Fakest Storylines On Real Housewives Revealed

There might be a "real" right there in the title, but every fan knows that there are at least some elements of the "Real Housewives" franchise that are fake. Introductions to new cast members are often scripted, scenes are frequently shot multiple times, and on-camera moments are heavily scheduled (it is known that each woman on the show gets a call sheet with the day's work, per Bravo). That is not to say that all of the drama itself is manufactured, but there have been times where eagle-eyed viewers have suspected storylines on the "Real Housewives" to be falsehoods, such as when Heather Dubrow seemingly faked a phone call from her son (which she denies) or when Dorit Kemsley held a fashion show that had maybe 10 people in the audience.

In other instances, cast members are the ones claiming bogus, like when "RHOC" troublemaker Kelly Dodd accused Braunwyn Windham-Burke of faking alcoholism, or when Ana Quincoces and the women of "RHOM" accused Karent Sierra of faking her relationship with her soap-star boyfriend. As "Real Housewives" lovers, we wanted to take a look back at some of the franchise's most phony storylines. While not all of these are confirmed — in fact, they often come with overly-defensive denials! — there is enough smoke in the air for us to call bull. We opted not to include Brooks Ayers' big cancer lie on "RHOC," instead opting for sham storylines that hold a bit more mystery. Without further ado, here are some of the fakest storylines from the "Real Housewives."

Melissa Gorga's long-lost sister

To be honest, "Real Housewife of New Jersey" star Melissa Gorga has been accused of fakery so many times that we could probably make a list of just her supposed reality TV crimes. But none of her storylines irritated viewers more than the one where she claimed to possibly have a long-lost half-sister. Gorga has been open on the show about her late father Anthony Marco's infidelities, so a secret spawn is not outside the realm of possibility, but given that no sister was ever found, and the storyline was discontinued by the end of Season 9, some viewers suspect no sister ever existed. On a 2019 episode of "The Daily Dish" podcast, Gorga claimed to have created a 23andMe profile in hopes of finding her sibling, and she was waiting to see if her sister would also do 23andMe. "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be," she said. That was the last we heard about a long-lost Marco sister.

Gorga said in 2018 that she was being more and more authentic to herself; she's also maintained that her sister search was real as can be. The star thinks people don't respond as well to more "normal" storylines — though one could argue that a secret sister is anything but typical. "The fans think unless your husband's cheating on you, or you're Erika Jayne, or you're going to jail or you robbed a bank, then you shouldn't be on the 'Housewives,'" Gorga told Entertainment Tonight. "So they just want all villains, they don't want any normal people to have a normal life and show their family. It's 'Housewives,' it's not, like, 'Mob Wives!'"

Cynthia Bailey's trash talking recording

Though she left the show in 2021, Cynthia Bailey spent 11 seasons on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," beginning with Season 3. Over the course of her tenure, Bailey often rose above the petty drama, and her storylines — from her family's disapproval of her marriage to Peter Thomas, to her daughter Noelle's coming out – were typically grounded in reality. Bailey's lighter moments have been fun, including her "50 Cynt" costume and her failed attempts at twerking, and even though she has gotten into fights (as "Real Housewives" do), Bailey has frequently come across as the bigger person. That is why it was so shocking when she found herself embroiled in scandal in Season 12's "Snakegate."

"Snakegate" started when it was revealed that someone had secretly recorded Bailey in a trash-talking tirade against former friend Nene Leakes, with whom she once had an infamous "friendship contract." "She spoke to someone else that we both know in common and have talked about me like a dog, and unfortunately for her, they recorded everything you said. That's right," Leakes said to Kandi Burruss. The snake in question was later exposed — it was none other than "guest" Yovanna Momplaisir — but no recording ever surfaced. According to Radar, Momplaisir may have fabricated the existence of audio so that she could remain on the show. No receipts, no recording, as far as we are concerned.

Nene Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann's pre-show friendship

Many "Real Housewives" friendships are quite fragile, but those coming into the show as friends are generally much more able to navigate the waters together than those whose friendships began on camera. The core cast of "The Real Housewives of New York City" appear to have genuine connections, for example, and it is not uncommon to see former stars like Jill Zarin and Dorinda Medley pop up in photos on social media. Other long-term friendships that predate filming include "RHOP" dream team Gizelle Bryant and Robyn Dixon, and "RHONJ" Paterson buddies Teresa Giudice and Dolores Catania.

A fair share of these preexisting friendships fall apart on-screen — as anyone who saw Lisa Barlow's hot mic rant against "RHOSLC" co-star and friend of 10 years Meredith Marks can attest! — but the audience has come to expect that when two people are introduced as "friends," they are legitimately close. So, when we first met Nene Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann in Season 1 of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," we were of the mindset that the two were very strong allies. Per their co-star Shereé Whitfield, this was a setup for the cameras. 

