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Real Housewives

Filtering by Tag: lydia mclaughlin

RHOC S12/Ep 2 Recap - It's Either My Way or the Feng Shui

Glenn Rowley

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This week on The Real Housewives of Orange County, Lydia and Shannon face off in a completely unexpected feud with Tamra caught in the crosshairs. Plus, we meet Bravo's 100th Housewife Peggy Sulahian! Read on for a full recap of the drama, screaming and unicorns!

Shannon Beador is getting back to what's important to her, and that means it's feng shui time. With the help of her longtime feng shui consultant, Elaine Wright, Shannon's ready to get the good energy flowing in the Beadors' new rental home - she doesn't even have nine lemons in a bowl anymore! However, the feng shui-ing of the house may be easier said than done. According to Elaine, the 'relationship corner' of the house is occupied by a toilet, which may be contributing to some of the negative relationships in Shannon's life. With David being distant and her grudge match with Vicki Gunvalson at an all-time high (or low?), this reasoning of the Asian mystical arts seems to make sense - though Shannon is quickly to point out that maybe certain relationships (ahem, Vicki) are better off going down the drain.

Cut to Vicki, who's packing up Coto Insurance to move to a new office space. Vicki reminisces about the time Shannon's feng shui expert came to consult on her office, but snidely dismisses the entire experience now as a complete crock despite the boom in business that happened once she followed Elaine's recommendations. However, the point here is WHERE IN THE WORLD has Vicki been hiding Linda the office manager for the past 11 seasons. The woman is hilarious and seems to be the only person able to go toe-to-toe with a stressed out OG of the OC. More Linda in every episode, please! 

Motherhood continues to be a trip for Meghan King Edmonds. As she and Jimmy pack up to head back to Orange Country from their vacation home in La Quinta, Calif., she laments that she's constantly sleep deprived now that life is all about "baby, baby, baby, baby." Meghan claims she's excited to see the rest of the 'Wives, but feels constantly torn between her loyalties to the feuding teams of women. Now that she has a baby, Meghan's priorities have changed and drama isn't one of them.

Meanwhile, Lydia McLaughlin and her husband Doug have launched a new magazine called Nobleman Magazine, a mens publication for the modern gentleman. At a photoshoot profiling successful male entrepreneurs, Lydia meets new 'Wife Peggy Sulahian, whose husband Diko is being featured in the magazine. While the husbands work, Peggy opens up to Lydia about her recent breast cancer scare and her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. It's a deep subject for a first meeting, but Lydia responds with nothing but compassion and empathy and the two become fast friends. 

Peggy is a first-generation Armenian who emigrated to the U.S. from Kuwait with her parents when she was just a year old. She and her husband Diko, an immigrant from Beirut, appear to be the quintessential picture of the American Dream. After fleeing the Lebanese Civil War, Diko came to America with virtually nothing and managed to amass his fortune by starting Giovanna Wheels, luxury car accessory company. The Sulahians love their sports cars, and Peggy brags that they own - not rent - an entire fleet of Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, Ferraris and Mercedes-Benzes. The couple lives a flashy lifestyle full of cars, diamonds and jewelry and I'm not sure what to think about all of Peggy's showiness and "it sure doesn't suck to be me" mentality...

Kelly Dodd is still committed to working on her tumultuous relationship with husband Michael. Lately, they've been working out together three days a week (that as much couple time as Kelly can handle), and Kelly claims she can relate to the work Shannon and David have put into their marriage. At the same time, Shannon's having a major "cool mom" moment as she sends her oldest daughter Sophie off to Winter Formal, which is much more endearing than watching Kelly and Michael fight over his terrible driving...

Tamra Judge is throwing a unicorn-themed birthday party for her two-year-old granddaughter Ava and while Vicki clearly isn't invited, her daughter Briana and grandsons are going without her. Vicki blames her former bestie for putting a wedge between her and her daughter during the years she was dating Brooks Ayers, but Tamra has since cut ties with Briana and all three women are nervous about the party. However, Briana successfully avoids her mom's one-time best friend, making an appearance and dropping off a gift before quietly ducking out. 

