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Series / The Real Housewives

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Bravo Docu Soap created by Andy Cohen featuring various glamorous women in different parts of the United States. First aired in 2006 with the Real Housewives of Orange County, the success of which was followed by shows set in New York City (2008), Atlanta (2008), New Jersey (2009), Washington, D.C. (2010), Beverly Hills (2010), Miami (2011), Potomac (2016), and Dallas (2016), with Salt Lake City set to premiere in 2020. Each series follows a cast of about six women and chronicles the ups and downs of their relationships.


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The Real Housewives contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Kim Richards.
  • Artifact Title: The title is meant to be contrary to the soap opera Desperate Housewives, while the setting of the first series seems to be have been chosen based on the similarly popular The O.C.. However, Real Housewives has since grown to feature other cities and countries, and being a housewife (or even married) is not a strict requirement to be on the show. Furthermore, Desperate Housewives ended in 2012 and The OC ended in 2007.
  • Back for the Finale: The reunion shows often bring in the husbands and other side characters, particularly when there's drama attached.
  • Berserk Button: Don't dare criticize any of the wive's marriages, children, or parenting styles, especially Teresa Giudice's.
  • Big Fancy House: Several! Not all the women live in palatial quarters, but plenty of them do; Lisa Vanderpump's Villa Rosa, for instance.
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  • Blue Blood: Some of the New York cast were married into nobility, such as Luann De Lesseps, who was married to a French Count, and Carole Radziwill, whose late husband was a Polish prince.
  • Buxom Is Better: Averted about as often as it's played straight; both the acquisition and removal of breast implants are popular storylines.
  • Cast Full of Rich People: The housewives are generally very well-off.
  • Cat Fight: Some last multiple seasons. Perhaps the most notable cat fight on the show was the infamous "table flip" episode featuring Theresa Giudice and Danielle Staub.
    • Another fairly infamous case was in the second season of the Beverly Hills series, between Taylor Armstrong and Camille Grammer, when the latter accused the former of lying about being abused by her husband. An image of Taylor from the episode "Malibu Beach Party From Hell" would later become a meme, used to show her yelling at an actual cat.
  • Characterization Marches On: Generally, each new season brings new information about the cast members; for example, Beverly Hills' Camille began in season one hated by the fans and the rest of the cast, but after her divorce from Kelsey Grammer she returned in season two to a much more positive reception. Other times, this trope doesn't play out so positively—New Jersey's Teresa Giudice lost a lot of fans after they saw her troubled relationship with her sister-in-law.
  • Confession Cam: The talking heads in which the cast members comment on the events of the episode after-the-fact.
  • Daddy's Girl: Teresa Giudice's daughters. Many of the Housewives qualify as this too.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Several of the characters have their turn (especially in the talking heads), but particularly notable examples are Lisa Vanderpump (Beverly Hills) and Bethenny Frankel (NYC).
  • Docu Soap: Most of the emphasis in the show is on the cast member's relationships with each other which can be fraught with drama. Other storylines revolve around their careers and family lives.
  • Flipping the Table: One of the most iconic moments of the show's history was New Jersey's Teresa Giudice flipping a restaurant table.
  • Foreign Remake: In addition to the American shows, there are also The Real Housewives of Athens, Vancouver, Toronto, Hungary, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Cheshire, Johannesburg, and Naples, along with the French version, Les Vraies Housewives, that is set in Beverly Hills.
    • There are also a host of shows in other countries that aren't official but follow the same format.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Brandi Glanville. Despite being tolerated by only Kim and Yolanda she is a very firm example of this trope both on and off-show, combined with Jerkass and Country Matters insults she occasionally spews. Carlton Gebbia is this too as well to a few housewives within the Beverly Hills cast. Alex McCord has somewhat become this to a majority of the NYC wives, with a few exceptions.
  • Happily Married: While many of the housewives have been married several times, or only had short-term marriages, there are exceptions. Notable ones include Kyle Richards and her husband Mauricio (married since 1996), Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin (married since 1997), Lisa Vanderpump and Ken Todd (since 1982), just to name a few.
  • Housewife: In spite of the show's name, only some of the women fill this role. Most have successful careers outside of Reality TV, and many are unmarried.
  • Mama Bear: Despite some of their indiscretions, many of the Wives genuinely do care about their children, and if another Wife criticizes their parenting style, be prepared for Berserk Button.
  • Manipulative Editing: A common complaint from the Wives when they start to look bad.
  • The Mean Brit: Some of the Beverly Hills housewives accuse Lisa Vanderpump of being this.
  • Point-and-Laugh Show: For some viewers, the pleasure of watching the show takes the form of smug schadenfreude.
  • Rags to Riches: OC's Lauri Peterson, who was rich and lived in a big home, but became poor once she got divorced without financial settlement, but later got rich again after meeting a new man. One of her taglines also mentioned about her changing financial status.
  • Rambunctious Italian: The Real Housewives of New Jersey plays off on this trope, especially Teresa Giudice.
  • Reality TV: Probably one of the most successful of the genre.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Depending on your interpretation of "real life"...
  • Sassy Black Woman: The Real Housewives of Atlanta and The Real Housewives of Potomac.
  • Socialite: The show plays around this trope. Many of the Housewives are either the daughters of wealthy families, married to wealthy men, or wealthy in their own right.
  • Southern Belle: Atlanta's Phaedra describes herself this way.
  • Spicy Latina: The Real Housewives of Miami runs on this trope.
  • Spin-Off: Some of the housewives get their own shows.
  • Team Mom: Caroline Manzo for New Jersey.
  • Token Minority: DC's Stacy Scott Turner was the only black housewife outside Atlanta.
    • OC has the only Latina housewife in its first two seasons, Jo De La Rosa. So do Beverly Hills and Dallas in their fourth seasons with Joyce Giraud and Kary Brittingham, respectively.
    • Garcelle Beauvais is Beverly Hills' first black housewife who appears in its 10th season.
  • Token White: Kim Zolciak, the only white housewife in the Atlanta cast.
  • Trophy Wife: Some of the Housewives are these, but plenty are successful in their own right.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Jules Wainstein from The Real Housewives of New York City on Season 8, who is both Asian and Jewish.
  • Vacation Episode: There's always a group trip to a more-or-less exotic location.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Atlanta's Kandi Buress was a member of 90's girl group Xscape.
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