Things get shaken up for Season 9 of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." In Monday's premiere, half of the cast you loved last season is gone. Gretchen Rossi, Alexis Bellino and Lydia McLaughlin (who just joined last season) have left the series. In their place are two full-time new girls, Shannon Beador and Lizzie Rovsek, as well as regular drop-in Danielle Gregorio.
We spoke to veteran cast member Heather Dubrow about what to expect with this new dynamic — but for the full drama, you'll have to tune into Bravo at 9 p.m. EST to see for yourself.
This is your third season with "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Is three a lucky number for you?
I hope so!
What can viewers expect from this season?
Well you know, obviously we had a big shakeup in the cast. We lost three cast members this year and added three people, so of course that changed the dynamic. … I think it’s a good thing. Not that there was anything wrong with the girls that left, they’re all really great girls. But I think sometimes, you know, you need to shake things up a little bit. The show’s been on a very long time, and I think the influx of new fresh opinions and styles is a good thing.
Did that make you feel closer to Vicki and Tamra, now that you’re the veterans?
You know its funny; I've always been closest with Tamra, out of everyone on the show. So that was the same. And Vicki and I have always had a very fond relationship, also. I’m not sure that our relationship changed because anyone left, but spending a lot more time together, the three of us, especially at the beginning of the season, definitely changed some of our dynamic.
You’re getting a bigger house this season. Do you feel like the average viewer would feel a little resistant to the idea that you need a bigger mansion?
We do. Listen, the rental house we’re in right now is smaller than our old garage, and we’re doing just fine. For me personally, I don’t need the big house. My husband, that last house was his dream house. When we sold it, he told me we were downsizing, and apparently that’s not what happened. I think the truth is, in life everything is relative. What’s crazy over-the-top for some people is not for others. Do we need the house? No, I feel like my family could probably live in a two-bedroom apartment. We have each other. But we are lucky enough to be able to build this house and its pretty cool and we’re excited about it.
So tell me about the two new girls. Did you know either Shannon or Lizzie before you started filming?
I didn’t. And it’s funny because now that I know Shannon, I don’t know why we didn’t know each other. We seem go to the same places and do the same things with our kids, so it’s funny we hadn’t met. And then Lizzie, right when I met her, she told me she was very good friends with my husband’s surgical tech, who’s been with him for 15 years. So I immediately I felt a connection with her. … I think they casted really well — these girls are very authentic and have very strong opinions.
Is that not true of everyone who's been on the show?
I think it’s a difficult thing when you have a show that’s been on this long. I know not everyone believes this, but I never watched the show before I joined the cast. I watched the Beverly Hills franchise, so I knew the format, but I didn’t know the girls. So I came in really forming my own opinions of people. I think for other girls who have watched the show and are fans of the show to come join the cast, it’s a more difficult task.
There’s a big trip to Hawaii this season, but it’s just you and Vicki and Tamra. Did you not know the new girls well enough to invite them?
What happened was, I was working on an episode of “Hawaii Five-O.” I had to go two separate weeks. And the first time I went with [my husband] Terry. And I then I had to go back, and Tamra and I were hanging out, and she was like, “Why don’t I come?” And then she invited Vicki. [Laughs]
I see you have a new brunette. You had all those blondes surrounding you before.
I know, right?
As a native New Yorker, what is like to be out there on the West Coast surrounded by all these bubbly California blondes?
There are times I definitely feel blonde-impaired. … In Orange County, previously we were only represented by the bubbly blonde beach girls. And now we’re being represented by a different group, which I really like. Lizzie is from Kentucky and she brings a different flavor. [And] I like bringing a little bit of the New York flair to O.C. … [Sometimes] I think the girls don’t really appreciate me. You can see in the show that the girls don’t always appreciate maybe certain aspects of my personality, which may be part of my East Coast ethic.
Any other drama we should look out for in Season 9?
It’s a roller coaster. I think the audience is really going to like it. Obviously introducing three new people is not an easy task, but I feel like the audience is going to embrace these girls. … There’s a lot of really good, honest storylines, and I think the audience is going to respond to it.
Follow T. Michelle Murphy on Twitter: @TMichelleMurphy.