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Real Housewives

Filtering by Category: Vintage Housewives

Revisiting #BookGate: RHONY's Season 6 Literary Feud

Glenn Rowley

rhony-bookgate

The Real Housewives of New York City have given us an endless number of memorable fights and feuds over the years. From Jill Zarin and Bethenny Frankel's iconic falling out and Kelly Bensimon's descent into madness on Scary Island during the show's third season to the battle between the blondes and brunettes that dominated much of Season 4, there are certainly plenty of confrontations viewers won't be forgetting any time soon. Since RHONY's eighth season premieres this Wednesday, I figured it would be fun to look back on one of my absolute favorite showdowns in the history of the series: Season 6's literary war between Aviva Drescher and Carole Radziwill that became known in the course of Housewives history as #BookGate. So let's go back a couple chapters and reexamine the epic battle between RHONY's one-legged villain and cool voice of reason.

leggy-blonde-aviva-drescher

Our story begins at the start of Season 6, where Aviva has been offered a book deal between seasons to write a memoir and share her story as an amputee, appropriately titled Leggy Blonde. Now, this is a pretty standard branding opportunity for a Housewife: thanks to her role on the show, said 'Wife gets the chance to further establish her personal brand and cash in on her newfound celebrity status by publishing some type of book. We've seen it time and again, from Teresa Guidice's cookbook empire and Melissa Gorga's controversial "bible for marriage" to Taylor Armstrong's story as an abuse survivor following the suicide of her husband Russell in 2011. Earlier this year, we even got a peek into Tre's year-long stint in federal prison, thanks to the publication of her tell-all memoir mere weeks after her release date. Aviva's book, in particular, would tell the story of her life - from the farming accident that took her leg as a child to joining RHONY as part of the controversial Season 5 reboot.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

While book deals have become a dime a dozen in the Bravo universe, one 'Wife's literary accomplishments stand well about the rest. Coming into the franchise with a journalism career lasting more than two decades, a New York Times bestselling memoir and multiple awards under her belt, RHONY's Carole Radziwill is the real deal when it comes to putting pen to paper. In fact, Cool Carole's career as a writer was so well-known that Aviva gushed over her new co-star's first memoir, What Remains, upon meeting her in the Season 5 premiere. So naturally, when Aviva locked down her book deal, she called upon Carole for some advice and help. However, Aviva's bizarre and aggressive behavior throughout Season 5 hadn't exactly endeared her to her cast mates, and she found herself on the outs with Carole and the other ladies as Season 6 began. 

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

At Heather Thomson's birthday party in the Season 6 premiere, Aviva asked Carole for help editing Leggy Blonde, but the #BookGate feud officially kicked off when the pair went to lunch in the following episode. The meal started awkwardly enough when Aviva pulled out a pair of glasses nearly identical to the pair Carole had been rocking the previous season. Vivs pulled a full-blown Single White Female! Yikes. Off-putting to say the least. As Carole said in her confessional, imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery. Actual flattery is. As Aviva launched into telling Carole about how she'd spent the last few months under a rock writing her memoir, the conversation quickly took a strange turn. While Aviva had been working on her memoir, Carole was in the final editing stages of her first novel, A Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating. Comparing their different writing processes, Carole explained that she insisted her editor consult her on any changes that were over two letters, and asked how Aviva actually put her story on paper - did she end up hiring a ghostwriter?

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Much to Carole's surprise, Aviva balked at the suggestion she would have her book ghostwritten, and likened it to writing a long email. Never mind that hiring a ghostwriter for a celebrity memoir is a standard best practice in the publishing world or that Aviva had no previous writing experience, apparently sitting down to write your life story for a major publisher is just a breeze. Clearly bothered by the ghostwriter suggestion, Aviva somewhat inexplicably decided to go on the attack, turning the question around and asking whether Carole had either of her books ghostwritten. Now, let's just stop right here. This question is absolutely nonsensical, considering Carole's 20+ writing career. In her pre-Housewives life, the woman worked for Peter Jennings documentary unit at ABC News and won three Emmys and a Peabody Award. When she joined the show in 2012, Carole was still writing a monthly column for Glamour magazine. The insinuation that she would hire a ghostwriter for her memoir is not only bizarre and insulting, it's flat-out wrong.

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Naturally, this ghostwriter gossip quickly circulated among the other 'Wives, as both women rehashed the awkward lunch with the group. Carole rightfully felt that Aviva was trying to call both her career and personal integrity into question, while Aviva claimed that Carole was simultaneously one-upping her and putting her down. Further, Aviva started spreading rumors to the rest of the group that her publishing house had passed on Carole's new novel, and that "the word on the street" was that her first memoir was actually ghostwritten by legendary editor Bill Whitworth. These inflammatory accusations turned out to be the main topic of conversation at Aviva's housewarming party, prompting an infuriated Carole to pull the hostess aside mid-event for an impromptu confrontation.

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The conversation started out rather calmly, with Carole explaining that there wasn't any element of competition between the two 'Wives - she was happy Aviva got a book deal, but asked her not compare her singular memoir with Carole's entire journalism and writing career. It's like apples to insulting oranges. Not even remotely the same thing. However, once Aviva brought up the accusation about Bill Whitworth, Cool Carole went from voice of reason to rightfully enraged, calling Aviva a liar who had no idea what she was talking about. Aviva continued to run with her story that Widow's Guide had been turned down by her publisher, but Carole incredulously pointed out that her book had been the subject of an intense bidding war between six different publishing houses, which had been covered extensively in the press. Check your facts, Vivs. The argument continued to escalate, eventually spilling out into the stairwell in front of the other guests as Carole called Aviva a "mean, nasty, insulting bi***" and a soulless "psychopath." Storming out of the party, Carole declared her friendship with Aviva officially over, saying the other woman was "completely out of touch with reality." Aviva, of course, continued to vent to some of the other 'Wives, insisting that it "takes a village" to write a book and Carole couldn't possibly have done it herself.

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From that point on, the feud only intensified as the other 'Wives took sides and declared themselves either Team Carole or Team Aviva. As Carole's resident BFF on the show, Heather obviously took up for her alongside newcomer Kristen Taekman, while Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan were more supportive of Aviva. When Countess Luann de Lesseps hosted a BBQ for all the ladies at her home in the Hamptons, Carole and Aviva went for round 2 of their argument and Heather's protective side came out in full force to back up her bestie. Accusing Aviva of attempting to assassinate Carole's character with her gossip and rumors, the Yummie founder clashed with both Vivs and "image consultant" Amanda Sanders, whom the blonde villain had brought as backup. Ultimately, Heather jumping into the fight resulted in her gangsta side rearing its head as she unleashed "don't tell me anything, motherf***er!" on Aviva in the midst of the chaos. Don't mess with the Holla! queen, people.

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At Kristen's beachside clambake to celebrate the Fourth of July, the two women attempted to bury the #BookGate hatchet once and for all. Carole couldn't understand what she had said at their first lunch that was so offensive that it sparked Aviva's relentless campaign to slander her entire life's work. In just two years, Aviva had gone from Carole's superfan to maligning the very career she had so vocally admired in when they met. It was something akin to emotional whiplash. However, in yet another bizarre about-face, Aviva came to the beach ready to sing Carole's praises, admitting that she had read A Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating. Having somehow managed to get her hands on a pre-release copy meant for the press and people in the publishing industry, Aviva pulled Carole's book from her bag and claimed to have loved every page. With an outlandish "job well done," Aviva called a ceasefire on the episodes-long feud and the Housewives eventually moved on to other drama.

