RHOC: Is production editing this season like Vanderpump Rules?

VANDERPUMP RULES, Brittany Cartwright, Jax Taylor, Kristen Doute, Lala Kent, Katie Maloney-Schwartz, Tom Schwartz -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo)
VANDERPUMP RULES, Brittany Cartwright, Jax Taylor, Kristen Doute, Lala Kent, Katie Maloney-Schwartz, Tom Schwartz -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo) /

2020 isn’t the only thing different with RHOC!  Could production be editing this season of The Real Housewives of Orange County similar to Vanderpump Rules?

Vanderpump Rules is celebrated for producers mercilessly trolling the cast, highlighting and reinforcing the cast’s dark and problematic behaviors like lying and hypocrisy. This trolling edit is the producers’ acknowledgment to the audience that producers are aware the cast are toxic people and what makes Vanderpump Rules so addictive.

The Real Housewives of Orange County this season has seen Housewives like Kelly Dodd, Braunwyn Windham-Burke, and Shannon Beador presented with an edit more like Jax Taylor or Scheana Shay instead of what we usually see with Real Housewives. Evolution Media is the production company behind The Real Housewives of Orange County, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and Vanderpumps Rules.

Vanderpump Rules is a standout gem in the Bravo universe. Vanderpump Rules works because it utilizes Aristotle’s theatrical technique of dark, horrible people doing dark, awful things to each other. Because the audience, and production, know the cast are all desperate and depraved individuals, it reads as a comedy instead of tragedy, making the show a fan-favorite dark comedy.

The Real Housewives of Orange County has had a history of extremely dark plotlines, with this season labeled as one of the darkest comedies on television. Could Evolution be borrowing production techniques from another hit show to reconfigure this legacy Bravo reality show for the new reality of 2020?

Before the season started airing, there were numerous groans from the Bravo watching community that we would have to suffer through the more conservative and out of touch Orange County Cast dealing with COVID. There were calls to fire Kelly Dodd and re-edit her out of this season for problematic and irresponsible comments about mask-wearing and the Covid-19 Pandemic. Instead of firing her, along with half the cast, and scraping this season, did production just lean into the problematic behavior to deliver a more compelling show?

This season of Orange County has all the housewives, except Kelly Dodd, dealing with particularly dark and tragic storylines. Shannon Beador deals with her family and herself, with a preexisting lung condition, contracting Covid and quarantining, and Emily Simpson’s husband Shane being hospitalized for eight days with COVID. We watched as Emily faces the reality that Shane is so sick that he might not make it out of the hospital.

Gina Kirschenheiter is dealing with her ex-husband’s court battle for domestically abusing her. We have newbie Elizabeth Vargas coming to terms with the long-term traumatic effects of her childhood in a sexually abusive cult while divorcing her super-rich ex-husband. Lastly, Braunwyn Windham-Burke deals with the intense rawness and emotional turmoil of becoming sober from alcohol the week before this season began shooting.

We, the audience, feel empathy for the cast going through such dark and intense things, but at the same time, with this trolling edit, we are reminded that the cast are also paradoxical characters to laugh at. We are compelled by Braunwyn and her sobriety journey but reminded that she is a hypocritical narcissist and chuckle at her absurdity.

When production shows a flashback to several scenes from past seasons where Kelly was on her phone while currently complaining about daughter Jolie continuously being on her cellphone, we laugh at Kelly. We giggle at Shannon and Kelly sneaking alcohol, with Shannon showing up DJ James Kennedy level drunk at newly sober Braunwyn’s vow renewal followed by a scene of Shannon hungover the next morning. All similar things we have laughed at with the contradictory characters throughout eight seasons of Vanderpump Rules.

With all the things that changed in 2020, did Bravo decide it is time to change up The Real Housewives of Orange County? With no official word on Vanderpump Rules‘ fate and the last few seasons of Orange County not being the greatest, Bravo and Evolution might have incorporated the Vanderpump Rules production style into Orange County for a more captivating season shot amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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This style of edit makes this season’s intense darkness more digestible and something to laugh at. With COVID still ravaging the world, we all need a wholesome laugh at the monsters we love to hate, and re-editing the Orange County monsters like the SUR monsters achieves this needed reprieve.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.

The Real Housewives of Orange County is on Wednesdays at 9 PM ET on Bravo