The Real Housewives of Orange County, the very first Real Housewives show, is 10 years old today, March 21. But don't tell the show it looks its age. The Orange County ladies kicked off a phenomenon for Bravo, one we're sure the network and the ladies involved never saw coming. We, viewers of reality TV featuring women screaming at each other, boozing, throwing that booze, launching brands and giving back to their communities, have a lot to thank The Real Housewives of Orange County for.
RHOC jump-started the sort of escapist TV Bravo became known for. Viewers were instantly catapulted into the worlds of Vicki Gunvalson, Jeana Keough and the rest of the OG ladies. And what different worlds they were than most. Gone are your problems as soon as the familiar chimes of the theme song start; now you're worried about whether Vicki and Tamra Judge can repair their friendship for the umpteenth time.
Real Housewives of Orange County wasn't the first reality show, but it was the reality show that launched a 1,000 ships—meaning spinoffs on top of spinoffs, copycats on top of copycats and a bevy of stars.
Without The Real Housewives of Orange County, there would be no The Real Housewives of Atlanta and thus no NeNe Leakes, reality superstar-turned-Broadway actress. Without The Real Housewives of Orange County, Lisa Kudrow's The Comeback probably wouldn't have become a cult hit and returned for a second season 10 years after it premiered. Viewers became comfortable with the sort of secondhand embarrassment that happens with the format, they embraced it.
Bravo's Real Housewives franchise became an international monster hit and we wouldn't have it any other way. Below, take a gander at all the things you have to thank The Real Housewives of Orange County for, both directly and indirectly.
Date My Ex: Joe & Slade
Tamra's OC Wedding
The popularity of sky top shirts
The Real Housewives of New York City
(and RHONY begot…)
Bethenny Getting Married
Bethenny Ever After
Bethenny Frankel's canceled talk show
Ramona Pinot Grigio
Countess Luann de Lesseps' singing career
The Real Housewives of Atlanta
(and RHOA begot…)
Don't Be Tardy
The Kandi Factory
I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding
Kandi's Ski Trip
The terms "Who gon' check me, boo?" and "So nasty and so rude"
The Real Housewives of New Jersey
(and RHONJ begot…)
Manzo'd With Children
Teresa Checks In
The popularity of the term "prostitution whore"
The Real Housewives of D.C.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
(and RHOBH begot…)
Faye Resnick's resurgence
The popularity of the term "dinner party from hell"
Adrienne Maloof's magic tricks
The Real Housewives of Miami
The Real Housewives of Potomac
The Real Housewives of Dallas
The Real Housewives of Athens
The Real Housewives of Vancouver
Les Vraies Housewives
The Real Housewives of Melbourne
The Real Housewives of Cheshire
And soon The Real Housewives of Auckland.
Here's to you, The Real Housewives of Orange County!
(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)