Devoted fans who have watched Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise since it first aired in 2006 with The Real Housewives of Orange County, are very familiar with the OG women who invited fans into their affluent lifestyles and made the show and its many spin-offs what it is today. The popular reality franchise wouldn’t have been possible without the likes of Kyle Richards, Ramona Singer, Teresa Giudice, NeNe Leakes, and Vicki Gunvalson — all who have laid the foundation for other well-off ladies to give reality television a go and see how well they fit into a very established clique of women.
Since the franchise kicked things off with RHOC, viewers have seen 10 U.S. cities represented so far, with women of all different backgrounds sharing their ridiculously lavish lives. However, being on a reality television show isn’t for everyone, and several of these women said good-bye to the Bravo franchise after just one or two seasons. The pressure for these “new” Housewives to try and fit into a group that has a lot of history (and tons of drama) can be intimidating, and unfortunately, there are a bunch of Housewives who left the reality show abruptly and swiftly.
Lydia McLaughlin took a break from the Real Housewives
Viewers met Lydia McLaughlin, a spunky mom of two during Season 8 of The Real Housewives of Orange County. McLaughlin came onto the original series to hang out with OG cast members Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Barney, and while there was no real drama surrounding McLaughlin and the other women, fans did get to meet her “stoner” mom and watch her “whoop it up” with Gunvalson and Barney in Mexico.
However, McLaughlin only stayed on the series for one season, telling Us Weekly that her time on the show was “bittersweet” and compared her decision to leave like “breaking up with a boyfriend you know you’re not going to end up with.” She admitted that she “wanted to build her brand outside of the Housewives” and “never wanted to make a career out of being a housewife,” like many of the OG women have. However, even though she did not want to associate herself with the show anymore, she did end up returning for one more round, shocking fans when she appeared on the 12th season of RHOC. At the time, McLaughlin told Insider she felt “more free with it” and comfortable with the reality TV process. That season, she launched a new magazine called Nobleman with her husband, which the couple plugged with their return. McLaughlin left again after the season concluded.
Amber Marchese called the Real Housewives inauthentic
Amber Marchese joined the women of The Real Housewives of New Jersey for its sixth season, but that was all fans would see of the star and her husband, Jim Marchese. In an interview with People, Marchese confessed that she no longer wanted to be a part of the Bravo franchise because the show “did not allow the viewers” to get to know her. Instead, it showed Marchese pitted against twins Teresa Aprea and Nicole Napolitano, while she barely had a relationship with other cast members, Dina Manzo and Teresa Giudice.
Marchese admitted she and her husband made the decision together to leave the show, sharing, “The show was not what we expected it to be, and I want to pursue more suitable endeavors.” The mom of two, who dealt with breast cancer, also said that parts of the series, especially her feud with the women, were constructed by Bravo. “Even my relationship with the twins was created,” she stated, adding, “I only met with Teresa Giudice and Dina Manzo for filming purposes. I never built a friendship with them as we were nothing more than co-workers.”
Jules Wainstein left the Real Housewives during her divorce
Jules Wainstein was introduced on the eighth season of The Real Housewives of New York where she found herself opening up to Bethenny Frankel, Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan, Dorinda Medley, and Carole Radziwill, about her struggles with an eating disorder. However, she said farewell to the show for good after only appearing on one season. A rep for Jules told E! News! that the former reality star was stepping away from the show because she was going through a divorce and wanted to focus on her children. Jules and Michael Wainstein split in 2016 after eight years of marriage, with their divorce finalized in 2020, according to Page Six.
Upon leaving the series, Jules shared with Bravo’s The Daily Dish, “Overall, it was a great experience. I learned so much about myself. I learned so much about the ladies. They’re all successful in different ways. I learned different things from each and every one of them.”
Denise Richards hit her limit with the Real Housewives
Actor Denise Richards would find herself hanging out with the ritzy women of Beverly Hills when she was cast to join Season 9 of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, Richards would give up her big fake diamond and leave the franchise after just two seasons (via Variety). According to Newsweek, the Starship Troopers star left after clashing with most of the cast members over accusations of “mom-shaming” as well as some rumors involving an ex-cast member. Richards found herself in the middle of a scandal when former RHOBH star Brandi Glanville claimed that she and Richards had an affair while Richards was married. The Drop Dead Gorgeous actor repeatedly denied Glanville’s story throughout Season 11.
While Richards left the reality show on bad terms with many of the women, a rep for the star told People that she was leaving the Bravo franchise because of her heavy workload. “The Bold and the Beautiful is her second concurrent acting gig [as well as drama series Glow and Darkness] so she was looking to replace RHOBH with time loving her amazing husband, children and who knows, maybe even friends now,” the rep said. “She took her three productions down to two so now she can enjoy her family more as well.” Who knows? Maybe Richards will give it another go in the future when rumors about her subside. Her return would be a Dr. Christmas Jones gift to us all.
Tinsley Mortimer traded the Real Housewives for the Windy City
American socialite and reality TV veteran Tinsley Mortimer was the perfect fit to join the ladies of The Real Housewives of New York which consisted of original cast members Bethenny Frankel and Ramona Singer, and influential women like Dorinda Medley, Carole Radziwill, Sonja Morgan, and the Countess Luann D’Agostino. Mortimer was on the show for quite a few seasons, but she stepped away with little to no warning in the middle of Season 12. As Bravo’s The Daily Dish noted, she made her exit after she made the decision to leave New York City to move to Chicago to be with her fiancé, Scott Kluth.
