“The season that I was on, like, they didn’t even show the drama,” McLaughlin, 40, exclusively told Us Weekly on Monday, May 10. “Because the producers said, ‘No.’ [They said], ‘You still need to [act] like [a] Housewife and you can’t show so much of [people’s drama] that they can never recover.’”
The Glitter Town star explained that showrunners took viewers on a “ride” and would “show all of your warts, but then they redeem you.” Off camera, however, she said many of her costars were much more sinister than their onscreen personas.
“What was going on behind-the-scenes, I felt, was [something] that if the viewer saw, they would never be able to be redeemed,” she said. “They were so mean. They were just so mean that it was, like, you can never vote [for them to win]. You can never, like, cheer someone on that would be so cruel.”
The Beyond Orange County author explained that the constant cattiness offscreen did take a toll on her during both of her stints on the show. McLaughlin appeared on season 8 in 2013 and later returned for season 12 in 2017 before walking away from the Bravo series completely.
“They were being mean to me, but I’m just saying that it was hard to see,” she told Us. “There was a lot that wasn’t shown that season, even in the reunion, which I think does the show a disservice. You want to show the reality of everyone, so show it.”
The mother of three said that she “thought [they] should have been let go” when she was on the series, but they weren’t. Instead, the two stars announced their departures one season after McLaughlin’s exit. She admitted if they weren’t on the show, she would have returned.
“I decided to walk away [the second time] because of my relationships with the cast members,” she explained. “I felt like if I did another season, I would have been the target and I would have been who everyone would be attacking. And I just wasn’t up for that. I didn’t want to do that.”
McLaughlin revealed that in the end she didn’t understand the direction the show was going when it came to the talent.
“I gave them, like, so many of my friends that I think would be amazing cast members and that I have a real friendship with and that I thought would be really interesting,” she said of the casting process. “I just don’t understand what the casting producers are looking for. Like, there’s a lot of really amazing women in Orange County that I feel aren’t represented.”
Moving forward, she said she “hopes” they “shake it up” and better portray the full spectrum of women in the California county. Despite her ups and downs with the franchise, McLaughlin recalled having many good times on camera.
“I’m grateful for the experience of it. I feel like it’s given me such a great platform,” she told Us. “I’m actually doing live Bible studies, which is crazy. I’m a Housewife that on Wednesdays hosts Bible studies on my Instagram. I mean, I’m writing a Bible study right now and I’ve written another book. So, I feel like, it’s given me an opportunity that God’s really used the platform for, like, hopefully spreading love and goodness.”
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi