These Bravo Stars Have Made Some Controversial Decisions

Stepping into the limelight brings unexpected perks and problems. Doing it on a reality TV show adds an entirely different level of public scrutiny. Everyone has regrettable foibles and cringe-worthy moments. When they happen in front of hundreds of thousands of people, it's far more difficult to avoid having to answer for our actions. Public figures can easily miscalculate the fallout of their behavior, and many don't ponder possible consequences until it's too late. 

Being among the most visible reality stars, Bravolebrities are judged frequently and harshly for simply being themselves. Their every move is scrutinized by fans and hate-watchers alike. Whether they let the cat out of the bag in a heated moment, act in an unconventional manner, or coldly calculate their next move with malicious intent, what these Bravo stars do becomes a plot line, and inevitably breeds controversy. Their deeds are dirty, dubious, and disconcerting — and we love the drama.  

The timing of David Beador's affair was particularly bad

When Shannon Beador made her debut on Season 9 of The Real Housewives of Orange County in 2014, her star began to rise. Sadly, right around the same time, her husband muddied their private life with an extramarital affair. According to the Daily Mail, David Beador met his then-paramour, Nicole McMackin, in September, 2013 at a meeting of the Young Presidents' Association, a "business club for entrepreneurs."

Following the discovery of David's affair, Shannon was determined to make her marriage work. During a June 2014 episode, she said (via People), "Divorce is not an option. I love my husband, and I want to grow old with him." Two years later, Shannon claimed RHOC was a positive in the situation, saying, "It's actually helped my marriage, my family, and me being able to watch back little parts of my life, and realizing where I need to make changes and where I need to improve."

After a rocky attempt at reconciliation, however, Shannon and David eventually split for good in September, 2017, with a final divorce settlement reached in April, 2019. One week after the settlement, Shannon traveled with RHOC costars Tamra Judge and Vicki Gunvalson, wearing a "Just Divorced" sash and a smile. Shannon has lost the 40 pounds she gained from stress eating during the demise of her turbulent marriage and, as of this writing, has a new main squeeze, John Janssen. We think Shannon will be just fine without David.

Sonja Morgan caught shade for her sexuality

Sonja Morgan loves men, and she'll brag about her famous conquests to anyone who will listen. The Real Housewives of New York star embraces her sexuality and is unapologetically hot to trot! We love her glorious messiness, but our appreciation of her lasciviousness is not universal.

Morgan took some friendly fire from RHONJ's Teresa Giudice before the two had even met. Teresa wrote on her blog, "Here's what I think: Crazy Old W**re. She bragged about how much she loves sex, how much she has sex, how many young guys she has sex with... She's not married, so all that screwing around does make her a wh**e."

Morgan told Jezebel, "I'm not looking for a husband, I'm very independent — that's why I date the younger guys. I'm in control, I'm in the driver's seat." Sonja is perhaps the most relatable Housewife in the New York franchise, and she even hinted in 2019 that her ways could be ending. Speaking with the Daily Beast, she said, "I'm really comfortable with where I am now...I think I could date someone who I could actually spend time with. Sleep well at night knowing I'm not going to grow old alone." Men and women alike find Sonja Morgan irresistible, so her growing old alone is not likely!

Yolanda Hadid shared her Lyme Disease journey

Former model Yolanda Hadid chronicled her struggle with Lyme disease on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and in her memoir, Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease. She also revealed that two of her children, Bella and Anwar Hadid, also have Lyme. Going public with her diagnosis and opening her struggle to scrutiny was brave, but Yolanda could not have imagined the toll it would take on her friendships — and even her marriage. 

The blonde bombshell's life as a healthy, active RHOBH cast member and wife of then-husband, music producer David Foster, began to unravel. By the time Yolanda was finally diagnosed, her body was riddled with the Lyme spirochete. She struggled to get effective treatment in the United States, and even contemplated suicide. But she was fortunate to have the funds to go abroad for treatment.