During the party, Tamra also introduces Shannon to Lydia and her pot-smoking, fairy dust-throwing character of a mom, Judy. Shannon hits it off right away with Lydia's mom, but the returning 'Wife puts her on edge when she innocently mentions Vicki's name in conversation. Shannon isn't all that happy to hear that her nemesis was talking about her at dinner with Lydia, and accuses the OG of the OC of being a little "obsessed" with her and Tamra. 

When Lydia tells Tamra she met with Vicki, tension starts swirling. Shannon warns Lydia about the "unconscionable" rumors Vicki has spread about both David and Eddie. Trying to find some common ground, Lydia explains that the other 'Wives are acting the same way Vicki did when they met and this starts sending Shannon into a full-blown emotional tailspin. She's offended at being compared to her mortal enemy and goes as far as to blame Vicki for the 40 pounds she's gained. Shannon's getting visibly fired up (scary angry, perhaps?) and charging deeper into an anti-Vicki tirade when Lydia's husband Doug literally saves the day by interrupting. 

However, the argument isn't over. As Lydia is leaving, Tamra tries to mediate the situation and kicks off round two between the friendship whisperer and Shannon. Lydia claims Shannon started screaming and yelling at her for no reason which, if you watched Season 9, you know is one of Shannon's triggers. She launches into yet another diatribe about how she's nothing like Vicki Gunvalson, but Lydia isn't backing down and once again tries to explain what she meant by the comment. By this point, Shannon is incensed and Lydia declares that, not only are she and the holistic Housewife clearly not going to be friends, but that she has no interest in hanging out with someone who is going to attack her and not let her get a word in edgewise. Shannon angrily huffs that maybe Lydia should talk to her mom, who said she had a "bright light" upon meeting her, before storming away in a rage. However, Lydia gets the last word by pointing out that her mom also said her new frenemy was a "lost soul." And with that, it looks like a new feud is born!

What did you think of this week's RHOC? Are you Team Shannon or Team Lydia? Should Tamra and Briana still be friends? Does feng shui even work? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

RHOC Season 12 Premiere Recap - The Great Divide

Glenn Rowley

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The First Ladies of Bravo are back for Season 12 of The Real Housewives of Orange County! With a former Housewife returning and wounds from last season still fresh, the divide within the cast is deeper and more painful than ever before. Read on for a full recap on the ladies' lives and feuds...

A new season means a new intro and brand-new taglines! Compared to last season's positively life-giving bunch, this year's one-liners are a bit of a mixed bag, but my vote for best tagline goes to Lydia McLaughlin. Now, this may be a controversial choice but I can't think of anything better than "If you can't handle my sparkle, then stay off my rainbow" to describe the fairy-like returning Housewife otherwise known as the "friendship whisperer" of the OC.

Quick thoughts on the others: Shannon Beador has been on a roll with her taglines the past few seasons and this year's clever juxtaposition between organic truth and artificial lies is no exception. Tamra Judge's quip about being "pint-sized, baptized and highly prized" is easily my runner-up for best tagline and most likely to be the overall fan favorite. Meanwhile, new mom Meghan King Edmonds is typically no-nonsense as she accuses her cast mates of acting like "babies," but I'm distracted by being simultaneously in love with her floral-print dress and repulsed by her #MomLife trucker hat. Kelly Dodd's "If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you" is nonsensical, which is right on brand for the second season troublemaker, while rookie Peggy Sulahian has basically plagiarized RHONY's Kelly Killoren Bensimon's original tagline and made it about sports cars...And then there's OG Vicki Gunvalson, who emphatically proclaims "I go big or go home, and I am not going home." Oh Vicki, please never go home. 

The premiere opens on Shannon, who's gained both a new dog and 40 pounds since we last saw her. Archie is a welcome addition; the weight is not. Shannon contributes the weight gain to stress surrounding the allegations Vicki made last season that Shannon's husband David was physically abusive. Tearing up in her confessional, Shannon reveals that David is back to being distant with her and as she explains that she's "embarrassed" of her body and doesn't recognize herself in the mirror, it's truly heartbreaking. However, Shannon has always been no holds barred about sharing her life on camera and this new struggle is just another layer of vulnerability and bravery that makes her even more relatable. 

