By Mary Sollosi
April 15, 2020 at 12:10 PM EDT
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Life isn’t all diamonds and rosé — and neither is The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, not anymore. In its ninth season, the reality series’ longtime queen bee Lisa Vanderpump was definitively deposed over the course of a long drama revolving around a rehomed dog named Lucy Lucy Apple Juice, which is not even the most confounding part of the whole thing.

The point is, the SoCal chapter of Bravo’s megahit franchise returns on Thursday for its 10th tequila-drenched round on the small screen, and EW caught up with Kyle Richards — the only original cast member who is still on the show, now that Vanderpump has exited, and “the TRUE queen of #RHOBH,” as fellow Housewife Erika Girardi tweeted last season — to look ahead to the next year and back on the last decade.

“I think it’s going to be a really good season,” Richards tells EW before clarifying with a laugh: “not good for all of us, necessarily, but good TV.”

By the end of season 9, Vanderpump had fully removed herself from the group, appearing only in solo segments remodeling her kitchen or taking a voluntary lie-detector test or what have you, and she ultimately skipped the reunion entirely. Still, after their long history together, “for me personally, in the beginning [of this season] I was like, ‘this feels funny,’” Richards admits. “Because we started the show together, and, you know, I’m not someone who loves change.”

But like gossip spilling out of Lisa Rinna’s lips, change comes whether you like it or not — so RHOBH picks right up without LVP. “There was so much going on, honestly, she didn’t really come up,” Richards says. “And that’s not trying to be shady in any way, shape, or form — everyone has so much going on with their lives, and then, you know, things come up, and conflicts start.”

John Tsiavis/Bravo

Serving some of that conflict will be new wives Garcelle Beauvais and Sutton Stracke (who is credited as a “Friend,” though Richards says she “was there equally as much, honestly”). Beauvais is “beautiful and dynamic and opinionated, so that’s always nice,” says Richards, who is markedly more effusive about Stracke: “Sutton is a real Southern belle,” she says. “She’s quirky and fun and funny, and she loves fashion, and she has no problems speaking up and having a strong opinion. They were both really good additions.”

The new season will bring some familiar faces, too, with a whole host of former cast members — including Richards’ sister Kim and the infamous Brandi Glanville — scheduled to make guest appearances. At one particular party of hers, “we had so many Housewives past and present,” Richards recalls, “I was like, ‘this looks like BravoCon! This literally looks like BravoCon here at my house!’”

Richards’ outlook on the series has shifted over the years along with its lineup of well-heeled women. “When I first started the show, I didn’t even know what was going on and what I was getting myself into,” she admits. “I remember when I had the first argument with Camille, I was so upset. And I thought that the producers were going to be upset that we had had an argument — that’s now naïve I was.”

While she’s wised up to what the producers are looking for, the wrath of the other ladies — and social media critics — can still upset her. “I just cannot let it affect me like it did in the beginning,” Richards says. “I’ve learned to sort of take it in stride, but that said, it’s still not easy.”

But that’s not all that’s changed. “Season 1, I was the only one that wasn’t a Virgo,” points out Richards, a Capricorn (season 9 features an evening with an astrologer that “did not end well"). “I was around all Virgos, and now it’s all Cancers! It’s crazy.”

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills returns Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Bravo.

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