- The "Real Housewives" franchise make up some of Bravo's most popular shows, spanning from New York to Beverly Hills and beyond.
- What goes on behind the scenes may be even more dramatic than what you see on television.
- These are 17 things you probably didn't know about the "Real Housewives" franchise.
From the outside, Bravo's " Real Housewives " appears ultra-glam. There are luxurious trips, fancy cars, and designer clothes, all appearing among drama-packed feuds as well as silly, meme-worthy moments.
Sometimes, it's hard to know what exactly is real about the popular reality show. Are those phone calls happening in real time? Is the drama organic?
These 17 strange, little-known facts prove that sometimes the truth behind the glamorous world of reality television is much stranger than fiction and the lines between the two are often blurry.
The "Real Housewives" franchise isn't limited just to the United States.
Though the show has seen hundreds of wives in its iterations across the country, spanning from Beverly Hills and Orange County to New York and New Jersey, those aren't the only wives on TV screens.
International versions of the show, including "Real Housewives of Vancouver," "Real Housewives of Athens," and "Real Housewives of Israel," are broadcast in their respective countries.
Vicki Gunvalson is the first (and longest-running) housewife in the original franchises.
Gunvalson was a member of the original "Real Housewives of Orange County" cast, which made up the very first version of the show.
Over nearly 13 years, fans have seen Gunvalson in just about any and every situation, from screaming about "never having been with multiple partners" on a ski slope to screaming about being forced to ride in a "family van" to the airport.
"Real Housewives of Atlanta" scores the highest ratings most consistently.
The wives of Atlanta tend to garner the most consistent ratings. Nene Leakes was, at one point, considered the "highest rated" castmate in the franchise. At its peak, "RHOA" captured an audience of nearly 4 million live viewers.
Recently, though, "Real Housewives of Orange County" came out on top in terms of ratings. Currently, it's the most-watched version of the series.
Bethenny Frankel may be a millionaire now, but she made way less her first season.
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images
Bethenny Frankel is known as one of the show's biggest breakout stars, having used her fame to create major wealth for herself and her business, SkinnyGirl Cocktails.
In 2015, Frankel told INSIDER she made only $7,250 total for her first season as a castmate on the show.
The first castmate to ever throw a glass of wine was Tamra Judge.
Wine throwing has become a "Real Housewives" signature move, all thanks to the originator of the action: "Real Housewives of Orange County" star, Tamra Judge.
At the time, Judge was fighting with a former cast member, Jeana Keough, and threatening her with a "cyst and deceased." After things got heated, Judge threw red wine in Keough's face. Eventually, Judge apologized.
Since then, Brandi Glanville, Danielle Staub, and many other wives have taken to chucking vino during heated arguments.
And the first wife to ever walk off a reunion was Ramona Singer.
Reunion walk-offs have become par for the course, with wives bolting due to sadness, anger, or just for dramatic effect. "Real Housewives of New York" castmate Ramona Singer was the first to walk off at a reunion , simply because she didn't want to continue the conversation.
As the rest of the cast discussed fellow wife Alex McCord's nude photos, Singer made her exit. At the time, she said she had to use the restroom, but it was later revealed Singer was uncomfortable with the racy subject manner and the possibility of her daughter being somehow affected by the topic.
Cast members have claimed that some on-camera phone calls are staged.
According to the aforementioned McCord, scenes in which the shows' stars are using the phone are usually doctored . According to accounts, producers will instruct castmates to call each other at pivotal moments of high emotion, usually when the timing is ripe for drama.
And those dining scenes can apparently be filmed during very weird hours.
Turns out "Real Housewives" stars don't eat in the emptiest restaurants in their respective cities. Instead, McCord revealed, producers arrange for the stars to eat at off-peak hours in restaurants. Why? The answer is surprisingly technical.
A crowded restaurant means more people could end up on film. For people to appear on television, they must sign release forms. The more people there are in a restaurant, the more releases production is responsible for procuring. To avoid losing track of all the extra paperwork, production asks the wives to eat meals before or after typical times. For example, the cast might grab lunch at 10:00 a.m. as opposed to noon.
