Is there a woman out there who hasn’t once emphatically believed that a once promising relationship plummeted headfirst into the mucky black abyss due to the size of her thighs? (If someone somewhere is now staring at her computer screen in puzzlement while caressing her perfectly sized thighs, I hope she knows that it’s her terrible breath that always ruins things for her.)  The truth – usually, unless you’re dating a complete douchebag – is that a couple of pounds are probably not the reason things died a horrible, screaming death in the love department.  Something else went wrong between two people and it takes a very special kind of human being to attribute the totality of the misery only to a growing tummy and then meet on camera with a holistic trainer in the hopes of reviving a relationship that looks more like road kill than the dead possum I saw on the side of a highway last Tuesday.

I think Shannon is a very thin woman, but she raised her tank top on this episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County and things got, well, real.  She has put on fifteen pounds and she wants to melt that weight off so that she and her husband (whenever he’s not onscreen, I always just assume he is calf-deep in a ditch somewhere, digging a tunnel to freedom) can rebound and reclaim a love I’m not so convinced they ever had.  Remember how on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills – before Russell killed himself – Taylor once told Kyle that their greatest areas of marital compatibility were that they both loved vanilla ice cream and Mexico?  Listening to Shannon discuss the potential for a blissful life with David feels a little bit like that.  It’s all very sad really, and I continue to be dumbfounded as to why she has agreed to participate in a show that illustrates her declining sanity and plummeting self-worth in extreme close-up.  Just like wondering about whether or not that mermaid-shaped statue allegedly photographed on Mars is real, Shannon consenting to be on this show – and giving the consent of her children to appear as well – keeps me up nights.

The positive thing here is that, no matter how much it blows while you’re doing it, exercise could serve to give Shannon some much-needed calm and if it doesn’t work, she is wealthy enough that she could just hire someone to stand in her kitchen and squeeze the shit of the chi center in her hand because, when the holistic guy did it to her, she responded that the action made her feel different and different seems to be the best direction Shannon in which could possibly move.  (Fun fact:  squeezing that fleshy part of the hand between the thumb and the pointer finger does bring about some relief from stress.  Have at it!  Enjoy!  And send me Hostess products as payment.  My thighs will hate me for it later, but we’re not talking anyway these days so they can suck it.)

Over at CUT, the fitness studio I’m certain would be most likely to test positive for legionnaire’s disease, a video is being made.  Quickie Workouts is the title and the adorable hook of this collection of videos is that they are all marketed with names that have a double entendre, though Tamra, now the self-proclaimed hottest grandmother in Orange County, has suddenly turned pretend-bashful.  What’s pretend-bashful, you ask?  Oh, it’s just a way of demurring after she once all but had sex in a tub onscreen (which I’ll give her credit for because that shit is harder to execute than it looks), had her son hit on a drunk Housewife because she decided she hated her, and then found the Lord.  Unfortunately, Tamra and Eddie are having some issues working together and it might be because he’s a dick.  Watching them bicker while doing squats has me pondering where their eventual divorce party will be held and if that plastic practice baby they almost decapitated last season will attend.  Maybe they can serve chips and dip out of its head.

I’m guessing that the psychic medium Vicki has hired to make contact with her mother won’t want to come to any party with Tamra.  It’s just as the medium has made Vicki and her brother believe that he is communicating for real with their mother by mentioning the dental work she had done right before she died and a tattoo of a family member that Tamra asks him for some clarification in the name of authenticity.

“What’s the tattoo of?” inquires Tamra.

“Great question, Tamra!” exclaims the medium as he reminds himself to make a special note to tell all of the spirits in all of the land to go haunt Tamra’s home immediately.  

She might not end up with custody of those ghosts either.

I’m mildly confused by the fact that Vicki’s brother is sitting on a sofa beside Brooks and that Vicki’s mother makes sure to let her know from the beyond that she approves of Brooks because wasn’t Brooks not permitted to be at the funeral because of everybody’s unrelenting hatred for him?  Is it still only Vicki’s daughter – and pretty much everybody I know who watches this show – with such a loathing for the guy?  Will that point be resolved or will it all go unanswered like the tattoo thing was?

