Do ‘Real Housewives’ Have to Audition to Be on the Bravo Shows?

The Real Housewives franchise is one of the most famous and successful reality TV shows with 11 series in the U.S. and 15 international iterations. Each series shares the same premise: Producers document the everyday lives of an affluent group of housewives living in a particular city and allegedly belonging to the same social circles.

The camera crew films the daily “reality” of the cast members’ over-the-top parties, wine tastings, extravagant vacations, and charity fundraisers to mention a few common events. The women fight and reconcile, bash each other on social media, support each other’s families and businesses, and much more.

The Real Housewives of Orange County served as the the original series, laying the groundwork for a massive Bravo evolution. Along the way, the cast makes it look easy. But in reality they have to audition for their roles similar to other TV gigs.

The ‘Real Housewives’ audition process

While this may come as a surprise to many, these women must audition for their roles. First, the contenders hoping to join the Real Housewives family have to send on-camera interviews to the producers.

As Ryan Flynn, a Bravo executive explained on the network blog, the list of potential women is narrowed down based on the on-camera interview submissions. Then, producers complete an at-home shoot to get a better understanding of the potential cast member’s lifestyle.

Flynn explained to the Daily Dish Podcast that the producers often ask, “What does a day in the life look like for our top choices? You know we meet husbands, meet kids, meet friends…” He added that the producers prefer casting members with a real history with the existing cast.

A perfect example is Dorinda Medley. “It’s always good to have a real-life connection and to have that history,” Flynn added. “And I think we definitely see that on the Real Housewives of New York City. Like it always felt like Dorinda was there, because in a way she always was.”

Furthermore, Bustle highlights that, in order to be cast as a housewife, the potential women have to earn Cohen’s stamp of approval. Speaking on Watch What Happens Live, Cohen listed several criteria for the perfect cast member.

 According to the Bravo host, someone has to be an open book. They should be willing to share both the good and the bad sides of their lives. More importantly, the ideal candidate should be someone with a point of view; someone who won’t be talked over — with a sense of humor. Their personality has to shine through. 

As to the ambiguous nature of the term “housewife,” Cohen told former RHOA cast member Nene Leakes that being married is not a requirement to be cast on the show. “I think the Real Housewives is a little bit of a wink because ‘housewives’ is an old-fashioned term, and I think we are turning it over its head,” Cohen explained.

‘Friends of’ have to audition, too

As explained, the success of the show can be attributed to the cast members having shared histories with each other and experiencing conflict. “Friends of” also appear on the many series in order to stoke the arguments and provide context for storylines.

For example, Danielle Staub appeared as a “friend of” Teresa Guidice during season 10 of RHONJ. She proceeded to pull cast member Margaret Josephs’ hair, igniting a huge fight.

However, friends do not get a free ticket to the show; they must go through the audition process just like everybody else. Flynn explained, “We always start with the women, sort of the core group that we think is coming back. It’s always like, ‘Who do you know that we should know?'”

Excessive drama helps

Donn Gunvalson and Vicki Gunvalson drink wine during the early years of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills series
Vicki Gunvalson (R) and her now-ex-husband Donn Gunvalson drink wine during the early years of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills franchise | Brett Ascarelli/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

Yes, a sure way to guarantee yourself a return to the show is to instigate drama. If a character fails to deliver, they naturally fade out from the show’s storyline.

Unsurprisingly, as the beloved king of Bravo, Cohen gets the final say on who will stay and who will go. According to Andy, it all boils down to what is the best direction for the group. Also, the decision depends on whether the producers want to go on with a conversation or to pivot in a whole new direction.

Recent series have come under fire for lacking cohesiveness and focusing on terrible plotlines. Viewers were disappointed with the most recent RHONY season to the point where a reunion was not a sure thing. One of the newest franchises, RHOD, was canceled after five seasons.

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