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Bravo Executive Reveals How They Cast Season 4 of The Real Housewives of Miami
Pamela Gimenez opens up about bringing RHOM back after an eight-year hiatus and wanting to show how Miami has evolved in this new iteration.
On November 14, 2013, Bravo viewers watched Andy Cohen sign off as The Real Housewives of Miami Season 3 reunion came to a close. That would be the last we would see of this dynamic group of women for quite some time — that was, until February 2021 when it was announced that a new season of RHOM was in development at Peacock.
At long last, fans finally got a Season 4 of RHOM when it started streaming on Peacock in December 2021. And, really, it was the viewers that helped put this beloved Real Housewives franchise back on the air, as Pamela Gimenez, VP Of Current Production on RHOM, explained in an exclusive interview with Bravo Insider in early March. "Fans were really part of the process of getting this back. Everyone played a part, which is really great," she said. "You know, from myself, the production team, Andy, and our higher-ups here at NBCUniversal, we really felt that this was a way to bring in another franchise to Peacock and something that’s familiar, but, you know, kind of different at the same time."
With RHOM premiering about a year-and-a-half after Peacock officially launched in July 2020, this was also "an opportunity to bring the Housewives brand to" the streaming service, according to Gimenez. "We build these brands on Bravo, and it’s almost like an extension; I call it the 'Bravo Universe,' in a way. I mean, we are doing other things at Peacock, obviously. But there is this universe or this ecosystem that Bravo has built. And it’s almost like an extension of," she said. "I always try to use this analogy — and some people get it, some people don’t — but it is the Marvel Universe. You have these characters that live in this universe. And then they also have their own specific storylines. And once in a while, they get together. And I think that’s what we’ve done here. When we crossover, when we do Ultimate Girls Trip, when we try to bring something, a reboot like Miami, I think that that’s what we’re thinking, is how do we entice the fans? How do we bring the brand and elevate it continuously?"
But even before Peacock was part of the equation, Gimenez had always hoped RHOM would find its way back to TV. "It’s actually been one of my little, secret passion projects that I’ve always wanted to bring in. I started at Bravo as an executive about four years ago, and ever since I walked through the halls of Bravo I wanted to bring it back," she said. "So it’s been an endless cheerleader-type thing."
RHOM holds a special place in Gimenez's heart, having worked as a producer on the series prior to coming to Bravo. "I was, you know, both on the ground for Season 2 and 3 working with some of the ladies, and also in putting the show together on the post end," she said. "There is something fun and fabulous about Miami. And, you know, it’s this kind of world that you step into and you’re like, wow, it’s very different [for] an outsider looking in. But at the same time, it’s very relatable. It's women who are entrepreneurs, who are diverse, and really early on before all the diversity changes that are happening right now, was monumental in terms of, we would speak in Spanish or in French, as sometimes with Adriana [de Moura]. Different worlds were there. And I almost feel like we were ahead of our time [laughs]. And no one really saw that until now, I think."
Working on RHOM this time around, Gimenez said that the show definitely tapped into fans' nostalgia with the return of Alexia Echevarria, Lisa Hochstein, and Larsa Pippen to the cast, as well as Adriana and Marysol Patton as friends.
However, there was also a sense of wanting "to show how Miami actually changed or evolved" in the nearly 10 years since the series was last on the air, which the addition of new cast members Guerdy Abraira, Julia Lemigova, and Dr. Nicole Martin, along with friend Kiki Barth, would help illustrate, according to Gimenez. "There is more diversity. As you see, you have Guerdy, who’s Haitian and brings that community but also has connection to the French cultural aspects of it. And then you have Julia, who’s Eastern European, and she is married to a woman [Martina Navratilova]," Gimenez said. "We’ve always tried to break some kind of boundaries. And I think we’ve made it even bigger this time around."
In terms of casting for this season, Gimenez said that they "were very open to options." "It was just looking at it globally, seeing, OK, what could we do? What is really going on? Who are really friends? I mean, the thing with Housewives is it needs to be organic and authentic. So Alexia’s been down there, and she’s still maintained those relationships with, you know, Marysol, Adriana, and Lisa. So that was kind of a given," Gimenez explained. "But also, like, what are you doing in your life? Right, what are your entrepreneurship, parenting, you know, universal themes that are very, very relatable to the fans. Raising kids, getting married, opening businesses. Those are the things that anyone can relate to. And I think we wanted to make sure that there was a nostalgia factor."
Gimenez noted that Alexia, for example, checked all of those boxes. "She brought the nostalgia, she brought relevancy to it, and she has now opened herself up to other women down there. And reestablished herself, right, after [ex-husband Herman Echevarria] passed away," Gimenez said. "So it kind of was timing, too."
One thing that all of the women had in common this season was how vulnerable and open they were to sharing both past personal struggles and current challenges they're navigating in their careers, families, relationships, and friendships. Gimenez said that the level of candor among the ladies wasn't surprising, given what we've all experienced over the past two years. "I think a lot of us, I think you and I are probably more open from two years ago, right? We just went through a pandemic, and we’re kind of getting out of it. And I think people just want to be expressive in how they’re feeling and what they’ve gone through," Gimenez said. "And realizing that life is short. And wanting to be the best that you can be. And I think that courage and being courageous to just open yourself up to experiences. And I think that’s what they did."
Someone who was particularly effusive this season was Marysol, who had even more of an ease and a levity to her than in the first three seasons of RHOM. "Marysol went through a lot the last couple of years, even towards the end of Season 3. Losing her mother [Mama Elsa], losing her father, and I think that she must have been very heartbroken. I mean, her mom was her best friend," Gimenez said. "And I think that after a time and being in the space that she was in, knowing that this was a love for her mom in doing the show, she might have kind of, like, absorbed that energy — and the true Marysol kind of came out."
That bedazzled tumbler Marysol often had in hand during her interviews also may have helped her leave her inhibitions at the door this season. "You know, the women are allowed to sip whatever they want to sip [laughs]. We try to make the interviews very relaxing and very welcoming. It’s a vulnerable, you know, hot seat," Gimenez said of Marysol's interview drink of choice this season. "And I think that just became something that, you know, made her comfortable in her own way of speaking to us, right, and telling us the narrative, or what I call is the viewer proxy. And she was really great in doing that, telling us what we should be feeling and thinking as an outsider."
In addition to Marysol's tumbler, this season of RHOM is packed with moments fans can't stop talking about. And whether the show's encore on Bravo this spring is your first time watching this season or it's a second (or more!) viewing, be prepared for dramatic dinner parties and wild girls' trips, as well as some of the most emotionally raw episodes we've ever seen on The Real Housewives.
Of course, we had to ask Gimenez what her favorite moment of the season was, and she admitted it was "really hard" to narrow it down. "I have to say, my favorite moment [laughs] — and I tell this to everyone — is how Alexia gets into her apartment [laughs]. She literally drives her truck into the building, in an elevator, and into her house," Gimenez said. "I’ve never experienced that. I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never actually seen it. And I think that is, like, so fun and fabulous that I want that in my house [laughs]."
Not only does something like this speak to the often aspirational nature of The Real Housewives, but even more than that, it's indicative of the city's glamour and culture that has always made RHOM unique among all the franchises. "I think that we really showcase the lifestyle of the women, which, you know, we really lean into a lot," Gimenez said. "You know, from that specific thing to getting a Cuban coffee to the Versace mansion to, you know, even just them going to the Hamptons. Although it’s in New York, it’s still that connection to the lifestyle."
RHOM airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Bravo. You can stream Seasons 1 through 4 on Peacock now.