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The Real Housewives of Or



As someone who has always believed heartily in the concept of evolution – you know, since I value shit like logic and I wasn’t raised a Duggar – I find it fascinating sometimes to trace how one moment in life can directly lead to the next.  It’s not always possible, of course.  The passage of time and the slugging down of wine can blur those once clear linear patterns, but one thing I know for sure is that writing recaps of reality shows caused one of my sweet readers to recommend to Kate Casey that I appear on her podcast.  For those of you who have yet to hear of Casey, she’s a phenomenal interviewer who manages to snag every single reality participant you have ever heard of (including those, like Spencer Pratt, you are trying desperately to forget) and then she pounds them with direct and probing questions People and US Weekly would never even think about asking because Casey’s legitimate inquiries in no way involve how Kylie Jenner’s lips might change due to her unplanned pregnancy.



In the densest layers of the muck-and-scum-filled reality television ecosystem, a few Bravolebrities have risen like deranged phoenixes to the tippy top. They bob there proudly upon the fungus-ridden slimy surface and take comfort in the asinine belief that the only thing that matters is that strangers know their name.  The creatures currently crowding that swamp include:



During my early twenties, I went through what I now like to call my I-prefer-that-he-appear-homeless phase when it came to men.  It was purely an aesthetic thing.  After all, I wanted whatever guy I invited home to actually be gainfully employed and I definitely wanted him to have a home of his own to head back to once I was finished with him – I’m just a girl who likes herself some solitude.  But when it came to what turned my head in a dark Manhattan bar, it was always the same:  longish hair, sexy scruff, a tissue-thin cotton tee that I figured I’d end up sleeping in one night very soon, at least one tattoo that wasn’t some bullshit tribal vine wrapped around his bicep, and a hint of spicy cologne that smelled like mystery basted in swagger.  Only once did a man wearing a suit and tie cause me to stop and gape like someone who was tragically born without the ability to stop drooling, but that rather undignified moment did not occur at a bar.  No, that guy was a Secret Service Agent who used to show up at Yankee games when George Pataki was Governor.  This stunning male specimen would stand in the aisle behind home plate while Pataki and Giuliani chowed down on hotdogs. (This was back during those days when New Yorkers cheered Giuliani’s presence instead of wondering about which year it must’ve been that the man lost his entire mind and started ranting and raving on Sunday morning talk shows.) I sat right near them – I was blessed with a stepfather who has really good seats for Yankee games – and whenever that Secret Service guy was around, I could not take my eyes off him.  I have literally no idea what happened during the games he attended because I never so much as glanced at the field.  In fact, I easily could have been knocked out cold by a fly ball on any one of those crisp autumn nights because I paid attention to nobody and nothing except for him, though I did once consider that if such an accident were to transpire, perhaps he’d rush over and give me mouth-to-mouth like he was taught in Secret Service School.  (That’s a thing, right?)  I even started praying for out of control foul balls to pummel me right in the temple since it started to seem that being struck unconscious might be my only hope of this man ever sliding his lips on top of mine.   

Then came one particularly memorable evening when I looked over at my pretend boyfriend who was wearing an expensive suit that nicely concealed his loaded weapon and he smiled right at me and sort of raised his eyebrows and nodded in a greeting.  I flashed my dimples back at him, but in the next instant I felt all possibility drain away. Since he could hardly walk away from the public figure he was hired to protect and nobody was allowed to get anywhere near them without the right sort of clearance, I realized that unless I attempted to assassinate his boss, I’d never get to actually meet this guy. As one of the many differences that will always exist between Squeaky Fromme and myself is that I will never be the assassination type – and I don’t have red hair or worship a crazed guru – I realized with a tragic thud that this was a relationship that could never even begin.  When his term was over, Pataki wasn’t the Governor anymore and he didn’t show up at Yankee games and I never saw the gorgeous guy ever again.  Quick question though:  is there maybe a summer camp for former Secret Service Agents where they show off their knot-tying skills and spend afternoons crafting one another friendship bracelets made out of lanyards and wile away the evenings making s’mores beside a roaring campfire as they trade gossip about who was the biggest pain in the ass to protect?  Because, if so, I’d like to be Head Counselor.

I do apologize for that little memory-induced digression, but I haven’t thought about that guy in a long while and now I feel positively fuzzy inside.  My point, however, is that I typically only went for guys back then who looked dirty.  My vetting process stayed consistent for a very long time, until a bunch of years later when an extremely pretty man caused me to do an emotional double-take.  But back in the days when filth ruled, one guy I was briefly smitten with seemed like he might be a real contender.  He had long hair (blonde – not usually my thing) and his face looked like it would be scratchy to kiss.  He always wore jeans and a tee, loved good music, spoke Sarcasm as fluidly as he did English, worked as an editor, smoked like a chimney, enjoyed stroking my hair whenever we were next to one another in a bar or in an alley, and had a tattoo that read “No Regrets” brandished across his chest in huge black letters.  And it was that tattoo that sort of moved me beyond that type of man.  It was that exact tattoo that made me wonder if I could maybe train my brain to begin to feel attracted to something else.  It was that very tattoo that caused me to call my friend Nicole late one night when it was very dark and I could see no hint of the stars and whisper to her, “I just don’t think I am supposed to live a life where ‘No Regrets’ wanders through my kitchen first thing in the morning to get some coffee.”  I knew: it was time to make some different choices.

