Over the years, the Real Housewives tagline has evolved to an art form. When The Real Housewives of Orange County (the first franchise) debuted, the taglines were audio clips from filmed conversations or interviews selected by the producers. The best and worst one from that first season was probably Vicki’s “I don’t want to get old!” The producers let us know what they were about right away.
Nowadays, a tagline has to accomplish a lot. It should be memorable, if not quotable – not quite a catchphrase, but close. It should be clever and fun. Remember: Delivery matters! Also, many viewers are long-time viewers and watch more than one franchise, so not only do you want to stand out, you don’t want a tagline to be too similar to another Housewife’s from a different city or season. But most important is the branding. Not only your personal branding, but branding for your role on the show. A tagline should say something about who you are or what you do on the show.
The goal? Iconic.
Season ten of The Real Housewives of New York City, a flagship of the franchise, premieres tonight and, in preparation, I have attempted to rank all of the New York Housewives by their taglines. This includes past and present cast members from seasons one through nine. It was a journey, I learned some things about myself, and I hope you enjoy reading along!
In case you were wondering, the title of this post is an off-hand comment my husband once made that he decided would be the perfect Housewives tagline for him. And no, I have never been prouder.
I’ve never thought myself as ride or die for the Countess and yet here we are.
It’s important to know that the same taglines were used for the first three seasons of RHONY and they weren’t all specifically recorded as taglines the way they are now. Luann’s tagline, “I never feel guilty about being privileged,” is the first half of an audio clip (she claims she went on to say something about how that’s because of her philanthropic work). I’m sorry, but I do love how the producers did her dirty there – in part because they did her a favor. This perfectly encapsulates the Countess role she fulfilled on the show for many seasons. This is the woman who corrected Bethenny for introducing her to a driver as simply ‘Luann’ and capitalized on her reputation to publish a book about etiquette.
It took Luann a couple of years to find her footing with taglines once they started to evolve to what they are today. In season four, she went with “I thought I had it good before, but I’m just getting started,” which works perfectly fine. She’s firmly in her second act: divorced, in a new relationship, and subjecting us to a singing career. Season five was a low point for me: “To some people, living elegantly just comes naturally.” I mean it works well, underlining her status and I think trying to lead us to believe she takes the high road, which has always been debatable. It’s just not very fun, and her status wasn’t enough to fall back on in a year where half of the cast was new blood. Downgraded to friend of the Housewives for season six (and thus, not in the opening credits), Luann had arguably her best season – I was hoping for more of the same going forward, having Luann in the mix but not part of the main cast.
Well, “One should know… Never count out the Countess,” was Luann’s tagline when she returned to the main cast in season seven. HOW PERFECT IS THAT??? It’s so clever and cheeky and fun. And memorable, which is key. Honestly, a Housewife with a sense of humor about herself is right up my alley and, up to this point, Luann didn’t come across as this self aware.
If I thought I had it good in season seven, I was just getting started. Luann harks back to this incredible fight with Heather and Carole in her season eight tagline, stating, “If you can’t be cool, you can’t be with the Countess.” Who knew she had a sense of humor??? It’s also appropriate for her arc in season eight; her boyfriend turned fiancé Tom was a hot, contentious topic and it seemed like she only wanted to be friends with the Housewives who were willing to turn a similar blind eye to the red flags there.
I love this season nine tagline, “The only title I’d trade Countess for is wife,” for several reasons. It’s great branding, it succinctly captures her journey on the show, her delivery is on-point, and it hits the exact right note of ridiculous without the kiss of death: trying too hard.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get started. For the first three seasons, Ramona’s tagline was, “I like making my own money, I find that an aphrodisiac.” I begrudgingly admit this is fitting. It’s over the top in a way that feels very Ramona, and financial independence for women is important to her and rooted in something very personal. It also turned out to be prophetic; after years of gloating about her healthy marriage, her husband had a midlife crisis and an affair with a much younger woman. Because Ramona was smart about her career and her money, she was able to start her second act on her own.
