Has it already been a year? Can it really be that time when the original Housewives – the ones with the really blonde hair who wear the really tight tank tops emblazoned with the really sparkly rhinestone crucifixes – land back on the airwaves with a resounding thud? Did my bargaining session with God not work nearly as well as I thought it had?
(Dear God: I know you’re incredibly busy and all with the rampant rising racism spreading through our cities and the growth of ISIS and the reboot of Full House, but I’m a very sweet girl and I only tell people who really deserve it to fuck off and I even recently started running so I’d live longer and look better in a bikini and I think that very clearly illustrates just how hard I try to be a good person. Anyway, I don’t mean to take up your time, but if you can see to it that the Orange County Housewives never return to our airwaves, I’d really appreciate it. And – as a contingency plan – should you have already bartered with Sir Andy Cohen the way I believe you must have and the show is once again a go, could you maybe fling Vicki Gunvalson into a bubbling volcano before production officially starts? Because I’ve waded my way through painful deaths of people I love and confusing levels of heartbreak and accidental viewings of that new Bravo show about the tit-enhanced women of Long Island that the network snuck into the sneak peak of The Real Housewives of New York, but I’m not sure that I’m really strong enough to watch Vicki discuss her love tank ever again and – just in case reincarnation is real – no version of me in any other lifetime will have the strength either. Thanks again, God. And thank you for the blessings you’ve already bestowed unto me, such as knowing how to be loyal to those I care for and for having my own set of tits that need no enhancement whatsoever. Please tell my dad and my grandmothers that I said hello. Amen.)
So that was my prayer – and the result is that Vicki Gunvalson is back on my television screen whoo-hooing all over the place and by her side is her revolting boyfriend who now lives with her and that means I’m going to have to 1) widen my eyes when he slithers his way across her brown foyer in a way that makes his image blurry to me so my psyche need not suffer more than it already has and 2) become an atheist because it’s frustrating when prayers are not answered.
Yes, my friends, the OC ladies are back, and before we trudge our way into the first episode of a brand new season, let’s revisit some of what the returning Housewives and I have in common and what makes each, um, special:
Heather and I are both brunettes and neither of us has the ability to fully remove the “Are you thatfucking stupid?” expression that crosses our features when it turns out that someone in front of us is in fact that fucking stupid. Heather is married to a plastic surgeon who is the star of that E! travesty called Botched. She is building her dream house that will eventually be larger than a country (I will attempt to get citizenship there) and the other women find her kind of snooty and judgmental, which is exactly why I kind of like her. I believe she is on this show entirely due to her own vanity and she is often the only one I find somewhat rational.
Tamra and I both have nervous systems. I’ve searched my mind to find another commonalty the two of us share, but that’s about it. Tamra is a petite blonde, the owner of more bedazzled clothing than I have ever seen outside of a mall in the summer of 1987, and she has mean glinting eyes that look quite similar to the infant in Rosemary’s Baby. Tamra is the mother of a guy named Ryan who always reminded me of the meth addict who used to live in the doorway next to the deli I would go to when I lived in the city and last season he (Ryan, not the homeless meth addict) married a bonafide stranger with whom he now has a baby. Tamra has fought with her ex-husband over custody of her other children; with Heather over how uppity Heather can be (Tamra did not use the word uppity, but I read the flames of fire that shot clear out of her eyes and I deciphered that her anger was over Heather being all fucking uppity); with Shannon because she told the entire town that Shannon’s obviously-broken marriage was broken; with Lizzie for something I can no longer remember; and with Vicki for just about everything. She also carted around a plastic computerized baby to see how well she might parent if she decided to conceive again and that fake baby committed suicide.
Lizzie and I both like to leave the house wearing mascara, except she applies hers with two shovels and I am still sticking with the wand that comes with the mascara. Lizzie is no longer a full-time Housewife. She has been demoted to the dreaded “Friend of the Housewives” status because she conducted herself during her inaugural season with something resembling grace and she never peed on a bed or pulled another woman’s hair or pretended to be a lesbian because cameras were on her. She is married and she has some kids and she designs generic bathing suits and her main claim to fame is that she used to date Nick Lachey, which might have been a very big deal somewhere around the year 2005 and now that it’s 2015, it is the ten-year anniversary of Lizzie doing something (or someone) that once mattered.
