When "The Real Housewives of New York City" returns to Bravo for season 12 on April 2, there will be a familiar face missing: Bethenny Frankel.
The original cast member's abrupt announcement that she was exiting the show came last fall, right as filming began for season 12, and her former co-stars' reactions are part of the upcoming premiere.
Last week, one of the remaining "RHONY" OGs, Ramona Singer, caught up with In The Know's Gibson Johns, where she shared how she thinks Bethenny's absence from filming affected the group's dynamic and, ultimately, the overall tone of the show.
"It's going to be much more entertaining than the past two seasons, because we never get dark. It doesn't get dark like we had the past two seasons," Ramona explained. "I don't know if it's because of her that it doesn't get dark. But I know... I know, because she isn't on this season, that all of us feel lighter and brighter and more relaxed, and therefore we can show ourselves and feel more comfortable in our settings and in our skin, because Bethenny was a very strong character on the show."
As far as Ramona saw it, her fellow co-stars didn't feel comfortable enough around Bethenny to share their full opinions with the group and, while she says she was never afraid of Bethenny, ultimately she thinks that her leaving the show made more room for others to bring their full selves to filming.
"You know, as LuAnn [de Lesseps] would say, 'She takes the breath out of the room.' And everyone would be on [guard], and I would say [what I was thinking], because I'm the one that's unfiltered," Ramona told ITK. "When she would walk into the room, everyone would be on eggshells, [like,] 'We don't want to upset Bethenny. Be careful what you say to Bethenny.' And that's not a great way to be in a dynamic group. So, this season, no one is afraid to be around each other."
While she called Bethenny "a great person" who she respects "tremendously," Ramona is excited for viewers to get to know the New York Housewives on another level this season.
"You're going to see us expose ourselves more by being vulnerable and what is bothering us. Like, for instance, the first episode I bare my soul in kind of of a mini-breakdown in front of my girlfriends, saying that I don't know if I'll ever find love again," she revealed. "And, I mean, I was embarrassed when I saw it. Because I cannot believe I exposed myself that way. I was like, 'Oh, my God, what am I doing?' But you know what? Viewers will relate!"
Credit: Sophy Holland/Bravo
And, with everyone confined to their homes right now as we continue to social distance, Ramona hopes that seeing the "RHONY" cast unvarnished, airing out their plights with the world, will serve as a reminder hat "we are all just people."
"We, as women on this show, may have a little bigger house and have a few more dresses and shoes than you, but we're just like everyone else, because we're all people," she said. "And, actually, that's what this disease is teaching us — this virus. We are all just people. We have come to Earth the same way. And we're all going to go the same way. No one is different."
Listen to Gibson Johns' full interview with "Real Housewives of New York City" star Ramona Singer for In The Know below, and tune into the season 12 premiere on April 2, at 9 p.m. EST only on Bravo.
For reference, see below for a timecode breakdown of In The Know's interview with Ramona Singer:
0:46 - 8:14: Ramona talks about her daily quarantine routine, shares what it's been like spending time with her daughter and ex-husband.
8:15 - 13:39: Ramona talks about "RHONY" season 12, including Bethenny's exit, new cast member Leah McSweeney and more.
13:40 - 17:29: Ramona talks about her diagnosis with Lyme disease and how it has affected her life.
17:30 - 21:20: Ramona talks about what has kept her on "RHONY" for going on 12 seasons, whether she'd get back together with her ex-husband and staying positive amid the global pandemic.
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