Bethenny Frankel Reveals the Surprising Way She Got Out of Her RHONY Contract

Every contract has its loopholes, and Bethenny Frankel broke down the unexpected clause that led to her permanent Real Housewives of New York City departure in 2019.

By Paige Strout Jul 06, 2022 10:23 PMTags
Watch: Bethenny Frankel Engaged to Paul Bernon After Finalizing Divorce

Contracts can be tricky. But thanks to some fellow Real Housewives stars, Bethenny Frankel found an easy way out of hers.

Having starred on The Real Housewives of New York City off and on again since 2008, Bethenny revealed in a July 5 TikTok that a contract loophole helped influence her decision to leave the franchise for good in 2019.

Some fans may be aware of particular Housewives contract clauses, including the "Bethenny Clause," which prevents Bravo from earning profits from businesses promoted on the shows (such as Bethenny's lifestyle brand SkinnyGirl). But according to the RHONY alum, a newer clause was introduced after ladies from other series refused to film because of conflicts or drama with co-stars.

"This new point said that if you don't appear in an episode, then you won't be paid for it, which does make sense," Bethenny explained in the video. "It just doesn't make sense for me because I already knew that the production company said, 'We'd never air an episode without you.' They told me that directly. I have receipts."

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Bethenny Frankel's Healthy Eating Tips

It was upon discovering this way out that tipped the scales for Bethenny, as she had been debating leaving the show following the loss of her ex-fiancé, Dennis Shields, in 2018. "The little, tiny, minute detail that would have never come to pass," she said. "It was the impetus, that was the catalyst that just said, 'Boom. Not going back.'"

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While some fans may have thought she left because of salary disputes, Bethenny clarified her reasoning was the total opposite. "If I had stayed, it would've been because of the money," she revealed. "I left because I wanted to leave, I was ready to leave, and I used a technicality deal point as my excuse. I had just lost someone very close to me and I went to work when the show came back. I didn't want to."

Bethenny officially announced her RHONY departure in August 2019 ahead of the show's 12th season, a decision that left her castmates and fans shocked. In a statement to Variety, she said, "It's time to move on and focus on my daughter, my philanthropy and my production partnership with Mark Burnett, producing and starring in shows which represent a shift in the conversation for women."

The statement continued, "My experience at Bravo has been an incredibly magical ride. I am so grateful to them for highlighting my entrepreneurialism and allowing me to pave the way for many women to achieve their goals. I am excited for my future. The best is yet to come."

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RHONY's Blue Stone Manor Moments, Ranked

Find out where Bethenny and other RHONY stars fall in our ranking of every Real Housewife ever below!

(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

150-153. The Real Housewives of D.C.

Bravo's ill-fated attempt at highlighting our nation's capital brought together four women so forgettable you'd be forgiven for erasing them from your memory—though their names are Mary Amons, Lynda Erkiletian, Cat Ommanney and Stacie Scott Turner—and one so desperate for fame that she gate-crashed a party at the White House. More on her later.

149. Kimberly Bryant, The Real Housewives of Orange County

Who?

148. Tammy Knickerbocker, The Real Housewives of Orange County

Vaguely familiar, but...

147. DeShawn Snow, The Real Housewives of Atlanta

Once upon a time, DeShawn starred on the same TV show as NeNe Leakes. Surprising, we know.

146. Elizabeth Lyn Vargas, The Real Housewives of Orange County

This one-season Housewife brought nothing to the Orange County table.

145. Jennie Nguyen, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

Utah's newest season two Housewife went out with a bang (and not in a good way). In January 2022, Jennie was fired after "offensive" and racially insensitive old Facebook posts resurfaced online. Jennie later apologized but the damage was done.

144. Quinn Fry, The Real Housewives of Orange County

Her defining trait was "cougar."

143. Jen Armstrong, The Real Housewives of Orange County

The Orange County doctor was never a source of drama during season 16 and her brief marriage troubles with eternally shirtless husband Ryne (or Ryan?) were less than riveting. However, we will never forget Dr. Jen getting absolutely wasted on wine during the Dubrows' insanely awkward—yet wildly entertaining—dinner party.

142. Katie Rost, The Real Housewives of Potomac

Katie loved to talk about her charity work, but...didn't do much else on screen. She was one and done, only to come back and not contribute much as a friend. Leaving the cast trip early? A Housewives no-no.

141. Charrisse Jackson Jordan, The Real Housewives of Potomac

Her marriage problems were on full display the two seasons she was a full-time Housewife...that and her champagne room are the two memorable things about Charrisse.

140. Shamari DeVoe, The Real Housewives of Atlanta

A one-and-done Housewife, Shamari was at least fun?

