Andy Cohen said the women's departure had more to do with keeping the show's storyline moving

By Jodi Guglielmi
January 30, 2020 01:36 PM
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Andy Cohen is shedding some light on the Real Housewives of Orange County shake-up.

Cohen addressed Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge‘s departures from the long-running reality series during Thursday’s episode of his SiriusXM show Andy Cohen Live, answering a caller who asked if he was looking for a younger cast.

“If you look at the breadth of Housewives on all of the shows, we represent all ages and specifically [Real Housewives of] New York City, Ramona [Singer]’s 61 or something,” he said. “This doesn’t have to do with age.”

Instead, Cohen, 51, said Gunvalson and Judge’s exit had more to do with making sure the show’s storyline continued to evolve. He also confirmed that Shannon Beador will be back despite her close friends leaving the reality series.

“We just felt like, with Orange County, we were going in circles a little bit with the group,” he said. “Sometimes you have to take people out of the group to see the stories go in a different direction. I think if we had taken Shannon out of the group, then we could have a discussion about whether this had something to do with age.”

Credit: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

He continued: “The last thing we want to do is isolate longtime fans of the show. It would definitely not service the show for us to isolate our viewers.”

Cohen also teased the possibility of keeping the women involved with the franchise.

“We are like the mob. We want to stay in business with these women,” he said. “I want to keep them in the fold. I want to keep them at BravoCon and accessible to everyone.”

Gunvalson, the “OG of the OC,” confirmed on Jan. 24 that she is leaving the show. The Coto Insurance saleswoman, 57, has been with RHOC since it began in 2006 but was demoted last season to a Friend of the Housewives role.

The next day, Judge, 52, announced she too is leaving RHOC after 12 seasons.

“It’s been a wild ride, and after all these years, I’m looking forward to life away from the cameras,” she told PEOPLE exclusively. “I was offered a chance to come back to the show in a limited role, but would prefer to walk away on my own terms.”

The reality star has been on RHOC since its third season in 2007 and is responsible for some of its most talked-about moments, including a memorable wine-toss.

“We’ve been wanting to shake it up a little bit for a few years,” Cohen said on his radio show Monday. “It was a big weekend in the Housewives world. It was very dramatic.”

Previously, Cohen said there was the possibility of new blood on the original Housewives franchise.

The casting for next season is some of the best casting we’ve had,” Cohen said in December, adding that he “[has] not been this excited about casting” in a long time.

Bravo has not confirmed full casting for season 15 just yet. Last season, Judge, Beador, Kelly Dodd, Gina Kirschenheiter, Emily Simpson and newcomer Braunwyn Windham-Burke were all full-time Housewives.