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While Carole spent the remainder of the season largely avoiding her frenemy, the #Bookgate drama was rehashed one final time during the Season 6 reunion. With Andy Cohen mediating, the two 'Wives simply couldn't see eye to eye. Despite maintaining that it "takes a village" to write a book, Aviva once again denied employing a ghostwriter for her memoir. (She also spouted off that Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird was supposedly ghostwritten by Truman Capote, but that's neither here nor there.) Carole justifiably pointed out that not all Housewives fights are created equal. This wasn't about ditching a trip or getting someone's blowout wet, this was Aviva attempting to discredit her entire life's work as a journalist and storyteller. Without any resolution in sight, Andy put a lid on the feud once and for all.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

To this day, Housewives fans have never gotten any definitive answers on who used a ghostwriter and who didn't. We may never know the full truth behind #BookGate. However, I think it's fairly safe to say that the evidence speaks for itself. Carole has an established, award-winning literary career, which she built over two decades as a journalist, author and now reality TV star. A Widow's Guide... was optioned as a TV show and she spent all of Season 7 working on her third book, which will be a collection of personal essays. In fact, her contract with her publisher even prevented her from blogging for Bravotv.com during the season. Aviva, on the other hand, was fired following Season 6 for refusing to take part in either of the cast's trips to the Berkshires and Montana and manufacturing the infamous leg throw at Le Circque during the season finale. I don't know about you, but in the epic battle for literary glory, I say Writer Girl comes out unequivocally on top.

Whose side were you on in the #BookGate drama? Do you miss Aviva's antics on the show? Comment below and don't forget to tune in to Season 8 of The Real Housewives of New York City, premiering Wednesday, April 6 only on Bravo!

Faye Resnick: Morally Corrupt or Misunderstood?

Glenn Rowley

faye-resnick-rhobh-season-3

For the past six seasons of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Faye Resnick has been a lightning rod of criticism and controversy nearly every time she's appeared onscreen. After a couple of seasons away from the cameras, the sometimes-Friend of the Housewives has returned in the current sixth season and ignited a firestorm amongst 'Wives and viewers alike. However, after all her time on the show, the question needs to be asked: does Faye deserve the bad rap she's received or is she simply being misrepresented? For this week's feature, I'm looking back on Faye's intermittent appearances on RHOBH to figure out the answer.

Season 1

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Faye's first appearance on RHOBH was during Season 1's now-iconic Dinner Party From Hell. Three quarters of the way through the season, Camille Grammer hosted the meal at her palatial Malibu estate that would set the precedent for all subsequent dinner parties in every city of the Housewives franchise. Besides the 'Wives, Camille invited her best friend Dedra Whitt as well as psychic medium Allison DuBois to the dinner party and Kyle Richards brought along Faye for support. All season long, Kyle and Camille had been butting heads over an off-hand comment Kyle had supposedly made off-camera questioning why anyone would be interested in Camille without her (soon-to-be ex-)husband Kelsey. Kyle denied making the comment, calling Camille "insecure" and "such a f***ing liar," which escalated the feud between the two. Needless to say, by the time the infamous dinner party rolled around, the two weren't exactly on the friendliest terms.

camille-grammer-dinner-party-from-hell

All in all, the Dinner Party from Hell started civilly until Camille requested an explanation of who exactly Faye was. At the far end of the table, Kyle began explaining that Faye was a longtime friend of her family's, but Camille cut her off to declare that she knew where she'd seen Faye before: posing in Playboy after the O.J. Simpson trial. (A little background: in the 90s, Faye was Nicole Brown Simpson's best friend and was even living with her up until a few days before her gruesome murder. She became a key player in the subsequent media frenzy and trial, turning her into something of a household name at the time.) In her confessional, Camille dubbed her "the morally corrupt Faye Resnick" and the nickname stuck like glue. I mean sure, Camille had posed for Playboy at one point too, but it was for the Book of Lingerie and she wasn't coming off the murder trial of the century, OK? From there the dinner party descended into chaos, filled with contagious fighting and cruel, alcohol-fueled "readings" from an e-cigarette puffing medium we'll never forget. Know that.

Season 3

faye-resnick-vs-brandi-glanville

After a few appearances in Season 2 (she was there when we met Brandi Glanville at the "wedge but no bra party"), Faye's presence on RHOBH increased in the third season. The primary source of drama that year surrounded the feud between Brandi Glanville and Adrienne Maloof involving secrets Brandi had made public about Adrienne's family. (In fact, the information was so private that Bravo was legally barred from sharing it on camera, though we later learned through the media that the secret involved the surrogacy of Adrienne and Paul Nassif's children.) As a friend of Kyle's, Faye was present at numerous group events at the time and when Kyle threw a small dinner to break in her newly-renovated dining room, Faye was on the guest list. Adrienne, however, was not at the party. Following her massive blow-up with Brandi in the episode prior, the tension was at an all-time high and she chose not to attend. Naturally, the explosive drama was the night's topic of conversation and Faye took it upon herself to go head-to-head with Brandi and defend the absent Adrienne. 

faye-resnick-rhobh-season-3-interview

What Faye said made perfect sense as she called Brandi out for her history of hitting below the belt and turning on her cast mates for seemingly no reason. However, going on the attack made Brandi look like the victim in the situation and as the blonde bad girl excused herself from the table and left the party in a flurry of tears and "poor me" platitudes, Faye was left looking like the bad guy. Sensing they had a potential pot-stirrer on their hands, Bravo promptly promoted Faye to official Friend of the Housewives status - adding her to an already gigantic cast. However, and this I will never understand, viewers responded overwhelmingly negatively to Faye on the show, inexplicably siding with Brandi even though Adrienne and her family were the real victims. In fact, when Faye wrote her first (and only) blog for Bravotv.com to tell her side of the story and again defend Adrienne, it was so unanimously reviled by fans and inundated with negative comments that the blog post was taken down, never to be read again - and with it, Faye's role as an unintentional villain was cemented in the Housewives lexicon.

faye-resnick-vodka-party

Due to her upgraded role on the show, Faye continued to appear at major events throughout the remainder of the season. She took an absent Kim's place at the tea party thrown by Lisa Vanderpump which devolved into a screaming match between Adrienne and Brandi over who was suing who, and had a front-row seat to their next confrontation at Kyle's annual White Party. While Faye wasn't invited on the cast trip to Paris, she helped Kyle celebrate the opening of her store, Kyle by Alene Too (which Faye designed) and reveled in filling the ladies in at the launch party for Adrienne's new vodka line on some of Brandi's naughty behavior at the White Party. (Apparently, the bad girl of Beverly Hills had a little less-than-fully-clothed sexy time with a stranger in Kyle's daughter's room in the middle of the party...) She even got her own confessional look by season's end! If a Friend of the Housewives' job was to show up to events and stir the pot, Faye was certainly doing a good job of it. 

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At Lisa Vanderpump and Ken Todd's 30th anniversary vow renewal, which served as the Season 3 finale, Faye did a quick job of inserting herself squarely in the middle of the drama. In the wake of Adrienne and Paul's announcement that they were separating, she faced off once again with Brandi over the self-proclaimed truth cannon's role in the demise of the marriage. Further, she warned Yolanda Foster that she was being manipulated by the former model, and when Brandi demanded she "be a lady" and leave the conversation, Faye delivered her most quotable moment of the season: "No matter how many Chanels you borrow, you will never, ever be a lady." She followed that barb up by asking Brandi how she felt about breaking up a family, thereby placing blame squarely on Brandi's shoulders for adding undue stress to Adrienne and Paul's relationship. Later, Faye took aim at Lisa Vanderpump, accusing the queen bee of getting Brandi's mouth to do most of the dirty work for her in her season-long vendetta against Adrienne. Obviously, Lisa was insulted by this suggestion and turned around to accuse Faye of being Kyle's mouthpiece when she happened to use a chess analogy to describe Lisa's behind-the-scenes machinations. Inevitably, the entire cast joined the conversation, arguing over who fights whose battles and whether Brandi was playing tiddlywinks in Portia's room at 1 a.m. the night of the White Party. Tiddlywinks? Talk about a random reference for the season to go out on...

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Faye wasn't invited to attend the Season 3 reunion, likely because of the negative response from viewers about her, but that doesn't mean she wasn't a hot topic of conversation at the sit-down. In a segment from the Secrets Revealed episode, Brandi, Lisa and Kyle went at it over whether Faye really was her friend's mouthpiece during the season. Lisa insisted that Faye must have been on Kyle's payroll, but Kyle fired back that Faye was her own person with her own opinions. And further, Kyle swore up and down that she had never needed a mouthpiece in her life - clearly evidenced by the past three seasons - so why would she start now? Without Faye there to defend herself, however, I suppose we'll never know the full story. Then, following the overwhelming backlash she received from fans, Faye all but disappeared for the next two seasons of the show. 

