Bravo's announcement that the Real Housewives of Orange County was dropping notorious cast members like Braunwyn Windham-Burke and Kelly Leventhal, and simultaneously bringing back alum Heather Dubrow, certainly raised a few eyebrows. The show, not to mention the franchise as a whole, thrives off drama, and both Windham-Burke and Leventhal had it in spades. Following her exit, Windham-Burke explained why she was looking forward to the next season before her untimely exit.
Apparently, Braunwyn Windham-Burke found out about the news of her firing on the same day that we all did. She claims in her interview with ET Online that The Real Housewives of Orange County's showrunner, Thomas Kelly, called her and said Bravo “decided to go another way.” Moreover, she was hit with a double whammy that her own friend (allegedly Noella Bergener), who auditioned to be alongside her, was taking her place. Windham-Burke said:
I was really looking forward to filming with her. I've never done the show with a friend. I've never really done the show with anyone that even liked me a little bit. So I was really looking forward [to that] after how hard last year was. And so, I made it off the beach. I went and grabbed my stuff, got my towel and stuff, and then I got to my car and I just broke down crying. Just sobbing.
The ex-Real Housewives of Orange County star couldn't say exactly why her contract wasn't renewed. Many fans expected her return, simply because her storyline was so juicy last season. Her story, which included alcohol sobriety, polyamorous relationships, and her finally coming out as lesbian after 43 years, certainly needs a follow-up. And it's not like Bravo to not capitalize on that level of drama.
When it comes to the reason for her firing, Braunwyn Windham-Burke could only speculate based on comments recently made by Real Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen. The producer said, “Being on TV wasn't the healthiest spot for she and her family.” Windham-Burke noted that this reasoning was sort of ironic because they had “no problem filming” everything that transpired last year. But she admits that her storyline is “insane,” so it would be hard to “narrow” things down for Season 16. She added:
If I had not been true to myself to stay on a television show or to gain followers, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. I might be polarizing, but I know who I am, and I know what's important to me. And that matters more than anything else.
Though Braunwyn Windham-Burke might be disappointed by her Real Housewives of Orange County exit, her other ousted castmate, Kelly Leventhal, is supposedly not. Leventhal caught a lot of backlash for several of her comments last year, and many speculated that her firing was bound to happen. Yet Page Six reported that in the midst of Kelly leaving Bravo and her husband Rick leaving Fox News, Rick said they “have never been happier.”
The Real Housewives of Orange County's freshman, Elizabeth Lyn Vargas, has only posted a statement on Instagram about her own exit, thanking the cast, crew, and fans of the show for last season. Her exit, much like Braunwyn Windham-Burke’s, leaves viewers with only more questions, such as her confusing divorce, her childhood in a cult, and that last reveal at the reunion that she identifies as bisexual.
Perhaps after such a dramatic last year for Bravo that resulted in one too many scandals, the network's decision to cut these Real Housewives of Orange County ladies is indicative of a move into lighter territory. Heather Dubrow and her husband Terry (of Botched fame) will surely deliver on that brief, but who else?