The past becomes present again, as Bethenny Frankel returns to the franchise that made her popular.
Bravo has announced that Frankel will be returning to The Real Housewives of New York for season seven, along with Carole Radziwill, Heather Thomson, Kristen Taekman, LuAnn de Lesseps, Ramona Singer, and Sonja Morgan. Frankel left the show after season three, attributing her departure to drama between cast members on the show, though her numerous spin-off shows with then-fiance Jason Hoppy and subsequent talk show also left little room in her schedule.
The news comes an opportune moment for both Frankel and the RHONY franchise. Frankel ended her eponymous talk show in May and told People that she felt “relieved” about her departure from the daytime talk show format, though that relief will presumably dissipate into the signature drama that accompanies a Real Housewives show.
On the other end of this spectrum, RHONY’s ratings have been dwindling this past sixth season, in spite of a season that saw Aviva Drescher fling her prosthetic leg on the table in one of the show’s climatic moments. Ratings for the most recent season finale drew 0.64 in the 18-49 demographic, a far cry from the 1.30 high for its season three finale.
Frankel’s name is synonymous with the Real Housewives franchise. While she tried to carve a niche in the difficult daytime landscape and grew success along the low-calorie alcoholic beverage circuit, Frankel is returning to familiar and welcoming territory. Frankel’s feuds with then-Housewives Kelly Bensimon and Jill Zarin created some of the classic feuds in Housewives history, as seen in the clip below, and this may be a last-ditch effort to inject new life (and new ratings) for the franchise. In a realm where the stakes for the shows have been amplified to real-life criminal drama, perhaps Frankel can infuse the grounded, lighthearted frivolity that the Housewives are known for.