Season 6

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Cut to Season 6, where things start to get reeeeeally interesting. After a couple years away, Faye returned to the show this season - not in any official capacity, but as Kyle's friend - redesigning Kyle's new closet and coming to events. Somewhat serendipitously, a new wave of public interest has brought the O.J. Simpson trial back into the forefront of pop culture, likely fueled by the murder trial's 20th anniversary at the end of 2015. Just as Faye starts popping back up on the show, new Housewife Kathryn Edwards joins the cast. It turns out that at the time of Nicole Simpson Brown's murder, Kathryn was married to Marcus Allen, who was one of O.J.'s best friends. During the year-long trial, Faye capitalized on her first 15 minutes of fame by partnering with Mike Walker, a gossip columnist for The National Enquirer, to write Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted. In the scandalous book, Faye alleged that Nicole had an affair with Marcus Allen and that Kathryn turned a blind eye to the dalliance. Both Marcus and Kathryn denied the accusation, but it became a part of the media's narrative as the nation followed along on the edge of its seat. Tell me that all of these moving pieces coming together is just a coincidence...

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When Kathryn was introduced on the show part-way through this season and her connection with O.J. Simpson was discovered, one of Kyle's first questions was, obviously, whether she knew Faye. Kathryn vehemently denied ever meeting her and explained that 20 years of bad blood remain between the women over what Faye wrote about Kathryn in her book. According to the new 'Wife, neither her name nor her ex-husband was ever mentioned in any connection to the tragedy until Faye's book dragged them into the frenzy. Needless to say, she didn't view Faye in the most positive of lights. Yet, with Kathryn starting to hang around Kyle and the other women, it was only a matter of time before she came face-to-face with the nemesis she had never met. Little did she know that opportunity would come sooner rather than later. 

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In just the next episode, Kyle invited all the ladies - including both Kathryn and Faye - to a small BBQ at her house. Upon learning that Kathryn was on the guest list, Faye insisted to Kyle that she held no ill will toward the other woman, but had no desire to bring up the past and force such a sensitive conversation. Kathryn, on the other hand, was ready for a fight. After building a war up in her head between herself and Faye, she confronted her enemy at the BBQ over what she saw as the giant, 20-year-old elephant in the room. However, as I broke down in my episode recap, Faye was having none of it and politely refused to engage in the confrontation, saying there wasn't much left to talk about at this point and issuing a blanket apology at the table to anyone she had offended or hurt. This effectively took the air out of Kathryn's fired up sails, though it didn't stop her from contending with Kyle the next week over whether Faye was a good person.

Who is Faye Resnick? 

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So, is Faye Resnick the "morally corrupt" villain she's been made out to be or is she a casualty of editing and viewer misperception? This may not be a popular opinion, but I'd say that based on what we've actually seen on the show, I'm leaning towards the latter. Hear me out, though. The biggest thing that makes me stop and consider is the number of Housewives who have spoken up in Faye's defense. It's well-known that Kyle is my all-time favorite Housewife, so I may be a little biased but I'm confident in saying that she is a good judge of character. As she stated at the end of the BBQ, Faye is the friend Kyle knows she can count on at 3 in the morning and has been through thick and thin with her. On top of that, numerous other 'Wives including Kim Richards, Eileen Davidson and Camille Grammer have all defended Faye in the media. Camille even publicly apologized for the "morally corrupt" moniker, saying in a recent interview with Bravo's Daily Dish that she wishes people would stop using the insult to describe Faye, whom she's gotten to know and developed a friendship with in the intervening years. The list of 'Wives who don't like Faye include the following: Brandi Glanville and Lisa Vanderpump. Does that tell you anything?

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The fact also remains that - when you actually break it down - Faye has never actually done anything on the show to warrant such a negative backlash. The Dinner Party from Hell was the very first impression that viewers got of her, and let's face it, no one came out of that night unscathed. When it comes to Faye's involvement in Season 3, I have to say that I largely agree with her. No, she didn't always handle things as properly as she could have (i.e. the Chanel bags low blow), but I side with her for sticking up for Adrienne in the feud with Brandi. I was on Team Adrienne from the beginning and I think it's safe to say that with hindsight, a lot of fans would now agree with me that Brandi was in the wrong. Whether we'll see more of Faye this season is something we'll have to wait to find out, but until then we can be sure to watch Connie Britton's riveting portrayal of her on FX's The People vs. O.J. Simpson...or just binge from The Dinner Party from Hell all the way through to the Moulin Rouge party. Who's up for a marathon? 

What do you think of Faye's time on RHOBH? Let me know in the comments!

No Place Like Housewives for the Holidays

Glenn Rowley

housewives-christmas

Give a ho-ho-ho for the Housewives! Since we're right in the midst of the holiday season, I decided for this week's feature to take a special look back on all the times the 'Wives have celebrated good tidings of great joy (and even greater drama) throughout the history of the franchise. So bust out your sleigh bells and sugar plum fairies because it's time to send Old Saint Andy back on his way through the Christmases of Housewives past...

RHONJ Season 3/Episode 8 - Holidazed and Confused

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The holiday season took up the bulk of the middle part of New Jersey's third season, with Christmas alone taking up four episodes. The first episode kicked off at the conclusion of Teresa and Melissa's very first tentative truce. To launch the busy holiday social calendar, Jacqueline Laurita was hosting a cocktail party and invited Melissa and Joe as a ceremonial olive branch on behalf of Teresa. There were still no Wakiles allowed on the guest list, but it was a tiny step of progress. Meanwhile, the Giudices' legal problems were just beginning and when Teresa went off in court at bit player Monica Chacon (Joe's ex-partner's lawyer's wife), the aftermath was far from pretty. As a note, this was also the first time we heard "On Display." 

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At the Lauritas' low-key cocktail party, most of the 'Wives managed to be in the same room together without any table-flipping or literal brawling. As Jacqueline began to point out, the Gorgas didn't seem so bad...maybe they could all actually have fun together! The party consisted of lots of bubbly drinks, sparkly dresses, courtroom reenactments and Joe dressing up in Jacqueline's sequined, spaghetti-strap jumpsuit. By the end of the night, Melissa was inviting everyone to HER Christmas party - hoping that everyone could keep the good times rolling without any of Teresa's eye-rolling. 

RHONJ Season 3/Episode 9 - Twas the Fight Before Christmas

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The next episode focused on the Gorgas' charity Christmas party for children with cancer. At the party, Kathy tried to extend an olive branch to Teresa (remember, the two hadn't spoken since Kathy's infamous "unattended" comment at the Posche Fashion Show), which was handedly shut down by Tre with a "Oh so now it's good to see me?" Melissa took Kathy's side as she retreated to lick her wounds, but almost immediately Melissa's brother-in-law decided to confront Joe Giudice about a sum of money he supposedly owed him, which had the hostess rushing to put out a second fire. Then, for the party's grand reveal, Teresa's nemesis Kim G. waltzed in with none of than...Monica Chacon! Desperate for camera time, much? Clearly the unofficial Friend of the Housewives came to the party looking to cause trouble, but the Housewives effectively circled the wagons, with Melissa and Joe eventually kicking the uninvited plaintiff in the Giudices' lawsuit out of the party and Jacqueline standing up to her neighbor on behalf of her then-BFF.

RHONJ Season 3/Episode 10 - There Arose Such a Clatter

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The impending fight between the 'Wives and Kim G. bled over into the next episode, with matriarch Caroline eventually joining the fray in an attempt to stop the nonsense. Accusing Kim G. of coming to the party with the intent to cause hurt, she laid down the law and actually kicked the troublemaker out of the party - in a home that wasn't even hers! Chris Manzo emerged in the end as the fight's primary collateral damage, considering that Kim G. was the mother of his best friend Johnny. However, once Mama Manzo starts laying down the law, there's basically no stopping her. For Christmas Eve, Teresa and Kathy throw dueling parties - leaving Melissa and Joe feeling caught in the middle. Traditionally, they always spent Christmas Eve at Teresa's, but with the entire Giudice family there, they weren't so keen on breaking bread so soon after the christening disaster. As yet another peace offering, Melissa makes sure to bring pignoli cookies to Teresa's rather than the Italian sprinkle cookies that got thrown in the trash the year before. However, Joe Giudice wasn't even close to being on his best behavior, trashing Melissa behind her back all night and calling her a "raccoon face witch."

