There was a time – I think maybe it was a Thursday – when I truly believed that an original storyline and complex and compelling characters were essential when it came to getting a television show on the air and allowing it to be renewed for about eight seasons.
I also used to believe that a monster lived in the back of my closet.
I got over the monster fear eventually, but I’m not certain that my subconscious has because sometimes in the very dead of the night I find myself picturing the most horrifying hybrid creature ever seen outside of a James Cameron movie. It’s vivid, this image. It has the hardened eyes of Tamra and the pursed and ever-angry mouth of Shannon and it sounds exactly like Vicki and it wears Meghan’s headband. It is nothing short of terrifying and I shake and tremble when I think about that blonde creature, so I sometimes try to calm myself by remembering the days when things on television brought me comfort, like the Smoke Monster from Lost and Scott Baio singing saccharine pop songs off-key on Joanie Loves Chachi.
Those were such innocent days and they were bracketed by nights where I slept and never stared out the window at the bright stars while contemplating how someone like Kim Zolciak was given her very own television show. Those were nights when I didn’t feel a grip of panic settle into my stomach as I wondered which of these Housewives might get a spinoff next.
If it’s Shannon Beador, I’m ripping my television from the wall, selling it on eBay, and moving to the wilderness where I will undoubtedly be eaten by a bear, but at least I’ll never have to hear anything resembling a whoo-hoo ever again until I land with a thud in purgatory and have to explain to the gatekeeper there that sure, I watched The Real Housewives of Fucking Everywhere, but I did it mostly as a writing exercise and so I could test my limits as to how much idiocy and superficiality I could take and I think I should (we all should) be applauded for bravery. I’m not at all religious so I don’t know exactly how purgatory works, but I think that if there’s a screening room down there and I can run, say, the episode of The Real Housewives of New York where Kelly speaks to a gummy bear and then tells Bethenny that knives live in her mouth or show a clip of Nene lunging to strangle Kim on a bus on The Real Housewives of Atlanta or play a bit of when Vicki described herself proudly as a milf from the first season of Orange County, I think there’s a chance I could make it to heaven.
But I’m not in heaven yet. Instead I am on my couch watching a group of women get on a ferry and head to a gorgeous island and, since it wasn’t in the coming attractions (and you know if it happened, Bravo would promote the fuck out of such an event), I already know that none of these people will wind up overboard being eaten by a shark or a flounder whose dietary restrictions doesn’t negate assholes with implants.
The boat they all clomp aboard is actually filled with other passengers, and I’m absolutely sending all of those random people my strongest mental telepathy powers that might possibly exist in my mind so that they may band together on that large ferry and begin a mutiny that ends with Vicki tossed off the boat and into the abyss, though since becoming a regular viewer of these shows, I’m willing to concede that I’ve lost several trillion brain cells and I should probably outsource my future mental telepathy needs to yield any sort of success. On a happy note, I actually giggled when the women sat down at a table together and someone made sure to ask Vicki if the table is okay because studies have shown that if Vicki’s not happy about a meal, a person, a table placement, or life in general that dark things can transpire like an enema in a kitchen. But really, thank goodness Ms. Gunvalson is aboard because she has already ordered some champagne because the only thing that’s worse than these people who loathe each other having to be together in the middle of an ocean is having to do it sober.
I was wrong. The only thing worse than being anywhere with Vicki is being with Vicki pre-vomit, while she makes gagging and retching sounds because she is the kind of unevolved human being who can only face forward. I’m guessing that means she’s never done the reverse cowgirl, a thought that actually brings me a great sense of comfort. At any rate, first Vicki adorably almost pukes into the champagne bucket – which could personally haunt Heather for all of eternity – before running towards the ship’s bathroom, making revolting sounds all the way there. It’s taken me many seasons to be able to say this with utter certainty but I’m ready: the only Vicki that doesn’t make me want to punch something (like the face of a Vicki) is a Vicki who is sleeping, and I’m talking a sleeping-pill kind of slumber because if she’s just in a normal REM cycle not caused by medication, she could wake up at any time and want to say something which is just not okay.
