Tamra Judge on Returning to the ‘Housewives’ Franchise With ‘Ultimate Girls Trip: Ex-Wives Club’

·10 min read
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Bravo immediately had a hit on its hands when it rolled out “Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip,” a spinoff of the “Real Housewives” franchise in November 2021. But the show’s follow-up — “The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip Ex-Wives Club,” which is currently streaming on Peacock, has it beat.

“Ex-Wives Club” found a way to amp up the drama by bringing back “Housewives” favorites who previously got the boot from their various installments. The latest “Girls Trip,” which drops new episodes Thursdays on Peacock, features famous and infamous faces, including “Atlanta’s” Phaedra Parks and Eva Marcille Sterling, “Beverly Hills’” Taylor Armstrong and Brandi Glanville, “New York’s” Dorinda Medley and Jill Zarin, as well as “Orange County’s” Vicki Guvulson and Tamra Judge.

Unlike its predecessor though, the “Ex-Wives” were not sent on a luxury tropical getaway, but instead sent to a locale that’s a big part of “Housewives” history — Dorinda Medley’s Bluestone Manor in Massachusetts. The housewife’s second home is where fans watched Bethenny Frankel demand Ramona Singer to “mention it all,” followed years later by Luann de Lesseps infamous argument with the hostess Medley, about her placement in the “fish room,” as well as Sonja Morgan’s aggressive plea that “no one touches the Morgan letters.” Bluestone Manor has developed its own reputation, with fans and housewives referring to infamous location as “The Bezerkshires.” Medley’s Berkshire’s home has become a fixture within the Bravo universe, providing the perfect reality TV venue for the vacationing “Ex-Wives.”

“I had seen Bluestone Manor on New York many times; I saw the drama that had gone down there, but I also knew Dorinda,” “Real Housewives of Orange County” alum Judge told TheWrap. “So Dorinda and I were talking a lot prior to me getting the phone call that they were going to bring me on. … I was excited to go.”

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And fans are excited to see Judge back.

In a new interview with TheWrap, Judge reminisced about the “the ups and downs” of being an “O.C.” cast member before her surprise exit in 2020, her return to the franchise with Peacock’s “Ex-Wives,” and her social media feud with “Beverly Hills” alum Glanville.

TheWrap: How are you feeling about going back to the franchise? Considering, as Dorinda would say, you were ‘put on pause,’ how does it feel coming back?

Tamra Judge: I wasn’t put on pause, I was fired. With Bravo, you never know when you’re going to come off ‘pause.’ You just never know. And I was honored and thrilled to be part of it. … [W]hen Andy [Cohen] called me he’s like, ‘Hey, I’d like you to join the ‘Ultimate Girls Trip.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh! OK. Let’s do this.’ … I was in the middle of a remodel. We had a flood in our house and we were in temporary housing. So it was like, I was scrambled, but I got there and I did it.

You were actually the first ‘Housewife’ on the show to acknowledge the fact that you were fired, but you approached it with such candor and humor. I was wondering how you got into the mindset of approaching it [that way]?

I would say it’s my personality. I have truth serum running through my veins and I think that in my role, I just say how it is. And I don’t really think too much about like, ‘Oh I want to protect my image. I don’t want people to think of me that way.’ It is what it is. … And I was fired. … I’m not that type of girl to be like, ‘Oh, well, I decided to step down or —’ No, no, no. The truth is, I’d still be on the show if they still wanted me. I thought it was important just to be honest. I mean, there’s no shame. I had a great run. I was on for 12 years. I lived my life, I had my ups, I had my downs. I knew it wasn’t going to last forever. I knew I wasn’t going to be 70-years-old on a ‘Housewife’ show. I’m just thankful that it actually happened vs. sad that it ended. Was I sad that it ended? I was, but you know, I got over it.

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Would you ever come back to ‘Orange County’? Or are there cast members that you’re kind of waiting to see if they ride it out? Or would you just dive back in?

I mean, if they asked me I would definitely dive back in. I’ve never been concerned with who the cast is and if I don’t like somebody … I’m not going to say, ‘I’m not going to film [with them].’ I’m not a diva like that. I’m sure there’s a lot like that. But for me … I was thankful to have a job. … And yeah, if I was asked back it would be a no brainer.

I’m really hoping for your return! But, back to the ‘Ultimate Girls Trip,’ unlike the first season, you were not flown to a paradise island but rather Bluestone Manor. You could say it is the ‘Housewives’ haunted house. Knowing that you were going to a venue that has such a dramatic history, were you preparing for any possible blowouts or were you just going in with low expectations regarding the drama? 

