The Real Housewives of Orange County
Now that we’re at the end of the season, I’ve come to one conclusion about the future of this show: It’s time to fire the Tres Amigas. Other than Tamra getting obliterated on tequila and crying in a bush, they are no longer offering anything to RHOC. I don’t think that Bravo should get rid of them entirely — maybe they need a spinoff where they get wasted at various resorts or drive cross-country whooping it up in a Winnebago — but they are no longer good for the health of the franchise.
Next week’s reunion looks like it’s going to hammer this point home, as Vicki claims twice in the trailer that it is “her show.” Any Housewife who says this should be immediately evicted. (Ahem, Nene and Teresa.) No one is bigger than the institution. Just as Saturday Night Live survived the losses of Chevy Chase, Mike Myers, and Kristen Wiig, so will the Housewives survive Vicki Gunvalson being taken out to that great gated community in the sky — no, that makes it sound like she should die. Maybe she should be taken to that great gated community with no cameras, but, to Vicki, that would be like death itself.
This episode is a great encapsulation of why the Tres Amigas are not needed. Just look at the other women in their individual scenes. Emily comes over to Gina’s house to help her pack. Defying logic and medical science, Gina has been moving for the entire two seasons that she has been on this show. Does she own anything that doesn’t live in a box? Emily picks up a tiny wrestling doll and says it’s her husband Shane, a hairless meerkat, and parades it around the box-packed garage for a laugh.
Then Emily listens to Gina drone on and on about how she’s reconciling with her ex-husband Matt, only for us to discover at the very end of the episode that Matt is suspected of domestic violence and the two are no longer together. Say what you will about Gina and her overreliance on asymmetrical braids, but she sure brings a lot to this show.
So does Emily. Speaking of her and Shane, a buttered-popcorn-flavored Jelly Belly, the scene with them in the doctor’s office is just absolutely heartbreaking. Emily goes to get her arthritis in her hip and knee looked at and she’s clearly upset when she discovers she has to have her hip replaced. She’s crying and trying to comfort her daughter, who is in the room with her, but also calls Shane. The first thing he says when he hears the news is, “Well, you let it go for so long.” Oh, Jesus. That’s just what a crying wife who is scared about having surgery needs, a giant helping of guilt pie served up on condescension-brand flatware. She says in her confessional that what she wanted to hear was, “That’s awful. I’m sorry. I’m going to take care of you.” That is the only actual response. That is the only thing a real human would say to their spouse at that moment. Instead Emily has to deal not only with this awful news on her own, she has to deal with Shane’s shit, and her daughter’s tears, which are only made worse because now her mother is receiving no comfort.
Also, of course Shane failed the bar. We all knew that was coming (thank you, Daily Mail), but what’s even more delicious is Emily saying that she doesn’t remember hearing that she passed because she knew she wouldn’t fail the exam. Yeah, this must all be hard for Shane, but, whatever. I’m not that concerned.
Even Braunwyn, yes, Braunwyn, had a more entertaining episode than Shannon, Tamra, and Vicki. She’s in her backyard doing some sort of yoga with her mother, Dr. Deb. This particular type of yoga appears to feature chanting, a harmonium, and a man beating on a drum; it looks like the kind of band that would be at a Diwali celebration, except every single practitioner in this particular tableau is as white as the Boston College lacrosse team. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what cultural appropriation looks like.
Dr. Deb would find nothing wrong with this, though. Dr. Deb wouldn’t find any fault with anything she does, which is a sad and ordinary bit of narcissism. Braunwyn says that of all the relationships in her life, the hardest one is with her mother. That’s because everything she does has to be on her mother’s terms. They can only engage with Dr. Deb’s emotions, they can only discuss her problems, they can only do the activities she enjoys. Her mother certainly couldn’t come over and do something Braunwyn enjoys. (In her defense, the only things we know Braunwyn enjoys are breeding and making out with Tamra, and she doesn’t want her mother there for either of those things.)
The most damning bit of gossip that we get at the end of the episode is that Braunwyn’s mom was not invited to her latest birthday party. Damn, I feel like between that, whatever is going on with Matt, and Kelly’s breaking with HRH Dr. Brian Reagan AMA LMNOP only to get engaged to a Fox News reporter three months later, they really picked the wrong time of year to not be filming these women.
