The Real Housewife life is not for the faint of heart. It takes most women a season or two to warm up before they can truly thrive in the reality TV franchise. However, there are some Real Housewives who made a major impact during their rookie season. There are very few women who hit the ground running, but they should be acknowledged and praised for what they've brought to the franchise.
Of course, a lot of the Real Housewives shows had solid first seasons, but beyond the OG cast members who were all rookies together, there are some late additions who had to go it alone and absolutely killed it the second they stepped in front of the reality TV cameras.
These are the women who had no qualms standing up for themselves, blessed the fandom with meme-worthy quotes, stirred things up, and had the viewers talking from the moment they became Housewives.
Being a Real Housewife is tough enough, but it is especially difficult to excel as the "new girl." There are some women who were absolutely loved by the fandom and there are others who served as more polarizing characters, but they all managed to make a lasting impact during their first year in the game. These are the women who had the biggest impact during their first season as cast members.
Why wasn't Dorinda Medley on Real Housewives of New York City until Season 7? Dorinda joined the show as a longtime friend of Luann de Lesseps, Ramona Singer, and even OG cast member Jill Zarin. Her name had to be in the mix long before Season 7, right? Or it least it should have been. Dorinda was the perfect fit for the cast during her first season. Her presence was organic thanks to her preexisting relationships within the group. She was able to assimilate right away and she brought a lot to the table: a compelling backstory as a mom and widow, the most hysterical one-liners, and a sincerity that's tough to find on reality TV.
Margaret Josephs only has one Real Housewives of New Jersey season under her belt, but she is already a highly revered cast member. She got everyone's attention with those pigtails and stole hearts with her unapologetic realness. Right from the jump, she was open about her divorce, her sex life, and anything else she was asked about. On top of that, she brought her extremely endearing mother, Marge Sr., to the show to serve as some much-needed comedic relief to Season 8.
3Erika Jayne/Erika Girardi
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills viewers were blessed with two Housewives for the price of one when Erika Girardi and her alter ego Erika Jayne joined the show. Mrs. Girardi is a strong, class act who always knows what to say. Her pop star alter ego, Erika Jayne, brings the shock and awe with her outrageous outfits, penchant to wear catsuits, and her love for the "c word." Erika also managed to stay pretty neutral during her first season, which, of course, made her an instant favorite.
Sonja Morgan didn't become a New York Housewife until Season 3, but she brought some fun and mystery to the show. Sonja was hard to figure out and that made her even more intriguing. She had so many businesses "in the works" from a toaster oven line to her entertainment aspirations. Beyond that, Sonja referred to herself as "the straw that stirs the drink" and that couldn't be more accurate. Sonja is always the life of the party and RHONY is much more enjoyable thanks to her presence.
Brandi Glanville was actually a Friend of the Housewives on Season 2 of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but she still made a major impact. Glanville showed up on crutches (that Kyle and Kim Richards later hid from her) and caught the cast off guard with her constant cursing and extreme honesty no matter what. Brandi fought with the Richards sisters at game night, a confrontation that was discussed in almost every episode that season. Toward the end of Season 2, she became closer with Lisa Vanderpump. Lisa opened up her restaurant SUR, and viewers met Scheana Marie, who said she dated Brandi's ex-husband Eddie Cibrian while they were still married. This story line was the perfect springboard for Lisa's show Vanderpump Rules. So, while she's not exactly the most beloved housewife, the Bravo fandom has Brandi to thank for many great seasons of RHOBH and for Vanderpump Rules.
During the Real Housewives of New Jersey Season 2 reunion, Danielle Staub brought up Teresa Giudice's strained relationship with her sister-in-law Melissa Gorga. This enraged Teresa, so of course Melissa was brought on for the next season. Season 3 started out with a brawl at Melissa's son's baptism and centered around the sisters-in-law feuding. Melissa gave Teresa a run for her money as the center of attention. They competed over every little thing possible from copycat accusations to outfits to chairs on the porch. The rivalry was beyond entertaining up until Season 7 when they finally became friends.
To put it mildly, Kenya Moore was a very polarizing presence when she joined Real Housewives of Atlanta in Season 5. During her very first episode, Kenya offended Cynthia Bailey and many aspiring models with her critiques during a casting for The Bailey Agency. She took issue with anyone who referred to her as Miss America instead of Miss USA. She flirted with Phaedra Parks' then-husband Apollo Nida. She fought with every single cast member that season and she even created two catchphrases that she still uses today: "Gone with the wind fabulous" and "twirl." Kenya didn't make a ton of friends during her first season, but she truly did make a mark on the series.
Kelly Dodd joined Real Housewives of Orange County during Season 11. She was introduced as a friend of Meghan Edmonds', but she ended up becoming close with cast pariah Vicki Gunvalson, which didn't help her secure friends. Kelly mocked Heather Dubrow at a sushi dinner and called her the "c word", accused Shannon Beador of ambushing her at a party, and antagonized Tamra Judge over her estranged relationship with her daughter. Kelly caused such a big stir that there was no chance she wouldn't be asked back for another season after that.
Dorit Kemsley came onto Real Housewives of Beverly Hills during Season 7 as a friend of Lisa Vanderpump's, but she did not take on the sidekick role. She came out swinging right away. Dorit got into a season-long feud with Erika, the fan favorite from the season before, after Erika didn't wear panties to a group event. Aside from her tension with Erika, Dorit got people talking thanks to her constantly changing accent and hairstyles. She even brought on roommate Boy George and PK Kemsley, her super involved husband who has not been well-received for getting caught up in cast drama. And now one season later, it feels like it's Dorit's world and we are all just living in it.
Shannon Beador brought a lot to the table when she became a Housewife on Real Housewives of Orange County during Season 9. Shannon struggled in her marriage with now-ex David Beador, feuded with Heather Dubrow, and argued with Tamra Judge during her first year on the show. Shannon also built up a quirky persona with her love for alternative medicine, lemons in a bowl, and vodka with extra limes.
Not everyone has what it takes to make it as a Real Housewife, but very few people can make a significant impact during their first season. It takes a lot of charisma, controversy, and catchphrases to truly excel as a rookie Housewife and these women did just that.