Yes, the medium had no idea what the tattoo of the relative was and he blames Tamra’s incessant yammering for interrupting his communication with the dead and she’s the reason that nobody sitting on a couch right now watching Bravo will ever know if the nephew in question has some Chinese symbols or Foghorn Leghorn on his bicep.  But one thing the medium does know is that Billy needs to get a colon cleanse.  This suggestion does not come as any sort of shock to me because we’re in Vicki’s house so there needs to be some reference to a literal asshole or something in its vicinity.  But Shannon?  Shannon is incensed.  She doesn’t want to hear about Billy and his bowels – which is a sick band name by the way – but just in case he’s got some blockage, she knows some people who can help him and I’m betting that not one of them went to an actual medical school.

Over at Meghan’s house, she asks Hayley how her weekend was with her mom and then they discuss school.  Hayley is home schooled and Meghan says that the reason for it is so she can take her mother to doctor appointments.  Now, as someone who teaches kids Hayley’s age and knows far too many students who have terminally sick parents, I can tell you that this is an odd situation and the only way it might make sense is if the family was dirt poor and nobody else could possibly get that person to a doctor.  As Meghan’s family was recently discussing buying a home in the ten million dollar range, methinks there’s another reason for the home schooling, though I’m not really willing to speculate about what’s not being said about what might be going on in the life of a teenager.  Still, I will comment on what is being broadcast and it turns out that Hayley is not keeping up with her work so Meghan’s got to deal with it (hashtag thiswomanshusbandreallyseemslikehesucks) and “dealing with it” means forking over an allowance of a hundred dollars and making sure Hayley knows that she must go to school one day a week and put her salad plate in the dishwasher or she will be punished by being given another hundred dollars.  (Hashtag chumps.)

In a sweet moment of parenting and teaching fiscal responsibility, Meghan tries to convince Hayley to save her money, which shouldn’t be all that difficult to do because her father pays for her gas already.  The result of saving money?  She’ll be able to buy something on her own!  How many of you out there think Hayley’s greatest dream is to spend her own money instead of somebody else’s money?  I’m sorry that my question didn’t give anyone a nice little bicep workout.

At a dark restaurant near the beach, Shannon and David go to dinner at one of the places Shannon marked with a chalk X earlier in the week to indicate that David never once took “his affair” there.  (I like the term “his affair” so much that I’m vowing to use it once a day in a sentence and I hope those words are what’s tattooed on Vicki’s nephew.)  Shannon orders some vodka because she’s currently running only on Grey Goose fumes and they’re there to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which Shannon tells us is a holiday that causes her to feel conflicting emotions, though I’d venture to guess that the following days also make her feel like a mess inside:  Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Arbor Day, and Thursday.  David hasn’t always made a Valentine’s Day effort –we find out he didn’t even give her a gift last year – and Shannon tells him that she hates that she has memories of his affair and that she currently thinks about that affair forty to fifty times a day, which is a vast improvement for her, and I’m actually terrified for these people because when she says that she has his love today, I just cannot be all that optimistic about tomorrow. 

The next day, Heather and Tamra meet near the beach to climb steps and then sit near the water so they can talk about meaningful personal things because that’s their job.  Tamra shares that Eddie has become more interested in the business than in her and Heather explains that she doesn’t see Terry that often either but she makes sure that she schedules time for them to be together.  My guess is that even if Heather’s relationship was hobbling on a wooden leg that Terry could stick a calf implant into in five seconds flat, she wouldn’t completely share what is going on in her household and I weirdly appreciate a reality star who shows some restraint, if only because it will yield shorter therapy sessions for her children in the coming years.

And then it’s time for all of the women to be shoved into the same location at the same time and so they all go bowling.  Half of them won’t take off their heels and there is a blue bowling ball on the rack and Tamra makes a blue-balls joke because that’s what Tamra does.  She also asks if maybe she can talk to Vicki’s daughter about how they used to be founding members of the I Hate Brooks club but now Tamra is formally turning in her pin that has Brooks’ face on it with a big red slash through it and she has taken the pins out of her Brooks plush voodoo doll so she can stick them into her Eddie voodoo doll and maybe Brianna can give up her hatred for the man too.  But then things get really awkward when it’s mentioned that Brianna needs someone to watch the baby and Vicki blurts out that her mom can do it before remembering that her mother is no longer alive.  Watching this moment was maybe supposed to feel profound – and the loss itself certainly is – but seeing it actually just felt gross to me, as does hearing that she’s still leaving her mother voicemails like she’s listening to them.  Listen, grief is different for everyone (it’s one cliché that’s actually true), but I find myself now worrying about the mental health of a woman I’ve never really cared for.

