The Real Housewives of Orange County
Of all of the awful things I have seen and heard in my days as a chronicler here at the Real Housewives Institute — the flopping mermaid that Camille ran from, Countess Luann being savaged by a camel in Morocco, Ramona’s eyes in any given frame — I have never seen nor heard anything as awful as Victoria Denise Gunvalson Jr. riding on the back of a motorcycle. Her boyfriend Steve outfits her in a Harley-Davidson shirt, a leather jacket, and a helmet to take her for a short 13-mile ride to a biker bar that looks like it is a recycled set for a failed Tremors TV show reboot.
As soon as Vicki gets on the back of Steve’s hog (sorry, I involuntarily wretched when writing the words “Steve’s hog”) she starts wailing like a heart monitor in a scene on ER where someone is about to die. She tells Steve he is going too fast. She tells him to slow down and maybe do something about all of this wind that is winding her. She shouts “No! No! No! No!” more times than a Saturday Night Live producer when Kanye West shows up wearing a red MAGA hat. I don’t know if Vicki hates this experience or if she just hates being out of control, but there is nothing about this she loves.
However, when they get to the set of Tremors, Vicki is like, “I had to come because I don’t want some biker chick picking up on my man.” Then she says, “One thing to check off the bucket list: riding a motorcycle with my man.” Ugh. She is the worst. Not only is she going to make riding excruciating for him, she’s going to make the beer afterwards just as bad. What about this did Steve think would be fun? This is his favorite leisure activity and he’s going to invite Vicki along to wail in his ear like a cicada burrowed into his skull and then harass him just a little bit more about marrying her.
At one point even the stoic Steve Lodge says, “Will you quit screaming?” No, Vicki will not. She will never quit screaming. In four decades, when her ashes are living on Briana’s mantle, still, on occasion, a high-pitched tone will come from the urn and Briana will smell the unmistakable stench of margaritas filling the room and she will know that her mother has refused to stop screaming.
Vicki did have one good scene this week, with Gina. Gina’s parents Susan and Gino (who was one hell of a foxy Mustached American in his younger days) came to visit and she finally opened up to them about her divorce. She tells them that the “women” she’s been hanging out with are skeptical about her decision and she didn’t like the way they reacted to her news. “I’m going through the hardest thing I have ever been through,” she tells her parents. “You would think that they wouldn’t give you their stories of their personal train wrecks to make you feel worse. You’d think they’d give you a hug to make you feel better.”
That’s sort of what I was saying last week. Instead of making Gina feel bad about her decision or like she hadn’t fully thought about it, why not offer her the support of someone who had already been through this divorce? When Vicki invites Gina to talk about it she says, “I’m worried about the children. We have to not be so selfish.” Yeah, because Gina isn’t concerned about the welfare of her own children? Like she’s being selfish by trying to do the right thing? That’s like telling someone to make sure they brush their teeth right after taking a piss on their Oral-B.
We all know that Vicki regrets breaking up with Donn and what that did both to her and to her children, but there is no reason to take that out on Gina. Next thing you know, Gina is giving Vicki a pep talk and telling her that she made the right decision and that no one is judging her for getting divorced. Isn’t this the exact opposite way this conversation should go? Shouldn’t Vicki be the one reassuring the emotionally wrought Gina? But Vicki ends the conversation saying, “I’m going to support whatever you do.” Isn’t that where the conversation should have started? Why is a place of empathy for a friend something that Vicki has to work up to? Is she really just the grown-up robot Vicki from Small Wonder?
My favorite part of the episode is when Kelly takes her daughter Jolie to audition for the musical Oliver! at the local kids’ theater. The more I get to know Kelly the more I love her, particularly because she was the meanest of the mean girls in high school. Kelly’s role model was Jake Ryan’s bitchy girlfriend from Sixteen Candles who gets her hair stuck in the door and is mean to everyone because she is rich and pretty and because she can be. That is just how Kelly acts and I love her for it.
When Jolie goes to audition Kelly says that in high school she was more into volleyball and other cool-kid stuff and thought that the theater kids were “nerds.” This is just like when she called Ring Toe a dork. You can just see that inner evil teen bubbling up to the surface, and while I would have absolutely loathed her when we took AP Bio together, I’m kind of here for her now. That’s because even though Kelly thinks the whole theater thing is totally dumb and almost bursts out laughing during the vocal exercises, she’s still there supporting her daughter and that shows someone who has grown considerably as a human being. Okay, well, she’s grown a little bit, but that’s better than none at all.
The big centerpiece of the episode was Shannon’s big trip to QVC to sell her frozen meals that come in bulbous, lumpy female condoms and are warmed up in the microwave. Shannon, however, was not allowed to microwave those meals on television because she is entirely unable to operate light machinery or kitchen appliances. I don’t know, something like that. Shannon went and sold her stuff on television wearing an unflattering jacket and grabbing at her stomach roll like she was one of those magic claw machines they have at an arcade and her belly was an off-brand Garfield-esque toy.
I didn’t find much inspiration in this particular tale of enterprising success, since it’s almost a fait accompli that any old stupid bullshit that QVC puts before the toothless masses will sell out in a matter of minutes. They could have Victoria Denise Gunvalson Jr.-motorcycle-scream-canceling headphones and they would be snatched up faster than the last portobello mushroom burger at a yoga retreat.
The real missed opportunity here is that there wasn’t a crossover with Lisa Rinna. Couldn’t the producers have gotten it together so that when Shannon was getting her training on how to be a good QVC personality it could come from fellow Housewife and 2017’s American Duster Association Retailer of the Year, Lisa? That would have been so wonderful and delightful. Instead, we have Shannon’s impossibly gorgeous daughter Sophie smiling like she is about to be cast in an Abercrombie ad and wishing and dreaming that she’ll get to go outside and play in the snow one last time before her mother drags her back to Orange County with her breath smelling like frozen salmon smothered in handmade cream cheese.