The Real Housewives Of Orange County Season 17 - Here's What We Can Tell Fans So Far

"The Real Housewives of Orange County" has been a Bravo staple since 2006, when viewers were introduced to a group of well-to-do women who would serve as a template for the rest of the Housewives franchise with their friendships, fights, and ample funds to spend on having some fun.

The series underwent a number of big lineup shakeups over the years, with the OG "RHOC" cast getting whittled down until Vicki Gunvalson was the last woman standing. She bid adieu to the show ahead of Season 15 in 2020, and for Season 16, Braunwyn Windham-Burke, Elizabeth Lyn-Vargas, and Kelly Dodd were sent packing, while Heather Dubrow was invited back. "It's always fun to bring back an old friend and see an old friend, but also I think it was a great time to get back to some of the aspirational luxury that the Orange County franchise launched with, and that Heather certainly represents," series EP Andy Cohen told Entertainment Tonight. The cast also included two new additions: Noella Bergener and Dr. Jen Armstrong.

Heather unwittingly provided one of Season 16's big storylines when it was discovered that a new "friend of," Nicole James, sued Heather's husband, "Botched" star Dr. Terry Dubrow, after he performed her breast augmentation. Unfortunately, even this stunning revelation couldn't keep viewers tuning in week after week. Per TV Deets, the finale had the lowest ratings of the entire season. But Bravo is making some bold moves for Season 17 that could give "RHOC" a much-needed boost.

Season 17 of The Real Housewives of Orange County has already begun filming

Speaking to E! News in 2021, Andy Cohen explained why Bravo doesn't rush to start filming new episodes of "The Real Housewives of Orange County" after the cast reconvenes for the reunion special. "I think that show's really important to a lot of people and it's the mothership of all the Housewives and so we just want to take our sweet time," Cohen stated. According to the "Watch What Happens Live" host, this gives the women an opportunity to go about their daily lives without cameras around, which he believes is beneficial for them.

So how much of a breather did the returning "RHOC" Season 17 cast members get between seasons? Well, the reunion special was filmed in March 2022, per Bravo, and on the last day of May, one of the series' stars revealed that she was back at work. Per Reality Blurb!, Heather Dubrow broke the news on her Instagram Story, sharing a selfie that was snapped inside a building with numerous framed photos on the wall. She was joined by castmate Shannon Beador, and Dubrow's caption seemed to indicate that filming was just getting started. "Here we goooooooo #17," she wrote.

The premiere date for Season 17 has yet to be announced, but according to Us Weekly, fans can probably look forward to catching up with the cast sometime at the beginning of 2023.

Who will star in Season 17 of The Real Housewives of Orange County?

Heather Dubrow and Shannon Beador weren't the only stars of "The Real Housewives of Orange County" to let fans know that they were back in action. On July 30, Gina Kirschenheiter shared a brief behind-the-scenes video on her Instagram page. It was filmed inside a restaurant and showed one of her castmates, Emily Simpson, getting mic'd up by a crew member. "Andddd here we go again!" Kirschenheiter wrote.

On Twitter, a fan shared a screenshot of a conversation they had with Kirschenheiter in which she denied rumors that she was getting demoted to "friend of" status on the show, but the "RHOC" Season 17 cast did undergo some other much bigger changes. Dr. Jen Armstrong announced her exit on Instagram, writing, "My family and my work are the most important aspects of my life, so I am stepping away from RHOC and focusing on them." And Noelle Bergener's "Sweet James" drama wasn't enough to secure her a spot on the upcoming season. "I am looking forward to brighter skies ahead, and can't wait to share what's next," she wrote on her Instagram Story (via The Daily Dish).

Their roster slots will be filled by two familiar faces: Tamra Judge is returning to the show and "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong made a franchise swap to join her as a "friend of," per the Daily Mail. "Double the trouble coming your way," Judge teased on Twitter.

How Taylor Armstrong and Tamra Judge can shake things up

For Season 17 of "The Real Housewives of Orange County," meme star Taylor Armstrong has a lot more to bring to the table than that salad-eating cat. Vulture noted that the Season 16 finale was rather anticlimactic, so the show might benefit from having a seasoned pro swoop in who has not yet forged any alliances or made any enemies among the current cast members. Armstrong's casting announcement was also buzzworthy because she's the first-ever housewife to switch franchises, per People. At the very least, viewers might want to tune in for the first episode to witness a historic housewives moment.

Armstrong did get to know her fellow Season 17 addition, Tamra Judge, when they filmed "The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip Ex-Wives Club" together, and their interaction on Twitter about the casting news indicates that they'll at least start out on good terms. But there's some bad blood between Judge, who appeared on Seasons 3 through 14, and some of the housewives. On "Jeff Lewis Live," Judge accused Heather Dubrow of lying to Andy Cohen about the content of her podcast to keep her off of "RHOC," and on Twitter, she drew her followers' attention to a TV Deets tweet that included screenshots of headlines about Gina Kirschenheiter and Emily Simpson celebrating her exit from the show. However, in July, Judge told OK! that she was working on mending her relationship with former friend Shannon Beador, so maybe that's one less potential feud brewing.