Shannon and I are both made up of DNA. It is not the same DNA, and I’d like to officially thank my ancestors for that, but that’s about the extent of what Shannon and I have in common. Actually, that’s probably not the truth. Shannon and I are both decent people. I actually believe that there’s a good person inside of the woman who last year came across as a hysterical lunatic – and made fantastic television in the process. Shannon has beautiful daughters, a husband who legitimately terrifies me, a house that has a basketball court and a kitchen with the kind of island I covet, and a shitload of issues. Her marriage (to the only man I’ve ever seen who looks more sinister than Ray Liotta) was in shambles last season and she never made it through a single meal without bolting from the table in tears. She fought with Heather and Tamra and became close with Vicki and sat there during the Reunion episodes insisting her marriage was magically on the mend. I can only hope that somebody in her life mentioned that being on this show was probably not a good idea for someone who fell apart on a weekly basis in high-definition, but I fear it was her imaginary friend who said it and so Shannon just chanted to the heavens for that person to disappear and then she took eighteen vitamins and washed it down with a liter of vodka and smiled that at least she is a size -12 because she has never once finished a meal.
The only one who comes off as less normal than Shannon is Vicki. Let’s see; what do Vicki and I have in common? Well, there’s…absolutely nothing. And just in case we develop something in common, I will immediately have it removed or call in an exorcist so that whatever it is won’t grow. Vicki has been on this show since the beginning and it might take a crane (or my very own personal exorcist) to lug her away from the cameras. It doesn’t matter that she has gotten divorced and fought with her children on television. It does not matter that she’s not exactly telegenic. It does not matter that now the world knows that she is cohabitating with a man who once told her daughter’s husband that he should knock her around to keep her in line and that there was a recording of him saying it as proof. All that matters is that Vicki remains on television so she can continue to buy stock in whatever company creates those hideous shirts she wears with the deep cutout designed to show her cleavage and so she can wave her vile boyfriend around and then become furious that her friends are not welcoming to a man who has treated her like garbage for years and years.
And this year there’s a brand new Housewife! Meghan is thirty and she’s married to a baseball player and she’s blonde – and that’s pretty much all I know about Meghan going in. But I’m going to hope beyond hope that Meghan never says something along the lines of “These women are crazy!” with an inflection that even slightly resembles surprise in her voice because this show has been on for way too long for anyone to pretend that what being a Housewife is really all about is sitting around discussing the merits and problems within Hemingway’s prose. I’m just gonna go with my hunch and guess that Meghan has some fashion line ready to go or that she dreams of having an alcohol endorsement or that she has always yearned to start some kind of empire that caters directly to crazy people and the crazier people who actually admire them because, if not, she just wanted to appear on this show to get some attention and that would be way too sad for me to even consider.
And so the brand new season begins, and there’s something kind of quaint about seeing opening credits that only include a core group of five Housewives because over in New York, there are about a hundred and thirty four women crammed into the frame while Bethenny mutters menacingly, “Andy said I get to be in the middle.” So this little collection of women who are selling their souls (and their houses and their insurance and their children’s’ respect in authority figures in general) is somewhat nice to see, even as we get to hear that Tamra’s new opening line is, “Boldness comes at a cost – and I’m willing to pay.” And that’s good that she’s willing to pay the cost for being bold, which apparently is the newest synonym for “asshole.” After all, it’s only cost her a few of her kids and most of her friendships.
Let’s hear it for boldness!
We officially begin with Heather. She and her family have been roughing it in a rental mansion as they wait for their behemoth of a house to be constructed, but Heather has a good attitude. She doesn’t mind the rental house! Only her husband is getting annoyed by it, but it’s been hard for him to be so hands-on in the construction plans because he spends his mornings and afternoon with his hands on other women’s faces and bodies as he molds them into cookie cutter perfection. I do not judge Terry for such a thing. His plastic surgery empire is building a house so grand that the young son will eventually have his very own balcony upon which he will be able to smoke his very own weed.
Would it be inappropriate for me to ask for a playdate with that kid?
The house/labyrinth still has a ways to go, but luckily there are some things that have already been decided. Heather will have her very own beauty salon with her very on $7,000 sink and really, who doesn’t need such a thing? Not all sinks are created equal. I mean, sure – they all involve water and a faucet and a drain, but this sink will sing to Heather when she starts feeling like it’s just all too much for her to handle or when she is feeling anxious because she can’t find one of her children in a house so enormous or when it sinks in that she’s still on The Real Housewives of Orange County with a woman like Tamra.
Speaking of Tamra, the woman’s got some regrets and we’ll get to them all in a moment, but can I first marvel (which is a nice way of saying that I’m about to pass judgment on her) about how nobody in the universe wears more clothing with angel’s wings and crosses than she does while simultaneously behaving even more frequently like an unhinged demon? But hold onto your holy water, people! Tamra is feeling down. She misses so many things. She misses having a baby of her own. She misses the toxic friendship she and Vicki used to have when they were screaming into the faces of the other women like a deranged duo. She misses being able to say what she wants without having to own any accountability. And she really misses having the kind of tits that make her feel an “oomph” whenever she unzips her hoodie with the angel wings to show off the tank top with Jesus’ face.
