The Real Housewives of Orange County
During this most recent edition of The Real Glitter Sprinklers of Fashion Island Mall, I made a shocking and scary observation. No, it was not Ryan’s behind the ear tattoo. No, it was not that Eddie Judge apparently shops at the same store as Cam on Modern Family. No, it was not that Peggy’s husband, Diko, has the same haircut as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. While all of those things are true, the shocking and scary thing that I noticed is that Peggy and Diko own not one bichromatic sportscar, but two.
Yes. Along with the one that Lydia got a joy ride in last week, they have another car in their garage that looks exactly like those disappointing cookies you can buy in every New York City bodega. This has to be covered under the Geneva Conventions or something. Even if it is not an actual crime, it must be a crime of nature, right? Something that the J.D. Power award or Car and Driver would write mean editorials about. It has to be.
While that discovery is as horrendous as wearing one flip-flop on a subway platform while clipping your fingernails, I also noticed something else that’s truly concerning: These women are so completely un-self-aware (self-un-aware?) that they can’t really process reality. It’s like they’re all colorblind, but the colors are their own emotions.
Let us first look at Kelly Dodd, the Helen Keller of personal blindness. She tells her husband Michael that she thinks she could be friends with Shannon, but Tamra is keeping them apart. “I don’t want to have conflict with people. I want to get along,” she tells her husband, a L’eggs container filled with nuclear waste. Kelly does not want to get along at all. She wants to have conflict with people. Duh. She’s going around telling everyone that Shannon freaked out at her, but what she’s leaving out is that she provoked that reaction. It’s like shooting a bear with a BB gun and then being like, “That bear is crazy,” when it takes a swipe for your head.
Kelly does this repeatedly. Apparently, Meghan asked her if she had a boyfriend because she heard that from someone on Twitter. (I mean, “someone on Twitter told me” is the “I have a girlfriend in Canada” of Housewives relations.) Kelly’s reaction is not just to say no and dismiss the source, it’s to tell Meghan that her husband is cheating on her. That is not a person who doesn’t want conflict. That is a person who is so wounded by even the littlest criticism that she needs to fight back with vicious weapons. It’s like bringing Russia’s nuclear arsenal to a knife fight.
(While we’re talking about Kelly, do we ever need to see vaginal rejuvenation on any of these shows ever again? Like all of Kelly’s jokes, getting the old under-chassis tightened isn’t new and it isn’t funny. We’ve seen it on at least two other franchises and it always fails to give us anything. This time even a cooch full of smoke and the smell of burning flesh and it wasn’t worth a chuckle or even a groan. It was just Housewives white noise, like Sheldon standing in a corner yelling “Bazinga” repeatedly into a dunce cap.)
Shannon is equally unaware of how she comes across, but at least in this episode it is much more comical. We see it illustrated most fully when she goes to take her daughter Sophie for a driving lesson. She says that she just wants her to be safe and isn’t going to say anything, but then continues screeching like a flamingo that just had its leg broken by a hyena. “Watch for that man!” she shouts. “Don’t merge into that lane!” she yells. “For the love of Jesus, Mary, and My Feng Shui Expert Sophie, watch what you’re doing!”
Shannon has no clue that her yelling at her daughter and being so nervous is what makes her have these mistakes. She can’t even feign calmness so that her daughter doesn’t get alarmed. It’s hard to do that in a moving vehicle, but if Shannon is going to trust her in the first place, she has to trust her not to mess it up too badly. Weirdly enough, according to Sophie, the affectless David Beador is an even worse driving instructor. Can’t they just invite Heather Dubrow over to teach her how to drink champs and drive an Audi around the better malls of Orange County before she goes for her driving test? I feel like she would be an excellent instructor.
Vicki is just as bad as the rest of them. First of all, she thinks that she is always nice to the new girls, but thanks to the producers we got a montage of Vicki meeting the new cast members and squealing like a sow with a Roman candle stuck in her lady business. She’s only being nice to Peggy because no one else on the cast save Kelly wants to film with her. Vicki has been at it long enough to know that she needs allies to keep this going.
Still, when she meets Peggy (who we still can’t judge for two more episodes because of the Eileen Davidson Accord), Peggy decides to disclose that she’s had a mastectomy, mostly it seems so that people will know what she’s going through and why she might be in the hospital soon. She does go a bit out of her way to mention it, but she makes it as low-key as possible. Vicki’s reaction is, “I think we should keep medical things private because of everything I went through with Brooks and his cancer.” Oh please. That is like comparing apples and oranges that only exist in an alternative dimension. Do we need to remind Vicki once again that his cancer was not real and that is why people went researching and insisting for his records? No one is going to try to look into Peggy’s operation because, if they do, she can just take her top off and show them the scars. Easy peasy, Brooks-is-a-liar squeezy.
Now that brings us to Tamra. Deep sigh. I don’t quite know what to do with this. I feel awful that Tamra’s family has been broken up by divorce repeatedly. I feel like her marriage to Simon was awful and toxic and that he was a horrible and controlling person. (As we were reminded from that amazing clip of them fighting in a limo, he also has the same taste in shirts as Eddie Judge.) I hate that her daughter doesn’t talk to her anymore and I just want everyone to get along and be happy and have healthy relationship and all that stuff.
However, doesn’t she see the pattern both in her behavior and as it happens in her family. As the woman at the documentary gala says to her, if you were an alienated child, you are more likely to be an alienated parent. Doesn’t Tamra see this keeps happening again and again? Has she really done the emotional work to make sure that it doesn’t happen again? She says that she’s talking with Simon now, so hopefully that is a step in the right direction. Maybe she is doing what it takes to make sure the divorce isn’t as hard on her family as it needs to be, but Tamra is no saint. We’ve seen her go after people with viciousness. Did Jesus change all that?
Let’s just say that I’m conflicted, but if what Tamra can make one family better then, hey, who am I to (Tamra) Judge? I was glad for what Ryan said about his time with Simon as a stepfather. Yes, his delivery was way off, but isn’t growing older just an avalanche of realizations that our parents were right about so much along the way? Isn’t that what maturity is all about, figuring out that your parents didn’t hate you and really had your best interests in mind?
I think that was always the case for Lydia and her mother, a woman who has sex in various tiaras that she has lying around in an open kitchen cabinet. Lydia’s mom, Judy, who is totally over a 5-year-old beef with Vicki for soiling her couch with her dirty shoes, just wants to sprinkle fairy dust on everyone and make it better. “Shimmer of hope. Glimmer of happiness. Shine of relief,” Judy says while dusting Lydia with some glitter. People say that magic doesn’t work, but in this instance, I think it does. Let someone shine light all over you. Let someone into your mind with their flim-flummery and make it all better. Let someone sully your favorite sweater with some glitter that will catch your eye at the oddest moment and remind you that there is kindness and innocence still in this world. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass to get out of your clothing and it will never go anywhere. But isn’t that the point?