The Real Housewives of Orange County
What is that strange buzzing passing by my ear and rustling through my hair? Is it a fly on set at The Real Apologizers of Some Juice Bar in a Strip Mall reunion special? No. It is not. It is the distinct vibration of something actually happening on a reunion special.
Did something happen? It doesn’t seem possible. This whole season passed by with as much action as three year’s worth of Apartment 3-G comic strips. So little occurred in this reunion that we spent a good minute focused on a fly buzzing around the women. Remember the reunion where a bird attacked our gay messiah Andrew Cohen and it was just another wacky moment? Remember when this show had, you know, moments?
Now, instead, we have Peggy sitting at the end of a couch poorly explaining how she doesn’t understand a single thing. The way Peggy listens to words without comprehending them must be the same as it is for a person to taste food without a sense of smell. I wanted to put Peggy in one of her two-toned sports cars and bury her in a bomb shelter somewhere when she demanded an apology from Shannon for calling her “that one.” I mean, really? This is what we’re going to be upset about? In the great realm of Real Housewives injuries, this doesn’t even sting as much as biting the inside of your cheek a little too hard after you shoveled in a Triscuit with three distinct layers of topping on it.
I should cut Peggy a bit of a break, though, because she did explain the confusion about her cancer. She says that she couldn’t articulate the fact that she had cancer because she couldn’t even wrap her brain around the notion that she did. That makes sense. I get that. I would believe it more if Peggy could intelligently articulate anything, but, yes, I’ll buy this one. (I hate to agree with Vicki more than I hate people who FaceTime while walking down the sidewalk, but she was right when she said that as soon as Peggy told everyone she got both boobs chopped off, they should respect that it was serious and go along with it.)
That isn’t the thing that happens. Nor is the thing that happens Kelly Dodd and Meghan King Edmonds fighting over who texted first about whose husband was having an affair. This fight is so stupid it is basically Cliff Clavin on Jeopardy. (God, none of you millennials even know what I’m talking about. I’m way too old to be recapping reality-television programs anymore. The Real Housewives Institute is officially closed for repairs.)
First of all, while fighting, Kelly is accused of being so damaged that she always says the meanest thing about someone. She recognizes she does this, but doesn’t see how there is damage, because Kelly is blinder than Mr. Sunshine. (Yes, every reference in the rest of this recap is going to be to an obscure ‘80s sitcom. Get used to it.) Kelly then tries to rationalize that her saying Meghan should pay more attention to her baby is not an insult to Meghan’s mothering skills. Here is the part of the hour in which LeeAnne Locken needs to show up and say, “Pssst, Kelly: Say, ‘I did say that, but only because I was hurt.’ It works every time.”
Then we got to the part I hate about all reunion episodes: Meghan accuses Kelly of saying mean things about her and Jim on Twitter, and Kelly says she only did that because Meghan said something mean to her about her blog. We are one toasted-almond ice-cream bar away from a grammar-school cafeteria at this point.
I guess a thing that kind of happens is that Meghan announces she’s having a baby boy, but she’s probably not going to be back next season, so we won’t get to see the White Walker that she and Jim will raise as a human male with its own candle line.
No, the one thing that happens is that Vicki Denise Gunvalson Jr. and Tamra Barney Judge make up. Finally. But did they really? Was that hug sincere? Could Vicki, Tamra, and Shannon standing there, melding their tears together like the chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry in Neapolitan ice cream, actually turn into something real? Could Vicki crossing the Rubicon of joining Tamra’s couch mean that this seasons-long feud is actually over?
I don’t know, girls and gays. I’m very doubtful. The argument originally hinged on Vicki spreading the rumor that Tamra’s husband Eddie was gay. Here’s my problem with this whole apology and makeup scenario: Vicki never says that she was wrong. She never says that Eddie is not gay. She even asks Tamra at one point, “You never heard before you were married that he’s gay?” She continues to insinuate, even as she’s apologizing, that Eddie is gay. As both Tamra and Meghan point out, this is, in fact, homophobic. Vicki might not hate gay people, but using this line of attack relies on the inherent bias against gay people in our society.
Finally, Tamra says to Vicki, “Can you just apologize?” That’s all that she wants from Vicki. Not “I’m sorry, but you hurt me too.” Not “I’m sorry, but that’s not what I meant.” Not “I’m sorry, but I am so narcissistic that I find it nearly impossible to take the blame or see how I caused hurt in anyone.” Just a real, sincere, “I’m sorry and that is not true.”
Tamra gets the first part, and Andy Cohen steps in a few times to take her side and make sure that Vicki understands how she continued to hurt Tamra even after the show had wrapped. Then he asks Vicki what Tamra would need to do for Vicki to forgive her. She says Tamra can’t ever accuse her of being part of a “cancer scam” again, insisting that she got scammed and, for the first time publicly (as far as I know), says that Brooks cost her a lot of time and money.
That’s what led to the hugs and tears and couch-swapping. But I also feel like these are two expert-level reality TV wizards and they know that the secret to their success is continuing to be friends, continuing being fun together, and that has fallen apart. Is this a real friendship getting mended, as the show would like us to think, or is this an alliance for survival? Is this just Joan Crawford and Bette Davis agreeing to do What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? because they know it’s better when they’re together?
I don’t think Vicki and Tamra are that mercenary, but neither of them seemed to do the emotional evaluating it would take to really become friends again. Andy even cautions them that this newfound détente is fragile, and that neither of them should do anything to really mess it up. Andy, of course, has a vested interest in this too, but he seems to have the most human response to what is going on between these two.
The episode ends with Tamra and Vicki walking down the hall and Vicki asking, “Are we back?” and Tamra replying, “We’re back.” That’s all it took, supposedly. That is all that they needed, after these two blunt objects banged against each other for several seasons. It all just seems too easy, like if they actually worked to bring about this peace it might have a better chance of holding. Shannon, for what it’s worth, seems more skeptical of this new Vicki than Tamra is.
Tamra and Vicki have been through this before, though. It’s a natural cycle, like the waxing and waning of the moon, the ebb and flow of the tide, the rise and fall of tabloid stories about how absolutely insane Lindsay Lohan is. It all comes and goes, like the little flicker of a star 100 million light years away — until one day you’re out looking up at that star, and suddenly an expanse opens up in the sky where that twinkle used to be. That star died 100 million years ago, and we’re just now seeing its extinguishing.