Luckily, some problems can be solved, so we meet up with Tamra again after a hiatus that went by far too quickly. She is in her kitchen and she unzips her hoodie and removes her bra so her husband can take a picture of her deflated boobs that have had implants put in and taken out so often that the doctor should have just put in a strip of Velcro. And really, when you have lost a child in a bitter custody battle and everybody thinks you’re a piece of shit, it’s good to do some work on yourself, right? Why not start with your nipples?
Before she heads out for surgery, her daughter-in-law calls. Ryan met this woman Sarah on Instagram, which is fine and all in this modern technological age, but, um, have you all seen Ryan? I’m having a tremendously hard time imagining that his face in a picture caused a woman far away to first swoon and then fall massively in love, but I guess it’s a sweet story and now it gives me hope that the homeless meth addict will too find love. Anyway, Tamra and Sarah are very close now since nobody else wants to talk to Tamra and plus, Sarah is nine months pregnant and, as far as Tamra (who is crazy) puts it, “Now I’m getting my baby!”
Can one call Child Protective Services while a baby is still in utero?
Sarah, I don’t know you, but I’d like to take a second to speak to you directly: your mother-in-law is insane. If you leave your child alone with her, she might get it implants. She will deck the baby out in onesies that have crucifixes dangling off the feety part of the outfit. She will whisper that it’s not her fault that she is so honest and so bold. She will hold that baby close and wish it was Vicki holding her back and your baby might try to emancipate itself from the entire Instagram/Housewife family before the age of three.
With my public service message complete, it’s time to watch part of a breast augmentation and then see a drowsy and drugged woman in recovery. Can nothing be off-limits, ladies? Woozy, Tamra tells the cameras and the nurse how it’s weird not to have her friends there like they were during her last breast surgery. “Don’t worry, Tamra,” I called out to my television screen, “I’m sure they will be there the next time you pay to have your tits professionally deflated!”
Away from the hospital, Vicki and Shannon meet up for drinks and appetizers. Vicki looks good. She’s cut her hair and I can’t even see a hint of her areolas and sure, she tosses out that she’s wearing Chanel, but I’m just so grateful that she’s not decked out in her usual shit that I almost applauded. And Shannon? Well, Shannon looks the same as she did last year except thinner and sadder – which I actually didn’t believe was something that could be possible. Over oddly colored drinks, Vicki tells Shannon that Vile Brooks has moved in with her and Shannon responds in a way that is, I guess, kind. She tells Vicki she’s happy for her and kind of nods as Vicki tells her that people can change and evolve, which is sad-hilarious (instead of hilarious-hilarious) coming from a woman like Vicki who we have watched for almost a decade and the woman hasn’t really changed at all. Vicki explains that her daughter is still not on board with her mother being in love with the man who cavorted with strippers and allegedly cheated on her and called Vicki terrible names and then suggested the beating of Vicki’s firstborn, but Vicki has decided that this is her life and she must live it in a way that feels right for her.
A few things cannot be ignored here:
1. Shannon orders a dry salad because she won’t allow herself any yeast, and I just hope that all of her remains yeast-free, which is something I didn’t expect to have to hope for while watching Bravo – but really it was just a matter of time.
2. Vicki’s daughter Briannna (I don’t know if her name is spelled with one “N” or with two “N’s” but I have always found her to be the absolute smartest person to ever appear on this show, so I’m intentionally giving her three “N’s” because she’s fucking earned them), upon hearing that Brooks had cancer, believed that he was making up a diagnosis. That’s a hefty charge right there, and when we see Brooks later on, the guy is obviously truly sick or a seriously amazing grifter to have lost all that weight for a long con – but what seems very interesting and very sad to me is that Briannna would not level that charge against everyone. It really says far more about Brooks and what this normal woman believes him to be capable of than the fact that Briannna is too suspicious for her own good.
3. The second that Vicki uses Shannon and David’s newly-repaired marriage as a sparkling example of how people can evolve, Shannon begins glugging her drink so she doesn’t have to say anything and it might take a person who was concurrently blind, deaf, hungover, and on day six of a juice fast not to see that Shannon is fucking miserable and nothing in her life has gotten anything but worse.
Back at home after dinner, Vicki walks into the kitchen and kisses Brooks hello. Douchebag or not, he looks like shit and it’s sad because allegedly he’s a human being and cancer is a truly awful illness to go through and to watch as someone you love deals with all that it brings. But it’s hard to stay focused on Brooks’ health when I keep getting sidetracked by the bevy of clues that hint at Vicki’s lapsed (or never fully-formed) mental health. See, she says things like she hates being alone and she wants someone to be there when she gets home and later on she asks Brooks if he’s happy that he’s not single as he deals with all the shit that has fallen into his path. It’s never a question like, “Aren’t you so glad to be with me?” or a sentence like, “I feel so fortunate to have youin my life.” They really might as well just look at one another and say, “Thank goodness we both settled because being alone is so hard.”