I bring all of this up because I’ve thought a lot recently about people who proudly proclaim that they have no regrets coloring their lives or taunting them in their dreams.  It’s a hard thing for me to believe is possible. I have several huge regrets and most of them involve hurting someone I love or allowing myself to be hurt by someone I shouldn’t have loved.  While none of these regrets haunt me constantly, in my lowest and dreariest moments, I do wonder about their impact on both my mind and my soul. I am able to realize that it’s hardships that trigger growth and I can say with certainty that making some of those questionable decisions shoved me onto a journey where I learned some gut-wrenching but important lessons about life and men and the resilience of the human spirit, but it wasn’t like any of those lessons were fun to learn.  It wasn’t as though admitting that I had a regret (or twelve) brought me any sort of immediate comfort, but I’d never even consider not admitting that my regrets exist.    

Knowing him the way I did back then, my longhaired former crush probably earned the right to emblazon those words across his skin in indelible black ink. In the time we spent together, he was brutally honest – with himself and with others – and he also gave really good massages, which I know shouldn’t really figure into this in any real manner, but they were just that impressive.  Still, though I was able to believe that his tattooed motto was both reflective of his past and a warning about how we wanted to live his present and his future, we eventually drifted apart, a choice I’m certain has caused neither of us any regret.  He hasn’t passed through my thoughts in a lot of years, but I couldn’t help thinking about him during part two of The Real Housewives of Orange County Reunion because I think Kelly Dodd should leave that set where women who hate her sit on overstuffed couches and drive directly to a tattoo parlor and get “No Regrets” inked straight across her Botoxed forehead. This woman (who causes me to feel spiking levels of hatred whenever her grotesque smirk appears in high-definition on my television screen) spent her inaugural season insulting her coworkers viciously and constantly, yet she still idiotically maintains that she has zero regrets for any of her psychotic behavior.  She wouldn’t redo any of it!  She would happily inform Shannon that she’s ugly one more time!  She would love to call Heather “an interloper” yet again just so she can prove that she can pronounce words with more than three syllables!  She would definitely not walk back on the choice of appointing Vicki Gunvalson her Life Coach because who better to guide one fucking asshole than another fucking asshole? No, Kelly has absolutely no regrets for anything and if anybody so much as attempts to suggest that perhaps she should, she will just smear on some more lip gloss and take yet another shot of tequila and mumble that anyone saying such a thing is doing so out of pure envy because Kelly is a fucking idiot who sold her depleted sanity to Bravo and I have no doubt that she will be back next season because it’s the crazy ones who tend to get the raises. I will say this, though:  I hope that one day in the very near future Andy Cohen feels a pang of regret for thrusting another preening narcissist with no self-awareness upon us during an election season that has already felt like an exercise in abject fucking misery.

The Reunion finally concludes tonight and I feel the need to announce that if Vicki is hired back for next season, my recaps of this show will be concluding as well.  I just can’t expose myself to such a horrible person and her barely lucid sidekick anymore, not when I can better spend my time tracking down my Secret Service Agent who will surely enjoy spending his Monday nights feeding me ripe strawberries while inquiring as to which Real Housewife I’d like for him to destroy first.  As I enjoy being accommodating, I’ll give him a list with the names Vicki, Kelly, Kim, Brandi, and Luann on it and allow him to plot against them at his leisure.  But since it’s not currently strawberry season, let’s instead settle in and discuss how this shitshow finally ends, okay?




…Old English Sheepdogs, frozen Twix bars, fluffy chenille blankets, coconut-scented lotion, Tom Ford’s face, the stillness after a snowfall… Oh, sorry – I was daydreaming again.  See, since the abject horror of last week’s election (my recap, my opinion!), I have been attempting to soothe my ravaged psyche by reminding myself constantly of everything in this world that makes me feel instantaneously happy. Other things that have popped up on my Bliss List over the last few days include snuggling in the crook of the right person’s arm, the smell of a smoldering fireplace in the winter, that first cup of strong coffee on a Sunday morning, my puppy actually fucking sitting when I ask her to sit, and stumbling across a marathon of Veep.  What has not appeared on the list of things that keep me from hopping off the nearest tall building is anything even slightly related to Donald Trump or reality TV in general because I’ve begun to believe that these “stars” so many of us have giggled at or discounted for so long could very well have a rather large hand in ushering in the total denigration of civilization as we know it.

I have been guilty, too. After all, I write about – and therefore somehow glorify – reality television.  For about two years now, I have recapped some of Bravo’s silliest franchises while marveling at how poorly behaved grown adults are willing to be all in the name of infamy.  I have watched participants of these shows amass great wealth and so fully embrace the recognition they get when they walk into a boutique that they have convinced themselves that it’s a reasonable tradeoff to expose their lives to the world even though they have no say whatsoever in how any of that footage will eventually be edited and then exhibited.  I have been able to convince myself – almost – that there is no real power inherent in being a part of reality TV, but I’m just not so sure I can make that case anymore. I think part of what swayed me is that I recently saw an interview with someone none of us ever should have even heard from again after her brief rage-filled stint on The Apprentice all those years ago.  Remember Omarosa?  She was the lunatic who all but bit her competitors when she appeared on Trump’s show back when all of us watched it.  She was so nuts that producers didn’t even think of cutting her for a very long time because the carts of crazy she hauled around were the kind of thing networks tend to see as ratings gold – and we have all been complicit in completely validating that belief at some point over the last decade.  I hadn’t heard about Omarosa for a while and I just figured that meant she had finally been locked inside of some asylum, but I was very wrong.  Turns out, she was appointed Donald Trump’s Director of African American Outreach during the election, a job that must have involved smiling at herself in the mirror and maybe eventually shaking the hand of the guy who was pointed out to the crowd by the eventual President-Elect himself.  “Look at my African American over here!” Donald Trump actually crowed during a speech in Redding, California.  But Omarosa did way more than get one guy to a rally.  She also did a few interviews on behalf of the man whose show once made her appear completely unstable to the masses and I can’t really say that any latent sanity trapped within her became evident when she made these comments about her new boss:  “Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.” 

Allow me to be clear here: I would rather kneel before General fucking Zod than Donald Trump.  I’d sooner kneel in front of that guy I had one date with a few years ago who announced over appetizers that he didn’t shower before the date because he enjoyed having “a natural scent.”  (Our relationship didn’t make it beyond one drink; I enjoy things that don’t reek of testicle.)  I’d be more inclined to get on my knees in front of that hot CPA who recommends creepy Irish horror movies to me – though I think I’m getting off on a tangent here because I will totally end up on my knees with that guy and that’s really not the argument I’m attempting to make.  What I am trying to say is that announcing that anyone who publicly disavowed this man will now have to bow before him is the kind of statement that is so truly frightening in its embrace of blind power and, at this point, I’m not sure we should pretend that giving people like Omarosa or Vicki Gunvalson airtime is no longer any sort of big deal.  What I do believe in my heart of hearts is that Vicki Gunvalson is an awful human being and the world is a more repulsive place because she has been on our airwaves for eleven straight years.  But even after all the times I rolled my eyes at the way she pantomimed the crucifixion or announced the deepest darkest secrets ever told to her by a friend drowning in vulnerability, I still don’t think I realized how potentially far-reaching her hideousness can go. I now think someone like Vicki is inherently dangerous to the fabric of decency that’s already fraying in our society. This is a woman who has only shards of a soul left and she would happily sell any remnants to secure herself yet another season on this series where she would like to stay until she dies. (Then she wants to go to heaven so she can finally be reunited with a man who lied about having cancer.)  In the meantime, she might not become a member of Trump’s administration – though maybe we should just give it time – but I am rather terrified she will appear on some ballot in the very near future. And though I’ve never been one to threaten to move to Canada should an election cycle not go my way, I do hear the atmosphere on Mars is lovely and almost livable this time of year and I’m considering checking it out.



Full disclosure:  I hate recapping Reunion episodes of The Real Housewives of Fucking Wherever. Since that horrible day when some malevolent entity who works in the Programming department at Bravo decided there should be three Reunion installments, the entire process has become borderline interminable.  Besides, we know going in that the only thing that will transpire over three long hours of television will be three more long hours of the same exact misery that’s gone down all season long – and there still won’t be a proper resolution to any of it.   

As far as I’m concerned, there are only a couple of things this Reunion needs to cover in depth.  I could give a shit about seeing a segment about Heather moving from one ginormous house into an even more ginormous house and I also have zero interest in watching Meghan profess to the masses that her husband doesn’t hate her or the fetus growing inside of her.  And while I am amenable to a few onscreen moments of Tamra explaining exactly how she got herself that ass (I ate a lot of Halloween candy this year; I might need to listen to a woman tout the joys of consuming only massive amounts of protein and splurging every now and then on an unbuttered sweet potato), I don’t need a lot of other areas to be revisited.  In my opinion, only three things really need to be discussed by these enemies as they recline on tufted sofas with their iPhones shoved underneath a pillow just in case they have to whip it out real quick to ruin another woman’s life: 



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. 



Ed Gein was the kind of guy who liked to keep salt, pepper, and a cupful of human noses on his kitchen table at all times.  In the (quite literal) dead of night, he often went tromping about his vast Wisconsin property, his cold breath releasing puffs of misshapen mini clouds from his mouth while the skins of the neighbor he’d recently murdered or dug up from the local cemetery flapped against his body.  (I’m guessing those extra skins served to keep him slightly warm, much like that light nylon jacket I love, the one I try to keep wearing until I break out into the sort of shakes and shivers that remind me it’s about to be November in New York.)  But back to Ed Gein.  Allegedly, he was only able to recall killing a couple of his victims – like the lady from the hardware store he disemboweled in his kitchen – but he claimed that most of his other atrocities were committed while he was steeped in a heavy haze. 

