Heather and Max Dubrow on Coming Out, Returning to Reality TV and Surviving 2020 (Exclusive)

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Yes, Heather Dubrow has seen the memes. You know, the ones proclaiming, "Heather has known since 2016" and "We should have listened to Heather." They popped up this summer as Heather's former The Real Housewives of Orange County co-star, Kelly Dodd, made waves with a series of social media blunders, downplaying the coronavirus pandemic and making light of the Black Lives Matter movement (comments she recently apologized for on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen).

"Well, you know, I don't watch the show," Heather tells ET over video chat, Zooming in from her closet alongside 17-year-old daughter Max. "But one of the funniest things I did see was Tamra [Judge] sent me a meme and it said, 'Somewhere in Orange County Heather Dubrow is sitting in her mansion drinking champagne and laughing that she was on…' something like that, right?"

"So, Tamra sent this to me and I happened to be sitting in the kitchen with a glass of champagne," she confesses. "[My husband] Terry and I were having dinner, and I took a selfie of myself and I sent it back to her and we were cracking up. I thought it was so funny."

Heather Dubrow joked with Tamra Judge over a 'RHOC' meme
Instagram @bravobybob / Heather Dubrow

It's been more than four years since Heather parted ways with RHOC (Tamra exited the series about a year ago), and yet she's still part of the conversation. This year, it's because Heather was not afraid to call out Kelly on season 11 (Kelly's first and Heather's last). She famously called some of Kelly’s behavior "low, base bulls**t" on one episode.

"I think that reality shows and Housewives they just need to keep moving forward and evolving," Heather offers. "You need new characters and things always work out for a reason in the way they're supposed to. I honestly, I have no -- I'm not sitting here going, 'Muahahaha! I'm so glad.' I don't care."

Despite the Kelly controversy and some viewers boycotting the new season of RHOC, ratings remain strong for the show. Still, Heather admits she’s "glad it wasn't a choice" to be a part of the series' current 15th season, which came with some sweeping cast changes, plus the need to navigate the pandemic and the call for racial justice that surged this summer.

"I'm so proud to have been a part of pop culture and the franchise, and I'm glad that I've moved on," Heather says. "I think it was very clear during my last season on the show that the tides were turning, and the show was becoming something different than I originally started on five seasons earlier. And so, obviously that was the right time for me to go, and it's evolved into whatever it's evolved into."

Heather's life has evolved quite a bit since she left reality TV behind in 2016, though it could soon be coming back into her life. She's hinted on social media that a "creative project" with the family is in the works. Heather and Terry are parents to 17-year-old twins Max and Nick, plus 14-year-old Kat and 10-year-old Coco.

"If there were a time to do something like that, this would be a good time," Heather teases. "The timing would probably be better now than it was, you know, even three or four years ago."

"Each of the four kids, and Terry and myself, are all in interesting periods of life right now," she adds. "Everyone is almost at a crossroads in their lifetime that is interesting, and I think as viewers, it's a cool time to see."

Still, Heather cautions that "it's a hard thing to want to pull the trigger on" because of her past history with the "dark side" of reality TV. Both she and Terry, who currently stars on E!’s Botched, have dealt with hate and backlash from their time in front of the cameras.

"It's not something we would take lightly," she says, before adding that she's not spilling all the details on what's happening because she doesn't want to be someone who says "stay tuned" and then never has anything to show for it. Even so, it's safe to say something is in the works for the Dubrows, but a platform -- a streamer or a network for the project -- is still up in the air.

"What I would say is, it's at this point, we don't know," Heather admits.

"What I can tell you is that during this whole pandemic, great family time honestly -- and irritating the crap out of each other at times, for sure -- but also some very interesting, creative things have come out of it," she adds. "Like Max's podcast."

Max launched her podcast, I’ll Give It to You Straightish, shortly after coming out publicly as bisexual in June. Her Instagram post announcing the news, two shots of Max wrapped in a Pride flag, went viral, garnering countless headlines and thousands of likes on social media.

"I didn't expect it," Max says of the overwhelming positive response. "I mean, I thought something would happen and, like, my friends would see and stuff, but it went a lot bigger than I thought it would."

"It was so nice to hear the positive comments, and people sharing their stories and me being able to help other people," she adds. "I didn't have a platform where I can help people, you know, my age especially, and so people reaching out to me to tell me all that is just really cool. But, also it was very difficult and stressful."

Max attends a private Catholic high school (though due to the pandemic, she's learning from home) and was nervous about how the administration would handle her declaring her sexuality.

"Honestly, there was a thought in me that was like, you're going to get expelled, you're not going back to school," she confesses. "Things like that happen at schools like mine, but everyone was super, super positive."

A lot of praise was heaped on Heather and Terry for how they handled Max’s coming out at the time ("Tell me about it! You did the bare minimum," Max jokes).

"Even with Max's permission to talk about this, I can only tell what it's like as a parent -- which is great, and I get tons of messages about it -- but for Max to be telling her story from her age vantage point is just, it's like worth gold," Heather says. "And to so many people that are not just teenagers, but are older and haven't been able to come out or need to know how to talk to a parent, a counselor or someone that they trust, it's amazing. I’m so, so proud of her."

Max continues those conversations on her weekly podcast, which is sort of the Gen Z counterpart to Heather’s podcast, Heather Dubrow’s World, which just passed 100.5 million downloads. The two have appeared on each other's shows, and Heather admits Max and her twin brother, Nick, are her favorite of her children at the moment, as they’re finally of the age where Heather and Terry can have adult conversations with them. Their relationship is evolving to include a friendship. Of course, a lot of their discussions in recent months have focused on the state of the world. Max lives with anxiety and a mild form of agoraphobia, fear of leaving her house.

"The normal stressors that happen in normal life, I think, are now all piling up on each other," Heather muses. "Like, I'm dealing with an aging parent from across the country and that sort of thing, the regular stress of children hopefully applying to college next year. You know, the normal stressors on top of what I guess we're calling out the twindemic? Because we're talking about COVID and we're talking about the flu season, right? My brain is gonna explode."

Heather is also building another new house for the family (she documented the construction of their Newport Beach mansion on RHOC), but this time in Idaho. While Heather plays coy about whether the family would relocate to the "Gem State," Max bluntly declares, "No, we’re not moving to Idaho."

"I want to leave the kids ... a place to go to when things are great, or when they need to hide, or when they need some alone time, or they're going through a transition, or just happy or whatever it is," Heather says. "I want them to have someplace to go, and I think that's Idaho for us."

"Aka, it’s a summer house that we are gonna take over when they die," Max quips.

Heather Dubrow’s World and I’ll Give It to You Straightish are both available through PodcastOne wherever you listen to podcasts.

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