"They hadn't talked in years," Whitfield said in Dave Quinn's tell-all book "Not All Diamonds and Rosé." She continued, "...they weren't friends! They fell out because NeNe, being the shady person she was, went behind Kim's back and tried to befriend her ex." Whitfield claims the friendship gimmick was for the show, which very much aligns with the tenuous, unstable nature of their relationship.

Melissa Gorga's possible fourth pregnancy

Melissa Gorga's third sister is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the accusations of fakery she has faced. Amongst other things, Gorga has been accused of lying about marital issues (Season 11), owning a restaurant (Season 8), and the extent of her singing career, which seems to have culminated with her song "On Display" back in 2011. In 2020, she was even called out in a fan question on the Season 10 reunion of "RHONJ." That season's storyline revolved mostly around Gorga's thoughts on having another baby.

Both fans and Gorga's co-stars were skeptical of the validity of the pregnancy storyline. "Who are you kidding? She's not gonna have a baby. A: She's way too self-absorbed, way too self-absorbed," said frenemy Jennifer Aydin on the reunion. "You're talking...about having a baby, and I feel like you're making a mockery of people who are really going through it and people who really do in vitro." The following season, The Sun even gathered up a range of social media posts accusing Gorga of acting her storylines. Nonetheless, at least one co-star, Margaret Josephs, has jumped in to defend Gorga against the allegations (via Reality Tea). Sister-in-law Teresa Giudice has stayed predictably quiet on the subject.

Kenya Moore's 'boyfriend' Walter

Former Miss USA Kenya Moore has been livening up our screens ever since she first appeared on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" in 2012. With the exception of one season, Moore has appeared consistently since, and she is often the source of much drama. We are all in for her shady comments, memorable twirls, and heartbreaking familial storylines, but like a lot of people, we've had trouble relating to Moore's love life as it is presented on screen. For years, the star has been accused of manipulating her relationship storylines so as to appear more intriguing.

Moore's first boyfriend on "RHOA" was Walter Jackson, who appeared rather frequently in the fifth season. While Moore's castmates shed doubt on the validity of the relationship, we always gave her the benefit of the doubt — until Jackson himself burst the façade. In a 2012 interview with Atlanta's V-103, Jackson said that Moore asked him, "What if you play my boyfriend on the show?" This came after years of no contact (the pair had once briefly dated). "I'm laid back. They did a great job. I'm not here to bash the show. It was our secret," he said in the interview (via Reality Tea). Moore, on the other hand, has clung to her claim that everything was real. "Walter's recent statements are completely false," she told TooFab at the time. According to Life & Style, Jackson is married and has a family, but his story has never wavered.

Kenya Moore's 'African Prince' boyfriend

Perhaps we would be less skeptical of Kenya Moore's dating history if there were not a pattern of rumors about the men she brings on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," but Moore has consistently faced charges of fakery when it comes to her love life. Her marriage to (and divorce from) Marc Daly aside, other men Moore has dated have either been elusive or have come out against her in the press. For example, her one-time boyfriend Matt allegedly claimed that he was used for a storyline (via Reality Tea), much like Walter Jackson years prior. A man named James Freeman has made similar claims, and Freeman's wife told Radar that Moore made up an engagement (after meeting Freeman on the reality show "Millionaire Matchmaker"). 

Moore's most peculiar romantic storyline revolved around a mysterious "African Prince" that she may or may not have dated. "She talks about an African boyfriend, but nobody on the set or in the cast says they have ever seen him," ex-flame Jackson is quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. "I am still close friends with a lot of the stars on the show and it has become a bit of a joke, no one believes he is actually real." Moore has maintained that she did date an African man, and the blog Tamara Tattles has suggested it was a Nigerian singer named D'Banj. But D'Banj is very much not an actual prince, and he has denied any romantic involvement with Moore (via TimWestwoodTV).

Tinsley Mortimer and Carole Radziwill's friendship

Often times, we first hear rumblings of fakery from a side character or from a third-party who is uninvolved in the storyline (frequently a fellow "Housewife"). It is much rarer for a cast member to come out and admit falsifying a storyline without anyone already pointing a finger their way. That is, however, what "The Real Housewives of New York" star Carole Radziwill did when she discussed her friendship with Tinsley Mortimer while guesting on Jenny McCarthy's radio show in 2019. Radziwill had previously alluded to her friendship with Mortimer being enhanced for the cameras, discounting their relationship on her final reunion, but the McCarthy interview was the first time she went into more depth about production's role in things.

