Sure, I write Real Housewives recaps. I sit in front of my television set two nights a week with my laptop propped open and resting on my leg and I take copious notes. I type out in a rhythmic pitter-patter what these women say and what they wear and the ways in which they deflect their odious behavior and my hands actually cramp by the end of the evening, so busy are my fingers as they hit the keys to form words I never could have imagined I’d ever transcribe. By the way, try explaining to a man you’re dating that you can’t hang out on a Monday or Tuesday night in the middle of summer when you’re not working because you have to watch Bravo and then compose ten pages about what Vicki said to Meghan and see how he reacts. Before you do it, I’m going to recommend that you only say such a sentence while wearing lingerie because I find that you’ll be forgiven far more quickly.
But just because I watch this franchise faithfully does not mean that I engage with any other aspect besides the show itself. I do not follow any of these women on Twitter and I have never bought a single item that any one of them endorses. I also did not tune in to watch something recently aired that I think was called The Housewife Awards and I certainly didn’t participate in the voting process. Since I didn’t watch, I have no idea what the categories were or who won or if any Housewife made a pilgrimage to some podium to accept an award, which I’d bet several of them would happily do as there might have been a red carpet there and maybe the trophy looked shiny and perhaps some of the women believed that they could melt the thing down and turn it into a pair of matching golden bangles like Wonder Woman used to wear.
What I have decided to do, however, is hand out a few of my own awards to the Housewives past and present and I will even fashion a tiara out of generic aluminum foil to give to any who have been craving a pop of silver. And the winners are…
MOST LIKELY TO HAVE CHILDREN WHO WILL EMANCIPATE THEMSELVES IN THE IMMINENT FUTURE: This award clearly belongs to Theresa from New Jersey. I think that two of her daughters might start the paperwork process simply so they can get away from their square-shaped Neanderthal of a father – my apologies to Neanderthals and their kin everywhere for such a loathsome comparison – though I believe that the middle child might do it so she may embark on a journey to discover her true heritage. And when she discovers the family of baboons who birthed her, I’d like to formally request that cameras are there to document the entire thing and that both Bravo and The Animal Planet air the special concurrently and I will watch one channel and DVR the other because I have always been a girl who has enjoyed event television.
MOST LIKELY TO WALK AWAY FROM THIS FRANCHISE FULLY UNSCATHED AND STILL LOADED DOWN WITH RICHES, LOVED ONES, AND FRIENDS WHO ARE BOTH HUMAN AND SWAN: Dame Lisa Vanderpump wins this one easily. She has been on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills since its inception and she has never lost her snarky wit, her cheeky comebacks, or one of her dogs. She is reality show perfection personified, and I usually wait until her season airs to formally drop a request that she will adopt me, but what the hell. Who cares that it’s the off-season? Lisa, I’m quiet and I can cook and I have a very extensive shoe collection and my education has already been paid for and I promise to never wear silk blouses in shades of either pink or purple in an effort to pull focus from you. Will you please be my new mommy? (And should this plea hurt the feelings of my actual mother, I’d just like to implore the woman to take a deep breath and remember that she can always come visit and that Lisa’s house is always spotless and gleaming and carbohydrates are rarely consumed inside of its hallowed walls so my mother should feel right at home.)
MOST LIKELY TO APPEAR IN SHARKNADO 16, 17, AND 18: Kim Richards earns this award hands-down, provided she's out on bail at the time of filming. And sure, I heard she died in the last movie, but this is Kim Richards we are talking about. She is the single most accomplished actress of our time – as long as time has moved in reverse and the world has ended. She can play anything, including a ghost.