Meanwhile, Vicki's insurance business is booming and she's moving the Coto Insurance offices to a newer, bigger location. Kelly drops by for some mean girl banter about the other 'Wives, and within five seconds is comparing herself to Donald Trump. Because of course. Neither Kelly nor Vicki have seen or spoken to Tamra or Shannon since the Season 11 reunion, but the hurt feelings on both sides are still festering. Always classy, Kelly calls Tamra's fitness competition from last year "a race amongst pigs" while Vicki recalls that her one-time bestie spat in her face "like a testosterone psycho" on the bus ride from hell (which, I have to admit, made me laugh out loud). Kelly thinks her nemeses owe Vicki an apology, but the OG is confident that they're just mad she and Kelly are the "popular girls." But like...are they though?

Still on her Christian kick, Tamra heads to bible study at...Lydia's house! It's been four seasons since we last saw Lydia but it turns out that she reached out to Tamra after her baptism and the two have remained in touch. (For those of you who need a refresher on her first season, Lydia was the new Housewife introduced in Season 8 before famously walking away from the show when she was asked back for Season 9.) Obviously the show is completely different from the last time Lydia was a Housewife, so it will be fascinating to see how she fits into the new post-Heather Dubrow landscape. In fact, Vicki and Tamra are the only remaining 'Wives from her previous tenure on the show, and when she finds out that they are now mortal enemies, she's determined to get the former BFFs back together. 

Meghan's entire life has changed since last season. Shortly after the Season 11 reunion, she gave birth to baby Aspen and is now completely focused on being a mom. Apparently, having a new baby has also transformed Meghan's husband Jim, whom she swears up and down is more attentive and engaged than ever before. (Personally, I'll believe it when I see it for more than a five-minute segment in the first episode.) With all of her time and attention on Aspen, Meghan is her own little world and entirely disconnected from the other ladies' drama...so far.

After more than a few scenes catching up on the ladies' lives - Shannon and Tamra shopping for formal dresses with their girls, Kelly contemplating vaginal rejuvenation (no thank you), Vicki visiting her daughter Briana (who approves of her mom's new, retired homicide detective boyfriend), Lydia meets Vicki for lunch at Balboa Bay Resort. Upon seeing her for the first time in years, the OG describes the returning 'Wife as "Disneyland all the time" which is so on the nose you can practically hear the strains of "When You Wish Upon a Star" playing in the background. Ironically, their lunch spot is the same hotel where Tamra was baptized in Season 10, which provides the perfect segue into why Lydia asked Vicki to meet. Lydia brings up the good memories she had with the former besties during Tamra's bachelorette weekend in Mexico during Season 8, and wants to use her powers as the friendship whisperer to help the veteran 'Wives reconcile. However, Vicki breaks down all the drama Lydia has missed: Tamra is angry at Vicki for spreading rumors that her husband Eddie is gay, while Vicki's still holding a grudge over Tamra calling her a con artist at the Season 11 reunion. Among a million other things. As Vicki threatens that the "gloves are coming off" if Tamra (and Shannon) continue coming after her, Lydia realizes that her work may be cut out for her if she wants to heal this fractured friendship...

What did you think of the RHOC premiere? Are you happy Lydia is back? Is there any hope for Tamra and Vicki's friendship? Which tagline is your favorite? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

RHOC Season 8 Uncensored

Glenn Rowley

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In 2013, Season 8 of The Real Housewives of Orange County premiered on Bravo and ended up becoming one of the most unforgettable seasons in Housewives history. Thanks to the perfect combination of Housewives, surprising alliances, and major moments in the lives of the ladies, the season earned its own look back with the RHOC Season 8 Uncensored special. Featuring never-before-seen footage and brand new interviews with Housewives and producers alike, we got to learn more than we ever knew about what really went down in the OC. Read on for my full recap of all the revelations and new details from the special...

A Whole New Vicki?