But wait!  There’s some comedy to toss into this episode!  This show is not all about death and affairs!  No, it’s also about a grandmother in ripped denim and stilettos waxing poetic about how awesome Shannon’s last name is in her very own little rap that made me want to pull my eardrums through my nostrils:  

Shannon Beador, shut the door.  
Shannon Beador, you little whore. 

And that reminds me that Straight Outta Compton is coming out soon and the trailer looks pretty good and that allowing anyone related to Tamra to breed was probably a very poor idea on the part of Mother Nature.    

Back to the actual storyline of the episode, the women head over to dinner where they will meet Lizzie who didn’t bowl because she has a broken rib (and because only official Housewives are permitted to throw a ball down an alley) and Shannon talks to Vicki about Brooks and about what he should be doing to try to get better.  She doesn’t agree with his nutritionist and thinks the guy needs more protein to battle his illness and she’s basing her steadfast beliefs on research she has done.  I’m sure there’s a ton of research out there that supports her views. I’m also relatively sure that she never looked up opposing viewpoints.  Still, she’s clearly trying to help here and it’s a kind gesture but Vicki decides to stick with the advice of Brooks’ medical professionals.  And just when Shannon cannot hear any more views that contrast with her own, Meghan tells Shannon and Heather that she put Hayley on birth control pills so that, if she is having sex, she will be safe (hope she mentioned condoms too – hashtag gonorrhea!) and Heather kind of nods and Shannon looks like her head might blow off right there in the back of the limo, which means the restaurant won’t need to go buy another case of vodka before the women arrive.  Shannon is astounded by the news of a seventeen year old going on birth control; she thinks that’s a “free pass” for the kid to have sex and I think we should all just go ahead and call the time of death on the friendship between Meghan and Shannon because it’s never going to happen until they one day have to band together to collectively hate someone new.

At the restaurant, drink number eight enters Shannon’s bloodstream and she begins to scream across the table that she needs to lose weight and that she has wrinkles and then she says that she’s okay and she’s so clearly not okay and it’s uncomfortable to even watch because you know she’s only one sambuca shot away from weeping in a corner about how her husband might have come to this restaurant with his affair and eaten the very same shitake mushrooms she’s eating right at this very second and this sort of real devastation is so clearly one thin layer below her cheerful façade and I feel guilty for even watching this woman’s decline.  

On the bright side, Heather realized Shannon’s last name rhymes with couture.

Towards the end of dinner, Meghan announces that she’s having a game night and she’d love them all to come and bring their husbands!  There’s an immediate cut to Shannon at the mention of the word “husband” because the editors on this show know exactly what they’re doing and they’ve got a mental breakdown to lay the foundation for and they’ll do it in reaction shots if they must.  And then it’s the time in a Housewives season where a group trip is announced like it’s a total surprise and Vicki tells them that they should all go to Tahiti and the women shriek in happiness about a trip that’s really being planned by producers.  Everyone is really excited about Tahiti except for Shannon who doesn’t want to be in a bathing suit on camera.  Know one way to avoid that, Shannon?

On the way home from dinner, Vicki tells Tamra that she’s exhausted and that she thinks about her mother all the time and then we learn that Tamra wants to be stuffed when she dies and posed in the window of a department store somewhere and I’d like to formally request that it’s not either Nordstrom or Barneys so that I can continue to shop there without suffering a mental breakdown of my very own.  

When Meghan arrives home, she sees that Hayley didn’t finish her homework and the work she diddo was done incorrectly.  Meghan’s feeling guilty that maybe she’s not parenting well.  It’s all made more difficult by the fact that her husband isn’t there to help her and she feels like a failure and I legitimately feel badly for her that she’s maybe the only one who really cares.

Speaking of misery, back at CUT Tamra has decided there must be a booty class because the ass is all that matters so she and Eddie set up some moves and then she tells Eddie that she might need a break from working there so much.  Eddie, also feeling the obvious tension between them, agrees that it’ll be better when she’s not around so often so that maybe they can get back to actually liking each other and it’s agreed that Tamra will jump back into real estate so she can one day find herself a home to move into when this marriage fails.

The coming attractions show us that game night will happen next week at Meghan’s house and Shannon and her husband fuck up their turn at The Newlywed Game – but that’s not a bad sign at all and everything is great and David’s affair never once sat on that couch and juices can’t cure cancer and Shannon is fine – fine! – and there is no emotional collapse coming across the horizon and it’s not just that she has her head buried deep within the sand that makes Shannon unable to see her own bleak future.