Heather Dubrow is here to save the “Real Housewives of Orange County” from their failed era

Before I could even ask Heather Dubrow a question, I had already signaled the waiter to bring two glasses of completely chilled champagne.

Most interviews could certainly benefit with some champagne, but with Dobro, who is back in Bravo”The Real Housewives of Orange County“After a half-decade hiatus from the series, it’s basically a prerequisite.

Her return to the show, which now launched globe-spanning reality TV 15 years ago, is going smoothly and, thankfully, she arrives at the right time. Seasons ago now, The Real Housewives of Orange County has commented on what fans around the world have dubbed the flop era. Recent years consistently disappoint in the ratings and Pushing even some of the most devoted viewers to other places. The COVID-affected final season was really a new low, plagued by a clear cast split, forced drama and any controversy that recently departed cast member Kelly Dodd decided to ignite that week.

“I didn’t watch the show when I left, but from what I understand, it kind of went off the rails,” Dubrow told me between sips on Saks Fifth Avenue. “We want to bring the class back to Orange County,” Bravo told me. “We want to restore that kind of inspirational and aspirational lifestyle.”

And that’s what she did in the 16th season premiere that aired on Wednesday. Fully grasping the routing, the episode begins with Dobrow opening the doors to her 22,000-square-foot Southern California home, which includes, yes, an actual champagne button in her master bedroom closet. Dobro refused to allow the Bravo cameras to film the mind-boggling luxury estate for the first time – only to release it later 17-part video tour on YouTube after her exit. By the end of the premiere, she’s hosting her first in-house event, sponsored by celebrity restaurant Nobu, where her fellow cast members react with both delight (“This house is legit!” Gina Kirchenheiter exclaims) and veiled envy (“It brings so many memories,” Shannon admitted Pedore who clearly ran after examining the kitchen’s refrigerated drawers.)

Season 16 Cast "The Real Housewives of Orange County."
The cast of Season 16 of “The Real Housewives of Orange County”.

But Dobrow knows that reliance on luxury property and a sound bank account doesn’t make a reality TV star. As one of the rare women who gets a second chance at the Housewives game, she’s fully aware of how she and the franchise have evolved since her release.

“Whenever I think of leaving the show, I’m done. I’m very finished,” she recalls. “The show was going in a different direction. I wasn’t happy with it. I wasn’t myself anymore. I feel like I wasn’t committed to it and couldn’t even get involved. Age, time, and the pandemic have given me a different perspective. I’m more relaxed and not worried about what he’s doing or talking about.” About him no one else. I just play cards in front of me and live my life.”

“Look, owning a big house or fancy cars—these are just decorations,” she continues. “The truth is we all deal with the same kind of dynamics. We all have kids, partners or parents growing up. Whatever they are, those are the conversations that I find interesting and I’m willing to open up my life to start.”

The level of a successful housewife has never been higher, and Bravo’s network is much different than the one left by Dobro all those years ago. A woman should be ambitious, but not excessively vain; shaded but not harsh; Confrontational but not too aggressive – all while social media picks her every move. The cast members no longer break the fourth wall – the moment one admits they are actually filming a blockbuster TV show. Now, they regularly take a sledgehammer. The white lily series (well, a slightly more orange shade than spray tan when it comes to “RHOC”) has also seen efforts to diversify. This season marks the arrival of Noella Bergner, the first black woman to join the cast in 15 years since her debut.

“It’s definitely not the same show and it shouldn’t be. The show has to evolve with life, right? The TV landscape has changed,” Dobrow says. “I like that we break the fourth wall. I like that it looks a little more raw. I love when you hear one of the producers speak because it’s a reality show. Otherwise just give us a text and let’s call it a day.”

There’s also a real crime wave sweeping cities, with Erika Jane’s legal troubles dominating the final season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” while Jane Shah was in Salt Lake City. Charged with fraud and money laundering As one of the alleged masterminds behind a nationwide telemarketing scheme.

“The whole thing is so crazy, sad and unfortunate,” Dobrow says of Jane’s condition. “I hope you don’t know.”

“It always comes down to authenticity that sells,” she says. “So if you want to manipulate who you are or what you portray to the audience, the truth always comes out. He just does that.”

While “RHOC” may never have a cast member About to get caught on camera In the parking lot of a Botox clinic, Dobrow says the new season provides plenty of personal drama. Born and raised in New York of Jewish descent, who came from the world of scripted TV shows, she was somewhat of an outlier among blonde actors who are almost uniformly conservative. Early on, other housewives gave her the nickname “Fancy Pants” and it felt rough when she corrected her grammar or politely told the table what temperature the wine was supposed to store. This disharmony proved somewhat of a threat to the facade carefully erected by fellow cast members, which Dobrow describes as “the biggest annoying pet”.

“I feel like a lot of women in Orange County think they’re too perfect and everyone’s kids are geniuses and everyone is a sports star or model,” she says. “I always felt, why doesn’t anyone talk about these things?”

She is determined to show a different kind of family this season. What Dobrow initially brought back to Bravo’s orbit was the opportunity to give viewers a window into the ups and downs of parenting, especially after the support her family received when her daughter Max was Came out as bisexual last year.

“My children are of a different age now and they are of different genders and nationalities,” she explains. “They are so fun and they are all having great moments in their lives and discovering who they are in the world. I thought, Wow, wouldn’t that be cool if I went back and showed what our version of the average family looks like? Maybe we can start those conversations to other people that might be helpful.”

“Yes, it was very explosive,” Dobrow says of her first engagement with cast members in the season opener.

Pravonicol Weingart / Bravo

But no housewife walks out of the season unscathed, and even a self-proclaimed “control freak” like Dobrow couldn’t anticipate the chaos that episode one would bring. Case in point: a dramatic bombshell was detonated by arch-enemy Shannon Bedor at her perfect opening ceremony. The event came to a grinding halt when Dobrow apparently halted production after a rumor about a lawsuit involving her husband, plastic surgeon and “fail” star Terry Dobrow, appeared on camera.

“It sucked. Honestly, when I watched the episode… I felt bad for me because there were so many opportunities to have a conversation,” she says, noting that the drama was exacerbated by previous issues that she looks forward to airing in the final encounter. “Yes, it was very explosive. It was very frustrating.”

For now, Dobrow has reconsidered her decision to return to the show in the first place, telling herself, “We’re done. This is wrong. We shouldn’t have done this.”

But this time, the Dobro is fully under the process of whatever it is you’re going to bring – the good, the bad and the messy. She hopes that viewers, who fell in love with her all those years ago and may have jumped ship since her exit, will start where they left off. Sure, sparkle and glamour might be the initial draw, but more than anything Dobro seems eager to reinvent herself on her own terms.

“When I first went on the show, I was meeting you, the audience, and you, the other girls, for the first time,” she said. “It’s not that I was trying to picture something else. It’s what I am when I meet someone and get to know them. What I like to say this time is I feel like we know each other. We’re okay. And if I come back, you know, I’ll be back.” Back. You know who I am. I know who you are. Well, let’s do that.”

The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Wednesdays at 9pm/8pm CST on Bravo.

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