The Real Housewives of Orange County
You know it’s sad when the most noticeable thing about an episode is the bottles of Rokit vodka that keep popping up like zits in prom pictures. There’s just a line of them in different pastel colors, like a bag full of Easter M&Ms. One looked like it was peach flavored. The others, who can say. What is purple supposed to be? Cherry is red and raspberry (inexplicably) is blue. Pale purple is maybe lilac? Rhubarb? Sage and oleander? I don’t freaking know, man.
If Rokit wasn’t paying for the ladies’ trip to Lake Arrowhead — a ski resort just a few short hours away from the OC — then I don’t know why it was getting so much airtime. But it’s not the airtime they hoped for. Kelly is telling the women that it’s 40 percent alcohol and, strangely enough, that didn’t seem like an endorsement. Braunwyn looks at it like it’s the hangover in a bottle she knows it is. She also is talking about how awful it is. When Braunwyn first arrives at the lakeside villa for this four-woman group trip, she sees an array of Fireball and other types of vodka, and then the spread of Rokit on that enormous minivan-sized kitchen island. There is more liquor in this house than three women can drink in a month, and we all know how much Gina and Kelly can drink.
I know that the producers are trying their best to salvage this coronavirus season of RHOC, but this trip really isn’t doing it. Braunwyn isn’t even staying there because she doesn’t want to spend the night in a house full of liquor or drunk women. She should be more worried about the insect infestation that was going on in the master bedroom than about the copious amount of Rokit vodka that no one wanted to pour down their gullets.
Braunwyn is totally right that drunken antics on a girls trip do take an arc. It starts with fun and laughter and then leads to dancing on the bar and then to flashing boobs and screaming, and then it’s all downhill from there, slurring how much they love each other while stroking their hair, falling over while trying to get to bed, waking up with half-eaten plates of ziti just chilling on their bedspreads. We know this arc very well, it is the same arc that we see on every Real Housewives trip.
I don’t blame Braunwyn for not wanting to be a part of it now that she’s newly sober, but that house is big enough, couldn’t she just go to bed at 10pm and stay there? It also seemed like Kelly, Gina, and Elizabeth weren’t really trying to tie one on. Maybe she would have been more comfortable. But instead of trying to bond, Braunwyn spends the whole trip calling her husband Sean and spouting all of her problems and anxieties at him and not letting him respond. No wonder their marriage is in trouble. Well, that and the fact that she’s a lesbian. But also that.
Braunwyn tells him that she feels like she is being a party pooper and everyone is on edge because they don’t want to be around an alcoholic. The thing is, they don’t really care that much. Kelly Dodd is going to drink no matter what. None of these women will care. But for them to be comfortable with Brauwyn being there, she has to be comfortable with herself being there first. Maybe that hotel room down the road isn’t such a bad idea, actually.
Kelly’s insensitive jokes aside, they’re all actually less pissed about Brauwyn’s lack of drinking and more concerned with her talking trash about Elizabeth behind her back, but then leaving the room when the women want to talk smack about Shannon. Come on, talking shit behind someone’s back is about 80 percent of their job. That’s like being a Subway Sandwich Artist and deciding that you can’t touch bread. Kelly really steps in it, though, while talking to Shannon on the phone while the rest of the women are in the lake, talking about Braunwyn while she’s standing right next to Kelly. Even when Kelly realizes she’s there she doesn’t stop. She doesn’t cut off the conversation until Braunwyn walks away and the coast is clear.
Kelly had quite a humdinger of an episode. I actually loved the moment when she shows up at the villa and uses the hand sanitizer station planted out front. The automated machine spritzes a dollop of clear goo into Kelly’s right hand, but her left hand is holding her oversized fedora, her purse, and her water bottle. There’s no way for her to smear it on both of her hands like she is Mr. Burns plotting the downfall of an orphanage. Instead she just smears some on the top of her left hand while juggling all her possessions.
Things really come to light, though, when they start talking about her fiancé, who is a Fox News host, and whether or not he’s conservative. Kelly’s upset that people are taking down statues of Christopher Columbus and Braunwyn calmly tries to tell Kelly what is wrong with her view. Kelly says, “You can’t rewrite history. What do you want, to destroy Rome?”
Braunwyn can’t make herself clear enough to make a cogent argument, but I can do it for her. No, we don’t need to rewrite history, but we can recontextualize it. While Columbus was the first European to land on American shores, that doesn’t mean we need to have statues of him. Statues do not tell history. Statues show what we value and who we idolize. Instead of idolizing a bunch of colonists and enslavers, maybe we should idolize someone else, give some people statues that many won’t find as offensive. I was actually surprised that Gina and Elizabeth were on Braunwyn’s side in this argument. If even a bunch of women from California’s redest enclave can agree on this, maybe real change can be made.
Shannon had to miss out on the trip because all three of her daughters got COVID and Shannon is self-isolating at her boyfriend John’s house. Okay, what is up with John’s house? Is it really just a finished garage of another house? Are they showing what is really his garage, but calling it his house? And how is it on the water but not on the beach? Is it on some sort of canal? Is it really an auto body shop in an industrial neighborhood that John put a bed in and dropped some dumbbells out on the back porch and now just calls it a home? I am so confused.
Shannon is scared that she has the virus even though she has had three negative tests at this point. Shannon, you’re negative! At this point there was a testing shortage and backlog. Just stay at home and stop taking the damn tests. You don’t have it. She can also stop worrying about her girls, who seem happier than ever to be in the house alone with their germs and without their mother’s screeching jeremiads cascading up the stars every 90 minutes.
I really feel bad for Emily. She tested positive for COVID and gave it to her husband Shane, a level-seven necromancer in a game of Dungeons & Dragons that never seems to end. No, I shouldn’t pick on Shane. Emily, while mildly symptomatic, got Shane pretty seriously sick. He starts coughing up blood and Emily has to bring him to the hospital, where he stays at least overnight and she has no knowledge of what is going on with him. Meanwhile, she’s at home trying to handle three kids and heal herself.
This is the awful reality of what COVID was like for so many people. Wait, what it is still like for so many people. The uncertainty, the waiting, the anxiety, the guilt. It’s suffering in the hospital thinking that every hour is like a fight for your life, as Shane said. Yeah, I know the Housewives have to go on a trip to give us the TV we want and cook their own gross salmon dinners and whatnot. But maybe they shouldn’t. Maybe we should just all stay home. Maybe we should just be doing whatever we can to get by until we can get that vaccine into everyone’s arms. If COVID can make us feel some sort of empathy for Shane MF Simpson, of all people, it’s really got to be awful.