"In Beverly Hills, the faster you climb, the harder you fall." So went Brandi Glanville's tagline during the opening credits of the fourth season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and to chart the potty-mouthed former model's trajectory on the show, it sounds eerily prescient. Glanville began appearing as a "friend of the Housewives" on the second season of the show in 2011 and became an official Housewife for the next three seasons starting in 2012. This came just after she finalized her divorce from actor Eddie Cibrian, who she says cheated on her with several women before eventually leaving her for LeAnn Rimes. Glanville quickly became infamous for her blunt commentary and unforgettably shocking lines like, "LeAnn is a cunt...ry music star."
Glanville was also known for her appreciation for wine—she now has her own brand of "Unfiltered Blonde" chardonnay—and her loud-and-proud sexuality. She was initially portrayed as a fun breath of fresh air in a group of older, stuffier women, but by the time she left the show last year amidst high-profile feuds with co-stars—her bad list including Lisa Vanderpump, Kyle Richards, Lisa Rinna, and Eileen Davidson; in season four, she made a racist joke at the expense of fellow Housewife Joyce Giraud, who is Puerto Rican—her combative personality had weighed heavily on her public perception. Many Housewives fans had turned on her.
A year after leaving the show for good, Glanville is moving on—but not before chalking it up to the emotional toll of living and working in an environment that encourages dramatic antics and conflict. It's an environment, she says, in which you represent an exaggerated version of yourself, and in which you're never sure if the final editing will portray you as the hero or the villain.
"I appreciate the show so much. It really did do a lot for me," Glanville told me. "It's an amazing platform, and I wouldn't have the businesses, the books, the podcast, the chardonnay, or the T-shirt line had it not been for the show."
Indeed, Glanville's career has not slowed down since she left the show; in addition to her wine label, she also hosts a weekly podcast, Brandi Glanville Unfiltered, and just finished filming a dating show, Famously Single, for E!. On the new show, Glanville is among seven other loveless celebrities—including Jersey Shore's Pauly D—who move into a Los Angeles loft to do some soul searching about their relationship issues.
"The producers approached me and I was like, 'Why would I not do it?'" Glanville said. "I've been basically single for seven years, and there's probably a reason why. I figured I could work on myself through the show, and I was excited to do a show that wasn't drama based."
Nevertheless, Glanville's decision to take on another reality TV show project so soon after her less-than-graceful exit from The Real Housewives might be surprising—Glanville has been vocal about what she views as the problems of the Housewives lifestyle, and the pressure to create intrigue from both yourself and producers. She feels that, during her last season, producers often edited out scenes that showed the build up to conflicts she was involved in. As a result, she wound up looking like she was being crazy for no reason.
"At the end of the day, everyone will have their turn as a villain," she said. "They bring you up just to bring you down. It just depends if it's your season or not. I see it on every franchise—inevitably everyone has their turn."
While all reality shows deal with the suspicion that everything is actually made up, Glanville said the bigger issue with The Real Housewives is when the women self-produce drama to stay relevant—without considering the consequences.
"We're kind of like, 'Oh, fuck, I don't have a storyline, so I need to do something,'" Glanville said. "But it's easy to forget that at the end of the day we're going to get judged as human beings instead of as actors, because we're all just playing ourselves. In the end, I think we all do become over-the-top versions of ourselves."
Glanville also said the show can be especially toxic because it takes up all your time, 365 days a year. "It's four months of shooting, and then the show airs for the next four months," she explained. "Then you shoot the reunion, and then you have the backlash of the public."
Although Glanville is back in the reality-TV saddle, she says the shift in her role from raunchy voice of reason to antagonistic villain also affected the success of her business endeavors.
"I published my first book, Drinking & Tweeting, when I first started Housewives and was being portrayed as a fun girl who spoke the truth," she said. "The book was a New York Times bestseller and is still bringing in crazy royalties."
But her second book, Drinking & Dating, didn't have the same fate. Published during the time she describes as her "downfall on the show," this book didn't sell nearly as well. It seemed the same outspoken personality that had helped Glanville rise to prominence was turning the public against her.
"I became a little depressed and upset about the way I was being portrayed, because I shot so many other scenes that were fun and lighthearted but they weren't shown," she said. "Honestly, in the end, I was really, really over it."
It's easy to forget that at the end of the day we're going to get judged as human beings instead of as actors, because we're all just playing ourselves.
Glanville said that even since leaving the show, it's been difficult to get out from underneath the feeling of "having to be a certain way all the time."
"The last year was really difficult," she said. "I was so sick of everyone having a go at me."
Glanville said she thought the difference between her and the majority of the cast went back to the way they were raised: Most of the other Housewives were very wealthy, and Glanville came from a lower-middle-class family.
"Growing up, we never really had money," she told me. "If I wanted to get something, I had to go out and get a job.
"I've worked really hard my whole life, and I think they were all just born with these silver spoons in their mouths," she continued. "It just shows. I mean, I don't think any of them have ever done a hard day of work in their lives."
Perhaps Glanville's willingness to give it another shot on television is her mood: She's simply happier since leaving The Real Housewives.
"The difference is crazy—I wake up and I'm not stressed out," she said. "I'm eating better and I'm drinking less. I'm not freaking out about social media and I'm exercising more. I'm just happy."
Although she burned a lot of bridges during her departure, Glanville nevertheless managed to maintain a friendship with her former co-star, Yolanda Foster, who is still on the show amidst a health crisis several Housewives have questioned. She worries about Foster's wellbeing.
"When I talk to Yolanda on the daily, I feel so bad for her because I know what she's going through," Glanville said. "She's sick, getting a divorce, and dealing with the drama of these women. I can't imagine having to deal with that all at one time—just the drama of the show was enough for me."