They arrive on Moorea – also known as “The Love Island,” though after a few days with Tamra, Shannon, and Vicki traipsing across its shores, there’s a good chance the name will be changed to “The Circle of Hell That’s Got Palm Trees.” Vicki, having already puked out her spleen and her integrity, is ready to get this vacation started (whoo-hoo!) and they arrive at their hotel and are greeted by staffers holding champagne, which they react to like they didn’t just chug some champagne on the boat. I swear: I really believe that when they were mere tweens, these women hunkered down in bed on nights they were not invited by the boy they liked to go roller-skating and there in the dark they read every single word ever written by Danielle Steel and decided that, just like the heroines in those books, they too would one day guzzle champagne because nothing indicates class more – except acting like a good person most of the time which very few of them can pull off.
During the traditional opening dance done for them by the locals, Tamra focuses on how the man’s balls are flapping in front of her and then asks him, “Do you have panties on?” The guy doesn’t answer though as he speaks neither English nor Asshole.
Vicki and Tamra scream as a golf cart drives them down a wooden bridge to their luxurious huts on the water, once again proving that there might be a reason for why so many people globally see Americans as the worst. In the other cart, Lizzie, Meghan, and Shannon are a bit more demure in their excitement, but that might be because Shannon is trying to figure out where on this island she can bury Meghan’s body because, the more time passes, the more she fucking hates that bitch.
(In case anyone is keeping track, we’re not even five minutes in and Tamra has already screamed about balls, used the word panties, shrieked about vomit, twerked over the glass that’s covering a piece of the hut’s floor, and jumped into the water topless. In short, she behaves just like our grandmothers always did. She’s really making it way too easy for me. Bless her hardened and corroded heart.)
Shannon is having less of a wonderful time because there’s food in her hut that she deems fattening and, because she’s Shannon, misery sticks to her like the smell of a rabid skunk. Also, she has a cough every single day of her life and so she has to use a nebulizer to keep her lungs clear, though I’m going to be bold here and suggest that what’s really going on is that her inner demon is struggling to break away from the crazy lady and that’s what’s really causing the cough and she’d be better off hiring an exorcist than sucking on a nebulizer.
Meghan, wearing a bathing suit, joins Tamra for a swim and then Heather appears and tells Tamra that she and her nipples have to get out of the water so they can all get ready for dinner and she wraps Tamra in a towel and says, “You’re disgusting,” and I don’t care if later on Heather pees all over the table while she’s suffering from some horrible and smelly bladder infection because I just kind of love her. She knows what’s ridiculous about her life and she knows what matters and her mood is usually upbeat and I’d clone her if I could and then force her clone to kill some of the other women and then I’d make a champagne toast to Ms. Fancypants in the moonlight like I was the heroine in some apocalyptic version of a Danielle Steel book, though I was invited to go roller-skating and I’m not actually sure if Danielle Steel ever delved into the milieu of the apocalypse.
The table looks beautiful at dinner and so do all of the women. Shannon actually looks prettier than I’ve ever seen her. That low bun is gorgeous on her and I hope she takes a selfie and sends it to David so that he and his affair can see just how lovely his wife is when she’s thousands of miles away while her hair is in a low bun. David has actually already called Shannon twice, as she has undoubtedly set an alarm on his phone alerting him about when it’s time to check in with his happy and super-trusting wife and he told her during one of those mandated calls that he and Brooks and all the other guys are getting together to go to dinner and then they all get into a sad discussion about whether or not Brooks should continue with the chemo. Shannon, of course, believes that it’s time for Brooks to explore other methods and meet with her doctor. Brooks, of course, thinks Shannon is insane and isn’t running towards anyone she recommends. The truth here is that Shannon is trying to help and I can really see why she believes Brooks should explore other options when Western medicine is not working for him, but it’s hard to get behind Shannon on anything because she is a walking and talking amalgam of emotional and mental devastation and I’d have kind of a hard time even asking her for a recommendation for a dry cleaner let alone a medical professional.
