Over the years, Real Housewives of Orange County fans have watched Vicki Gunvalson tackle professional to parenting problems, all while navigating the drama synonymous with the entire Housewives franchise. Judging from the previews, Season 6, premiering Sunday at 10/9c on Bravo, may prove to be Vicki's biggest challenge yet. After recommitting to husband Don last season, she discusses selling her family house and considering divorce (she filed for divorce in October).
"I had no idea that everything was going to unfold the way that it did," she tells TVGuide.com. "I'm really making such major changes in my life." Gunvalson talked with TVGuide.com about the new cast members, going through her marriage problems in front of the camera and why her best times on the show may be behind her.
TVGuide.com: What is coming up for you this season?
Vicki Gunvalson: Each time we get a new cast member, I open my arms and I don't have preconceived notions about them, I just hope we can all get along and that was the case this year. It was just a good blend and a good fit and I was really excited about that. No drama on that end from me, so that was good. There may be some with the other girls, but I stood clear of it. You're going to see me building my business, Cota Insurance, my son is working for me now and he's enjoying it. I think it's a great evolution of how my family has grown up. When I started the show, [my daughter] Brianna was still in high school and now she's two years into being a nurse and it's really fun to see the transition of my family. We're growing up on TV.
TVGuide.com: Last year on the show, Brianna was dealing with some health issues. How is she doing?
Gunvalson: Ironically, we are heading to the hospital right now. They found a mass near her lymph node in her neck so we're getting a biopsy done this morning so prayers for Brianna to have it be benign. That's our biggest concern right now.
TVGuide.com: After dealing with your daughter's health in front of the cameras last season, did you have any hesitation about coming back?
Gunvalson: I thought she was healed and healthy. This has just been a new diagnosis in the last month. ... That really didn't have any bearing on me coming back this year. I am kind of the mama bear, I would hate to sit back and not be on this season with everybody still on it, and the new members coming in. I enjoy the show. I enjoy the experience. I enjoy everything about it.
TVGuide.com: There is a little bit of friction with you and Tamra Barney. What is ahead for you two?
Gunvalson: I think that viewers are going to be really, really happy about the humbleness of Tamra. I wanted it to be better. I was put in the middle of their marriage and I had nothing to do with the demise of their marriage. I think once she stepped out of it, she realized I'm not going anywhere. I'm her friend, I love her and I want the best for her. She's in a great place now and she's extremely happy and that you'll see this season. ... I knew Tamra was in a tough place. She had Simon telling her that it was my fault. I knew it wasn't. I had nothing to do with their marriage woes.
TVGuide.com: What else can you say about the new girls, Peggy Tanous and Fernanda Rocha?
Gunvalson: [Fernanda]'s not really one of the Housewives. She's somebody that comes in and socializes with us, but I don't really know how we're labeling Fernanda this year. We've haven't really been told. I know her very little still. I don't work out with her. I don't socialize with her. She seems like a sweet girl. Peggy is very sweet. I don't have a lot in common with her. She's got two little babies and my kids are out of college. She's an Aries, which is fun for me because I always connect with Aries people.
TVGuide.com: Has it been harder to come back every year and film the show since it seems you had more in common with the other ladies in the show's early years?
Gunvalson: The answer is adamantly yes. We don't have any say of who the network chooses or who [the production team] chooses. It's not as organic as it used to be. [In Season 1], we all were about the same age, we all had children about the same age. Lauri [Waring Peterson], Jeana [Keough], Kimberly [Bryant] and myself — those were, I think, the best of times because we were naturally good friends. ... We were a really dynamic group. It's not that we're not now, it's just there's such a broad range of ages and demographics and little Barbies walking around. That's not what we were in the beginning so it's a little bit of a challenge for me. I miss Jeana and I miss Lauri. We had a really great synergy between us. We encouraged each other and we helped each other and we didn't want to belittle or berate each other. ... Sometimes, I don't feel that with the new cast. I feel like everybody's out for themselves. I don't typically surround myself with those types of people.
TVGuide.com: It sounds like you tried to avoid some of the drama, so will we see you butt heads less with Alexis Bellino this year?
Gunvalson: I've got nothing against Alexis. I think she's very sweet, but I think she's always ready to pick a fight and I'm not. She's always trying to prove a point with me or prove she's a businesswoman; it's like, 'Good for you.' I don't want to cause a fight. She's just a little bit harder to get along with. She brings dirt up a lot. I don't want to be around that. She's just somebody I work with and that's about it.
This is now your sixth season of the show. Do you think filming affected your marriage or anything that happened in your life this past year?
Gunvalson: I don't know. All I do know is that I work really hard and filming takes up a lot of time and then you try and fill in your family and your friends and travel and things like that and sometimes the relationships that mean the most to you get compromised because you don't put enough effort into them. It's not just all my fault. It takes two people to get married and two people to get divorced and I'm a firm believer in that.