I love how similar the taglines for season four, “If people can’t handle the truth, it’s really not my problem,” and season five, “I’m not afraid to say what everyone else is thinking,” are. And both are very Ramona; the problem is never that she doesn’t have a filter, it’s always the other person who has the problem. Her season six tagline, “Get the Pinot ready, because it’s Turtle Time!” is her low point and it makes sense in retrospect. See, this tagline has nothing to do with Ramona’s storyline during season six – if you want to reference a memorable moment on the show, like Turtle Time, you should do it the following season, which in this case would have been season four. No one cares about Turtle Time three years later. Behind the scenes, Ramona was having marital problems but she wasn’t ready for them to be made public. She spent the season lashing out at people – no, I know what you’re thinking, but more than usual – and I think it’s because she was unhappy. So it’s understandable she was trying to hide things under a good time veneer, but even before we found out what was going on, this tagline rang false.
How great is that tagline, “I know I’m a piece of work, but now, I’m a work in progress,” for season seven? Yes, Ramona, you have always been a real piece of work and putting this clever spin on starting over after divorce? A great move. She did well in season eight, “Like a fine wine, I just get better with time,” referencing her well-known love of pinot grigio. This one isn’t very exciting but Ramona was laying low and playing peacemaker amongst the ladies this season, so it worked. And I don’t even know if I like her tagline for season nine, “I’m an acquired taste. You don’t like me? Acquire some taste!” but I have to admit it’s on brand.
Dorinda was such a great addition to the cast in season seven. Her first tagline, “I give Uptown a whole new attitude,” is solid. What I love about Dorinda is she’s a classy woman, very New York, but when she gets mad it’s truly 0 to 60. She could be a Jersey Housewife when she’s angry. I don’t love her season eight tagline, “Diamonds aren’t a girl’s best friend; martinis are!” mainly because of the delivery. It comes across almost ditzy, which Dorinda ain’t. But it also doesn’t say much about her. Yes, we know Dorinda likes martinis and she’s more likely to argue with you when she’s had three, but she does more on the show than drink martinis. I’m not going to pretend I could do better, but she always has keen observations on friendship so I would have preferred something in that vein here.
My favorite of her taglines so far is the one she used in season nine, “I tell it like it is, but I always make it nice.” THIS says a lot about her and her on the show. She does tell it like it is, but without Bethenny’s brutal brand of honesty, and she’s a wonderful hostess, although you wouldn’t know it from the way these ladies behave at her home in the Berkshires. And it’s catchy, I would put it on a tote bag. (In fact, why haven’t I yet?)
Say hello to my fave! I am ride or die for Carole and her season five tagline, “I may be a princess, but I’m definitely not a drama queen,” is one of my faves because it’s fun and cute but also speaks perfectly to her background and arc on the show. Carole’s late husband, Anthony Radziwill, was noble and had a title although he didn’t use it – unlike Countess Luann, whose airs Carole took issue with. Carole was an instant fave for me because she was a Housewife, but she didn’t take it or herself too seriously.
Season six was arguably Carole’s best season but with her worst tagline, “If you’re going to talk about me behind my back, at least check out my great ass.” I don’t think it’s as clever or funny as whoever wrote it thinks it is. Aviva came for Carole hard this season, spreading rumors about her integrity on camera and off. So maybe this tagline is Carole’s way of conveying that she doesn’t take Aviva seriously and neither should we, but what does Carole’s ass have to do with anything? You know?
I’ve never much liked Carole’s tagline for season seven, “All play and no work makes me a happy girl.” After completing her novel the previous year, Carole had a deal for a book of essays but didn’t feel inspired or motivated to work on it. So this tagline kind of conveys she didn’t have a lot going on this year, right? Um, wrong – so this was the season when she started dating Adam. Adam is twenty years younger and was working as Luann’s personal chef during a weekend in the Hamptons when he and Carole met on camera. Oh, and did I mention that he dated Luann’s niece for several years? It was kind of a big deal! Luann called her a pedophile!
And she chooses that lackadaisical tagline? Come on.
Now, as I say, Carole is my fave but season eight wasn’t great for her and neither was her tagline that year, “I plan for the future but live in the moment.” I mean, fine? It boils down her whole season to one conversation where she talks about how she has five good summers left whereas Adam, who’s younger, isn’t in the same place. Season nine isn’t much better, tagline wise, with “In the politics of friendship, I win the popular vote.” I’m guessing she didn’t want to go with one addressing Adam moving in while he was between apartments, which led to them taking a break and her other main storyline was how passionate she was about the 2016 election. So, okay, you want a tagline on that topic, fine. But it’s not like this one actually means anything?
