Tamra Barney: RHOC Cameras Shouldn’t Have Filmed a Grieving Vicki Gunvalson

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Their relationship has had its ups and downs, but Tamra Barney Judge will always be in Vicki Gunvalson‘s corner. In the wake of Gunvalson’s mom Joanne Steinmetz’s sudden death, Barney was quick to comfort her longtime friend — and told HuffPost Live she initially thought Housewives cameras went too far in filming Gunvalson’s grief.

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“At the moment it happened, I thought the cameras should shut down, because it was too sensitive,” Judge told HuffPost Live on Monday, July 13, of the scene where Gunvalson took a phone call from her daughter, Briana, and collapsed after learning her previously healthy mom had died at age 83. “Vicki was in a state of mind where she didn’t even acknowledge the cameras. Now she has to relive it. She told me her family could not watch it.”

Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Barney
Tamra Barney initially thought Real Housewives of Orange County cameras shouldn’t have filmed her friend Vicki Gunvalson reacting to her mother’s death. Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

However, once the gut-wrenching event (taped in February and seen on RHOC‘s July 6 episode) was captured, it was Gunvalson herself who encouraged Bravo to air it.

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“Vicki said that her life has been on camera for 10 years, and ‘this is something that happened to me, and I’m okay sharing it.’ If she’s okay with it, I guess I’m okay with it,” said Judge, who has been a regular cast member on the reality series since Season 3.

Months later, Judge doesn’t fault Bravo or their camera crew for intruding on Gunvalson’s darkest moments. “The show’s doing their job — they document our life, and that was real life,” she told HuffPost Live. “There’s nothing you can do in that situation other than be there for your friend.”

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Although she has yet to watch the episode that features the fated phone call, Gunvalson seems to have made peace with getting so real on TV. “It’s been five months since my mom died and there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t want to pick up the phone to ask her a question or tell her I love her,” Gunvalson wrote in her Bravo blog. “I miss her so much, but know one day I will be with her in Heaven and at peace. I want to stress the importance of not putting off talking to or spending time with the ones you love. You never know when they will be taken from you.”

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