Once dinner is over, it’s time for Lizzie to pee on one of several pregnancy tests Vicki has procured for her because there’s no TV in her rustic hut and Vicki needs something to watch. Lizzie is more than willing to take the test to find out if she’s expecting, but Heather, the normal one in the group, makes sure that she will be okay should the results come back negative. Nobody else cares about such a thing, especially Vicki whose biggest reason for wanting Lizzie to take the test is not so her friend’s anxiety can be in any way assuaged; she just wants to know if she can pour alcohol down the woman’s throat without leading to a fetus turning into a human being who can’t do math. And just when I thought that Vicki couldn’t be any more annoying, she makes sure to knock on the door while Lizzie is mid-piss and incessantly asks questions about what’s going on in that bathroom and what color the stick is and it’s becoming harder and harder for me to understand why nobody has shoved one of those sticks clear down Vicki’s throat.
Turns out that Lizzie is not with child and such an announcement brings upon cheers that now she can down tequila shots with women who are such dear friends that they don’t even question how the news has made her feel, though it cannot possibly be close to the fury that courses hot through my own veins as I realize that Vicki is now saying “whoop it up” in every other sentence.
The next morning, Vicki has to wade through one hundred and sixty work emails, Heather speaks to her husband, and Shannon shows up looking exactly like the character Maude had Maude lost most of her mind and all of her pantsuits. She’s wearing a loud caftan and a straw hat and glasses and she’s feeling great from taking all of her amino acids and she all but throws on a cape and officially becomes Vacation Shannon. Now, I have no idea what Vacation Shannon is, but it’s got to be more palatable than Home Shannon or At Therapy Shannon or Charitable Shannon so at least there’s that.
It’s not even noon yet but it’s time to play Let’s Tear Meghan Down, a fun little game that doesn’t require dice or a tweezer like Operation does, and the goal is for women who don’t know or particularly care for her to say probing and relatively awful things directly to her face. Vicki wins the first round easily by shrugging off the way Meghan refers to her husband’s children as her own by huffing that those kids are not her own and she wins a medallion that has World’s Worst Person Ever carved into it and she will wear it to dinner later because someone told her that it’s actually Chanel. “I think she needs to find her place,” sneers Vicki, and she is more than willing to help Meghan locate that place as long as it is one that’s dire and painful and there’s a bar in the corner. To her credit, Meghan attempts to explain that the love she has for her stepchildren is deep and it’s real and, as someone who has a stepfather I am remarkably close to and so grateful for, I can say with some certainty that while a stepparent may not be an actual parent, the relationship you can potentially form with that person is meaningful and parental and Tamra – who has lost primary custody of some of her children – should perhaps shut the fuck up.
Once they’re all done talking about Meghan’s empty uterus, it’s time for them to get on another boat where they are immediately surrounded by sharks – and for the first time I’m speaking literally. The boat captain insists that the sharks are very friendly and the women all eventually jump into the ocean and in case you have ever placed a bet that Vicki’s voice is quieter when she’s submerged in water, you have just lost your money. As for anyone who wagered that a shark might eat her, you too have lost both money and your dreams have also died. And speaking of nightmares, Shannon – who is afraid of over the counter medicine, all women under the age of thirty, and stingrays – manages to overcome one of those phobias and lightly pets the underbelly of a stingray before climbing back on the boat to feel Tamra up. She says that Tamra’s new breasts feel kind of hard and I’m guessing that they’re the hardest thing Shannon’s had her hands on in a very long while.