"Tinsley and I weren't really clicking," Radziwill said on SiriusXM's "The Jenny McCarthy Show." "We were on the show together; no one wanted to film with her that much, I had fixed her up with this guy I knew, so it was an easy way to do scenes together." Radziwill claims that producers encouraged them to film together, and were the reason she stayed with Mortimer in the Hamptons. "After filming, I never spoke with Tinsley and I haven't seen or talked to her in a year or two," she admitted. Mortimer responded by claiming that the pair talked on the phone and that she was hurt by the allegations (as Mortimer explained on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen"), but that did not stop Radziwill from discussing the non-friendship once again on a 2020 episode of Heather McDonald's "Juicy Scoop" podcast.

Aviva Drescher's leg toss wasn't so spontaneous

Aviva Drescher will not go down in history as a top-tier "Real Housewife," but the two-season cast member will likely always be remembered for the iconic scene where she threw her prosthetic leg across the room. The action was very obviously a dramatic attempt at making a "moment," but even a rogue leg could not keep Drescher on the show for another season. As she slammed her leg on the table before launching it across the room, Drescher announced, "The only thing that's artificial or fake about me is this," which is rather ironic, given the subsequent reveal that the whole thing was artfully planned and, thus, quite artificial.

At the time, Drescher claimed that the leg toss was a spur-of-the-moment decision, telling Andy Cohen at the reunion that she did not know she was going to do it. Her cast members did not buy it and, in 2015, Bustle reported that Drescher even warned a producer she may unhook her prosthetic leg. The artificiality of the situation was confirmed in 2020, when Drescher's ex-husband Harry Dubin made an appearance on the "Behind the Velvet Rope" podcast. "I'm sitting at the bar and she's sitting there in the lounge, where they're filming," Dubin recounted to host David Yontef. "She comes out and says, 'Harry, you gotta help me! I'm gonna throw my leg on national television, and you pick me up and carry me out of the scene and tell them what kinda people are these.'" And that's that.

Sonja Morgan's engagement to Harry Dubin

Aviva Drescher is not the only "Real Housewife of New York City" with ties to Harry Dubin. In fact, Dubin knows basically half the cast and has reportedly dated or slept with at least four "RHONY" wives. In addition to his marriage to Drescher, Dubin has been linked with Luann de Lesseps, Sonja Morgan, and — though she denies it — Ramona Singer (see a very nauseating photo of Singer and Dubin making out here, via TMZ). While neither Singer nor de Lesseps ever expressed poignant feelings for the businessman, Morgan at one point seemed to be head over heels.

In 2014, Us Weekly reported that a "promise ring" scene between Dubin and Morgan was set up for the cameras. Though Dubin clearly mentioned the ring was not an engagement, he suggested an engagement was not long off, and many interpreted it as a pre-engagement of sorts. Sources told Us Weekly that the entire scenario was falsified, orchestrated by Morgan and co-star Ramona Singer. "When Ramona got to the party, she got the ring from (ex-husband) Mario and gave it to Sonja, who gave it to Harry so they could stage the proposal," the show insider said. "After they shot it, Sonja gave the ring back to Ramona. It was only for the scene." 

Morgan denied the allegations to Radar, but they resurfaced in 2021 when former "RHONY" star Heather Thompson went on the "Behind the Velvet Rope" podcast and called the ring exchange "just a joke."

Sonja Morgan's toaster oven line

From drunkenly stomping on a glass tray at a co-star's birthday party to (also drunkenly) knocking out a tooth while ripping off a strange man's shirt, Sonja Morgan is nothing if not entertaining. And though she can be messy, much of what Sonja Morgan does on "The Real Housewives of New York City" appears to be real and genuine. Her big heart and zest for life are ever-apparent, even in sadder storylines, like her struggle with finances and her crumbling townhouse. Nothing has been sadder to watch than Morgan's attempts at business, however, and this is where many viewers have had trouble connecting with the lovable star.

Like many "Real Housewives," Morgan has made numerous attempts at launching products to capitalize on her fame. She was even able to get her clothing line into Century 21 before the store shuttered amidst the COVID-19 pandemic (per People). Sonja by Sonja Morgan fashions aside, Morgan's other businesses appear to have been nothing more than a joke. 

She launched Tipsy Girl Sparking Rosé, a line that went nowhere but created a big storyline after Skinnygirl creator Bethenny Frankel labeled it "a cheater brand" (via The Daily Dish). Andy Cohen once told People that Tipsy Girl was "the most absurd business" to be featured on one of the shows — but even Tipsy Girl was more legit than Morgan's toaster line that never came to fruition. "She had no intention of making a toaster oven; it was just a funny storyline for the show," co-star Carole Radziwill said on the podcast "In My Heart with Heather Thomson."