RHONJ Season 3/Episode 11 - A Very Jersey Christmas

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In the end, the Gorgas decided to stay at Teresa's house for about an hour before heading to the Wakiles' for the rest of the night, where they could let their hair down and relax. This decision obviously caused drama with Teresa, who had set places for them at the table and everything! To Tre, taking her brother away from her on Christmas Eve made Kathy a bad cousin, and she wasn't about to forget it any time soon. Christmas morning, however, was a success all around as the 'Wives were gifted with gold Rolexes, Louis Vuitton luggage, a recording studio, a diamond ring at the spot where Albert proposed, a brand new laptop, a sparkly robe and...nothing from Ashley. Poor Jac. A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

RHONY Season 5/Episode 10 - You Want to What Me in the Where?

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Christmas arrived roughly halfway through the fifth season in NYC when the 'Wives came together for Luann's Life & Style party/coat drive for the homeless. Decked out in red, the ladies navigated through a number of battles and tiffs while getting in the Christmas spirit. Just a couple of episodes earlier, Luann and her boyfriend Jacques had played a mean-spirited prank on Ramona by setting her up with a blind taste test of her own Ramona Pinot Grigio. Mario had already stood up for his wife over a group dinner at Le Cirque, but when Ramona was the first to arrive, the Countess decided to raise the issue again. Insisting that the trick had been a ploy to showcase Ramona's wine rather than put her in an awkward situation, Luann attempted to downplay the incident and minimize the devious set-up that it was in reality. However, for once Ramona refused to take the bait and shut the conversation down by "taking the fifth."

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Next, the ladies and their men all congregated around a banquette where a sloshed Sonja took the opportunity to give an unsuspecting Jacques an ultimatum about his relationship with Luann: put a ring on it or get out while you can. Sonja claimed that her drunken tirade stemmed from a conversation she'd had earlier in the episode with Luann about her wanting to have a baby, but it seemed very clear that Lady Morgan was simply deflecting some deep-seated anguish over her own failed marriage. Let's face it, a drunken Sonja is never a Sonja with a sexy J. The Christmas festivities capped off with all the ladies stepping into the spotlight to sing a rather off-key yet fun rendition of "Jingle Bells." That is, once Aviva stopped freaking out over not knowing the lyrics. For the event, Luann had hired a punk band called The Stumblebum Brass Band, who proceeded to turn the song into their own rendition called "I Wanna F*** You in the A**!" Great use of your fifteen seconds of camera time, boys. It certainly landed you on the naughty list for the next year. 

RHONJ Season 6/Episode 2 - O Christmas Tre

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New Jersey's sixth season rang in both a major cast shake-up AND the holiday season. In the second episode, the 'Wives celebrated Christmas with varying degrees of success. While Amber Marchese had her family practicing emergency fire drills, fellow newbie Nicole Napolitano got a major Christmas fail from her boyfriend Bobby in the form of a high heel-shaped wine bottle holder from the local Colts Neck pharmacy. Meanwhile the Giudice/Gorga/Wakile/Pierri clan got together for a family gag gift exchange that quickly turned sour. While Rosie could laugh at the vibrator Joey Gorga gave her, Teresa wasn't so impressed with the dictionary Kathy purposely sent her way. Kathy claimed she brought the gift because the whole family had a "hard time with the English language," but Teresa felt insulted and singled out. Eventually, the dictionary came back to haunt Kathy when she asked Teresa to write a blurb for her cookbook, which the OG refused to do after the so-called insult. Points for the family at least trying to get in the holiday spirit, right? 

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Later on, Christmas took a somber and emotional turn in the Giudice home as Teresa and Juicy Joe exchanged gifts by the fireside and contemplated the possibility of both going to prison over their legal issues and having to wait years to spend Christmas together again. As Joe opened up about how difficult it would be to leave his wife and daughters, Teresa resolutely promised that, despite what people say, it wouldn't be their last Christmas together. And as we know from this year's Christmas festivities, she was right! Now it'll just be another four years before they do it again...

RHOC Season 9/Episode 4 - Pretty Ugly

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In Season 9 in Orange County, brand new Friend of the Housewives Danielle Gregorio invited Tamra and Heather, somewhat randomly, to an ugly sweater charity party. In fact, it was so random that the first time we learned of the event was actually in a flashback of Danielle dropping an invitation off at CUT Fitness...which we hadn't seen before. (Season 9's use of flashbacks was weird, you guys.) At the party, a decked out Tamra, Eddie, Heather and Terry met new Housewife Lizzie Rovsek, a former Miss Kentucky who had brains to match her beauty and a sexy AF husband. Despite her past as a pageant queen, Lizzie and her poinsettia'd sweater made a grand entrance by promptly falling in the foyer and spilling a drink all over the floor. It was a shockingly endearing introduction to all the wonderful things about Lizzie and I knew right away that I would love her. Not much actual charity may have occurred at the party (besides giving poor Danielle the majority of her camera time all season), but Terry and Heather managed to win the ugly sweater contest with their matching snowflake-bedazzled ensembles. (For those who were wondering, my Christmas wish this year is for Lizzie to come back as a full-time 'Wife next season. Make it happen Santa!)

RHOC Season 9/Episode 8 - Not So Silent Night

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Just a few episodes later, the holidays were in full swing when newbie Shannon Beador brought all the 'Wives together for her annual Christmas party. Plenty had happened in the interim including Chairgate at Javier's, Heather's hoedown-themed groundbreaking party, Vicki's trip to the forgotten state of Oklahoma and more. Needless to say, through more than one of the events above, the animosity and bad blood had quickly begun building between Heather and Shannon, and the latter's party was the perfect time for it to boil over. The drama first started when Heather was offered a guest co-hosting gig on Good Day L.A. and offered Tamra a segment on the show to promote CUT Fitness. For some reason Tamra took offense to this because prior to filming, the show had a rival fitness studio on when Heather was a guest host and Tammy Sue assumed that Fancy Pants had something to do with it. Yeah, I didn't quite follow it at first either. I mean, talking about shooting a gift horse in the mouth...

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Naturally, Tamra had a passive-aggressive conversation with Heather when she was surprised by the news, and then proceeded to gather Shannon, Lizzie and Danielle together to badmouth Heather behind her back. (Meanwhile, Heather was in the other room trying to console an upset Vicki about Briana's impending move to Oklahoma.) When Heather and Vicki joined the other women, Fancy Pants was rightfully blindsided when Lizzie tried to put all the cards on the table and force the conversation between her and Tamra. In what felt like a gang-up, Shannon sided with Tamra and blew up at Heather for "talking so condescending." In a fortuitous moment, Heather's cell phone rang with a call from a sick Nicky at home asking her and Terry to come home. There was debate over whether or not Heather faked the phone call, but she gracefully and furiously exited the party by telling Tamra "I don't even like you right now." #TeamHeatherForever

Sadly, we've never seen Christmas in Beverly Hills, Atlanta or Miami. Maybe this year? To all you readers out there, I hope your holiday was all things merry and bright! 

Hulu's Hotwives of Las Vegas: A THG Review

Glenn Rowley

Image Credit: Hulu

Image Credit: Hulu

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Right? If that's true, then Housewives across the Bravoverse should be feeling very flattered right about now. Back in August, Hulu premiered the second season of its Hotwives series, a blatantly tongue-in-cheek parody of our favorite 'Wives. Starring Casey Wilson (who will forever be Penny Hartz in my mind. RIP Happy Endings...), Angela Kinsey and a swarm of other female comedians, the comedy attempts to lovingly (and sometimes not so lovingly) send up all things Housewives.

