Q&A with Bethenny Frankel as her Bravo reality show returns
Bethenny Frankel is probably the quintessential Bravo-lebrity. A product of the network's "Real Housewives of New York City" tableau, the reality star -- whose fiercely acerbic wit is undeniable -- has managed to forge herself into a commodity beyond the Bravo confines, writing three bestselling books and building her Skinnygirl line of food and drinks into a multimillion-dollar money-making machine. She's even launching her own talk show this summer.
And the reality TV cameras remain by her side. "Bethenny Ever After" returns for a third season Monday, Feb. 20, and it follows the reality star as she deals with her frantic business life (lawsuits and all), her marital struggles and motherhood.
Show Tracker spoke with Frankel during her recent visit to Los Angeles. Read on to get her thoughts on her success, the reality spotlight and when she might turn the cameras off.
The show is back. Did you ever think this spin-off about your wedding would turn into this multiple-season thing? Or is that the power of being a Bravo-lebrity?
I can’t believe it because it just means we’re getting that much older. I’ve had that many shows under my belt, I must be getting old. But it’s an amazing show. I’m really proud of it. It’s as true as television can possibly get. It’s uncomfortable for me, at times, but the viewers like it. It’s the real “ever after": it’s the after of me selling my business, it’s the "after" of just having a baby, it’s the "after" of what it really means to be in a marriage. It’s important to be truthful if you’re going to do this. And you know, people made a big deal out of our boat being lost at sea and how it was staged. It's ridiculous. They just need to watch.
You had been on the Martha Stewart edition of “The Apprentice.” How are the experiences different from show to show and network to network?
All I knew was being under a microphone and under the cameras, 24 hours a day for months when I was on “The Apprentice.” This is a little bit different because I just have a microphone on me and it’s very low-key. I thought doing reality TV would be the greatest success of my life or the biggest mistake. I had a business already but "The Apprentice” gave me a platform, so when I switched to “The Real Housewives of New York City” I was scared that I was going to destroy everything I worked so hard for. But I knew if it didn’t destroy everything, it would make everything explode. And it did. Look at me [motions to a bottle of her Skinnygirl Sangria]. Like, how did I get here? How did I get to this place? It's insane. And I'm so grateful.
But how do you focus on that potential platform it might offer versus the drawback of the scrutiny that also comes along with it? I mean, some question whether the glare of the reality lens was a factor in Russell Armstrong’s death.
Bravo can’t be responsible for the mental state of every single person that comes onto their network ... I do believe that it’s very, very stressful. It’s an extraordinary circumstance and not for people that aren't mentally sound and that aren't secure. It’s not for everyone. There were people on [RHONYC] that I think weren’t in their best element to be on reality TV. You have to be really strong and really resilient and not care what people think. And it takes a while before you can really achieve the latter. I’m not overly focused on being loved by everybody.
What are the conversations like with you and Jason as far as when might be a good time to stop it all?
We’ve definitely had talks about it. I want [my daughter] Bryn to make decisions for herself, and I don’t want her to be a part of anything she might regret. When I went on “Housewives,” it was my decision. And when my husband came on the show with me, it was our decision. My daughter isn’t a baby anymore. and right now the conversations are starting with me and Jason about this. She comes first. It will come to an end at some point.
We’ll be seeing a bit of conflict in the marriage this season.
I’m 41 and a workaholic. I crammed everything I could possibly do in the first couple of seasons. Now you’ll see us actually settle in and without the fuss of getting ready for a wedding or a baby, there’s less preoccupation and that can be a little strange. We’re different people, and that can lead to tense situations. And it’s something we still work through.
Photo: Bethenny Frankel speaks onstage during the "Bethenny Ever After..." panel during the Bravo NBCUniversal portion of the 2012 Winter TCA Tour in January. Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images