The Real Housewives of Orange County
This season seems less like a constellation — a collection of stars that form their own picture — and more like a bunch of moons traveling their own orbits without a planet’s gravity to draw them all together. Well, that’s not entirely true. The gravity that connects all of them is that they hate Vicki and they want her to apologize for something that they think she did, something that she refuses to acknowledge. Getting Vicki to claim her complicity in Brook’s cancer scare is about as fruitful as trying to get whoever smelt it to admit that she dealt it. It’s never going to happen and everyone is just left marinating in an unnatural stench, wishing that things could go back to how they were 30 seconds before it happened.
This week, every woman is on her own little adventure. Meghan is on Operation Knock Up with her husband, Jimmy, who, let’s be honest, has no interest in even driving Meghan in the general vicinity of a bakery, nevertheless putting a bun in her oven. This is a man who had a vasectomy. He made his choice. Just like Madonna kept her baby in “Papa Don’t Preach,” Jimmy isn’t keeping his baby-maker locked and loaded. Why did he freeze his sperm? I think he misunderstood the contract. Maybe he thought that, at some point, scientists could grow him a new liver or set of lungs from his own DNA or something.
I don’t know. Call me old fashioned, but the fact that these women need hormones and injections all over their bodies just to keep their biological functions in order (and to keep their foreheads as immobile as Han Solo after French-kissing a block of carbonite) seems a little odd. If they really want kids that badly, aren’t there enough orphans floating around the world, looking for a good home? They could just pluck up one of those, like a penny on a sidewalk. But no. Instead, they all cower in Kelly’s closet (which has a bar) and shout at Meghan to “do it, do it, do it” as she injects her hormones. This is sort of like the middle-aged, upper-middle-class version of frat dudes standing around and pressuring their cohort to “chug, chug, chug.”
Alright, I know there is one more week until the expiration of the Eileen Davidson Accord on discussing new Housewife Kelly, but I think that we can, in good conscience, talk about the fact that her enormous walk-in closet has a bar. This is, inherently, a bad idea. First of all, no matter what you might believe, no one wants to hang out with you in your closet and watch you get ready. Just like no one wants to hear about the dream you had last night or help you answer the clues on your crossword puzzle, no one wants to help you figure out what shoes or purse to wear with those ugly Capri pants you convinced yourself you had to buy because you found them 70 percent off at a sample sale. It doesn’t matter if the serum that Isabella Rossellini has in Death Becomes Her is on tap, no one wants to sit in your closet and drink while you get ready.
On the other hand, if you are in a closet that is so large that it has its own seating, then you clearly do not need to drink while you pick out your clothes. Nothing good will come of that. There are clearly too many options, and if you cloud your judgment while perusing them all, you’ll end up looking like a mid-career Phyllis Diller rather than an early career Nina Garcia.
Shannon is off planning a party at Seventh Degree, an event space that is so far removed from being cool that it is not even within six degrees of Kevin Bacon. That is because no one ever wants to admit that they held a party at a place with a large, prominently placed photo of a naked women squatting to pee with one leg hovering off the ground. Shannon is there to throw a ’70s-themed party, and hearing that was sort of like trying to watch the delegates from Texas at the Republican National Convention in their matching lone-star denim shirts (probably made by UNTUCKit, casual shirts for men) and tacky cowboy hats. You know that these rubes are going to vote for Trump even though it’s against their best interest; there is nothing you can do to dissuade them. The same is true for the ladies of Orange County, who plan these shindigs with elaborate themes and costumes, but always end up having screaming matches in garish ensembles that look like a Fire Island drag-bag dry-humped a possum that wasn’t playing dead but was actually dead and covered in maggots and probably some drunk queen’s Planter’s Punch–flavored vomit.
Heather, ugh. I like Heather, I really do, but she has the worst problems of any of these women. These are Heather’s big concerns: having enough onyx for the enormous bar she’s constructing in her new home; figuring out the ideal seating arrangements for her screening room; making sure she has a month to move into her new home; and not spending Mother’s Day with the man who works tirelessly to afford the onyx, the velvet loveseats in the screening room, and precious stones to inlay on the bidet. Ugh, Heather. And then she goes and says, “Of all the jobs that I’ve ever had, the one that is the most difficult and rewarding is being a mother,” which is a sentiment that I have never heard expressed anywhere by another human being in the whole world. Wherever did Heather think that up? Just for that soundbite alone, she deserves either the Nobel Prize in Literature or at least a medal of honor from the Onyx Miners and Visibility Society.
Finally, we have to talk about Vicki and Brianna. I don’t really want to because it makes me sad that Brianna is so sick and that she’s left in Vicki’s care. I also have a lot of questions about this whole thing. If Vicki is driving her to the hospital, why does she stop and call 9-1-1 on the way and not just finish driving Brianna to the hospital? Also, if she’s driving Brianna, why does she pick up the phone when Tamra calls? Why doesn’t she just keep driving? Also, was it really Jesus who put Sarah at the same gas station where Vicki was? Are you sure it wasn’t St. Frances of Rome, the patron saint of automobile drivers?
What I do want to talk about is just how awful and cynical Shannon is when she questions why Brianna decided to move home. She posits that Vicki made her move immediately because she didn’t want to be alone and even bought Brianna a house with those strings attached. That is just an awful way to think about humanity.
Let’s face it: Whenever any of us has even the remotest discomfort, we want our moms there to take care of us. If I stub a toe, I call home and ask my mom to hop on a train and come bring me some ice and make me a week’s worth of lunches. Brianna is a woman with two young children, a husband who is frequently away, and a history of medical complications. She lives in a place that she actively hates where she has no family or support system. Of course she wants to move home where she can get the practical, emotional, and, yes, financial support that her mother has to offer. Attempting to turn that against Vicki in some sad war they’re playing over Brook’s fake-cancer scare makes me want to grab Shannon by her Joan Rivers Collection necklace and shake her like Miley Cyrus’s thong string when she twerks.
The saddest part of the whole episode, though, is when Vicki got her grandsons dressed to go pick up Brianna at the hospital, lost her car keys, then went into the garage to discover that a leak from the hot-water heater doused a box in a puddle of water. Vicki could smell it, that unmistakable scent of damp cardboard that always means some sort of destruction. She looked down at that box, which had been sitting there aimlessly in her garage for months, years maybe. She hadn’t thought about it again until now. That was the box of all the photos, the actual paper pictures she took to the FotoMat from when Brianna and Michael were growing up.
She kicked it out of the way of the puddle, and it slid on the water slick a little as her shoe made more of an impression on that soggy box than it should have. She crouched down to assess the damage and was bombarded by the past: the birthday parties and class trips; the holidays around the tree where Brianna was beaming and Michael tried to not look too hurt that his mother didn’t give him exactly what he wanted; the graduations; the little moments where they were just on a boat or at some swings; or playing in a sunset and the picture didn’t turn out quite like Vicki had hoped but she kept the print anyway because the light and smell and feeling of that moment still brought something out in her, like the smell of your high-school disinfectant that always rubs the hollow part of your brain in the right way. She reached down into the bottom of the box and they were all stuck together, all the photos, with the accumulated moisture. She tried to pull a few of them apart, but the finish just stuck to the back of the photo paper above it, blurring the image and fading it, making it into something that could disappear at a moment’s notice. These were supposed to be the opposite of that, the opposite of memory that warps and distends itself. She threw them down into the box and thought she would deal with them later, as she stomped off to the car, the present way more pressing than the past, even when both were in peril.