An incredibly successful “reality” TV franchise that has spawned many different series, so far there have been nine different Real Housewives shows based in America and 10 international ones. Based on those facts alone, it is abundantly clear that there are millions of Housewives fans in countries all over the world.
A franchise that began all the way back in 2006, the original Real Housewives show from Orange County has continued to air ever since. Considering how long this franchise has been going strong, it seems clear that the people behind these shows have figured out the best way to produce them.
You might love these shows, but do you really know what goes on behind the scenes? Here are 20 glimpses into The Real Housewives and its many stars.
20 The Real Housewives Was Inspired By Another Similarly Named Show
Unlike the majority of reality shows, The Real Housewives franchise was directly inspired by a fictional drama series, Desperate Housewives, as Bustle reports. When The Real Housewives began, Desperate Housewives was in its second season. However, that series has been off the air for several years now, and The Real Housewives has certainly taken over the spotlight!
19 The Ratings Are Inconsistent Sometimes
Considering how many Real Housewives series are produced on a yearly basis, it may seem like the most popular versions of this franchise have been consistent hits since the beginning. Of course, fans know that two main Housewives shows have been cancelled, D.C. and Miami, but certainly the long-running versions have always performed well, right?
Well, it turns out that is not the case, as TV Line reports. In 2016, for example, many of the shows experienced a decrease in ratings. Orange County viewership was down by 30 percent, while New York City's ratings dropped by 26 percent.
18 Some Housewives Don’t Live In The City Their Show Is Named After
Based on the name of these shows alone, you would think that in order to star in one of these series you would have to meet a select few criteria. For instance, it would make no sense at all if they hired someone who was single at the time to star in one of these shows. On top of that, the only other necessity to become a housewife is to live in whatever city the show in question is named after. Right? Wrong! Several of the stars of the Beverly Hills series live in nearby areas like Bel-Air, Hollywood Hills and Malibu, as Fame10 reports.
17 Some Potential Cast Members Turn Down the Opportunity
In our current celebrity-obsessed world, it often seems like virtually everyone is interested in attaining fame for themselves. The number of people who have turned down an offer to star in one of these series may surprise many Housewives fans. For example, Rod Stewart’s third wife, Penny Lancaster, was asked to join the Beverly Hills show’s cast but she seems to have firmly said no to the opportunity, Fame10 reports.
16 The Housewives No Longer Have An Expectation Of Privacy
From the outside, it may seem like all reality stars give up the same amount of privacy but that simply isn’t true. For instance, not only do the Housewives agree to be followed around by a camera crew but they have to give up quite a bit of privacy.
An example is taken from their contract, as Radar Online reports that the network and producers have the right to record the women's telephone conversations with "concealed devices."
15 Monologues Are Not Taken Lightly
When stars of the show speak to the camera, everything looks relaxed and natural, but the reality is far from that. Stars tape confessionals approximately eight times per season, as News reports. These solo moments are filmed at a studio that's decorated to look like each woman's home. So although it looks like they're sitting in their living rooms, they're actually not. The stars also get their hair and makeup done specifically for these solo TV moments.
14 Some Of The Housewives Make Loads Of Cash From Endorsement Deals
Aside from the positive effects of fame that come along with being a Real Housewives star, at the end of the day the ladies are chiefly rewarded for their involvement in these shows with large pay cheques. That said, if a Housewife is enterprising enough, there is a lot of cash to be made outside of the show.
Glamour reports that the friendship between Jacqueline Laurita and Teresa Giudice ended over endorsement deals. Jacqueline was offered quite a few deals and then Teresa went ahead and organized deals for herself with similar products!
13 This Franchise Nearly Had Another Name
A television show’s name can be an awful lot more important than you might think. For instance, there is no way to know if Friends would have been a hit under its original name, Insomnia Café. Another example of a series that underwent a name change that could have made all the difference, The Real Housewives was originally planned to be called Behind the Gates, as Glamour reports. A decent enough name, but the problem with Behind the Gates is that it is nondescript enough that it doesn’t give potential viewers enough of an idea what the show is about.
12 A Housewife’s Son Got Her On The Show
Vicki Gunvalson was chosen to star in The Real Housewives of Orange County after she came to the attention of producers in an unexpected way. Her son had replied to an ad that was looking for stars for a new reality show, but when producers came to the house to meet him, they met his mom and wanted her to be a star instead, as The Talko has previously reported. Now she's a star!
11 Full On Protection
Considering all of the drama that surrounds the stars of The Real Housewives at any given moment, it sometimes leaves us to wonder why the drama doesn’t spill outside the shows more often.
Fortunately for Housewives with loudmouths, that was thought of ahead of time and in an effort to ensure that the stars don’t hold back verbally, their contracts are said to forbid lawsuits.
As Radar Online reports, the contract states that all participants agree not to sue and sign that "if any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to their agreement, the breach of any term thereof...the parties agree to endeavor first to settle the controversy or claim by mediation."