MOST LIKELY TO CAUSE A SWEEPING BOUT OF NAUSEA TO MOVE THROUGH ME IN A MANNER THAT IS SO PAINFUL AND POTENT THAT I'LL BE CERTAIN THAT I CAUGHT A FLESH-EATING VIRUS FROM THE MAN I NIBBLED ON RECENTLY FOR FUN: This one is hard, so I'm gonna have to award a tie. I bandied about Brandi’s name in my mind – and my mind is now on strike as a result – and I considered NeNe and Vicki and her recent discussions of vomit and enemas, but I’ve instead decided that the race is actually between Kim from Atlanta (a woman so casually profane and steeped in conspicuous consumption that I might become religious just so I can pray for her) and every woman and her very unfortunate significant other from New Jersey, a group of people whose very existence complicates matters for me in the Kim Prayer Plan because just looking at them makes me question whether or not there really is a God.
Ladies, you can collect your tinfoil tiaras on Thursday between the hours of ten and two because that’s when the security guard will be here for my protection. Kim, you can feel free to bypass my home and stop by Target instead to steal your own tinfoil. In the meantime, as I prepare for my visitors by pouring myself some vodka in a tall glass and shimmying into a camisole that’s bullet-proof, let’s talk about the women of Orange County, most of whom are too boring to have received any of my awards.
It’s appropriate that the episode begins with Shannon because she was in the running for the emancipated children category but since one of those kids is currently on crutches, I thought it might be hard for her to hightail it down Sunset Boulevard to locate an attorney. It seems a little tense in the Beador household. Vacation Shannon died of a hangover and now Laundry Shannon is in charge and after she’s done sticking in that load of whites that will be cleaned with organic detergent, she needs to sit down with her deliriously happy husband so they can discipline their twin daughters for toilet-papering a house while Shannon was getting drunk in the tropics. I agree that Shannon has a point in doling out a punishment here. What her kids did counts as vandalism – the lowest form of vandalism maybe ever measured, but vandalism nonetheless – and one of her kids ended up hurt after scaling a fence and that’s the kind of behavior she doesn’t want to see escalate. That part I understand. What I don’t understand is having this discussion and handing out punishments on camera. Have these kids not already been exposed enough? Must they exist in this segment so that Shannon can later look directly at the camera and extoll how this experience proves that her relationship with her husband has evolved so vastly that he didn’t tell her to go fuck herself in front of their children? And when you have a kid who murmurs on camera that you drink too much, isn’t that maybe also an issue that should be discussed instead of how her kids should write a letter of apology to the people whose home they covered in Cottonelle? Again, the punishment seems fine to me. Make those kids write that letter! But for goodness sake, you sick woman, do your actual parenting off-camera because your kids already think you’re an alcoholic joke; airing even more family grievances cannot possibly work in your – or their – favor.
Away from kids on crutches and the kind of permeating misery that causes film noir-style shadows to appear in an Orange County home even when it’s sunny outside, we join Meghan and Jim as they eat lunch near the beach. Jim orders a burger and fries and Meghan orders six pieces of lettuce and they debate about how long he has been gone. She thinks it’s been three and a half weeks but I guess he stopped missing her after two weeks so he thinks that must equal how long he has actually been away from home. At any rate, they discuss Hayley and her future and Meghan asks what she is going to do next, to which her father responds that she will go to college even though she has yet to apply to one. Watching this entire scene is depressing. It appears that Meghan cares more about the kid than the kid’s father does and he remains completely unemotional while his wife looks terribly concerned and he barely glances at her face since he is obviously far more in love with that hamburger than the woman sitting before him and I can only hope that the guy acted differently during the courting process so I needn’t come to the conclusion that Meghan is insane. I’m willing to bet that Jim used to pretend to really listen to Meghan and tell her how he valued her willingness to hunker down and help him parent, but I think those days are long over (they have been married for four months, you guys) and the thought of Meghan going forward and having a child with this cold douchebag scares me.
