Home Opiniones 'RHOC's Heather Dubrow Calls Newbie Katie Ginella 'Noella 1.5,' Weighs In on...

'RHOC's Heather Dubrow Calls Newbie Katie Ginella 'Noella 1.5,' Weighs In on Alexis Bellino vs. Shannon Beador

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While some have compared filming The Real Housewives to playing a game of social chess, Heather Dubrow says, if you play the show like a game, you lose. 

“When you come into a friend group, you should try to make friends,” the Real Housewives of Orange County star muses to ET. “Not try to dig stuff up on people, months before you meet them, or look to have problems with people. It’s just all inauthentic. It doesn’t work.” 

That commentary is a direct hit at season 18 newcomer Katie Ginella, whom Heather dubs “Noella 1.5,” a reference to season 16’s one-hit-wonder Housewife, Noella Bergener. She and Heather famously did not get along, with Heather routinely claiming Noella invented stories to cause drama on the show. Heather says Katie pulled out the same playbook, pointing to a heated moment teased in the season 18 trailer, during which Katie calls Heather a liar. Heather compares going up against Katie to “fighting shadows.” 

“When someone comes into our friend group and wants to make a big splash, when someone thinks they’re smarter than the show, you’ve lost,” she says. “This is an authentic friend group. I have a history with all these women, and it would have been nice to have Katie come in and just get to know me. And I’m actually– I’m sad that she didn’t, because maybe we would have been friends.”

It’s safe to say, RHOC fans won’t see Heather and Katie mend fences in season 18 (“She just gave an interview and said she hated me,” Heather notes),but Heather has strengthened her bonds with Tamra Judge, Gina Kirschenheiter and Emily Simpson, all of whom she felt friction with in season 17.

The cast of Bravo’s ‘The Real Housewives of Orange County,’ season 18.Sami Drasin / Bravo

“It was very difficult for me, in general, to walk back into this season,” she admits, recalling the heated season 17 reunion, at which she felt at odds with almost the entire cast.

“I really had to make a conscious decision, to move forward with everyone and figure out, here’s how we left off. How do I feel about this friend right now? What box? Are you an acquaintance? Are you someone I’m going to tell things to? Is there a bigger friendship here?” she rattles off. “That was not easy to walk back into. I think my vibe this year was very cautiously optimistic, and really trying to keep my eyes open and see who my true friends are.”

Emily, Gina and Tamra all check the “true friend” box as of July 2024, though Heather emphasizes the cautiously half of “cautiously optimistic.” 

“Here’s the thing about being on this show: you live it, and then you walk away from it,” she says. “And you live there, and then you watch it,  and then you relive it, and now you see things that you didn’t live, and now you hear other things… and you’re in a different space, and then you figure out at the reunion. I mean, it’s a lot of levels.”

One thing helping to balance the scales is a bit is history. After years of cast turnover, the entire main cast of RHOC season 17 returned for season 18 (“friend of” Taylor Armstrong departed the show).

“It’s hard to find people that want to open their lives in a very authentic way, and it’s the authenticity that sells to our audience,” Heather says. “It’s hard to find people that really want to do that, so I think it’s a lot of turnover and so, you don’t get that tight friend group, and now we have this tight friend group, and you bring some people on, like bringing Alexis Bellino back, who several of us have a ton of history with, so, we’ll see what happens.”

Tamra Judge and Alexis Bellino film season 18 of Bravo’s ‘The Real Housewives of Orange County.’Nicole Weingart / Bravo

Alexis returns as a “friend of” the show a little over a decade after handing in her orange at the end of season 8. Heather, who previously filmed two seasons with Alexis, is the one who brings her back into the fold, a bit unexpectedly, seeing as the two women were not close during their original stint together.

“Isn’t it great that we can all grow up, we can evolve, we can change,” Heather reflects, sharing how she and Alexis reconnected a few years ago.

“Our kids were in a theater program together,” the mom of four explains. “I remember seeing Alexis in the green room there, and her mom was there, and it was just like sorority sisters, ‘Hi, how are you? Good to see you…’ and then from then on, we really just started to bond.”

Both women are raising trans sons.

“We both have LGBTQIA+ kids, and so that sort of, you know, talking about our children and what was going on in our lives really brought us even closer together and also, she’s great,” Heather continues. “She’s beautiful and she’s funny.”

Heather describes Alexis as “a fully cooked egg,” a more empowered — and opinionated — woman than fans saw during the show’s earlier seasons, when her brand was mostly that of a subservient wife. 

“Alexis is strong,” Heather declares. “She has her convictions.”

That strength and conviction is sure to come out as Alexis and Shannon Beador enter each other’s orbits. The two are franchise staples, but never shared the small screen until now, coming face to face for the first time in Thursday’s season premiere. As fans are well aware, there’s a tension between the two because Alexis is currently dating Shannon’s ex, John Janssen, a coupling that came quite quickly after Shannon and John’s split. 

Shannon Beador and John Janssen pose together at ‘Watch What Happens Live’ before their breakup.Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“I just want to be incredibly clear that Alexis was in talks to come back to the show way before she was dating John Janssen, that had nothing to do with anything,” Heather says. “Everyone wanted her back.”

The romantic crossover, though, only makes Alexis’ return that much more interesting for viewers… and awkward for the ensemble. 

“My thought process was, I mean, honestly, how am I gonna navigate this?” Heather says. “Shannon and I didn’t end great after the [season 17] reunion, I didn’t really feel as though I got from her what I needed to, and we hadn’t spoken very much in the interim. … And Alexis and I have become close, but I still consider Shannon a friend. So, in my mind I was thinking, how am I gonna navigate between these two? And honestly, I don’t even know if I did it very well.”

