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Real Housewives

Kristen Taekman: Pretty Girl in the Big Apple

Glenn Rowley

 Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

After two seasons as one of the Real Housewives of New York City, resident Pretty Girl Kristen Taekman announced back in October 2015 that she's leaving the show ahead of Season 8. In her exclusive statement to Us Weekly, Kristen stated that she was choosing to focus on her family and her growing number of business ventures including her nail polish line, Pop of Color and her fashion blog, Last Night's Look. In the wake of the Season 8 trailer being released this week, I decided it was the perfect time to look back at Kristen's two seasons as a Housewife and break down why the Pretty Girl was good for the NYC franchise.

Season 6

kristen-taekman-rhony-season-6-premiere

Kristen was introduced as the newest Housewife in Season 6, taking a demoted Countess Luann de Lesseps' spot in the cast. From her first moment on screen, the statuesque blonde generated a buzzy first impression on 'Wives and viewers alike - first with her controversial opening tagline ("I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I'm pretty"), then with her surprise appearance at Heather Thomson's birthday party in the season premiere. The former model, mother of two and self-professed Elvis super fan was brought into the cast by the Yummy founder, who worked with Kristen's husband Josh for years under P. Diddy's employ at Bad Boy. Feeling gun shy about letting a new woman into the group after the massive self-implosion of Aviva Drescher during the season prior and intimidated by the new girl's stunning looks, veterans Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan took it upon themselves to corner Kristen at the party to make sure she could be trusted - leaving the newcomer feeling like she was being interrogated by a pair of "crazy, drunk aunts." Things were clearly off to a good start.

 Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

As the season began, battle lines were already drawn between Aviva and many of the other women, with Kristen left in the middle to navigate the proverbial minefield as she got to know her new cast mates. Right away, she hit it off with Heather's other BFF, Carole Radziwill, joining some of the other women to celebrate when Carole was named Queen of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Yet, when #BookGate erupted between Carole and Aviva, Kristen tried to stay neutral in an effort to give the latter a fair chance. However, when she tried to express her desire to stay out of the feud during a playdate between her and Aviva's kids, the one-legged villain bluntly told Kristen to "shut the f*** up" about it, leaving the newbie visibly stunned and rightfully prompting her to side with Carole over the baseless ghostwriter accusations Aviva had leveled against her. 

 Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Just as #BookGate was reaching its dramatic climax, Kristen found herself in her own battle with veteran Ramona. The tension between the two started when Ramona and Sonja decided to boycott Heather and Jonathan's 10th anniversary party after Aviva wasn't included on the guest list. Being a friend of Heather's, this didn't sit well with Kristen and she decided to confront Ramona about her childish behavior over the Fourth of July weekend in the Hamptons. Naturally, the Ramonacoaster didn't take kindly to being confronted and defensively lashed out at Kristen, saying she was nothing more than a pretty face until she decided to stand up for Heather. Going head to head with the OG of the NYC takes some major guts, and Kristin pointedly showed Ramona that she didn't have any problem sticking up for herself or her friends.

kristen-taekman-ramona-singer-water-fight

Once a 'Wife lands on Ramona's bad side, things were only bound to get worse, and get worse they did. During a day of spa treatments, Sonja accused Ramona of sabotaging her relationship with her boyfriend of the moment, and when Kristen jokingly chimed in that maybe Ramona was jealous, the OG impetuously tossed her glassful of champagne at the newbie. Taken aback, Kristen reacted by splashing Ramona back, dousing her with water from the hot tub and ruining her blow-out - and we all know how seriously the Ramonacoaster takes her blow-outs. An annoyed Ramona proceeded to storm off to put her hair in curlers, calling Kristen a "real b***h" while failing to recognize that she was the one who threw champagne at the model in the first place.

 Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

However, the water war was far from over. The very next episode, Heather invited all the women (minus Aviva) on a girls' weekend to her vacation home in the Berkshires. Ramona was none too thrilled about this trip, insinuating that the only poor people vacationed in the Berkshires but went along anyway. It was on this trip that the drama escalated to a whole new level. On a day of fishing and swimming at the local watering hole, Kristen snuck up to Ramona's canoe, eavesdropped on the OG badmouthing her and Josh to Sonja and decided to surprise Ramona by splashing her (again!). Furious, Ramona retaliated by chucking her glass of wine at Kristen - this time with the glass included. Just as Ramona reached for an oar to throw along with it, the glass connected with Kristen's face, splitting her lip and, for the first and only time in Housewives history, drawing blood. As Kristen swam to shore to ensure she wouldn't need stitches, Ramona refused to take any accountability for physically injuring her cast mate, attempting to blame the situation on Kristen for splashing her in the first place. Only hours later did Ramona give a half-hearted "sort of, I guess" apology, which - rather than resolving the issue - led to a screaming match between the two. While Kristen had every right to be angry about getting a face full of wine glass, in hindsight it was the perfect mix of hilarious and ludicrous to see Ramona shrieking "Who are you to get me wet?! Did I ask you to get me wet?!" at the top of her lungs. (Upon their return to NYC, Ramona eventually apologized for real - complete with a bouquet of flowers - though Kristen still managed to call her a "monster" while accepting the long overdue mea culpa.)

kristen-taekman-montana-bossy

Later in the season, Kristen took the reins of the yearly cast trip, persuading the women to spend a week at an upscale dude ranch outside of Missoula, Montana. A week in the middle of nowhere wasn't exactly the kind of vacation some of the ladies were used to (ahem, Ramonja), and Montana certainly pushed the 'Wives out of their comfort zones as they drove cattle, shot rifles, repelled down a mountain, threw hatchets and went to a real-life rodeo. The outdoor adventure wasn't without its fair share of drama however. In the most unexpected showdown of the season, Kristen squared off against her old friend Heather during an afternoon of geocaching, accusing her of being "bossy" and needing to be in control of every area of her life - including her husband and her friends. By trip's end, the pair were able to bury the proverbial hatchet and move on, but not before a tense shouting match on a night of "glamping" with Kristen draped in a giant fur coat.

 Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

As viewers got to know Kristen better throughout the season, her family life became the backbone for much of her personal storyline - particularly her relationship with Josh. Prior to letting cameras into their lives, the Taekmans had relocated from California back to New York City so that Josh could focus on his entrepreneurial venture EBOOST, a line of natural energy drinks and pre-workout supplements. Launching a new business and moving across the country had put a bit of strain on the couple's relationship and they often bickered on camera over Josh's ineffective balancing of his work and home life. Josh often seemed to talk down to Kristen, even going so far as to scream at her for interrupting a conference call when she called to ask when he would be home for dinner. In one particularly memorable moment, Josh convinced Kristen to run the 2013 Spartan Race as a couple, along with Heather and Jonathan. Despite his promises to stay by her side throughout the race, Josh essentially left Kristen in the dust, leaving her to navigate through mud pits, 25-foot climbing ropes, barbed wire and other obstacles on her own. 

 Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Things eventually unraveled to the point that Kristen managed to persuade Josh to meet with a professional to work on the issues in their relationship. In their initial meeting with a therapist...er, "mediator" according to Josh...the Taekmans agreed that lack of healthy communication was the number one problem plaguing their marriage. Heartbreakingly, Kristen tearfully admitted that she constantly felt secondary to Josh's company, and that no matter how much she did to support him, she sometimes felt he didn't love her. However, they left the session on a positive note, promising to each work on communicating and being open with the other.

 Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Kristen's rookie season ended both successfully and dramatically for her. On the successful hand, she leveraged her relationship with the boss to book a modeling campaign for EBOOST, which was the first step in reigniting a new chapter in her modeling career. On the dramatic hand, Kristen found herself united with the rest of the 'Wives against Aviva, who had bowed out of the Montana trip at the last second under the guise of having "moderate to severe asthma." Having been absent for a large chunk of the season, Aviva confronted Kristen and the other women at the season finale party at Le Cirque, slamming her prosthetic leg on the table and throwing it across the room in an over-the-top display that Kristen and her fellow 'Wives called out for being premeditated and inauthentic. Yet, in the moment, it was Kristen's aghast reaction that spoke for every viewer watching at home.

 Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

In the three-part Season 6 reunion, Kristen got the coveted hot seat right next to Andy Cohen. Anchoring #TeamLeftCouch with Heather, Carole and Luann, she battled it out with Ramona over the wine glass toss in the Berkshires, called Sonja "delusional" and called BS on Aviva's villainous season-long antics. However, possibly the best thing about Kristen's first reunion was her stunning outfit, which featured a custom silver bustier top by designer Christiaan Choy paired with a gorgeous high-waisted, navy Lanvin skirt, Jimmy Choo heels and Deborah Pagani jewelry. In the sit-down's final moments, Kristen explained that her biggest takeaway from her first season as a Housewife was what she referred to as the importance of the "art of communication" in both her marriage and her friendships with the women. She also even managed to clink glasses with Ramona while accepting the OG's final apology for how she treated her over the course of the season.

Season 7

bethenny-frankel-kristen-taekman-battle-of-brunches

As Season 7 began, Kristen was firmly aligned with the rest of #TeamLeftCouch while Aviva was out and Bethenny Frankel was back after a three-season absence. With the outspoken Skinnygirl mogul back in the mix, the dynamic of the group shifted dramatically within the first few episodes, and when OGs Bethenny and Ramona threw competing brunches in the Hamptons, Kristen, Carole, Heather and Luann were caught in the middle as they diplomatically went to both midmorning meals. Yet despite the invitation to brunch, Kristen was left out in the cold when Bethenny's birthday came around and she found herself as the only 'Wife who didn't get an invite to the party.

