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Real Housewives

Vicki Gunvalson & Brooks Ayers: A Relationship Retrospective

Glenn Rowley

 Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

It's over between Vicki Gunvalson and Brooks Ayers! In case you haven't heard, news broke this week that the most talked-about couple in the OC had once again split after nearly four years together. Issued jointly by the couple, the statement released to the media reads in part:

"After much prayer, thought, counseling and consideration, we have decided to end our four year relationship...We have come to realize that one can indeed love someone in their heart, but that the time may come for their lives to take separate paths. Though the remaining episodes of Season 10 of The Real Housewives of Orange County will show us as a couple, the filming took place in January 2015 through May 2015. There will be no further statements or interviews regarding our relationship as we choose to move on with our lives..."

While no explicit reason was given for the split, many skeptics questioned the timing of the announcement given that the storyline surrounding Brooks' cancer on the show kicked off in this week's episode. So, for this week's feature, I'm looking back at the couple's most controversial moments on the last four seasons of RHOC.

Season 7

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Brooks was introduced to the show at the start of Season 7 as Vicki's boyfriend following her divorce from Donn. At first, everything seemed great about the smooth-talking Southern gentleman as the couple double-dated with Tamra and Eddie in Catalina and Vicki brought him around the other women. However, when damning information was found by Gretchen and Slade about Brooks failing to pay his child support, suspicions started being raised about the new man in Vicki's life. The whispered rumors came to an explosive head at the 80s bunco party, where Gretchen confronted Vicki with the child support allegations and threw in a couple of "hypocrite" jabs. The "h-word" sent the OG into a white-hot rage, resulting in a screaming match between her and Gretchen.

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As the season wore on, questions continually arose about Brooks' background, behavior and intentions. Any time Vicki brought him around the other 'Wives, he laid the charm on thick - to the point where Vicki's BFF Tamra started seeing through the endless string of affirmations and cheesy lines. Also concerned were Vicki's kids, particularly her daughter Briana, who felt her mother had changed since she'd started dating Brooks and was being used by him. When Briana expressed her concern about her mom's relationship, Vicki exploded and a bitter divide formed between mother and daughter over the relationship. Briana was worried that things were moving too quickly with Brooks and lobbied accusations at her mom that the relationship had started much earlier than the timeline Vicki was feeding her friends (and fans). It was unsettling as a viewer as well to watch Vicki pay for Brooks' cosmetic dental work and let him drive around the OC in one of her cars. Was the Housewife we'd watched for seven years being taken advantage of before our eyes?

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With seemingly everyone in her life concerned about the relationship, the drama reached a boiling point at the season finale party when Brooks accused Tamra of giving Vicki the infamous "evil eye" and all hell broke loose. With the baffled Dubrows stuck between them, Tamra got in Brooks' face and accused her bestie of letting him tell her what to think. From Tamra's perspective, Brooks was subtly trying to turn Vicki against all her friends and the OG was blindly letting it happen. The ensuing fight through the halls of Heather's home gave us the classic "you're supposed to be my friend, my soul mate, my sister" line from Vicki and irreparably damaged the friendship between her and Tamra. By the Season 7 reunion, no resolution had been reached between Vicki and either Briana or Tamra, with the former refusing to appear on the couches at the same time as Brooks. Further, Briana claimed Brooks had been a part of Vicki's life for many years - including during her marriage to Donn - and she'd seen the evidence to prove the accusations of "emotional cheating" on her mom's part. It was clear by the end of the reunion that Brooks had officially driven a gigantic wedge between Vicki and nearly everyone important in her life.

Season 8

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By the start of Season 8, Brooks was nowhere to be seen and the OG claimed they had broken up. However, the two were still seeing each other casually. Even while trying to repair her friendship with Tamra, Vicki was determined not to bring him around the other women and with Briana, her husband and new baby living in Vicki's house, Brooks wasn't welcome there either. Early in the season, Briana's husband Ryan spelled out exactly why he didn't want Brooks in the house: the more he found out about Brooks' character, the worse his opinion of the man got. With all the tension, Vicki felt constantly torn between her boyfriend and her family, and was determined to bridge the gap between the two. However, things were about to get worse.

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Partway through the season, former Housewife Lauri Waring Peterson returned to the show bringing shocking allegations of Vicki's past. However, she also came bearing gossip about Brooks: while on a break with Vicki, he'd been playing sugar daddy to a much-younger porn star, treating her to breakfasts and dinners and throwing out $100 bills at a racy poker party. Naturally, Lauri chose to drop this bomb during the group outing to shop for Tamra's wedding dress, leaving Vicki stunned and in tears. 