On their way back from their latest excursion, they stop at a pizza place where Shannon is again confronted by carbohydrates and dairy – things she fears even more than stingrays and saline – and so she walks away from the group to call home. The news she gets is not good. Seems her kids – who have never had a sleepover party before, which might be grounds for calling in Child Protective Services – finally had themselves a little taste of freedom and they were up until the wee hours toilet-papering a neighbor’s house and one of them might have fractured a foot when she hopped a fence. And listen, I get that no parent on vacation wants to hear such a thing about her kid, but with a mother like Shannon who is willingly airing her filthy and moldy laundry to the entire world and all but funneling vodka on a nightly basis, a fractured foot caused by flinging toilet paper might not be the worst news she’s ever gonna get. Her kids actually have always struck me as being articulate and sweet, but it’s really just a matter of time before normal adolescent rebellion kicks in and if she thinks that conducting herself the way that she does will do anything but exacerbate the way her children behave, she’s even crazier than I thought and I already think she’s fucking bonkers.
At nightfall, Lizzie, Heather, and Meghan leave to go to dinner but the others stay behind and Meghan thinks it’s because they’re boring and old, which is kind of a shitty comment to make but I dislike the women she’s talking about so deeply that I’ll let it slide with only a brief warning that there is really so very much to pick on those women for – their staggering levels of gaucheness, their booming voices, their unwillingness to be kind to another woman who looks even slightly happy – that I’d suggest that Meghan lay off the age thing. There’s way bigger shit to fry but she should not fry any of it around Shannon because Shannon doesn’t eat fried food anymore.
Back at the hotel, there is a gathering of the legendary Whoop It Up Dream Team – Shannon, Vicki, and Tamra – a team that used to have a mascot but it went fleeing into the wilderness. Team Asshole (I rechristened them) hops into a golf club with drinks and goes searching for a place where they can dance atop bars and mainline vodka and discuss how Meghan is currently barren. Tamra steals a carrot from the bar because it’s phallic shaped and she hasn’t made a cock reference in half and hour and then Vicki orders shots and they cheer to whooping it up and I now have a slight headache from ramming my skull into a wall in an effort to just make it all fucking stop.
And now that the vodka has gone streaming down their gullets, it’s time to talk shit about Meghan again and Tamra asks Vicki if she doesn’t like Meghan, to which Vicki responds that it’s not that she doesn’t like her but that she thinks it’s messed up that Meghan was crying earlier talking about her stepchildren. In a nice example of fluid continuity, we cut to the restaurant where Meghan is explaining how she thinks it’s pretty unkind that Vicki and Tamra seem so intent on differentiating between the love they have with their kids and the less-than love Meghan has for her step-kids. Heather tries to explain that Tamra’s reaction is probably dictated by her own divorce and her custody issues and once again, Heather has probably properly analyzed Tamra’s actions and reactions with far more astuteness than Tamra could ever manage herself.
Back at Whoo-Hoo Central – a place that needs to be decimated immediately – Shannon’s head spins round and round and up and down when she hears that Heather is friends with Meghan’s husband’s other ex-wife and is now also friends with Meghan. That is not girl code! Heather is in violation! See, according to Shannon, lover of all people, the girl code mandate is really quite simple: You don’t hang out with the new wife when you’re friends with the former wife and I kind of can’t wait for the day when David’s affair asks Heather if she can sit on her lap and braid her hair.
And now that I’ve mentioned what I cannot wait to see, here are some things I’d love to never see ever again:
1. Vicki slurring to Tamra a question about if they’ll always be friends before kissing her across the table.
2. Shannon waxing poetic about Tamra, a woman she likes as long as they’re both inebriated almost beyond comprehension.
3. Vicki’s ringtone causing them all to dance jerkily at the table while Tamra bellows, “Smack that ass!”
4. Vicki having an entire conversation with her eyes closed because the sheer amount of alcohol she’s ingested has made it impossible to keep them both open at the same time.
5. Tamra telling her best friends forever – or for now – to quickly gulp down their drinks so that they can prove they’ve been having way more fun than the others all night.
6. The hugging that transpires when they all meet up again as though they won’t spend the rest of the season attempting to destroy one another.
7. Tamra peeing in the pool.
But remember, kids: toilet papering a house is the very worst thing one can ever do.