The Real Housewives of Orange County
We must start this recap as we start all recaps this season: by investigating how the creeping dread of COVID-19 has seeped its way into the Housewives bubble. This week, at Braunwyn’s vow renewal–slash–superspreader event, the women are joking about people kissing them and then needing hand sanitizer and also how no one can get toilet paper at Costco (Gina’s fourth-favorite store after Walmart, Sad Depressing Home Goods, and the discount section at Sally Beauty). They are clearly in phase one of the pandemic, where things aren’t that serious yet. What phase are we in now? Phase 179 million? Phase Fingers Crossed I Don’t Get It Before the Vaccine But Going to the Illegal Rave Anyway?
The worst comments this week are from Elizabeth, who says to the women around the pool that she thinks the whole thing will blow over in 60 days. That’s not the worst part, though. At this stage of the virus, I thought the same thing. We’d have a lockdown for a few months, everyone would get tested, we’d quarantine some people, and bish, bash, bosh — it would be gone like Donkey’s Schlong (as Kelly would probably say). Like Paris Hilton and TikTok, we all underestimated this thing from the beginning.
The trouble starts when Elizabeth, in her confessional, says that “Big Pharma” wants to sell us a vaccine and cities need to get funding, so they’re blowing this out of proportion to make money. Basically, what she’s saying is that this is a hoax perpetrated for capitalistic gain. Um, doesn’t she sound just like Denise Richards’s paranoid husband, Aaron? Also, how do you think she feels about those comments now? Clearly these confessionals were filmed later than the scenes, and some of them seem like they might have even been filmed in the women’s homes, so how far into this thing did Elizabeth think it was a hoax? I never thought it was a hoax. I mistakenly thought it was overblown, yes, but I always believed the news and science and, you know, all of the people dying all over the world. God, I just can’t with these people — and by these people, I mean those who wear khaki-green cargo pants in public.
Speaking of Elizabeth, she had quite the episode, didn’t she? First, at the after-party for Braunwyn’s vow renewal, Emily bluntly asks her whether or not she and Jimmy, the boyfriend she lives with, are having sex. She says no, they are not, because she’s still married and he’s waiting for her divorce to be final to consummate the relationship. Okay, weird, but whatever. Then she tells everyone that they had sex once, but when he found out she was married, then he didn’t want to have sex with her anymore until the divorce is finalized. Still weird, but I’m following.
Finally, she tells the women that Jimmy knew she was married, had sex with her when they first met, and then stopped having sex with her until she could get divorced. Okay, cue every confused-faced emoji standing over me and showering me with a bukkake of WTFs. So did he just want to try the milk before buying the cow for the promise of future milk? Was she just really bad in bed but great company, so he doesn’t want to bone anymore? Are they just doing this for some legal reason that has to do with the divorce? Dealing with the utter inconvenience of living with another human without the benefit of getting laid seems absolutely ludicrous to me. If they really don’t want to be sexually involved until after the divorce (which, again, fine but not for me), why not have a bit of space too? And why take such a hard-line stance after initially getting a hard line in your stance, ifyouknowwhati’msayin?
Then we find out a little bit more about this divorce of hers she supposedly can’t talk about, which will settle in 30 days. This happens when all of the women are sitting by the pool. (If I didn’t love Emily Simpson before, when she said, “All I want to do tomorrow is lie by the pool and eat chicken fingers,” well, I have never identified with a sentence more.) Elizabeth says that she and her ex talk all the time, even though they’ve been separated for almost five years. She says she sent him a text saying she regrets filing for divorce after he got another woman pregnant and was having the baby — after he forced her not to have children when they were together. This was just the night before! She also tells him she still cares about him. Then she says that she and Jimmy are really only friends, because they’re not having sex, and then no one knows what to believe.
What I think — and I just put on my Psychologically Analyzing Housewives monocle — is that she’s using this divorce as a way to hold on to a man that she obviously loves. He was cheating on her, and she couldn’t control him emotionally anymore, so she filed for divorce. Now they’re both stretching this out as long as possible because as long as she remains married to him, he’s still in her life. Why she’s freaking out now is because he’s going to be gone forever. She can get with Jimmy, she can have a kid that Jimmy doesn’t want to have, she can do all the things she ever wanted to, but she won’t have a hold on her ex-husband anymore, and that terrifies her.
All of the women have a correct read on her, especially Gina, who tells her to walk away before this whole thing destroys her. That’s because Gina knew when it was time to give up, particularly after her ex hit her. Kelly got reeled back in after a separation from her first husband, so Elizabeth should listen to her as well, but she can’t. Elizabeth is exerting control the only way she knows how, by leaving, and it’s not getting her what she wants.
Now we have to talk about Shannon, who gets so wasted at Braunwyn’s party that she gets the nonsense subtitles under her slurred words, Dorinda Medley style. She makes such a big deal about not bringing tequila into Braunwyn’s party that she locks herself in her room with her children, her boyfriend, and the bottle. While she’s there, she gets in a fight with her daughter Sophie, who says that Braunwyn’s vow renewal was “a lot more fun” than the awful one their desperate father dragged them into five years ago. Even the thought of that brings Shannon to tears. “We can’t compare them,” she responds, while blinking on a folded napkin, the universal Real Housewives symbol for emotional distress. “And they didn’t go through a very public affair either. Do you get that, Stella?” Way to emotionally burden your young daughter with your own trauma. All the future therapists in the audience have dollar signs in their eyes.
Anyway, Shannon loves tequila so much that she lets it keep her away from the party and then shows up so drunk that she keeps making an ass out of herself. First in front of the women, then in front of Braunwyn’s kids, and finally in front of Braunwyn herself, when sloppy Shannon tells her that she loves her more than life itself. Braunwyn leaves the party thinking, Oh, I made up with Shannon, but she did not make up with her — she was just being a drunken sorority girl and letting the tequila bring out her emotions.
My problem with Shannon — the Karen-in-chief who calls room service because they got her order wrong and then when they get her order right still refuses to eat it — is that she is virtue signaling. “Aren’t I so good that I am not going to start a water line like Kelly’s?” she essentially tells us. Once Kelly learns it’s not a water, Kelly is over it, but Shannon needs everyone to know how good and ethical she is. “Aren’t I so good that I’m not going to drink tequila in front of Braunwyn?” she essentially tells us while smothering everyone in the crowd with her Casamigos breath. What do you think Braunwyn would prefer: Shannon not drinking tequila in front of her, or Shannon not being visibly and embarrassingly drunk in front of her? I would assume the latter.
Shannon wants everyone to think she’s a great person, without doing the actual work to be a great person. She wants to have her cake, eat it too, and have someone make it for her and deliver it because she can’t be bothered — oh, no, wait, you have to take this cake back because I clearly said I wanted rainbow sprinkles and not chocolate sprinkles. Then, to top it all off, she tells Braunwyn to her face that she drank tequila at the party, even though she was asked not to. So why even bother, Shannon? At least she has John, a seemingly lovely man who is better than she deserves. I just loved the way he held that pink umbrella aloft for her as he walked her to her room as she was tottering on her platforms. She just leaned into him, feeling one strong arm around her and the other protecting her from the elements. All she could feel was his warmth, his warmth and his care, and she felt that’s what she delivers, too. She cares for everyone, Shannon thought. She was exhausted by her giving as a little hiccup escaped her mouth and took flight into dew-dappled night.