The Hot Seat

Why Dorinda Medley Can't Imagine Retiring

The RHONY Legacy star spills on the reboot, money, and if she really inspired a Sex and the City character.

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When Bravo famously put Dorinda Medley “on pause” from The Real Housewives of New York City in August 2020, she put on a brave face, but she was devastated. She’d had a tough year. Her dad was sick, and her Berkshires estate, Blue Stone Manor, had flooded.

“I’m even uncomfortable saying the words [‘on pause’] now, because everyone’s made such a big deal about it,” Dorinda tells Bustle. “They should have my face next to it in the dictionary. I was one of the few Housewives who said, ‘I did not leave on my own. I wanted to stay!’ It was hard.”

The timing ended up working in her favor, she says, crediting the pandemic for allowing her to pivot quickly. Within a year, she’d released a memoir, Make It Nice, and a bourbon brand. And fortunately for Dorinda, her break from the franchise didn’t last long.

By 2022, she was back on TV for Season 2 of Peacock’s The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip, a spinoff series in which a rotating cast of current and former housewives spend a week together on vacation. Last month, she returned for Season 4, which wraps Jan. 4, with her longtime New York castmates in St. Barths.

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As for RHONY, Bravo rebooted the series with an all-new cast this past summer. Dorinda watched only one episode, she says, “for no personal reasons.”

“It’s hard to bring in a whole new set [of Housewives] and say, ‘Well, here’s the same name, now pick up where they left off,’” Dorinda says of the reboot. “It was probably difficult for them because maybe they lived a little bit in the shadow of us.”

She’d love to blend the two casts. “It would be fun to do, if not a spinoff, another Ultimate Girls Trip where you take some of the old girls and some of the new girls from New York and bring them up to Blue Stone Manor, and let the games begin!” she says.

Though Dorinda would most like to film with Jenna Lyons (“I think she’s more old-school”), she’s met Brynn Whitfield, whom she calls a “riot,” and says she loves Ubah Hassan, too. But she does have a bone to pick with Erin Lichy, who said she wanted to “redo Blue Stone Manor.”

“That one didn’t go over so well,” she says. “You can’t mess with my Blue Stone Manor, OK?”

Below, Dorinda talks about money, unfair edits, and whether she inspired an infamous Sex and the City character.

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When RHONY Legacy was coming together, there were negotiations about money. How much does the paycheck affect your decision to keep signing on for more Housewives?

I mean, I love money. Who doesn’t love money? I ain’t stupid. It’s a week’s worth of work, and they pay you a fortune, so who wouldn’t take it? And, for us, it’s not even work. It’s like spring break for middle-aged women. And there’s the afterglow of all the opportunity it brings. It keeps you relevant.

People think we walk around so confidently all the time, but, believe me, there are days I wake up and I’m like, “What am I doing with my life?” We all sort of feel unworthy. It’s nice being back on TV and watching people have this love affair with you again. Who wouldn’t like it?

On the show, Ramona said, “I don’t want the money anymore,” and, on the other side of the coin, Sonja said, “I need the money.” Where do you fall on that spectrum?

I’m not like Ramona. [My daughter] Hannah asks me all the time, “When do you think you’ll retire?” I think I’m one of those people who will be going forever. I’m not a retiring type of person.

I don’t think I’m in Sonja’s place [either] because Sonja really does [need the money]. Thank God, I managed my life well in that perspective. I’ll do it as much and as often as they want me to. I love it! I get to go back and be myself, and they pay me for it and send me to beautiful places.

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Luann’s eggs a lá francais: What’s your honest review?

We always do the eggs a lá francais, and I always think they’re scrambled eggs, right? There are just certain things you have to go along with. It’s part of who Luann is. It’s like how she’s always got to sing at least one time on a trip. And she also has to speak French — to people who don’t speak French, of course.

Which Housewife’s song do you listen to the most?

“Money Can’t Buy You Class.” [Sings] Money can’t buy you class. Money can’t buy you class. Elegance is learned, my friends.

Clifton Prescod/Peacock

Do you ever feel like you got an unfair edit?

A lot was going on in my life that audiences didn’t see. Blue Stone Manor flooded, and I had over a million dollars of damage. They never really showed that part, which was huge.

If you’re going to be a good Housewife, you can’t do the micro of it all, because you’ll drive yourself crazy. I just do it and hope that the audience receives me well. A solid, long-term Housewife that people have a love affair with is sometimes good, bad, up, and down, but ultimately, [the fans] are loyal to you, and they love you. And I think they’ve shown me that.

You have so many Dorinda-isms, but what is your favorite Bravo one-liner or shade?

“I’ll tell you how I’m doing: not well, b*tch.” I love that I’m saying it to Candace Bushnell, and she has no idea what I’m talking about.

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Since you’re friends with Candace, compare your cast members to Sex and the City characters. Who’s a Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte?

Well, we know that Luann is Samantha, right? Who do you think I would be?

Wasn’t there a rumor that Candace based a character on you?

The girl who fell out the window? People have always said that! I don’t remember falling out a window, but OK.

So it’s not true, then?

No, I don’t think it’s true. I don’t think our group is exactly like Sex and the City. This is my take on it: The same feeling we had when we saw Sex and the City come back [with And Just Like That...], I think people are having the same feeling with Ultimate Girls Trip. It’s that feel-good factor, that good, old-fashioned camaraderie between women.

This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.