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'RHOC': Kelly Dodd, Braunwyn Windham-Burke, Elizabeth Lyn Vargas exit series

June 16 (UPI) -- Real Housewives of Orange County stars Kelly Dodd, Braunwyn Windham-Burke and Elizabeth Lyn Vargas are leaving the Bravo reality series.

The television personalities discussed their departures Tuesday after news broke that they will not return for RHOC Season 16.

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On Twitter, Dodd said she is grateful for her experience on the show.

"The last five years have been an amazing experience. The next five years will be even better. I am so grateful for all the love and support and so excited about the future #RHOC," she wrote.

Dodd faced backlash after saying in April 2020 that COVID-19 was "God's way of thinning the herd." She apologized for her "insensitive" remarks on Watch What Happens Live in December, calling her comments "the stupidest thing" she's ever said.

Windham-Burke said in an interview with People that she's "incredibly sad" to leave the Real Housewives franchise but is looking forward to her "next chapter."

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"I loved every moment of being a Housewife, and am so proud of my time on the show -- the good, the bad, and the in-between," Windham-Burke said. "It feels revolutionary to say, but I was able to get sober and stay sober on reality TV. That's something for which I will forever be grateful."

"And I came out, becoming the first gay Housewife in the franchise's history. What an incredible honor to look back upon, especially during Pride Month," she added.

Vargas thanked the network, film crew and fans in an Instagram post Tuesday.

"COVID 2020 was a very unfortunate and tough year for all of us during filming but we made it happen and I'm very proud of what we accomplished as a team. Despite filming during COVID and not really getting to know all the ladies fully, this past year has been the most extraordinary, amazing and beautiful experience of my life," she said. "I am so proud of the work we have done and the friendships we were able to build."

Dodd joined RHOC in Season 11, while Windham-Burke joined the series in Season 14. Vargas joined the show in the most recent season, Season 15.

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People said Heather Dubrow, who left RHOC in 2017, will return for Season 16. She will join Shannon Beador, Gina Kirschenheiter and Emily Simpson.

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