The Real Housewives of Orange County
It’s fitting that this fifth episode, in which the bylaws of the Eileen Davidson Accord allow us to officially pass judgment on Braunwyn, is so full of her and her tears. I think I do not like this Braunwyn, and it’s not because every time I type her name I have to pause for ten seconds to reexamine everything I know about the phonetic alphabet. I think I do not like her because she is thirstier than a hangover in the middle of the desert.
It’s clear Braunwyn wants reality-TV fame more than anything, that both she and her husband have been planning for this moment and now they are going to capitalize. The most egregious example was a few episodes back when she went to her husband Sean’s office to work on her daughter’s line of dance clothing. Not only was she hawking the brand and drawing attention to the “content” that her daughter has to produce for it, she did so at her husband’s office, where he then got to talk about his business and what they do. It all seemed convenient and maybe a little exploitative of a girl who has both an eating disorder and OCD.
I know I have mentioned them before, but look at Sean’s necklaces. You just know that he decided that he was going to wear one of them every time he is on the show, in hopes that all of the Bravo fans will buy them for their husbands and gay best friends this holiday season. Bravo fans want one of those giant fake Maori ripoff Miansais like Danni from Southern Charm wants chlamydia from Shep.
Then look at her dance instructor, Kairi. She says this guy lived with her in Miami full time to teach her kids dance, which is something she tosses out like it’s totally normal to have a dance instructor shacking up in your extra room, particularly when you have seven children, which means there is never any extra room ever. It seems like she told him, “Oh, we’re on the show now, let’s have you teach some of the women how to dance and maybe you can get a little piece of this enterprise.”
The Kairi dance class is different than, say, when Kelly and Dr. Brian Reagan PhD DDS AMA MD go to dinner at Bernini’s Bistro in La Jolla, which is where Dr. Brian Etc lives. Hamdi, the owner, greets Dr. Brian by name. So, yes, the owner wanted some camera time and to have his restaurant on air. Okay, I get it. However, if he knows Brian’s name, this is clearly someplace that he goes to frequently. Kelly even references that they’ve been there before off camera. This is a reality show and this seems to be Kelly and Dr. Brian’s reality. Okay. Sure.
Braunwyn, however, confesses that she’s never had a dance class before. This is not something she does. This is not something Tamra does (and it is something she says she will never do again). It is not something Shannon does, though it is something she relishes buying a costume for. (Seriously, the single-use plastics that Shannon consumes for her tacky costumes are probably keeping the entire population of Shenzhen employed.) This is something Braunwyn cooked up so that she could give her dance pro some attention.
I get it, girl. You gotta make those coins. She’s probably only making $60K from this gig, like Gina did her first season. That is not a lot of money for putting yourself, your home, your children, and your husband’s hideous necklaces out there for public consumption and to be ripped apart in reality-television show recaps. (Sorry, guys!) Being on Housewives should not be an end to itself, but it should be a way to promote something else.
But Braunwyn is jumping in with both feet and all 18 consonants in her name, and when her cravenness is laid bare, she can’t take it. This happens when Shannon takes all the women on a double-decker bus tour of L.A. Braunwyn tells all the women that former housewives Lizzie Rovsek and Gretchen Rossi Smiley both reached out to her when she was cast on the show. Emily, who is close with Lizzie, has screenshots of Braunwyn’s texts to these women, which make it clear that Braunwyn was the one that reached out to them.
I understand that if you are about to take a job you might want to reach out to someone who had that job before, especially if, as Braunwyn claims, you share a mutual friend with that person. But for Braunwyn to be sitting at home tapping her fingers together like a mad genius and then lying about it isn’t a good look. She says she lied because she wanted everyone to like her, but she could have just said, “Yeah, I wanted to see what the show was like before signing up,” and I think everyone would have forgiven her.