139. Peggy Sulahian, The Real Housewives of Orange County

While it was nice to see some diversity in the lily-white O.C., Peggy ultimately proved to be a frustrating presence in season 12. The fights she chose to pick were bizarre, and often involving someone using a word she simply didn't understand, and her decision to simply hide out in her room for an entire day during the trip to Iceland proved that she wasn't really cut out for this Real Housewives life.

138. Noella Bergener, The Real Housewives of Orange County

Noella spun through season 16 like a tornado of frantic energy. While her personal struggles were somewhat compelling (her husband James up and left the country and asked for a divorce right before filming started), it was her constant drama with queen bee Heather Dubrow that helped her not land completely at the bottom of the list. Maybe with more time and another season, we'll warm up to Mrs. Bergener.

137. Siggy Flicker, The Real Housewives of New Jersey

From peacekeeper in her first season to unrelenting complaints about a thrown cake and unfounded claims of anti-Semitism in her second (and last) season, we're not sure we've ever seen a quicker Real Housewives fall from grace than this one.

136. Eva Marcille, RHOA

The America's Next Top Model veteran picked up a peach for seasons 11 and 12, but never really made an impression in the world of RHOA, aside from being pregnant for what felt like her entire tenure. Points for that epic read of Marlo Hampton while in Tokyo, though.

135. Karent Sierra, The Real Housewives of Miami

All we remember about Karent is that she was a dentist and none of her co-stars seemed to like her at all. Next!

134. Cristy Rice,The Real Housewives of Miami

This was a real person with a show on Bravo. We promise.

133. Jules Wainstein, The Real Housewives of New York City

As one of RHONY's more recent one-and-dones, Jules' tenure was too brief to rank any higher. However, she sure did deliver her fair share of drama. 

131-132. Teresa Aprea and Nicole Napolitano, RHONJ

So unnecessary they couldn't even get individual taglines.

130. Amber Marchese, RHONJ

Everything Amber and her husband Jim did seemed to reek of desperation. Plus, he was involved in more of the drama than she was. Not a good look.

129. Nina Ali, The Real Housewives of Dubai

Much like co-star Sara Al Madani, Nina exemplified a multidimensional, successful Arab woman who is blending modern life with centuries-old cultural traditions. She avoided most of the season one drama and was sometimes overshadowed by her co-stars' bigger, louder personalities.

128. Sara Al Madani, The Real Housewives of Dubai

Sara's positive, enlightened outlook on life was certainly pleasant, but didn't provide for much drama (besides that one time she offered co-star Caroline Brooks some not-so-well received parenting advice). However, the tech entrepreneur shattered stereotypes of what it means to be a modern Muslim woman in the Middle East and for that we applaud her. 

126-127. Rachel Fuda & Danielle Cabral, The Real Housewives of New Jersey

RHONJ's season 13 newbies certainly fit the mold of your typical Garden State Housewife and quickly found themselves in a season-long fight over literally nothing that Andy Cohen deemed pointless at the reunion. We'd love to see both return for season 14 for a chance to move up even higher on the list after an entertaining first go-around.

125. Larsa Pippen, The Real Housewives of Miami

Larsa didn't make a big impression on season one before leaving the series. When Peacock revived RHOM for season four in 2021, her whole storyline was about being the ex-BFF of Kim Kardashian. (and selling sexy feet pics on OnlyFans...)

124. Ana Quincoces, The Real Housewives of Miami

Ana followed up her one season as a Bravolebrity by competing on season 12 of Next Food Network Star in 2016. She didn't make it there, either.

123. Joyce Giraud de Ohoven, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Unfortunately, she was nothing more than a punching bag for Brandi Glanville. Plus, her tagline celebrating the icky notion that you can never be too skinny was gross.

122. Cindy Barshop, The Real Housewives of New York City

Cindy was supposed to be the new Bethenny Frankel. Cindy was no Bethenny Frankel.

121. Caroline Brooks, The Real Housewives of Dubai

Brooks' gift to season one of RHODubai was a cameo from Real Housewives of Atlanta alum Phaedra Parks, who popped up on one episode to get all the tea on the co-stars' drama. However, Brooks did cause a lot of unnecessary drama during season one (much of which occurred while she was a little too tipsy).

120. Lisa Wu-Hartwell, RHOA

Lisa was a perfectly fine Housewife, but we don't want just fine. Not when she's sharing the screen with the likes of NeNe and Sheree Whitfield.

119. Julia Lemigova, The Real Housewives of Miami

The first LGBT Housewife ever cast on a Housewives series, Julia is truly fascinating. From being married to tennis legend Martina Navratilova and raising dozens of animals on a Miami farm, to her epic Hamptons hangover, Julia has everything a good Housewife needs. She also didn't shy away from opening up about the death of her baby son, pulling on our heartstrings and making us feel even closer to her. We love us some Julia.

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View More Photos From The Official Ranking of The Real Housewives

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