Bravo: The Real Housewives formula and why it just works

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK CITY, Sonja Morgan, Ramona Singer (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/Bravo)
THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK CITY, Sonja Morgan, Ramona Singer (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/Bravo) /

Bravo really hit a home run with the inception of The Real Housewives series.  As the show adds new locations, the formula remains the same.

One of the best parts of Bravo’s The Real Housewives was how different they all were from one another, even The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Real Housewives of Orange County.  They are only about an hour apart in location, but lightyears away in style and wealth.  When the franchises first began, Orange County loved to focus on the over-the-top gold decor in the giant homes and the children.  Beverly Hills focused more on the cars, the long driveways, and the big kitchens.  It was always interesting to see how different the two shows were.


When The Real Housewives of New Jersey stepped on the scene, the focus was definitely family drama.  Not so much the children, but the adults and their deep-seated resentment for one another.  It was truly unlike any other franchise with Teresa Giudice, Jacqueline Laurita, Caroline Manzo, Dina Manzo, Melissa Gorga, and Kathy Wakile.  Everyone was related in some way by blood or marriage, which made the drama way more dark than usual.


The Real Housewives of Miami hit the scene in 2011 and was different from the rest of the shows, in location and in style.  Lea Black, Adriana de Moura, Alexia Echevarria, Marysol Patton, Larsa Pippen, and Cristy Rice were on the cast for season one and were joined by Lisa Hochstein and Joanna Krupa for season two.  Lea is a star in her own right, and Larsa went on to morph into a Kardashian after her time on the show.

It was all about the beach, waterfront property, and how you interacted with Lea.  Lea was basically the legitimate Lisa Vanderpump of Miami and ran things, both in the city and the group of wives.  Even though the drama was similar, the location made such a difference in how things were perceived.  It was a lot of group dinners on the water and time spent in nightclubs, which is just the scene in Miami.


The Real Housewives of New York City premiered in 2008 with a small cast that included Luann de Lesseps, Bethenny Frankel, Alex McCord, Ramona Singer, and Jill Zarin.  It was clear that this cast didn’t want to partake in the lowbrow nights out at first.  They had high-end dinner parties, polo matches, private tennis lessons, and private chefs.  It was all about being seen on the scene in your favorite designer at the best spot in the Hamptons.  Ramona not inviting people was status quo and was probably the reason the wives are contractually obligated to invite the whole cast now.

But whatever the location was, the formula worked.  There’s always a ringleader or two, some more quiet and reserved wives, one that probably drinks too much, and one that just doesn’t fit in.  The one that doesn’t fit is usually replaced after a season or two with someone more exciting.  Once the ladies have hit their groove, the situations all become similar.

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That’s what viewers tune in for, though.  Different people in different places, but the same scenario.  It’s a familiar thing that we all enjoy seeing, but with an ever-changing cast of people to refresh that scenario.  And if you ask Vicki Gunvalson, it was all her idea, but we know that isn’t the case.

Tune in to Bravo every night for your favorite Real Housewives franchises!