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I have to be honest. I watched the first season, The Hotwives of Orlando, and I absolutely hated it. Which was sad to say because I thought it had the perfect mix of things I loved, and how could Casey Wilson possibly go wrong? However, I found the whole operation largely unfunny. The characters swung wildly between trying to be specific 'Wives and general archetypes. And some of the cast members they chose to parody didn't seem like the most logical choices out of the more than 75 current and former 'Wives we've met in the history of the franchise. I mean, sure, we loved watching Gretchen in the OC but does she really have strong enough of a personality to be turned into an LOL-worthy caricature for seven episodes? (The answer to that was no.) My biggest issue, however, was the comedy's lampooning of Kim Richards through Kristen Schaal's "Drug Addled Former Child Star" Amanda Simmons. After watching Kim fight for her life over the course of five seasons, I found the show making fun of her long struggle with addiction both reckless and offensive. 

However, after binging on the second season over the course of a couple days, I can say it's a major improvement. Moving the show from the too-generic Orlando to Las Vegas was the smartest thing it could've possibly done. Not only is Sin City a location full of comedy gold, many fans have wondered why it doesn't have its own Housewives franchise. From a casino-themed house party to a cast trip to New York...Hotel and Casino, the show was full of moments ripe for making fun of the city's unique culture. 

Photo Credit: Hulu

Photo Credit: Hulu

This season's Hotwives were largely an upgrade as well. Best was Andrea Savage's Ivanka, a blonde, Dutch model whose similarities with Yolanda Foster ended at the accent. Vapid and vain, Ivanka's running gag was continually pointing out how much more attractive and perfect she was than her fellow Hotwives. She's a far cry from the much-adored Yo, who was voted Miss Congeniality in this year's Real Housewives Awards. Erinn Hayes' Callie Silversan, a clear send-up to Carlton Gebbia sans the British accent and love of swearing, was equally hilarious. Add in the pair's Teresa Giudice/Melissa Gorga-esque rivalry over Ivanka's bubble artist husband and I found myself laughing out loud at them in nearly every episode. As the show's only African-American cast member and sole holdover from the year before, Tymberlee Hill's Phe Phe was tasked with portraying a mashup of the entire Atlanta cast, though mostly came across as a NeNe/Phaedra hybrid with a bit of Shereè mixed in. Yes her fashion-less fashion show and grifter husband Adonis were both worthy of a solid chuckle, but I'm still wondering why we didn't get anything Kenya Moore-related from her character.

Photo Credit: Hulu

Photo Credit: Hulu

Less successful were Casey Wilson's knuckle-headed Jenfer, Dannah Phirman's Leona and Angela Kinsey's First Lady. Heavily pregnant at the time of filming, Wilson's character was supposedly a parody of Kim Zolciak, but completely missed the mark. Homegirl may have been missing a fingertip (hi Aviva) but she didn't even have a wig and not once did she preach anything close to "ask, believe, receive." Meanwhile, Leona was a clear imitation of Caroline Manzo, but her attempt at the matriarch schtick was missing the fiery bulldog part of Caroline's personality. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Kinsey actually admitted she doesn't even watch the Housewives, so what could've been a hilarious satire of Countess Luann (I think that's what they were going for) didn't even have an accurate point of reference.  All three characters were obvious misses that could've been much funnier. 

Other character highlights included Danielle Schneider's delightfully damaged Denise, who I found to be more of an archetype than any specifically parodied Bravolebrity, Keegan-Michael Key's Ace, a deliberate caricature of self-proclaimed Housewife Hunter Slade Smiley and the aforementioned Adonis, played by LaMonica Garrett as a replica of Apollo Nida. 

Photo Credit: Hulu

Photo Credit: Hulu

The new season is introduced by Phe Phe's relocation to Las Vegas, leaving behind gator-infested Orlando for the land of neon lights and slot machines. Much of the seven episodes revolved around a rivalry between Jenfer and First Lady for the affections of Ace. See, the two used to be BFFs until the fame-hungry Ace cheated on First Lady with Jenfer and she ended up pregnant. Naively, First Lady doesn't seem to understand the basics behind procreation, and falls for Jenfer's lie that she's only a few weeks along rather than you know, nine months. Leona spends the season attempting to play peacemaker between the feuding pair, but mostly ends up getting in the middle of the drama to stir the pot. Meanwhile, Ivanka and Callie spend most of their screen time at each other's throats and all poor Denise wants is to fit in. 

Several iconic Housewives staples are parodied during the season including charity events, cast vacations and the 'Wives penchant for throwing shade (literally). Specific moments from the franchise's history get lampooned as well: Chairgate in the OC, She by Shereè's fashion show with no fashion (how dreadful!) and Sonja Morgan's caburlesque routine. Overall, I found The Hotwives of Las Vegas generally amusing with moments of laugh-out-loud comedy. For any knowledgeable Housewives superfan, the show could be a good time-filler while we wait for the new seasons of Atlanta and Beverly Hills to start. Check the series out exclusively on Hulu!

Heather Thomson: Ain't No Holla!-back Girl

Glenn Rowley

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

After three seasons of "Hey mama, what's cookin'?" and more than a few "Holla!"-s, Heather Thomson announced after the Season 7 reunion finished airing that she won't be returning for the next season of RHONY. Citing a desire to focus on her family and her business, she announced her departure in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight. In her statement, Heather said in part, "[m]y third year I kind of figured out where I was with the women. There was a beginning, middle and end for everything, and for me, that was the end. The opportunity, the experience - it was all amazing while it lasted. But again...the third time was the charm for me." For this week's feature, I'm looking back at the fashion designer's biggest and best moments in her three years as one of the Real Housewives of New York City.

Season 5

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Heather was introduced to viewers during Season 5, which was essentially a hard reset of the show. After a particularly dark and messy reunion following Season 4, Bravo fired Jill Zarin, Alex McCord, Kelly Bensimon and Cindy Barshop, replacing them with Heather and fellow newbies Carole Radziwill and Aviva Drescher. On paper, Heather sounded sort of like the second coming of Jill Zarin - a (converted) Jewish wife who also happened to have a successful shapewear line. However, with her trademark cheshire grin and a career based on empowering women, the Yummie Tummie designer couldn't have been further from the next Jill. From the get-go, Heather burst onto the scene with a no-nonsense attitude and a lot to say, which almost immediately managed to rub some of the OGs the wrong way. In her very first episode, Ramona accused her of interrupting conversations and not letting anyone else speak, while Luann bashed her in a confessional for talking about her father's passing a few days before filming started. At the same time, Heather found herself naturally bonding with fellow newbies Aviva and Carole, perhaps because they'd all been thrown in the deep end without knowing how to swim all at the same time. After being subjected to a verbal drive-by shooting at lunch wherein Luann regaled the newbies with a bizarre story about Ramona threatening to blackmail her over her children's behavior, Heather even made a pact with Carole and Aviva that they wouldn't become "mean girls" like their new co-stars.

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Just a few episodes into the revamped show, Heather hosted the first trip of the season by inviting the ladies to accompany her on a business trip to London for her Yummie Tummie shapewear brand. However, her issues with Ramona turned into an even wider rift when she chose to leave the OG off the invite list for the UK getaway. Finding herself on the outs, Ramona went on a warpath, first trying to get on Heather's good side to score an invitation and then lashing out at everything from the newbie's "fake" smile to her personality once she realized she definitely wouldn't be going to London. Many a green Housewife would've balked at her first taste of the Singer Stinger, but Heather stood her ground. In a hilarious confrontation following the trip, Heather essentially chased Ramona around the room at Aviva's anniversary party inside the Empire State Building trying to make peace, but the Ramonacoaster wasn't having it. Heather had officially gotten onto her bad side. The verbal combat between the two continued for much of the remainder of filming, with Ramona accusing Heather of talking behind her back and calling her a liar nearly every chance she got. In her recently released memoir and in subsequent interviews, Ramona has explained that her resentment stemmed from her assessment that Heather was disingenuous on camera. However, Heather came out of the feud looking like the far more rational and classy one after being subjected to Ramona's attacks. 

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For the bulk of the season, Heather also volunteered herself for perhaps the most unenviable job in the history of RHONY: helping Sonja put together a marketing campaign for her infamously nonexistent line of toaster ovens. Offering her marketing expertise, a full production crew and multiple concepts for the packaging visuals, Heather was sucked into Lady Morgan's tornado of delusion and it didn't end well. Heather put tons of energy and time into helping Sonja with branding advice, organizing a photoshoot and catering to her many demands, and in the end it was a road that led to nowhere. Viewers watched an entire season of putting a campaign together for a toaster oven that never got made. From the toaster oven experience, Heather learned one of the first rules of Housewives 101: never mix business with Housewife friends. 