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The start of Season 8 revealed a shocking new face in the OC – except the new face was a Housewife we'd known since the beginning. Vicki Gunvalson. Between seasons, the OG of the OC had decided to get some fairly major plastic surgery on her face following the “Miss Piggy” comparisons levied at her by Slade Smiley in Season 7. Vicki specifically chose to undergo surgery while the cameras weren't rolling so that she could come into Season 8 healed and looking better than ever. However, this plan was foiled when her daughter Briana went into labor with Vicki's first grandchild and Bravo wanted to catch the moment on camera. So, production was pushed up to just a couple of weeks into the OG's post-surgery recovery. Camera crews arrived at the hospital on the night of baby Troy's birth and when Vicki came down to meet them in the parking lot, they were shocked to see her swollen face mostly frozen in place since the secret surgery. Much of the season essentially documented the healing process of Vicki's face - almost episode by episode fans could see differences in her appearance as the dust settled.

Shady Friendships & Shifting Alliances

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To say that the season began with the dynamic between all the 'Wives in a very strange place is an understatement. For multiple seasons the shows main alliances consisted of Vicki and her BFF Tamra Judge in one corner and their arch-rivals Gretchen Rossi and Alexis Bellino in the other. However, over the course of the previous season, Vicki and Tamra's rock-solid sisterhood had been blown to smithereens by the OG's relationship with Brooks Ayers while Gretchen and Alexis feuded over a job as a local lifestyle correspondent for FOX5. In the most baffling turn of events possible, mortal enemies Tamra and Gretchen started Season 8 as BFFs, leaving Vicki and Alexis to develop a new friendship with each other. As such, the show entered unchartered territory with the women in alliances that just one year prior would have been unthinkable. 

Alexis Returns & Lydia Joins the Show

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Additionally, Alexis's return to the show, complete with a freshly-shorn haircut, was another surprise. Her story is that she quit the show after spending most of Season 7 as the primary target of the other women's criticism (pretentious intervention in Costa Rica, anyone?) while most of her co-stars claim she was fired by Bravo. Either way, Alexis still had more story left to tell, and this time she was coming back with a friend in tow...For Season 8 producers chose to add a sixth Housewife to the cast, which is a rare move for the OC franchise. Lydia McLaughlin joined the show as a friend of Alexis and brought a whole new flavor to Orange County. A thirty-two-year-old born again Christian who originally hailed from Canada, Lydia was the editor for Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine with her husband Doug - whom viewers lovingly dubbed "Jesus Abs." However, while she was already friends with Alexis, Lydia's first time meeting the rest of the women was more explosive than she could have ever predicted...

CUT Fitness Chaos

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In the first major event of the season, Tamra threw a dinner party to celebrate the groundbreaking of her new fitness studio, CUT Fitness. According to executive producer Kevin Lee, the party started off on the wrong foot because the rest of the 'Wives resented that Alexis was returning to the show. Battle lines were drawn as soon as Vicki walked in with Alexis and Lydia - with those three on one side and Tamra, Gretchen and Heather Dubrow firmly on the other. Co-executive producer Bill Fritz revealed that part of the tension stemmed from the fact that in between Seasons 7 and 8, Gretchen had accused former bestie Alexis and her "camp" of trying to steal a number of her personal appearances. Don't mess with a Housewife's fame, y'all. Of course, drama erupted the second Tamra confronted Alexis over why she would want to come to the dinner in the first place when she'd been threatening legal action against the hostess for slander, which resulted in the epic "YOU GET THE F--- OUT!" moment where Tamra kicked Alexis out the party. In the ensuing chaos, producers claimed that Heather made a beeline to them and promised she had other friends who could join the show to replace Alexis while Gretchen breaking into applause at her former friend getting booted signified the permanent end to their once-close friendship. What a welcome for Lydia, am I right?

Housewives Rules 101

Next, in an amusing segment the show's producers revealed the list of unspoken rules that the Housewives have developed over the years for being on camera. These rules of extreme convenience include the following:

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  • New 'Wives are never to stand in front of veterans on camera, particularly Tamra.
  • Housewives are to never eat on camera because it's impossible to look glamorous and beautiful while doing so.
  • Housewives form cliques and promise to have each other's back, but the alliances are subject to change from season to season.
  • All friendships of convenience between other 'Wives are to be exposed and undermined.
  • Develop real friendships with your fellow cast mates or you will be called out.