At the RHONY reunion, Mortimer said she left on her own terms. “Scott never made me choose between him and the show,” she explained. “I knew that the show was definitely an issue for him and I knew that when we got back together, it was a decision that I had to make.” While speaking on the “Reality Life with Kate Casey” podcast (via Page Six), the former Housewife said that she was happy that she made the decision to leave the franchise.
“I was really taking a leap of faith and really trying to trust my gut and follow my heart,” Mortimer shared, adding, “When I see myself driving off, I am proud of myself for doing it.” Mortimer shared that she’s now focusing on the bigger picture, which includes getting married to Kluth and raising a family.
Bethenny Frankel exited the Real Housewives twice
The Real Housewives of New York would be nothing without O.G. Bethenny Frankel, who fans watched work tirelessly since its first season in 2008 to become the mogul she is today. While she took some time off from the show after the third season in 2010, she rejoined in 2015, with ratings only going up thanks to her reappearance, as Variety reported. But in a shocking move, the Skinnygirl founder left the Bravo franchise ahead of Season 12, without any of her cast members knowing about her sudden departure. In a lengthy statement with ET, the former Housewife shared, “It’s time to move on and focus on my daughter, my philanthropy and my production partnership with Mark Burnett, producing and starring in shows which represent a shift in the conversation for women.”
Frankel also shared a touching Instagram post where she thanked her fans for their love and support, ending her statement with a reference to her RHONY tagline: “PS: New York City is still my playground.” However, not everyone was on board with her exit from the series, including longtime colleague Ramona Singer, who told ET, “I’m happy for Bethenny and wish her the best but I think it’s strange that me and the other cast members had to read about it in the press instead of hearing it directly by text.” Regardless of how the other women feel, it appears that Frankel has no regrets.
Carlton Gebbia didn't click with all of the Real Housewives
During Season 4 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, fans got to meet Carlton Gebbia, a witch who practices Wicca and, at the time, literally lived in a jaw-dropper of a castle. Gebbia’s religion did not sit well with fellow cast member Kyle Richards, and the two frequently clashed on the series. She also butted heads with Joyce Giruad throughout the season, but as Gebbia told Bravo’s The Daily Dish, the two “ended off on a good note.” While some of the Housewives were apparently worried about Gebbia putting spells on them, their time sharing the small screen was brief: Gebbia was fired after her first season, according to People.
According to People, her termination, along with Giraud’s, “was a long time coming,” but Gebbia told E! News the decision was “a blessing in disguise.” She went on to explain to E! News that her “husband does have a project in the works, a reality show,” and her exit from RHOBH gave her the opportunity to explore that avenue.
Years later, Richards said on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen that she felt Gebbia “brought the least to the show” and prefers “to pretend [the season] never happened.” When Andy Cohen asked about whether or not she believes Gebbia cast a spell on her laptop, Richards replied, “That was just weird. Everything she did was just so friggin freaky.” Yeesh.
Kim Fields was 'done' with the Real Housewives
The Facts of Life actor Kim Fields was not with all the drama when she appeared on just one season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. The star joined the cast for its eighth season, but it would be her last after admitting that she was more than ready to move on from the reality show on The Rickey Smiling Morning Show (via Us Weekly). “It feels more like Brett Favre and the Jets, you know — I’m done,” Fields said, adding, “I think about too, at the beginning of the season, what did my mama say? ‘Get in and get out.’ Listen to your mama.'”
Fields got along well with the other Housewives… well, everyone except for Kenya Moore, that is. The women didn’t get on well, with Moore later telling Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live that she did not get along with Fields because she believed the sitcom star wasn’t being “authentic.” Even so, Fields said that being on the show was mostly positive. “It was for the experience,” she shared on The Rickey Smiling Morning Show. “It was to be able to do a genre that I’d been asked to do before and finding a way to do that made sense for my team and for the family. Overall it was a really great experience.” And there you have the facts of reality TV life.
Dina Cantin left New Jersey and the Real Housewives
Dina Cantin (formerly known as Dina Manzo), appeared on the first two seasons of The Real Housewives of New Jersey with OGs Teresa Giudice, Danielle Staub, and her sister Caroline Manzo. Cantin’s time on the series was brief, leaving the show after the seventh episode of Season 2, and later telling E! News that she left to get away from Staub. In an episode clip, Cantin states, “The most important thing in my life is to live peacefully and be happy, and right now, everything in my life, except for this Danielle situation, is happy.” (Cantin’s complicated relationship with Manzo didn’t really help things, either.)
The reality star returned for Season 6 in 2014. Her comeback didn’t last long, as she announced she was leaving after that season because she was no longer a New Jersey resident. She moved out to Malibu, California, following her divorce from ex-husband Thomas Manzo, according to ET. “It was like, it’s not gonna work,” she said to the outlet. “Andy [Cohen] and I talked for a minute about me coming back, and how that would be possible.”
Cantin said she needed a change of scenery. “I wanted to run as far away as possible from what was going on, and my daughter was in college, and I was like, ‘OK, I can pick up my animals and go anywhere I want.’ And I did,” she shared. Hey, if it makes Cantin happy, it’s Dina-mite to us.
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