In 2014, after three seasons away from The Real Housewives of New York, Bethenny Frankel returned. Since then, the Bravo staple has seen ratings rise, but will Bethenny be back with her signature snark for season nine? When I sat down with her on Aug. 12, Frankel said she’s been “distancing herself from the show.”
“It was a long year,” she said. “It's definitely work. … This is just a summer of freedom. … I'm glad that the audience is enjoying [the show], but I left it behind.”
Frankel says she's spent time with close pal and co-star Carole Radziwill this summer, but hasn't seen much of the other women. Her demeanor when discussing RHONY seemed much more somber than it was just weeks before, when I spoke with her at her New York City apartment in late June. In that interview, the Skinnygirl creator said she didn’t know for sure if she’d return, but made it seem likely. “I think so,” she said at the time. “I'm really glad I came back. I'm really proud of the show this season and I really do care about and respect most of the women that are on this show.”
Her hesitance now seems to be stemming largely from the volatile RHONY reunion taping in July. Frankel told me it was the most difficult reunion she’s ever filmed. “It was very, very negative and I didn’t enjoy it at all,” she said. “Something very dramatic happened … that questioned my integrity. If someone questions my business or my integrity I take it really seriously.”
“I live my life honestly,” she said. “You have 50 percent of the cast that has a whole taboo, police line, ‘do not cross’ section of their life that is not discussed on camera and never has been. For legal issues and liability issues, Bravo doesn't need to bring it up and it’s a difficult line to ride, and that may be why I don't come back.”
Frankel said she’s plenty busy with her production company, radio show and, of course, Skinnygirl brands. “I'm doing what I want to do and definitely making some changes in my personal and professional life, and deciding kind of how to line up all the pieces on the board in the fall,” she said. “I have a lot of different businesses and business decisions to make.”
Her latest Skinnygirl product is the Watermelon Lime Margarita. “It’s great for parties,” she said. “I wanted to just come up with the next fun drink and I think that watermelon is amazing.”
Additional good news came her way in mid-July, when Frankel settled her nearly 4-year-long divorce battle with ex Jason Hoppy. “I am really happy that I am on the other side of it, for sure,” she said. “But there are still some obstacles.” Frankel still needs to sell the apartment the pair once shared. “My summer of freedom is lighting me up,” she said “I am in a really happy place.”
But the drama is still playing out on TV. Wednesday night's episode of RHONY will show Bethenny as she considers dropping a bomb on Luann de Lesseps: an alleged photo of Luann’s fiancé, Tom, kissing another woman. The RHONY finale airs August 24th, and the reunion will follow.
To hear Bethenny open about the health issues she struggled with this season, watch the video below.