The Real Housewives of Orange County
Hello, I am Dame Brian Moylan, and welcome to the Kelly Dodd Second Season Rehabilitation Tour here at the Real Housewives Institute. Today, during this 60-minute infomercial (42 minutes without commercials), we will be going through a complete examination of the image rehabilitation efforts of Kelly Dodd. There is a parallel to be drawn from the reconstruction of her persona — from that of an unhinged, foul-mouthed crazy person to that of a sensible but still foul-mouthed prankster — and the reconstruction of her breasts. If you will please step this way for our first exhibition. Please, no flash photography and, don’t worry, you will have your chance to purchase boob-shaped cakes in the gift shop as you exit the building.
Seriously, this episode really tries to paint Kelly in a whole new light. First we see her vulnerability when she goes to get her breast reduction, complete with her anxiety about the surgery. Her husband, Michael, a Ferrari with a vanity license plate that says “DZ NUTTS,” even comes across as sweet and caring while he waits for her in the waiting room and tells her she was beautiful moments after surgery. Vicki does the same thing when she comes to visit. I know, “You look great” is the colloquial greeting that all Housewives use for each other, but do not blow smoke up any of Kelly’s southern orifices. (Mostly because she would probably like it.) She knows she looks like hell and she doesn’t want anyone to lie to her.
Vicki isn’t the only one to go visit Kelly, nearly everyone in the cast stops by with the same exact purple orchids. They were probably on sale at the gas station down the street from her house. Seriously, this is less of a recovery and more like an open-casket wake where everyone comes by to tell the corpse how beautiful she looks in her lingerie. Even Shannon stops by and it is actually very sweet to see these two goofballs get along.
Shannon makes a very valid point when she comes to pay her respects: Kelly has expressed remorse for all of the awful things she said to Shannon, but Vicki never has. Vicki still thinks that she’s the one who is owed an apology. Ugh, Vicki. I don’t know if she actually has Influenza B. I think she might have finally gotten Toxic Shock Syndrome from her own personality.
The other crazy thing about Shannon’s visit is that Kelly says Shannon’s real problem isn’t weight or Vicki or anything else. It’s that her marriage is unhappy. Kelly says something to the effect of, “My marriage isn’t that great either and I get really angry and it comes out in bad ways too.” Damn, who is this totally self-actualized person? Has she been reading The Secret or listening to old copies of Free to Be… You and Me?
Meghan’s visit is the most awkward, but not because she and Shannon are in a fight. It’s because Kelly is in her pajamas and shows Meghan how her tits look and Meghan says they look nice because she’s a kind soul even in a pussy-bow blouse that would look like you were wearing it in the wrong season no matter what time of year it is. Then Kelly is like, “Do you want to see them under my bra?” and Meghan is like “Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!” like she just fell off a wooden bridge that connects two sides of a ravine and it echoed all the way until her body was scampered on the river below.
No one wants to see that, Kelly. Just like no one wants to see someone’s gross and scabby tattoo. Let that shit heal before you go showing it off. That way, people will just remember the wonderful finished product, not the crusty nastiness that goes into getting there. Like I’m sure that Peggy’s “sarma” is delicious, but when I see her and her daughter rolling up clumps of meat that look like bleached salami into oily grape leaves, it makes me want to pour a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette over my head and light myself on fire.
The only person who doesn’t stop by is Lydia, who at this point is a little bit like a bunion. She’s connected to the rest of the show, but painfully sticking out on her own. She gets a little salty when everyone is at dinner and she calls to invite them to a “Balls Voyage party” (which, okay, is kinda cute) and she’s like, “Um, have fun drinking margaritas without me.” She vows that she’s going to get new friends, which is something I do every Sunday when everyone cancels on brunch because they need to “get some things done.” Those “things” are always hangovers and “getting them done” usually involves Xanax, Seamless, and old episodes of Ab Fab on Hulu.
Dinner is also part of Kelly Dodd’s redemption tour. Actually, that meal is the most enjoyable scene of the whole season so far. We get Meghan King Edmonds, PI, saying that she isn’t going to open another cancer investigation into Peggy because she’s “retired” and then everyone jokes about how much of a victim and exaggerator Vicki was about her flu. Good stuff.
Then we have Peggy. How does Peggy not understand anything? First, she gets insulted when Kelly calls her the “peanut gallery” because she has no idea what that means. Then, when Kelly accuses her of getting “in the middle” of Tamra and Vicki’s fight, Peggy gets indignant because she has to explain multiple times that she was actually standing behind Tamra. Yes, Peggy thinks that Kelly means that she was literally standing in the middle of their two bodies, not that she was meddling in the argument. She accuses Kelly of making things up because of her literal position in the room.
The part that redeems Kelly is when she says what everyone at home is thinking: “Didn’t you go to UCLA?” How can Peggy speak absolutely perfect English, but then have no idea what “getting in the middle” of an argument means? How can she not know what the peanut gallery is? How can she not adequately explain whether or not she had cancer? Her husband has been in this country for just as long as Peggy and he understands all of these things. Why is she so purposefully daft? The problem is that Peggy accuses Kelly of making things up and then is like “Next!” smugly trying to change the topic of conversation. But she can’t do that because she doesn’t even understand what they’re arguing about. Also, Peggy has the sense of humor of a sea urchin at a Holocaust memorial, so she can’t understand when and why people are joking. Listening to Peggy is sort of like reading skywriting: You can almost make everything out, but the longer you stare at it the blurrier and blurrier it gets.
Now, I would be remiss to end this recap without addressing one of the most splendid scenes of Real Housewives of Orange County that we have seen in some time. That is when we see Shannon riding her Peloton bike, which, for the uninitiated, is a bike with a screen attached so that those at home can watch instructors, either live or on tape, offer classes to people all over the world. (If you live in New York, you can even attend IRL.) The most genius part of the scene is that the editors put together audio clips of Shannon panting and the creaking of the floorboards to make us think she and David are having sex. Well, the joke is on them. We all know that Shannon and David aren’t having sex! The closest that David has come to touching Shannon’s crotch lately is when he put his hand on the bike seat and then she climbs aboard.
It’s also such a classic, passive-aggressive David move: He bought her a bike so she’d get skinny, but he also got the one piece of exercise equipment that she hates the most. And it’s one that involves technology. For Shannon, approaching a microwave oven is like trying to take over the bridge of the USS Enterprise. The woman can’t even figure out how to get her cycling shoes unhooked from the pedals, how the heck does he expect her to exercise and work a screen at the same time?
But still she does it, down there in the basement with the mold and the dog hair and the smells that no one can discern. She does it down there, next to a sliding glass door, next to a pool, next to an ocean, under the sky, under the sun, in the great universe. She does it with stardust falling all around her, trickling elements, one atom at a time, down on to the earth for us to build molecules and compounds and homes and weird technological spinning bikes. She does it under the watchful eye of God, who lowers her invisible hand onto Shannon’s head as if to bless her, to give her patience, to keep her spinning — one foot after the other — until it all blinks out and it starts all over again.