A Bachelorette Party Turned Battlefield

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Next up for discussion is the unforgettable trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for Tamra's bachelorette party. Due to the flip-flopped friend dynamic of the season, Gretchen fell into the role of putting the bachelorette party together for Tamra rather than Vicki. Meanwhile, Alexis had been invited to Mexico but one of the hard and fast rules in the Bellinos' traditional marriage is "no bachelor or bachelorette parties," so she stayed behind in the OC. And while Heather ran behind the cameras and jokingly (but kind of seriously) threatened a sexual assault lawsuit if the Mexican strippers so much as touched her during the wild in the hotel, the bachelorette party turned into a turf war between Vicki and Gretchen over who was a better friend to the bride-to-be.

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Vicki essentially went into the trip with a secret plan to snatch Tamra from Gretchen's clutches and when Gretch and Heather went to the bathroom following a snoozy first dinner, the OG saw her chance. With newbie Lydia in tow, Vicki kidnapped Tamra and ditched the other women to go to Andale's, her favorite dive bar in Puerto Vallarta. Despite not having filming permits for the bar and not really knowing where it even was, the Bravo crew spent the majority of the evening following Vicki and the other 'Wives through the streets of Puerto Vallarta as they bought light-up bows, danced on taxis and whooped it up once they found Andale's. Naturally, getting ditched left Gretchen infuriated and the conflict that came out of the night became pivotal to the season's story. Gretchen and Vicki were officially at war with Tamra as the victor's prize, and ultimately the OG would come out on top.

The Dubrows and the "D" Word

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One of Heather's major storylines for Season 8 was the conflict in her marriage with husband Terry Dubrow. After being considered for Season 5 (the year Alexis Bellino joined the show) it's a well-known fact that Terry actually forged Heather's signature on her contract when she finally joined the cast two years later. Terry was the one who pushed Heather to do the show, and producers even described her as a "reluctant participant in her husband's misadventures." Nowadays it's hard to imagine RHOC without Fancy Pants (she remains my all-time favorite OC 'Wife), but in her first couple seasons, Heather admits she had trouble really opening up in front of the cameras. Behind the scenes, the Dubrows' worst fights were about her being on the show because she didn't actually to do reality TV. So when Terry failed to support Heather's renewed acting career, which was being documented throughout the season, Fancy Pants threatened to quit the show and Terry threw the word "divorce" out during a blow-out fight between the two. By the time the season wrapped, Heather and Terry's marriage was stronger than ever but getting to that point was certainly a rocky road.

The Revenge of Lauri Waring Peterson

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Season 8 also brought the return of a familiar face from the show's early days: OG Housewife Lauri Waring Peterson. After leaving the show midway through Season 4 to focus on her new blended family with her Prince Charming, George, Lauri blasted back onto the scene with an agenda to take down her old friend Vicki. Lauri had originally been Vicki's secretary and protege-of-sorts when the show premiered way back in 2006, but the moment she came back to film with Gretchen, Lauri threw the OG of the OC under the bus with a scandalous rumor that she'd caught her in a threesome back in the day. From Vicki's perspective, the attack was insulting but logical: in order for Lauri's return to be as relevant as possible, she had to go after the dog at the very top of the food chain. Mind you, Lauri insists in her interview that she didn't have any vendetta against Vicki, but that's a hard claim to swallow as fans watched the salacious drama unfold.

Go Yell It on the Mountain

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A tricky game of telephone was born out of the gossip Lauri spread, and when the rumor reached Vicki during the cast trip to Canada, she exploded. Decked out in full snow bunny gear on the slopes of Whistler, the OG hunted down the show's executive producer, shoved him up against a brick wall and threatened him that it would hurt a lot worse if this storyline made it to air. To make matters worse, the other woman in the rumor actually turned out to be Vicki's sister, whom the OG insisted be cut out of the conversation. (Only after talking to her sister later and getting her blessing did Vicki use the fact to defend herself in blogs and on WWHL.) Producers note that Lauri was very careful not to ever use the term "threesome," but Vicki's ensuing freakout is still one of the most iconic moments in Housewives history.

