When new "Real Housewives of Orange County" cast member Lydia McLaughlin joined the Bravo series, she was quickly associated with odd housewife out, Alexis Bellino.
"I just think that’s unfair," McLaughlin told TheWrap of having to prove to her cast mates that she wasn't Bellino's partner in crime. "And I feel, for me, we knew each other for a couple of months before I went on the show, but it was a new relationship and we had only hung out a handful of times."
And now, she told us, "I’m feeling like I have to do it all over again with the fans."
There could be a reason why viewers have cast the Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine managing editor as Bellino's partner in crime. Last year, Bellino said she wasn't sure she would be returning – unless she could get some backup. But, McLaughlin says that's not her.
"[The fans] kind of feel like, ‘Oh, you guys are a package deal.’ And, we aren’t," she said.
Of course, McLaughlin feels like she can't win. While some viewers judged her for being Bellino's partner in crime,
others berated her for not standing by Bellino during a volatile argument at a party held by cast member Tamra Barney.
"I understand that people wanted that from me a little bit," she said. "But, I just didn’t know her so I couldn’t defend all of her actions, because I wasn’t totally great friends with her yet. I believe we now have a really great friendship, but when I started the show we just weren’t there yet."
Most of all, the new housewife wants fans to get to know her outside of being Bellino's friend or any set label, for that matter. She hoped that meeting her mother on last week's episode would help viewers see her in new ways.
"My mom has a huge influence in my life and who I am, and I think will explain a lot about me as a person," she explained. "She lives across the street from me and she’s a free spirit and a total hippie."
"I know Alexis has said, ‘Oh, Lydia’s a Christian on steroids’ and all this stuff," McLaughlin continued. "I am a Christian, I believe in Jesus. But, I also was raised by hippie parents. We talked about reincarnation and I’ve been to India and studied world religion. So, I’m not like a cookie cutter, which is what most people think of when they think of 'Christian,' and a lot of that is because of my mom."
"The Real Housewives of Orange County" airs Mondays at 9 p.m./8c.