Hoppy and give birth to daughter Bryn (all documented on her spinoff series, Bethenny Getting Married? and Bethenny Ever After). A self-titled daytime talk show, Bethenny, followed in 2013 — cancelled a year later do to low ratings. During that time, Frankel and Hoppy separated and began a four-year, contentious divorce that was only just finalized in July. After three years away from the Housewives camera, Frankel returned to the show that made her a star in season 7 and has been dominating ever since. Her biggest battle has been with with Luann D’Agostino, who was introduced on the show in season 1 as Countess Luann de Lesseps. After divorcing her husband, Luann engaged and married Tom D’Agostino — though a cheating scandal uncovered by Frankel threatened their walk down the aisle.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey
Welcome to Franklin Lakes, New Jersey — where five working mothers let cameras into their lives in May 2009, kicking off The Real Housewives of New Jersey. The fourth installment of the franchise, RHONJ separated itself from the pack by focusing on family. Sisters Caroline Manzo and Dina Manzo, their sister-in-law Jacqueline Laurita, and close friends Teresa Giudice and Danielle Staub made up the cast – giving the show endless history to explore. Seven seasons later, much of the Manzo/Laurita family feuding has disappeared — with Caroline and her kids getting a three-season spinoff series Manzo’d with Children. Only Giudice remains in the cast for its eighth season. It’s helped that the 44-year-old Turning Tables author had one of the most tumultuous pasts, having spent 11 months in prison for wire, mail, and bankruptcy fraud. (Her husband Joe is currently serving a 41-month prison sentence for fraud). In the season 7 premiere, Teresa returned from prison and reunited with her family a changed woman, no longer interested in flipping tables or fighting with sister-in-law Melissa Gorga.
Honorable Mention Real Housewives Franchises
The aforementioned Housewives shows may be the franchise’s strongest offerings, but among the nine domestic titles, there have been some other notable offerings. In 2010, The Real Housewives of D.C. made headlines when it featured Michaele Salahi and her then-husband Tareq Salahi — the infamous White House party crashers. It was cancelled after one season. Real Housewives of Miami only lasted three seasons — with cast members that included Larsa Pippen, Marysol Patton, and model Joanna Krupa. After its cancellation, Bravo didn’t launch a new franchise until 2016 — when it dropped both The Real Housewives of Dallas and The Real Housewives of Potomac. Both are now in their second seasons. Meanwhile, internationally, there have been nine shows that nabbed the “Real Housewives” title. Australia’s Real Housewives of Melbourne became a U.S. crossover hit, premiering in 2014 and airing three seasons so far.