More than a decade in the Big Apple! The Real Housewives of New York City premiered in 2008, but not every Housewife has gone the distance.
The season 1 cast of RHONY included Luann de Lesseps, Ramona Singer, Bethenny Frankel, Jill Zarin and Alex McCord. While Kelly Bensimon joined the cast during season 2, Sonja Morgan became a full-time cast member during season 3 and Cindy Barshop earned an apple during season 4. The show saw its biggest shake-up ahead of season 5, with Jill, Alex, Kelly and Cindy exiting. (Bethenny left after season 3 and briefly starred in spinoffs Bethenny Getting Married? and Bethenny Ever After?)
“That was a scary time but also, it reenergized the show and took it into a lot of different directions,” Andy Cohen said during a 2018 panel about firing three cast members in 2012.
“I was out in the field for that first season,” executive producer Lisa Shannon added. “It was three newbies and three veterans. And there was that polarizing divide between the women that, this is how we do it and this is how it’s done. When you come on and you’re new and you’re by yourself, you just kind of have to defer. But this was 50 percent of the cast. It really was an interesting chemistry shakeup. And also trying to mentor three new cast members into what it’s like to open up your life and to really be free and be yourself. It was terrifying as a producer. I was like, ‘I don’t know if it’s going to work.’”
Ramona, Sonja and Luann were joined by Aviva Drescher, Carole Radziwill and Heather Thomson for season 5.
“At the end of every season, we talk to the women about what they have coming up and whether they want to come back,” Cohen said about changing up the cast. “What they see for the future. Then we also look at the show and say, ‘How do we want to change the show?’”
He added: “I think part of the reason the entire franchise is successful is it’s an ensemble show. It’s all about what’s best for the group. What’s best for the ensemble? How’s it going to be different? Do we want to continue this conversation? Do we want to pivot into a new conversation?”
Listen to Ramona Singer tell Us Weekly editors what it was like filming season 13 of ROHNY during COVID-19.
While Bethenny returned for season 7 (and left again ahead of season 12), former stars Aviva, Heather, Carole, Kristen Taekman, Jules Wainstein, Tinsley Mortimer and Dorinda Medley are all no longer part of the cast as RHONY enters season 13. In addition to longtime Housewives Ramona, Luann and Sonja, the 2021 season stars Leah McSweeney and Eboni K. Williams.
Scroll through to see what the women who left the hit Bravo series have been up to: