'RHOC' Vet Tamra Judge on 10 Years in Reality TV, the New OC Housewife and Her Friendship With Vicki Gunvalson

Erin S. Medley
Tommy Garcia/Bravo

Tamra Judge, Real Housewives of Orange County Season 12

Tamra Judge knows a thing or two about being a reality television star. This season of Real Housewives of Orange County—the franchise's 12th— marks Judge's 10th season on the Bravo show. Fans have watched Judge, 49, mark multiple milestones in her life, including a contentious divorce, an engagement, a remarriage and the birth of a grandchild.

But if you think Judge is ready to retire into the Housewives' sunset, think again. "My life is really calm right now, then I get worried like, 'Oh, I might be too boring or maybe there’s not a lot going on,' she admitted to TV Insider prior to the start of the new season. "But life just happens and stuff happens."

That "stuff" includes a continued riff in her friendship with fellow RHOC OG, Vicki Gunvalson, and a potentially rocky start with new housewife Peggy Sulahian. Judge spoke to TV Insider about what fans can expect on Real Housewives of Orange County Season 12.

What do you think it is about The Real Housewives of O.C. that has made it last so long?
Tamra Judge:
I guess we’re the originals, and I think that us girls really put it out there. And I don’t know, I think about it a lot, like why? When’s it gonna end? Is there gonna be an ending? Like, are we going to keep going? All I can think of is that we’re the originals and the public loves us.

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So last season we saw you getting ready for your fitness competition. Will we see any of that in the new season?
I do a Spartan with Eddie.

How was that?
It was fun. We did it as a group; not as competing, so we helped each other out. It was brutal, though.

Last season you had a little bit of a rough relationship with both Vicki and Kelly Dodd, the new housewife. How does that progress into the new season?
Kelly and I make up. So we make up and it takes us a little…I mean, we’re not best friends, but we move on.

No more nose flicks...
No. Vicki and I...it’s just not in the cards, I don’t think. She tried to call me to meet, and I agreed to meet, and then she screwed that up, and then she called me again to meet, and I met her and she screwed it up again, so she just can’t take responsibility for her own actions. So it’s been difficult.

You guys are so much fun together; the fans would love to see you mend your relationship.
You know what? I agree with that, but there’s gotta be a time when you just stop. When somebody’s attacking your family...I think there’s a lot that the fans don’t know that she has done.

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And will we see that this season?
I know that it was talked about, but I never know what’s gonna air.

Speaking of the new season...Lydia McLaughlin is returning. How do you feel about that?
I’m happy!  I think that in the past when Lydia was on she was very quiet, didn’t say a whole lot. And like a lot of people were like, "Oh, I can’t believe they brought her back," but she’s in a different place in her life, and she’s a little bit older, and she’s had another baby, and she uses her big girl words this year.

Any conflicts this year between Lydia and the other housewives?
Yes.

Can you tell us which one?
Well, it starts off with Shannon. But in the most part she [Lydia] tries to be the peacemaker.

What about the new housewife, Peggy: Did you know her before she joined?
I didn’t know her before. She is probably the most complicated person to get to know, so I never felt like I was totally close with her because I didn’t film with her a lot, but I had my moments with her as well.

Really? Contentious moments?
No, I mean, they weren’t horrible it’s just…she’s just…you have to watch. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s almost like she speaks another language. I had a conversation with her, and she goes, "And Diko [Peggy's husband] said ninja.” And I go, "What are you talking about?" Like, you just don’t understand what she’s saying to you. When I say you don’t understand, like you really don’t understand.

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If you had to sum up this season for us, what do we have to look forward to?
I think there’s a lot of family stuff...my son Ryan and his fiancé Sarah; their relationship and how that’s going with four—you know, he’s got three stepkids and Ava. Friendships turn. We go on a great trip this year to Iceland. 

Ireland did not end so well for you last season.
No. I think Ireland was prettier, but Iceland...yeah, I don’t like the cold. Iceland got a little icy. Was a little frosty there. [Editor's Note: Tamra gives a knowing stare, as though Iceland will bring the heat in terms of drama.]

You're #17 on TV Insider's ranking of all 99 Real Housewives. Tell us: What does Tamra bring to the Housewives franchise, and why should you be ranked higher?
Well, you know what, honestly I feel like I have done almost a full circle from being on the show. I’m probably the only one that has had my 40th birthday on the show. I’m gonna turn 50 here in a couple months. I got divorced, I got engaged, I got married, I got baptized, I became a grandmother. Uh… what else do you want from me? Why am I number 17, do I need to die?

Real Housewives of Orange County, Tuesdays, 9/8c, Bravo

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