Many murders have occurred over the years, but few have settled into the collective unconsciousness with the same gritty resonance as Ed Gein’s bloody rampage.  This, after all, is the murderous man who helped inspire the stories of PsychoThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Silence of the Lambs.  And just as Gein enjoyed picking apart the different body parts of his victims, the writers and filmmakers who eventually crafted visceral stories of psychosis selected the pieces of the Ed Gein tale that would best bolster their scripted nightmarish narratives.  In real life, Gein apparently liked to wear one set of human skins more than any other – and it turns out his favorite epidermis ensemble was crafted out of the skins of his own mother.  Psycho eventually borrowed some of Norman Bates’ fashion predilections from that particular thread of the story.  The creation of an outfit from the skins of victims is also used prominently in The Silence of the Lambs as Buffalo Bill crafts himself his very own “woman suit.”  However, unlike both Ed Gein and Norman Bates, Buffalo Bill never found himself in a hazy stupor.  No, he knew exactly what he was doing every single step of the way, including during the moments when he advised his trapped and terrified victims to slather themselves with lotion because that kind of conditioning would make their skins far easier to work with once the sewing portion of the horror got underway.

As for Leatherface and his cannibalistic clan, the décor of the stark house where most of the movie’s travesties take place is modeled after Ed Gein’s home. It wasn’t a sectional from Ikea or West Elm that furnished Gein’s living room; he upholstered his chairs with human skin and he kept the eviscerated faces of the tragically unfortunate stapled to one of his walls. Gein applied rouge and lipstick to those torn-off faces to make them look extra pretty.  He had several pairs of human lips dangling from strings throughout his house.  His bedposts were adorned with real skulls like an Ed Hardy creation gone berserk.  In his closet was a belt with human nipples sewn upon it.  He kept stacks of human organs inside his freezer, all carefully wrapped except for that one human heart found in a pot on the stove that was floating there when the police finally closed in.

One of the reasons his crimes hadn’t been found out earlier is because Ed Gein lived alone and nobody saw the mayhem as it unfolded.  Before his mother died, Gein already lived an almost hermetic existence. He was allowed to attend school, but he was prohibited from socializing.  His fanatically religious mother spouted daily decrees that girls were essentially instruments of Satan who existed to beckon pure boys like her son towards the Dark Side, so Gein turned away from society and came to rely on his mother almost totally.  When she passed, he continued to keep her bedroom immaculate, even as the rest of the house fell into a dusty decline.  Finally nabbed for one of his murders, Ed Gein was carted off to a psychiatric institution.  He admitted early on that he was guilty, though he had a hard time remembering the details since much of his memory was cloaked in a heavy mental static.  As for a motive, Gein’s was really quite simple:  he liked to take things apart and see how things worked and he wasn’t satisfied doing such a thing with model airplanes or transistor radios, so he decided to use a local woman instead.  He swore that not all the body parts decorating his home (in what I’m imagining was the foulest smelling feng shui imaginable) came from people he killed.  He insisted that a lot of those skins and lips and nostrils were from his frequent grave-robbing excursions.  

In 1984, Gein died in a hospital for the clinically insane. He was, by most accounts, seen as “harmless” by the hospital staff and his body was buried in an unmarked grave to keep the darkly curious at bay.  But his staggering levels of depravity remain as part of our history and the imprint of his time spent constructing a loveseat out of an inner thigh can still be seen in horror movies today.  As for the reasons that explain our enduring curiosity about a human being of this sort, I believe it’s because there’s perhaps nobody scarier than a person who appears somewhat normal on the outside but is so psychologically warped on the inside – and that brings me to O.C. Housewife Kelly Dodd.  I cannot possibly be the only one wondering what psychological ailments might currently be ravaging Ms. Dodd.  She looks relatively sane on the outside – as long as you don’t concentrate too hard on that ferocious way her eyes and teeth flash, animal-like, when she gets angry – but internally, this appears to be a woman who is in the process of losing her entire mind.  She continually allows herself to believe that spouting out hellish comments in the throes of anger is a socially acceptable practice and that her momentary skyrocketing fury should serve as a valid excuse so the person who felt the wrath of her words will simply shrug and say, “Oh, Kelly didn’t really mean it when she called me ‘a dumbass twat.’  She was just angry!  I totally forgive her for every heinous thing she has said to me.  After all, we all get mad sometimes…” 



It was just the other day when I found myself in the middle of a totally peculiar conversation with a kid who recently transferred from another district.  Having to change schools at any point can be an anxiety-ridden exercise in pure misery, but I think it’s probably the most difficult when you’re about to begin your very last year of high school.  I want this student to feel welcome here – comfortable – so part of my morning routine now involves chatting with him during those flurried few minutes before the bell rings.  I often attempt to bring other kids into our conversation and then I gently walk away once I’m certain this newbie is happily interacting with some guy or girl he didn’t know before last week.

As the first month of the academic year flew by, I was able to witness things falling into place socially for this student.  He was starting to feel at home in a brand new place.  He was beginning to make friends.  I’d see him walking down the hallway as part of a small group.  He wasn’t always alone anymore – that made me really happy – but other things I started to notice after interacting with him every single day began to cause some concerns: 

1.    Every single time we read from any form of any text, he always begins and ends up on the wrong page.  And it’s not the next page he accidentally ends up on – it’s always some random distant chapter of the book.

2.    He has to be prodded repeatedly to take notes because he often falls into a brief bouts of what I’m really hoping are simple narcoleptic episodes because otherwise I seriously fear for the kid’s health since he appears to lapse into a fully comatose state every few minutes.

3.    He left a notebook and a textbook from another class in my room for over a week.  When I asked him if they were his, he shook his head.  No, he insisted.  He’d never even seen those books before.  Then I opened both books and pointed to the place where he’d printed his own name on the inner covers and he just shrugged and shoved them into his bag, still having not the slightest memory of ever owning those books in the first place.

4.    Right before the entire class was scheduled to meet with Guidance to discuss post-high school plans, I found myself in the hallway with him (this is the discussion I was talking about) and I asked what he hoped to do after graduation.  “I’m going to play basketball for Duke,” he told me with a smile.  “That’s amazing!” I responded.  “Have you been in contact with the coach?” He had not.  “Has the coach come to see you play?  Has he watched footage you sent him of yourself?”  Actually, he’d never spoken to the coach in any form.  “Are you on the basketball team here?” I asked then – and when he told me no and then also shook his head when I asked him if he’d taken the SATs, I could feel my eyebrows shoot all the way up my forehead as tends to be the case whenever I find myself thrown into a scenario in which I am contractually unable to utter a sentence like, “Do you understand that what you’re saying makes zero fucking sense?” 

After that bizarre conversation that had no beginning and no end and nothing that could be even be constituted as half of a middle, I had an inkling something wasn’t right when it came to this young man and the way he processes information. I did some research and found out his IQ falls somewhere between DOLTISH and TROGLODIYTIC on the official scale that measures empirical intelligence.  He’s a very sweet person; it’s an absolute shame that he’s so mentally vacant, but at least the school district is now aware of his limitations and we can get him the services he needs to hopefully graduate on time and eventually carve out a future plan that both makes sense and somewhat inspires him.  My rather cynical guess is that his future will probably not involve being a star athlete at a competitive university, but then again, stranger things have happened.    

And speaking of very strange things and the limitations involving human behavior, Kelly Dodd is having the kind of inaugural season that makes me wish I could check out her IQ numbers because perhaps there’s some form of mental deficiency that causes her to behave like a fucking lunatic while cameras record every slurring sentiment she spits out in a huff of tequila-scented fire.  In case anyone is looking for some stats (forgive me – I’ve got Duke basketball on the brain), so far Kelly has managed to call Shannon “ugly,” “a cunt,” and “Mrs. Roper.”  She chose to elect Vicki Gunvalson to be her Life Coach, an election Vicki won by a fucking landslide since her opponents – Adolf Hitler and Ann Coulter – were both too busy helping Donald Trump to campaign against The Whoo Hoo Goddess.  Then Kelly sat back and listened intently as her brand new guru encouraged her to stay with her verbally-abusive husband until the very end of time so she would never have to feel even a pang of loneliness because everyone knows loneliness is way worse than having your soul and your heart roasted from the inside out.  As for her illustrious husband, Kelly has fought with him on camera and announced frequently to the masses that he’s a narcissist who takes sadistic pleasure in threatening to strip her of her custody.  She has been drunk almost constantly since we’ve met her.  (During one of the few times she was sober, however, she made sure to inform her husband that his own brazen intoxication humiliated her.)  Then, after jetting off to Ireland with a bunch of women she’s already belittled and insulted, she quickly downed some shots and instantly morphed from Happy Drunk to Asshole Drunk in two shakes of a fluffy lamb’s tail whereupon she made sure to bellow that Tamra is a complete fucking liar and that’s probably the very reason Tamra’s daughter refuses to have even a single thing to do with her own mother.

The most disgraceful part of the entire scenario, of course, is not even that Kelly said such a thing about Tamra and her daughter.  Sure, that was a cruel comment formed by the lips of a walking piece of dribbling horseshit, but c’mon – nobody actually cares about Kelly Dodd’s opinion on parenting.  The real issue is not what Kelly said, but how desperate she is to prove that saying those words should have absolutely no consequence because she was the one who was made to feel sad first.  And why did she feel sad?  Because Tamra told her the poke-you-in-the-nose game was getting annoying so Kelly retaliated by lobbing The Custody Grenade.  Yes, Tamra dirtied the waters a bit when she shot out that she has been such a good friend to Kelly that she hasn’t even divulged all those secrets Kelly told her, like the juicy one about Heather being poor. That was an asshole move by Tamra for sure, but it did not deserve the vitriolic retribution it received.  And even now, even in the aftermath of the battle when things should start to become a bit less fuzzy and begin to make a bit more sense, there still appears to be no awareness whatsoever on Kelly’s part that saying the most devastating thing you can articulate will absolutely lead to the ratcheting up of stakes in a manner that will not easily be resolved, especially not when you subsequently deny any complicity in the manner and your sociopath of a husband encourages you to do anything and everything besides apologize.