kristen-taekman-dorinda-medley-berkshires-argument

Kristen also managed to butt heads with newbie Dorinda Medley early in the season. Following an incident at Dorinda's cocktail party at World Bar when her boyfriend John Mahdessian got a bit too touchy-feely with both Kristen and Sonja, the Pretty Girl found herself on the receiving end of Dorinda's rage. At a weekend getaway in the Berkshires to celebrate Dorinda's birthday, Kristen mentioned to Ramona that John's flirty behavior made her uncomfortable and the conversation set Dorinda off. Defending her controversial boyfriend, the newcomer accused Kristen of "playing coquettish" and not being entirely innocent in the whole situation. However, the argument eventually turned into a genuine moment between the ladies as Dorinda opened up about how much John had helped her following the passing of her husband Richard and Kristen agreed to chalk the incident at World Bar up to a simple misunderstanding.

kristen-taekman-pop-of-color

Kristen also used her second season on the show as a platform to launch new business ventures, including her fabulous fashion blog, Last Night's Look, and her nail polish line called Pop of Color. However, even Kristen's businesses weren't without a heaping dose of drama when she found out from Carole that Bethenny was criticizing her behind her back for allegedly failing to trademark Pop of Color. Up to this point, Kristen had continuously felt boxed out by the Skinnygirl, and when she tried to confront Bethenny over her trademark comments, the OG literally got up and walked away from the conversation - making it abundantly clear she wasn't interested in engaging with the Pretty Girl.

dont-call-kristen-taekman-dumb

Kristen's feud with Bethenny continued as the women began planning their cast trip to the Turks and Caicos. At the launch party for Luann's fashion line, the Countess Collection, Ramona decided to jump into the fray by sticking up for Bethenny and calling Kristen "dumb" for not seeing that the Skinnygirl was going through a difficult time in her life. Over the course of her two seasons as a Housewife, the d-word was continually a hot button for Kristen and this moment was no exception. Firing back that she can't know what's going on in Bethenny's life when Bethenny won't talk to her, Kristen stormed away from the conversation, but not before pointedly letting Ramona know that she could defend herself without throwing her wine glass.

 Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Following the epic trip to the Turks and Caicos, Kristen hosted a Denim and Diamonds decorating party for the women to create custom jeans to be auctioned off at her Smile Train charity event. However, what was supposed to be a fun day of crafty decorating turned out to be a series of confrontations between the 'Wives, with Bethenny taking Kristen to task for talking about her in the press and then the Pretty Girl trying to mediate blow-ups between Heather, Luann and Dorinda. Even so, Kristen's actual Smile Train event turned out to be a massive success, raising money for cleft palate surgeries for kids in developing countries - as well as generating drama between Ramona and Heather over whose products received higher billing as an event sponsor.

kristen-taekman-rhony-season-7-finale

As the season drew to a close, Kristen once again experienced equal doses of personal success and interpersonal drama. In an exciting turn of events, Kristen collaborated with famed designer Elie Tahari during New York Fashion Week to officially debut Pop of Color during the presentation of his collection. Later, at Ramona's New Beginnings party, Sonja had a bone to pick with Kristen, confronting her over comments she made during Lady Morgan's fashion show to the New York Post about the toaster oven that never was. Without even reading the article, Sonja had decided she didn't want to be friends with Kristen anymore, but was forced to eat crow when the Pretty Girl actually pulled the article up on her phone and proved her comments were anything but malicious.

 Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

At the Season 7 reunion, Kristen stunned in a bold Maestro by Sylvio gown, long blonde hair extensions and, naturally, Pop of Color nails. However, she also found herself at the end of the couch, far from her prime seating at the prior reunion. Over the course of the three-part sit-down in the Edison Ballroom, Kristen struggled a bit to get a word in edgewise, but rehashed her conflicts with Bethenny, Dorinda and Sonja, coined the phrase "underbelly of anger" in reference to Dorinda's dirty martini-fueled dark side and called out Ramona for letting a complete stranger sleep naked and unattended in the room attached to Carole and Heather's in the Turks and Caicos. The one issue that didn't get covered that I was dying to hear one last argument about was Bethenny and Kristen's clash about Pop of Color and talking to the press. Overall, though, the reunion ended on a positive note for all the women, and they even went out to dinner together after the day's filming wrapped.

kristen-taekman-josh-taekman-wedding-anniversary

Following Season 7, scandal struck the Taekman household when Josh's name was linked to the Ashley Madison hack and it came to light that he had an account on the infidelity network. While he first denied having any knowledge of the website, Josh eventually caved to "foolishly" signing up for an account with some friends, but insisted he had never actually been unfaithful to Kristen. The scandal was made all the more poignant when the Season 7 Secrets Revealed episode aired, showing Kristen and Josh celebrating their 10th anniversary with an elegant black tie party at Tavern on the Green. Donning her gorgeous lace wedding dress, Kristen gave an emotional, loving toast at the event, and expressed in her confessional how important it felt to stop and recognize such a major milestone in her relationship with Josh. 

kristen-taekman-rhony-100th-episode-special

All in all, I'm an unabashed Kristen Taekman fan. Over the course of her two seasons on the show, she added both a chic and modern fashion sense and a genuine kindness to the group dynamic, and her presence will be sorely missed. While I'm very much looking forward to Season 8, I'm really sad to see Kristen go and even though the adage "once a Housewife, always a Housewife" holds true, I think it's safe to say that The Real Housewives of New York City has sadly gotten a little less pretty.