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Andy Cohen Shares Behind-the-Scenes Real Housewives Secrets

The WWHL host said that RHOC “really gelled” when this cast member announced her divorce.

Nearly 17 years ago, The Real Housewives of Orange County premiered, and viewers were taken behind the gates of Coto de Caza, California, to meet a group of women who led glamorous lives. 

Since then, fans have met dozens of Real Housewives cast members from many different cities across the United States (and now in Dubai) — and Andy Cohen is one of the people we have to thank for that.

The Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen host chatted with The New Yorker about how soap operas inspired the Real Housewives concept, the moment he knew that RHOC was going to take off, and why he considers all the shows to be a “great feminist tableau.”

“I can’t believe it’s still going, with no end in sight — the franchise and how many there are,” Andy shared. “It’s like a Bloomin' Onion.”

The dad of two got the idea for the show that would eventually become RHOC when series creator Scott Dunlop “brought a VHS of these women in his neighborhood” while Andy was in charge of production at Bravo.

“I was like, ‘Wow, this is interesting.’ There was no format. There was no nothing. It was an idea,” he said. “And I was a big fan of the soap opera genre, a huge All My Children fan. I was intrigued, personally, by the idea that the women on the show all went to the same tennis club, and they lived in the same gated community.”

While Andy found the ladies’ aspirational lifestyles to be “interesting” and compelling to watch, he knew the show was going to be a major hit when he found out one of the cast members was splitting up with her husband ahead of the sophomore season.

“For me, it really gelled during Season 2 of [RHOC]. Before we started shooting, Jeana [Keough] told the producers she was getting a divorce. And I was, like, clutching my pearls. ‘Oh no, Jeana’s gonna get divorced. That’s my friend!’ While simultaneously saying, ‘Wait a minute: Jeana’s getting a divorce, and we’re about to start shooting. So now this is, like, a story: What do her friends think, and is she going to start dating?’” he said. “And that’s called a soap opera.”

Since Jeana’s divorce, the audience has seen many cast members go through similar situations, and they've also witnessed other major life events like weddings, moves, births, and deaths.

“There’s no show that has given a platform for women over 50 in this way, in terms of expressing their sexuality and who they are and starting over in life and figuring things out,” Andy explained. “And I think that’s brilliant.”

Andy Cohen Builds the Ultimate Housewives Cast of Former First Ladies: "That's a Show!"

After RHOC came The Real Housewives of New York CityThe Real Housewives of Atlanta, and The Real Housewives of New JerseyToday the franchise spans from Beverly Hills and Salt Lake City to Potomac and Miami, and all the way to Dubai. Each show, as Andy said, feels “so different.”

“I refer to them in my head as airplanes in the sky, and now I have 10 planes in the sky, and the goal is to keep the planes in the sky,” Andy said about the different cities.

Watch WWHL on Bravo Sundays through Thursdays and the next day on Peacock. Catch up on the Bravo app.

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