10 They Often Eat Meals Together On Camera At Unexpected Times
One of the hallmarks of The Real Housewives is that many episodes come to a head when the stars of the show get together for some kind of social gathering. More often than not, this takes place in the form of a dining experience, whether that be getting together for a major meal or simply gathering for drinks.
However, one thing you’d never know from watching these scenes play out is they often aren’t what they seem to be. This is the case because producers expressly set up these gatherings to take place at times that are consistent with their schedules and so that they have time to set up for the shots in advance. These spontaneous outings are actually far from it!
As Jezebel reports, sometimes scenes get re-shot if they need work. In one instance, the first taping of the women leaving a restaurant didn't work, so they had to go back to their table and then re-shoot the scene.
9 Reunions Take Longer To Film Than You May Think
In some ways the most anticipated episode from each season of The Real Housewives, the reunions give fans the chance to see the ladies address their behaviour throughout the rest of the series. However, what many fans may not realize is that filming a reunion special takes between 10 and 12 hours, which is a long time to deal with so much raw emotion, as E! News reports. This amount of time includes the women getting their hair and makeup done.
8 Looking Natural Is A "No-No"
As any fan of the Real Housewives franchise likely could tell you, generally speaking the stars of these shows go all out on just about everything. A perfect example of that is even when they get together for what should be a relaxed lunch gathering, the ladies tend to be more dressed up than your average person gets for formal occasions.
As Nicki Swift reports, when stars are seen without a stitch of makeup - usually when they're not on the reality TV show - they're practically unrecognizable.
7 There Have Been A Lot More Real Housewives Shows Than You Realize
A franchise that sometimes seems to be omnipresent, at any given time there are lots of Real Housewives series that are in production. However, even though a lot of fans have picked up on that feeling, they may not realize just how many Housewives series have been produced around the world.
In America, nine different cities have had their own version of a Real Housewives show. As for other countries, 10 different international Real Housewives series have hit the airwaves. Included in that group are two Canadian series - one in Toronto and one in Vancouver, the UK’s Cheshire version, a Hungary series, and a South African one (filmed in the city of Johannesburg).
6 Andy Cohen Is Responsible For Several Returns
Due to the fact that the Real Housewives franchise has been around for nearly 13 years, it should come as no surprise that several cast members have come and gone. However, even though that makes all the sense in the world, many fans of these shows have felt really disappointed when cast members they love have departed.
Fortunately for them, TV producer Andy Cohen does his best to bring back popular cast members who’ve left the show. For example, he told Us Weekly that his conversations with Bethenny Frankel led to her return to the franchise.
5 Some Cast Members Had No Idea They Were Going To Be Housewives
When The Real Housewives Of New York was in the development stage, it went through a massive last-minute change. Originally pitched to be an original “reality” show of its own, the series was going to be called Manhattan Moms and have no direct connection to the Real Housewives franchise, as Glamour reports. However, once producers realized their show was similar to The Real Housewives of Orange County, they chose to rebrand their series.
4 A Notable Person Allegedly Paid To Be On The Show
One of the most disliked people to appear on The Real Housewives of Orange County, Slade Smiley dated more than one of the ladies and his actions led to a lot of unfortunate drama. Amazingly enough, he only appeared on the show due to a donation he made during a charity auction. As Glamour reports, he paid $2,500 to be on an unnamed reality show.
3 During The First Season, Cast Members Made Very Little Money
If you thought that the Housewives were paid a fortune from the very start, then you may be surprised to learn that is the furthest thing from the truth. This was even the case for big names such as Bethenny Frankel. As Page Six reports, she was given $7,250 for the entire first season of The Real Housewives Of New York back in 2008. Nowadays, she makes $1 million for each season, as Reality Blurb reports.
2 The Ladies Are Contractually Obligated To Look A Certain Way
Remember what we said earlier about how glamorous the stars on The Real Housewives always look? Well, that's no coincidence. They have to sign contracts that dictates they look a certain way, down to their hair colour.
Kelly Bensimon of Real Housewives Of New York was once reprimanded for looking natural during a horseback-riding session. "[The producers] were like, 'the next time you film, you need to have your hair blown out and be wearing makeup You're supposed to be a supermodel, not a drowned rat!'" she recalls, as Town And Country reports.
1 It's Rumoured That Certain Phone Calls Are Staged
At the end of the day, the core concept of any “reality” show is supposed to be that unlike scripted series, they are made up of footage of real-life events of the stars' lives. As a result of that, the worst thing you can accuse a so-called “reality” show of is being fake.
Unfortunately, for the people behind The Real Housewives, a cast member of the New York version of the show has claimed that at least one aspect of her series is staged. According to Alex McCord, many of the phone calls you see on the show happen because producers instruct the ladies to call one another, as Insider reports.
References: Bustle, TV Line, Radar Online, Jezebel, Glamour, E! News, Page Six