It’s hard to remember, but there was once a time that Bethenny Frankel wasn’t a mogul branded in Skinnygirl within an inch of her life. You can tell how little leverage she must have had at the beginning by her tagline the first three seasons, “New York City is my playground.” See, at first Bethenny was set apart from the rest of the cast as the bachelorette struggling for personal and professional success. So this is kind of her gal around town line and it’s… not great? Especially when you consider how much her life changed from the beginning of season one to the end of season three.
I never thought I would see the day that Bethenny would return to the show so I was shocked when it was announced that Bethenny was rejoining the cast for season seven. On paper, her tagline for the season, “I’m not a Housewife, but I am real,” makes sense. She wasn’t married during her first three years on the show and when she returned she was in the middle of an acrimonious divorce. But the delivery is so overwrought and painstaking, it’s more like “I’m not a housewife… but I AM… real.” She’s just trying so hard and I cringe.
Bethenny’s taglines and delivery improved for seasons eight and nine, with “If you can’t handle the truth, you can’t handle me,” and “If you’re going to take a shot at this B, you better not miss,” respectively. Her whole persona is built about brutal honesty and do no harm but take no shit. And the season nine line does double duty, addressing both Sonja’s Tipsy Girl debacle from season eight and Bethenny’s season-nine-long feud with Ramona.
I don’t know anymore if this is controversial, but I always really liked Heather. Her tagline for season five, “My success is built on making women look and feel their best. Holla!” clues us in immediately that she’s here to build her brand and I don’t find it offensive. The “Holla!” felt weird and inauthentic at first; I remember hesitating to take her side in her fight with Ramona on the basis of it alone. But she wore me down! That’s just how she talks! I thought her season six tagline, “A true New Yorker never backs down, and I’m no exception. Holla!” was weak at first, but then I remembered her fight with Aviva in the Hamptons where she called her a motherfucker to her face and I think I get it. I do think her tagline for season seven, “I’m stronger than anything in my way. Holla!” is definitely weak (although I guess I admire the commitment to the “Holla!”?). Heather didn’t have much of a storyline this season that I could tell, and maybe that was more the fault of the producers because there were too many main cast members that season so they couldn’t all be front and center. But even though I liked her, I wasn’t sad to see Heather go after this season because it seemed like her time on the show had run its course.
I like Tinsley a lot and maybe it’s because of that I like her season nine tagline “A good set of lashes can fix anything, even a mugshot,” a lot too. I think it’s fun and cute and just the right amount of self aware. And just for the record, I am Team Tinsley when it comes to the bad houseguest debate. I think Sonja decided on her storyline for the season before Tinsley came to stay with her; she needed someone to win against in a fight after going against Bethenny the previous season and perceived Tinsley as weak. I’m excited to see how Tinsley does in season ten, now that she’s moved out and has found her footing.
Aviva was one of the trio of new Housewives who joined the cast in season five. Her tagline, “Never underestimate a woman born and raised in New York City,” says essentially nothing about her. This complete and utter lack of personality is baffling from a woman who used every trick up her sleeve to stay relevant – her phobias, her ex-husband who’s slept with at least two other Housewives, her misogynist father, her amputated leg. She called Ramona and Sonja white trash to their faces! To their faces. As much as Aviva strives to be the proper New York socialite who doesn’t get down in the mud, that’s not who she is, on or off screen.
Aviva struggled for relevance in season six and it shows in her tagline, “When people tell me I’m fake, I know they’re just pulling my leg.” Her fake leg was basically all she had to stand on after trying and failing to convince viewers that Carole used a ghostwriter and she didn’t, and you just know she was itching to throw it all season.
What is there left to say about Jill Zarin that hasn’t already been said? Sigh, okay, let’s give it a go. Jill’s tagline for the first three seasons, “I run with a fabulous circle of people,” gets the job done. There’s a little bit of a laugh in the delivery, which I know she did on purpose to bother me; she can’t get through this statement about how wonderful her life is without a little reflective pause and tossing off a laugh? Sure, whatever. It does capture how Jill’s entire adult life revolves around getting into the metaphorical popular clique she must have been left out of in high school (while Alex is in Brooklyn! Trying to make a living! In this economy!).
I have issues with her season four tagline, “Good or bad, I know who I am and I own it.” Mainly that it’s blatantly untrue. I think Andy Cohen agreed, as Jill was let go when Bravo cleaned house after this toxic yet still highly watchable season.
