Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise offers what I consider the ideal dosage of fame: a passionate fan base, endless brand-deal opportunities, and enough anonymity to gallivant around a city like New York without being ambushed by strangers with iPhones.
If you’re lucky enough, A-listers like Chrissy Teigen or Jessica Chastain might give you a shoutout on Twitter. Or Saturday Night Live member Bowen Yang might promote your series during a talk-show appearance. And if you happen to get fired, a certain number of Twitter users will most likely discuss your reality contributions for years to come, often building up enough demand for a second chance at TV.
These are the blissful set of circumstances surrounding Real Housewives of Miami stars Alexia Nepola and Marysol Patton at the moment. Now in its fifth season, the Peacock reboot of their original Bravo show has recently risen to the top of the Real Housewives rankings in terms of drama, hilarity, cast chemistry, and even cinematography.
The original RHOM, which aired on Bravo in 2011, garnered high ratings in its first two seasons—more than some of the network's most talked-about programs currently. By Season 3, the series, depicting mostly affluent Latina women working and partying in The 305, had experienced a gradual dip in viewership. Executive producer Andy Cohen attributes this partially to Patton’s now-deceased mother and cast MVP Mama Elsa leaving the show for health reasons. Still, RHOM’s cancellation, along with the one-season Real Housewives of DC, felt hasty and slightly unfair.
“We didn’t know it ended,” Patton, now a friend-of on the current show, recently told The Daily Beast’s Obsessed. “It was like a permanent cliffhanger.”
Nearly 10 years later, the Bravo brand is stronger than ever and has expanded its universe onto NBC Universal’s streaming platform Peacock with Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip, Real Housewives of Miami and The Traitors—the first of which Nepola and Patton will appear on later this year.
When I meet the dynamic pair for drinks at the Electric Lemon bar inside New York City’s Equinox Hotel, where they’re staying for a Watch What Happens Live appearance, they’re bursting with their usual vivaciousness (presumably aided by some sips of alcohol), discussing their show’s resurgence and the void it’s filling in the Bravo universe.
“I was always that hopeful person,” said Nepola about RHOM’s return. “We have such an incredible city—so different, so diverse, and unique from other cities and franchises that I was like, ‘I can’t believe we’re not on freaking TV!’”
“Her and Lisa [Hochstein] were like, ‘We always knew it was coming back,’’ Patton interjects. “I never believed it.”
“She was always negative,” Nepola agrees.
Nepola and Patton are two of the show’s four remaining original cast members, along with Larsa Pippen and Adriana de Moura. The rest of the cast includes an eccentric mix of new and familiar faces including Lisa Hochstein, Nicole Martin, Geurdy Abraira, Julia Lemigova, and Kiki Barth.
There’s not much of a distinction between friends of the show, Barth and Patton, and the rest of the cast, as they all contribute an equal amount of laughs and drama. Patton’s role, in particular, is similar to a Greek chorus as she, in her words, “sits back and observes the chaos”—almost always with a bedazzled cup in hand.
“I’m kind of tired of my cups and my shit,” Patton jokes about her proclivity for drinking cocktails or, as she calls them, “cockies” on-camera. “I don’t know. People like it. I want people to be happy.”
“Marysol has such a huge presence on our show,” Nepola says about her demoted status. “It doesn’t matter who you are and what you have…”
“I don’t care about the fucking title,” Patton jumps in. “I just want the paycheck.”
There are hardly any gaps in a conversation with Nepola and Patton, as the two frequently cut each other off and finish each other’s sentences. It’s the type of breathless banter indicative of the pair’s years of friendship on and off the show. “You know those people that are Siamese twins?,” Patton says, practically crawling on Nepola to create a visual. “That’s us.” It’s also the chaotic energy you experience watching a dinner scene, sprinter van ride or any group conversation on RHOM.
The series, especially in its last two seasons on Peacock, has earned comparisons to the recently axed Real Housewives of New York for its comedic overtones, specifically how casual interactions amongst the women can swiftly turn into hilarious mayhem. The women have also been lauded for maintaining a sense of authenticity when it comes to conflicts amongst the group and in their personal lives. Nepola has been particularly open about her often tumultuous home life, as she’s dealt with several tragedies and chasms within her family throughout her tenure.