Now we get to Vicki’s engagement party and we see exactly why the Tres Amigas need to be fired. Not only are the other four women far more fun, the Amigas’ hairbrained solidarity makes it impossible to argue with them or even move on from a fight. Vicki, Tamra, and Shannon are like the Senate Republicans. They will agree with whatever stupid thing one of them does so that they can show a united front, and anyone who disagrees with them is an idiot and needs to be removed.
The key argument is whatever is going on with Kelly and Tamra and Shannon’s lawsuit with Jim Bellino. This is like their Benghazi, and they’re treating it like some monumental, universally understood evil when everyone else thinks that absolutely nothing went on. Tamra and Shannon seem to think that because Kelly @-ed Jim on Twitter while Shannon and Tamra are engaged in a lawsuit with him that she somehow contributed to their legal bills. (Also Shannon says that hurting Tamra hurts her because she’s in the suit too, even though the judge dismissed her from the suit.)
Logically this makes absolutely no sense. As Emily, an actual lawyer who has passed the bar, points out, no one is deposing Kelly Dodd or calling her as a witness in their lawsuit. That means that Kelly isn’t costing them any money, or at least any additional money. Was it a low blow to @ Jim? Yes. But is it some sort of financially derailing transgression? Hell no.
As Kelly tells them, what got them in the lawsuit is that they went running their big mouths about Jim, a man who hasn’t been on this program in at least five years. This lawsuit is their fault, and to lay even an iota of the blame at Kelly’s feet doesn’t make any sense. This is especially true when Tamra gets wasted and just tries to pick fights with everyone because Kelly @-ed Jim Bellino. First she picks a fight with Gina, who is standing there nodding and agreeing with Tamra, and she is still pushed to the brink of saying, “Fuck you,” and storming off for no reason.
As soon as this happens, Shannon says in a confessional, “Tamra’s behavior is totally justified. The only person out of line is Kelly Dodd.” That is what really did it for me. That is what made me decide that these women need to go. Tamra’s behavior was clearly the ravings of a drunk woman. Also, Kelly Dodd, at that moment, was not out of line. She was trying to hide from Tamra and Vicki so as not to start a row. Kelly, for a change, was trying to stay out of it and Tamra was bringing the aggression at anyone near her, like a bumper car in an ill-fitting sundress.
Vicki gets involved, once again, to shout about her arch-nemesis Kelly. “They’re hurting financially because of what Kelly got involved in.” No, that is not true. Kelly got involved in something that is hurting them financially, but referencing it on social media makes her in no way culpable. It’s like hating Radar Online because they wrote a story about the lawsuit. (If anything, you should hate Radar Online because they submitted us to three months of Lucy Lucy Apple Juicey–gate.) There are plenty of reasons for these three to be mad at Kelly Dodd. This lawsuit excuse is a herring redder than Shane’s erection when he double-dosed Viagra.
What is most egregious about all of this, though, is how they’re trying to shape the show in their image. They’re trying to keep themselves relevant by freezing out Kelly, just as they have done to numerous Housewives before. They’re trying to control what we see by banding together against someone who is more interesting and more vibrant than the three of them combined. They are going to take down Kelly Dodd, even if they have to manufacture bogus excuses to do it.
And so after this fight, they all hobble back to their cars, Tamra under the guiding arm of her slowly graying husband Eddie. Shannon has lost her date, Duff, Tammy Knickerbocker’s sloppy seconds, and is waiting on the curb for an Uber. It’s been a long year for Shannon. She tried to get along with everyone, she tried to make friends, she tried to stand on her own, but she just can’t. Shannon is not a pole. No matter how deeply she drives herself into the ground she can’t support herself. Shannon is the single leg of a tripod. She needs to lean on others, she needs them to prop her up, she can only survive with the bolstering forces of unconditional support and smoke blown firmly up her ass. She doesn’t realize this as she’s standing on the curb waiting for her car, her shoes hanging from her right hand by her straps. A light breeze tickles across her face and she closes her eyes like she’s starring in a detergent commercial, and in that moment everything seems to undulate, either the earth is rising up to meet her or she is going down to meet the earth. Shannon opens her eyes as she stumbles and rights herself, nervous that there was almost a calamity. But with Shannon there is always almost a calamity, even if it is the sun setting or the sun rising or the sun setting again or the sun rising on a house where she’s closed the curtains tight.