The thing about Alex’s tagline for the first three seasons, “To a certain group of people in New York, status is everything,” is that her delivery belies her later protests that she and her husband, Simon, weren’t social climbers. She’s very clearly not observing from an outside view or criticizing – this bitch is one of those people. Alex was thirsty before the term was coined and minted, okay?
The problem with the tagline she chose for season four, “I’ve always had opinions, but now people know it,” is that it’s trying too hard, much like Alex herself. It’s like her version of the line from The Real World opening credits; she stopped being polite and started getting real. I don’t know, guys, it’s not that Alex is inherently unlikable, it’s just that she was so clearly ill-suited for this show. It was a relief when she was let go after this season and I could stop thinking about her.
Besides, the real story here is what taglines did Simon practice in their bathroom mirror, because you just know he did.
When Sonja Morgan joined the cast in season three, everyone thought she was a good get for the show. Old family name, old family money, right? And Sonja pushed this image with her tagline for seasons three and four, “I have a taste for luxury and luxury has a taste for me.” I never liked it because it’s just a touch too long so her delivery feels rushed. It took some more time to realize it didn’t sit right because she’s trying too hard to play this society grand dame. It’s absolutely appropriate to brand yourself in this setting, but it can’t feel forced, you know? In season five, she went with, “A little Sonja will spice up any party,” which is basically fine. She knows we know about her financial problems and apparently she somewhat had a party planning business at this point?
My only question about the season six tagline, “Sometimes Sonja has to go commando. What can I say?” is a scream into the void:
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN??
WHY DID ANYONE LET THIS HAPPEN???
See, in addition to trying too hard to be seen as a socialite, Sonja is constantly talking about sex in a way that’s supposed to seem liberated, like she’s the Samantha of the group, but it just feels forced to me. You can’t just decide to be the Samantha, you know?
Personally, I’m not a fan of “My yacht may have sailed, but my ship is comin’ in,” which she used in season seven. I think she’s referencing how the women were quick to correct her during the reunion when she mentioned her yacht seemingly present tense (because that is quite certainly her past tense lifestyle), but I don’t know. I don’t particularly enjoy Sonja so it doesn’t feel witty to me. As far as her season eight tagline, “If being Sonja is so wrong, why does it feel so right?” I mean. Profound, but technically meaningless.
Season nine, though. “There’s nothing grey about my gardens.” is hands down Sonja’s best tagline and my favorite of all time. Memorable, quotable, clever, fun. She’s referencing Dorinda comparing her to the Beales and probably also many comments about the state of her townhouse over the years. Her delivery is perfect and on top of that shot of her walking down the street? Perfection. Not enough to make me forget what a monster she was this season, but close! That’s the power of the tagline right there!
Let’s be real, Jules’ tagline for season eight, “A Jew and an Asian walk into a bar… Then they had me!” sucks. It just does. I honestly don’t know what else she should have done to brand herself and sum up her arc, but I just don’t think this was a good call, even though she did talk about her heritage in almost every scene. I warmed to Jules over her season and I was disappointed when she didn’t return because I think she could have been a really good second-year Housewife.
Kelly Bensimon was the first Housewife who I truly hated and I guess she’ll always be special for that? My husband still does an amazing impression of her whining, “Bethenny, stahp.” Her tagline for seasons two and three, “I’ve created a great life, and I love living it,” is another one of those misguided attempts at aspirational. Literally there is nothing about Kelly Bensimon’s life that I aspire to. Moving on, her season four tagline, “I’m living the American Dream, one mistake at a time,” has always baffled me. What even? If this is an attempt at humility from the woman who had the audacity to make Bethenny meet her at a bar to tell her this:
I have news, it ain’t working.
Me, every time Cindy is on-screen.
Let’s get this out-of-the-way, I hated Cindy. I hated her so much that when Sonja sat her down to explain the pecking order in the group, I was on Sonja’s side even though that’s the most ridiculous mean girl thing that you could do a person. I also hate her tagline for season four (her only season on the show), “I have everything I’ve ever wanted, and it’s all on my own terms.” It’s too smug and self-congratulatory. Yes, this show is aspirational – but that means more that we want to go on the vacations and wear expensive clothing, I don’t actually want these women’s lives.
Especially not Cindy’s.
Kristen’s first tagline in season six, “I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m pretty!” is hands down the worst all-time tagline from any franchise. Her season seven tagline, “Pretty is smarter than you think,” does nothing to make up for it.
What do you think of the rankings? Agree? Disagree? Let us know your chosen tagline in the comments!