The Real Housewives of Orange County
Like I’m waking up and looking in the mirror only to discover that my face was invaded by a family of spiders overnight, I have no idea what I’m looking at anymore. Here is the cast trip, and it is to Miami and Key West, the favorite vacation destinations of 80-year-old gay men and the kind of cruise patrons who are foolish enough to eat the shellfish at the never-ending buffet. The women are staying in “villas” that look more like carpeted motel rooms in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, in the type of establishment that’s decorated entirely with drawings of conch shells someone bought at HomeGoods. This is not the glamour we signed up for. This is your aunt’s vacation that she is posting about on Instagram ten times a day because her kids hate her too much to show her how to make an album.
To make it worse, the women aren’t even talking. Things between Kelly Dodd and all of the Tres Amigas have deteriorated to such a point that the whole group can’t even have dinner together. This is a failure and an indictment of the entire system. If the producers can’t even force these women into a contractually obligated screaming match over too-expensive ceviche, this entire enterprise is doomed. The women all say, “We can’t even be in the same room. How can we have dinner together?” Because that is your job, and this is the trip. Hating each other but being forced together is the entire point. Having a dinner apart is like going to a water park and not even bringing your bathing suit.
At the start of the episode, Kelly apologizes to Tamra for blowing up at her. Why, exactly, remains unclear. Maybe it’s just to make the ride down to Key West in two convertible Maseratis more bearable. When they arrive, Kelly is even trying to make nice with Vicki. She says she’s going to be “combative with love” to fight Vicki and does the one that will really win Vicki over to her side: She asks her about insurance. It’s the sweetest thing Kelly has ever done on television.
Trouble is a-brewing, however, because Gina and Emily found out that Vicki has been talking to a girl who had accused Kelly of breaking her hand in a bar fight. Vicki says the girl reached out to her on Instagram and they’ve been texting. All right, this is bad news. This is the worst news. This is news so bad that even Piers Morgan was like, “I won’t say that on television.” That’s how awful it is. There is no reason for Vicki to be talking to this woman. Even if she did reach out and Vicki wanted some dirt, she should certainly not be developing a relationship or an ongoing communication with this lady. Tamra is pissed because Kelly @-ed Jim Bellino in one tweet, and meanwhile Vicki is giving this girl who is suing Kelly firsthand information about what is going on? This is really awful.
Gina and Emily think Vicki should tell Kelly, and as they’re talking with Tamra about when and how to do it, Shannon just goes and tells Kelly so she can “keep this bomb from turning into a nuke.” What Shannon does here is smart: She knows it’s going to come out, so she says it in a nicer way than Vicki would have. But it isn’t that nice. Kelly starts to call Vicki a conwoman and a liar, and Vicki inexplicably tries to get Kelly to hit her. They separate the two women, and Vicki goes out in front to shout about how she’s not a conwoman in her “I’ve never slept with multiple partners” voice.
The one good thing that comes out of this whole scene is that Vicki finally abandons her stance that Brooks didn’t lie and she didn’t help him and she has no idea what was going on, and she admits that he conned her just like he conned the rest of America. That had to be hard for Vicki to admit, but, I mean, the obvious needed to be stated.
The problem with this vacation is that this group of women couldn’t even go to the Leaky Tiki and not get in a huge brawl. First of all, it’s unclear if they’re all on the same floating tiki bar or if there are two groups on two parallel bars, but still, couldn’t they just make it work long enough for us to vicariously enjoy it? If these were the New York women, they would all put their differences aside long enough to flirt with Forrest, the adorable college-age captain, rubbing their lady parts all over him, scarring him for life, and giving us something to chuckle about. Instead, Kelly starts calling Vicki a pig, and Vicki starts calling her an awful person and we’re back at the larynx-shattering Olympics.
Dinner comes apart after this, and Kelly, not knowing what else to talk about, talks about these women and the fight. This is the first time I’ve ever agreed with Braunwyn, who wants to talk about anything but that. However, I’m not pulling in Braunwyn’s paycheck, either, so I don’t have to do this for work. While Kelly is out with Braunwyn and Emily, we get some real insight into how Kelly works. She talks about how her mother had a temper and she learned it from her. She talks about fighting with her cousins and always having to “win” by hurting her opponent fastest and hardest. This doesn’t really change anything about Kelly’s behavior, but it does at least show us that she knows she has a long pattern of mismanaging her anger.
One thing Kelly says did strike a chord with me, though, and that’s her feeling that she’s being ganged up on. Usually, when a Housewife says “You’re all against me,” I want to yell at her, “That’s because you’re treating everyone like assholes.” Yes, Kelly does treat people badly, but I think they all hold her to a different standard than they hold everyone else. Particularly Shannon, Tamra, and Vicki, with their intractable bond, won’t ever really let Kelly in and always take one another’s side over hers. If anyone can legitimately feel ganged up on, it’s Kelly. She never starts these fights, but God, she sure does finish all of them. The best comment of the whole night is something along these lines. Emily tells Kelly not to attack Vicki on her looks, because that’s mean. “Attack her on her character,” Emily says. “Because that fucking sucks.”
The night ends with the Tres Amigas going out and taking a ton of tequila shots with their baby friend, Gina, who pretends not to be horribly embarrassed when a woman her mother’s age gets so drunk she tries to drink beer straight from the tap like she’s a middle-aged man washing down an antacid with some tap water in the middle of the night. For a moment, when they’re all wasted and hopping in the pool in their underwear (a shared pool, not one private to their own villa, which is a bit of a downgrade), it feels like an old Housewives trip. It feels fun and luxurious and insane. When Vicki falls and we’re treated to a montage of her clumsiness, it piques something in me, memories of a time long past. But by the time the ambulance comes, when the rest of the group is passed out in their face masks, hearing the sound of the ocean in their unrestful dreams, it just proves to be another stark reminder: This was a trip with two floating tiki bars, and we all sort of want both of them to sink into the ocean forever.