by Billy Nilles | Tue., Feb. 14, 2017 3:30 PM
Something special happens whenever the ladies of the Real Housewives franchise go abroad. And we're not talking about Montezuma's revenge.
Ever since The Real Housewives of New York City embarked on a fateful trip in their third season to St. John that would forever be referred to as "Scary Island" among franchise aficionados, it's become something of a rite of passage for Bravo's bevvy of beauties to grab their passports and journey to parts unknown, bringing with them their unique brand of public behavior. Consider them American ambassadors of high drama, enlightening the world over with their can't-look-away camp.
The latest example of this, of course, will continue to unfold tonight on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, following Lisa Rinna's awkward arrival in Punta Mita, Mexico last week, just hours after Kyle Richards learned she'd been going around making claims that her sister Kim Richards was near death. But before we get out the guacamole and enjoy the fiery fiesta coming our way, let's look back at the many international incidents the franchise has gifted us over the years. Someone alert the American embassy!
The Real Housewives of Orange County
While they may not have been the first city in the franchise to travel abroad (RHONY's Scary Island would precede their first trip by nearly a year), they are the pioneering women of the Bravo, so we would be remiss to begin our global journey anywhere else. Season six of RHOC saw stalwarts Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge journey to Cabo San Lucas together, which Tamra exploring Spain later in the season with now-husband Eddie, but the OC ladies didn't start causing scenes abroad until season seven, when a Puerto Rican pile-in had former Housewife Alexis Bellino fleeing for home early after the ladies made it known that they weren't buying what she and hubby Jim were selling regarding their extravagant lifestyle.
Season eight would see Vicki, Tamra, and newbie Lydia McLaughlin traipse drunk through the streets of Puerta Vallarta as they andaled on down to Andales, leaving Gretchen Rossi and Heather Dubrow to stew in anger over being left behind, followed by Vicki nearly causing an avalanche on the slopes of beautiful Whistler, BC, Canada as she loudly refuted returning troublemaker Lauri Peterson's claims that she'd had group sex. Say it with us now: "I have never been with multiple partners in my life!" And season nine's trip to Bali gifted us the hysterical sight of Tamra jetting barefoot through a hotel when the criticism from her co-stars over her gossipy nature became too much to bear, as she (falsely) proclaimed that none of them would ever see her again.
But it wouldn't be until the show's most recent season, its 11th, that they'd deliver an international incident so out-of-control that it would come to rival Scary Island. We're talking about the Irish Bus Ride from Hell, of course. A truly contentious season that saw Vicki and newcomer Kelly Dodd routinely at odds with nearly every one capped off with a trip to the Emerald Isle, and the poor lads and lassies who call Ireland home never saw them coming. A good-natured pub crawl turned ugly thanks to Kelly's child-like obsession with flicking everyone's nose as a "joke," despite everyone telling her knock it the hell off, and that somehow devolved further as it spilled onto the streets, culminating in Tamra threatening to kill Kelly. Another pint anyone?
But that was merely the warm-up act for the main event that was their gonzo bus ride to the hotel. Shot in the middle of a pitch black night, this ride had everything: Cruel taunts about chin hair, gaslighting, accusations of domestic violence, Tamra screaming "F--k you!" within in inch of Vicki's face and creepy night vision-esque lighting. That poor driver.
The Real Housewives of New York City
As mentioned above, it was RHONY that kicked the international travel trend off across the franchise with the unforgettable trip to St. John Island in the Caribbean (yes, we know the Virgin Islands are technically American territory, but work with us here) to celebrate Ramona Singer's "bachelorette" weekend ahead of her third season vow renewal to now ex-husband Mario—and nothing was ever the same. Over the course of just a few days, Kelly Killoren Bensimon seemed to truly lose her mind, nonsensically feuding with Bethenny Frankel at nearly every turn. This was the trip that gave us "satchels of gold," shouts of "Al Sharpton!" and, of course, Bethenny's unforgettable plea, "Go to sleep! Go to sleep! You're crazy!"
However, the fun didn't stop once Kelly wisely returned home ahead of schedule—because that's when the unwelcome Jill Zarin arrived. At the height of her friendship-ending feud with Bethenny, Jill thought it would be a great idea to show up late to an island getaway unannounced. We'll never forget Ramona's face and panicked squirming as Jill's "Surprise!" bellowed through the hacienda. Nor will we forget how quickly the ladies sent Jill packing. Truly iconic.
While no other RHONY trip abroad as come close to matching Scary Island's heights—though season eight's simple visit to the Berkshires sure gave it a run for its money—the Big Apple beauties have been known to create iconic moments whenever they leave the U.S., in large part because of one lady in particular: Countess Luann de Lesseps. Season four's trip to Morocco saw her nearly lose her life while clinging to the back of an unruly camel. Thankfully, she survived to deliver her withering demand that Alex McCord return to "the cabinet" that came out of back at the riad. A season later, she would get caught speaking in French while in St. Barth's, trying to prevent anyone from knowing that she'd stepped out on then-boyfriend Jacques and had a dalliance with a Capt. Jack Sparrow wannabe—forgetting that people could translate her dialogue, which is exactly what the producers did. And then, of course, there's season seven's trip to Turks and Caicos where, nursing a hangover, she delivered the instantly iconic "Be cool. Don't be all, like, uncool," when Heather Thompson dared be upset that there was a naked men roaming around their rental house in the morning. It's a pity she's a married woman once more because single Luann was a whole lot of fun.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Bravo's Southern belles didn't take things abroad until their big trip to South Africa in season four, when a fight between Sheree Whitfield and forever FOH (friend of the Housewives) Marlo Hampton turned into the weirdest gibberish back-and-forth we've ever seen—all over a missing dinner invite and a oddly deployed homophobic slur. The following season's trip to Anguilla with fresh faces Kenya Moore and Porsha Williams would see the birth of Kenya's "Gone With the Wind fabulous," a catchphrase she'll cling to until the very last second she's a cast member on this show. In season seven, the women traveled to both Puerto Rico and the Phillipines and, while the trip to Manila never quite reached Thrilla status, a truly disastrous dinner in PR became a read-off for the ages between NeNe Leakes and one-and-done Housewife Claudia Jordan. The ladies would travel to Jamaica a season later to film a commercial for Cynthia Bailey's eyewear line, where Kenya's season-long feud with newcomer Tootie Kim Fields would boil over after the former lobbed a low blow at the latter's husband, accusing him of being gay, which is truly our least favorite kind of drama.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey
Bravo's Garden State grand dames don't travel outside the continental United States nearly as much as any of their other counterparts. In fact, in the seven seasons that they've been on the air, they've only ventured abroad twice. One in season two, when Caroline Manzo, Jacqueline Laurita and Teresa Giudice took their families to the motherland on a cruise up the southwest coast of Italy, where they were dismayed to find that the gondola drivers in Venice didn't all sing. Enough said. The following season, a trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic became an all-out war between Teresa and her estranged cousin Kathy Wakile, making us wonder if there was ever a time where these two, you know, got along.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
While much of season three was devoted to Kim Richards' newfound sobriety, a late-season trip to Paris alarmed everyone when her erratic and unusual behavior in the City of Lights began reminding everyone of her time on the show pre-rehab, prompting major drama between all the ladies—where else?—atop the Eiffel Tower. The following year, tensions between Lisa Vanderpump, Kyle Richards and Brandi Glanville would reach a boil during a trip to Puerto Rico, causing a usually cool-and-collected LVP to smoke on camera for the first time in four seasons before she just fled in the middle of the night. A sixth season trip to Dubai would prove more glamorous than interesting, mostly just to an intense case of Munchausen's talk-fatigue by season's end, but season five's sojourn to Amsterdam stands tall as RHOBH's most dramatic international incident.
Who could forget Lisa Rinna losing her cool, smashing a wine glass and lunging across the table at Kim after the latter dared bring Rinna's beloved Harry Hamlin into the conversation? Or Kim telling Eileen Davidson, "I've had enough of you, you beast!" Or Kyle just running away into the night, hoping to outrun all the crazy? Because we sure won't. And that was all before Brandi—harmless or not, you decide—slapped LVP. There are not enough space cakes in the world to erase that trip from our memories.
Which international incident stands out as your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m., while The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays at 8 p.m., both on Bravo.
(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)
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