Gretchen Rossi: A Cautionary Tale

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Next, the special addresses the downfall of Gretchen over the course of the eighth season. Executive producer Douglas Ross explains that when Gretch joined the show in Season 4, she let viewers completely into her life - from her relationship with now-deceased, older fiancé Jeff Beitzel to getting "naked wasted" by a scheming Tamra and Vicki, nothing seemed to be off-limits. However, as her time on the series progressed, Gretchen started presenting a much more whitewashed, inauthentic picture of herself. Once she started dating Slade Smiley, the much-reviled, self-proclaimed "Housewife Hunter," the execs at Bravo noticed that the couple always seemed to be working some sort of angle for the show. (We all remember the time Slade "bought" her with a Rolls Royce, right?) And everyone knows that once self-production is an automatic death sentence in the Housewives universe.

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This forced inauthenticity was never more clear than in Gretchen's decision to stage an elaborate rooftop proposal to Slade at the end of Season 8. For three seasons, Slade had been floating out the idea of getting engaged to Gretchen but never quite seemed to be able to pull the trigger. Flipping the script in the name of quasi female empowerment, Gretchen put together an extravagant proposal for her boyfriend that involved a song on the radio, a helicopter ride and all of their family and friends - but none of the other Housewives. Heather opines in her confessional that Slade was probably in on the surprise and even Andy Cohen notes that the entire event rang hollow and felt purely put on for the cameras. (Obviously Gretchen denies this.) Not inviting any of her cast mates also proved to be one of the final nails in the coffin for Gretch, though during the special she points the finger at producers for why none of the other ladies were included. Also, it's important to note that it's now been three years and Gretchen and Slade still aren't married. Maybe they'll walk down the aisle if someone offers to turn their wedding into a TV special a la Tamra's OC's Wedding

Winter Wonderland Finale & the Reunion of Rainbow Dresses

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By the time Vicki's Winter Wonderland-themed finale party came around, every other Housewife had her own personal issues with Gretchen. So, throughout the party poor Gretchen was forced to go on a giant apology tour, moving from one sit-down to the next so all the women could air their grievances against her. To this day, Gretch maintains that the other Housewives banded together to get her off the show, but we all know that's not exactly how cast changes work. At the Season 8 reunion, which in my opinion stands as possibly the best Housewives reunion ever, resentment toward Gretchen was at an all-time high and she had simply burned too many bridges to have any shot of staying on the show for Season 9. 

The Legacy of Season 8 in the OC

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To this day, Season 8 of The Real Housewives of Orange County remains a high water mark for both the show and the franchise as a whole. Alexis was let go at the end of the season when it became clear that viewers had now seen the beginning, middle and end to her story arc, while newbie Lydia chose to walk away after just a single season to focus on her family and have a third baby. As Andy succinctly states in the special's closing moments, Season 8 remains iconic for being a changing of the guard in Orange County and will never be forgotten in the annals of Housewives history and the larger pop culture.

What did you think of the RHOC Season 8 Uncensored special? Do you love the season as much as I do? Should Gretchen, Alexis and/or Lydia ever return to the show? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Lydia McLaughlin: Why the OC's Canadian Christian Walked Away

Glenn Rowley

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Every so often, a Housewife comes along whose rookie season is also her last. The list is a fairly short one: Karent Sierra, Peggy Tanous, Cindy Barshop, Joyce Giraud de Ohoven, Carlton Gebbia, Quinn Fry, Deshawn Snow, the entire cast of RHODC...For one reason or another, each woman just didn't work for the franchise. Some, like Cindy Barshop on RHONY, were entirely forgettable or didn't fit into the group dynamic, while others were so disliked by fans that they weren't worth bringing back for a second season. (Looking at you, Carlton.) However, Lydia McLaughlin of RHOC is a special case. After becoming a fan favorite in Season 8, she was asked to return the following year but chose to walk away rather than re-up for Season 9. For this week's feature, I'm looking back at her year on the show and her unprecedented decision to leave the Housewives behind. 

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At the start of Season 8, Lydia was introduced to the OC as a friend of fellow 'Wife Alexis Bellino. (Rumors in the press stated that Alexis refused to return to the show without an ally after becoming the odd Housewife out during Season 7, though that's never been confirmed). A fellow Christian, the two lived in the same neighborhood of Dana Point and had bonded over their young children and their faith. As the editor of Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine alongside her husband Doug, Lydia seemed like the perfect addition to the first ladies of Bravo. She had it all: a gorgeous husband, whom viewers dubbed "Jesus-Abs" throughout the season, two adorable little boys, a luxurious lifestyle and a fairy dust-throwing 420-loving mother.

