Vicki Gunvalson, Tamra Barney, Alexis Bellino, Gretchen Rossi, Lynne Curtin
The Real Housewives of Orange County is a reality television program on the Bravo network. It is the first installation in the The Real Housewives of… series. Created by Orange County producer and Coto de Caza (“Coto”) resident Scott Dunlop, with music by Chuck Hammer, the show was initially set primarily in the gated community of Coto and followed the lavish livestyles of five “housewives” and their families who resided within Coto McMansions, with the exception of one housewife (Lauri Waring, later, Peterson), who lived in comparatively reduced financial circumstances in a Ladera Ranch, California townhouse. This housewife exception-to-the-rule was used in Season 1 as a foil to the (then) extravagant lifestyle of the other four housewives, who lived “behind the Coto gates”. The show is a voyeuristic look into the wealthy lives of these housewives, as they shop, get plastic surgery, gossip, fight and live lavishly. The construction-real estate crash, the beginning of which coincided almost exactly with the first season’s broadcast, has since trimmed the housewives’ lifestyles with job losses, evictions, mortgage defaults, foreclosures, and marital stress—all recorded in progressive seasons of the show. Some have seen the show as a parable of the economic bubble and crisis as it portrayed a lavish consumerism, with American families living beyond their means, only to find themselves in serious debt when the economy soured.
The show’s title and introduction alludes to the ABC show Desperate Housewives as well as the Fox teen drama The OC and touts itself as these two fictional shows’ “real-life” counterpart. Unlike a true documentary, however, Bravo has monetarily compensated the show participants for their filming time. The show’s first season premiered on March 21, 2006. The five original housewives were Kimberly Bryant, Jo De La Rosa, Vicki Gunvalson, Jeana Keough and Lauri Waring. Season 1 consisted of 8 episodes, including the reunion. The show’s second season premiered on January 16, 2007. Four of the five original housewives returned, with the exception of Kimberly Bryant who was replaced by Tammy Knickerbocker. Season 2 consisted of 10 episodes, including the reunion. Season 3 consisted of 12 episodes, including the reunion. Additionally, midway through this season, a sixth housewife was introduced to the cast, Quinn Fry. With the introduction of Barney and Fry and Waring’s move to San Juan Capistrano, the scope of the show widened its narrow focus that used to emphasize the privilege and exclusivity of living in gated Coto de Caza to purport the general luxury and materialism of living in the Orange County environment. For example, Waring comments in the opening credits of Season 3 that she is now “living the Orange County lifestyle again” with her new wealthy fiance. BravoTV announced the series’ fourth season renewal with the return of three original housewives, Gunvalson, Keough, Peterson (Waring, after her marriage to George Peterson at the end of Season 3), and Season 3 housewife Barney. A new housewife, Gretchen Rossi, replaces Season 2 housewife Knickerbocker and Season 3 housewife Fry, both of whom did not return. To compensate for the mid-season departure of Peterson, another new housewife, Lynne Curtin, joined the cast. This season premiered on November 25, 2008. Season 4 consisted of 15 episodes, including the reunion and a ‘Lost Footage’ special. In June 2009, BravoTV announced the renewal of the show for a fifth season with the entire Season 4 cast returning. Season 5 premiered on 5 November 2009, with fifteen regular episodes and a two-part reunion. During this season a sixth housewife, Newport Beach resident, Alexis Bellino, was added to the cast to replace Keough, who departed mid-season, leaving Gunvalson as the only remaining original cast member. The show has been picked up for a sixth season, with new housewife Peggy Tanous replacing Lynne Curtin. Fernanda Rocha of Laguna Beach, a personal trainer who co-owns the Art of Fitness & Day Spa, also in Laguna, has signed up to appear on several upcoming episodes.
Season 6 will premiere on Sunday, March 6, 2011