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Teddi Mellencamp is well aware of the discourse surrounding her on "Housewives Twitter." In fact, she joins in on it, clapping back at and quote-tweeting criticism from "fan" accounts daily.
"There's a difference between criticism and hate," she notes to ET. "I can take criticism. I can go and say, 'Alright, I am willing to...' or, 'I see that...' or, 'I hear this...' or whatever it maybe, but hate when it comes to like my body, or an illness, or my children or whatever it may be, that's where I just don't have any time for it anymore and am just like, you know what? I am holding you accountable, I am putting it up there: Stop. This isn't OK. You don't get to comment on my body. You don't get to shame me because of this."
"Before, I would take it really personally, and now by just kind of removing myself from that, it's made it easier," she continues. "Now, I just feed into it. Now I am just like... the lighter stuff? I will just clap back and I am like, let's go!"
Reality TV personalities seem to have a choice between two tactics when it comes to online backlash: ignore or lean in. Teddi says there are benefits to the latter.
"I know what that means for me: more downloads on the pod and the more downloads, the more money I make," she explains, all a reference to her Real Housewives recap podcast, Two Ts in a Pod, which she co-hosts with The Real Housewives of Orange County's Tamra Judge.
"Positive or negative engagement is good for me," Teddi says. "The second I am trending, people -- whether I drive you to the point of feeling the need to rage tweet -- you are getting me the clicks, so thank you so much."
"Nobody is gonna hate on you that's doing better than you," she offers as a mantra.
Despite being off TV screens for a couple years, Teddi's name tends to trend whenever RHOBH is in-season, often driven by fear from viewers that she'll return to the series in some capacity, seeing as she's still close friends with OG star Kyle Richards.
"I mean, no one really turns down a diamond..." she starts to tease, before confirming that there's never been a discussion about that possibility.
"There are other TV shows that would probably be better suited for me at this time," she offers, somewhat politically. She's open to The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip (for inquiring fans, no offer's been presented) and possibly The Traitors, Peacock's whodunnit competition that sees reality stars (largely from the Bravo universe) scheming alongside everyday "civilians." Though, that might give her CelebrityBig Brother PTSD.
"I could be voted off first [again] and then the online hate will just go on," she jokes.
"No one is banging on my doorstep to come back right now," she reiterates of any Bravo-related prospects. Still, there's been speculation that Teddi might be angling to jump down the California coast and join Tamra on RHOC; but again, Teddi says, it's a no-go.
"Absolutely not," she declares. "I do not want an orange. There's a difference between a diamond [and an orange]."
She's also not sure she'd want to film with her partner in pod; Tamra's known for her in-your-face approach to filming. For now, Teddi's happiest on the outside looking in. "I get to do it in a robe on Zoom and make more money," she quips. "It's actually fine."
Two Ts launched a little over a year ago, a rebrand of Teddi's solo podcast (then known as Teddi Tea Pod), inspired by Teddi's firing from RHOBH. Originally offered to other T-named ex-Housewives as potential co-hosts (The Real Housewives of New York City's Tinsley Mortimer was on the list), Teddi fought for iHeart to hire Tamra, whom Teddi had briefly met before and was also recently fired. Hundreds of episodes later and Two Ts remains a top trending podcast show week after week; fans say Tamra's made Teddi "likable" through the show ("I'm only as good as last week's pod," Teddi replies) and the success seemingly contributed to Tamra reclaiming her orange-holding status. She returns to RHOC for season 17 later this year.
"I think this season is going to be a real doozy for her," Teddi teases, "and the fact that I have to recap it without her, I am like, how many times is she going to get mad at me? Because we get in little fights -- we love each other -- but we get in little fights already, so I am like, I don't even want to have to talk about you!"
Two Ts stays in the conversation by creating a separate conversation about the Housewives universe, often sparking drama within the community.
"I mean, BravoCon, I really feel like it was so much fun because I was like I have no skin in this game," she says. "I am on the outside and everybody wanted to share their secrets with me, because I was podcasting from the press room. ... They are like, 'Hey, hey... can I tell you about so and so?' Like the women from [The Real Housewives of Dubai], I was like, I need to bring a notepad to the bar!"
Teddi claims both Heather Dubrow and Heather Gay canceled their appearances on the show, while Garcelle Beauvais allegedly refused to sit down with Teddi, but was willing to go one-on-one with Tamra. Teddi's also in a one-sided feud with Tamra's bestie, Vicki Gunvalson, thanks to the podcast.
"I was joking the other day because Tamra and I were talking about something and I was like, 'Oh, I need to check out Vicki...' and I went to go look for her and she blocked me!" Teddi shares. "I didn't even know. I am like, gah! I can't even stalk her. We are fine. I think she just she likes to give Tamra a hard time and be like, 'I don't want to talk about the podcast. I don't want this...' and I am just the low-hanging fruit."
There's nothing really off-limits when it comes to Two Ts, though Teddi admits she'd likely never invite former RHOBH co-star Camille Grammer on for a chat. Teddi does sometimes have to hold back on the behind-the-scenes intel she does know from her friends who are still on the show, though. She avoided revealing whether it was truly Lisa Rinna's decision to part ways with Bravo after eight years on RHOBH, as the actress claimed in her statement announcing her departure from the franchise.