Shannon’s repeatedly said she does not care about Alexis and John, and that she’s thankful John is no longer her “problem.” Heather, however, doesn’t buy that.

“No, I don’t believe her,” Heather says. “I would care. Everyone would care. It’s human nature, you would care. It’s bad enough– look, you break up with someone, you want them to disappear, you want to ghost them, you want them to be gone, you want to erase them from your Instagram, and you never want to see them again. You don’t want to run into them anywhere, you want them to be gone. You do not want them dating someone who is now in your friend group on a TV show, no.” 

The situation is only made trickier by Alexis and John’s fast and furious approach to their romance (there’s talk of engagement, just months into dating) as Shannon picks up the pieces of her and John’s years-long, on-and-off relationship. Their ultimate breakup came following her arrest for an alleged DUI, having crashed her car into a residential building after fleeing John’s house following an argument. She was sentenced to three years of probation for the incident.

Shannon Beador reunites with Gina Kirschenheiter and Emily Simpson on ‘The Real Housewives of Orange County.’Nicole Weingart / Bravo

“I think it’s like Susan Lucci at the Emmys, it’s continuing,” Heather remarks of the running joke within the fandom that Shannon’s never had a “good” or “easy” season on RHOC since joining the show in 2014.

“It’s a rough one,” she admits, though that’s not a surprise. Bravo dropped a shocking sneak peek earlier this week, featuring Shannon sharing a never-before-seen post-accident photo with Heather, a shot of Shannon’s face battered and bloody from the crash. Their conversation about the photo was followed by a montage of discussion surrounding Shannon’s relationship with alcohol, the cast confronting her over her drinking as Shannon remains adamant she does not have a problem.

“I mean, three times the legal limit getting tested hours after you leave a bar? I can’t even imagine what it was after she left the bar,” Heather says. “That sounds like a problem to me.”

Shannon completed a 28-day program following the crash, but continued drinking afterward.

“I definitely see a change in where she is in her life space and who she is striving to become, and I think it’s really admirable,” Heather says. “Do I think she’s there yet? No, but are any of us?”

Heather says “a lot” unfolds this season, so much so, it may not all make it to air. One thing that for sure will secure screen time is Jenn Pedranti‘s now-fiancé, Ryan Boyajian, being linked to a MLB gambling scandal involving millions of dollars. Cameras went back up to capture the aftershocks of the story making news, which Heather compares to an infamous RHOC saga. 

“So, some of us knew some of this information for some time,” she reveals. “It’s not a big town, so a lot of people know each other … it’s a bit Peyton Place-y, if you will, and so we knew things. It’s like when Brooks had cancer.”

Brooks would be Brooks Ayers, OG star Vicki Gunvalson‘s divisive ex-boyfriend, who’s cancer battle was documented on season 10. The women ultimately exposed it as an elaborate con; he was never sick, at least not with cancer

“You were like, ‘No, is he faking? No one would… no!’ and then you go, ‘Really?'” she says. “It’s odd, and so we had heard things, some of us, and then you’ll have to see what we heard later.”

As for her personal story this season, Heather is no longer an OC resident, at least not full-time. She and her family — husband Dr. Terry Dubrow and their four kids, twins Max and Nicky, 20, Kat, 17, and Ace, 14 — now call Los Angeles home, splitting time between a newly purchased (and soon-to-be renovated) estate in Beverly Hills and a penthouse in Century City. 

Heather and Terry Dubrow pose together at a Christmas party hosted by Kathy Hilton.Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

“I raised my kids in Orange County. Terry’s practice is in Orange County, my mother-in-law’s there … we have been looking for a place down there,” Heather offers as her ties to OC, and therefore, RHOC. She and Terry sold their famous “Chateau Dubrow” mansion in Newport Beach’s ritzy Crystal Cove neighborhood in 2022 for a record-breaking $55 million. 

“Every week is different,” she adds, pointing out how it takes about the same amount of time for her to drive from Beverly Hills to Newport as it did to get from Newport to Coto de Caza, the sprawling neighborhood where the original cast of RHOC all lived.

“Sometimes I’m more down in Orange County, sometimes I’m more in L.A.,” she says. “But I feel like we’ve been doing that for years.”

Being in L.A. means new opportunities for the actress, some of which she hopes makes it into season 18. She and Kat filmed a day volunteering at the city’s LGBT Center, part of Heather’s continued mission to help show people across the country (and world) that being queer is OK.

“One of the main reasons I came back to the show was to start conversations in other people’s families, and I really do feel, even in a small way, that we’ve been able to do that, which makes me incredibly proud and thankful and grateful for the platform,” she shares. “To take it to the next level and show the work that I get to do in the community is really exciting.” 

Three of Heather’s kids identify as LGBTQIA+, and will make appearances this season. 

“I really try to straddle the line between promoting open talk, and showing our family and trying to help other families that don’t have the resources or the support that my kids have, or that our family has, but also making sure that I am protecting my kids and allowing them to tell their own stories,” she adds. “I would never want to do that for them.”  

Heather also launched a capsule collection with designer Susan Bender.

“I had a fashion line years ago and loved doing it, but unfortunately, it launched March 2020… so that didn’t work out well,” she remarks. “But it was a great learning experience, and then Susan Bender is this incredible New York designer, who I’ve known for years and worn her clothes for years, and we were talking one day about the basics. You can’t just walk into a store and buy the perfect leather jacket, pants, white shirt, like all the basic stuff. So, we were like why we don’t just do a little collab together and make this happen, so that’s what we did.” 

“It does become an issue on the show, that’s for sure,” she teases. “But you’ll have to wait and see.”

The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo. Episodes stream next day on Peacock. 

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