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However, the bombshell (which Brooks denied) didn't stop Vicki from continuing to spend time with him. Towards the end of the season, Brooks even accompanied her on a business trip for her now-defunct vodka line. Brooks continued to push back against Briana's ultimatum, trying to sway Vicki into putting her foot down about him not being allowed in her house. At the season finale Winter Wonderland party in her backyard, Vicki announced to the other women that she had officially rekindled her relationship with Brooks. But yet again, things were about to take a dark turn for the worse. At the Season 8 reunion, Brooks and Briana finally met face-to-face. Squaring off over Vicki's well-being, Briana claimed Brooks had proven himself to be someone the young mom didn't trust around her family. Vicki copped to Brooks being disrespectful to her but was determined to avoid a "Brooks-bashing moment." Briana, however, was ready for a fight, and eventually went for the jugular by revealing the existence of a tape recording of Brooks calling Vicki a slew of derogatory names and telling Briana's husband to start hitting her to "get her to fall in line." Never before in the history of the Real Housewives had such a shocking and terrible accusation been made at a reunion, and it turned out to be true. Brooks claimed to have been drunk and angry at the time, and tried apologizing for his remarks, but Briana was rightfully having none of it. (The recording eventually made its way online and trust me, it was absolutely vile.) In an attempt to deescalate the situation, Brooks left Vicki right then and there on the couch, causing her to have a full-on emotional breakdown once he exited stage right.

Season 9

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The ninth season started with Vicki and Brooks in a confusing place. Vicki insisted on a trip to Hawaii with Tamra and Heather that they weren't together but revealed privately to a therapist that she had taken him back. Briana was obviously reluctant to forgive Brooks for what she saw as verbal abuse, which led to yet another blowout between mother and daughter early in the season. Briana insisted the Brooks issue would never be resolved and the two had to agree to Vicki essentially living two separate lives - one with her family and one with her boyfriend - in order to keep the peace.

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Eventually, Vicki decided she didn't care what anyone else thought of her relationship and started bringing Brooks back around the other women. She also found a new ally in newbie Housewife Shannon Beador, going on a couples' vacation to Puerto Vallarta with Brooks and Shannon's husband David. Brooks also accompanied Vicki to other new Housewife Lizzie's beach house dinner party, revealing in a TMI moment that his favorite body part of Vicki was her vagina...Yikes. Things finally seemed to be looking up for the couple, with even Tamra being nice to Brooks. However, Tamra was also honest when asked her opinion about Brooks from the newer ladies, admitting that she thought someone better was out there for her friend. On the season's cast trip to Bali, though, Tamra's opinions made their way back to Vicki, who once again felt betrayed by Tamra speaking badly about her man.

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Tension from the trip, which Tamra bolted from and flew home early, was still running high at Vicki's season finale dinner party. Yet in a surprising turn of events, Tamra pulled Brooks aside and admitted to speaking poorly of him. During the conversation, Tamra also pointed out that the first time she and Vicki ever fought in their years-long friendship was about Brooks, and that their relationship had never been the same since Vicki had started dating him. However, the two enemies managed to agree that they both had Vicki's best interests at heart and Tamra made Brooks promise he would keep her friend happy. The pair hugged it out and promised to move forward. The trash-talking of Brooks was brought up again at the Season 9 reunion, but for the first time in year, drama surrounding Brooks didn't take center stage. In fact, he didn't even appear in reunion footage until the season's lost footage episode, where Vicki revealed he would be moving into her home with her.

Season 10

Between Seasons 9 and 10, Brooks confirmed that he'd been diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkins lymphoma. With Vicki by his side for support, he moved into her home and started a never-ending rotation of doctors' visits and chemotherapy. He acted as the man of the house at Vicki's season-opening fiesta party with the women, but the couple bailed on the cast trip to Napa Valley to celebrate the launch of Heather's wine. Instead, Vicki flew to Florida for an insurance conference and Brooks stayed in the OC for treatment. When Vicki's mother unexpectedly passed away in the fifth episode of the season, Brooks rushed to Shannon's house to take her home. However, he wasn't allowed to attend the funeral in Chicago with her, as Vicki's family still doesn't approve of their relationship. 

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Questions surrounding the veracity of Brooks' cancer will be a main focus of the rest of the season moving forward. Just this week, the storyline effectively kicked off with Tamra's psychic claiming he had a "wishy-washy perspective" on the cancer, leading all the women to wonder who could possibly fake a cancer diagnosis. Little red flags have popped up throughout the season already - from Brooks being well enough to fly to Puerto Vallarta on vacation to a slip of the tongue where he referred to his cancer in the past tense. His treatment is also a cause of confusion among the ladies (and viewers), as he announced in this week's episode that he was pausing chemotherapy to try a controversial new alternative method involving blasting the body with antioxidants. The scrutiny will only continue to get more intense as the season rolls on, prompting Vicki's cast mates and fans to ask an unbelievable question: does Brooks really have cancer?

As for the couple's breakup, only time will tell if the split will be permanent. For legions of Vicki fans who don't trust Brooks, the news was cause for celebration, but either way the OG of the OC is sure to be hurting. Vicki and Brooks have had a wild and controversial ride on the show with ups that have filled Vicki's love tank and downs that have shocked us all. Regardless of what happens with their relationship in the future, the most important thing is to wish them both continued health and happiness...and we always have the reunion to look forward to getting the truth about what really caused the end of the OC's most controversial couple.