Which Real Housewives franchise should you start with? An expert tells you her faves.
The other day my younger sister came to me with my absolute favorite question to answer: which Real Housewives franchise should I start with? She knows that I'm a pretty big fan of the Housewives and I have watched some franchises multiple times over! She had never seen any of the Housewives (except for random reruns on TV) and she wanted to watch them in chronological order.
I had a similar experience in that a long time ago I had been relatively familiar with the Housewives. Random episodes were always on Bravo so you could kind of parse out the different feuds and get some of those iconic moments in, but I always felt like I was only getting half of the story. I decided a few years ago that I wanted to start from scratch. Now, I've seen almost every franchise (yes, I'm still working my way through the hours and hours of reality TV to get the coveted "I've seen them all" badge) but I've seen enough to give beginners a good idea of where to start.
One thing that I feel really contributed to my watch-athon a few years ago was that streaming services were starting to put out reality TV show episodes without ads. A super long time ago I tried to do a full watch of the Housewives because I'm a pretty big reality TV lover, but you could only watch them with the Bravo app and you had to endure ads what felt like every 5 minutes. Plus, my biggest pet peeve with that was the fact that if you didn't finish an episode, you had to go back and try to find your previous place in the show and endure a bunch of ads trying to find the correct spot. I don't know why, but I am cool with ads on other kinds of shows, but I have to watch reality TV straight through.
Not sure who got rid of that, but I am so grateful streaming moved away from ads and more towards subscription models. Anyways, I first started watching Housewives on Hulu, but most of the franchises can now be found on Peacock. I believe you can still watch episodes on the Bravo app, but you may still have to sit through ads.
You do have to pay for Peacock, but it honestly is one of my most used streaming services. They have Bravo stuff and also The Office, Parks and Rec, and some other classic shows that I'm always replaying.
Okay, so the very first Housewives franchise was Real Housewives of Orange County. Here is a list of all the cities in order (not including spin-offs):
This was a complete list of the American installments of the Real Housewives franchise as of 2023. There are several spin-offs and international installments as well.
The Real Housewives of Orange County. The first season aired from March 2006 - May 2006. Fun fact: the show was originally called "Behind the Gates" to refer to the gated communities that house mega-rich people in Orange County, CA.
The Real Housewives of Dubai. The first season aired from June 2022 - September 2022.
*Please note: These are simply my opinions, everyone has a right to their own.*
Everything having to do with the housewives is very subjective - everyone has a very strong opinion about their favorite franchises or the one that should be watched first. It may help to reveal my top 3 favorite Housewives franchises:
Is it a coincidence that my top 3 favorite franchises were the first 3 released? I don't know, maybe I'm a Real Housewives purist but these are truly my perfect trifecta. Believe me, we will get to my runner-ups later, but these are the 3 that I always recommend to people first (unless they are looking for something a little more recent).
I love them because they have a lot of episodes/seasons to go through and they are so fun to watch straight through. You get to experience every fight/feud and see how the women evolve over a period of years in a span of a couple days or weeks (depending on how much you are binging).
My personal favorite really is a tie between New York and Atlanta honestly, but I find myself rewatching New York the most. New York is my ideal Housewives franchise because the show is relatively light and funny (yes, there is still plenty of drama, but it mainly leans ridiculous rather than dark) and the way the women interact is the funniest to me.
I think I described the franchises pretty accurately up above, so choose one that sounds like your cup of tea and go with that. But if you really want to know the blanket answer I usually tell people?
Start with The Real Housewives of Orange County. It is the most classic. Is it the absolute best there is? Maybe not but it's so iconic you just have to watch it at least once. The more recent seasons have shown the franchise is struggling to find its footing again but every single Housewives franchise experiences some lulls. Although it may sound like OC is one of my least favorites, it's actually in my top 3! It really is so good, I think I'm just a little partial to NY and ATL.
I feel personally that Beverly Hills, Miami, and Potomac are also all amazing. Before watching other seasons, I had probably seen the most of Beverly Hills and for a while I felt that one was my favorite, but it was kicked off the podium after watching my other top 3.
I also think Dubai has a lot of potential, but it may be a bit too early to tell.
Please don't hate me, but I've never fully gotten into New Jersey. I know that I can hardly call myself a Housewives enthusiast when I'm not a big fan, but for some reason I just have a different preference. Believe me, Jersey has some of the most iconic Housewives moments (two words: table flip) but it's really a tale of family feuds which I found interesting, but a bit repetitive.
If I change my stance on this, I will come and correct this post and apologize for my sins.
Okay, so my personal favorite out of the recent seasons has been The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Nothing could have prepared me for how unhinged it is, it reminds me of some of the earlier Housewives seaons. If you're looking for something more modern and don't want to have to rewatch a million seasons, start in on SLC because it's amazing and there's only a couple of seasons so far.
I think this question is kind of hard to answer because it can either be, who do you think is the best Housewife, the most entertaining Housewife, the shadiest Housewife, or the nicest Housewife in real life? It really depends on what qualities you value in a "good" Housewife, but here are some of my favorites:
Bethenny Frankel - Love her or hate her, she makes good television and is right about a lot (not all, but a lot) of situations.
Kandi Burruss - My queen, has a memory that never fails when bringing up situations, boss in business. Her weak spot is defending her mother at all costs.
Sonja Morgan - Hilarious, silly, and fun. Would want to have her as a girlfriend.
Kenya Moore - The best shade, gorgeous, and has a big heart.
Lisa Vanderpump - Made Beverly Hills iconic, best interviews.
I have thoughts about almost everyone on the Housewives and there are so many others that deserve a mention here, but I think this list is a good start!
This is one of my favorite questions! Of course, I'm a little biased because I have seen some seasons more than once, but here are some Housewives that I think didn't get the credit they deserved:
Alex McCord from NY - Was done so dirty and was consistently bullied but never gave up. Needed so much more credit.
Cynthia Bailey from ATL - Is always called "boring" but her storylines consistently bring it and is better at defending herself and throwing shade than she gets credit for.
Meghan King from OC - Read Vicki for filth and had the most insane first season ever.
Aviva Drescher from NY - Leg throw was iconic and will never be forgotten.
There are so many more, but you get the idea!
Which Real Housewives franchise is your favorite? What is your favorite Real Housewives moment of all time? One of my favorites was Scary Island from RHONY!