My oh my, how times have changed. Looking back at the very first episode of Real Housewives is like reminiscing on your middle school photos. So pure, innocent, naive, and totally unaware of what was about to come. It's been 12 years since the franchise debuted with the ladies of Orange County, California, in 2006 and there are definitely certain moments in the Real Housewives pilot that would never happen now.
Starring Vicki Gunvalson, Jeana Keough, Lauri Peterson, Jo De La Rosa, and Kimberly Bryant, Housewives is so different now than it was when it originally aired. Either Andy Cohen and his team wanted to serve up more drama or the audience grew more savage and demanded higher tensions and meme-able moments. Or both. Regardless, the Housewives evolution is one that's been so great, and entertaining, to watch.
Times were, let's say, simpler back in 2006. The Housewives' biggest problems, at least in the pilot, consisted of which major league teams their offspring would be drafted to, which lingerie to wear for their husbands, and kids leaving the nest. And no one threw a drink at someone else. While it's nostalgic to revisit the episode in which it all began, fans are probably grateful that Housewives has ditched these elements and revamped in fierce ways.
1. The Cheesy Opening
By now, RH diehards know how fabulous the lives these ladies lead are. But in the pilot episode, scenic views of Orange County and voice over boasting about the luxuries of a gated community were essential in getting the point across to the peasants watching. "Life is different in a gated community," opening voice over said. They even talked numbers. "The land here is $1 million an acre. The average-priced house is $1.8 million to $2.2."
Additional voice over included lines like, "Image is everything in my world," and, "When you're not behind the gates, you don't know what you're missing." Can we cut to the chase/table-flipping/bleeped-out cursing now? We have episodes to binge.
2. The Unsupportive Partner
If viewers watched a dynamic like Jo De La Rosa and her then-partner Slade's now, their jaws would drop. Jo, who was a party girl trying to acclimate to mom/Housewife life, worked hard at obeying her partner. Her fiancé wanted her to have dinner ready when he got home, "didn't want" her to work, and wanted her to "stay at home and experience this life."
Housewives nowadays are far too busy running empires and making their own money to put up with that dated nonsense. At one point, Slade literally says, "I would love for Jo to step up and be the housewife I always dreamed of." While Jo is shown miserable at home, without purpose or direction, she admits she has responsibilities of "what a fiancé should be" and says of Slade, "he's pretty much keeping me." Our current Housewives would never.
3. The Explanation Of Plastic Surgery
Getting work done has never been taboo or avoided on the Real Housewives franchises, even to this day. However, in the pilot episode, Kimberly Bryant admits that she had received breast augmentation because her husband Scott wanted her to, not because it was fully her choice to feel better about herself. She admits that going from a 32A to 32D "was important to" Scott. "[Men] hit a certain age and all of a sudden, they kind of want that trophy wife," she says in the episode.
She further insinuates that the mindset trickled down to young girls in the wealthy Orange County, saying, "It's very common for girls to receive breast implants for high school graduation." Modern day housewives may get work done, but they don't feel the need to explain their choice, and they certainly don't do it to please their husbands (at least not publicly, anyway).
4. Focusing On The Kids
A majority of the pilot episode focuses on the housewives' kids and what they have going on in their lives. In recent episodes, that's simply been replaced with Housewives arguing each other.
For example, there's focus on Kimberly and Vicki's daughters at prom, Jeana Keough's son's baseball career, Lauri's time with her kids and her daughter Ashley coming home from LA, and Vicki's daughter's graduation party. We see some of the kids in current episodes, but all of that just really equates to more of a snoozefest than anything.
5. Having Cordial Meetings
In modern Real Housewives episodes, cast members are often brought into the mix with conflict, or for no specific reason at all. But in the pilot, when Jo introduces herself to Kimberly and friends while having drinks, they all get along.
Knowing none of the women, Jo feels totally welcome meeting them for the first time. They all hit it off, there's no drama, and it's pretty bizarre for today's RH standards.
6. The Awkward Montage
While Slade is at work, Jo thinks of ways to spice up their home life and relationship by trying on sexy lingerie for herself in the mirror. The cheesy, slow-mo montage is captured on camera and ends with Slade coming home and Jo stripping for him, taking her top off while straddling him on the couch. Scenes like this have clearly been replaced by ones with the women trying on lingerie for each other in the actual store.
7. There's No Drama.
Honestly, the very first Real Housewives episode is kind of a snooze fest. Well, at least in comparison to the high tensions and drama the show is packed with now. The vibe was much more different back in 2006. Rather than the over-the-top extravagance, table flipping, and full-on arguing shown now, the goal of the show then seemed to be to boast about the charm of wealthy, gated-community life. Most of the drama for the Housewives was with their kids or families, but not with each other.
Real Housewives now may be so different compared to back then, but it's still pure escapism at its finest, and it will probably only continue getting better with age.