It’s here!  The season finale of The Real Housewives of Orange County is finally upon us!  And do you know what that means?  Actually, it doesn’t really mean a whole lot of anything. The truth of the matter is that this show is not anywhere near over, what with three weeks of a Reunion still to get through and then one of those “Secrets Uncovered” episodes, which we all know is filled with clips of the shit that didn’t make it through the first edit.  I will not recap the “Secrets Uncovered” episode – I won’t even watch it – because I get offended when any network seeks to pass off their sloppy seconds to me like it’s actual entertainment.  Besides, I’m pretty sure I can live forever and prosper without seeing some sequence in which Heather petitions a zoning board to allow her newest mansion to have its own zip code or watch Vicki continue to announce that she is never the cause of her own suffering. As I am quite certain that she is the cause of my suffering, I prefer not to expose myself to the horror when it’s not necessary.

As for the upcoming Reunion, I’m already dreading it. Not a ton happened this season and there’s no legitimate way for Sir Andy Cohen to fill three hours of television by retreading the action, so what that means is the time will be clogged up with even more screaming – and, by this point, I’m not sure I have the strength to take it.  Very little of what these women are fighting about actually matters. I can certainly see why Shannon is apoplectic about Vicki spreading stories about David beating her because there are real stakes to such an allegation, but nobody really has to care that Kelly is a demonic moron who spouts profanity whenever she feels cornered and attacked – which is always.  These women can make the choice to never associate with Kelly again, or at least they could if they were willing to leave this show and the benefits that come with calling oneself a “Bravolebrity” without any irony whatsoever.

As for what they’ll eventually talk about during the Reunion, here’s what’s gone down so far this season.  I’ve divided the action up by Housewife – and if you’re noticing that there’s way more to cover in the Vicki and Kelly departments, it’s because they are insane people and I’m hoping my lengthy summations can eventually be used by the team of mental health clinicians who will one day surely study them so they can then write scholarly articles on the synergy that exists between psychosis and reality show participants. 

Meghan:  She went through fertility treatments alongside the least empathetic spouse in the stratosphere; she opened a candle store that I’m imagining smells like cucumber melon and desperation; she refused to leave a golf course to go visit Vicki in a hospital; she officially brought Kelly into the group, which probably means she should be punished by having to have yet another baby with Jim Edmonds; and she now thinks Heather is manipulating matters when it comes to how the rest of the women deal with the walking hideousness that is Kelly Dodd.

Heather:  Allow me just to say a few things when it comes to Heather.  Yes, she is beyond wealthy, almost unbearably thin, and she thinks she’s better than everyone else.  In this context, though, she is absolutely fucking right.  She is better than many of her fellow Housewives.  She is rational where they are not and she rarely lashes out like a monster who just took a shot of liquid PCP.  That she is currently being viewed by some as the most manipulative and problematic person in the cast is total horseshit.  Sure, she’d prefer nobody so much as speak to Kelly again so she won’t have to speak with her either, but to point the middle finger of blame at the lady with the horrified expression rather than the lady who shouted shit about someone’s custody issues down an Ireland street while being filmed by cameras means you’re concentrating on the wrong stuff.  All Heather did this season was tell her husband he needs to spend more time with his family; calm everyone down after the dune buggy accident; and react to the behavior of others.  She reacted most conspicuously to Kelly and we now know definitively that Heather really hates hearing the word “cunt” as she nibbles on a spicy tuna roll.  But she proved she’s a good friend to the people who are good to her and for anyone to now call her The Very Worst One just means that person has either not been paying attention or has been possessed by the walking trauma that is Kelly Dodd. 

Tamra:  Where once Tamra was an evil shit-stirrer, now she is a pious shit-stirrer.  She found the Lord last season and her soul made the biggest turnaround ever witnessed since the days when Susan Atkins chose to worship Jesus Christ instead of Charles Manson. Tamra has spent much of this season forgiving scads of people she probably shouldn’t ever forgive.  She forgave Vicki for lying about Brooks having cancer only to find out that Vicki told everyone in Orange County that Tamra’s husband is gay.  (I’d celebrate that Tamra recently shouted, “Fuck you!” into Vicki’s mouth, but let’s be honest, okay?  We all know they will fight like creatures riddled with rabies at the Reunion and they will start next season barely speaking to one another and then they will murmur that they love one another desperately while they’re both hammered and standing atop a bar in Majorca or wherever it is the Housewives are whisked off to next year so they can once again prove that traveling Americans are the very worst.)  As for the other big apologies she accepted, Tamra allowed herself to forgive Meghan for not running to see Vicki in the hospital and she bizarrely forgave Kelly for spouting terrible sentences about how Tamra lost custody of her child – and then she won a fitness competition and that’s pretty much all Tamra has done this season, but she’s done all of it in bedazzled trucker hats, so at least there’s that.

Shannon:  Shannon moved this season.  And though she was not able to secure hospital-grade air for her new rental, things are still looking bright for Ms. Beador.  Her once-annihilated marriage has been pieced back together to such a degree that her husband planned an entire vow renewal ceremony for her.  David even took her side when his horrible mother told everybody wearing a microphone that Shannon is the fucking devil.  Shannon chose to hold Vicki accountable for being a deceptive asshole and she didn’t haul off and knock Kelly’s teeth out when Kelly called her “Mrs. Roper” and “ugly” because Dr. Moon once told her that her knuckles have a greater purpose in this universe than connecting with the skin of a woman with stunted development who shouts nasty insults whenever she gets angry.  Towards the end of the season, both time and vodka encouraged Shannon to try to make amends with Vicki, but that little reconciliation was shot to complete shit when she heard that Vicki spread stories about domestic abuse in Shannon’s relationship.  At this point, the only people Shannon can stomach are Tamra, Heather, and Meghan, but she’s still invited everyone over to her house for a party after Tamra’s competition and that’s the sort of thing she just wouldn’t have to do if she walked away from this show forever and stopped associating with mentally-unbalanced fucking heathens because I’m pretty sure they’re even worse for her than whatever kind of D-grade air is now clogging up her living room.

Kelly:  I suppose it’s time to talk about Mentally Unbalanced Fucking Heathen #1, Kelly Dodd.  A spectacular mess that’s allegedly human, Kelly has alienated just about every single being made up of cells that she has ever come into contact with – and then she goes ahead and blames every bit of it on the fact that she felt attacked.  That’s pretty much it; that’s Kelly’s entire first season.  She says terrible things and then she cries and begs for forgiveness even though she will do the exact same thing the very next time she gets angry.  The only other information we learned about this alarming person is that her marriage is awful, she likes to declare herself an excellent mother hourly, and she has a bar in every fucking room of her home.  So cheers, Kelly!  Here’s to you actually being held accountable for choosing to go on television with such raging anger issues. And here’s to you choosing the single biggest idiot on Bravo as your life coach even though this show has been on for a decade and any research about your costars should have immediately yielded the conclusion that Vicki Gunvalson should be avoided at all costs. You have somehow managed to look even worse than she does, a feat I’d once thought impossible. 

And now let’s talk about Mentally Unbalanced Fucking Heathen #2. I have to go quickly here because concentrating on Vicki Gunvalson for too long makes me consider getting into one of those fiery rocketships Elon Musk is toying with and setting off for a brand new civilization where nobody has ever so much as thought the words “whoo hoo.”  But I have a job to do here and that means I have to say that Vicki has spent this season pretending to apologize for things she will still take zero responsibility for; spreading life-altering rumors; encouraging Kelly to stay with her verbally abusive husband so she never has to feel the pangs of loneliness; being heliported to a hospital where nobody wants to come visit her; potentially exaggerating her injuries to snag some extra sympathy; and starring in a commercial for a fucking cancer charity.  She also met a man who gave her a hickey on her tit, announced to her beleaguered children that she causes none of the drama she constantly finds herself in, and is the single greatest reason why I am thrilled this season is almost over because looking at Vicki leads me to experience a rather interesting version of a Pavlovian response in that it makes me wish I’d been born an untrained pit bull so I could just go ahead and fucking maul her.

And that’s pretty much it for this year and tonight will undoubtedly be loud and full of rage as everyone confronts everyone about everything.  All of that animosity will then continue for the next three weeks as these women sit in tight dresses on couches during the Reunion – and it’ll continue next year if none of these people decide that yes, being on this show comes with visibility and opportunities, but it also requires that you spend days and nights with total assholes who will announce your secrets to the world if they feel ignored by you.  What will it finally take for some of these women to just walk away from Housewives World?  If it’s not enough that now there are stories out there that one of their husbands is gay and another is a wife-beater, can it just be enough to know that someone like Vicki would never willingly walk away from this show?  Can being different from such a disgrace be enough?

They’re all still on this show for now, though, so let’s dive right in to the season finale.  Tamra has emerged victorious from her fitness competition and now it’s time to eat some complex carbohydrates and celebrate!  Shannon is throwing her a party, so I imagine her house is where the next phase of projectile misery will be unloaded.  Is sage a carb? Because I hope someone brings Shannon a bushel of that shit as a hostess gift.

While I sit here clutching a crystal in the hopes that a cleaning crew is standing by to wipe the eventual blood spatter from Shannon’s kitchen walls, we jet off briefly to St. Louis to check in on Meghan and her adoring husband.  Meghan’s blonde sister and her even blonder mother show up with a cake that will reveal the sex of the baby once they cut into it and check out the color of the icing.  Any question that can be solved by digging into some cake is obviously a question worth answering, and the answer to this one is that these two people are having a girl.  Meghan is disappointed she is not carrying a boy who can one day turn into a withholding man just like her husband, but she’s still excited to have a daughter and I’m excited that she has people to share her excitement because that gigantic douche of a husband barely cracks a smile the entire time.

Back in Orange County, Vicki stops by Briana’s house.  The entire place is being renovated and Vicki takes a moment to make it known exactly where thinks her child should store her mops and brooms. Then the interior decorator disappears weirdly so Vicki and Briana can stand in a construction site and discuss what’s new in Vicki’s terrible relationship with Tamra.  Yes, they’re fighting, Vicki explains.  But they have fought for nine years – and that, my friends, is maybe one tiny hallmark of a relationship that just shouldn’t be one.  Vicki invites Briana to join her at Shannon’s party so she won’t have to walk in alone and her rational daughter (who must’ve been raised by wolves) tells her to just apologize to the latest person who hates her.  And that’s when Vicki adorably repeats, “I’m sorry,” in a robotic voice over and over again and that’s also when I broke a finger on my right hand from attacking my television screen just to make it all fucking stop.

Over at her house, Shannon is in the kitchen when David walks in.  First he asks if there’s any way he can help and then he kisses her hello.  He follows that little sequence up by briefly bashing Vicki, so I think we all need to admit that David is really trying to be an excellent husband these days.  If he offers to give Shannon an enema, he’ll win Husband of the Year!  But now Shannon has to inform her beloved that Vicki and Tamra will be showing up at their place for Tamra’s party because Tamra put them on her guest list (I know…I totally blame Jesus for this, too), but Shannon will use that time to question Vicki about why she has spread such hurtful allegations about her family.  Something tells me this little conversation will end with Vicki actually nailing herself to a cross or the front door or to some beam in Shannon’s living room and I’m already gravely concerned.

It’s finally the day of the party and Kelly is dolled up in an outfit that somehow looks half like she’s a pilgrim and half like she’s a dominatrix.  What I mean by that is her outfit is all the way terrible. Her husband, meanwhile, is wearing a bright blue jacket and that means there’s just really no safe place to look.  In any case, Kelly swears that she and Michael are “copacetic” now, and I can think of no more romantic a way to describe one’s partner.  Speaking of that partner, he’s advised his wife to hold herself to a two-drink maximum at Shannon’s party, but my guess is there’s not a shot in hell Kelly will be able to commit to such a thing. Meghan – who is not a fair-weather friend but very well might be an imbecile – stops at Kelly’s house so they can all go to the party together.  This gives Kelly a good opportunity to inform Meghan that the idea that Shannon wants an apology from her is ludicrous because Shannon owes her an apology first!  Listen, there’s no doubt Shannon behaved in a very shady way with Kelly the night she tried to get drinks into her like she was a frat guy with a roofie, but Kelly has fought with everyone and she is going to this woman’s house and she’s still concerned about who should lead with the apology?  For the love of God, woman, stay home!

As she sits before her bathroom mirror and sprays her hair into a petrified state, Tamra explains to her heterosexual husband her plan: to avoid Vicki at the very party she invited her to attend.  Okay, I’ve studied Film Theory.  It’s what my degree’s in.  I understand all about the power of willingly suspending disbelief as a way to allow yourself to get lost in whatever action is playing out onscreen – but this show is making it almost impossible.  I mean, there are two people everyone hates and they are both showing up at a party thrown by a woman after one said that woman has a hairy chin and the other announced that her husband once beat the shit out of her.  In what world is this even the tiniest bit believable? In what world would any of this read as even the slightest bit normal?

I suppose my rant needs to end now since it’s time for the party. The donut tower Heather had delivered collapsed and it’s all really too sad for words.  What’s way sadder, though, is the card Vicki writes Shannon as the lamest peace offering in all the land.  She basically says that if Shannon was hurt by anything Vicki has done – you know, like lying about cancer or spreading stories that Shannon’s husband abuses her – then Vicki wants her to know that she’s sorry.  She also wants to tell Shannon that her life is amazingly blissful now that she stopped putting a conman ahead of her own child and she’s recently found a man who somehow hasn’t yet realized just how vile she is deep down inside.  And since Vicki is so happy, how about she and Shannon just press the reset button so everything can be great again, huh?  Vicki is a simpering idiot. I cannot wait for Shannon to read that letter because I’m pretty sure eighteen of those donuts are going to be launched directly at Vicki’s head.  God, I hope a few of them are filled with a really heavy custard…

All is carb-filled and cheery at that party until Vicki walks in.  The second she sidles over, Tamra runs away so Vicki shoves a gift and her homemade card into Shannon’s hands.  Being an excellent hostess who once read Emily Post cover to cover, Shannon refrains from tossing that gift over the nearby bluff like it’s a fucking grenade, but she does wander away from Vicki almost immediately. Vicki finds herself standing alone since, as she so wisely puts it, “I walk in and the bitches scatter.”  Way to embrace that accountability, Vicki!  Luckily, Kelly is hated just as much as Vicki is –in some cases she’s hated even more – and her arrival takes the heat off Vicki for a bit.  Kelly walks in, slaps Vicki on the ass, and Heather, Tamra, and Shannon take one look at her sharp teeth and her droopy cleavage and they flee to the other side of the patio so they can be as far away from the evil as is possible because they once heard that evil things ooze and cause stains.  Meanwhile, Kelly cannot understand how someone could throw a party and not make everyone feel welcome.  So what if she’s said terribly rude things to the homeowner?  How dare there be cliquish behavior taking place while she’s dressed like a hooker who’s about to overdose on low-grade speed? 

At some point, Meghan comes and sits beside Tamra, Shannon, and Heather and informs them that she spoke to Kelly and Kelly really feels like she was ganged up on while they were all in Ireland.  As the rest of them look at her like she’s sprouting two heads instead of just a very unfortunate topknot, Meghan announces that she likes Kelly, to which the others basically tell her to sit tight and wait and see how much she likes Kelly once Kelly starts announcing that Meghan’s husband is gay or that the fetus living inside of her has a wiry hair sprouting out of its chin.

Also:  During the break, a commercial for the Reunion aired and there is literally footage of Vicki saying, “Get off my show!” 

Also:  I loathe this woman more than I ever thought humanly possible.

As the party continues, Tamra nibbles on some bread and decides it’s finally the right time to present all the women with gifts she bought them.  An added bonus is that she believes her gifts will somehow serve as a tasty “fuck you” to Vicki and she’s excited about that since screaming those words into Vicki’s face was not nearly as satisfying as she’d hoped it would be.  Anyway, the gifts are personalized tank tops with each woman’s face emblazoned upon it along with some kind of verbal signifier that embodies that person’s personality.  Heather’s has “fancy pants” or something close to that. Shannon’s highlights her judgment-filled eyes. Kelly’s shirt says something about how she’s a constant drunken mess (she laughs because she’s an idiot) and Vicki’s states flatly that she’s a total liar.  Vicki’s reaction is awesome.  She screws up her face into a terrifying smile, hoots and snorts with pretend glee, and then reaches out and high-fives the woman who just had a shirt made for her that calls her a liar.  If you’ve ever wondered what absolute crazy looks like, rewind that portion of the show and take a gander.  But don’t stare too hard at Vicki’s face or she will pop up like Bloody Mary in your nightmares for the rest of time.  I’d worry that’s a cruel thing for me to say, but Vicki is such a devout woman that I’m sure she’ll be just fine being compared to someone named Mary.  

It almost seems like everything at the party might end up being just fine in a clinically passive-aggressive sort of way, so Kelly obviously decides right then is the time to confront Shannon about their differences.  She blames a terrible strain of miscommunication for all the times she told Shannon she was ugly and that one day she announced to the cameras that Vicki claimed David was abusive.  This is a line of defense patently too idiotic for Shannon to accept.  She strikes back and points out that Vicki – who is trying desperately to take an immediate vow of silence – is just as much to blame, but Kelly cannot stop herself from making it worse.  She calls foul!  She claims she was backed into a corner!  She turns to Heather in the middle of all of it and calls her “an interloper” because she read that word once on toilet paper printed with vocabulary words when she was throwing up in a bathroom after yet another bender.

And then it happens.  And, you guys?  It is fucking awesome.  Just as Kelly finishes getting her entire ass handed to her by Ms. Dubrow, Vicki realizes the brief silence that follows is probably allowing them to turn their attention to how much of an asshole she is so she announces that she’s heading to the bathroom.  And that’s when Heather growls, “Don’t move,” and, I swear, I’m only attracted sexually to men and if I ever got together with a woman I imagine she’d have herself some curves, but I would sleep with Heather right here on my living room floor because that one moment was so boldly bitchy. I really wish I’d dressed up as Heather for Halloween this year…

“I’ve already answered everything I’m going to answer,” declares Vicki after she informs Heather that she’s not the boss of her, but Tamra busts in to tell Vicki that’s it’s about time she stops spreading lies about people.  “Likewise,” answers Vicki, but Tamra is running high on adrenaline and the sugars that come from eating one’s first carbohydrate in six months and she loses it and tells Vicki to shut the fuck up while a crowd gapes at these women like anything that’s happening right now is even slightly surprising.  Once again, this show has been on for ten years.  And they all know exactly what’s expected of them if they want to make it eleven years – on Vicki’s show. God, I seriously hate her.

“I’m not apologizing anymore.  If you don’t like people talking about you, then stop talking about people,” Vicki huffs to Tamra – and I think that convoluted thinking actually makes sense to her and that’s what’s really scary.

Before she can finally leave the party she never should have arrived at in the first place, Shannon stops Vicki to ream her out briefly for the things Vicki has said about David.  I think Vicki must have crouched behind some palm tree out back and snorted some ground up Xanax because she is dull and calm as Shannon tells her that their friendship is over forever.  Then again, at this point so many people have told Vicki that she sucks, it all barely registers on her radar anymore.  So she will slink out of that party and ride home in a limo and tell anyone who will listen that she is the bigger person and that nobody is perfect.  Then she will climb into bed and wait with bated breath for the next season of her show to arrive because being exposed in this manner has made her look so very impressive to the world and apparently anything is worth it as long as people know your name.


Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York.  She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on in paperback and for your Kindle.  Also be sure to check out her website at Her Twitter is @nell_kalter