On the season's cast trip to St. Barth's, Heather got tangled up in Luann's scandalous pirate debacle when the Countess knocked on her door at 3 a.m. with the Johnny Depp lookalike in tow. The next morning, Luann ran to Heather's room before the cameras went up, begging her to go along with the story that she had actually spent the night with some "old Italian friends" rather than the pirate. Heather promised she wouldn't say anything but refused to perpetuate Luann's lie, which snowballed into a bigger and bigger problem until she finally got busted. Heather's refusal to play into the charade was an example of her personal integrity and moral character on display for the world to see.

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At her first reunion, Heather found herself on the end of the newbie couch, explaining her use of the word "Holla!", sparring with Sonja over the toaster oven campaign from hell and sticking up for herself when Luann accused her of not defending her enough. She pointedly put the Countess' pirate drama on the table: they were on St. Barth's, cameras were everywhere, how could Luann not expect to get caught? Heather also dug in her heels about Sonja, saying that Lady Morgan "wouldn't know hard work if it bit [her] in the a**." By the end of the reunion, Heather was on generally good terms with most of her fellow cast mates, but true resolution was nowhere in sight.

Season 6

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The sixth season brought the addition of Heather's friend Kristen Taekman to the cast, and started with a bang as Carole and Aviva feuded over #BookGate. As Aviva spread rumors around New York City that Carole used a ghostwriter, attacking the validity of her decades-long career as a journalist and author, Heather jumped into the fray to defend her BFF. This led to many confrontations between her and the blonde villain, including the time she memorably threw out "don't tell me anything motherf****r" during a particularly heated exchange at Luann's BBQ in the Hamptons. Heather gansta side unleashed and the women discovered once and for all just how much street cred the former Bad Boy employee had behind her smile. You don't want to mess with her. BookGate also proved to be yet another example of perhaps her most defining quality: Heather Thomson will always stand up for what she believes is right.

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The season also documented more of Heather's family life, including the celebration of her 1oth anniversary with husband Jonathan - the party for which was boycotted by a few of her cast mates - and her heartache over her son Jax's medical issues. As a result of complications from birth, Jax had already received a liver transplant, suffered from severe food allergies and a chronic lung disease and was dealing with increased hearing loss that had the possibility he would need an invasive surgery to reverse. With so much out of her hands, it was heart-wrenching to watch Heather tear up in her interviews over her son's continued health challenges. On the Fourth of July, she broke down on the beach to Carole over wanting just one thing to work out for Jax and his health. 

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

In an attempt to escape the drama, Heather hosted the first cast trip of the season - inviting all the women (minus Aviva) to her second home in the Berkshires. However, the getaway proved to be anything but peaceful. Ramona was less than thrilled at the prospect of spending a weekend in the Berkshires; according to her, the only people who vacationed in the Berkshires were the ones who couldn't afford the Hamptons. Nothing was good enough for the OG - first she mistook Heather's house for the "garage," then she had air conditioning units delivered for the weekend and culminated her trip by throwing a glass at Kristen's face while out on the lake. While Heather tried to get the women to commune with nature, Ramona faked a meltdown during a hike through the woods and ended up bailing on the trip via private plane. Once back in NYC, Heather helped lead the charge to call out Ramotional for her insulting behavior.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Later in the season, the second cast trip to Montana gave Heather a chance to show off her athletic skills as she repelled down a mountain, herded cattle and hit the bullseye in tomahawk throwing. However, the Montana wilderness also ended up being a battleground for between Heather and Kristen when the model called the Holla! queen the dreaded B-word (bossy!) during a group geocaching outing, accusing her of needing to control everything from what the group did on vacation to her husband at home. This obviously didn't go over well with Heather, and led to fallout between the two friends for the remainder of the vacation. (Eventually, they talked it out and squashed the beef before heading back to the East Coast. What happens in Montana stays in Montana!) This fight on the frontier was perhaps the one time Heather didn't look great in an argument, getting tipsy and picking on Kristen for wanting to geocache. Chalk it up to cabin fever?

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Following the Montana trip, Heather had big moments in the next couple of episodes: taking the stage to sing "Bill Bailey" at an open mic night at Birdland and throwing her bestie Carole a Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil-themed party for her 50th birthday. However, the season finale was all about Aviva, who'd played the role of largely-absent villain throughout filming. She'd missed the trip to Montana due to what she proclaimed to be "moderate to severe asthma", a diagnosis Heather and the other women called B.S. on. Aviva planned to confront Heather and the ladies during the finale party for "Team Sonja" - throwing x-rays and medical records at them around the table as some sort of demented proof. When Heather stood up and called her "laughable", Aviva lost her temper and slammed her prosthetic leg down on the table and throwing it across the room at Heather. During the recent 100th episode special, Aviva admitted the leg throw was pre-meditated and Heather explained that, looking back, she considers it to be the series' most cringe-worthy moment for being so contrived on Aviva's part.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

At the Season 6 reunion, Heather was sandwiched between her besties Carole and Kristen on #TeamLeftCouch, rocking a '40s inspired Valentina Kova dress. Heather has a history of being one of the more logical 'Wives on the couches come reunion time, and this reunion was no exception as she once again squared off with Ramona over her beloved Berkshires, called Sonja's business acumen into question and took Aviva to task over her season-long litany of offenses. In the end, Heather said her biggest takeaway from the season was that "even through trials and tribulations, there's always growth and...a whole lot of laughter."

Season 7

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The just-completed seventh season was a new chapter for the New York 'Wives, as Bethenny Frankel returned to the show after leaving at the end of Season 3. Much of Heather's storyline during the season revolved around the clash of personalities between her and the Skinnygirl. Heather's love of deep chats and connecting didn't exactly vibe with Bethenny's walls and try as she might, it seemed that Heather could do nothing right where B was concerned. The two brand moguls sparred again and again throughout the season over everything from invites to Bethenny's birthday party (Heather was sticking up for an uninvited Kristen) and what to eat at new cast member Dorinda Medley's birthday dinner in the Berkshires to who was a bigger know-it-all on the cast trip to the Turks and Caicos. Eventually, Bethenny realized her walls needed to come down a bit and the pair were able to carve out a casual friendship by season's end.

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Heather's friendship with Luann wasn't quite so lucky. The first cracks in the friendship formed after Heather took Carole's side when her BFF started dating Luann's chef Adam. However, the cracks became fault lines during the cast trip to Turks and Caicos. On the trip Luann accused Heather of breaking the "girl code" and being "uncool" by bursting into the Countess' room when she found a naked man in the bedroom attached to hers and Carole's. Luann managed to hold the grudge against Heather for the entire season, milking the storyline for everything it could possibly be worth - iTunes single included. By season's end, the pair's once-strong friendship was in tatters, having been sacrificed by Luann for the sake of a storyline.

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Prior to filming of Season 7, Heather had struck up a friendship with new Housewife Dorinda Medley while they were both vacationing at their homes in the Berkshires. However, during the season, the newbie also had plenty of beef with the Yummie mogul, taking issue with what she saw as Heather's tendency to go from "teaching to preaching." Many times throughout the season, the newbie lost her temper with Heather for reasons never quite understood - including their memorable argument about using the f-word during the last dinner in the Turks and Caicos.

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One of Heather's greatest legacies from her three years on the show is without a doubt her friendship with Carole. The two met as newbie Housewives and over time became lifelong best friends. They supported, defended and backed each other up through thick and thin, often to criticism from other 'Wives. While on paper the two seem hugely different, Heather's outspoken nature turned out to be the perfect yin to Carole's more reserved, observant yang. The BFFs are a true testament to real friendship, which is often hard to find in the volatile, dramatic landscape of reality television, where others will gleefully sell your friendship down the river for more camera time. The thing I'll miss most about Heather leaving the show is not seeing her and Radzi together on my TV anymore. 

