The Real Housewives of Orange County
The most interesting part of this episode is something small that happens with Gina, voted America’s Home Goods Shopper of the Year for all of the 2010s. She’s at Emily’s house listening to Emily bitch about how her husband, who is Mormon, does not want to go on a trip to Vegas to watch her do a dirty dance on camera for him. Gina then decides she wants to tell Emily something, but she can’t quite do it. “I can’t talk about this,” she says, getting up from a Jennifer Convertible sofa to go sit in a Raymour & Flanigan easy chair in the next room.
“I can’t do it. I just need a minute. I want to leave,” Gina says to no one and everyone. Whom is she talking to? Is she talking to herself, trying to psych herself up for a revelation that she’s afraid of? Is she talking to the producers who are obviously there and listening to her mic? Is she telling them that she wants out of this scene and that she’s not going to disclose something she already told them she would disclose? Is she talking to us, the audience, letting us know that she doesn’t really want to tell Emily what she’s about to tell her?
Maybe it’s all of that, maybe it’s none of it, but when she sits down, she says the meanest thing I’ve ever heard on a Real Housewives program, and I watched the Aviva Drescher seasons of Real Housewives of New York City: “Your problems will seem so stupid right now.” Then she lets us know what she’s been keeping in for a whole year now: that her hunky ex, Matt, had an affair and that is what ended their marriage. To make it even worse, he’s been seeing the woman he cheated on her with for the past six months.
Of course I feel bad for Gina, who, as Emily points out, has been trying to put such a sunshiny face on the divorce that she’s never really processed it. But what’s more interesting to me is what she didn’t say and why she didn’t say it. Both Tamra and Emily say that they knew about the affair and never brought it up to Gina — and by “to Gina” they mean “on camera” — because she wasn’t acknowledging it herself. Gina was seemingly keeping that part of the story off of the show so as to not incriminate her ex and to keep her kids from knowing that he did something to end their marriage. It’s a noble goal, but anyone who watched last season knew that something about this whole arrangement was ringing false. Now we all know the truth, and it makes so much more sense.
But what is Gina’s motivation now? Is she so hurt that she’s finally going to put Matt on blast on national television, where he doesn’t even have a platform to defend himself? Thank god he’s not on Twitter, because RIP his mentions. This wasn’t just some outburst, because Gina clearly took time to deliberate whether she was going to say it. So was it that production told her she better reveal it to keep her story juicy, or did she know it was coming out anyway so she just got ahead of it? I guess we’ll never know, because it’s been said now.
This is contrasted with another moment in the episode where Tamra, at Vicki’s prompting, blurts out something about Kelly Dodd that they previously decided to keep to themselves. Braunwyn invites Gina, Tamra, and Shannon to dinner to get to know them better. Vicki, who was lingerie shopping with Emily, found out about it and basically made Shannon invite her. For a “friend of,” she is sure getting a lot of filming opportunities. Also, as a “friend of,” she seems to be doing all the heavy lifting of creating drama this season.
When Vicki arrives they talk about how she always hates the new people and subsequently hates Braunwyn. She counters that she liked Kelly right away, but then everyone else notes how that blew up in her face. Vicki says that the reason why Kelly is being so mean to her is because Vicki knows more about Kelly than she’s letting on, hinting that it is far worse than her (unfounded) allegation that Kelly does cocaine.
This is a classic Housewife tactic, where one says one knows something without stating it to make the audience imagine the worst. But then Tamra blurts out, “Is this about the train?” Cut to Vicki’s confessional (she’s a “friend of” and she has her own sit-down interviews?) and she says, “We had a code of silence that none of us were going to talk about the choo-choo train, that no good could come from it and that we weren’t going to mention it.”
There are two things that are interesting to me about this. The first is that the women decide what they will and won’t talk about on camera, and that there are some lines that even Vicki, who makes up blatant lies with the frequency that Larry King changes wives, won’t cross.
The second interesting thing is, what the hell is the train? Now that it’s come up, even obliquely, and all of the women know about it, we need to be told. They essentially forced Kelly to reveal what this rumor is, and even if it is false, by bringing it up they’re saddling Kelly with this story forever. I don’t think Tamra mentioned it by mistake, because she is a professional and doesn’t really do that kind of thing. Did she maliciously bring it up? Who knows? Who can say? Who cares? Just tell me what the train is already because I am dying and I need to know.
Other than this emphasis on what is and isn’t being said onscreen, there is another interesting development this season, and that is the confessional interviews with multiple people. We saw some with Shannon’s daughters in multiple configurations and also one with Kelly and her daughter Jolie. This week we see one with Braunwyn and her husband Sean. Guys, did you see the necklace he’s wearing in this interview? It’s like a giant green circle that reminds me of a ruin from a Magic: The Gathering card, or the ghost of Andy Cohen’s Butthole of Doom sculpture from a RHONY reunion past. It’s like a dream catcher you find in the dust three days after Burning Man finally left the playa.
Just as disturbing is some of the whoo-hoo party girl energy that’s invading the new “tres amigas” this season. Tamra, Shannon, and Braunwyn dance on the bar this episode — no, not at Andeles or even the Quiet Woman, but in Tamra’s kitchen. Then all of the women are doing tequila shots and having girl-on-girl Katy Perry style makeouts at some random Mexican restaurant in Laguna Beach. While I don’t have any problem with either of these behaviors in their proper atmospheres, this is just women trying too hard to prove that they’re fun and hip. Save these shenanigans for when you’re in a club or a bar or on some other kind of bender. To do it in a place where people are trying to enjoy a carne asada taco and a nice night out on the town makes this reek of women past their prime trying way too hard. Oh wait, maybe that’s just the show now?