Ever since the start, we knew this season was going to be about phony versus thirsty, and the subtext becomes text when Heather finally calls Noella a “thirsty girl.” As the kids would say on the SnapTok: Where is the lie? Noella is so thirsty not even the quickly evaporating Lake Superior could quench her. She is so thirsty that she dwarfs gay Twitter’s combined lust for Sean Mendes. She’s so thirsty that even if her Instagram followers were infinity, she would give birth to humans with Instagram accounts to give her more followers. She will never feed the emptiness inside of her, and we are all currently benefitting from it.
In late-stage Housewifery, all fights are actually about the show itself, and I think Heather’s problem with Noella is also a show problem. Noella has no interest in being friends with any of these women. She has no interest in forging relationships outside of people who will listen to whatever her latest drama is (and to her credit, she has a Burger King vegan menu’s worth of choices). Noella is only here to be on the show. She is here only to be famous. She is here to help stuff Twitter hashtags into the black hole of her heart and hope that it makes her feel something like complete.
This is what Heather hates. I don’t know that Heather necessarily wants to be friends with everyone here — including her parrot, Dr. Jen — but she uses this show for something. It is to launch a new show, get her free gardening togs, push more vitamins and podcasts and children’s books, and whatever else she needs to buy a second house that is possibly bigger than the chasm that exists in Noella’s psyche. If she makes some connections along the way, then great. She can’t mess with Noella because she can’t appreciate her worldview. She can’t make phony friends and sell tickets to her live shows through an agent of chaos.
Don’t get me wrong, Heather is right; Noella is way, way too thirsty. As Gina points out, her hanging back from the group’s archery event proves she doesn’t want to be “part of the group.” Instead, she wants a moment where she can put on a McQueen shawl that will surely be listed in her ex-husband’s bankruptcy filings and go scream by a stream about all of her problems. Noella is so thirsty; I can’t even imagine that she is ginning up real emotion for her recently passed father, and that makes me feel like an awful person with no empathy, but I’m sorry, all the evidence points me in this direction.
After archery, when Emily and Gina go pick Noella up to take her spelunking in a mine with a ghost and a handsome man named Fred, she is upset they aren’t asking about her day. That’s because they don’t want to have to listen to Noella quote the rosary of her ills while they’re trying to have a fun day. Gina even says that she doesn’t want to go to the mine if all they’re going to listen to is Noella’s bitching. That is all Noella wants, to talk about herself, for it to be centered on her, and the moment that it’s not, she has to somehow make herself the victim so the whole thing U-turns back around to her.
It’s not like Heather is much better. