The Real Housewives of Orange County is shaking things up! Controversial cast member Kelly Dodd will not be returning for the show's 16th season, Bravo confirmed to Variety Tuesday, nor will Braunwyn Windham-Burke after two seasons and Elizabeth Vargas after one. Returning for her orange will be former cast member Heather Dubrow, who was a fan-favorite from Season 7 to 11 before her exit.
Dubrow will join Shannon Beador, Gina Kirschenheiter, and Emily Simpson on Season 16 alongside one or two new women who have yet to be cast, the network confirmed. The That's Life actress is mom to four children with husband Terry Dubrow, a plastic surgeon and the star of E!'s Botched. In January, she teased to PopCulture that her children were at the age where they could decide if they wanted to be "back in the spotlight" for a new opportunity, joking that she might "hate being cryptic" but had to make a concrete decision before saying more.
Asked directly about a return to RHOC, Dubrow answered, "I haven’t watched it since I left, but this season for some reason, I am getting hundreds and hundreds of messages and DMs [asking for my return]. It’s very kind, and I appreciate it, but I think five years was a good run."
Before Season 15 of RHOC even began airing in October, many viewers had publicly called for a boycott of the show due to Dodd's actions. The reality personality, who married Fox News correspondent Rick Leventhal in October, said on social media that COVID may be "God’s way of thinning the herd," for which she later apologized. In early October, she earned more anger from fans when she posted a selfie wearing a hat reading "Drunk Wives Matter."
Windham-Burke, who was the first Housewife to come out as gay, told PEOPLE in a statement following the news of her exit that she was "incredibly sad" to be let go. "I loved every moment of being a Housewife, and am so proud of my time on the show - the good, the bad, and the in-between," she said. Admitting she might have "been too much for some," the mother-of-seven thanked those who had "stood by" her, adding, "There is a lot more to my life, and I hope you'll stick with me on this journey as I move forward in my next chapter."