What’s really hard is that Braunwyn doesn’t seem to tolerate the consequences of being on the show. She wants to arrive, have a good time filming, make all of her friends and family rich, and not get called out when she does stupid shit. The first time she suffers some negativity from being on the show, she breaks down and cries and can’t sit with the rest of the women. When she’s faced with true reality professionals like Tamra and Shannon, who have been doing this a long time, she buckles under the pressure and says she was “ganged up on,” which is reality-TV speak for when everyone rightly accuses you of behaving like an asshole. Braunwyn wants all the rats out of Hamlin, but she doesn’t want to pay the piper.
Later she tries to lay the impulse to make everyone like her at the feet of her mother, Dr. Deb. Much like Mama Elsa and Lydia McLaughlin’s fairy-dusted mother before her, Braunwyn is trying to play the wacky mom card. Dr. Deb really fits the bill, with her rainbow dreadlocks, sparkly master’s cap, and so many statement necklaces that they made more statements than Donald Trump’s current press secretary. The worst Dr. Deb bit, though, is when the waitress shows up with her drink and she says, “You can take the plastic straw, though.” Seriously? We needed that bit of virtue signaling? That waitress is now just going to throw that straw out and it’s going to be wasted without even being used. The time to call attention to the plight of the oceans (and it is no small plight, mind you) is before your drink shows up with the offending instrument of death.
As Braunwyn says, Dr. Deb is clearly very into herself and tries to make her decisions about how she raised Braunwyn look like positives. For example, when Braunwyn was left alone as a latchkey kid at 4 years old, she was learning “self reliance.” In a testimonial she says, “Braunwyn has some animosity towards me because of some perceived notion of an unconventional childhood.” Dr. Deb, for all of her hippie posturing, isn’t taking Braunwyn’s feelings seriously. Braunwyn’s perception is truth, and she needs to take responsibility for her part in that truth.
Enough about Braunwyn, because we need to briefly talk about Gina, who missed her court date because her lawyer told her she didn’t need to appear even though she did. When she finds out there is a warrant out for her arrest for skipping the date, Gina says, “I’m done with this.” No, girl, you are not. You are not done because the law is coming for you. You’d better get a grip on yourself, your house keys, your expired passport, your three children, both of your parents who are currently living with you, and whatever is happening in that awful washed-out pink look you’re sporting for your interviews. Gina, you need to get undone and you need to get undone with a swiftness.
Luckily Shannon is there to be sympathetic and hook her up with a competent lawyer. Their growing friendship makes me weep tears of joy, particularly because Shannon seems to have somehow morphed into a relatively reasonable human being and I sort of like it.
Emily does not love their new alliance, but she has enough going on in her life. The sequence with her and her husband Shane, a barrel full of flesh-colored anal beads, is one of the most excruciating things that I have ever seen. As Gina tells Emily, the two of them are disconnected. Emily wants to bond with Shane now that he’s back from his two-week study vacation and California Bar-taking. He clearly wants to leave it behind for a bit and just relax. However, their lack of communication skills is damning. Emily keeps pushing him to emote and he keeps pushing … for her to make dinner.
I think that both of them are a little bit to blame for what is going on in their relationship, in that they can’t seem to meet in the middle to find a place where both of their needs are met. However, Shane is making it really hard on himself. How he keeps insisting that he’s just hungry while also seeming incapable of preparing his own food is outrageous. If you’re that hungry, dude, get on the Domino’s app and order yourself up two mediums and some crazy bread for $10.99 and leave your poor wife — who was raising your three kids solo and working for three weeks — alone. Don’t walk around just crunching into Emily as she’s trying to show you affection.
The part with Shane and the producer in the testimonial is especially damning, where he turns on his sarcasm to talk about how much he missed Emily. The point he seems to be making is that he feels like he should be the provider for his family, so he doesn’t miss them when he is doing what he sees as his duty to provide for them. He knows that saying that is going to anger Emily, and he still goes and says it anyway. It’s like a person who knows he’ll shoot himself in the face while cleaning his gun and just keeps scrubbing away. If he doesn’t figure out how to talk to his wife in a way she will appreciate, he’s going to be eating sad omelets all alone in a kitchen with a framed California Bar certificate on the wall, and a big bag of sarcasm that no one wants to unpack.