How many conversations have you had about coronavirus? A hundred? A thousand? A hundred thousand? We went from, “Should we wear masks?” to “Where should we wear masks?” to “Who doesn’t wear a mask?” to “Oooh, girl, where’d you get that mask?” We’ve had chats about where all the toilet paper went then where all the dumbells went and then where all the decency went when people started holding sweet 16 parties against lockdown regulations. We’ve gone from lockdown bread baking to outdoor dining back to lockdown and not even being bothered about bread because who cares and it’s not even worth it anymore. We’ve talked about it to death in different ways on different days with different people. Talking about coronavirus is the new talking about Game of Thrones: everyone does it, no one can agree if the ending will be good, and it is going to be with us for a very long time.
That’s why it’s so crazy to just see it ticking underneath all of the action in this week’s episode like a metronome of doom. Shannon and Kelly meet up and Shannon asks Kelly if her reporter fiancé Rick is worried about the virus and Kelly says he’s not freaking out but everyone else is, which fits in perfectly with Fox News’s strategy the whole pandemic. Then we see Shannon go to dinner with Elizabeth, Gina, and all of their boyfriends and talk about how she is preparing to be shut in her house. Shannon, the Karen-in-Chief, went to Trader Joe’s and bought out all of the frozen meals and then freaked out about the power going out so she bought all the canned goods too. Oh, and she also bought Amazon out of hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes. That conversation about where all the toilet paper went? It’s chez Shannon.
At the end of this conversation they all are eating dinner outside — not out of necessity, but by choice — and they all laugh this off and clink their glasses together and say, “To not getting coronavirus.” I remember those days, I remember thinking that it might be awful or it might not happen at all. I remember the anxiety of preparedness and wondering how everyone could become so greedy. I remember thinking it would all pass over in a few weeks or a month — tops. Nearly a year later, I don’t remember any of that fondly, nor do I really want to relive it with the women of Orange County.
Luckily, we have Braunwyn’s vow renewal slash super-spreader event to distract us from all of that. She starts by making a trip to see her mother, Dr. Deb, at her house in San Diego, which looks like the kind of Buddhist temple come Burning Man yurt that you would expect from Dr. Deb. No surprise there. The big surprise is that apparently everyone in Braunwyn’s family is hot. Braunwyn, hot. Young Sean, hot. Braunwyn’s stepdad Brian, hot. Braunwyn’s half-brother Marley, hot. I am now wanting to watch the movie Marley and Me and it has nothing to do with dogs.
Braunwyn, Sean, and all of the kids move into The Parker, a famous boutique hotel in the desert that is also a Bravolebrity. Don’t you remember Welcome to the Parker, the 2007 Bravo show that ran for six episodes and was never renewed? Of course you do. Elephants, Bravo fans, and the internet. These are things that never forget.
Back in Orange County, everyone meets at Shannon’s house to get in a bus to travel down to Palm Springs together, and as they pile into her OC rental, it’s raining outside and I blurted out, “It’s like raaaaaiaiaaiaiaiaaiiiinnnn on your wedding day!” It’s ironic, don’t you think? On the ride down the conversation turns to how Braunwyn isn’t going to have any tequila at the party because that’s her trigger and she’s trying to get sober. “Oh, I’m diabetic so I’m not going to have cake at my wedding,” bellows Kelly Dodd, the millionth spoon when all you need is a knife.
As the other women point out, she is not at all sympathetic to what Braunwyn is going through. Neither is Shannon, who says that, “When I’m on vacation and away from the house I’m going to drink. I’m sorry.” Seriously? You can’t take one day off? If you can’t, know what that makes you? The fly in the chardonnay, that’s what. They stop at a liquor store and buy two bottles of tequila for the party because they can’t go 48 hours without Mexico’s favorite spirit? I mean, aren’t they going to have all the other alcohols there? Can’t they switch to vodka sodas for one party? They must be good. 17 billion gays can’t be wrong.
When they arrive at the Parker, Shannon keeps her bottle in her bag but when Braunwyn greets the group Kelly has hers in her hand. “This is a bottle of tequila that I’m not supposed to tell you about,” Kelly says. Shannon thinks she’s so much better because she was subtle about it, but I think that’s actually worse. Kelly Dodd can’t help but Kelly Dodd and isn’t going to hide it. Shannon pretends to be your friend when she’s really plotting against you behind your back.
