The Real Housewives of Orange County
Ridiculous screaming matches, completely erroneous allegations, threatening the cameraman while running to cry in a hotel bathroom: For a minute I was tricked into thinking that I was watching an episode of the Real Housewives tonight. Yes, the past few weeks of this show have been an absolute slog, but leave it to Shannon Beador to turn that all around and make everyone confront the Housewivery of it all once again.
Before we get to the fight, for a second I want to focus on what happened the next day. After her fight with Tamra, Vicki, and Kelly, you know that Shannon pulled the producer (who I will call Amanda) aside and said, “Amanda, I’m not going to do it. I’m not going. It’s not right. It’s not right what they did to me. I’m not going. I’m just going to sit here … I need a day. I just need a day to collect myself and get over everything they said to me. They told me I’m not a good friend. They said I am mentally unwell. Amanda, did you hear them? How do you expect me to get on a bus with them, Amanda? How? If you make me, I’m out of here. I mean it. Amanda. Please. Don’t do this to me, Amanda. I can’t.” It actually continued on for another 29 minutes in the same spiral of rabid self-involvement.
The reason I mention that is because the next day all of the women had a really fun time pretending like they were the Jamaican bobsled team immortalized in the movie Cool Runnings even though they did not actually win the Olympic medal as Kelly would lead us to believe. They travel 90 minutes on the bus and Vicki just starts twerking against the turnstile before they can get in. Even the man who worked at the amusement park had to exclaim something indecipherable to her, but Vicki knew it was attention so that’s all she needed. Her new, round derriere is so voluminous and perky that Tamra and Kelly think that she had surgery that she’s not telling them about. They confront Vicki at lunch who denies it but then says, “Drink, drink, drink. Get me a M-er F-ing drink.” Except she said the actual words.
Oh, there was also all of the women screaming down the tracks in their bobsleds and Gina being like, “What? Is this thing even on? Hello!” Oh, and what about the expert shade where Vicki says she wants to get Shannon a T-shirt to make her feel wanted and asks for an XL, “You know, for her tummy.” ZING! And then the guy who works there is like, “Is it for you? Maybe a large?” And Vicki says, “Oh, it’s not for me. I’m at least a medium.” Double ZING! Triple ZING! Vicki just scored in the 100 point Skee-Ball ZING! hole and the tickets came pouring out of the machine like a Slurpee where the valve is stuck open.
What I mean to say is that the second half of the show, the part without Shannon, was super fun. I thought that the problems we’ve been having the past couple of seasons had to do with Victoria Denise Gunvalson Jr. But what if Vicki isn’t the problem? What if it’s Shannon Beador and her Grumpy Bear disposition that have doomed this franchise to rot? Just an idea. Just an idea.
Shannon also delivered us a good first half of the episode too, but quite inadvertently. While the fight did get good, the problem with it is that it has no text or subtext. It’s just Shannon being a complete loon, everyone pointing out exactly how she is being a complete loon, and us at home agreeing with her, because, well, she’s loonier than all the tunes on your Spotify Discover Weekly. She’s loonier than a Canadian one-dollar coin. She’s loonier than every seasonal flavor of Oreos combined. She’s loonier than … me continuing this bad joke for so long. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
The crux of the argument started with Gina and Emily who think that Shannon isn’t nice to them and can’t be bothered to get to know them. Gina brings this up at dinner and Shannon says, “Well, there’s a lot of ‘new’ in my life right now. There is a lot on my plate. Sorry I can’t handle anything else new.” Gina, who is also in the midst of a divorce and has three children under the age of six, says that she has a lot of stuff going on too. Also, just because Shannon is stressed out doesn’t mean she can’t be civil and ask Gina and Emily how they are and inquire about their lives. She then says, “I’m justified in where I place my time.” Oh, so what she’s saying is that she knows she’s been mean and dismissive to Emily and Gina and she just doesn’t care about it because she has more important things going on? Oh, got it. That’s not awful at all.