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Almost immediately, Alexis recruited Lydia as her support after her fallout the previous season with Heather, Tamra and former BFF Gretchen. However, Lydia also managed to get her own good first impression of Heather, after meeting with Fancy Pants to discuss a spread of the Dubrow home in Lydia's magazine. In the first event of the season, Alexis invited her to the dinner party to celebrate the opening of Tamra's new gym CUT Fitness because she didn't want to see the other ladies without having any backup. This is not an enviable position to be put in as a brand new Housewife. With her only friend at odds with the majority of the cast, Lydia automatically became guilty by association when it came to the other 'Wives. The drama started almost immediately at the dinner party, escalating quickly to Tamra throwing Alexis out of the event with an epic "GET THE F**K OUT!" However, serving as a yes-man to Alexis wasn't in Lydia's plan and she quickly became a fair, level-headed voice of reason. For nearly a year, Alexis had been throwing around the word "bully" in both the press and on social media with regards to her castmates. However, as Alexis tried to play the victim in the back of the limo outside the party, Lydia calmly pointed out to her friend that - from her perspective - the other women hadn't been bullying her, and that the bullying accusation was powerful considering what the word really meant. "I had to go on Xanax for it, Lydia!" was Alexis' response, but right then and there, I could tell this newcomer was my kind of girl.

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Much to viewers' - and probably Alexis' - dismay, Lydia actually bonded with the other Housewives and became fast friends with Heather, Tamra and Vicki. She became so well-liked among the cast that she was even invited to Tamra's bachelorette party in Mexico while Alexis stayed back in the OC. While in Puerto Vallarta, Lydia both stood up for her Christian beliefs - opting out of the women's night with Mexican strippers, and whooped it up on a night of cab-dancing with Vicki and Tamra complete with light-up bow headbands. The trio's drunken adventure was the catalyst for drama throughout the trip, as Gretchen and Heather's feeling were hurt after being left out of the fun. Dubbing herself the "friendship whisperer", Lydia also played the peacemaker facilitating one-on-one sit-downs between Alexis and the other ladies. Some of these meetings went better than others. Thanks to Lydia's outside perspective, a fragile peace was established for Alexis with Heather and Tamra, with apologies all around and promises of moving forward. The former best friendship between Gretchen and Alexis, on the other hand, seemed irreparable as Gretchen refused to apologize and slowly found herself on the outs. 

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Lydia's experience on the show wasn't devoid of interpersonal drama, however. At the post-bachelorette salsa dancing party she threw for the girls and their hubbies, she went toe-to-toe with Gretchen's boyfriend Slade over his pattern of body-shaming comments about the 'Wives, from calling Vicki "Miss Piggy" to telling Lydia herself she needed to "eat a cheeseburger" because of her weight. By standing up for herself and her friends, Lydia showed that when push came to shove, a fiery temperament lay under her quirky exterior. No one was going to push the new girl around, especially not the infamous Housewife Hunter. Lydia was also responsible for the season's big cast trip, when she brought the women to Whistler, BC to show them her Canadian roots. Much of the season's impending drama came to a head during the Canadian getaway, as Tamra and Gretchen duked it out over their failing friendship and everything Malibu Country-related was laid out on the metaphorical table. In possibly the most epic moment of the season, Lydia had a ringside seat to Vicki confronting Lauri, in head-to-toe skiing gear, after finding out about the threesome rumors the former Housewife had been spreading behind her back. So much for the relaxing vacation to the Great White North that Lydia had been hoping for...

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At Vicki's Winter Wonderland party that served as the season finale, Lydia and her high pony faced off once again with Gretchen and Slade after the latter hit below the belt once again about the ladies' appearances, this time on his syndicated radio show. Delivering her "dirty is dirty is dirty" smackdown, she effectively called out Slade for not taking accountability for putting down women and thereby stood up for feminists everywhere. Inexplicably, her kind-hearted fairy dusting mother was also dragged into an argument with Vicki's son-in-law Ryan over putting her feet on the couch inside. The bizarre situation was only caught on the mic'd family members, so we didn't actually see the altercation, but Lydia didn't take well to the verbal abuse inflicted on her mother and promptly decided to leave the party after dressing down Slade's misogyny.

