As The Real Housewives of Atlanta's historic four-part reunion came to a close this past weekend, Bravoholics were treated to the most rare of sightings: The complete and total fall from grace of Phaedra Parks.
The Southern belle all but had her peach taken from her by producers right then and there after it was revealed that she was behind the damning rumor that Kandi Burruss and her husband Todd Tucker had wanted to drug and take advantage of Porsha Williams. It turns out you can't just make up criminal accusations about a co-star and former friend and get away with it. Who knew?
Phaedra's baffling lack of remorse and combative reaction to the display of literally all the receipts all but sealed her fate, ensuring none of her co-stars would ever agree to film with her again, and, as E! News exclusively reported, after seven seasons, the lawyer-slash-mortuary sciences enthusiast was given her walking papers.
Bravo Photo: Mitchell Haaseth
It was a spectacular sight to behold, making for some incredible television, but it was hardly the first time one of the Real Housewives has flamed out so magnificently. In fact, Phaedra finds herself in some guiltily good company. Who's ready for a history lesson?
In the early days of the franchise, falls from grace were less about everyone turning on you for vindictive and malicious behavior and more about the tumbling of fortunes. Perhaps the first to experience such a downfall was Real Housewives of Orange County's Lynne Curtin. Added to the series in season four, Lynne loved flaunting her wealth and devotion to staying young at all costs. But her house of cards quickly collapsed when she was served an eviction notice on camera in season five, revealing that her fabulous lifestyle wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Sure, it seems quaint now, but the idea that the Emperor had no clothes remains an egregious sin among Bravo's elite to this day.
For two seasons of The Real Housewives of New York City, Jill was a fan favorite, with her Lucy and Ethel friendship with Bethenny Frankel a highlight of the young series. But when that relationship was revealed to have thoroughly curdled in season three, Jill's stock plummeted as she found herself recast as the villain. One need only replay her surprise arrival on Scary Island and watch the mortified faces of her co-stars to see how much respect she'd lost in their eyes. Audiences, siding with their surrogate Bethenny, turned on Jill in full force and, as any Real Housewife will tell you, once you lose the audience, you've lost your job.
She may have stuck around for one more season (one longer than Bethenny, who's since returned, but departed for her own series after season three), but her dismissal after season four, when Bravo gave a record four ladies the axe, was met with the worst reaction of all: Indifference. Her petty and combative appearance on Watch What Happens Live afterwards, demanding host Andy Cohen explain why she was let go, did not help audiences remember her fondly. She's due to make an appearance this season on RHONY, five seasons after her dismissal, but the excitement surrounding it stems more from the anticipation of Bethenny's reaction to it than the actual appearance itself.
One can't talk RHONY falls from grace without talking about Kelly Killoren Bensimon, she of the epic Scary Island meltdown. When Kelly was added to the mix in season two, she initially proved herself to be haughty and combative, telling Bethenny apropos of nothing "I'm up here and you're down here." But it wasn't until season three's ill-fated and instantly iconic trip to the Virgin Islands that the gild came all the way off the lily (to steal one of B's phrases) and Kelly unraveled so thoroughly that there was no coming back. Like Jill, she was granted a reprieve and kept on for season four, but her cruel decision to tell Alex McCord that she and her husband were odd and creepy, among other unnecessarily confrontational moments, did her no favors and she found herself cut from the show as well.
Remember when Brandi was once one of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' more sympathetic figures? No? That's likely due to the scorched earth policy she adopted towards the end of her tenure on the series, but once upon a time, she was actually someone to root for. Introduced in season two as a friend of Adrienne Maloof's while suffering from a broken foot, Brandi was cruelly targeted by Kim Richards (and her sister Kyle, to a lesser extent) at a game night when they hid her crutches and goaded her into a fight for absolutely no reason. As Lisa Vanderpump took her under her wing, Brandi was, for a time, an audience surrogate—an everywoman reacting to the insanity swirling around her exactly as we would. But her acid tongue and wounded animal-esque lashing out would prove to be her undoing. She soon turned on LVP, threw wine in Eileen Davidson's face for no reason and got physical with Kyle at a poker night gone wrong. By the time she was demoted to guest after season five, you'd have been hard-pressed to find an ally for her. Shockingly, Kim remains the only one. Bravo, where the truth is much stranger than fiction.
After two seasons seen as the wacky sidekick with the fiery temper on The Real Housewives of New Jersey—Do not piss her off near a table!—fans began to see a much different side to Teresa when her sister-in-law Melissa Gorga and cousin Kathy Wakile were added to the cast in season three. The charming malapropisms gave way to an unbelievably petty and spiteful person, who kept a mental log of every imagined slight her family ever perpetrated against her. Her unflattering jealousy at her family daring to edge in on her turf compounded with the continued revelations that her and husband Joe Giudice's fortune wasn't at all what it seemed, culminating in the couple both serving time in federal prison on fraud charges. Tre has since returned to her throne, triumphant as one in her position can be, but we'll never be able to look at her quite in the same way as we once did.
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Of course, no talk about Real Housewives falls from grace would be complete without mention of the OG of the franchise, RHOC's Vicki Gunvalson. The last standing original cast member found herself embroiled in one of the franchise's craziest controversies in season 10 when her then-boyfriend Brooks Ayers' cancer diagnosis was thrown into suspicion and ultimately proven to be not as claimed. How much did Vicki know? Why did her story always seem to change? Why does she admit to less now than she initially did? We may never get the true answers to those questions, but Vicki's historic status on the series has forever been marred by the Brooks debacle. As Shannon Beador consistently insists, she will always be the person who (probably) lied about cancer.
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