So, you want to get into RHONY, but you’re daunted. That’s understandable. The show just started its twelfth season. It’s like starting The Bachelor, Survivor or, I don’t know, M.A.S.H.? (I wanted to vary up my references.) RHONY is a beautifully confusing, catastrophic work of art. I am what one could call a superfan. I am in a constant state of rewatch. It’s my white noise. My comfort blanket. Am I well? Should you be taking any advice from me? Ask my therapist. Anyway, I digress, even I can take a step back and say this show is bonkers. Like, I’m 25, why am I so in love with these hot messes who are pushing 60! Some 70!! It’s hard to exactly understand but a lot of the country is in the same boat as me, like it or not. As a result, I feel worthy and capable of creating this quick fix list to get you going and enmeshed in the classic moments of RHONY right away. Fix yourself a Skinny Girl Margarita, crank up your toaster oven, and let’s go.
Start with season 3.
I know this is hard to handle for a lot of people but trust me. It puts you exactly where you need to be with the gang — Bethenny Frankel, LuAnn De Lesseps, Alex McCord, Ramona Singer, Kelly Killoren Bensimon and introducing RHONY legend, Sonja Morgan. You get more than enough flashbacks to get you situated with the history and you’re in medias res — I am smart — as soon as you start. This season, ripe with drama, also brings the most pivotal trip of any Real Housewives city — Scary Island. You’re met with the best of the best right off the bat and starting with this season is the perfect way to ensure you won’t be getting off the ride anytime soon.
Skip all the way (don’t panic) to season 4, the Morocco trip.
Okay, STAY WITH ME. I’m telling you to skip a lot. But once you love it as much as I know you will, you can go back. I need your full trust. Everything in season 4 up until the ladies — everyone from last season sans Bethenny and plus Cindy…her last name isn’t even necessary — go to Morocco is dead weight, and the Morocco trip is alive weight. That’s episodes 8–10. You can continue to the end of the season, there are a few half-fun-but-mostly-cringey moments but what’s really important is Morocco. CW: most of the women are racist.
Do the same with season 5 and STTT (Skip to the Trip, baby)!
When casting adds some arguable duds — Aviva Drescher, Heather Woodward and Carole Radziwill — you can almost always rely on the trips. Now, I’ll say you can watch this season if you so choose. Heather, Aviva and Carole are all important for their own reasons. Carole lasts a whole while longer on the show and becomes a pivotal player; Heather adds confrontation and level-headedness that we lost with Bethenny; Aviva is absolutely batshit. They add a good amount of fun but I think everything they offer is highlighted when they get to St. Barts in episode 13. So skip, baby, skip! You also miss Aviva’s sexual predator father, which you will not regret. I love the reunions, so you can watch to the end of the season if you’re in a groove.
Season 6: just the last episode.
One of the most iconic moments in the series’ history happens this season in the last episode. Believe me when I say, nothing happens before that. I have to use every ounce of my will to watch this season because it’s so goddamn boring. LuAnn isn’t even a cast member this season and you can feel her desperate regret about not cementing that apple in her hand. Do yourself a favor and hop on over to Leg Gate. It’s the last episode before the reunions. All you need to know about what you missed will be in the reunions but those are boring too. You’ll see.
Seasons 7–11: every damn second.
These seasons are the meat. My raison d’etre (smart). They have the greatest lines and moments of pretty much any reality show, on par with Tiffany “New York” Pollard’s greatest moments. Bethenny returns. Dorinda is introduced. They get on their glorious roll that has frankly not stopped. Highlights include but are not limited to: Sonja Island, the Bra Party, Atlantic City, the first Berserkshires, “It’s about Tom,” Berserkshires pt. II, Tequila, Clip, Jovani, Cabaret…BRB I’m gonna go rewatch all of these seasons again.
See you all when you catch up to season 12. Happy trails, and “Go to sleep!”