Jennie Nguyen's possible sister wife

"The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" was on fire in Season 2, and it is probable that Jennie Nguyen would have played a large role in Season 3, had her hateful and racist social media behavior not been exposed. Bravo fired Nguyen in January 2022 (per Page Six), before the second season had even stopped airing. To her credit, Nguyen gave us some good moments, like when she made homemade Vietnamese yogurt with her children, or when she responded to Jen Shah's startling arrest by chowing down on the snacks Shah left in the van. All that aside, she will likely be remembered for her problematic social media posts, her beef with Mary M. Cosby, and her very questionable "sister wife" storyline.

Nguyen's storyline with her husband felt quite forced from the start, and fans were not exactly buying it when husband Duy Tran proposed adding another wife to their marriage while casually eating a date night dinner. Things got even more suspect after the plural marriage storyline was connected to Duy's desire for another child (the couple had a multitude of miscarriages), because never once did they bring up other options like a surrogate or adoption. The fakery was mentioned by Nguyen's alleged niece, who posted on TikTok (via Radar) that the reality star is "willing to do anything for money." The estranged niece also claimed that Tran was an absent father, and that Nguyen's "came from nothing" storyline was also untrue.

Cary and Mark Deuber's laser center

"The Real Housewives of Dallas" has always maintained a lower profile than some of its counterparts in other cities, and the ratings reflected that. Consistently at the bottom of the barrel, "RHOD" was put on ice after ratings nosedived to their lowest in Season 5 (per The Sun). Despite all of the struggles, "RHOD" gave us some stellar "Housewives" storylines over the years, with stars including LeeAnne Locken, Stephanie Hollman, and Tiffany Moon each establishing rather sizable fanbases.

One polarizing cast member, Cary Deuber, has spoken out about the artificial nature of the show and the lengths she went to in order to have a storyline. Deuber — who was featured as a main cast member for the first three seasons of "RHOD" — and her husband Mark appeared on a March 2020 episode of "Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino," in which they discussed one particular storyline that was fabricated for the show: "The laser center kinda started as a goof to have a storyline for Season 2," Mark told "Real Housewives" aficionado Pellegrino. "And I'm like, 'The only way that I'm gonna let you play that storyline is if you really get your a** in there and run something and then I'm gonna go with it.'" The doctor-nurse team run Lemmon Avenue Plastic Surgery and Laser Center in Dallas, Texas, so file this one as a case of something that started as a fake storyline and subsequently turned real.

Tamra Judge's newfound religion

We do not like the idea of doubting anybody's relationship with religion, but it was hard to buy into things when rabblerouser Tamra Judge suddenly found religion on Season 10 of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Her spirituality journey never felt genuine, not even when she was baptized in a swimming pool in front of the rest of the cast (on camera, of course), and after Season 10, Judge's relationship with Christianity seemed to disappear. The reality star made nearly no references to religion or God for the subsequent four seasons before she was fired at the end of Season 14.

This is all to say that we were not surprised when Radar reported that the Christianity storyline was made up for television. "She says she's found religion, but her 'new leaf' story line is completely fake," a show insider reportedly said. Judge has made passing references to faith in the years since — most often in response to others' critiques of her – but said faith has not stopped her from attacking others on a relatively regular basis. Judge has denied ever fabricating a storyline, and has suggested that other stars have been less genuine. "But it always shows and those type of cast members don't last very long on the show," she said on Instagram (as captured by "All About the Real Housewives").

The Munchausen storyline on RHOBH

When it made its debut in 2010, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" was engaging, exciting, unsettling television. The first few seasons provided much in the way of wish fulfillment and glitzy glamor, but also took on raw storylines including divorce, domestic abuse, family feuds, and drug addiction. The show entered a decline around Season 4, when Taylor Armstrong and Adrienne Maloof were replaced by Joyce Giraud and Carlton Gebbia, and it has been unsteady ever since. Some seasons are good, and some are nearly unwatchable. Season 6 falls into the latter camp, thanks in much part to the Munchausen storyline.

Tongues were wagging when the women started to question Yolanda Hadid's battle with Lyme disease in Season 6, with Lisa Rinna suggesting that perhaps Hadid (then known by the surname Foster) was suffering from Munchausen syndrome, wherein a person feigns illness to deceive others. Much of the season was about this accusation, but Rinna has gone on record that it was all prefabricated. "To be honest with you, I knew that we were gonna tell the story this season about Yolanda. I just had a sense. I said to Harry [Hamlin], 'This is gonna be the story of the season, and I don't want to do it, and I don't feel good about it,'" Rinna told Jenny McCarthy on her podcast. Rinna clearly did not object too much, since she set the storyline ball rolling, but called out Lisa Vanderpump as the true mastermind on the Season 6 reunion.