Yolanda's illness was met with surprising skepticism. Fellow Housewife Lisa Rinna repeated (on camera) a rumor that Yolanda had Munchausen syndrome and was feigning illness for attention. About the decline of her marriage due to her symptoms, Yolanda told People, "All of a sudden all of the things we shared, all of the things we used to love to do together ... shut down. I couldn't participate in that life anymore." Thankfully, Yolanda's health improved and she started reclaiming her life. She walked the runway for Virgil Abloh's Fall 2020 fashion show.

Did Vicki Gunvalson pick the wrong man?

In 2010, former The Real Housewives of Orange County star Vicki Gunvalson left her husband of 19 years, Donn Gunvalson, and she ended up regretting it. Vicki did not publicly address her reason for leaving at the time, but RHOC castmate Tamra Judge revealed during the show's Season 10 reunion that Gunvalson left Donn to take care of a purportedly ill Brooks Ayers. Sadly, it turns out Ayers may have played Gunvalson like a fiddle, seemingly pretending to have been diagnosed with cancer to play on her sympathies. He finally admitted to ET Online that he had fabricated medical bills from City of Hope cancer hospital, although he consistently maintained that he did, in fact, have stage 3 non-Hodgkin lymphoma (per People). Gunvalson and Ayers ultimately parted ways in 2015, ending a relationship tenuously built on lies and deceit.

"If I had to do it all over again, I would not have divorced Donn," Gunvalson said to Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live (via Us Weekly), adding, "I know that for a fact. ... He was a great man [and] great husband." Radar Online reported Gunvalson attempted to reconcile with Donn after the bitter divorce, but he wants to leave the past in the rear-view mirror and look only forward, leaving Vicki's love tank wide open for her new man, Steve Lodge.

Kyle Richards revealed Kim Richards' addiction struggles

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills started off with a bang thanks to the Season 1 back-of-the-limo blowout between former child stars, sisters Kim and Kyle Richards. The fight escalated when Kyle called her sister an alcoholic. Kyle also threatened to stop giving financial assistance that she and her husband, Mauricio Umansky, had apparently been giving to Kim. This incident led to a period of estrangement between the pair.

But Bravo's cameras only captured a portion of Kim's longtime struggle with addiction. "There were things going on that the audience wasn't aware of," Kyle said on Good Morning America (via ABC News) adding, "I had had a lot of pain and built up anger and frustration towards her, and obviously she did towards me too." A source told In Touch Weekly (via Reality Tea) that Kim's behavior was sometimes so outrageous that RHOBH "edited out a lot of scenes in which she was acting really sloppy." Kim did not appear on the RHOBH Season 1 reunion because she was in rehab.

In June, 2019, Kyle spoke about her sister on SiriusXM's The Jenny McCarthy Show, saying, "She says that [being on RHOBH] saved her life because, you know, there's nowhere to hide and everyone knows — now anywhere she goes, people know who she is. She can't get away with anything!" Talking to Hollywood Life, Kyle teased Kim's possible return to RHOBH for Season 10.

People shamed Andy Cohen's dad posts

Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen wanted to be a father, but hadn't yet found a life partner. The Housewives executive producer told People, "I like being alone. I didn't want to wait." So he recruited a surrogate to help him realize his parental dream, and his son, Benjamin Allen, was born February 4, 2019

Since then, Cohen's been incessantly dad-shamed, like after his dog, Wacha, ate one of Ben's toys. Cohen later explained in an Instagram Story (via USA Today) that he was "flooded with DMs from people saying...[his dog is] jealous of [his] son." He continued, "Wacha didn't know [the toy] belonged to the baby. He just had his eye on a purple (expletive) toy and he wanted to rip it apart. It's not that deep."

Ignoring the shamers, Cohen posted a photo (shown above), taken by close friend and musician John Mayer, to celebrate Ben's first birthday. He captioned it, "One year ago tonight, I sat alone in a hospital room with my newborn son pondering our future. I didn't know then how his smile would brighten my day, what simple joy each new progression of his growth would bring ... I am so grateful to my surrogate in California who made this all possible."

