Tamra Judge explained at BravoCon 2022 that she had a good experience joining The Real Housewives of Orange County again. According to Us Weekly, Tamra said of her screen time in season 17, “I was kind of surprised by how everyone was so nice to me. It was kind of like they were afraid of me. It was just fun to come back and be part of the group again.” Over 16 seasons, RHOC has shown fans long-time friendships, exciting vacations, and scenes that leave a huge, dramatic impact. When fans debate the best RHOC season, not every one is fabulous. The first few don’t look as high-definition as later ones, and they also don’t provide the intense, juicy moments that viewers look for.
When comparing the best seasons of RHOC, the ones that stand out have quotable moments, exciting cast members, and a fight between good friends or personal drama that leaves a lasting impression. While no episode or season is a total disappointment since this reality show is popular for a reason, fans can tell which is the best RHOC season.
Updated on October 28th, 2022 by Aya Tsintziras: There is a lot of anticipation for season 17 of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County, which includes compelling cast changes. Former housewives Tamra Judge and Vicki Gunvalson will return, along with Taylor Armstrong, who used to be a cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. When reflecting on the best seasons of The Real Housewives of Orange County, several stick out because of certain cast members or storylines that have endured and contributed to the show’s popularity.
Season 13 – Introducing Emily And Gina
Season 13 was a great one for RHOC, as fans got to know Emily Simpson and Gina Kirschenheiter, who have brought a lot to the reality series. Fans were invested in both women right away, particularly since they had very interesting marriages. Viewers wondered how happy Emily and Shane were, and Gina shared that she was getting divorced, but the others wondered why she was so calm about such a big life change.
While there are many RHOC scenes that fans re-watch, there weren’t that many stand-out moments in season 13, so it isn’t quite as juicy as some others.
Season 14 – Emily And Shane Have Problems, Braunwyn Is Introduced
Things got even more dramatic in season 14, as Braunwyn Windham-Burke, a mom of 7, was introduced. This season had a lot of important storylines: Shane and Emily struggled even more as he studied for his law exam, Vicki Gunvalson celebrated her engagement to Steve Lodge, and Shannon Beador’s divorce was finally settled.
This was a significant season as the housewives’ lives were all changing, particularly when it came to romance. This season set up many big moments that would take place in season 15, as the women would struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic and wonder where their friendships stood. Season 14 can’t compete with such a wild successor, but it was still fun to watch.
Season 6 – Tamra Throws Wine At Jeana
Right away, season 6 stands out as in the season finale called “Girl Fight,” Tamra threw wine in Jeana Keough’s face. Tamra didn’t like that Jeana was talking about her and Simon’s relationship, and she decided to make a splash — literally. This season also stands out because Gretchen Rossi insulted Tamra by calling her “an evil b*tch,” which became an infamous quote, and Tamra began falling for Eddie.
While the iconic wine throw makes this one of RHOC‘s better seasons, since viewers like these surprising scenes, the rest of the episodes don’t seem quite as interesting as later seasons. There’s still enough to keep viewers invested, though, and the season is only 13 episodes so it’s a quick re-watch.
Season 8 – Tamra And Eddie’s Romance Blossoms
While viewers know about Tamra’s wild moments on RHOC, she has had some sweet ones as well, and they often involved her now-husband Eddie Judge. Season 8 has many heartwarming episodes that showed Tamra and Eddie moving in together and getting their gym, CUT Fitness, in gear.
This season also focused on Tamra’s ongoing fight with Alexis, and one particularly intense scene makes this a season that no reality TV fan can forget. When the cast had dinner at CUT, Tamra asked Alexis why she would attend when her husband Jim wanted to sue Tamra. Tamra told Alexis to leave and according to People, Jim sued Tamra for defamation, and Tamra later spoke about how much money it cost her. Later seasons would provide even more drama, though.
Season 9 – Shannon Vs. Heather
Season 9 really escalated the tension between Shannon and Heather Dubrow, making it another stand-out group of episodes. When rumors began going around about David and Shannon having a hard time in their marriage, those ended up being true, but Shannon didn’t like that Heather was talking about her. In a famous scene, Heather kicked Shannon out of her house.
