This is without question the single biggest shakeup in the history of The Real Housewives of Orange County.
Maybe of any Real Housewives show.
At first, this particular round of cast turmoil rumors sounded particularly absurd, as they often are, but they haven't gone away.
Multiple media reports and accounts from the cast itself indicates that the OG of the OC herself, Vicki Gunvalson, has been demoted.
She'll be returning as a "Friend" of the Housewives instead of as a full Housewife, but for Vicki of all people, that's a shocking move.
Take a look at how and why it went down ...
Vicki Gunvalson at Home
It has been widely rumored that Vicki Gunvalson has been demoted to a mere "Friend" of the Housewives.
This is a big effing deal
Vicki is THE OG Housewife. When she loses her orange, so to speak, Tamra Judge will be the longest-running Housewife. Can you live with that? Can you sleep with that on your conscience? Because Bravo apparently can.
Kelly Dodd is beside herself with glee
"Well, I cannot confirm nor deny," Kelly Dodd said in response to Jeff Lewis' question on Jeff Lewis Live, Flipping Out. "However, that’s the word on the street."
Jeff Lewis took Kelly's statement as a confirmation
So, she’s been demoted," Jeff, who is also feuding with Vicki, replies. "Vicki Gunvalson has been demoted. I think the way she’s behaved and the things she has done, she doesn’t deserve our respect. And I’m glad she was demoted."
Vicki took to Twitter to dismiss it all as just rumors
"Unless you hear it from me, then it’s simply a rumor," Vicki insists. "I am in negotiations." Vicki later adds: "I’m the only one who knows really what is going on."
First of all, that's not a denial
And second of all? Bravo is already filming The Real Housewives of Orange County. So if Vicki is still in negotiations, she's not filming, which means that they're filming without her. That's not great.
Vicki herself has dropped hints about it
Almost within the same breath as claiming that it's all just scuttlebutt, Vicki not-so-subtly retweets someone lamenting that young, hungry Housewives enter franchises to replace the initial stars.
Is Vicki just putting on a brave face for fans?
According to RadarOnline, in real life, Vicki is "absolutely crushed" that she's gone from long-reigning queen to guest star.
Sources say that it was a shock to everyone
"Word started spreading around that she was getting the axe a couple of weeks ago," an insider tells RadarOnline. "But no one really believed it until they started filming without her."
After 13 years, she's done
"She’s been demoted, but she hasn’t agreed to take the offer," a production source confirms. And while Vicki is "in negotiatons," she's not expected to take whatever scraps Bravo is offering her.
Vicki can negotiate all she likes, but ...
"Typically, the ladies are given a really short time, like five days, to either accept the offer from the network, or leave the show," the insider explains. "There aren’t a lot of negotiations."
Vicki may have to accept this change
"Vicki’s attorneys are talking to her," the source adds.
It'll be a major adjustment for fans, too
"RHOC has been her whole life for like 15 years and she is the O.G. for a reason,” the source continues. “Now Tamra is going to be the longest standing housewife."
So why is she getting pushed to the side?
Ultimately, sources say, Vicki just didn't have a storyline for this season. But that wasn't the only thing. ...
Vicki took her feuding too far
Vicki's claim that Kelly is a coke fiend wasn't the first time that Vicki has spread (or started) a harmful rumor about one of her colleagues, but didn't do any good for her career.
All in all, it pushed Bravo to usher her out the door
"When you added that on top of the cocaine drama with Kelly [Dodd]," the source says. "It was just her time to go."
In the end, she ran out of friends
"The cocaine allegations played a part, but there was no organic story with the remaining cast,” the insider concludes. “No one wanted to shoot with her."
Which leads into the perfect joke
As a number of people have tweeted: how can Vicki be a "friend" of the Housewives if she doesn't actually have any friends?
It's the end of an era
But some would say that after the rumors that she repeated about her castmate's marriages -- from Eddie Judge's sexuality to David Beador's treatment of Shannon -- that she had become a toxic part of the franchise.
Others will miss her
Vicki can be genuinely funny. And if you forget that everyone involved is a real person, sometimes it's wild to watch people be mean to each other on television in exchange for exhorbitant sums of money.
This next season's going to be different
Every reality series likes to tease new seasons by saying that they're unlike anything viewers have seen before. This time, it'll be true.
What will Vicki have to say about it?
How many people would tune in to hear Vicki's thoughts on RHOC in her absence? Gotta be honest -- I'd eat that up, for a few episodes, at least.
Maybe those negotiations will pan out
Other Housewives have been demoted to "Friend" only to return to the main cast. Maybe Vicki will hold out hope ... and maybe her life will get a little more interesting in time for next season.