I think that maybe it’s Parent/Child night on the OC because the next scene involves Tamra and her mother and her husband in the kitchen as they discuss how Ryan is moving back to Orange County with his new family. Eddie, his biceps hurting from doing pull-ups and jerking off while his wife was away, answers that no, he will not welcome Ryan back to CUT Fitness because it’s hard to work with family. Tamra agrees; she hated working beside him at the gym and Eddie explains that they’re having way more sex now that he doesn’t have to see her all that much during the day and then they pour shots of sake because it’s really hard to be fully sober for a night while talking about plans to meet up with a psychic. See, Tamra has a spiritual advisor. His name is Scott. He has accurately predicted her custody crisis and the fact that her granny’s ghost once brushed her hair and he will be sitting down soon with Heather, Meghan, and Tamra. I saw on the previews that he will suggest that Brooks’ cancer is not real, but I also hope he tells Meghan to run away from Jim and to not even bother trying to befriend his next wife and I hope he tells Heather where she can purchase Italian marble at a discount and that he tells Tamra where a Nordstrom is so she can start wearing better clothing because the woman has effectively ruined hot pink for me forever and while I appreciate that the shirt she has on doesn’t have something like “DIVA” or “FASHIONISTA” scrawled across it in rhinestones, I’ve still officially had enough.
At Vicki’s house, she hangs a charm in memory of her mother outside in the garden and then sits in the sun beside Brooks and tells him that she doesn’t know when or how she will get out of the funk she feels following her mother’s passing. She’s grateful to Brooks for his support and for being there, especially since she has made is so abundantly clear (seriously: she’s said it over and over again and then three more times this season) that she just doesn’t want to be alone. It’s maybe because of her fear about solitude that she’s so concerned about Brooks’ health. According to Vicki, he’s been diagnosed with cancer three times and the chemotherapy is not working for him. Brooks has a plan to visit a doctor who is in remission without the use of chemo and he’s hoping whatever the doctor could do for himself might be done for him too. I don’t particularly like Brooks and I have never cared for Vicki, but watching their quiet and sad discussion was unpleasant; you never want to see people in actual pain on these shows. You want them to fight about who said shit about someone while she was in the bathroom or get to laugh at someone using a maiden name as some form of a misguided neo-feminist insult. Nobody wants there to be an actual body count in the land of Housewives.
On a peppier note, Heather and Tamra arrive at a restaurant where the servers already know to have the champagne ready and they briefly discuss how Shannon called Tamra “a shit-stirrer” in Tahiti. Tamra is probably correct in assuming that the genesis of Shannon’s problem is not with her or her alleged shit-stirring but instead with anything that somehow leads back to Meghan. Well, the actual genesis of Shannon’s problem undoubtedly has to do with being miserable in her own life, but since she lives a life of pure projection, let’s just hop on board and pretend for a moment that her issues really do stem from Meghan breathing air and being thirty. At any rate, Meghan then shows up and the subject changes to how Tamra has never actually met her spiritual advisor in person. She and Scott talk several times a week (you know, like how you do with your very own spiritual advisorHousewives…they’re just like us!) but they’re meeting now for the first time and in walks Scott and he’s young and kind of cute and he pulls off bald better than any spiritual advisor I have ever seen.
Scott likes to meditate for about fifteen minutes before a session and I’m guessing he got in some good quiet time during his drive all from L.A. and he immediately lets Heather know that her grandmother is with her. It’s a comment that brings Heather some joy and we get to see a photo of her on her wedding day with her grandmother but then the salads arrive and it’s time to talk about Meghan. He sees her eventually having one child and Meghan looks thrilled and I hope she gets herself that one child and that Maury Povich tells her husband that the kid is not his. Meghan, he also says, needs to lay down her façade and not care what other people think and I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly but I’d probably be far more enthusiastic if the cynical part of me wasn’t piping up to wonder if this guy is getting paid for this lunch or if he’s showing up simply for the exposure. How long might it be before he slides happily into the slot Patti Stanger’s cancelation left vacant in the Bravo lineup?
Then Tamra brings up Shannon and the way she accused Tamra of creating conflict and the spiritual advisor points right at Meghan and says that Shannon’s problem is really with her and that the simple reason is that Shannon sees Meghan as a threat. That’s all fine and good and it validates what anyone with vision already knew, but it’s far more interesting to talk about the way that Scott closes his eyes and bobs a little bit in his seat when Tamra speaks of Vicki and Brooks and his cancer. He comes out of his mini trance and proclaims he feels “wishy-washy” on the cancer thing and he says it’s possible that Brooks does not have cancer. He will not call the guy a liar and he says that it’s possible that Brooks is sick, but he is not seeing that illness as a reality. Tamra and Heather both react with shock; neither can imagine someone faking such a thing. Meghan, however, actually once had a coworker who pretended to have cancer to cash in on sympathy so she knows the depths to which people can sink. Still, Tamra decides that she’s not going to tell anyone what the psychic said because it will turn into something very messy and Shannon already thinks that she’s covered in the shit she likes to stir and Vicki will probably end up blaming Tamra for it and besides, it’ll all eventually be on TV anyway.
The next day at CUT Fitness, Tamra is ready to lead a booty class. Meghan, who can’t seem to grow the ass that she so desperately wants, looks at Tamra’s heiny in spandex and decided then and there to take her class. Then Vicki shows up and she does a limp “whoo-hoo” as she enters the room and Tamra speaks to her over the headset microphone she’s wearing which I’m imagining is the very same one she wears in her closet while trying on faux-Gaultier bras as she dances around to Express Yourself. And then Shannon and Heather show up and the class begins and it all starts with running some laps and the women follow Tamra out of the studio and into a parking lot. Shannon stays behind. Since childbirth, running makes her pee. Now, I have tried out a great many excuses over the years to get out of working out, and I think I like this one. “No sweetie,” I’ll say, “I can’t join you for a hike because I might pee mid-step.”
I should probably say that sentence while wearing lingerie too.
Brooks shows up at the gym after the class ends and Tamra brings out a birthday cake for him and everybody is getting along and it’s apparently Meghan’s turn to plan an event and so she invites everybody to a NASCAR event. Vicki and Brooks can’t go, but the discussion shifts from racing to how Brooks is dealing with a disease that we are now all supposed to doubt he might have. He tells the ladies that he is stopping chemo and taking doses of antioxidants instead and at one point he speaks of having cancer in the past tense and Tamra can’t stop herself from hearing such a thing because now she’s suspicious. I mean, she got the man a cake but that doesn’t mean she completely believes the guy but before anybody can really get into it, Ryan and his girlfriend arrive with Tamra’s new granddaughter. The baby is also swathed in hot pink, but she’s about a minute old so I am choosing to let the matter go.
Someone who can’t let a matter go is Tamra, but don’t you call her a shit-stirrer! She is just a concerned friend and how dare you think differently? But she cannot seem to stop herself from asking Shannon (after Vicki leaves) about the look that crossed her face when Brooks was discussing his new treatment plans and Shannon explains that, upon receiving the diagnosis initially, Vicki called Shannon for help but Vicki and Brooks never followed up with the expert she tried to set them up with. In fact, Brooks never submitted his paperwork to them, a fact that now reads as almost sinister because the editors of this show have done their job really well this week and doubt has been planted and the suspicion will grow from both water and from Shannon peeing on it as she runs to her car.
And then Meghan does something really foolish. Feeling perhaps a closeness to Shannon because the woman hasn’t screamed that she is in fact charitable in Meghan’s face in the last few days, Meghan tells her what the psychic said about Brooks not having cancer. My suggestion would be for Meghan to say as little to Shannon as possible because, even if she’s well-intentioned, Shannon is an often-intoxicated and overly emotional person who doesn’t particularly like Meghan and will never stop herself from tossing her headband-first into the fire. Shannon does not believe the allegations, even though she strikes me as the kind of woman who would typically put some stock in psychic wisdom, and Heather just can’t wrap her mind around the fact that anyone would lie about such a thing. Tamra and Meghan, however, are starting to really question things. After all, Tamra knows full well how sketchy this guy’s past is and Meghan cannot imagine why Brooks is quitting chemo, but that’s a charge Shannon shoots down and then they all agree – while wearing microphones and being filmed by cameramen – that they shouldn’t say anything because it’s really not their business.