This season foreshadowed a lot of the pain and heartbreak that Shannon would go through as her marriage ended because of David’s affair. While other seasons of RHOC are a bit more enticing, this one still matters a lot as it set up a massive change in Shannon’s life.
Season 7 – Vicky And Tamra Vs. Slade, Introducing Heather
Season 7 is a significant part of RHOC history as Heather joined the cast and threw a painting party, and it became clear to fans and her co-stars that she was a very fancy, fabulous person. This season also showed the interesting dynamic between Vicki and Tamra, as Vicki was worried that Tamra would get too close to Gretchen.
This season is also memorable because of the mean comments that Slade Smiley made during his stand-up routine. Vicki and Tamra were understandably upset to learn that Slade insulted their physical appearances, and this led to drama.
Season 2 – Vicki Vs. The Family Van
When it comes to the most iconic scene for OG RHOC cast members, viewers always talk about Vicki’s devastation that a car company sent her a family van to transport her family to the airport. This happened in the season 2 episode “Be Nice to the New Girl.”
Given that this scene is such a big and beloved part of the show, season 2 can’t be ignored and it’s a perfect, fun trip down memory lane. Fans also saw the determined, passionate, and organized part of Vicki’s personality here as she got ready for a two-week vacation. While fans didn’t like how mean Vicki was here, it’s admirable that she works so hard at her insurance company.
Season 15 – The Real Housewives Of Orange County Deal With The COVID-19 Pandemic
While fans might not have been sure what to expect from season 15 of the beloved reality show, it was a fascinating season that handled the COVID-19 pandemic in a responsible manner. When the housewives were in quarantine, they still interacted with each other virtually, and there were many revelations in this season, from Elizabeth Vargas sharing about her tragic childhood and Braunwyn talking about her alcoholism.
While this was a tough and sad season in many ways, as Emily’s husband Shane was hospitalized and Gina figured out how to co-parent with her ex-husband Matt, it felt important. And the cast members proved that they were authentic, genuine people with real problems, which made them relatable.
Season 11 – Kelly Makes A Splash In “Boogie Fights,” The Housewives Go To Ireland
Season 11 was Kelly Dodd’s first season, and while the reality star is no longer on the show, her impact can never be forgotten. One of Kelly’s most embarrassing moments on RHOC took place in the season 11 episode “Boogie Fights” when Shannon had a party with a 1970’s theme. Kelly said it was logical that David had an affair, which still feels so painful to hear.
Season 11 also featured one of the best vacations on the show. When the cast went to Ireland, Tamra and Kelly had a huge argument when Kelly mentioned a pain point for Tamra: the strained relationship she had with her daughter, who took Tamra’s ex-husband Simon’s side in the divorce.
Season 16 – Heather Returns And Marriages Fall Apart
It’s always a big deal when a housewife comes back and Heather returns in season 16. Seeing a familiar face makes this a fun season, as Heather gives a memorable tour of her epic mansion that has more rooms than anyone can keep track of. The season also stands out for including many unforgettable conversations about the cast members’ marriages and the time when Nicole James sued Heather’s husband Terry.
Season 16 had it all: new cast members which added drama to the dynamic already there and an entertaining trip to Cabo. This season also introduced newcomers Noella Bergener and Jen Armstrong, who shared that their marriages were in trouble. These deep conversations allowed the cast members to bond and help each other.
Season 10 – Vicki And Brooks’s Big Cancer Lie
Brooks’s lie about his cancer dominated season 10 of RHOC, and it’s hard to top this season, making it the most dramatic one yet. It was Vicki against the rest of the cast, as she hated that they didn’t believe Brooks, and they didn’t get why she was supporting him.
While no one thought Brooks was really sick, it was still stunning to find out that he was pretending, and the impact of this situation is still felt today. While Vicki and Brooks aren’t together anymore and she is marrying Steve, this storyline caused major problems in her friendships, making it a season that fans can watch any time and still be shocked and entertained.