Through DirtCast, I’ve had several requests from listeners who want to get into the Real Housewives, but aren’t quite ready to fully commit or aren’t sure where to begin. As such, I’ve created the following Real Housewives mixtape, a selection of episodes specially curated for those who want to sample dip a toe in the Bravo pool (the pool is full of pinot grigio, by the way) before jumping in.
Real Housewives Mixtape for Beginners! (Vol. 1)
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Season 1, Episode 9, “The Dinner Party from Hell”
Synopsis: Camille Grammer (ex-wife of Frasier) has the women over for a dinner that turns sour after guest Kyle Richards (aunt of Paris Hilton) gets into a fight with Camille’s friend, the psychic who inspired the show Medium and brags that she knows exactly when and how Kyle is going to die. Faye Resnick, best known from the O.J. Simpson trial, also makes a cameo appearance.
Real Housewives of New York, Season 3, Episodes 11-13, “Overboard,” “Sun Sand and Psychosis,” and “Shunburn.”
Synopsis: These are the infamous “scary island” episodes in which Kelly Bensimon, former model and ex-wife of photographer Gilles Bensimon, officially loses her mind in St. John during Ramona Singer’s bachelorette party (for her vow renewal), telling the other women that she believes Bethenny Frankel is trying to kill her while simultaneously calling Bethenny a “ho bag.” Back in New York, (former) Countess Luann de Lesseps launches her “singing” career with “Money Can’t Buy You Class” and goes on the most uncomfortable date of all time with a man named “Coerte.”
Real Housewives of Atlanta, Season 5, Episode 8, “I Do... But I Don’t”
Synopsis: Porsha Williams and Kenya Moore clash over an incident in which Porsha called Kenya “Miss America” instead of her proper title, “Miss USA.” As a rebuttal, Kenya starts physically twirling at Portia in a moment so iconic that even Beyoncé has referenced it.
Real Housewives of New Jersey, Season 1, Episode 7, “The Last Supper”
Synopsis: When accusations abound about Danielle Staub’s criminal past, she confronts the women at an explosive dinner that ends with Teresa Giudice calling Danielle a “prostitution whore” and throwing a table.
Real Housewives of Orange County, Season 10, Episode 19, “Baptism by Fire”
Synopsis: Tamra Judge is baptized as a born-again Christian. At the after-party, the women confront Vicki Gunvalson about her boyfriend Brooks Ayers’s ongoing lie about having cancer (a lie that Vicki has supported), leading her to remark that she, like Jesus Christ, was being unfairly nailed to the cross. Again, this all happens at a grown woman’s baptism.
Real Housewives of New York, Season 6, Episode 20, “The Last Leg”
Synopsis: Aviva Drescher, who lost one of her legs in a freak accident as a child, takes off her prosthetic at a party and hurls it across the room to prove a point.
Real Housewives of Atlanta, Season 6, Episode 8, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”
Synopsis: The women go on a girls trip to Savannah where a friend of the ‘wives learns that her husband used to date cast members Kandi Burress and Phaedra Parks. During a historic tour of the city, Porsha—the granddaughter of civil rights icon Josea Williams—reveals that she thinks the Underground Railroad was a real train.
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Season 5, Episodes 10 and 11, “House of Cards” and “It’s Just a Scratch”
Synopsis: A night of poker at Eileen Davidson’s house goes south as Kim Richard’s sobriety is called into question, leading to a nutso fight between her and her sister Kyle. It’s not a leg, but someone does throw a slice of pizza.
Real Housewives of New York, Season 8, Episodes 8-10, “All the Countess’s Men,” “December: Berkshires County,” and “Unhappy Holidays”
Synopsis: This three-episode arc that takes place at Dorinda Medley’s house in the Berkshires is what I point to when people mock my love of the Real Housewives. It is a true piece of theater—three bottle episodes where tensions explode at such surprising moments that you’ll be left wondering, Why aren’t these shows eligible for more awards?
Real Housewives of Orange County, Season 4, Episode 6, “Cut!”
Synopsis: Tamra goes after Gretchen Rossi when she learns that she was vacationing in Bass Lake while her elderly fiancé was dying in the hospital.
Real Housewives of New Jersey, Season 2, Episodes 9 and 10, “Posche Spite” and “Country Clubbed”
Synopsis: The ongoing dislike between Danielle and Teresa results in an all out brawl during the annual Posche fashion show.
Real Housewives of Orange County, Season 7, Episodes 5 and 6, “He Said What?” and “The Party’s Over”
Synopsis: Tamra’s ’80s-themed Bunko night falls apart (or comes together, depending how you look at it), when Vicki and Gretchen start fighting over which of their boyfriends is the worst (spoiler: neither boyfriend pays child support and both are terrible!). All of this happens while the women are in costume.
Real Housewives of New York, Season 4, Episode 2, “March Madness”
Synopsis: Alex McCord and Sonja Morgan argue at a march for marriage equality—an event that the women have decided to attend in wedding dresses for reasons unclear to this very day. In this episode, Sonja repeatedly calls herself a gay icon, continuously thanks everyone for being there to support her (rather than actual gay people), and gives the most ludicrous speech of our time.
Real Housewives of Atlanta, Season 3, Episode 15, “Floridon’t”
Synopsis: One-time best friends NeNe Leakes and and Kim Zolciak destroy any chance of repairing their relationship during Cynthia Bailey’s bachelorette party and it’s all because... I’m still not entirely sure. At one point, NeNe threatens to pop Kim’s eyeballs out, probably because she gave her this look:
It was also in this episode that NeNe debuted the insult, “Bye, Wig” a reference to the fact that Kim wears a lot of wigs.
Currently, because I am insane, I am also working on a breakdown of best Real Housewives episodes by city for the intermediate-level viewer. Please study up to be prepared.