With seven seasons of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” under her designer belt, Heather Dubrow has seen a number of women come and go from the cast of Bravo’s longest-running “Housewives” franchise.
New cast members are typically introduced as friends of existing ones. (For example, Season 17 newcomer Jennifer Pedranti used to work out at Tamra Judge’s fitness studio.) But none of the dozen or so new wives that have joined the show after Dubrow have had a close connection, if any, with her. And in an unscripted series where the women take sides when conflict comes knocking, the fact that she has never had an ally isn’t lost on the actress-turned-podcaster.
“To be honest with you, most of my other friends are not interested in joining the cast,” Dubrow told TheWrap. “It’s a really difficult show to do. Our cast in particular — which I didn’t know until this year — I think we’re the only franchise that has three crews. Which means we film a lot. And, you know, it’s really a deep dive into our families and our personal stories, which also is unique to ‘Orange County.’ Of course, in ‘New Jersey,’ the husbands are involved a lot, but not every franchise is like that. So it’s a very difficult thing to be able to not only open up your own life, but to have your family want to do that, too.”
In the last three years, none of the new “RHOC” additions have lasted more than one season. While not mentioning any of those “one-season wonders” specifically, Dubrow says people’s motivations for joining reality TV have changed.
“I’ll use ‘The Bachelor’ as an example. Are they all looking for love? I don’t think so. At this point, a lot of these kids — and they are kids — are going on these shows because they want to be influencers or they think it would be fun to be on TV,” Dubrow explained. “When it comes to ‘Housewives’ and someone really wanting to join the show and open up their lives and be a part of it, there’s a faction of women that are fans, and that doesn’t always make for a great cast member.”
So what does make a good cast member in Dubrow’s eyes?
“The best cast member is someone that really is integrated into the friend group in an organic way, which is why I think Jen Pedranti really made a very good segue onto the show,” Dubrow said. “Not only does she obviously have a lot of history with Tamra, but Gina [Kirschenheiter] and she have mutual people and run into each other. Emily [Simpson], too. So that’s when it really works best.”
When asked about her own relationship with Pedranti, Dubrow said they “get along great.”
“We didn’t get that much time together this season. You know how things go; she’s got her kids and I got my kids. We don’t live that close,” she explained. “But when we were together, we did have a lot of fun. And we do have actually a mutual friend. My kids’ friend’s stepmother is Jen’s best friend. And I actually just had dinner with her and [her boyfriend] Ryan and this mutual friend and her husband about a month ago. It was really fun. I think Jen is a very, very good addition to the cast. I think she will have stickiness.”
As for her returning castmates, which include Judge, Shannon Beador and appearances by Vicki Gunvalson, there’s still a “three vs. one” mentality.
Dubrow doesn’t see herself joining the “Tres Amigas” — as Judge, Beador and Gunvalson have dubbed themselves — anytime soon.
“No one wants to feel left out ever, right?” Dubrow responded. “It’s like being picked last for dodgeball, at school. It feels crappy to feel left out. Having said that, they all have a lot of fun together. So, you know, I love it for them. And the audience definitely enjoys it.”
Fans will have to tune in to see how Dubrow’s relationship with her castmates evolves over the season.
New episodes of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” air Wednesdays on Bravo and stream Thursdays on Peacock.