With 9 Real Housewives franchises in the U.S. alone, that’s a lot of women thrust together with cameras catching every moment of their lives, including the ups and downs of their friendships. With constantly-revolving casts of no less than 100 ladies over the years, the inter-personal dynamics are often in a state of flux: some women have history before filming begins and others are merely acquaintances or even strangers.
Each season, between disastrous vacays, financial problems, births, deaths, weddings, marital woes, holiday parties and business launches, there are relationships that grow stronger and persevere, others that fall apart only to be repaired later (or not),] and a few that remain contentious. In Bravo’s world of make believe, it’s hard to know which ladies are truly pals and who’s playing nice for the sake of ratings and a paycheck.
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There’s no doubt that the ladies of The Real Housewives share a unique bond, but who really kicks it when the cameras aren’t rolling? We decided to take a look at the real-est of the Housewives‘ friendships, past and present. How genuine do you think the friendships are among the domestic goddesses of Bravo? Let us know in the comments section.
12. Carole Radziwill and Yolanda Foster
Real Housewives of New York City star Carole Radziwill has some famous friends other than her NYC cohorts. Radziwill and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alumni Yolanda Foster have been close for years, long before they became Housewives. The two have spent hours gabbing about men, life and love according to Carole. Carole considers Foster a “girls’ girl.”
11. Brandi Glanville and Kristin Taekman
Some Housewives pals aren’t even part of the same cast. Former RHONYC cast member Kristin Taekman and Brandi Glanville (ex-RHOBH) have been friends for years, and it was Glanville who helped Taekman land her spot on the show. Glanville dragged the model/stay-at-home mommy to an upfronts party where it was love at first sight for Housewives wrangler, Andy Cohen. Taekman has said that Brandi is the best girlfriend you can ask for.
10. Bethenny Frankel and Kyle Richards
Before Bethenny was a Skinnygirl, millionaire and New York housewife, she was paying her dues waiting tables in Los Angeles. It’s there that she crossed paths with Kyle Richards (RHOBH), and the two became fast friends. Bethenny also worked as a personal assistant to Kyle’s sister, Cathy Hilton, even driving her daughters Paris and Nicky to and from school. Bethenny, a long-time family friend, weighed in on the feud between the Richards sisters, citing money and fame being the root of their issues. Kyle and Bethenny met up on camera during season 6 of RHOBH when Kyle and friends made a trip to the Hamptons and attended dinner at Bethenny’s pad.
9. NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann (RHOA)
When season 1 premiered, these Georgia peaches were tight. Drawn together by their over-the-top, outrageous personalities, the Real Housewives of Atlanta stars loved to share a good drink and a good laugh. But by the time filming wrapped, NeNe and Kim were embroiled in a bitter feud, thanks to NeNe’s outspoken opinion of Kim’s lack of musical talent.
Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann patched things up, but between margaritas and wig parties, they found themselves constantly at odds, throwing low blows about everything from Kim’s married boyfriend, an unrealized musical collaboration that hit a sour note, an alleged strangling, money problems and even bigotry. The twosome almost came to blows more than once on camera.
Kim left the show in the middle of season 4, but she made it clear that she and Leakes were friends long before the RHOA and would continue to be pals after. In 2015, NeNe and Kim were even set to star together in their own spin-off but had to bail due to their busy schedules.
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8. Bethenny Frankel and Jill Zarin (RHONYC)
Frankel and Zarin were inseparable during The Real Housewives of New York City’s first 2 seasons, using their acerbic wit and sharp tongues against their co-stars. Frankel cooked for Zarin and spent summers with her friend in the Hamptons. The two talked on the phone constantly, and Frankel became a de facto member of Zarin’s family.
Things drastically changed between the long-time pals during season 3. Bethenny had a new man, and her business was taking off. She no longer had time to lounge in bed for marathon gossip session with her girlfriend, Zarin. Jill felt slighted and lashed out, declaring war on her former friend, freezing Bethenny out of her life completely. After multiple attempts to reconcile, Bethenny moved on, and Jill had second thoughts about her mean girl behavior. Zarin tried to woo B back, but Bethenny was over it. The two never renewed their friendship and while Bethenny has returned to the Housewives fold, Zarin has disappeared into oblivion.
7. Lisa Vanderpump and Brandi Glanville (RHOBH)
When Brandi Glanville joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, she wasn’t exactly welcomed with air kisses and open arms. But after a group trip to Hawaii during season 2, Brandi began to bond with Lisa Vanderpump. The two quickly progressed from ladies who lunch to best friends who talked on the phone every day. Brandi chalked up their dirty minds and mischievous senses of humor as the basis for their friendship. Lisa even got her friend a prestigious modeling job.
Then Brandi began to believe that Lisa was a master manipulator and had used her as a pawn in Lisa’s battle with fellow cast member Adrienne Maloof. Brandi accused Lisa of being a pot stirrer and a liar. The friendship ended, but Brandi quickly regretted her behavior and tried to make amends, apologizing to Lisa and literally offering an olive branch. Lisa couldn’t forgive and forget, and when the ladies traveled to Amsterdam during season 5, any chance at reconciliation was decimated when Brandi smacked Lisa across the face. Brandi meant it to be a love tap, but it was the final straw for Lisa. Brandi didn’t return for another season, and the two continue to keep their distance.