Tamra says that Shannon can only engage in a conversation if it’s about her, as we see when they’re discussing Gina’s dating possibilities and Shannon is muttering, “This is a riveting conversation. Not,” like she’s a sorority girl from the 1990s. Oh wait, she totally was. (As was I, but at least I don’t say that anymore.) When Gina points out that Tamra thinks that Shannon is being selfish, Shannon loses it and gets up to cry in the bathroom, because that is all Shannon can do when she is confronted with her bad behavior that she can’t defend. Tamra (in a stunning blue jumpsuit that she recycled for her confessional look, Kate Middleton–style) knows this is bad and tries to calm Shannon down.
When the other women try to talk to her some more about it on the bus, she just shuts them down, because Shannon is the arbiter of who will talk about what, when. She gets out of the bus, tells Tamra to go away because she needs ten minutes to decompress, and shouts at the cameraman not to follow her because she wants to be alone. This is why I think Shannon is the problem. If she won’t let the Housewives be Housewives, maybe she is the one killing the energy of the show.
Also, how stupid is it to wave off the cameraman? We have seen this happen on every single reality show ever and does it ever work? No. The cameraman will just film the outside of the bathroom door while they stream the audio from a hot mic and put subtitles on the bottom of the screen. Also, as soon as she says, “Don’t film me,” she should know that moment is going into the show. Saying, “Don’t film me,” is the kiss of death.
Shockingly enough, Tamra Barney Judge is the one who is the voice of reason in all of this. She says that she’s sick of Shannon and all of her negativity about her life and her calling up and crying on the phone all of the time. She also says that Shannon is the one who is making this into a big deal by fighting about it. If Shannon just took someone else’s feelings into consideration and thought, “Oh, maybe they’re right and I should do something about it,” the fight would be over. Instead, it’s Shannon raging about how wrong everyone is about her and how she really is a good friend.
Shannon Beador is like that friend at a group dinner that stubs her toe. Then she has to talk about it the entire dinner. She cries about it at the table. She asks the waitress for an ice cube for her toe. While she says that everything is fine, she still hobbles her way back to her car when the meal is done. It’s not just the pain she craves, it’s the validation from the attention. It’s that she matters because she can make other people be concerned about her. That’s how the smallest, silliest inconvenience takes over the entire dinner and no one can really talk about anything else because there is a stubbed toe in the room and it needs to be addressed, Goddamn it. It needs to have its pain felt in the drooping faces of others. Shannon’s stubbed toe is sucking all of the energy out of the room.
Yes, Shannon’s divorce from David is bad and she has a lot of shit to get together, but she is not the first woman to have a messy divorce. I’m with Kelly on this one, maybe she needs to be taking a little something. At the very least she needs to be seeing a therapist regularly to sort through all of her feelings about the divorce. That seemed to be the worst thing anyone said though, questioning Shannon’s mental capacity. She then accused Tamra of saying it, even though she kept quiet. Shannon kept accusing Tamra of saying it, but the genius editors replayed the footage to acquit Tamra. The meanest part of that is that the chyron said, “Six Minutes Earlier.” Six. Six. The stinger is six, like they actually took the time to measure it out. What a glorious, glorious indictment.
I think that Shannon can get over this and maybe be a better and more caring person, but as long as we’ve known Shannon her life has been falling apart. She’s never really gotten into anyone else’s drama, because she’s been so consumed by her own. During the fight when the evil ghost of Brooks reared its ugly head like a Scooby-Doo villain with its mask removed, I realized that the drama with Shannon and Vicki wasn’t really about Brooks, it was about Shannon. Shannon wasn’t mad about what Vicki did, she was mad that she had been duped. Vicki was going through the worst moment of her life — one where she had forsaken her relationship with her daughter and lied and mistreated Tamra — and Shannon is the one who was the most upset because she looked like a fool.
The silliest part of the whole fight, though, is that Shannon didn’t want to be in a room with Tamra, Vicki, or Kelly. She decided to stay in their penthouse in the 90-degree heat and busted air conditioning rather than move to an adjacent villa that was cool. Shannon would rather literally boil in her own juices than be next to people who were speaking totally reasonably around her. I can just picture her, with a cold washcloth on her head, reclining over the covers, wondering just why the universe decided to make it just this hot this very night in Jamaica just to inconvenience her.