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The ensuing reunion, while epic, was hard on Lydia. In an array of rainbow-colored dresses, the women of the OC were especially brutal as allegations of abuse, betrayal and dishonesty flew around the room. And the newbie wasn't exempt from the innumerable clashes. She took issue with Heather, with whom she'd been friendly all season, over Heather's blog about the stripper antics in Mexico, and later sparred with Fancy Pants regarding the magazine cover issue from the beginning of the season. By the time Vicki's daughter Briana came out to drop the physical bombshell about Brooks, courtesy of a recording in the OG's boyfriend told Briana's husband to start "hitting her to get her to fall in line," Lydia had had enough. In the midst of the drama, she tearfully walked off the set, citing to Andy Cohen that it was too much darkness and toxicity for her to stay in her seat. Lydia's experience at the reunion would prove to be a critical turning point in her decision not to return to the show.

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During Season 8, Lydia became a breakout fan favorite for many viewers, and seemed to be a lock for the following season. However, when casting was announced for Season 9, her name was mysteriously nowhere to be found. In a public Instagram post, the Canadian Christian announced that she'd been asked back by Bravo and the producers, but had made the decision with her family not to return. Citing her faith, Lydia explained to fans that, while she had been asked back for Season 9 and had initially wanted to do it, ultimately she felt that God was calling her on a different path. So she walked away. This choice was virtually unheard of in the Bravo universe. Housewives is such a huge platform, with millions of viewers and fans, that making the choice to not take the opportunity when it's handed to you for a second year is not something many people would do. Yet, true to what fans had seen throughout the season, Lydia stuck to her values and made the decision that was right for her and her family.

So, the show sadly went on without her. It's hard to imagine how Lydia would have fit into the Season 9 dynamic, even with the benefit of hindsight we now have. With Gretchen and Alexis replaced by Shannon Beador and Lizzie Rovsek, I could see Lydia becoming friends with Lizzie and hopefully make up and continue to bond with Heather. She likely would've continued playing the role of "friendship whisperer" as the ladies' relationships were tested both old and new. However, it's impossible to predict where she would've fit in all the drama surrounding Shannon's marriage or with Tamra playing all sides and consequently feuding with pretty much all the other 'Wives. Ironically though, she continued to bond with Alexis and Gretchen, whom she'd feuded with the most on the show, after filming and remains good friends with both today.

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Life didn't stop for Lydia once she said goodbye to the show. She was busy promoting her jewelry line, Lydia M Jewelry, overseeing BHL Magazine and raising her family. And, in a surprise moment, she also announced her third pregnancy shortly after leaving the show, adding baby Roman to big brothers Stirling and Maverick in November 2014. So, she would have been pregnant for most of filming, which would have added a great deal of stress and complication to being part of a reality show. Lydia also used her experience to pen a memoir, Beyond Orange County: A Housewives Guide to Faith and Happiness, which talked about the importance of faith in her life and further chronicled her decision to leave the Real Housewives. As part of her press tour for the book, she even appeared on WWHL! Additionally, she also spent time promoting the book on conservative media outlets like The Christian Post and Fox News - not the typical sources for Housewives news and gossip. In these interviews, she explained that watching Vicki and her daughter Briana fight during the Season 8 reunion was a major influence in understanding how reality TV could negatively impact families. Being so close to her mom, whom viewers saw on the show, Lydia simply didn't want something like that eventually happening in their relationship because it had been put into the spotlight of reality stardom.

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In the end, Lydia's decision took a great deal of courage. Surely, it wasn't easy to willingly walk away from all the perks and fame that come with being a Housewife. However, it isn't every day that we see a Housewife stick to her values so purely that it comes at the expense of personal success. As much as I'd love to see Lydia back on the show - and she's repeatedly said "never say never", I respect her willingness to stay true to herself. Lydia remains one of my favorite OC Housewives and as a person, I certainly look up to her for sticking to her guns and showcasing her strong values and unique personality on national TV. In the end, her opening tagline came to poignantly define her experience on the show as a whole. After all, "you only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough!"