The Ups and Downs of Tamra Judge and Vicki Gunvalson’s Tumultuous Friendship
Tamra Judge and Vicki Gunvalson have one of the most iconic Housewives friendships of all time. We even put them on our list of the ultimate Housewives BFFs. But looking back, are they more Thelma and Louise, or backstabbing Bettys?
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to chart the ups and downs of their rocky relationship…
Season three sisters
Vicki loves to torment a new girl (see: Gretchen, Alexis), but she and Tamra hit it off right away. Even though Tammy – remember how she used to go by “Tammy”? – came in declaring she was the “hottest Housewife in the O.C.” Vicki took a shining to her and welcomed her into the fold.
For a few seasons, Vicki and Tamra were, to borrow from another Housewife, thick as thieves. They were full-on woo-hoo BFFs. They wore matching straw cowboy hats, went on double dates with Donn and Simon, and bonded over their mutual hate for Gretchen.
It was a Survivor-like alliance bound by mutual enemies and brassy blond extensions. And it was fun. Peak V + T were the kind of good time gals who’d jump on the bar at Andale’s and grab bottles of tequila from behind the bar to pass around. Even when they got all Mean Girls on Gretchen and Alexis, it was fun to watch; they were the Plastics of the 40-something O.C. set and as a viewer, you weren’t personally victimized by Vicki Gunvalson, so it felt OK to laugh.
Then in season five, things between the O.C.’s resident besties started to take a turn.
Long before Jason Hoppy went full vill, Simon Barney was the most villainous Housewives husband. He was also the source of stress that started to twist Tamra and Vicki’s BFF-ship into the seasons-long on-again off-again feud they’re still in today.
When things between Tamra and Simon started to go sour, he was quick to deflect the blame to Vicki. He started telling Tamra she was a bad influence and tried to regulate the time they spent together.
It was the kind of thing that happens with lots of couples barreling towards a split. Tamra started leaning on Vicki and no doubt confided in her about Simon’s poor behaviour behind closed doors (and, frankly, in front of the cameras), which Simon sniffed out and pounced on as another sign of wifely disobedience.
It was a bummer to watch. But it was far from the first time a man would come between these two. Enter Eddie and Brooks.
Boy trouble PT II
At the start of season seven, Vicki and Tamra were leading parallel lives again. They were both recent divorcees with new men in their lives and they tried to return to simpler times, swapping their exes for Brooks and Eddie on their double dates.
The fab four didn’t last long. Eddie and Vicki hit it off, but they hit it off a little too well for Tamra’s liking.
Tamra made a fuss of their lighthearted flirting, then retaliated by grabbing Brooks’ hand and shoving it on her chest. It was…strange.
Then things got totally insane. Tamra knew something was up with Brooks early on, but it wasn’t until he used the two words you never use with Tamra Barney that she unleashed her full wrath on him. Evil eye.
In retrospect, it seems likely Brooks saw Tamra lose it on Gretchen over her evil eye taunting the previous season and used those words to set her off. At any rate, when he said she was giving Vicki the “evil eye” Tamra completely lost it.
Apparently you do not touch Vicki Gunvalson’s man, because she literally jumped out of her chair to clap back at Tamra.
It was one of the craziest fights in O.C. history. It’s right up there with Tamra tossing her wine at Jeana Keough.
Things eventually got way, way worse with Brooks, obvi, but first, we need to talk about Gretchen.
Looking back, Tamra and Gretchen’s friendship feels more like a fever dream than a real thing that happened, but it lasted way longer than you might remember.
They had a short lived reconciliation in season six, follow by another the next year behind Vicki’s back. By season eight, they were full-on dressing like twins. There was too much bad blood for these two to ever be for-real friends, but Gretchen made a decent backup buddy for Tamra.
However ill-fated this alternate universe friendship was, its end was an all-time RHOC highlight. After Gretchen and Heather threw Tamra a snoozy dinner party for her Bachelorette (party games included questions like “What’s Eddie’s favourite colour?”), Vicki swooped in to save the day with a little Whooping It Up at Andale’s.
The way she did it, though, was pretty nasty: she literally snatched Tamra and Lydia away while Gretchen and Heather were in the washroom. With a flick of her hair, Vicki led her allies away from her haters.
From that point on, Gretchen was basically cut out and Vicki and Tamra were back on.
The brief BFF return
After the bachelorette and a heart-to-heart in Heather’s wine cellar, Vicki and Tamra successfully mended fences, establishing a firm Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy when it came to Brooks.
It was the old V + T again! For a hot second. Then the Brooks sitch became so bad, it was impossible not to talk about. Tamra led the charge in questioning his cancer, severing what was left of their patched together friendship.
Once she was backed into a corner, Vicki had to drop her no new friends policy and find a new Whoop It Up gal in Kelly. Then, just when it seemed like a real reconciliation could be on the horizon again, Vicki went and said Eddie was gay. Oy vey.
That led to the cold war of season 12, when Tamra and Shannon wanted nothing to do with Vicki, so she was stuck hanging around with Kelly and Peggy. Do you remember when Vicki hated all the new girls, basically just for being new? Well, her tune certainly changed when she was at war with the other vets.
Can we talk for a sec about the insanity of Vicki inviting Gretchen to her birthday party? That honestly might be even battier than Tamra and Gretchen being friends. She even invited Slade. And Vicki HATES Slade.
That bonkers birthday party was basically a meeting of Tamra Haters Club. Even club president Jeana Keough was there! The guest of honour, though, was definitely Ricky, who was the best man at Tamra and Eddie’s wedding and is her ex gay BFF (their relationship is its own topsy-turvy journey). Ricky claimed he’d seen Eddie making out with a dude. Vicki denied the scene was a set up, but come on. Suddenly she’s pals with Ricky, who has insider scoop on one of Tamra’s alleged secrets?
The whole thing felt gross. And it didn’t go over well with Tamra, obviously. She! Was! Pissed! And instead of apologizing, Vicki told Tamra she thought Eddie might be using him.
Tamra kept requesting an apology and Vicki kept claiming she’d already given her one (she hadn’t). She started acting like she wanted to be friends with Tamra again like the good old days, without ever acknowledging the messed up Ricky situation, or her part in the very, very, very messed up Brooks situation. Listen, Tamra’s done some nasty stuff, but in this situation, Vicki took zero accountability and she deserved no forgiveness.
During part one of the season 12 reunion, Tamra finally got an apology, but it was the worst apology ever: “I’m sorry, but you hurt me too.” She didn’t so much as pause after “I’m sorry” before airing her own grievances.
It took until the very last moments of the reunion for Vicki to finally (!!) fully apologize. When she did, it was actually pretty good. “I won’t talk about it ever again, as God as my witness. I promise you. I’m sorry. I totally surrender,” She said. “I love you, I really do, and I’m sorry I hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t want to hurt anymore.”
She even offered Shannon a real apology, too. And then the three most powerful OC Housewives embraced in a era-ending hug.
(Photo: Getty Images)
After the longest hiatus in the history of their friendship, Tamra and Vicki were, at last, friends again. Well, friends enough. At least until the next season. So far in season 13, it has been relatively smooth sailing. Tamra and Vicki actually seem to be putting the past in the past.
Just don’t count on it lasting.