During a December 2019 appearance on Jeff Lewis Live (via ET), Cohen revealed he's considering having another baby. Hopefully, his happiness and success in fatherhood will be a teachable moment for online bullies. Mazel, Andy!

Camille Grammer revealed Taylor Armstrong's abusive relationship

RHOBH Housewife Taylor Armstrong hid her alleged domestic abuse at the hands of her then-husband, Russell Taylor, from the Bravo audience. But in the reality-TV fishbowl, secrets don't stay secret for long. In fact, during a heated group discussion on the show, Camille Grammer spilled all of the tea, saying, "We don't say that he hits you. We don't say that he broke your jaw. ... We don't say that. But now we said it." 

After the episode aired, Taylor went public with accusations of abuse against Russell, and filed for divorce shortly thereafter. One month later, Russell was found dead in an apparent suicide. It was not just the outing of his alleged abusive relationship with his wife that pushed him to the limit. His attorney told ABC News that Russell "was more than $1.5 million in debt as a result of trying to keep up with expectations for the lavish lifestyle portrayed on the show."

In her memoir, Hiding from Reality: My Story of Love, Loss, and Finding the Courage Within, Taylor described "the terrible truth" about life without Russell. "I felt lost without the control that Russell had imposed on me for the nearly six years that we were married," she wrote, adding, "I didn't know what to do once I had no one there to tell me how to dress, act, and behave; what to want; and who, even, to be."

Scheana Shay caught heat for her crop-top wedding gown

The most controversial fashion choice in Bravo history was Vanderpump Rules star Scheana Shay's crop-top wedding dress. Scheana's aunt, Dimitrianne Wood, designed the gown for her niece's wedding to Mike Shay. "The top was so heavy it kept falling down," Scheana told In Touch Weekly (via The Daily Dish), "so [her aunt] sewed in straps for the reception."

"Her dress, without a doubt, was uniquely Scheana," wedding planner Danielle Rothweiler told The Knot, adding, "She had no desire to be in a traditional wedding gown."

Well, not everyone was impressed, like castmate Stassi Schroeder, who said on the show that Scheana's dress was "like a skanky girl's quinceanera." Some Twitter users concurred, like Donna Bolduc, who responded to a Bravo online poll about the dress, writing, "The words crop top and wedding dress should not be in the same sentence." 

The newly-wed Mrs. Shay responded to an online critic who called her dress "ugly," writing, "Good thing it was my wedding and not yours. #irrelevant." Grand matriarch of the Sur bunch and RHOBH OG Lisa Vanderpump put the last word on the topic from their group, as far as she was concerned, tweeting, "Anybody who said one negative thing about that perfect day, gorgeous dress obviously comes from jealousy, all was wonderful."

Schroeder ultimately changed her tune when crop-top dresses started appearing everywhere, tweeting, "I'm proud of my boo @scheanamarie for being so original and starting a trend. I'm here to say: I was wrong."

Lisa Vanderpump used Brandi Glanville's marital pain as a plot line for a spin-off

Eddie Cibrian was a serial scoundrel during his marriage to RHOBH star Brandi Glanville. When Cibrian was caught in an affair with LeAnn Rimes, Glanville thought it was a one-time indiscretion — until she discovered he had also been snogging Vanderpump Rules star Scheana Shay. Their marriage ended quickly after the latter revelation. During Season 3 of RHOBH, Lisa Vanderpump arranged a tête-à-tête between Glanville and Shay, giving a plug to Vanderpump Rules, a RHOBH spinoff that was then-new to Bravo. In Season 4, Vanderpump had Shay serving a party Glanville was attending. It was beginning to appear as if Vanderpump was intentionally stirring the pot to poke at Glanville's heartbreak over her husband's infidelity. This plot line rubbed Glanville the wrong way, according to Bustle's timeline of the reality stars' feud.

After that, Glanville called Vanderpump out on a lie during an alleged attempt to ruin Kyle Richards' reputation using tabloid stories about Richards' husband, Mauricio Umansky. This set into motion a back-and-forth fire between the two that ultimately ruined the friendship for good. Glanville said in a confessional (via People) after the friendship was broken beyond repair, "Lisa Vanderpump and I were best friends for five years. Let's be clear: whatever she wants out there, she gets out there." Both have said there is no hope for a rekindled friendship.

