A RHOC season like none before.
Anyone who has watched the trailer for season 15 of The Real Housewives of Orange County knows the coronavirus pandemic took everyone by surprise and literally halted filming earlier this year.
"We had a lot of challenges, but I tell you we did the best we could and I think it's gonna be a good season, even considering what we had to deal with," Emily Simpson told E! News exclusively ahead of the Wednesday, Oct. 14 premiere.
"I think it's really interesting because it affects everyone differently and you get to see that play out through the whole season," the Bravo star continued. "I mean, it's really a double edged sword for Real Housewives of Orange County because we were filming during the middle of it. And when I say double edged sword I mean we have problems and challenges with filming period that we had to overcome and work out and figure out, and Bravo did a great job with doing that. On the other hand, you get to see a real raw, inside look at how we as individuals and as a group dealt with it and got through it. And I think that's really interesting for the viewers."
Once COVID-19 shutdowns were in full effect, filming totally changed for the rest of season 15.
"We were really deep into the season, like four or five weeks into filming full time and we shut down immediately—just shut down. And we thought it was gonna be a two week break, which was fine. I think everybody was on board with that, like, 'Okay, you know, we need to do what's best,'" Simpson shared. "But then that two week break ended up being like a five to six month break. And so that was challenging. And then when we did start to film together again, I think Bravo, or Evolution together, did a great job. We were getting tested regularly, we were only filming like two at a time, we were filming outdoors. I think they just did everything they could to make sure we were all safe."
Coronavirus isn't the only thing shaking up season 15. There's a new Housewife, Elizabeth Lyn Vargas, who Simpson calls "a great addition to add more fun and more layers to the mix."
"I think she fits in well and I think she's really established relationships with some of the women, but I think she also ruffles feathers and causes some problems," Simpson said, adding, "Or not causes problems, but you know when you're new you obviously...we're trying to figure out who she is and what she's about and I think a lot of really interesting things come up about her."
As for the other OC ladies, Simpson teases, "Kelly [Dodd] and Shannon [Beador have] their ups and downs, you have Gina [Kirschenheiter] and I not getting along last year but like, reconnecting this year. Braunwyn [Wyndham-Burke] has her own issues with everyone."
"For me, I think it's better. And I don't mean that as disrespect towards them," Simpson said of Tamra and Vicki's absence. "I think that they were on the show for a long period of time and I just think the show has to evolve. And that means that you have to have new people and you have to keep it moving forward and I feel like the relationships are more authentic and more real because I feel like when someone has been on the show as long as those two have, I think a lot of things get manipulated and contrived. And, you know, when you have a newer cast, we're definitely not good at that—I'm not anyway. So I'm always playing defense like, 'What's coming at me now?' So, I just think it's more authentic."
Watch the season 15 premiere of The Real Housewives of Orange County Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 9 p.m. on Bravo!
Binge past seasons of RHOC on Peacock now.
(E!, Bravo and Peacock are all part of the NBCUniversal family)