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Rumors of Heather's departure from the show began circulating before the season had even finished airing, as far back as the middle of July. At the time I didn't want to believe it, but looking back, the hints were there. Her Bravotv.com blogs got shorter and more succinct as the season wore on and she wasn't given a final interview soundbite during the season finale. Her "Where Are They Now" card was mysteriously vague and she even retired her trademark catchphrase in the opening moments of the Season 7 reunion. Casting shakeups are inevitable at the end of each season, but I'm really disappointed to see Heather leave the show, especially on such a quiet note. However, the three years we got with the Yummie Tummie founder were great ones, full of laughter, empowerment and authenticity. You'll be sorely missed on the show Heather, but I'm sure glad we got to watch and learn from you for as long as we did. Holla!

WWHL - RHONY 100th Episode Special

Glenn Rowley

Image Credit: Bravo

Image Credit: Bravo

After nearly eight years and seven seasons, the NY Housewives finally got their 100th episode special! This was something I actively stressed about when Bravo aired the special for RHOA reaching the same milestone but billed one of the Turks and Caicos episodes as RHONY's 100th. The RHONY special was formatted the same way as the Atlanta ladies' but was actually a half hour longer, which I was more than happy about. It turned out to be a fantastic and surprisingly emotional look back on the first 100 episodes in the Big Apple. 

In the Beginning

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The Real Housewives of New York City debuted on Bravo almost eight years ago on March 4, 2008. When it was in development, the show was originally titled Manhattan Moms, and Ramona actually found out about it through her doctor, Sharon Giese, whom we've seen multiple times on the show. Many of the other 'Wives were cast through OG Jill Zarin including Bethenny Frankel, Luann de Lesseps and Sonja Morgan. (Interestingly, Sonja was offered a spot on the show during Season 1, but turned it down, eventually joining two years later.) One of the most fascinating parts of these specials is getting to see clips from the women's original casting tapes and NYC didn't disappoint. The Season 1 casting took place in 2007 and was filled with memorable soundbite - from Alex and Simon calling themselves "label junkies" to Luann referring to herself as "five different women." (Sonja's narcissism was evident from the beginning as she told the camera that glamour was a well-used word in her vocabulary and her lifestyle was incomparable to many plebeians in the U.S.)

Unfortunately, two original Housewives are missing from the special. Bravo reached out to Jill, who apparently declined the invitation to be interviewed, while Alex and Simon moved to Australia last year which provided obvious logistical challenges. Jill did offer a short written statement in which she said she was "proud to be a founding member of such an exclusive group of talented women" - which certainly did nothing to carry on the rumors of bad blood between her and Bravo ever since her last one-on-one with Andy (where she secretly recorded the interview to 'protect' herself from bad editing). 

First Impressions

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The ladies first impressions of each other were as different as their personalities. Ramona thought Bethenny was a "tough a**" while B understandably thought all the women were cuckoo. The most polarizing cast members for viewers and Housewives alike that first season were obviously Alex and Simon. Ramona admits she wasn't welcoming to them because she resented their codependent relationship and found them "very awkward and strange." Bethenny didn't understand them - cut to her iconic line about Simon being in the midst of a deep homosexual panic, while Sonja says that Alex took her a while to understand, but that she loved her "bohemian ways and Brooklyn style." The Countess is by far the most diplomatic, saying that certain parts of Alex were very sophisticated, the couple's relationship was a special kind that seemed to work for them and she hopes they're happy in Australia. Love them or hate them, and I'm an unapologetic Alex fan, I've always thought Alex and Simon made for great TV. 

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The other Housewife who got quite a bit of backlash in the show's early days was Luann, whose haughty Countess persona didn't go over too well with some of the women. Luann refuses to make excuses for it, because she was simply used to a different life. However, Bethenny is quick to point out that Luann was very non-Countess-y in her off-camera life, but came on the show to let all the women know how aristocratic she was. One of the most ingratiating moments during Season 1 was when Luann corrected Bethenny for introducing her to a driver using her first name. It's, like, Mrs. de Lesseps, darling. Luann claims she wasn't used to being addressed by her first name; that's not the way they roll in Europe, but Bethenny thought she was just being a "pretentious bi***." Ugh, I'm with you B.

New 'Wives

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The first new cast member to join the show was Kelly Killoren Bensimon in Season 2. Jelly Bean Kelly tells Andy that she actually didn't watch the show before joining because she wanted the world to see the real her. She also surprisingly says that the first cast member she clicked with was Ramona, who was the only one to ask her about herself or her kids. The Ramonacoaster, however, sees it much differently - if the only thing you can talk about are kids, makeup and clothes, it's not going to be a deep connection. 

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Then there's Kelly's Season 2 clash with Bethenny. The model claims she didn't even notice the Skinnygirl until Bethenny made the infamous "Madonna" dig at the meeting for the charity event the Housewives were throwing together. The tiff ultimately led to the "I'm up here, you're down here" sit-down at the Brass Monkey, which Bethenny describes as watching this person in front of her saying something she had no idea would be hurtful to every put-down nerd who wasn't cool in Kelly's high school cafeteria. However, Kelly claims she was merely trying to say she was an adult who wouldn't put up with any of Bethenny's "childish" behavior. I don't think that's how it came across, Kells.

Much like Vicki in the OC, Ramona admits that she has a hard time when new cast members join the show. Surprisingly, out of all the women over the years, she had the hardest time connecting with Season 4 addition Cindy Barshop, whom she was friendly with off-camera but became her arch-enemy once she joined the show. And that, ladies and gents, is the first and last time Cindy will be mentioned during this special. As for the Season 5 shakeup, Ramona found Heather to be less than genuine while describing Carole as "quiet and surreal" and Aviva as a "fun, sophisticated Uptown chick."

The Season 5 Reboot & Beyond

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Interestingly, Andy was the one who personally cast Carole on the show after discovering she was a real-life princess at a dinner party thrown by Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos. I love that in her 2012 casting tape, Carole describes NYC as being her lover because the Big Apple has everything she could want in a lover: glamour and elegance mixed with a naughty, seedy side. Kristen may have the style aspect on lock, but Radzi is the living, breathing embodiment of a real-life Carrie Bradshaw. Heather actually got a cold call from producers at her desk at work. In her casting tape from 2011, she looks very serious and intense while talking about how tough you have to be to get to the top.

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I for one was surprised to learn that Aviva had originally auditioned for the show back in 2010, which would've been for either Season 3 or 4, but didn't get cast the first time around. (Also, her insensitive Sonja/Anna Nicole Smith comparison originally came from that casting tape as well.) It was actually Bethenny who got Aviva on the show by convincing Andy that a woman with one leg and an ex-husband who'd slept with two other Housewives would be a good fit. Beverly Hills lightning rod Brandi Glanville was responsible for getting her friend Kristen cast for Season 6, while Ramona tirelessly recruited Dorinda for Season 7. 

Jill vs. Bethenny

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Next, Andy asks which argument was most shocking in the history of the show and the collective answer is Jill and Bethenny's friendship-destroying feud during Season 3. Bethenny explains that the fight went deeper and wider than anyone could've expected, and points out that even Andy and the network were worried about its implications. However, the show went with what really happened. If it was scripted, fans would've gotten the happily ever after where the two became BFFs again. Bethenny explains that the turning point in their friendship occurred when she was asked to guest host the Today show, which at the time was the biggest deal in the world for a reality star. When she arrived at the studio, she was told by producers that Jill had called and angrily demanded to know why she hadn't been offered the gig, saying she would've been much better than Bethenny. Then, the show started filming Season 3 and Jill immediately went for the jugular, attacking Bethenny for not visiting her husband Bobby when he was in the hospital. 

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At this point, a lightbulb went on in Bethenny's head: this was "one cunning bi***." Jill had waited until cameras had started rolling to deliberately go after her and try to take her down. Bethenny posits that it was Jill's plan to get America to hate her, and it completely backfired in her face - Jill became the villain everyone hated and Bethenny came out on top in the feud. The Skinnygirl points out that it must be hard for Jill to know that she was the one responsible for getting Bethenny cast on the show and now B's become unequivocally the most successful Housewife in the history of the franchise. Jill could've been along for the ride, but as Bethenny says, pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered and that's just the way it goes. Andy asks if there was a chance for reconciliation between the two at the emotional Season 3 reunion, but Bethenny says she knew all of Jill's tears were just theatrics. Today, Bethenny doesn't hold any animosity (could the same be said for Jill?) but Jill still isn't someone she would want in her life. That chapter is officially closed. 

