The Most Essential Seasons of Real Housewives of Orange County

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In 2006, Bravo brought upon us a new era of reality TV thanks to the premiere of the Real Housewives of Orange County. The premise was to show the world how the other half lived behind their closed and gated communities. What started as a fun social experiment caught on like a wildfire. Today, there are 11 different franchises that all owe their start to the OG series. If you are new to the game, below are some of the most essential seasons of RHOC to get you started. 

Season 1


We would be remiss if we didn’t start with Season 1. Looking back on the episodes, it truly depicted how we all lived in the early 2000s, butterfly clips and all. The cast consisted of Kimberly Bryant, Jo De La Rosa, Vicki Gunvalson, Jeana Keough, and Lauri Waring, and showed the everyday life of these hard-working women.

What was presumed to be a fantasy life was actually mixed with divorces, spoiled children, and plastic surgery. The first season is still loved to this day for its throwback moments. 

Season 6

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Tamra Judge joined Season 3 of the Real Housewives of Orange County and made quite a name for herself. Fans loved the petite spitfire and her friendship with Vicki. The real estate agent made for good TV, especially because she was in the middle of a nasty divorce. The season finale stands out due to Tamra throwing a drink in Jeana’s face. Jeana had been taking Simon Barney’s side, which infuriated Tamra to no end. 

Gretchen Rossi was also an important character during the season, because she, too, had issues with Tamra. During the season, the blonde bombshell called Tamra an “evil bit*h,” which became a popular quote for the series. The two women didn’t see eye to eye, thanks to Gretchen’s slimy boyfriend, Slade Smiley. Tamra felt he was a deadbeat dad for not paying child support, with fans agreeing he wasn’t the best guy in the world. 

Season 8

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RHOC Season 8 was a time of love and fighting, of course. Tamra had just gotten engaged to Eddie Judge and was trying to plan a wedding. The couple moved in together and even opened their gym, CUT Fitness, which sadly had to close its doors after the pandemic. The season also concentrated on Tamra’s ongoing feud with Alexis Bellino. At the time, Jim Bellino was suing Tamra for defamation. 

Vicki was still trying to defend her relationship with Brooks Ayers while shooting down rumors she had a threesome. The mother of two freaked out on the slopes, screaming at the top of her lungs that she hadn’t. Vicki also had issues with her children, who disapproved of Brooks. At the reunion, Briana even claimed Brooks had told her husband to “hit her.” 

Season 14


Season 14 was important for many reasons. Firstly, it brought back two newbies for their sophomore year, Emily Simpson and Gina Kirschenheiter. Both were having issues with their marriages as Emily struggled with Shane Simpson and his sharp words. While Gina, who had been going through a divorce, revealed she had also had a domestic violence incident with Matt. 

Braunwyn Windham-Burke was also introduced and would eventually be the first lesbian housewife. Tamra would eventually end up hooking up with Braunwyn, which Vicki did not approve of. Vicki was now no longer with Brooks, but instead celebrating her engagement to Steve Lodge, who she is no longer with. Even Shannon Beador finally had a win, as she settled her long divorce from David Beador

Season 15


This season started off with Shannon sharing she was “excited for 2020,” but no one knew they would have to deal with a worldwide pandemic. It was very interesting to see how each housewife handled the worldwide lockdown, with some following the rules and others trying to push it as fake news.

Even though the housewives had to turn to Zoom, they still had a pretty fun time. This was the season of bad hair extensions, glass breaking, and masks.