Even in 2019, it stills feels bold to proclaim loving any or all of the Real Housewives franchises. But alas, here I am, loudly and proudly saying that ever since Real Housewives of Orange County (the first franchise and the best, in my humble opinion) debuted in 2006, I have been a faithful viewer. Each franchise is based in one city and focuses on a group of wealthy women that viewers refer to as “the Housewives” even if they aren’t housewives in the truest sense (as is the case with a majority of the cast of Real Housewives of New York since many are divorcées). Over the course of a season, which includes at least one trip abroad and more brunches, lunches, coffee dates, special events, premieres, nights out and dinners than you can fathom, viewers watch these women through good times and bad, entering into and getting out of drama at the drop of a hat.
As an die-hard fan and longtime viewer who will consistently defend my fan status, I’m here to say there is way more than soapy melodrama when it comes to the world of Real Housewives. There are, in fact, a multitude of lessons that can be learned from watching these franchises season after season.
Be loyal & good to your friends
This might be the biggest and most obvious lesson the Real Housewives-verse has to offer, but its true. Be a loyal, good friend, and while you’re at it, support women. Even when they’re fighting (and barring the fight actually being over something truly egregious, like the issues at the heart of Teresa Giudice’s fights with unofficial Real Housewives of New Jersey cast member Kim DePaola, aka Kim D.), the Housewives do it because they care about one another. Friendship isn’t a walk in the park, but time and time again, we see these women rally around one another to cheer each other on, whether it’s as moms, wives, businesspeople or beyond. Supporting other women and not selling each other down the river for ridiculous reasons is such a big takeaway from this world, so take it.
Do the tequila shot
OK, so this lesson isn’t about the alcohol of it all, per se, but rather embracing the spirit of the tequila shot and just learning to have fun and live in the moment. When the Housewives want to have fun, they take it to a whole new level, and yes, that frequently involves tequila, as fans of Real Housewives of Orange County know thanks to Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge letting loose with tequila many a time. Much like Gunvalson’s catchphrase, “Whoop it up,” the lesson here is to fully dive into having fun when the opportunity is presented to you. Don’t fear the party; be a part of it.
You deserve to be a priority in your own life
As much as Real Housewives is about a group of women coming together, it’s also about how each cast member in each respective franchise is finding their bliss, building their businesses or brands, tending to familial duties and nurturing their own souls. Whether its business-focused go-getters like Bethenny Frankel growing the Skinnygirl brand or Gunvalson kicking ass at Coto Insurance, performers like Erika Jayne or Kandi Burruss staying focused on their music careers or watching dedicated moms like Meghan King Edmonds or Ramona Singer stay close to home, these women are involved in these areas of their lives because it fulfills them and nobody else. In doing so, we see they value their success and satisfaction and, even better, don’t feel the pressure to sacrifice any pursuit because they are considering their needs. This, friends, is a seriously key lesson to put a pin in.
Share your wealth (but be chill about it)
Since the world of Real Housewives is built on the idea that viewers get to go inside the world of privileged and well-positioned women across the country, it’s inevitable that the wealth jumps out. From the lavish trips the women take to the afternoon shopping sprees that hit the four-digit mark to spending five minutes with Erika Jayne as we watch her get outfitted in only the finest of clothes, the money being spent is front and center. Sure, there’s an indulgence to watching money being spent and reveled in, but one lesson I’ve taken from this part of the show is that wealth can be shared — and it is shared in various franchises. The Housewives don’t just spend money on themselves, but they use it to treat the other women well, whether it’s taking everyone on vacation or, more recently, watching Real Housewives of New Jersey cast members Margaret Josephs, Melissa Gorga and Jackie Goldschneider buy fellow cast member Teresa Giudice an expensive necklace to celebrate competing in her first fitness competition. When done right, sharing the wealth and using it as a way to show love is worth practicing for real.
Call out the nonsense when you see it
It would be easy to write off the more explosive moments on any given Real Housewives franchise simply as women being petty and looking to cause drama. But I’m not going to take the easy reading here; I’m going to do the honest reading. The biggest lesson I’ve learned any time I’ve seen a Housewife “cause drama” is really that these women are ready and willing to call out the BS when they see it. Sure, it’s a fiery way to open the lines of communication and talk about problems, but calling out the nonsense is such a valuable lesson. Not only does it mean you’re standing up for yourself, but it means you’re watching, paying attention and making note of when something wrong is happening. It means you’re ready to use your voice, which is a major, major lesson that many women have to relearn at some point in their lives. So maybe resist the temptation to say that the fighting you see on Real Housewives is just noise and instead consider that maybe these fights are the result of women trying to sort through the issues and find a way to return the focus to the positive.
These are some of the biggest and most valuable lessons that I, as an avid Real Housewives fan, have learned from all the franchises over the years. I’m sure there will be many more to come from future episodes, seasons, franchises and the like, but without a doubt, these are some of the handiest and most timeless. And with that, I leave you with a bonus takeaway in case you need even more words of wisdom: “Be cool. Don’t be all… like, uncool.” Well said, Luann de Lesseps.