Nepola’s first husband and the father of her two sons, Pedro Luis Rosello, has been incarcerated twice on drug charges. (He’s also the subject of the 2021 Netflix documentary Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami, which Nepola participated in). In 2011, her youngest son Frankie was in a three-month coma from a traumatic car accident and suffered severe brain damage. Five years later, Nepola’s second spouse, Herman Echevarria, died of a heart attack. Later, she discovered that he was closeted during their marriage.
Additionally, Nepola’s had issues with her eldest son Peter, who was arrested on domestic violence charges last year that have since been dropped. In Season 4, Peter also had a rift with Nepola’s current husband Todd.
“My life is like a telenovela,” Nepola shrugs.
While all reality shows are staged to some degree, you won’t see many organized takedowns or Housewives recreating moments from other shows on RHOM. As O.G.s from a previous Housewives era, Nepola and Patton consider any level of contrivance a pet peeve.
“That’s so tired,” Patton says, rolling her eyes to the back of her head. “The rehearsed stuff ruins the show.”
“They know who they’re going to be,” Nepola says about certain newer Housewives once they join a show. “It’s like, ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall.’ I’m like, bro, we already did that. It’s so 2000s.”
Nepola’s “mirror mirror” comment is, of course, referring to her castmate Martin, who joined the cast in Season 4. In a recent episode, the anesthesiologist had a falling-out with Pippen after she brought up an arguably ludicrous rumor that she slept with “every doctor in [her] hospital.” This led to Martin disinviting Pippen to her engagement party via a mirror engraved with a shady message. Despite some of her castmates’ annoyance, Twitter celebrated it as an “iconic” moment.
Nepola also had her own tiff with Martin two weeks ago after she brought up her issues with Pippen during a private legal counseling session held at Nepola’s home for Hochstein. (Hochstein’s melodramatic divorce has been a tentpole of the season.) After being told by Nepola and Patton that she was wasting the hired lawyer’s time, Martin grabbed her purse and threw her Black Amex in his lap as a funny flex.
“So many people saw it as offensive and disrespectful,” Nepola says about the incident. “So many people were telling me, ‘Why didn’t you kick her out of your house?’”
The confrontation continued last week in an epic showdown involving Nepola and Martin’s husbands at what they called a “gringo dinner.” Nepola and Patton were particularly bothered by Martin’s fiance, Anthony Lopez, jumping in and, according to them, being condescending.
“People don’t like them in Miami,” Patton murmurs while Nepola is still venting about Martin. “He fuels the dick-ishness in her. I don’t think she’s as awful as him”
“No, I think they’re both the same,” Nepola says matter-of-factly. “I actually know another couple like that. And guess what? You want to know why they got divorced? They went to jail.”
There’s hardly any censorship when I ask Nepola and Patton how they feel about their co-workers. When I sheepishly ask if there are any Housewives they would remove from the cast, Nepola puts her hand on my knee and calls me “so innocent.” Refreshingly though, neither of them say they would alter the cast’s current lineup.
“Even though we don’t get along with everyone in the group, we appreciate everyone,” Patton says. “We understand what they bring, and we like them for what they bring.”
In that way, RHOM was good preparation for their turn on the upcoming installment of Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip. The spin-off, which combines Housewives from different franchises, has proven to be a lion’s den for certain unequipped Housewives in past seasons. But Nepola and Patton claim to have had a more delightful experience than others.
“It was so fun,” Nepola says. “It felt totally different from a Housewives show. We connected the most with Gizelle [Bryant] and Porsha [Williams].”
“Yes,” Nepola quickly confirmed. “Poor Leah! We call her Poor Leah.”
Watching Nepola and Patton sit shoulder-to-shoulder and lean over each to grab their drinks, you can’t help but admire their whacky, sororal bond. At the same time, it’s slightly nerve-wracking, given how many BFFs have had severe falling outs throughout Real Housewives history. But as seasoned reality vets and real-life pals, they seem to be pros at this.
“I always say to [Nepola], this is fun,” Patton says. “It used to be like a job. Now, for me at least, I don’t have family on the show because I’m just a friend. I don’t have anything to give.”
“You have yourself,” Nepola chimes in. “And you’re pretty amazing and important.”
“I think that’s the chemistry people like watching,” Patton continues her thought. “We just come in and roll and laugh and joke around and poke around and call people out and move on and have a drink.”