But then comes the dinner between Shannon and David and Vicki and Brooks, and I’m guessing that once a wee bit of vodka finds its way into Shannon’s bloodstream, she will not be able to stop herself from announcing what all of the women (especially Meghan and Tamra, that fucking shit-stirrer) were saying about Brooks and I really hope that every person working in that restaurant is being paid double what they usually earn because I can only imagine the upcoming carnage.
It all starts kind off kind of gross but rather calm. There’s a joke made about Vicki and Brooks having sex and I could live twelve lifetimes without ever needing to picture such an image (go ahead…try not to picture it now) and then they order drinks and Brooks gets one too because it’s his birthday and Shannon is floored that he would drink alcohol because it’s loaded with sugar and sugar is terrible for cancer. But the real issue is that Shannon feels “dirty” because she is sitting on information that Vicki and Brooks don’t know about but maybe what she should tell herself is that what’s really going on is not that she’s sitting on information, but that she’s crouching on a rumor and she doesn’t actually have to say a word. Unfortunately, Shannon is like a splintered nerve ending and she can’t seem to make herself just shut the fuck up and so she whispers across the table that Vicki should come to the bathroom with her and Vicki whispers back that it’s weird that she needs “to go potty” now so Shannon all but whimpers that Vicki needs to come with her. I’m wondering – I think I have to wonder – how much of this pressing need to repeat this rumor is a direct manifestation of Shannon feeling deceived in her own life for so long. Is she perhaps incapable of keeping her mouth shut because every single interaction that in any way so much as smells of deceit takes her back to that broken place she landed with a thud after David’s affair? I’m willing to psychoanalyze the fuck out of this woman because I don’t want to simply believe that she has no ability to sometimes just keep quiet.
In the bathroom Shannon immediately breaks down. She doesn’t want to screw anything up, she says, but Meghan (Meghan, you sucker…) “said something that was not good” after Vicki left CUT. Vicki stops Shannon and tells her that she doesn’t want to hear anything. She’s sick of people saying bad things about Brooks and she actually asks Shannon not to tell her what was said because she’s heard enough horrible comments said about the guy over the years and they leave the bathroom without what was said about Brooks faking cancer ever leaving Shannon’s trembling lips.
But back at the table, Vicki gets angry. She doesn’t want Brooks’ birthday ruined – which is why no birthday should ever be spent with the Joyful Beadors – and Shannon cries at the table that this is not what she wanted and she shouldn’t have said anything and then Vicki can’t handle it anymore and she gets up and yells that this man, a man who has loved her more than anybody ever has, deals with so much shit because he dates her and she’s sick of him being hurt because of his affiliation with her and they leave the restaurant and Shannon and her husband look at one another and agree that tonight was a nightmare, but I’m guessing that so was last night and tomorrow night will probably be a nightmare too.
So does Brooks really have cancer? I guess it’s hard to know the real answer to that question. On the one hand, he certainly doesn’t appear to be healthy. The guy is emaciated and his pallor has been startling all season and I guess I’m pleased to report that I am the kind of person I’m betting many of you are as well in that the idea of faking a disease as debilitating and terrifying as cancer seems an impossible thing to fully pull off. That said, we live in a society where it’s now known that people lie about their race and then defend their actions with logic that is, at best, not even circular but trapezoidal. We live in a society where Maury Povich still gets a salary to announce the DNA results of toothless Americans every weekday on television. We live in a society where Donald Trump is running for President and leading many of the polls and the woman who has the biggest chance of beating him is under investigation by the federal government but still managed to carve some time out to take a selfie with Kim Kardashian. What I’m getting at here is that there would have been a time when I found the likelihood of anybody pretending to have cancer to be completely unfathomable and that just isn’t the case anymore. And if Brooks is faking this disease, I hope that one of my Housewife Award Winners takes her tinfoil crown and shoves it straight up his ass right after his coffee enema is administered.
I’ll make her a brand new tiara to take the old one’s place.