6. NeNe Leakes and Cynthia Bailey (RHOA)
NeNe and former supermodel Cynthia Bailey were ride-or-die sisters from another mister during seasons 3-5. NeNe attended Cynthia’s photo shoots and helped Cynthia’s longtime boyfriend Peter execute his marriage proposal to the former runaway bride. NeNe cried on Cynthia’s shoulder as her own marriage fell apart, and Cynthia stood up beside her girl when NeNe took the plunge again. NeNe’s friendship was so important to Cynthia, she drafted a “friendship contract” to seal the deal. But things started to go downhill after Cynthia’s husband, Peter, called NeNe out for her diva behavior at a charity event. Later, NeNe put Peter in check, calling him a “bitch.”
NeNe and Cynthia sat down with their hubbies for a peace summit and appeared to resolve their issues. However, during the season 6 reunion, Cynthia and NeNe revealed they were still on the outs. NeNe went after Cynthia on social media and even campaigned to get Bailey booted from the show, stating her ex-friend brought nothing to the table. But time heals all wounds, and NeNe re-entered Cynthia’s life during season 8.
5. Brandi Glanville and Yolanda Foster (RHOBH)
In a town known for superficiality, it’s really hard to know who your friends are. But one-time Real Housewives of Beverly Hills co-stars Brandi Glanville and Yolanda Foster haven’t let anything come between them, including Brandi’s constant bad behavior. During her time as a housewife, Brandi had conflict with all of her cast members, except Yolanda, and the former supermodel has always defended Brandi’s choices, good and bad.
Brandi may not always respond with kindness when her gal pal gives her a much-deserved scolding, but Yolanda is only looking out for Brandi’s best interests. When all the other women questioned if Yolanda’s health struggles were legit, Brandi stood beside her friend, offering encouragement and support. On camera and off, these ladies appear to be the real deal.
4. Kandi Burruss and Phaedra Parks (RHOA)
Parks and Burruss have more in common than their diminutive stature (Smalls vs. Talls). Kandi designs sex toys and self-proclaimed Southern belle Parks has never been afraid to let her freak flag fly. Kandi visited Phaedra in the hospital before the “donkey-booty” mom-to-be gave birth to her first son and was front and center at all of Phaedra’s lavish parties. Phaedra encouraged the burgeoning romance between Kandi and now-hubby Todd Tucker, even running interference with Kandi’s overbearing momma, Joyce.
When Phaedra’s husband Apollo went to jail for fraud, Phaedra felt Kandi wasn’t there for her and turned to former foe NeNe Leakes for support. The burgeoning relationship became a sore spot for Kandi who resented Phaedra for talking to NeNe behind her back, reminding her how NeNe had a proven track record of turning on people. The gap grew as Phaedra took Kandi’s continuing friendship with Apollo as a betrayal. Now, Phaedra is hanging with Porsha Williams, giving her new bestie constant shout outs on social media.
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3. Jacqueline Laurita and Teresa Giudice (RHONJ)
Like many of the duos on this list, Jacqueline and Teresa were friends long before the cameras started rolling for The Real Housewives of New Jersey. The wacky duo’s comedic exploits caused them to nickname themselves “Lucy” and “Ethel.” The women even procreated together (both were pregnant with their youngest children at the same time). Eventually, Teresa’s diva-licious behavior, shady business practices, family drama and love affair with the tabloids drove a wedge between the women. They made multiple attempts to put the past behind them, including going on trips to California and Arizona together with promises to renew their friendship that never came to fruition.
Now that Teresa is out of jail and eager for a fresh start with friends and family, she and Jacqueline are giving it another go. Both feel they’ve picked up where they left off. The big question is have they finally squashed their differences for good?
2. Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan (RHONYC)
Of all the housewives, Singer and Morgan have one of the longest histories (20 years). Ever since Sonja joined the cast during season 3, the ladies have been inseparable. They get cosmetic procedures together, drink together (A LOT), room together on trips and attend countless parties and events, often wearing similar sequined dresses. Now that Ramona is single, the two have even appeared to share a man or two. Sonja is the only cast member who seems able to handle “Rameana” when she’s at her worst.
The twosome have had their share of tiffs over the years, mainly when it comes to Sonja’s grandiose business schemes or excessive drinking. Sonja has said herself that her relationship with Ramona has run hot and cold over the years, but they’ll always be friends no matter what.
1. Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge (RHOC)
No two women in Housewives history have had a more tumultuous friendship than Tamra and Vicki. Tamra joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Orange County during season 3 and as Vicki’s relationship with Jeana Keough fell apart, Tamra stepped up to take the former Playmate’s place. These two have a shared love of whooping it up, parlaying their partying into a wine business. They’ve been in each other’s lives through divorce, remarriage, the birth of their grandchildren and the death of Vicki’s mother.
But in between supporting each other, Tamra and Vicki have a pattern of tearing each other down. Their friendship became strained when Tamra’s marriage fell apart (Tamra’s husband partially blamed Vicki), and Tamra said a lot of not-very-nice things about her pal. Tamra worked hard to regain Vicki’s trust, but problems arose once more when Tamra befriended her and Vicki’s one-time shared enemy and cast member, Gretchen Rossi. The twosome always found their way back together, but Vicki’s romance with shady con-man Brooks has been at the root of years of turmoil. Brooks is finally out of the picture, and Vicki and Tamra look poised to reconnect once more.
(Images Courtesy of Bravo)
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Jennifer has worked as a freelance writer in the entertainment field since 2012. In addition to currently writing feature articles for Screen Rant, Jennifer has contributed content ranging from recaps to listicles to reviews for BuddyTV, PopMatters, TVRage, TVOvermind, and Tell-Tale TV. Links to some of Jennifer’s reviews can be found on Rotten Tomatoes.