In my decade of covering Bravo shows, I’ve learned that some Housewives are good wacky, some are bad wacky, and some just can’t get out of their own way. And then there’s Heather Dubrow, who returns to The Real Housewives of Orange County for Season 16, and Heather is a pro. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s been in the business for years as an actress, singer, and performer. Maybe it’s that this isn’t her first rodeo (though she’s always been a pro and nothing but lovely to interact with). Or maybe it’s that she remains the rare bird that has a sense of humor about herself and the show, but also understands and appreciates it (and its impact) just as much as the viewers do.
Earlier this week, I journeyed to L’Avenue, a gorgeous lounge in Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to sit down with Heather and a glass of champagne, of course, to discuss the upcoming season of the show. “This is Louis Roederer,” she told me of the bubbly. “It’s delicious, I love Louis Roederer. I have a list of champagnes that I love, but it also depends on where I am and what I’m eating.”
It was the perfect match for the hors d’oeuvres, flowers, and even location, which she specifically picked out for this intimate event. “We were here three weeks ago filming something and I was like, ‘I love L’Avenue. Let me call them.’ And I like details, so I wanted to make sure you all had champs and little light bites and a few flowers just to make it pretty.” Her husband, Dr. Terry Dubrow sat in a nearby chair working on his phone with a glass of wine by his side.
During our brief yet satisfying catch-up session, Heather came across as genuinely excited to not only be returning to but discussing the Bravo show as well — rarely the case for other cast members. But Heather appears to be an open book and a natural. Her repeated statements don’t feel rehearsed, even if they are. She knows how to talk about the show. She’s happy to talk about her life (not to mention, share it with the world). And perhaps most refreshingly, she exudes a confident self-awareness, enthusiasm, and friendliness throughout. She feels like your friend. You know, the one with special drawers in their bathroom specifically designed to keep their towels warm.
Of course, maybe not all of her castmates would agree. Here, Heather answers all the nosy questions I had about her gorgeous home, addresses a recent Instagram documentation at dinner by a former cast member, and explains why she doesn’t feel pressure about the anticipation of the new season.
Decider: I’m so glad you’re back, but how does it feel for you? I feel like everybody is really excited about your return. Are you embracing that or are you nervous because we know this Bravo audience and they can be a little opinionated?
Heather Dubrow: Oh, that’s so funny. When I was doing some press last week, a couple of people were like, “Oh, you’re bringing the class and you’re so classy and you’re elegant,” and I go, “There’s a very short leap from that to snobby and pretentious.” Like, I know. I’ve been on the show before. I’m excited and nervous. I think I’m in denial, to be honest with you. They asked me to do it like a year ago; it was December. I think I said yes around February, so I knew for a long time. And it was like something that was going to happen, and then it finally happened and we’re like, Wow, now it’s done. We’re finally here. I just, I can’t believe it.
Is it the kind of thing where you’re like, I’ve got to see it on TV to believe it and then it’ll be real?
I have a hard time watching myself, but I did watch the first episode and I was really happy with it. I think it’s amazing. Having lived the season in general, I think the audience is going to be very, very happy. I mean, there’s all the drama. Everyone loves drama, right? And there’s some petty drama, which I enjoy the most. The bow off the cake, that’s my kind of drama. But what’s really cool about it is the personal stories. The personal stories are really compelling. I think the audience is going to get re-invested in some people and maybe invested in some new people, and it ends in a very different way.
I’m thrilled that you and Gina are friends. It makes all the sense in the world to me. Tell me about what makes that friendship work.
Well, as soon as I met her, we did the whole New York thing. Like, ‘Where’d you grow up?’ and all of a sudden my accent is like 12 times worse in the first few minutes. But what I love about Gina is honestly what I love about the franchise in general. She is completely authentic. There’s no bullshit with Gina. She will tell you exactly how she’s feeling at that moment, sometimes not what you want to hear at that moment, but she’s just a really authentic person, and that resonates with me. That’s what I love about the show.
How do your kids feel about it this time around? Terry, I’m guessing, is thrilled.
Fame whore, yeah. Totally fine. Only sad he’s not doing interviews himself. We had a family meeting about it. I sat everyone down, and I go, “So listen. They’ve asked me to come back.” I marinated on it myself a little bit, and I talked about it and then we had the family meeting. And we had a really good conversation because I said, “It’s not like when you were little, running through and I pat you on the head and you look cute and that’s it. This is like, you’re part of the story, and you’re my story. And not only can I not do it without your support, I would need for you to be involved.” And they were all on board. They’re such good kids.
It’s so special to have the flashbacks and then to see them now.
Aren’t they so cute? And they’re normal, right? That dinner and my walk was the first day of the entire season of filming for the whole show. All the cameras were there and then they break them down, and then we looked at each other and went, “That was so weirdly normal. Is there something wrong with us?”
I have a lot of questions about the house, so let’s jump into it. What is your favorite room in the house?
My closet, for sure.
Is there a room that you haven’t been in for weeks or months?
That’s a very good question. I’m going to say the music room. I call it the basement, I’m from New York. They call it the subterranean out west. We have a room that we built because a lot of people have live-in help, which we don’t, but we built that room because when I build a house I always think about resale. So we built that room, and I thought, What are we going to do with it? And I thought, Oh, I would love to have a place where I could go sing and play the piano, so I made a music room.
Is it soundproof?
It’s not. I wish I had done that. It’s like one of the things… the three mistakes in the house, that’s one of them. But I didn’t realize it was going to be a music room until it was beyond that point. But maybe someday I’ll go back and change it up because my daughter Max is also a brilliant singer. She’s actually recording an album right now, she is amazing.
