Longtime viewers of The Real Housewives Of New York know that for many years, there was no love lost between Bethenny Frankel and Jill Zarin. For the first two seasons of RHONY, the two were, to paraphrase New Jersey Housewife Caroline Manzo, thick as thieves. But Season 3 showed the cracks — Bethenny and Jill, for many reasons true and perceived and probably untrue, too, slipped apart, their friendship splintering and ultimately dissolving right before Bethenny left Real Housewives Of New York for her own spinoff, Bethenny Getting Married? But now, Bethenny and Jill have made amends on Real Housewives Of New York, and though it’s not for a happy reason, it really shows how much these two (especially Bethenny) have grown.
Jill and Bethenny’s fracturing friendship provided what is still the best season of any franchise of Real Housewives to date — Season 3. It gave us Scary Island, it gave us “go to sleep,” it gave us “satchels of gold,” and it gave Sonja a generous dose of comedic relief. But it was also hard to watch knowing that a very good friendship had broken up. Losing a best friend is like a death or a divorce — there’s a definitive loss there, and Bethenny and Jill both felt that. In January 2018, the two were reunited over a very sad occasion — the death of Jill’s husband, Bobby Zarin, due to cancer. Ramona, Dorinda, and others showed up for the service, but Bethenny's presence was perhaps the most important.
After Bobby died, Bethenny revealed in a tweet that he was the one who put her up for Real Housewives in the first place.
On the June 13 episode of Real Housewives Of New York, Bethenny talked about how she and Bobby had always enjoyed each other, with clips of their fun times playing throughout. It was a nice way to remember that Bobby, as Bethenny says, loved Jill with all of his heart and did everything for her. Bethenny was in Aspen when Bobby died, but she chartered a private plane and made it there for the memorial. After it was over, Bethenny said that she “couldn’t leave” without speaking to Jill, and so she waited — and the two hugged and cried and laughed and shared regrets. It was an emotional moment for two women who hadn’t seen each other in, according to Bethenny, six years.
Later that week, as she explains in the episode, Bethenny went to Jill’s apartment, where the family was sitting shiva, and she brought along her daughter, Brynn, to meet Jill. Jill started crying when she saw Brynn, and the two women had a nice visit. Bethenny spoke of how all of this (plus growing older) has softened her — it’s not worth it to be offended anymore. Things happen, she said, and people die, and it’s only worth it to live in the now instead of letting old grudges fester.
Will Bethenny and Jill be best friends again? That remains to be seen, but perhaps Bobby’s death and memorial put them both in the headspace of rekindling something. It’s really easy to be angry. It’s hard to work on a friendship, and considering how mad Bethenny was at Jill for a long time, the fact that Bethenny is softening her stance and letting Jill back in speaks volumes to the progress she’s made in her life.
In the end, Bethenny says, the only time Jill didn’t listen to Bobby was at the crux of her fight with Bethenny, when Bobby told Jill to make things right with Bethenny and give up the ghost of whatever she was angry at. Jill didn’t listen, and she had to live with losing a friend. But now, through Bobby’s funeral, the two are connected again, so maybe Bobby got the last laugh on Real Housewives Of New York after all.