As women come and go from these shows, they often frame the exits as their choice; Teddi, however, was honest that she got fired.
"I recently found out that my contract as a Housewife is not being renewed," she confessed to her followers via an Instagram video at the time. "Of course, I could give you the standard response of, 'Oh, we both came to the decision that it would be best...' Nah, I'm not gonna do that. That's not who I am. Of course, when I got the news, I was sad. It feels like a breakup almost."
"When all of a sudden you're not brought back, or you're let go, or whatever phrase you want to to use, or you 'want to focus on other things,' I think you get that little bit of rejection, but I always will push back at rejection with, this is the truth and this is me and what am I gonna do next?" she remarks. "And, like, I want to work hard and figure out what the next thing is, which is why Two Ts in a Pod ended up being so successful, because I was like, 'All right, I'm gonna go all in on doing this...'"
Now studying the franchise as a fan, Teddi admits she was not the best Housewife she could've been during her three-season run.
"I think I've really found my voice," she says. "I think when I first started on Housewives ... I was a shell of myself, and I think that maybe it's through the podcast or all the other different things that I've done, or just getting more comfortable in my own skin, now I don't have that anymore."
"When I watch even little snippets of myself I'm like, ugh, I can see exactly what I was doing there," she continues. "I was timid, I wasn't 100 percent comfortable in what I was saying and doing, and then the delivery wasn't even who I am, which is why it came off like I'm judging myself. I'm like, 'Oh, there's things I could have done differently if I just would have taken a breath...'"
Her No. 1 regret is not breaking the fourth wall during "puppy-gate," the season 9 sort-of scandal that ultimately led Lisa Vanderpump to quit the show, as she was pinned for leaking stories about her co-stars to the tabloids (an accusation she denies to this day).
"I wish I would have never shown a cropped text message in the Bahamas about the dog," Teddi laments. "I wasn't even hiding anything. I was just hiding that I broke the fourth wall and I just I'm like, I should have just shown it and let editors figure it out. Never crop your text messages, folks! Just send the whole thing."
"Puppy-gate" was sort of the beginning of the end for Teddi, as the audience slowly piled on over the course of season 10, her last. Her dismissal came as scrutiny surrounding her company, ALL IN, increased. Various exposès surfaced online, with "horror story" accounts of the reportedly restrictive diets and rigorous workout plans participants are subject to under the supervision of "accountability coaches," who check in often on clients of the service via text message to monitor eating habits and weight-loss progress. At the time, Teddi stayed silent toward the backlash. It could've made good fodder for a season 11 storyline.
"I wish in the moment I was able to talk about it, but everybody was like, 'No, just don't talk about it. The more you don't talk about it, the more it will go away...'" she explains. "But ALL IN, I live it and breath it and love it, and my heart broke. All of those things happened at one time: my daughter had neurosurgery, I got the boot from the show, and then some stranger on the internet started attacking me, and I just was like, 'This is a lot.'"
Teddi says she and her team did take a step back to look into some of the concerns internally, but she says ultimately what's been reported is a skewed view of the program (most of which exists behind a pay wall).
"It's about your personal goals," she offers. "Nobody's forcing you to sign up. I'm not walking up to people's houses like, 'Are you gonna go all in with me?! I want you to change this and this about yourself...' No, you are going online, you are signing up for a program because you want to change something about your life and you are paying me and the women that work with me to hold you accountable to doing that. If you don't want to do it, don't sign up."
"We said from the beginning, we are not doctors," she adds. "We've said, this is what works for us. We all went through the program. ... If it doesn't work for you also, let us know and you can go. You're not stuck here."
While Teddi doesn't get into specific allegations of "starvation diets" and other claims floating around Reddit, she does defend her business as her only saving grace from her past history with binge eating.
"It's been the only thing that has worked for me to not go in a dangerous and unhealthy place, being held accountable to taking the best care of myself that I can, showing up for myself," she says. "My mental health has always been a struggle when it comes to anxiety, and when I don't move my body, or I get stuck in those little things, where I just I wanna be inside of myself, if I didn’t have one of the women sending me a message like, 'Hey, Teddi, you're gonna go out for a walk today,' or, 'You gonna do yoga?' I don't know where I would be."
A commitment to personal wellness goes beyond her business; Teddi's also sharing her struggle with stage 2 skin cancer on social media in an attempt to spread awareness for the disease. After having 12 melanomas removed last year, she's seeing specialists to make sure the cancer doesn't spread or return.
"I'm doing OK," she shares. "It goes in waves, and I think the reason that I've been so open and vulnerable about what I have been going through is because at least if I feel like I'm helping others and they're able to say, 'Oh, I should book this appointment... or, 'I need to take care of this...' then it gives me a little bit of peace, because for me, anybody that knows me knows I can have a little bit of control issues and this is completely out of my control."
"Be proactive with your health," she pleads. "You're gonna be your biggest advocate, and I'm lucky and I feel grateful that somebody was like, 'You need to go get that checked...' and I went and got it checked, and now I'm going every four to six weeks and they keep finding more things to look at, so if you push things off to the side and you don't just confront them, it's only gonna get worse."
See the video below for more on Teddi's skin cancer journey. New episodes of Two Ts in a Pod debut weekly wherever you listen to podcasts.