The Real Housewives as a franchise has been doing a lot of breaking the fourth wall lately, whether it’s NeNe attacking a cameraman, LeeAnne Locken pushing a cameraman, or Michael D’Arby sexually assaulting a cameraman. (Lesson: Do not be a cameraman, camerawoman, or camerachild.) But the start of this episode was one of the strangest breakings of the fourth wall we have yet to see on the franchise. Actually, the fourth wall wasn’t broken. It’s more like someone got really drunk and put a shoe through it, and now the wall has a permanent chunk taken out of it to remind us never to do it again.
At the start of the episode, we discover that since Tamra and Shannon had lunch to talk about all the awful things that Kelly Dodd said about Tamra at dinner, something uncanny has occurred. Someone filmed a chunk of their coffee date together (complete with the potentially beleaguered cameraman) and posted the footage on the internet. Kelly saw the footage and, as a result, she has subsequently blocked both Tamra and Vicki on “social media.” (I love how they say “social media” on these shows. It’s like the old sitcoms when they would drink a soda and it would just be a red can that said “Cola” on the side.)
What Kelly saw in the footage is Tamra saying that Kelly threw her mother down the stairs. However, as Tamra points out, there is absolutely no context in this clip with very poor audio. What Tamra was saying at the time is that Vicki said all of these awful things about Kelly, including that she threw her mother down the stairs. Tamra was actually defending Kelly at the time.
Kelly got so upset on social media that she tagged Jim Bellino, the husband to Alexis and one of the all-time worst personages ever to be on one of these shows, in a tweet, because he is in the process of suing Tamra and Shannon for talking shit about his trampoline park on a podcast. The layers of this thing! It’s like Ulysses, or at least a moldy mille feuille curdling in a Paris gutter.
Meanwhile, Kelly is at lunch talking to her mother on FaceTime, because she has now made up with her estranged mother. She says the one blessing of all of this is that they have bonded over a mutual hatred of Tamra. What I loved about Kelly’s explanation, though, is that she says, “I did not throw my mother down the stairs. I just picked her up and moved her out of the door.” Wait. What? What does that even mean? Why would you do that? And how would that be misconstrued with throwing her down the stairs?
Kelly Dodd meets Shannon for lunch and Shannon tries to explain the context of what happened in the clip, but Kelly doesn’t want to hear it. She has her mind made up about Tamra. Shannon then says the most astute thing about Kelly Dodd that I have ever heard anyone say on the show. “When I see you go to a low-blow level, that clouds the good in you,” she says.
That is exactly what happens to Kelly all the time. She is a good person who is often done dirty by the women in her circle. In this particular instance it was Vicki, not Tamra, but there was still some dirty done. However, she overreacts and doesn’t wait for an explanation, and then all the good that is in her is clouded over by her “social-media” screeds or insults.
Kelly leaves this lunch by storming off and saying, “My mom hates Tamra. She always told me to stay away from her, that she’s a bad person.” At this point, Kelly takes a last sip of her iced tea while still standing and with her purse on her shoulder and gets an ice cube in her mouth. “She’s right,” she adds before storming off. It’s brilliant. It is a genius moment and I will love Kelly Dodd forever just for that, “She’s right,” with an ice cube and vehemence in her mouth.
Emily says that what has happened in the group is that there has been a line drawn between Tamra and Kelly and everyone is being made to choose sides. She’s #TeamKelly, but I have a feeling that everyone else is going to be #TeamTamra, and that is only going to make Kelly madder. That will only make the storm clouds roll in, like thunderheads over the bluffs, to obscure the good that we all know is in her.
A couple of other things happen this episode that I guess we should mention. Gina says that she went out with “Doctor Hottie” and that Matt found out and was so upset that he cried for the first time in the 18 years she’s known him. We need to point this out so that when Matt eventually goes crazy we will have planted all of the breadcrumbs along the way.
Shannon is worried that David Beador is not going to give her any money in their divorce settlement. It’s about to go to trial and because Shannon is making so much money now (The show does not mention that this money primarily comes from the show itself) and because David started his business technically before they were married that she might not end up with a dime after their divorce.
Kelly Dodd, wearing a magenta lamé tablecloth fashioned into a one-sleeve blouse that looks like it was in a hit-and-run accident, explains to one of her friends that earlier she had to teach her daughter Jolie how to insert a tampon. She says she gave Jolie a demonstration on her own body before, then basically inserted a tampon into Jolie’s. From behind the bathroom door, as if she’s still sitting on the toilet holding a box of tampons and considering the next 30 years of her menstrual life, Jolie yells at her mother to stop embarrassing her. Again, comedic genius from Kelly Dodd.
Finally Braunwyn has a “weaning party,” which is to celebrate the fact that for the first time in 20 years she is neither pregnant nor breastfeeding. This party happens in her “sex apartment” and the only thing I like about it is that there are two hot shirtless bartenders (one of whom is named Wayne, which is the least sexy name on the planet when not preceded by Li’l) and a stripper dressed up like a cop. I’m not sure what this party is supposed to entail, but Braunwyn gets wasted, puts her face in a boob cake, writhes around on the floor like she’s an extra in an Erika Jayne music video, and generally makes a fool out of herself.
Shannon and Vicki are crazy for hating a stripper, even one who is about six inches shorter than Emily but scoops her up and makes her ride him like he’s some kind of superhero and his only power is making women cream by administering feats of strength. Personally, I love a stripper. If you can’t have a good time while someone else writhes on you then, well, maybe you should go home and eat some cream cheese and salmon.
The one important thing that happens at the weaning party, apart from making my antipathy towards Braunwyn grow even more, is that she announces that she is taking the cast to Miami for a trip. This is a much better way to tie this trip in to the group that we usually see (Remember when Meghan King Edmonds told them all they were going to Ireland?), but the reason is way worse. “We have a couple of houses down there and we need to go check on them,” she says. Braunwyn, they’re houses. It’s not like they’re houseplants or dogs locked in a car in a parking lot. I’m sure they’re not going to go anywhere and, if they do, one of the neighbors or the nightly news will probably let you know why.
Braunwyn is also taking them to Key West, but Shannon won’t go there because it reminds her of where David started his affair. Tamra, always seizing an opportunity to be a producer of someone else’s distress, tries to egg this emotion on. So does Gina, who is still scarred by her own husband’s affair. Only Emily — smart, calm, level-headed Emily — tries to convince Shannon that she is strong enough to go to Key West and work past her fears. I am with Emily on this one. My husband once took a poop so stinky on Royal Air Maroc that he was denied entry to a foreign country; that doesn’t mean I’m never going to use a plane bathroom ever again. But Shannon will not budge. That is the defining characteristic of Shannon Storms Beador: obstinance. Like a boulder that can’t be excavated or a cadaver than cannot be buried, Shannon will latch onto her pain, clinging to the skin of it, sucking all the blood out of it like a tick, fattened with its blood, boring into her pain only to infect it and make it grow once again.