The Real Housewives of Orange County
Last season of The Real Towel Animals of Fashion Island Mall was long and tedious because it was all about a cancer scam perpetrated by Vicki’s boyfriend Brooks, an ogre turd who somehow became a Vaudeville star. This season seems like it will be equally long and tedious because it’s going to be about Vicki not making any amends for her behavior during the scandal — including her anger at the women for persecuting her, and possibly aiding and abetting a man who falsified documents and lied about a terminal illness on national television.
Vicki’s Tour of Non-Attrition starts at Heather’s My Husband Didn’t Die and There’s Nothing Wrong With Him Boat Extravaganza. She repeatedly says, “I was not part of a lie,” but I’m sorry, Vicki. You were. Even if she honestly didn’t know about it, even if she was completely duped by Brooks, she needs to tell the women that. It’s their choice whether or not to believe her, but to deny this thing ever happened is the stupidest thing since eject buttons in helicopters.
Then she tries to switch tactics and blame the women. “Why was everyone so focused on his health?” she asks Heather, who has an answer ready like a shotgun slug in the barrel. “Because we all knew it was total bullshit,” she says. There is no one for Vicki to blame but herself. Period. There is no shifting the blame or pretending like it didn’t happen. Vicki’s revisionist history won’t cut it because it doesn’t take into account that these women were also the victims of this fraud and have very real and very honest emotions about it.
Shannon says, “I’ve seen no remorse. No accountability for her actions.” That is also the problem. Everyone wants Vicki to address the situation and her complicity in it. Until she does that, it’ll hang over the season’s proceedings like a chaperone at Mormon prom.
Vicki wants to pretend like the situation never happened, but that is totally unrealistic. I understand the urge. If I were dating a man for several years who everyone told me was a no-good liar and he turned out to be a no-good liar, I would be embarrassed, too. Brooks is like those pictures of my fat period in middle school; I want to pretend they never existed and don’t want anyone to ever bring them up ever. But the pictures exist and they’re a part of me. Turning a blind eye to them would be an enormous folly. I have a feeling we’ll be saying these same things about Vicki every damn episode, because she never misses an opportunity to continue living in the gated community of her mind.
Vicki is still the central issue uniting the women, who all seem to be leading very separate lives this season. Heather is off in the Turkey Caicos (which is what I like to call the Turks and Caicos) with her husband, Terry. She thinks he needs a chance to connect with the kids because he’s been working too much. I think that Heather and Terry have one of the more stable relationships in the Housewives universe, but this hang-up she has about him working too much is wacker than a Smurfs porn parody. At this point, she should realize that his need to work all the time is not a bug, it’s a feature, as the dweebs in Silicon Valley would say.
I loved Terry’s interview where he explains that he works all the time, has a hard time saying no to work, and doesn’t feel guilty about missing his family. And I don’t think he should. He provides everything his children need, materially and education-wise. They live in a loving and supporting home; even inclusion in the class talent show is greeted with whooping cheers. His kids will be fine. So what if they miss out on a few more hours of throwing the ball with dad? Terry reminds me of my own father, who worked quite a bit when I was younger. We weren’t very close then, but we’re much closer now. He’s better at relating to his children now that they’re adults, and I feel like Terry is going to be the same way. When his kids need support, advice, or money, they will always be able to turn to their father. So what if he misses a few family dinners? If he lives to regret it, that’s his mistake to make.
It seems to be a problem for Heather, though. I think she just needs to give up on it, especially because she also demands that they live in a house that makes Versailles look like a shack in Kansas that could get ripped up by a tornado at any moment. Life is full of choices. Terry chooses his career over family time. Making him feel guilty about that will only backfire, so just let the man work and leave him alone.
All Shannon really does is go out to dinner with her husband, David, for Valentine’s Day. It’s a much nicer restaurant than when he took her out to a seedy sports bar for her birthday. However, David gives her a pearl necklace (no, not what you’re thinking) that is so incredibly ugly it looks like a rejected design from the Ursula the Sea Witch Collection for Fashion Bug. Man, is that thing hideous. The worst part is that she knows it and still puts it on right there in the restaurant. Oh, the things Heather will do to keep her man.
Even though two years have passed, Shannon is still not over her husband’s infidelity. “I’m happy that my husband had an affair, because look at where our marriage was able to go,” she says. “I’m not there yet. But I’m over it.” Shannon couldn’t be blinder to how she really feels — not even if she gave herself a lobotomy, plucked her eyes out of her head, and put herself into a medically induced coma. She is not over it. She will never be over it and, just like Vicki, she needs to confront her feelings or they’re just going to roil under the surface, waiting to pop out like a bad case of the shingles.
Meghan invites all of the women over to help demolish her kitchen because it looks like three sandcastles covered in beige vomit. She didn’t say that, but it does. I would like to make fun of her for destroying a perfectly good kitchen, but if I were forced to live in Orange County and had to make dinner for myself every night because my hot husband was coaching a baseball team in the Midwest, I would want to tear that shitty kitchen up, too.
The goat of the whole affair is the new girl, Kelly, who, according to the Eileen Davidson Accord of 2014, I cannot speak about for three more episodes. However, I will say that she is not really making good decisions here. Meghan tells her that Vicki is on the outs, then she has lunch with Vicki, and tells all the women about it. That’s sort of like knowing that no one at a party has had chicken pox, then walking into to a kindergarten classroom, letting all the kids rub their snotty hands on your blouse, and showing up to the party hoping that no one minds as you spread microbes all over an ugly kitchen.
Also, Kelly cannot wield a power saw. She tries to tear apart the wall of the kitchen and she keeps using this tool and it falls all over the place like at any moment it might cut off all of her toes like the witches in the Roald Dahl book.
All of the women are pretty awful at demolition, considering so many of them could shatter a wall with their shrill screeches. Meghan can’t even pierce the wall. Tamra, with all of those showy muscles, doesn’t do much better. It is Shannon who does the brunt of the work. She shows up with real tools and an actual hardhat that she borrowed from David, who is a contractor. The women all joke that she looks like a lesbian contractor named Deb, which is the most accurate assessment of actual reality that has ever happened on a Bravo reality-television program.
Finally it was Shannon’s turn to take on the wall and she held David’s hammer in her hand as she stepped up and drove it straight through the wall on the first pass. It felt so good to her, puncturing something that was once solid, creating a chaos where there was once order. She whacked it again and the feeling was just as good as if this joy were somehow elemental, like a tsunami or gravity pulling an overripe fig from a tree so it pulverizes itself between the grass and its own weight.
Shannon swung again and again, feeling better each time as the hammer connected with the wall and she felt like the house — maybe even the whole block — was vibrating. “This is for the affair,” she thought on her next hit. “And this is for lying to me. This is for humiliating me in front of the world. And for our children. And for my pride. And making me feel fat. And this, this is for all the ugly jewelry you’ve ever bought me that I can’t bring myself to throw away. This is for love. This is for my youth. This is for everything!”
It was as if she had a million arms all swinging a million hammers at this one tiny wall in Meghan’s kitchen. “Shannon!” Tamra shouted at her as the frenzy of movement continued unabated. “SHANNON!” Tamra shouted again, finally making her stop. “Are you okay?”
Shannon looked at them all, a little bit stunned, and wiped the dust off of her safety goggles with the arm of her T-shirt. “Yeah, I’m great,” she said, dropping the hammer with a thud so empty it made all the women think of home.