Following Real Housewives of Orange County star Shannon Beador’s arrest and subsequent sentencing for her DUI charge in September, fans of Bravo’s OG Housewives franchise were eager to see what might unfold at the “The Way We OC It” panel at BravoCon 2023. Some speculated that Beador might even cancel her scheduled appearance at the network’s fan convention after her arrest.
But Beador (or her ironclad contract) was strong enough to appear at Friday’s panel after all, to the delight of fans who were afraid she’d drop out. In the end, Beador kept her head (and ponytail) held high, stepping out onto the Glam Stage at Caesars Forum in Las Vegas to a standing ovation from the crowd to tell them about the “inventory” she’s been taking on her life since.
Panel moderator Danny Pellegrino kicked things off by “addressing the elephant in the room,” letting Beador have the floor to speak about DUI in a public forum for the first time since her arrest. “I made a terrible, terrible mistake,” Beador began. “And—I’m going to cry—I’m incredibly grateful that I didn’t hurt anybody.” The audience erupted in cheers of support, vocalizing their support for Beador (and presumably, her dog Archie, who was present during the arrest).
“But I, on my own, just completed a 28-day behavior wellness program with an alcohol component,” Beador continued. “I have been able to focus on elements of my life that were unhealthy and toxic. And I believe that today, I am going in a good and positive direction.”
Beador thanked the audience again for their support, before Pellegrino moved on to break down some of the events still swirling around the cast after their latest season. The contentious drama between Beador’s costars Tamra Judge and Heather Dubrow during RHOC Season 17 had loyal viewers in the crowd anticipating what might happen with a live, liquored-up audience, who were divided between Team Heather and Team Tamra.
But Judge and Dubrow were more focused on keeping their hatched buried six feet under, confirming that they had maintained a strong friendship since the show’s latest season wrapped filming. Judge even went so far as to deem Heather the official fan favorite (an opinion shared by more than a few people who watched Dubrow have another benchmark season).
With the two most quarrelsome cast members keeping their unified front strong, the audience let up on Judge and Dubrow when it came time for an audience Q&A—surprising, given the BravoCon crowd’s penchant for meddling. But with the beloved (and controversial) OG of the OC, Vicki Gunvalson, on stage with the rest of the cast, people were interested in whether or not Gunvalson might officially reclaim her orange after being brought in as a friend-of for Season 17.
When asked whether or not fans might see more of her next season, Gunvalson responded, “I don’t know how this will all play out next year. I don’t have a contract. I personally don’t like going in as a friend because I didn’t know what was going on! I hadn’t been there throughout the whole season. And I talked to Heather, Tamra, and Shannon about it and I said: I’m not a friend!”
Pellegrino then moved over to Judge, one of Gunvalson’s closest friends, to ask her what Gunvalson’s response was to Judge being brought back into the main cast after the two women were let go alongside one another after Season 14. “She was happy, and then she was sad, and then she cried,” Judge said. “And then she said, ‘Why do Gina and Emily have a job and I don’t?!” Judge was referring to Emily Simpson and Gina Kirschenheiter, who Gunvalson has spoken out against in the past.
But in a rare moment of apologetic contrition, Gunvalson walked back her comments from earlier this year. “Emily has said it very well: I have a little bit of envy and insecurity. It’s hard to understand why some people get asked back, AND I DIDN’T!” Gunvalson ended her sentence with a scream directly into the mic, sending the crowd into a roar.
In the end, it all came back to Beador, who navigated her situation with just enough levity to keep the audience entertained, despite its darkness. “At 59 years old, I had never had a concussion, a broken bone, a car accident, an arrest, or a DUI,” she began. “And I was able to check off all of those boxes in three seconds.”
“That’s frightening!” Beador continued. “And I’ve been able to take an inventory of my life. Was I drinking too much? Absolutely. [My fellow cast members’] concern was genuine, and I appreciate it.”
Despite the RHOC panel avoiding too much gossip-heavy messiness, it ended on the kind of pleasant note that many Bravo shows—and BravoCon panels—aren’t always afforded.