The Real Housewives of Orange County
Sartre said that hell is other people. He was wrong. Hell is being trapped in a car with Vicki Gunvalson for 22 hours. Sure, there is an end in sight, but I would rather let a leech suck on my eyeball like Steve-O in Jackass Number Two than spend even 30 minutes in a small contained space with the patron saint of whooping it up.
And her daughter, Brianna, makes this ungodly drive while doing a majority of the work and with pain in her leg. The only thing worse than taking a poop on the side of the road (like poor Brianna’s son had to) is being trapped in a car while you’re sick. Maybe that is hell. You just want it to be over, for the pain to stop, and some sort of relief to transpire, but no matter how fast the car goes, you are trapped, rolling forever to a salvation that will never come.
I have always loved Brianna. Of all the people that have ever appeared on the Real Housewives franchise, she is the only one that I think is, against all odds, a real actual person. Just look at her house in Oklahoma: It’s exactly an objective correlative to what her life is like. It’s this sad little McMansion that looks like it’s on the surface of Mars. It’s just all sandy and craggy with nothing else around it. Brianna needed a real actual house for a real actual family, but instead, her mother bought her some pre-fab monstrosity that looks as out of place as a quinoa salad at a Sizzler all-you-can-eat buffet.
Anyway, I’m glad that Brianna is back. It’s so weird and nice to have someone who isn’t motivated by fame or has a personal stake in what occurs on the show. She’s the foil to the rest of these women, with their beach parties and home renovations. She’s evidence of what actual life is. She is clearly ill and trying to raise a family — those are actual stakes. Whether Heather will get her pizza oven is not. That is just a bullshit detail that fills days of unmitigated and unexamined privilege. Heather, who has been constructing a concrete mansion by the sea for several years, spends her days looking at grills that could swallow Jonah for 40 years before spitting him out on the sand; Brianna is just trying to make sure her kids don’t kill themselves and her infection doesn’t cost her a limb. See the difference?
Speaking of Heather’s trip to the Grill and Garden Supply Store LLC, the worst part is when she looks at barbecues and one has a side burner and one doesn’t and the salesperson asks, “Will you use the side burner?” Heather’s response: “My chef will.” This is one of those perfect things that rich people say, which they have no idea is utterly ridiculous to everyone watching at home. It is ingrained in truth, but come on. It’s like someone complaining, “Oh, the British Airways VIP lounge at Cannes is just a nightmare.” Although I’m sure it is, please take your $25,000 sunglasses out of your ass long enough to realize how those words sound out in the universe echoing between the Earth and the meteor that will eventually be our destruction.
Heather isn’t the only one running bullshit errands. Shannon is also worried that her house — complete with a Beador Gardens basketball court — won’t get past escrow because the most recent buyer is waiting for his “foreign money” to come through. Who is she selling her place to, a Nigerian prince she met on the internet? While we’re asking questions about Shannon, I have a few more: Why was her daughter, Sophie, wearing enough makeup to make Snooki reach for some cold cream? And what is her realtor, John, doing later tonight and does it include touching me in areas that are covered by my bathing suit and I’m supposed to tell an adult if someone touches me there? Please, can it?
Also, Meghan tries to get herself pregnant by injecting herself with hormones so that she can get Jimmy’s sperm all up in her oven. The problem is that her fear of needles makes her stand there and just say, “Baby, baby, baby,” over and over again in her mind like she was trapped in an awful Justin Bieber karaoke loop. It takes her 15 minutes to just stick herself in the tiny roll of fat under her belly button and above her front tramp stamp. I will say that Meghan’s body is slammin’. Even I was like, “Um, I’d like to see the rest of that, please,” and I’m gayer than doing poppers at Lance Bass’s dual bachelor party at the Abbey. Doesn’t Meghan know this is the last time she’s going to have that body if she gives birth? Is she really ready to give that up?
At least she has a “video diary” to document it. But does she seriously want us to believe that she kept this “video diary” to send to her husband? Jimmy cares as much about this “video diary” as I care about the outcome of the NHL playoffs, or whatever the hell it is Jimmy coaches for. Either she’s making this for herself or she’s making it for the show, so I wish she were a little bit more transparent about it.
Meanwhile, Tamra is not hanging out on her own. She’s hanging out with the absolutely worst kind of person on the entire Earth: a body-fascist Jesus freak. Not only will this person make me feel bad about eating an entire box of Funny Bones in one sitting, but then she’ll also tell me to do a two-minute side-plank while doing 18 Hail Marys. I don’t need any of that.
She also counsels Tamra to fix her son and daughter-in-law’s relationship problems by praying. Please. Saying a prayer to fix a real-world problem is about as sensible as playing the lottery for your retirement fund. Sure, it may all work out in the end, but I doubt it. In fact, you have a better shot at winning the lottery than a prayer coming true just by having Jesus use the Secret to make that shit come into existence.
I did, however, enjoy Tamra’s performance at Kelly’s beach party, at least when it came time to finally confronting Vicki about her relationship with Brooks. I feel like I am going to say this a million times this season, but Vicki is handling the fallout from Brooks faking cancer all wrong. While the rest of the cast thinks Vicki lied to them, I don’t agree. I think she really did believe that Brooks had cancer because after ruining her relationship with her daughter and all of her friends for this man, she couldn’t let them be right. She couldn’t let Brooks be a liar, so even when she thought things might be fishy, she looked the other way. The ladies are waiting for her to admit she purposefully misled them, but that will never happen. Vicki doesn’t think she did that, at least in her own Gordian knot of a mind.
Still, blaming them all for the way it went down is about as smart as a screen door on a submarine. Vicki tells them that when her relationship fell apart, they didn’t have her back. What she doesn’t realize is that they did have her back all along; they kept trying to tell her to get rid of this man who is a liar, fraud, and grifter. I would call sticking by her for years when they all knew Brooks to be a dustball of lies contained in a vacuum of delusion sticking by her.
There is a different way for Vicki to play this, though, in which she doesn’t have to admit she lied and can still get the women on her side. By the end of her conversation with Tamra, she’s finally getting there. “What I did wrong,” she says, “I didn’t believe you were all seeing something that I can’t.” Exactly, Vicki. More of that. More “I feel like an idiot because this man cheated me and I wanted him to love me so bad that I couldn’t see it and I’m sorry that I didn’t believe you for so long.” More “I didn’t lie to you because he fooled me, too. He tricked us all, and I’m sorry for believing him over you.” That will be what gets her forgiveness. She’ll never convince the women they handled the situation wrong because they didn’t. It’s like trying to convince a vegan that tempeh isn’t an actual food substance.
The sun set on Vicki’s tears and the ocean opened up its arms once again to embrace the sphere, their union spreading an aura of orange and violet crackling across the sky as all the women held their phones up with manicured nails to try to capture something that pixels cannot do justice. Vicki sank her feet into the cooling sand, hoping that she could feel something, even the discomfort of chill and grit, against her skin. Tamra got up to get her own Instagram of the sunset and Vicki just sat there listening to the slow cooing of the ocean, saying hush, hush, hush repeatedly. She was so used to a whoo-hoo, but her brain was on a different frequency, one that was more quiet. She didn’t see the sunset, but an explosion, the feedback from the proximity of her active mind and her submissive soul splashed out across the heavens, trying to set her ablaze but instead leading her back into darkness.