Season 18 of 'The Real Housewives of Orange County' is already off to a spicy start
The 46-year-old mother of three — who made her debut as an Orange County Housewife in season 5 — will return as a Friend of the Housewives for season 18, a source close to production confirms to PEOPLE. TMZ was first to report the news.
Bravo dos not comment on casting and a rep for Bellino did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. But another insider tells PEOPLE that Bellino's connections to the cast has made her return easy, even after over a decade away.
"Alexis is feeling energized and excited to be back in the mix," says the source. "She has authentic relationships with many of the girls, so it feels completely natural to be spending time with friends."
Filming for the new season kicked off earlier this month and is currently underway in the beloved California coastal city, with Tamra Judge, Heather Dubrow, Emily Simpson, Gina Kirschenheiter and Jennifer Pedranti all invited back for another run.
Shannon Storms Beador is back full-time too, and facing an uphill battle this season. Not only has Judge revealed that the two former friends have fallen out, but Bellino is also now dating Beador's ex-boyfriend, John Janssen.
Fans will remember Janssen, 61, for his time on RHOC. He and Beador dated for three and a half years before he "blindsided" her with a breakup in late 2022 (a split PEOPLE reported exclusively). The two found a way back to be friends, though ties were cut not long after Beador's September arrest for an alleged DUI and hit-and-run.
"I've spent this last six weeks focused on myself and eliminating toxic and unhealthy things in my life — both things and people," she said in November at BravoCon 2023. "And I am moving forward and am positive."
Beador might not be that positive when she comes face to face with Bellino. She's already slammed Janssen in the press for dating Bellino, telling E! News in December that she's "hurt" and still trying to figure out "how to process" their coupling after Janssen told her he didn't want to be in the public eye anymore.
"How many Orange County Housewives have there been?" she asked. "Is that your dating pool?"
There's also the fact that Alexis' ex-husband Jim also previously sued Beador in a well-publicized 2018 defamation suit. Beador won the case in October 2020, but was still lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process of defending herself.
"John is very well aware of a lawsuit that I was involved in with Jim Bellino, and Alexis was involved in that lawsuit," Beador said to the outlet. "I was financially and emotionally devastated for years. And I won. But it devastated me financially. And I'm a single mom. John's aware of that."
It's unclear whether Janssen, will be filming this season with Bellino, who left RHOC in 2013 after season 8 and later appeared as a guest in season 14.
PEOPLE broke the news the two were dating back in early December. The duo met in November through mutual friends at Orange County eatery The Quiet Woman.
By Christmas, he had gifted her a promise ring, which she promptly showed off on Instagram. "Words cannot. Actions do," Bellino captioned the post. "I will no longer feel guilty. I will not apologize. Love will create its own story. I love you Johnny J. 🎄♥️."
Bellino has continued to share their romance off on social media, including a birthday celebration he threw for her earlier this month. Her new relationship comes after the end of her engagement to ex-fiancé Andy Bohn, news of which PEOPLE reported in September.
As for the haters questioning her now, Bellino seemingly been unbothered by them. "Johnny J, let everyone talk, but you have shown me love that I’ve never known," she wrote in December. "I love you ❤️."
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