NEW YORK — It’s hard for Vicki Gunvalson to not think of the past decade of her life in terms of TV seasons: She’s the only remaining original cast member on Bravo’s first “Real Housewives” series, “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”
Gunvalson, 53, said in a recent interview that she equates milestones in her life to what season they aired on. The show, which airs at 9 p.m. Mondays, is now in its 10th season.
“This season my mom dies. Last season, I had situations with Tamra (Judge) and then I look at another season where I decided to divorce (ex-husband) Don,” she said.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Gunvalson talked about friends from the show and how reality TV impacts real life.
Q: Which woman on the show is a legitimate friend in your eyes?
A: It changes from season to season. Tamra is my friend ... right now. ... (Former cast member) Alexis Bellino absolutely is my friend. She reaches out to me weekly. I see Lynne (Curtin) every now and then. I see Jeana (Keough) every now and then. You think about all these people I’ve filmed with all these years and there’s not many I stay in touch with.
Q: Is it hard to be married on a reality TV show?
A: I definitely think you need a strong bond and a strong foundation. ... It’s definitely tough on marriage and relationships. I’m in counseling over this because I don’t know how to some days handle it. “Is this my reality or is this reality?”
Q: Because you have seen castmates come and go, is it ever awkward?
A: The disadvantage I have is the new cast members coming in have watched me, so they’re gonna try to either be my friend or they’re gonna try to tear me down. I never watched anybody. When I started filming, there was no reality show. We were the first.
Q: You have a reputation on the show as being hard to get to know and that you don’t just like everyone but is really that because you’re then waiting and watching?
A: (I wonder) “What is their motive? Why are they coming on the show?”
The ones that are going on the show is they’re either opinionated or they have something to say. I’m the matriarch. I’m the one they’re gonna come after.
Q: Do you watch other reality shows?
A: No. I don’t have time. I think what’s good for me is when I do see other “Real Housewives” cast members (from other cities) like NeNe (Leakes) and Ramona (Singer) I have no opinions about them. I don’t know any of their storylines. I don’t know what’s going on but I like them as people. It’s easy that way.
Q: Have you ever thought about leaving the show?
A: Yes. In the past three years I’ve thought about it. It’s been hard to manage my personal life and then my insurance career. ... I weigh it out every year and there’s always been more good than bad.
When there is a day there’s more bad than good, then I’m done. ... I don’t live, breathe and die a TV show.