I do not care if Kelly ever achieves personal contentment or inner peace.  At this point, I’m pretty sold on the idea that she’s a horrible person who causes problems everywhere she wanders.  I do not care in the slightest about whether or not she stays married to a man who appears to be just as damaged as she is.  And I certainly don’t care that Vicki hasn’t come to Kelly’s defense with the same idiotic force with which Kelly sought to defend Vicki’s tarnished honor earlier in the season.  To even allow herself to believe that Vicki was invested in her life for any other reason than the fact that she’d been blackballed by every single woman in Orange County and she needed someone to drink with on a Tuesday was moronic. Vicki will not be coming to Kelly’s aid in Ireland – or at least she won’t until everyone remembers just how much Vicki sucks and turns against her again and Vicki immediately requires a new best friend who is too foolish to go running for the ruins in the distance.  But for now?  For now the only person Vicki really cares about is herself.

I’d love to spend the rest of this Bravo-sponsored tour through the hills of Ireland with only Shannon or Heather.  It would fucking thrill me to pieces to scream “Fare-Thee-Well!” at Meghan as she goes tromping off to discover her heritage and I suppose I wouldn’t mind watching a few more seconds of Tamra hyperventilating into a paper bag, but I’d be quite happy to pretend Kelly and Vicki do not exist. I would like instead to enjoy the zaniness of Shannon dressing up in emerald green sequined outfits while Heather drains yet another glass of champagne and does it without walking into even one wall or calling another woman a cunt as someone who looks a great deal like Jamie Dornan sings Danny Boy in the foggy distance.

Unfortunately, Bravo editors are clearly conspiring against me. They did not heed my very specific requests for exactly what it is I want to see, so this week begins with Heather calling Vicki to get the rundown on how Vicki and Shannon bonded drunkenly the evening before.  Their rickety friendship is starting to be pieced back together – at least while they’re in Ireland and everyone is currently hammered and filled with hatred for Kelly – and they shall celebrate the resurgence of this already-broken bond by spending a day on a farm!  Not invited to frolic with animals in the vast countryside is Kelly.  She is asshole-non-grata at this point and maybe part of the reason for such a distinction can be traced back to the fact that she still cannot understand what it was that she did to make people so angry.  The lady is a moron and she will be punished for being this much of an idiot by having to walk the streets alongside a pregnant woman and stop each passerby along the way to find out if anybody might be one of Meghan’s distant cousins who can provide both food and shelter should Meghan eventually come to her senses and leave her douchebag of a husband.

Now that the rest of the women are free from Kelly and her haze of horribleness, it’s time for them to meet in the lobby of the hotel so they can listen to Vicki discuss how she vomited all morning and how she might actually be pregnant.  (Wait.  Didn’t we all secretly get together and take a vote that Vicki’s uterus was to forevermore be used for nothing except the storage of tight shirts with cutouts near the cleavage area?  Could that have simply been a dream?)  In any event, nobody seems all that upset that Kelly is nowhere around, not even Vicki who cannot accomplish a task so simple as opening a trunk without making it into some stupid show, one I can’t believe hasn’t been canceled yet by either Andy Cohen or God.

As they trudge around the city, Meghan and Kelly look nothing short of fucking asinine as they accost every person they see to find out if any of the people trying to avoid them have the last name O’Toole.  Yes, they’re basically cold-calling people on a street and Kelly apparently decided to dress like Bonnie Parker for the event and they’re achieving just about nothing in this producer-driven endeavor.  Meanwhile, the others arrive at a lovely farm and are promptly informed that they will be helping to milk some cows.  Obviously – because she’s the fucking worst – Vicki immediately begins shrieking at the sight of cow shit and then the entire group dons Ghostbuster-looking suits to ready themselves for the milking.  When it’s Vicki’s turn to milk the cow (who I’m just gonna go ahead and call Brooks), the cow tries to kick her.  I’m going to need to take a second now so I can quickly browse online for a gift to send Brooks the Cow because I really appreciate his effort.  Do cows like those Harry & David pears you’re supposed to eat with a spoon?

Also:  Meghan maybe-sort-of-could-have found someone she’s slightly related to after a day of harassing strangers on the street.

Also:  Tamra knows the only thing that will get her through being near Kelly at this point is Jesus and I really hope he’s not too busy combatting famine and genocide to help out an Orange County Real Housewife because things could get ugly on the farm.

Also:  Vicki’s wants her nipples to be “where they should be” and she declares her vagina to be beautiful.

Also:  I am positive I can see a swarm of locusts riding a fleet of frogs somewhere near the horizon. 

Arriving at the farm, Kelly feels uncomfortable.  Meghan informed her earlier in the day that she should immediately apologize for saying such a terrible thing to Tamra, but as Kelly herself is a terrible thing, she is thereby not fully able to follow normal advice.  She sits quietly for a while, fully believing the rest of the women are part of a hateful clique that’s targeting her for no reason at all, but then – like a ray of sunshine beaming through the clouds – a teensy bit of humility overtakes her and she announces to the table at large how sorry she is for saying such awful things about Tamra.  “It was just something that came out of my mouth,” Kelly attempts to explain while Heather mumbles safe words to herself to keep her head from flying off.  See, Heather has heard this pathetic excuse from Kelly before.  We have all heard her apologize for hissing nasty words out of anger and, frankly, I don’t see how it’s possible for anyone to believe things will be any different going forward.  This is a very sick human being gracing our TV screens and unless her husband locks her in a dungeon, I have no doubt she will be back to cause even more trouble next season.  As for how Tamra took Kelly’s apology, well, she sort of didn’t.  Her eyes flooded with tears, Tamra simply nodded as Kelly rhapsodized about what an excellent mother Tamra is, but when Kelly walked over later to thank Tamra for being so forgiving, Tamra coldly and evenly replied that she is not talking about this matter right now.  A bullshit apology by a monster in a beret is sometimes just not enough.