Thomas Ravenel was a controversial figure way before Southern Charm

Thomas Ravenel's tenure on Southern Charm was filled with baby-mama drama, but it was also book-ended by legal woes. Before appearing on the show about Southern men with so-called "Peter Pan Sin-drome," Ravenel held the office of South Carolina State Treasurer. Six months into his term in 2007, he was "indicted on federal cocaine distribution charges," per Deadline. Ravenel resigned from elected office, and was later convicted and "sentenced to 10 months in federal prison" in 2008.

Settling into a new high-profile role on reality TV, the Southern Charm star's quest to become a United States Senator was the original focus of the show. He had a fling with a much-younger Kathryn Calhoun Dennis, which led to a tumultuous on-again/off-again relationship, two out-of-wedlock children, never-ending custody battles, and accusations of drug use on both sides. The show's original purpose was to resurrect Ravenel's political career, but Southern Charm did more to tank his electability than elevate it.

But beyond the normal stigma of reality TV fame, Ravenel was later forced out of the show when he was charged in two sexual assault cases. Per Deadline, he pleaded guilty to "third-degree assault and battery" following rape allegations by his children's nanny, Dawn Ledwell. He paid a $500 fine and was given a 30-day suspended jail sentence. T-Rav quietly settled the other case with Debbie Holloway Perkins, whom he met through a Tinder date, for $200,000.

Danielle Staub's decision to be on TV was controversial in itself

Joining The Real Housewives of New Jersey was a risky proposition for Danielle Staub. The adage "everything in darkness comes to light" rang true for the self-proclaimed New Jersey "villain." A past she thought was long-hidden was unearthed when her cast mates began circulating a book by Staub's ex-boyfriend that made startling allegations against her. The book (summarized by People via Reality Tea), alleges Staub was an exotic dancer named Beverly Merrill and that she was arrested on kidnapping, extortion, and drug charges. 

Staub admitted to changing her name and being arrested. Everything else in the book, she told Oprah (via HuffPost), is poppycock. Regardless of what was true and what wasn't, the allegations sent her newfound RHONJ fame spinning into scandal. Not to mention, the dramatic table-flipping confrontation, compliments of Terese Giudice, made for one of the most iconic reality television moments in modern history. To recap: At the end-of-season gathering for RHONJ, Staub quietly placed the scandalous book on a banquet table surrounded by her castmates. When the conversation got heated, Giudice stood up, yelling, "Prostitution w**re!" while flipping the table, sending dishes crashing to the floor.

While we can't know this for sure, Staub's skeletons would likely have remained in the closet if she hadn't put herself on blast. Though she said on Watch What Happens Live that she has left RHONJ forever, Staub will undoubtedly somehow continue to shock us with her brazen, remarkably entertaining antics.

Apollo Nida's lies about Kenya Moore were just the start

Phaedra Parks and Kenya Moore feuded throughout their joint tenure on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. One of the main bones of contention between them was Parks' then-husband, Apollo Nida. Nida had been in jail for an auto theft scheme prior to marrying Parks, and their marriage ended after he went back to prison for fraud. It looks like this leopard never changed his spots.

The years between long stints of incarceration for Nida created two beautiful children — and a heck of a lot of drama. No friction was as public as his quest to blame Moore for a mild flirtation between the two that he grossly exaggerated. Nida went so far as to claim she offered him oral sex during a rendezvous in California. This accusation was repeated by both Nida and Parks on several episodes of RHOA and in media interviews. Ultimately, Nida apologized to Moore just before heading to prison, admitting he had told what Moore called "bold-faced lies."

Kenya said in her confessional after his apology (via E! News), "I feel vindicated because the truth is finally out. It's better late than never. The damage has already been done but I feel better." Regardless of the drama encircling her private life, Moore is and will always be Gone with the Wind fabulous.