‘RHOC’: Politics and COVID-19 Create Cast Divides During Season 15

The Real Housewives of Orange County Season 15 will feature the stress and division wrought from the pandemic and political divides.

Kelly Dodd, Elizabeth Lyn Vargas, Emily Simpson, Shannon Storms Beador
Kelly Dodd, Elizabeth Lyn Vargas, Emily Simpson, Shannon Storms Beador | Randy Shropshire/Bravo

Premiering on Wednesday, October 7 at 9 pm on Bravo, the longstanding series returns with five recurring cast members and one new face. Shannon Storms Beador, Kelly Dodd, Gina Kirschenheiter, Emily Simpson, and Braunwyn Windham-Burke return. Viewers meet new cast member, Elizabeth Lyn Vargas, who is about to be newly divorced.

Production began in February only weeks before the country locked down due to the pandemic. But cameras continued to roll as the cast dealt with the coronavirus, plus growing political tensions in the country. Sides are taken as the cast confronts familiar realities for the majority of Americans.

Shannon Beador and her family deal with COVID-19

Despite being fastidious about cleanliness and health, Beador gets infected with coronavirus. She begins the season in total bliss with boyfriend John Janssen and a new home in Newport. However, her friendships are turned upside down. She was previously at odds with Dodd, but she makes peace with her. However, Bravo hints that this gets her into “hot water with a few of the ladies.”

Meanwhile, she and the rest of the cast are faced with lockdowns and a pandemic. Beador has expressed anxiety over health in the past, so the pandemic brings her stress to an “all-time high and causes tension between her and John when a division arises over house rules with the kids during lockdown.”

RELATED: Heather Dubrow Admits She ‘Cried a Lot’ When She Was on the Show

Unfortunately, Beador and her three daughters are diagnosed with COVID-19. She documents her journey on her cell phone. “This photo was taken pre-pandemic,” she shared on Instagram. “Today, we are Covid positive times 4. The girls and I are blessed to be quarantining in the same home (but isolating in separate rooms). A huge thank you to all of the medical personnel that have been patiently guiding us through this illness. Sending prayers to all of those affected.” Beador recently shared she is healthy and even dropped her daughter off at college.

Cast members clash over politics and quarantine

Windham-Burke recently participated in Bravo’s Race In America: A Movement Not a Moment. She also “struggles to see eye to eye with some of the other ladies over her participation in local protests and her political views.”

Dodd is seemingly on the other side of the political divide from Windham-Burke. She ruffles feathers over both COVID-19 and politics. “During stay-at-home orders, Kelly makes waves among the ladies when she jet-sets around the country visiting New York City, the Hamptons and Miami,” according to Bravo. “As the election looms, Kelly’s political beliefs and tone-deaf jokes threaten her relationships with the women.”

RELATED: Heather and Terry Dubrow Open Up About Parenting Challenges During a Pandemic

Kirschenheiter ends up taking heat over not joining the cast for a “quarantine happy hour.” She also struggles with homeschooling, but she’s happy in a new relationship. Meanwhile, Simpson’s marriage goes through a re-birth and she and husband Shane find that quarantine brings them closer.

The Real Housewives of Orange County Season 15 premiers on Wednesday, October 7 at 9/8c on Bravo.