Once they arrive back at the hotel, Meghan stops by Tamra’s room so she can try to convince her to forgive Kelly, but Tamra is way too angry to even entertain such a notion.  Kelly Dodd, after all, is the one person walking this fucking planet who causes Tamra to question the Lord’s teachings and all Tamra can do to get through it is try to stay as far away from Kelly and her sharp teeth as is humanly possible.  The rest of them are not so lucky.  Heather knows she can deal with Kelly’s presence by treating her like she’s nothing but generic air and that’s her mindset as she, Shannon, Vicki, and Kelly hop on some bikes to tour the bucolic countryside.  The gorgeousness of the vista is immediately compromised by Vicki’s incessant posing and shrieking, but I suppose she could be doing it all while topless, so look at that – I found me an upside to this bullshit. 

The group eventually bikes to some glorious castle and they spread out on a blanket for a picnic.  Kelly waves away the alcohol she’s offered because wringing out her liver in the hotel sink that morning wasn’t as effective as she had hoped.  Still, everyone is somewhat optimistic that their last dinner in Ireland will be calm and enjoyable and that of course means that the meal will be a Technicolor nightmare.  There’s no way Tamra is going to get through a meal with Kelly without lunging at her and even Heather might grip a steak knife really tightly in her hands for a second because she’s already grossed out by what Kelly said about Tamra’s custody issues – and that shit is nothing compared to the shirt she saw Kelly wearing while she played croquet.  White, filmy, and far too complicated in its detailing, Kelly’s shirt looks like the kind of item Luann’s pirate would have tossed on right before he asked the Countess to pay him his regular fee for his services.  I mean, that shirt is not the ugliest thing about Kelly.  It’s clearly her personality that is her single most awful quality, but that shirt did her no favors.

Arriving at the dinner Tamra has already coined “Kelly’s Funeral,” Shannon suggests the group order some alcohol, but Kelly announces she will not be drinking.  No, she’s too hurt that Vicki didn’t stand up for her when everyone else attacked her just for bringing up the fact that Tamra’s daughter wants nothing to do with the woman who birthed her.  But Shannon clearly doesn’t care all that much about Kelly’s wants or needs and she goes ahead and orders some tequila for her.  Maybe Shannon thought the alcohol racing through her bloodstream might cause Kelly to loosen up.  Maybe she secretly hatched a plan to poison Kelly’s tequila with cyanide.  I really have no idea about Shannon’s motivation on this one, but Vicki thinks she knows what’s going on and I seriously hate to say this: I think Vicki might be right.  See, Vicki believes that Shannon is trying to get some booze into a lunatic’s body so the monster will be unleashed and she’s pretty sure Tamra is behind this evil plan, but Kelly is the kind of all-knowing seer who understands everything that’s happening around her.  She believes these women are setting up an ambush, but rather than get up and go back to her room and order room service and some light porn, Kelly stays put and readies herself for the next war. 

Now listen, I figured there would eventually be a few causalities, but I did not expect to see text pop onscreen that indicated something massive happened five hours earlier without a camera crew recording the crazy.  We almost never – and I mean never – hear a producer’s probing questions on this franchise, but the last segment begins with a producer asking Meghan about what happened after dinner.  Seems Vicki and Kelly knocked on Tamra’s door during the night.  They were trying to get Tamra to go out drinking with them, an invitation Tamra declined by not answering the door.  And that’s when things get a bit confusing.  Shannon apparently came down the hall and demanded to know what Kelly was doing and Kelly somehow made the choice to go back to her room and go to sleep.  With her gone, Heather, Tamra, and Shannon headed out to get a drink and they sent texts to Vicki that she should come join them so long as she left the unbalanced one back in the hotel room.  As she has no loyalty to anything or anyone, Vicki ditched her new best friend and hustled her way downstairs.  Firmly reunited with Tamra, Vicki then whispered into her soul-sister’s ear all of the dastardly things Kelly has said about Tamra, to which Tamra responded by snapping a picture of herself wrapped around Kelly’s Life Coach that she then sent Kelly’s way, along with a lengthy text that informed Kelly that Vicki had told Tamra everything. 

It’s hard to believe things escalated after that text was sent and the women were stuffed with alcohol, right?  But escalate they did and Heather captured the entire thing on her phone.  Kelly cried in a hallway and denied and then denied again saying anything terrible about Tamra and eventually all of the women and their resentments and their imminent hangovers boarded the shuttle to return to the airport.  But if you believed Kelly would just sit quietly in that van and fantasize about being a different person, you would be very incorrect.  Instead, Kelly mumbles that she has never done anything to anybody and then she turns around and stares at Shannon and calls her “a drunk.”  (Um, pot filled with cheap grain punch and desperation and tears?  You’re black.)  Then she continues by demanding that Shannon shut her mouth – and just because she’s not shown herself to be despicable enough, she follows up with a comment about Shannon having hairs sprouting from her chin.  The whole thing is captured with the scuzzy tint of night vision and it ends when Heather sort of scoffs and announces that Kelly is nothing but trash.

