Season 7 of RHONY has come to an end. From the Battle of the Brunches and Atlantic City to girl code and the Turks and Caicos, it was a season full of drama, catfights and an unprecedented dose of girl power among the New York 'Wives. It truly was a season to remember, reigniting the franchise and catapulting RHONY back to the level of must-see TV. Below I break down what made the season so fantastic, what could change for Season 8 and where the season ranks in the history of RHONY.
WHY IT WORKED
- The perfect cast: In the beginning of the season, many questioned how well the cast would work with eight full-time Housewives, a previously unheard-of number. However, the decision just worked - there was a natural ebb and flow among the storylines, each woman had her moment in the spotlight and every Housewife was an integral part of the season's success. In addition, the mix of personalities this year was really great. The women clicked because of their similarities and clashed because of their differences, but no one was a toxic cloud on the proceedings like Aviva had been the previous year. Moral of the story: Trust Andy Cohen when he says eight Housewives will work.
- The return of the B: No single moment in the Housewives franchise caused more hype this year than the return of Bethenny Frankel. Sure, she needed some time to get her sea legs back under her at the beginning of the season, and there were enough tears to warrant a Bethenny crying montage at the reunion, but her return delivered on its promise to put the spark back in the franchise. After three years away from Bravo, fans saw a completely new version of Bethenny, who arguably became the most successful Housewives alum of all time. However, also coming off the cancellation of her eponymous talk show and still in the midst of an ugly divorce from her ex, Bethenny came to the season with plenty of baggage to work through while inserting herself back into this group of ladies. Watching Bethenny navigate conflicts and put out fires with Heather and Kristen, newer 'Wives who had taken the reins in her absence, was endlessly entertaining to watch. Get off my jock!
- Personal storylines: Yes we had the fights and feuds we've come to love on the Housewives, but among the arguing, we watched the women go through very real and raw life experiences. Carole and Dorinda's widows' trip to London to retrieve the ashes of Carole's late husband was a powerful bonding moment for the two and one of the highlights of the season. We also watched a new and improved Ramona navigate through her separation from Mario and Bethenny confront her childhood by meeting her stepfather in Miami for the first time in decades. The long overdue conversation finally allowed the Skinnygirl to begin to find healing from her abusive, chaotic childhood.
- Girl power: Much has been made this season of the concept of girl code, mostly by Luann for obviously self-interested reasons, but the heart of the season was really all about girl power. As Bethenny pointed out at the reunion, this season felt different from the last time she was on the show because the drama wasn't dark, nasty or ugly. Yes, the women fought and argued over Adam the hot chef, being know-it-alls and the appropriate time to use the F-word, but at the end of the day they really, truly liked each other. This cast-wide camaraderie was something viewers had literally never seen before on any season of any city in the franchise, and it was honestly refreshing to see a group of Housewives who could all go out to dinner together after filming a contentious, dramatic reunion. Long live RHONY girl power!
WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE
- Cast shake-ups: Every season, the rotating door of Housewives inevitably changes a bit, so as perfect as Season 7's cast was, it won't stay the same for Season 8. If I had it my way, I'd keep the cast the exact same - even with 23 episodes, the season still felt like it ended too soon. That's how much I like watching this group of women. However, Heather Thomson already announced this week that she won't be returning next year and there's a possibility that one or two 'Wives may be let go or demoted to Friend of status.
- The problem with Lady Morgan: How do you solve a problem like Sonja? Amidst a close-to-perfect season, Sonja's smoke and mirrors show remained the one dark spot. Whether she was getting plastered in Atlantic City, having an angry meltdown in the Turks and Caicos or defending her "international fashion lifestyle brand" to the other ladies, Sonja's storyline remained frustrating. It just gets to a point where it's not entertaining to watch anymore, and I feel like that point is way past due. I don't want to read one more defensive blog about how the women don't believe in her or see one more scene where she is sloppily showing off her vagina in a state of intoxication. It's not a good look, and her delusions run so deep that I don't know what can be done at this point. Yes, the season ended on a high for Sonja - she managed to pull off her fashion show and finally dug herself out of the financial hole she'd been in since her introduction to the series. I think now is as good a time as any to put Sonja out to pasture: her story has had a beginning and a middle, and ended on a decently high note. Judging by the fact that she found herself on the end of the couch at the reunion, it makes sense to either demote her next year to a Friend of the Housewives or let her go completely. I honestly can't watch any more of the smoky eye, up-do, Gstaad circus.
- Kristen in the spotlight: I would say Kristen Taekman had a good season. Her storyline this year focused on launching her nail polish line Pop of Color, her fashion blog Last Night's Look and also included her charity work with SmileTrain. However, her life since the show finished airing has been all shook up, and not in an Elvis way. Following the Ashley Madison hack, it was discovered that Kristen's husband Josh had an account on the social network designed for facilitating affairs and suddenly RHONY's resident pretty girl found herself in the middle of a headline-making scandal. While she hasn't directly addressed the news besides thanking her fans for their support on Twitter, Ramona and Sonja have both given statements to the press about the situation and reports have swirled in the media that Kristen will be asked back next year because of the scandal. If she comes back for Season 8, we should expect her marriage and the fallout from the Ashley Madison news to be a major part of her storyline.
1. Season 7: I'm just going to say it. This was the best season RHONY has ever had. I may be biased because it just ended, but I honestly loved every minute of it. Perfect cast + perfect amounts of drama, laughter and human moments. Do you agree?
2. Season 3: The popularity of Season 3 is an undisputed fact among Housewives fans. The Jill vs. Bethenny feud ushered in a new era for the franchise in terms of narrative storytelling and remains one of the all-time high marks in Housewives history. Plus, Scary Island and Kelly's jellybean meltdown as well as Sonja's introduction to the show back when she was "classy not trashy."
3. Season 4: The loss of Bethenny was a blow, but the women kept the momentum going in the war between the blondes and the brunettes. Morocco, the march for marriage equality, Alex McCord's Herman Munster shoes - this season was full of great moments and memorable one-liners. However, the season also got too nasty for fans, prompting the network to fire half the cast after a particularly dark reunion. Ya habibi, baby!
4. Season 5: Season 5 was a hard reset for the show that introduced fans to Carole Radziwill, Heather Thomson and Avivia Drescher. With half the cast being replaced, it took a while for the women to gel, but Aviva's "white trash" meltdown on Slutty Island goes down as one of the most memorable Housewives vacation moments in history. Plus, this is the season that gave us Sonja's non-existent toaster oven and Luann's tryst with the pirate in St. Barths.
5. Season 2: In hindsight, the early seasons look quaint in comparison to what Housewives has become, but we did get Kelly's epic "I'm up here and you're down here" feud with Bethenny this season as well as better days in the friendship of Jill and Bethenny.
6. Season 6: I liked the sixth season when it was airing, but after some time away, it just doesn't stack up against many of the other seasons. Kristen was a great addition to the cast, but Aviva proved to be one of the least-effective villains in Housewives history by refusing to go on any of the season's trips and being cut out of the opening credits entirely in half a dozen episodes. Plus, the leg throw in the season finale was so over-hyped and felt too premeditated on Aviva's part to have any authentic impact. I did love BookGate, however. Note to self: don't mess with Writer Girl about her career.
7. Season 1: The debut season is at the bottom of the pack solely because it feels like a prototype compared to all the subsequent seasons we've been given. However, there's definitely something about the original five 'Wives that brings back a flood of nostalgia for simpler times.