In more than a decade and across nine cities, the Real Housewives franchises have brought the drama and made Bravo the headquarters of reality television.
Between the wigs, the thrown drinks and the taglines, each franchise has become must-see TV, and the Housewives have become household names. Viewers love to watch Vicki speak her truth in the OC, Nene keep the ladies in line in Atlanta, Teresa deal with her family drama in New Jersey and Bethenny and Luann bicker in New York. The reunions might make it look like anything goes, but the women do have a few rules they have to keep to in order to keep their peach and leave fans coming back for more.
Those contracts can get pretty specific since it can take a lot for Andy Cohen to keep the big personalities in line. Here are 18 rules the Real Housewives have to follow to stay on the show.
18 Their Hair Style Is In The Contract
The hairstyle isn't exactly lined out in the contract, but there are some stipulations that the Housewives have to keep in mind. They love a makeover, but the contract is picky to point out that they can't go for a major revision midseason. This probably helps with reshoots (yes, they happen, and we'll get to that later) and if they choose to air things out of chronological order.
17 No Privacy Guarantee
Everyone wants a little bit of privacy, even if they sign up for a reality TV show. But the ladies of the Real Housewives franchise don't get any promise that they can keep things to themselves. Things like their kids and their closet are fair game, per the contract. In fact, Nene got so mad about it that she was caught accosting a cameraman who was heading toward that room where she keeps her clothes.
16 They Will Work Around Prison Time
In many professions, when you get convicted of a felony, you lose your job. But that's not true for Housewives. The producers even film around prison time. It worked out for Teresa Giudice and Luann de Lesseps. Kim Richards had a run-in with the law too, although it wasn't as much of a big deal on the show. Teresa and her husband Joe's legal woes have been a major storyline for several seasons.
15 Don't Mess With The OGs
There is an unstated rule among all of the Housewives - don't mess with the OGs. There is one major player in each franchise whose popularity has stood the test of time, and they have a surprising amount of sway on the casting. Nene is the queen bee from Atlanta, and Vicki rules the roost in the OC. Andy has even had the OGs organize his baby shower. They definitely earn their status and wield their power when they have to.
14 The Husbands Come And Go
While the Housewives are pretty stable, their men are like a big revolving door. In fact, sometimes the men go from one Housewife to another. Take Slade, for example. He started off with Jo, and then dated another cast member before settling down with Gretchen. The partners don't always get the attention, but they are still a part of the drama.
13 Glam Squad Is At The Housewife's Expense
Housewives have to look good, but that doesn't mean that Bravo fits the entire glam squad bill. We're certain that the ladies get a stipend for hair and makeup, especially for the reunion shows, and they often get to borrow some luxury dresses for the specials. But many of the ladies take their glam to a whole new level. Erika Jayne spends more on glam in a month than some people make in a year, according to People, and she has to pick up a lot of those costs on her own.
12 No Lawsuits Among Housewives
The fights that break out over a season of the Housewives franchise are dramatic - but they never wind up in court, even though we know more than one lawyer has been one the receiving end. Reportedly, the Housewives' contracts stipulate that they can hash things out on screen but not in a courtroom because lawsuits between cast members are forbidden in the contracts.
11 Separation Before The Reunion Show
The drama goes next level whenever the Housewives air a reunion episode. To drive up the drama, producers make a rule to keep the women separated while they prepare for the big event. They probably put a few bugs in the women's ears too about some of the slights that happened in the months preceding the event.
10 Your Friends Aren't Guaranteed A Spot
The cast of the Real Housewives franchises have changed over the years, and many times, the friends are the ones who are chosen to take any spot that opens up. While many times the friends are spotted in scenes here and there, that doesn't mean that they are guaranteed a spot. According to reports, they still have to go through the casting process and submit some tapes and go to auditions.
9 It's Hard To Say No To The Group Trips
There are two big events that usually bring the drama each season — before the reunion show, things usually take a few twists during a big girls trip. It wasn't a big deal when the queen Lisa Vanderpump stayed home, but Kim Zolciak caused a lot of issues when she refused to go on a trip with the Atlanta cast. And it wasn't long before she was an ex-cast member.
8 Family Drama Comes Full Circle
Frenemies aren't enough for the drama of the Real Housewives franchise - they make sure that the family connections keep people on edge. Kim and Kyle Richards can bring the skeletons out, but nothing takes the cake like Teresa and her brother Joe. The family issues are just part of the plotline on this franchise.
7 Be Available For Re-Shoots
Of course, all of our reality show dreams have been debunked by many shows, and that's true of the Housewives as well. According to 2013 reports, the Real Housewives of New York were spotted staging shots and doing reshoots while they were in Southampton. We think that the most authentic moments were probably the ones that came up on their own — the Housewives aren't the best of actresses, with the exception of a few screen stars on Beverly Hills.
6 They Have To Chip In For Travel
The Real Housewives love to travel, and big girl trips can be a big part of the plot for each season. But all expenses aren't paid. Don't get us wrong - Bravo pays a big part of the bill. But the producers set a budget for a high-class trip, and some of the richest of the women decide to pay extra for some major upgrades. These ladies expect a certain level of class, and they will pay more to get what they want.
5 Don't Have To Be A Wife To Be A Housewife
The Real Housewives show doesn't focus only on women who are married and stay at home with the kids. In fact, many of the most popular castmates weren't married, at least at some point in the show's history. Us Weekly did a count, and as of September 2018, a total of 33 Real Housewives couples had filed for divorce after appearing on the show. That includes Nene and her husband Greg, who reconciled, so there are still some couples that have stood firm through the franchise.
4 No Party Crashing
The Housewives have had their share of bad moves and drama, which usually helps the franchise along. But one party crash ruined everything for the D.C. franchise. Michaele and Tarek Salahi actually crashed a White House event they weren't invited to, and the controversy torpedoed the entire series. Bravo went on to have success with the ladies of the Potomac, but they definitely got warned about party crashing.
3 Andy Gets Final Approval
While the Housewives franchises have made a lot of people famous, there is one person from behind the scenes who has also been catapulted to fame and power. Andy Cohen, the show's executive producer, went from a behind-the-scenes tv exec to a major star when he began hosting the reunion shows. Now he talks about his ladies weekly on Watch What Happens Live, and he's all over the place doing tours, writing books and living his best life while continuing to control the shots on the Housewives shows.
2 You Can Come Back — Maybe
Sometimes we're excited to see cast members go, but sometimes our favorites step back from the franchise. The good thing is that just because a Housewife is out for a season doesn't mean that it's a final goodbye. Nene and Bethenny came back, and we've even seen Jill and Camille here and there. That gives us hope that we will still have some scenes to come with the queen Lisa Vanderpump.
1 Sell Those Taglines
Our biggest memories of the Housewives come in the form of the taglines — the phrases that live in Bravo lore and get played over and over again in commercials and, more importantly, in memes. According to an executive producer quoted in Daily Clutch, the ladies don't come up with their sayings on their own. It's something that the producers discuss, and the Housewives have to sell them.