Fans were shocked to learn that Real Housewives of Orange County stars Kelly Dodd, Braunwyn Windham-Burke and Elizabeth Lyn Vargas would not be returning for season 16 of the founding Bravo franchise. But were the California reality TV queens fired from the series that made them household names? Here’s what we know.
Kelly, 45, was tight-lipped about why she was saying goodbye when she addressed her departure via Twitter on Wednesday, June 16. “The last five years have been an amazing experience. The next five years will be even better,” the Arizona native, who has been on the show since 2016, wrote. “I am so grateful for all the love and support and so excited about the future.”
Braunwyn, 43, also stayed mum about the exact reason she was exiting the franchise — but her word choice appeared to be a bit telling.
“I’m incredibly sad to not be able to come back to The Real Housewives of Orange County next year. 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 told People in a statement on Tuesday, June 15. “It feels revolutionary to say, but I was able to get sober and stay sober on reality TV. That [is] something for which I will forever be grateful. And I came out, becoming the first gay Housewife in the franchise’s history. What an incredible honor to look back upon, especially during Pride Month.”
She added, “I know I may have been too much for some, and that’s okay. I am real, and I am happy being me. I’m so grateful to those who have stood by me. 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.” The “Amplified Voices” host joined the RHOC cast during season 14 in 2019.
As for Elizabeth, 45 — who joined the cast during season 15 in 2020 — she reflected via Instagram on June 15 about how the coronavirus pandemic made filming a difficult task. However, she also decided not to mention the reason she would not be returning to the show.
“COVID 2020 was a very unfortunate and tough year for all of us during filming but we made it happen and I’m very proud of what we accomplished as a team,” the newcomer explained. “Despite filming during COVID and not really getting to know all the ladies fully, this past year has been the most extraordinary, amazing and beautiful experience of my life. I am so proud of the work we have done and the friendships we were able to build.”
Amid the trio’s departure, fans can look forward to one familiar face joining the Orange County crew again: Former cast member Heather Dubrow, who appeared on season 7 through season 11 of the series, is confirmed to return for the upcoming season.