Before we get to the married couple who might really want to reconsider embracing true solitude, let’s meet the newest Housewife! Meghan is young and she’s really pretty and she wears less makeup than her stepdaughter and she’s educated. I worry that being on this show might destroy her. She is friends with Heather and Terry and she meets up with them for dinner while her husband, a baseball player, is out of town. Now, I’m a huge baseball fan, but in my world what that means is that I know all of the Yankees and which players on the Red Sox I’m supposed to hate, so I don’t know who Jim Edmonds is, but I’ll take everybody’s word for it that he’s a big baseball deal. Meghan is Jim’s third wife and he is much older than she is and she moved from Missouri to Orange County and seems to feel somewhat displaced. Sitting at dinner with a plastic surgeon, she brings up that maybe she needs some Botox (she doesn’t) and I almost wrote her off in that moment, but then Meghan did something I never see on this show: she ate. She literally put food in her mouth, chewed it, swallowed it and then didn’t book towards the bathroom. Like an eclipse, I tried not to look at it too closely for fear that I’d spontaneously go blind, but I know it happened and – despite what she ends up pulling when she meets the creatures like Tamra and Vicki later this season – I have decided that Meghan is fantastic. I just hope she doesn’t turn out to be a giant asshole.
Speaking of giant assholes, one stuffed with hemorrhoids might be a classier place to hold a baby shower than at the gym you own that’s been decked out to look like a hoedown. I have maybe never seen anything as awful as the shower Tamra threw for her new baby that’s currently being carried by a woman who has no idea how insane of a family she has married into. Now, I know that I might have me some standards, but can’t everyone see the inherent ickiness in throwing a party that has food and drinks in a place where people sweat all over the floor? How is such an event even allowed to transpire? And should we laugh at her or cry for her that Tamra refers to the décor as “shabby-chic” when we all know good and well that calling that farm-in-a-shitty-gym fiesta “chic” a joke?
(Oh, we’re laughing at her? Someone took a vote? Does it matter that I voted to laugh at her twice?)
The only thing sadder than the décor and the location is that the closest friend Tamra has left shows up to support this new baby – and it’s Lynne Curtain, the former Housewife. How can I say this nicely…? I can’t. Lynne is still dumber than the box of rifle shells half the party guests just happen to have in their pockets and she has a daughter who does porn and seeing her just makes me feel things inside that feel like sadness or maybe it’s an inner voice telling me to get my tubes tied so I never even have to end up in the vicinity of a shower like this one or maybe it’s a pulling away from that atheism I contemplated so I can thank God for not making me Lynne Curtain.
And now it’s time to talk about Shannon and David. Remember how at the Reunion how Shannon declared that her marriage was well on its way to being fixed and that David recently expounded on his burgeoning levels of appreciation for his wife? Yeah, that didn’t last. Shannon and David are a giant mess as a couple and no cleansed crystals hung up in the proper feng shui pattern is going to fix an iota of the shit these two are wading through without even a walking stick.
David looks creepier than ever. I’m not sure if it’s his steely-eyed glances or his almost tangible air of misery or how I’m certain that I once saw him as a suspect on an episode of Dateline, but I am remarkably put off by the guy. Shannon, looking wounded and weak and broken – and still for some reason willing to deal with all of this misery on camera – reveals that none of her friends know just how bad it’s gotten in her marriage lately and once again, I have to wonder why secrecy is so heavily guarded BEFORE IT’S TELEVISED TO THE WORLD. Alas, it will be aired to whomever turns to Bravo, and Shannon is hoping that a couple’s retreat might be the answer for them and that she hopes that the experience will “solidify David’s commitment to the marriage,” and now anyone with ears knows the guy’s been cheating. The adultery is confirmed moments later, and we get to hear all about how Shannon had an inkling and heard him on the phone with another person and found the hotel room receipts and that divorce is not an option. Now listen: we all must make the choices we think are right for ourselves and for our family, but you and your husband can’t stand each other. You might love each other, but you do not harbor any like for one another in your heart. You have been wildly miserable for years. You have aired your issues to the masses. Your kids know everything you have ever pretended in your moments of fleeting strength that you can hide form them. He cheated on you, and not just one time. Perhaps divorce should be an option.
David reveals at the retreat that he felt a new life within him during the affair, but he feels terribly about what he did to his family. Shannon reveals that she never had unconditional love from her mother and that she is emotionally wasting away to almost nothing despite hanging up those crystals. David looks exhausted and weary and Shannon cannot wait for the moment she can finally say that all of this pain was really the truest of blessings.
And if we’re placing bets, I’d like to bet one hundred bucks and a cleansed crystal that the magical moment will magically occur during part seven of the Reunion.