What appeared to be overwhelmingly joyous news came to The Real Housewives of Orange County fans this week.
A very believable report announced that Bravo was cleaning house in a major RHOC casting shakeup.
First on the list of those to go was Kelly Dodd, who enraged and disgusted fans with her unforgivable behavior.
But, if it seems too good to be true, it often is – and on Tuesday night, Kelly took to Twitter to taunt fans with threats of returning for Season 16.
"It’s actually kinda funny…" Kelly’s tweet mocking the report of her firing began.
She recalled: "I’ve heard these rumors every year for the last five years."
Kelly then boasted: "Looking forward to my sixth season #RHOC 16!"
Replies were of course quick to lament news — even unconfirmed — that Kelly might remain on the show.
Others also pointed out that, by all accounts, Bravo hasn’t sent out contracts yet for Season 16.
They suspect that Kelly might simply be trolling, knowing that thousands upon thousands of viewers want her gone.
The report of her firing has not been confirmed, but comes via Instagram account Deuxmoi.
Obviously, Instagram itself is seldom a good "source" for reports, but this particular account has a stellar track record.
They shared a DM (anonymous by request) that claimed that Kelly and three other castmates would not be returning as Full Housewives.
"RHOC shakeup is coming," the message read. "Kelly, Braunwyn, Emily, and Elizabeth are out. Tamra will be back."
"Heather [DuBrow] and Alexis [Bellino] said no," the message added.
"They’re trying to get Gretchen [Rossi] and her rich Newport friends but Gretchen [Rossi] won’t return if Tamra’s still on the show," the message concluded.
If that report is true, that means that the only remaining current housewives are Gina and Shannon.
That actually makes a lot of sense.
We’ll discuss why Gina and Shannon’s return makes sense while the other departures are so believable in a moment.
Some fans were immediately doubtful that Alexis and Gretchen wouldn’t jump at the chance to be Real Housewives again.
Alexis went through a less-than-fun divorce from her widely disliked husband just a couple of years ago.
As for Gretchen, well, people just have a hard time seeing her staying way for long unless it’s Bravo’s choice, not hers.
Initial fan reactions to the news were mostly noting that this is a change for the better, especially after Season 15 was … not great.
Not all of that was COVID-19’s fault, let’s be clear about that. Cast changes happen every year, and for a wide variety of reasons.
But one name stuck out:
A lot of people like Emily. She made a positive first impression upon fans by being relatable in many ways – more so than most.
She also had the storyline with her husband, Shane, being a jerk — but he visibly mellowed out on screen after seeing himself.
As such, people were sorry to see her go. (Honestly? Of all of them, I’d most expect to see her return as a Friend in Season 16)
However, the reason that it’s not unbelievable to hear that Emily is leaving – even if it’s unconfirmed – is kind of because Shane has mellowed out.
Sure, as people, fans are happy to see Emily’s marriage improve. No one wants to see Shane bully her as a human being.
But when it comes to reality television … where does that leave Emily in terms of a storyline or emotional hook?
Kelly Dodd’s reported firing is less of a surprise and was widely welcomed by, well, everyone with a sense of right and wrong.
See, Kelly spent so much of 2020 mocking the COVID-19 death toll – which has since reached half a million in the US alone.
She spread misinformation, told outright lies, and even at the Reunion when she could have offered a true apology, she repeated nonsense about pants and flatulence.
Kelly also was at the center of a racism scandal for her appalling comments about last summer’s historic Black Lives Matter protests.
Though racism is not a "mistake," there is certainly room in the world of reality TV for people to make mistakes, and grow as a result.
The key is sincerely apologizing and learning to do and be better.
But Kelly’s apologies (we use the term loosely) were filled with justifications, protests, and deflections that completely erased any flicker of sincerety.
It would be morally reprehensible for Bravo to keep Kelly on their network.
The boycott that began to ravage Season 15’s ratings would only grow.
Braunwyn Windham-Burke comes right after Kelly in this regard. Her sobriety journey is interesting to watch, without question.
Her coming out as a lesbian was inspirational and courageous – especially given the openness with which she approached it.
Committing multiple acts of domestic violence against her husband, Sean Burke, is neither of those things. It’s evil.
Sean may have chosen to defend Braunwyn, but her actions were indefensible. There is little gray area here.
They are not in doubt – Braunwyn spoke directly to the camera about hitting her husband more than once.
Domestic abusers should not have reality TV careers, music careers, movie careers, period.
Finally, a lot of fans were torn about Elizabeth Lyn Vargas and didn’t really understand her story until the RHOC Reunion.
She did get more supporters and win over a lot of viewers then … but did she really make enough of a splash to return?
After all, her role on the show began because she was Kelly’s friend. With Kelly cast out, how would Elizabeth fit in?
It makes sense for Shannon Beador to remain, even if a lot of fans don’t like her – because many do, and she’s been a rock.
She is a familiar face on the show and has been part of it for years. The next phase of Shannon’s life can serve as an anchor of sorts.
Even with a shakeup of the cast, Bravo would likely want at least one truly familiar face to connect with longtime viewers.
Finally, Gina Kirschenheiter absolutely blew us away on Season 15. She was honestly a beacon in a sea of blah.
She had a good, compelling story arc, she had no-nonsense commentary on the scandals of both Kelly and Braunwyn.
And frankly, her facial reactions alone at the Reunion were worthy. If RHOC ended today, we’d ask Bravo to cast Gina on RHONY.
But, as we said with our initial report, this might not be true, and we don’t mean fabricated by the Instagram account.
Sometimes networks do what’s called a "trial balloon," leaking something to see how people react. If the reaction is bad, they make changes.
If what we’ve seen on social media is any indication, the only change might be keeping Emily — or making sure that she returns as a "Friend."
Bye, Kelly, bye.