The tenth season of the Real Housewives of Orange County has ended and the reunion episodes are still airing, but the true culmination may be this insane interview with Brooks Ayers—original OC cast member Vicki Gunvalson’s ex-boyfriend who was accused of faking cancer all season.
The short(ish) version of the story is that Ayers began this season by announcing that he was battling Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. For the most part, everyone rallied around him and Vicki, but soon, there were some whisperings about the fact that he still looked rather healthy, was seen drinking alcohol and that Vicki wasn’t going to doctors appointments with him.
Early in the season, some of the the ladies visited a psychic who claimed that he didn’t see Brooks with cancer. Vicki and Brooks took it as a sign that in the future, he’ll be healed and the cancer will be gone. The other women took the opposite approach and wondered if Brooks had been faking cancer this entire time. It seems doubtful that even these women truly believed the psychic’s vision—rather, that it opened the door for them to more openly express their latent suspicions about Brooks in general.
Additionally, Vicki and Brooks announced their breakup on the same day the psychic episode aired which seemed rather convenient to many people.
So, ahead of the second and third reunion episodes in which this mess will be discussed, Brooks sat down with E! Wednesday night for a truly bizarre interview.
There are so many levels to the insane weirdness happening here. For starters, it’s an hour long. Ayers is interviewed by someone named Melanie Bromley, despite the fact that E! has a host of other more known and somewhat more credible anchors.
Half the time Bromley takes an odd, almost loving tone as if she’s inconveniencing Brooks by asking him questions. The rest of the time she’s giggling like a schoolgirl, like when Brooks reveals that he has a new girlfriend. “Who is she?” she asks excitedly.
Another thing that stands out is Brooks repeatedly beginning his responses to Bromley’s questions with a, “Thank you for asking that,” which very much sounds like he knew exactly what she was going to ask. The whole time he utilizes this very southern, folksy charm. At one point, he uses the term “pigeonholed” and wonders if people will know what it means because it’s a Southern term. Brooks sounds incredibly calm and measured the entire interview—almost rehearsed.
During his time on the show, Ayers was always been considered to be something of a con artist since he started dating Vicki in 2010. He was presented as this charming, Southern gentlemen who landed himself a jackpot with the wealthy and notable Vicki. One of the criticisms leveled against him was that he mooched off of her, staying mostly in her home and driving her cars. You never really see him working even though he has four children and child support payments to make.
Despite Melanie Bromley’s giggly, pretend hard-ass questions masking what’s actually softball reporting, the interview did leave some confusing holes in Brooks’s story with answers that don’t seem to fully hold water. He begins by announcing that his cancer is down from “stage three to stage two.” This is apparently the third time he has been diagnosed with cancer.
Cast member Meghan King Edmonds, who was perhaps the most vocal with her doubts, brought up an ex-girlfriend of Brooks’ who claims that he had faked cancer before.
Ayers explains that this ex-girlfriend was angry after he left her to be with Vicki. At the time, he says he had already been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and also thought he might have “nose cancer.” Turns out, he didn’t have “nose cancer,” and he told her so. Brooks claims that she was referring to him faking “nose cancer” and not the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Throughout the season, Ayers looks rather healthy and says that he’s stopping chemotherapy to try a “holistic approach,” which includes a healthy diet and detoxing. (Interestingly, most doctors say detoxing is basically bullshit). He also claims that he only drank alcohol twice during the entire five months of filming and both of those times were caught by the cameras.
Vicki’s daughter Briana—who openly hates Brooks—has told a story of when she first met Brooks. She insists that he told her he had pancreatic cancer but later revealed that he actually just pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. In the E! interview, Brooks says he had lesions on his pancreas and blames this mixup on game of telephone, wherein Vicki gave Briana the wrong information.
Perhaps the most damming rumor came towards the end of the season. Brooks showed cast member Tamra Barney PET scans that were reportedly done at Newport Imaging Center. Meghan later calls Newport Imaging and learns that they don’t actually do PET scans at their facility.
Brooks explains that he went to Newport Imaging for the scans and they referred him to a different hospital which actually did the scans. He says he simply received his results on Newport Imaging letterhead, which seems like a weird thing for them to do.
Bromley also asks him about a rumor that Newport Imaging is planning on suing him for fraud, which Ayers brushes off by saying he hasn’t been served with anything yet.
Brooks blames the whole debacle on the women of the show trying to stir up drama for excitement and ratings. However, it strikes me as particularly, uniquely cruel, even for the Real Housewives franchise, to make up shit about someone’s serious health problems just for the cameras. At the end of this season of Real Housewives of Orange County, it is revealed that Shannon Beador’s husband David had an affair last year that both Tamra Barney and Heather Debrow knew about. Both women kept their mouths shut during last season’s reunion because they felt something like that was too personal and hurtful to reveal. Additionally, Tamra has been engaged in an ugly custody battle with her ex-husband, which none of the women ever discussed on camera.
Granted, nobody really likes Brooks, but clearly the women are capable of some tact. I don’t know guys. I really don’t know. There are two more reunion episodes to come which I imagine won’t lead to any real resolution considering that Brooks is standing firm on his diagnoses. Reality television is weird.
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