This is why Kelly thinks that Shannon is making a competing water as her new product. Sure, Shannon never said that she was, but doesn’t Shannon seem like she totally would and then find a way to take the moral high ground no matter what? Kelly is hawking Positive Beverage, which is like water with some stuff in it you can buy at Target. I don’t know, the marketing isn’t that clear. Shannon is selling something called Lemon Aid, which is a “tincture,” which I have only heard about in the context of THC, but I guess that isn’t it. She says it’s like a “lemon cleanse,” kind of like the Master Cleanse, I guess. But what do you need Shannon’s tincture for? And do you put it in water? Is it like a water flavoring? I don’t know. It seems really dumb, but I am currently on the Gina, “Fuck you, I’m gonna eat this cookie if I want to,” Diet so don’t ask me.
At the vow renewal, Kelly is attending with her business partner and says, “Shannon tell Zach about your water.” Shannon corrects Kelly that it isn’t a water, but Shannon also can’t see that this is just Kelly being her usual obtuse and insensitive self. She starts ranting to her boyfriend about the audacity Kelly has to accuse her of launching a competing product. Oh god, Shannon. If she could hop down off of her cross and stop playing the world’s tiniest violin for about 20 seconds she might have the time to actually make one of her business ideas work.
Because her grievances aren’t airy enough, Shannon then sits down with Gina and Emily to talk to them about Kelly’s gall. I mean, I get it. It would be annoying to have someone falsely accuse you of corporate espionage, but can’t they all just let all of this shit go? The fight about this and whether or not Shannon said that Gina’s condo was “sad and depressing” has been going on for far too long and we’re only six episodes in. At this point, I’m going to start calling Gina’s condo “Lucy Lucy Apple Duplex.”
As for the vow renewal itself, it sure is something. First of all, as Emily acknowledges, even having one is a bit of a risk in the Real Housewives universe. We see Vicki’s vow renewal to Donn 10 years ago and then Shannon’s just a few years ago and we all know that both couples are divorced now. It’s almost a joke at this point that if you get your vows renewed on Real Housewives you’ll be at the courthouse faster than Leonardo DiCaprio can dump a model after her 25th birthday.
The officiant is a drag queen named Babette Schwartz and she is taller than all of Braunwyn’s children standing on each other’s shoulders with a trench coat buttoned around them. When she starts the ceremony, she talks about how everyone isn’t drunk enough. She is the rain and this is the wedding day. Then all of the kids come down the aisles in twos and how have I never noticed that one of Braunwyn’s kids is a ’70s movie mogul? Curren’s got kind of a chubby little face and these enormous black-rimmed glasses. All he needs is a cigar and a table at Chasen’s and he could be running MGM.
Curren is now my favorite and has replaced Jacob, the drag queen son from last episode. That is because the officiant asked the kids if they wanted to come up with any vows for the parents and Jacob says, “Dad, do you vow to even love mom when she embezzles all your money and runs off in an Apache helicopter at 12am?” and then, “Mom, do you vow to love dad even when he gets really famous one day and bounces off with a 12-year-old American model?” Everyone kind of laughs awkwardly, but it’s not funny. He even says, “What I said is not funny,” which either means he acknowledges his comedic deficiencies, or he didn’t mean them to be comedy and he actually thinks that is going to happen. Either way, this is why you don’t give 14-year-olds a platform at these things.
Then Sean gives Braunwyn a ring he had made with the birthstone of each of their seven children and I want to go, “Awwwwww,” like they’re a couple that just kissed for the first time on a sitcom. Then Braunwyn gives Sean his gift: it’s an immunity idol. That is what Emily calls his ridiculous statement necklaces and this is the immunitiest of all the idols. This is the Moderna vaccine of idols. Braunwyn tells us that it is two fishing hooks because that is a symbol of being a provider. But they’re not normal sized. Each hook is the size of one of the drag queen’s earrings and they’re interconnected and hanging around his neck like some sort of torture device. There they are, just blinding us in the light, blinking off refractions of the giant LOVE sign that is placed next to the drag queen alter. Braunwyn looks at it and she looks at her children all around her, she looks at her friends and family gathered in the room, she looks at the invisible virus particles swirling in double helixes around everyone, seeping into the air, seeping into their mucus membranes. This is enough, she finally thinks. Maybe I have done enough.