Reunions take a ton of time to film.
Reunions typically air in two-to-three-part specials, all broken up into around an hour per special episode. Filming the reunion actually takes up to twelve hours, according to E! Online.
The idea for "Real Housewives" came from a not-so-real television show.
According to former "Real Housewives of Orange County" cast member Gretchen Rossi, the inspiration behind the franchise was the fictional television drama "Desperate Housewives."
"[Desperate Housewives] inspired the 'Real Housewives' franchise," Rossi told Hollywood.com in 2012. "Honestly, I feel I owe a lot to ["Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry] for creating a show that inspired a real-life version.
One of the show's greatest villains may have paid for his spot on the series.
Slade Smiley was known for dating multiple members of the "Real Housewives of Orange County" cast, but Smiley's role on the Bravo show may have started with a $2,500 donation.
According to then-girlfriend Jo De La Rosa , he paid $2,500 in a charity auction for the prize of landing a small part on an unnamed reality show. Eventually, Smiley and Rosa ended up on the cast of "RHOC."
"It was something that he wanted to do, we were engaged and as corny as it sounds, I did it for love," Rosa said on the 100th episode anniversary special.
Smiley went on to date another wife, Gretchen Rossi, with whom he's now expecting a child. The two are no longer on the show.
"Real Housewives of New Jersey" has a strange connection to a Jonas Brother.
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP / Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
In 2014, Former "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Kathy Wakile enlisted the help of Kevin Jonas to build her New Jersey mansion. Jonas served as the contractor for the project, and runs his own business based out of the state.
"Kevin has an extensive knowledge of home automation and electronic features for the home," Wakile said.
The shows apparently weren't always going to be known as "Real Housewives."
According to a lawsuit filed against Bravo , the original idea for "Real Housewives of Orange County" was a show allegedly called "Behind the Gates." The title came from the gates surrounding Coto de Caza, a private neighborhood in Orange County, California, where some of the cast lives.
For its part, "Real Housewives of New York" was allegedly going to be known as "Manhattan Moms" when it first came to development in 2007, according to Alex McCord.
Teresa Giudice served her prison sentence in a location that may sound familiar.
AP Photo/Douglas Healey
In 2015, "Real Housewives of New Jersey" breakout star Teresa Giudice was sentenced to serve a 15-month stint at Danbury, a correctional institution in Danbury, Connecticut.
The prison was the inspiration for the facility featured in "Orange Is the New Black."
According to a former cast member, Housewives sign contracts to prevent them from suing each other.
"Real Housewives of New York" cast member Carole Radziwell said in 2014 that she was unable to sue fellow "RHONY" star Aviva Drescher for accusing her of using a ghostwriter on her book because she had signed away the right.
"There were people who were saying, 'Why don't you sue?' It's not an easy answer," Radziwell told BuzzFeed. "There were several reasons. One is we sign contracts, so we can't sue each other. So you'd have to break the Bravo contract."
Wives are able to sue, according to Radziwell, but only if they're willing to break a contract with the network. In her case, Radziwell said she didn't want to take on Bravo.
Housewives are reportedly instructed not to discuss being on the show while they're on the show.
In 2014, Radziwell also told BuzzFeed that she was unable to refer to any behind-the-scenes or production-based incidents that might break the fourth wall.
"We can't say that on the show because it refers to the show," Radziwell said.
Instead, confessionals are filmed in the present tense, with the women discussing events that likely happened months ago, sitting in rooms designed to look like their homes, according to former "Real Housewives of New York" castmate Aviva Drescher.
Aviva Drescher alleged that wives who bring the drama are rewarded.
Drescher appeared on two seasons of "RHONY" and was known for her feuds with several castmates, which culminated in Drescher throwing her prosthetic leg during a finale episode. In explaining herself, Drescher revealed that producers reward castmates who stir things up.
According to Drescher, she was given an eight-week contract and told that, if she "delivered drama" during that time, her contract would be extended. Drescher accused the aforementioned Radziwell of hiring a ghostwriter, and according to Drescher, her contract was extended.
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