Do I think these women were trying to bait Kelly?  Probably.  But to loosely paraphrase our next President, perhaps someone so easily baited should not live such a public life.  The woman needs to get off of reality television for the sake of her sanity and she needs to do it immediately.  And if she finds that she’s bored after quitting this show, perhaps she can go play basketball at Duke.


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



I helped somebody move this weekend, someone I care for almost desperately. And I watched as one lifetime was carted out of one doorway and loaded into a truck only to unceremoniously be dumped across an unknown threshold. Yes, there is a feeling of rebirth one can have as a brand new home is put together, but the past is always there. It appears suddenly in the glassware you used to drink from in the old house, the framed print you can’t quite find the ideal place for on a freshly painted wall so for now it’s been shoved deep inside a closet and the corner of the frame scrapes your shin every single time you lean in to pull out an item of clothing. With all of those upcoming tomorrows there comes a loss of yesterdays, and so I did the only thing I suppose I was able to do in the situation, which was try to nod as convincingly as I could as often as possible as a nonverbal method of indicating that this change of scenery will eventually be nothing but a positive thing. Part of me even believes that, but the other parts of me know the sadness that brought this change to come to pass -- the desperation of all those nights spent awake and afraid, the memories of the times that were real and were true -- are now forever tinted sepia because they’re all in the past.

But still I can make a case for why the future looks promising. Still I can hope to convince a person I love that the unknown is not always going to feel frightening. Still I can reinforce that change can often be exciting and I can also caution not to look too far ahead because, for now, even next week will appear hazy. And after all of those optimistic affirmations have finally left me speechless, I can again nod slowly because I know that, in this exact moment, absolutely nothing feels safe or justified. Right now, as boxes cover the floor and the memories of former rooms that were once filled with life seem so very far away, all I can do is recognize that today change will not be seen as an opportunity. For today – and for several consecutive tomorrows, too – it will be hard for those who feel displaced to find their footing and to ask them to pretend otherwise would just be cruel.

Since staying fully in the moment left me wishing I could unzip my own skin and shimmy to safety, I allowed myself a few minutes of silly tangential thoughts as I placed someone else’s hangers in a brand new closet, lining them up perfectly as though it might matter in even the short-term of it all. And as I tried to organize clothing by color and by season, I allowed my mind to drift to a certain Orange County Housewife who maybe hasn't yet packed up her entire world and lugged it to an unfamiliar setting like this person so dear to me did, but even though the packing in her case would probably take a whole lot more time (there have to be inherent difficulties that come in when one must box up a bazillion bottles of tequila) I couldn’t help but realize that – devastating or not – Kelly Dodd needs to move away from the house she resides in with her domineering husband and the ceaseless resentment that is so evident we can all smell it through the television screen whenever either one of them appears in close-up.



It’s hard sometimes to figure out who you can make yourself root for, isn’t it?  I mean, on the one hand, you’ve got someone who seems to have a rather tenuous relationship with the truth.  There are scores of examples throughout the years that illustrate (at best) some colorful evasiveness and (at worst) some boldly bellowed lies.  How can you feel comfortable putting your trust into a person so many people emphatically don’t trust?  On the other side, though, stands a raving lunatic.  The word “bombastic” comes to mind whenever this face graces the television screen.  Every single time this person speaks, rage bursts out along with some spittle.  Worse than having to wipe your cheek from all that airborne saliva is attempting to decipher what it is that’s even being said since apparently about 90% of this individual’s statements and proclamations are chronically misinterpreted.  Don’t be silly! you’ll be told. Nobody was being insulted!  Of course that thing that was said, the one that caused entire populations to cower in both fear and disgust, was purely said in jest!  Do you not comprehend sarcasm?  And really, how could anyone possibly think this person is inciting violence with words?  This person is an excellent parent! Does that little factoid not cancel out all the other flaming despicableness?

I know you all think I’m talking about Clinton and Trump since it’s debate night and our nation is currently careening toward an epic conflagration of political and social misery, but my statements are in fact about our Orange County Housewives – and I fully expect one of them to be on the ballot by 2024 because I’ve come to believe anything is possible in what I’m certain has got to be a Bizarro World we’ve all stumbled into by refusing to turn away from gluten.  Sure, Kelly Dodd and Donald Trump have a few things in common.  They both have terrible hair they rock with commitment and they’ve both allegedly been millionaires for years and years and years.  They’re also both fond of blasting words out of their mouths while fueled by some fizzy concoction of hubris, fury, and temporary self-righteousness and they both grin while they utter some of the most awful things a human being has ever uttered while fully aware cameras are pointed straight at their faces.  They both apologize after the fact – or they sometimes do – and they often maintain that of course they didn’t mean what they said.  No, not all people from Mexico trying to come into America are rapists!  And Tamra Judge is totally not a dumb fuck!  God, it’s so annoying when people who are listening to you expect you to commit to the words barreling out of your mouth, huh?