The OG star -- who did the first three seasons, left for three and returned for five more -- shocked everyone when she quit the show just days before Season 12 began filming. While viewers may miss her, it doesn't necessarily sound like her costars did.
TooFab caught up with both Luann de Lesseps and Ramona Singer ahead of the premiere, as they explained how it felt different filming without her and made it sound like a more enjoyable experience.
"It's like there's more oxygen in the room," said Lu. "The women have more room to breathe. A lot of times it was all about Bethenny and now I feel like we'll get to know more and get to know the new Housewife and I just feel like there was just more room for us to breathe and show our lives in a way that wasn't necessarily the occasion."
Noting that she respected Bethenny "tremendously" and felt Frankel was "great on the show," Singer said that the women all felt a little more free filming this time around.
"She's great in so many ways, but she's a very huge personality that can sometimes ... we were on eggshells with her because we didn't know what would set her off, you know?" she explained. "The best way to be is when you can be comfortable around people, be yourselves. And this season, we could show ourselves more because we didn't have somebody that was ... I'm trying to word it right."
"Bethenny was great for the show but it was always about her," Singer continued, finding her words. "There's going to be episodes where Dorinda did something, she planned something and it was hysterical, she said, 'If Bethenny was here, I could never do that because if she got wind of it, she would poo poo me.'"
"I respect her tremendously, but when it comes to filming with her, it's very hard for us to be ourselves," she added.
Ramona also promised the new season wouldn't be as "dark" as it was in the past, making sure to note some of the darker subject matter wasn't necessarily Bethenny's fault. As far as "dark" storylines are concerned, recent seasons have focused on Lu's downward spiral and arrest, as well as Bethenny grappling with the death of boyfriend Dennis Shields.
"When Bethenny was on the past few seasons -- I'm not going to say she was the reason why, that's not fair to say -- but it got very dark," said Ramona. "Viewers will see we have our skirmishes and we disagree but it never gets dark. And we're funny. We're so effing f--king funny."