The Real Housewives of Orange County Recap: Give Me Strength

By
Tamra Judge. Bravo
The Real Housewives of Orange County
Episode Title
Puppet Strings and Tamra's Wings
Season
11
Episode
17
Editor’s Rating
4/5

Never having been to a bikini-fitness competition before, I did not know what to expect tonight — and I am happy to admit I was gleefully disappointed. It looks like a community-theater production of a Victoria's Secret fashion show held in a high-school auditorium. A host of preternaturally good-looking and fit women parade around in ridiculous costumes that are not only impractical for use outside of a performance milieu, but also unquestionably tacky. Look at that tiny thing that Tamra Judge (née Barney) wears while she poses her way to a win in the competition: It is blue and green and sparkly with more sequins than Hillary Clinton has deleted emails. If you ever wondered what it would look like if Lisa Frank did an athleisure line, you now have your answer. It would look like Tamra Barney's dress-up drawer.

I will say this for Tamra: She looks amazing. I try to judge these women on their behavior more than their looks, but I just have to compliment her on all the hard work and dedication it must have taken to get that tight little ass of hers to defy gravity like it's Sandra Bullock in an award-winning sci-fi adventure. There is keeping it right and tight, and then there is whatever the hell it is Tamra is doing with that body. I love a carbohydrate way more than I would love looking like that, but at least Tamra is here to set goals for all of us, and make every last one of us feel badly about ourselves.

Speaking of feeling badly for myself, I also felt something while watching this episode that I never wanted to feel in my life: sympathy for Kelly Dodd. Kelly Dodd, a call that comes from inside the house, is not a good person. She is not someone I want to have drinks with or sit next to on a plane (she would probably make cheesy jokes like, "Have a nice trip, see you next fall," the entire flight), and I certainly don't want to watch her on television. However, what the other women did to her is totally inexcusable. Vicki says that Shannon tried to get Kelly drunk so she would have another reason not to like her. No, that is not what Shannon did. Shannon doesn't need another reason not to like her. Shannon tried to get her drunk so that she would make an ass of herself on camera and then all the viewers would hate her. That is some despicable nonsense.

But even worse than Shannon is Heather Dubrow. Alright, I'm going to go out on a limb and say something: Heather Dubrow needs to be cut from the show. She's not really up to anything exciting and she doesn't really fight. She just stands around and scolds everyone like she's Nanny McPhee with a better glam squad. What the hell was that "sit down and shut up" nonsense with Kelly in the bus? These are adult humans who don't need to be ordered around, so Heather needs to shut up. The worst thing that Heather does in this episode is when she asks Meghan if she's okay and then she tells Meghan that Kelly is a bad person with problems so we should feel sorry for her. Oh, that wasn't the bad part. The bad part is when she starts touching Meghan's face like she is a 6-year-old who just had to have her boo-boo kissed before she would go back out into her soccer game. It was the grossest thing I've ever seen on television, and I watched every single episode of Jersey Shore, so I should know.

The worst, though, the absolute 100-million-times the worst, is Vicki Gunvalson. The whole reason that Bus Ride of Doom even happens is because Vicki Gunvalson is a human being made out of rotted grapefruit rinds and already-popped bubble wrap. When Vicki refuses to come to the defense of her new friend Kelly, the only women who would talk to her after her years-long deception with Brooks, Kelly decides to spill the secrets that Vicki told her about the other women when she was mad at them, the ones that were alluded to just a few episodes ago.

What were those secrets? Well, first the big dirt that she has on Shannon is that she supposedly confessed to Vicki that David "beat the crap out of her" during their marriage. As soon as Shannon hears this, she freaks the hell out. Why? Well, like a toddler guarding her sandcastle as the tide comes in, she's worried about the very fragile state of her relationship. Also, because, well, I find it hard to believe it's true. If you told me this about Tamra's ex, Simon Barney, I would have totally believed it (the same with Russell Armstrong on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, who allegedly beat Taylor before he committed suicide). But David? Please.

Next, she tells Kelly that Eddie cheated on Tamra and that also he might be gay. Does that mean he cheated on Tamra with dudes? We didn't hear what Kelly said because not only was the video really bad during this bus trip, but so was the audio. Seriously, Bravo: If the entire production crew isn't fired after this disastrous trip, I don't know what they would have to mess up to get themselves booted. Of course, Tamra freaks about this as well because, well, it's obviously not true. Even if it is true, Tamra and Eddie don't seem to care, so who are we to judge?

The best part is when Tamra tells Vicki, "You told Kelly that Eddie cheated, that he's gay, that his haircut looks stupid, that it seems anatomically impossible that his skull can fit so many teeth in it, that no one goes to Cut Fitness, and that he has a small weiner." And Vicki responds, "Well, I didn't say he was gay."

To recap, this is what happens on the bus: The women attack Kelly for being awful to Tamra, Vicki refuses to defend Kelly, Kelly retaliates by airing all of the lies that Vicki told her, Shannon and Tamra freak out, Vicki denies it, and now everyone is mad at Vicki again. Man, that sounds like some seriously good Housewivery. If only the crew were there to capture it.

What pissed me off the most about Vicki, however, is her conversation with Brianna and Tamra when they get home. Vicki makes herself the victim in every circumstance, including the bus ride, where she claims she's as hurt as everyone else. Um, no one else made up lies about Vicki and spread them around. The only bad thing that happens to Vicki is that she treats people like crap, yet again. Brianna tells her that she can't just move on and forget her wrongdoing. Wise beyond her years and certainly beyond her breeding, Brianna says, "You can't sweep things under the carpet when people's feelings are hurt." Vicki responds, "I'm always apologizing." Yeah, she is, because she's always treating people like they're her personal sanitary napkins to get all messy and then throw out when she wants to forget that awful time of the month. God, Vicki is totally the worst.

I also couldn't stand her defense of saying that Eddie was gay: "I don't know if it's true, but there are a lot of people saying it." Um, who uses the exact same rationale when talking about another opponent? Let me give you a guess: It's another fake-blonde, fake-tanned, screeching-rage-monkey reality star just like Vicki, except this one happens to be running for president. Yes, people let's get #VickiIsTrump trending on Twitter, shall we? Speaking of which, when Tamra says that she and Shannon were hurt by what happened in the bus, Vicki says, "We're all hurt." I don't know about you, but doesn't that sound a little bit like "all lives matter" to you?

I can just see them now, all of her acolytes gathering in rallies across the country because reality television isn't giving them what they want. It's a rigged system and it is sending all of our jobs overseas. I mean, how many HGTV shows can possibly be set in Canada? Do we not have houses here in need of renovation? And what about dual reality-show host Heidi Klum? She is clearly an illegal immigrant taking jobs from Americans like Nicole Scherzinger and Katie Lee Joel. Speaking of Top Chef, where is that Padma Lakshmi even from? Probably someplace horrible that is weak on ISIS. If Vicki were in charge of reality TV, she would be tough on Isis — not the paramilitary organization, the trans contestant from America's Next Top Model. Vicki would be so tough on Isis that she would probably destroy every former Top Model with a nuclear missile. All of her fans would gather at the rally and bitch about not having enough places to shop for off-the-shoulder blouses and hashtag hats and mid-priced bottles of pinot grigio. "Build that mall!" they would shout in an abandoned parking lot in Southern California. "Build that mall! Build that mall!" Vicki, standing confidently at the podium, a little sniffle in her throat would respond, "And we're going to get Alene Too to pay for it, too!"