The Real Housewives of Orange County
This episode Braunwyn finally revealed herself, and the truth was both shocking and also as predictably basic as we could have possibly imagined. Tamra, always one to get naked in a hot tub, convinces Braunwyn to also go tits out with her in the pool. When Braunwyn takes off all of her clothes we see that her back is absolutely covered in tattoos. It looks like there is a string of Chinese characters running down her back, cascading into a puddle of a lower back tattoo (we can’t say “tramp stamp” anymore because it is offensive to people who itinerantly ride the rails) that seems like it includes at least one butterfly and possibly a dolphin or two.
I always thought that, being Dr. Deb’s daughter, Braunwyn might be too square for tattoos. We see this often with the daughters of Housewives: Their daughters rebel by being normal, balanced, and lovely. How else to explain Avery Singer, Jolie Dodd, or Briana Wolfsmith-Culberson Gunvalson Jr.? But that is not our Braunwyn. Despite her mother, she just wants to be cool. She wants to go to Thailand on a gap-year holiday and get Chinese characters down her back that she thinks say, “Raindrops along the lily flowers” but really say, “brick, cow, running, scarf.”
Really, though, the most revealing Braunwyn gets is when she’s talking about how she and her husband Sean like to have a three-way every once in a while. Well, once every five years, when it’s for a monumental birthday. At first it seems like this is meant to be a treat for Sean, but it appears that what she really likes is to get eaten out by a girl while Sean watches, which sounds like a pretty fun time to me! I love a three-way and I have participated in more than my fair share. They should be celebrated, in all configurations.
What I don’t like is the women’s dismissive attitudes about them. Emily, the one who just did a burlesque show for her father-in-law, thinks it might be awkward to wake up in the morning next to two people. That’s the great thing about a three-way, one person always has to go home. That is gospel. I’m not sure what book it’s in (probably Luke, because he was a perv), but it is defying the Lord if all three people spend the night in one bed. Then Gina’s like, “They better wrap it up because that is an easy way to get an STD.” Statistically that is incorrect. If Braunwyn and Sean (Seanwyn?) have oral sex with another woman once every five years, that is a pretty low exposure rate. Also, if a girl is eating Braunwyn out, that is extremely low-risk behavior. You have an easier shot catching an STD if you sleep with a new person on a somewhat regular basis, or, you know, keep sleeping with your partner while he’s cheating. Just saying.
What’s odd is that this sex negativity doesn’t really square with their behavior. All of the women (minus Kelly) put on their RHOC Novelty Yoga Pants (now available on Swag by Bravo) and go to look at some beehives for God knows what reason. There they meet Noel the bee master, a handsome and sturdy man that Tamra instantly pimps out for Shannon’s sexual needs. This happens every time any of these groups of ladies go on a trip and are confronted by even a moderately attractive man who is their guide, driver, cultural liaison, or other travel professional. Can’t these women go on one trip without #MeToo-ing one of the staff? And then a real hot dish like Gabe, the Miraval chef, teaches them how to make some food when they’re all drunk and not one person hits on him and, well, I was honestly a little disappointed.
Back to Kelly, all alone skinny-dipping while the rest of the women are at the beehives learning absolutely nothing about bees. She’s pissed because Vicki told everyone that Kelly isn’t allowed on the campus of her daughter’s school. This is, once again, some rumor that Vicki heard that she is now repeating and of course, much like the eight-person train, never happened. When we find out where Vicki got this information, it turns out some woman next to Vicki at the hair salon claimed that her daughter went to the same school as Kelly’s daughter, Jolie. That is the provenance of this gossip? Some broad she doesn’t even know at the salon?
Tamra points out to Vicki that she needs to stop spreading rumors and they all leave it at that. However, Emily tells Kelly what Vicki said, and Kelly of course freaks the hell out. She calls Shannon, Tamra, and Vicki on speakerphone to vent her rage, eventually calling Vicki some combination of “slut, pig, whore, and cunt,” I can’t remember in which order. Vicki says to Tamra, “This is the woman you want to be friends with?”
We can all tell that Tamra has finally had it with Vicki because this is the only time that she’s ever called her on her shit. She tells Vicki that of course Kelly is mad at her because of what she said. She tells Vicki that she started this war and deserves all the anger that Kelly is lavishing on her. When Vicki says that Emily shouldn’t have gotten in the middle and shouldn’t have “spread the rumor” of what she said about Kelly, Tamra explains that Vicki is totally missing the point. Vicki saying that about Kelly is not a rumor. It is truth. Emily saw it happen, so she can report it back to Kelly. Vicki has never once seen any of the things she has accused Kelly of. She doesn’t even have especially reliable sources, and then she’s all bent out of shape when Kelly unfurls the kind of hate that is usually reserved for people who criticize Pete Buttigieg on Twitter.
Ultimately, though, this episode isn’t as much about fighting as it is about healing. Emily and Gina have a moment after the beehives where they talk about their little spat and Gina agrees that she was pretty mean to Emily. Then Emily says that she felt “abandoned” by Gina who, in her confessional, says she didn’t think it was really all that bad. That sort of hints that maybe the two of them aren’t in the best place now as they were then? Just a guess.
Vicki and Kelly finally made up, too. At dinner, Kelly reveals that the crew went to Dig This Amusement Park, which seems to be a place where you can smash things with giant construction equipment, and I am very sad that we didn’t get to see this entire excursion. Kelly says she drew a pig face on the hood of a car, wrote Vicki’s name on it, and then smashed it. Vicki gets upset and then Kelly gets upset too, saying she doesn’t think that Vicki is really a pig, but she knows Slade said it and it hurt her feelings and it is the best, most meta, and most touching Real Housewives moment I have seen in quite some time.
Vicki goes to the other end of the table and, in her version of admitting she’s wrong, says, “I surrender.” They hug and give each other platitudes about how they’re not going to hurt each other anymore, and Shannon makes them both pledge that they won’t deliver any more low blows. They hug and cry and cry and hug, and I’m sure the tequila helped it all happen.
It’s an interesting choice of words Vicki used: “I surrender.” It’s like she finally gave herself over to her wrongness, or maybe she was just giving herself over to Kelly’s hurt. Or maybe it was something more existential, something deeper. “I surrender,” she said, and all of the muscles and tendons of her body loosened, her limbs going slack and her heart beating more easily. “I surrender,” she said, and her organs unclenched, the food and waste and bile and blood all circulating a bit more freely. “I surrender,” she said, and the cytoplasm of every cell burbled up just a little bit before relaxing, her body visibly withdrawing into itself and expanding. “I surrender,” she said, and each atom threatened to knock itself out of its orbit, to render her completely intangible, to throw every essence of herself to the wind, as she dispersed into the air like the smoke from an extinguished candle.