Love the trap door. That’s a really nice touch.
We didn’t show them all, but there’s a lot of hidden doors in our house.
Was that your idea or was that something you wanted to do?
Oh, yeah. I love trap doors. The kids call them Scooby-Doo doors.
If you could transform Terry’s fake office into a real room, what would it be?
I wouldn’t mind having some kind of meditation room. Which is my closet, honestly, but like a zen meditation room. Here’s the thing: that office was a non-functioning office until the pandemic. We have a skincare and supplement line called Consult Beaute and Health that we sell on ShopHQ and we used to go to Minnesota every month, and when the pandemic hit, we started doing it from home. So we do a lot of our shows from the kitchen, but he also sells med therapeutics and he does it from his office, so he’s finally using his office. We literally use every room in the house now. Until next year when the twins leave.
The refrigerated drawers in the kitchen and the warming drawers for towels in the bathroom must be life-changing.
The refrigerated drawers in the kitchen are great and I put them near the table so that the kids could grab drinks, so that’s why they’re there. When I design a house, I think very carefully about how we live. So the dumbwaiter is in the garage; you can pull the car in, you put the groceries on, and it goes up to the pantry. Even the way the door opens and the refrigerator door opens, it was a process to go about it. But the best feature in our house is the towel warming drawers. It’s the best thing ever. Ever.
Speaking of rooms, have you seen Noella’s sex dungeon at this point?
When she told me about it at lunch, I was picturing something very… She told me it was chic and this and that and she went on and on about it at the lunch. So I was picturing something very elaborate. I have not been there, but when I saw the photo, it looked like someone’s spare bedroom that had a red light on and someone threw a whip on. I was like, OK, man. It wasn’t as impactful as I had pictured. I kind of want to remodel it for her. Maybe I could.
Did you really not know who Nicole was, you didn’t know the connection?
No. Nicole and I were friends for about eight years, and she’s a great girl. She’s beautiful. She is very nice. She’s really generous. I’ve literally never heard her say a bad word about anyone, ever.
What I would say is this: The first two episodes, as Andy Cohen said, start with a bang. Everything comes out very hot and very fast, but it’s not what happened. It’s why. And the repercussions of that ripple on.
What do you think when Andy says things like that? He says, ‘OC is back, It’s gonna be great.’ Does that put pressure on, or are you just like, ‘Hell yeah, Andy. Let’s do this’?
No, because we’re done [filming], so I don’t feel pressure in that respect. I feel like, “You invited me back. Thank you.” I came back. I feel like we showed our family and our home and our children, and I was my authentic self. So, enjoy.
How did you feel about Shannon this season? In the first episode to me she feels a little bit lost, but what was your take on her general vibe this time around?
Well, clearly, I’m a moron who didn’t have any idea what was going on and can’t read the room at all. That just shows you, I’m not looking for ulterior motives. I think Shannon and I both went into the season with the best of intentions, and it just went off the rails.
Have you heard from Vicki or Tamra since you came back?
I ran into Vicki while we were filming at a restaurant. And Tamra and I do speak, and I actually invited her to a party I had. We did a wrap party for Seven Year Stitch for Terry’s and my show on E! and I invited her but it didn’t work out, which I was sad about because I love Tamra and Eddie and they’re great. It was weird, honestly, to come back to the show without her.
I don’t want to put more gas on this fire, but I am the one bringing it up. You were recently at a restaurant and a former cast member was Instagramming about you sitting behind them. My main question is, do you and Terry often sit at large tables by yourselves? Anything you want to say about that situation?
[Laughs] We were filming for another project we’re working on, and we had finished the project and so we didn’t realize we were going to have time to go out to dinner. Filming ended earlier, so we called Dale, who’s the manager at Masters, and I said, “Hey, we’re coming in in 15 minutes. Do you have anything for us?” He says, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” That was the table. And he knows we like to sit by the tree, so that’s why he put us at that table. But we didn’t even notice. First of all, my hair and makeup were completely done and I had sweats on because I took off my outfit and put on sweats and was like, well my hair and makeup looks good, I’m just gonna put on a coat. It’s fine.
How do you find out that that’s happening? Are you getting notifications on your phone ? Because you were very unbothered and I appreciated that.
You know what, here’s the thing. Let’s just break it down. Kelly seems to talk about me a lot, and I just don’t engage. But at some point, I’m thinking, “Should I be flattered that you’re so obsessed with me? Or do I feel bad for you that you have no other content?” Which one? I’m not sure.
Both. And here’s the other thing: when you leave the franchise, two things: Don’t burn bridges, and figure out what your next step is. I don’t think sitting at a restaurant encroaching on former cast members is a viable career option, and it just seems sad and pathetic to me.
Do you have a go-to Nobu order?
Yes. By the way, they just catered our Thanksgiving. It was just the six of us, it was so fun. It was the twins’ 18th birthday the day before, so our chef was there, and we did the weirdest menu because they’re so different. It was all their favorite foods, ribs and kale chips and tomato soup and grilled cheese. And then the next night we did Thanksgiving and Nobu came and catered it. So miso soup, edamame, shishito peppers, king crab tempura, we like the wagyu beef. But I’ll tell you, my favorite thing is they do sushi Matsuhisa style. So they take the rice, they put a little Wasabi, they put the fish and they squeeze a little lime and a little salt. Whatever kind of sushi you like, ask for it Matsuhisa style.
The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Wednesday at 9 pm ET/PT on Bravo.
Stream The Real Housewives of Orange County on Bravo