You know, I really went in with it with an open mind. I had other things to worry about than the actual house that we were going to. I had seen Bluestone Manor on ‘New York’ many times; I saw the drama that had gone down there, but I also knew Dorinda. So Dorinda and I were talking a lot prior to me getting the phone call that they were going to bring me on. … So when I did get the call I texted Dorinda, and I said, ‘Well, I guess let’s have you in two weeks [for filming],’ and she’s like, ‘Wait, why?’ I go, ‘I just got the call. They want me on.’ She’s like ‘Oh my God, this is going to be so fun.’ So I was excited to go. I didn’t know Eva. I had never met Phaedra — that I can remember. Maybe at an event or something, but we don’t have each other’s phone numbers, stuff like that. Taylor Armstrong lives in Orange County. We’ll run into her once in a while and she’s super sweet. Obviously I know Vicki, I talk to her a lot. Jill and I know each other from back in the day so [we] definitely had each other’s phone number. I wasn’t worried about that. I didn’t know completely what to expect. … [‘Ex-Wives’] — it was like a clean slate.

You briefly answered this question, but, were you prepping in any way ahead of time?

Yeah, I was especially trying to lose that 7-10 pounds I gained during COVID. That was the only prep I was doing. It takes a lot to be a professional ‘Housewife.’ You’ve got to keep up on the Botox and hair, nails, and all that stuff. And I’m like, ‘Oh, crap! Here we go.’ Yeah, let’s face it, the last couple years I was sitting around in sweats and workout clothes all time. Not caring as much as normal because I wasn’t filming so even though I worked out I wasn’t eating the healthiest things. So I gotta get in that ‘Housewife’ mindzone.

Absolutely, you’re definitely not the only one who was sitting around in sweats. But, now that we’re on Episode 4 and a few months past filming, it’s no secret that you and Brandi weren’t seeing eye to eye at first. Did you approach entering the house differently with knowing Brandi was there rather than someone like Jill or Phaedra? Did you speak with Dorinda or Vicki about Brandi? 

Yeah, I definitely thought to speak to Vicki about it. Because it had been so long since I had an issue with Brandi. It was like a miscommunication. And I said something along the lines of being asked about Kelly Dodd. And Kelly Dodd and I were not on good terms at the time, and I said how ‘she’s like the new Brandi,’ so Brandi got mad. And I was concerned about seeing her because I didn’t know how she would react to me. You know, we’ve seen Brandi in so many different ways, just like you’ve seen me in so many different ways. People used to say they were afraid of me. She actually was very sweet from the get go — she was really sweet.

With that being said, I noticed on the show when other women were kind of getting the heat, you stuck up for them and you were rallying behind them when there was conflict and I really admired the sisterhood with these women whom you didn’t have prior experience with. Was that because there was a clean slate? Did that motivate you to speak up and defend these women, like Taylor for instance?

I feel like I don’t pick teams, I’m kind of like on the side of right. So if somebody was saying [something] that was maybe a little rude or condescending, I would stick up for that person that was being either bullied or whatever — not that anyone was ever bullied. You know, I always remove myself. I’m not in the mob with some of these girls, like, ‘You have to stand up for me, no matter what it is.’ I’m not that girl. I’m going to back my friends, but if they’re doing something sh—y, I’m going to let them know if they’re doing something sh—y. And I would expect the same. So if someone was doing something that wasn’t right? Yeah, I’m going to say something.

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If you could create your own ‘Girls Trip’ with past and present ‘Housewives’ from any franchise and any year and go to any destination, who would you pick?

So I love Melissa [Gorga]. I would definitely want to be there with her. Then of course OGs, so Atlanta I would love to be with Kenya [Moore]. I think she’s great. Would love to see Bethenny [Frankel]. I would love to see who else? Dubai — Chanel [Ayan]. I think she would be great. Lisa [Barlow], from Salt Lake City, she’d be great. I think that it could be easy, so many different situations and combinations of girls that I would love to see.

That sounds like a hit show that I’d love to watch!

And as far as destination, I feel like it’s not really about the destination. You can put the girls anywhere. I’m asked a lot like. ‘Are you upset that the first one was in Turks and Caicos? And there’s rumored to be one going to Thailand?’ I’m like ‘No, not really.’ Because I know what it’s like when you’re filming in these tropical places. You don’t get to experience so much on your own. You’re filming, it’s working the entire time. … Bluestone Manor — it’s iconic, it’s historic, it’s everything. I felt like we were in a pressure cooker. There were a lot of emotions. We were all in one house. We went into town a few times, but other than that everything was there. I feel like we are going to have one of the best seasons because of that.

“Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip ‘Ex-Wives Club” first five episodes are available to stream on Peacock, with the remaining episodes to be released every Thursday.