Aviva's Leg Throw

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The next topic of discussion is Aviva's infamous leg throw in the Season 6 finale. Carole says she wasn't surprised and sees the dramatic moment as Aviva's attempt to get the spotlight back on her after being absent for so much of the season. Radzi thinks she had been wanting to throw that leg for two whole seasons. Andy once again asks Aviva if she walked into the party planning to throw her prosthesis and she finally cops to the moment being contrived. Apparently, she even told a producer beforehand that she was thinking of doing it, depending on how she was received by the other women after their trip to Montana. Her cast mates don't see the leg throw in quite the same light as Aviva. Heather calls it the most cringeworthy moment of the series for being so obviously set up, while Luann remembers thinking at the time that it would be Aviva's swan song as a Housewife. If you take it that far, you're on your way out the door. After leaving the party, Aviva remembers wondering if she overdid it. Andy asks her as such, to which Aviva responds, "I think I made great TV. You're welcome."

Pirate Booty in St. Barth's

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The conversation then turns to cast vacations, and while the women are split on which was their favorite trip (Morocco! Montana! Turks and Caicos!), what really needs to be discussed is the Season 5 trip to St. Barth's, a.k.a. Slutty Island. Specifically Luann and the pirate. This horse has already been beaten to death but the story goes that Luann knocked on Heather's door at 3:30 in the morning with a Pirate of the Caribbean in tow. The next morning, the Countess raced back to Heather's room before the cameras got there, asking her to perpetuate this story about Luann being with her "Italian friends." Heather promised she wouldn't say anything, but if Luann wanted to lie, that was on her. Lie she did, and like any untruth, the story snowballed and ended up being carried on for way too long.

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One of the other 'Wives found out how Luann really got home that night from the driver and then invited the pirate to dinner the next night in an effort to throw her under the bus. It was then that she truly dug her own grave - getting busted on camera asking another friend in French to lie for her. In hindsight, Luann admits that she panicked, forgot she had a mic on and says the call was what really made her look guilty. Heather sees this as a "DUH!" moment. After all, Luann had been on the show for half a decade at this point. How do you forget you have a mic on? Heather also points out that French isn't that hard of a language to translate; maybe Swahili would've been better! Once she found out she'd been busted, Luann had to call her then-boyfriend Jacques off-camera to explain the story - a call she says was the pinnacle of embarrassment. When asked, Luann denies that the pirate incident was what led to the end of her relationship with Jacques the following season, but it certainly didn't help matters.

Scary Island

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Next under the microscope is Scary Island, the Season 3 trip to St. John's that to this day goes down as possibly the most infamous trip in Housewives history. Originally, the trip was supposed to serve as a kind of bachelorette party for Ramona before she renewed her vows, but got hijacked by Kelly having a jellybean-fueled, Al Sharpton-misquoting, complete emotional breakdown. Even now, Kelly maintains that she was a victim of "systematic bullying" on the trip and Luann agrees, saying that the other girls bullied the model until she snapped. The incident was so serious that Ramona even called Jill, asking her to come meet Kelly at the airport because something was seriously wrong. Ever paranoid, Jill thought it was some type of set up for the show, which prompted Bethenny - who wasn't even speaking to Jill at the time - to grab the phone and get the gravity of the situation through Jill's head. The next day, Kelly boarded a plane with a producer and the girls were all sure she would be checking into a psych ward somewhere. 

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Naturally, Kelly sees the whole situation differently. While the other 'Wives say she had a breakdown, Kelly says she was just crying. She also purports that the entire situation basically ruined her reputation. It's hard to come back from crazy - it doesn't exactly brand well. Once the episode aired, Kelly found that she was suddenly toxic. No one wanted to be associated with the crazy girl from the Real Housewives of New York. Bethenny thinks that Kelly is an extremely fragile, sensitive person who wasn't cut out for the rigors of reality television. From her perspective, Kelly couldn't take the heat in the kitchen and tried to excuse her behavior by claiming that the other women ruined her reputation. I think it's safe to say that we'll never fully understand what happened on that island.

Reunions

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After Ramona and Luann spend a segment mourning their respective divorces (don't ask me why Luann turned her chair around to cry...), it's time to talk about our favorite thing: reunions. Carole accurately describes the reunions as a "sh**show," with Andy asking a question and everyone trying to answer at once. Sonja hits the nail on the head by saying that reunions are the time when each Housewife wants to show all the other women up and get justification that the way everything happened during the season was the way SHE thought. For Carole, the toughest reunion moment was Season 6's BookGate, with Aviva's relentless, nasty attacks on her writing career. Heather claims the Season 5 reunion was her most memorable, while Dorinda says her first reunion experience during the just-completed Season 7 went better than she expected it to. Bethenny proclaims Ramona as the queen of the reunion - she was the first to walk off a reunion in Season 1 and the first to fall asleep in the middle of one six seasons later. Bethenny points out that the issue that caused Ramona to walk off in Season 1  - discussion of Alex's nude photos surfacing on the internet - seems like small change now that Housewives have broken into the White House, gone to jail and f***ed their friends' husbands. Ah, the rosy days when the biggest issue to deal with was a naked picture on the internet...

All About the Benjamins

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Bethenny credits RHONY with starting the "I am woman, hear me roar" movement of the Housewives franchise. More than any other city, the New York ladies have always been the most ambitious, driven and business-minded. Andy points out that the NY Housewives promotion is often times out of control. Never before had the franchise seen fights over branding and logo placement on a step-and-repeat. More than anyone, the show has documented Bethenny's meteoric rise in the business world. A few years ago, she was driving around Montauk in a shrink-wrapped Skinnygirl car and trying to give out muffin samples in the supermarket. What a difference seven years makes. Talking about the gift Bravo has given her, the Skinnygirl breaks down in tears, grateful she's been able to inspire so many viewers around the country to believe they can accomplish anything. That's what fans talk about when she meets them: not the fight she got in with Ramona last week, but how she inspires them and is a good role model for their daughters. There's no question that Bethenny has used the Housewives platform wisely. She went for her dreams and got them, and now she's rich, bi***.

Regrets

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Many of the 'Wives say they don't have a single moment they regret on camera. However, Carole's biggest regret is the comment she made in her Season 5 interview about Sonja and the pirate. She won't repeat it, but Andy reminds us that she said they went up the butt in St. Barth's. Thank you Andy. Sonja is glad to hear it from Carole, and says that she even got a three-page handwritten apology note from Writer Girl after it aired. Aviva claims her biggest regret was calling Ramona and Sonja "white trash" on Slutty Island, but mostly because it gave her her first taste of the fans' wrath on social media. Poor Aviva, people were soooo mean to her. On a side note, that trip to St. Barth's was just full of regrets, wasn't it? Ramona's biggest regret was her conversation with Bethenny on the Brooklyn Bridge during Season 3. She now recognizes that Bethenny was reaching out to her for help, but she reacted in a way that didn't embrace or help her cast mate. Crazy eyes now knows that when someone is asking you for help, it's not the time to kick them when they're down. It's a good lesson to learn, Ramona.

RHONY's Impact

To wrap the special up, Andy asks each of the women how they feel about the show reaching 100 episodes. Bethenny's proud to be part of something that is part of popular culture, while Ramona claims she knew the show would be a success, she just didn't realize it would go on for such a long time. Heather points out her gratitude at being part of the modern-day soap opera and Luann explains that the show works so well because it shows a "good group of very different women with different philosophies about life. Kristen thinks the show will be remembered for the genuine friendships and for having so many OGs seven seasons in, while Sonja posits that what they'll really go down for in the history books are their fighting words, depth and ability to get ahead. At the show's heart, the women really are a sisterhood, and several of them point that fact out. The show will be timeless because of those bonds and that camaraderie and because they really are all friends at the end of the day. As Ramona points out in the show's closing moments, even though they may go at each other's throats sometimes, the common thread is that the women all genuinely care about each other. To RHONY girl power!