'Real Housewives of Orange County' Encore: Lydia McLaughlin Returns for Season 12

Ingela Ratledge
Q&A Tommy Garcia/Bravo

Lydia McLaughlin

Who says you can’t go home again? Definitely not The Real Housewives of Orange County’s Lydia McLaughlin, who—after exiting the Bravo docuseries following just one season in 2013—is back for an encore performance. But while the devout Christian, mom of three and entrepreneur (she and her hubby recently launched their own magazine, Nobleman) is still as sunny as ever, dealing with her castmates is no day at the beach. Here, she serves up the SoCal juice.

What inspired you return to the fray?
When I left after Season 8, it was a really hard decision. I wanted to have another baby, and filming the show with a newborn would have been too stressful. But I missed it, and I knew the door was always open. The timing felt right.

Have the past four years given you more perspective?
I’m in a better state to have more fun—and be more outspoken. I love the Lord and try to always be an example, but I have a strong voice. I am constantly thinking about what I believe and why I believe it. I do my Bible study, trying to equip myself to go into battle with the world watching!

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How much have the group dynamics shifted?
Everything is different! Vicki [Gunvalson] and Tamra [Judge] are the only ones still on from before—and I remember when Vicki gave a speech at Tamra’s wedding. I come back, and they won’t even be in the same room together! I try to be the friendship whisperer to them, but I have my work cut out for me.

Ever wonder, “Can’t we all just get along?”
This season is not just, “Let’s have a party and everyone fight.” It’s about how we navigate our loyalties to one another. I found it fascinating. Every time I came home, I’d tell my husband, “You will not believe this!” It’s so entertaining being in it, I can’t wait to watch it!

The Real Housewives of Orange County, Mondays, 9/8c, Bravo

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This feature appeared in the July 24-Aug. 6 issue of TV Guide Magazine

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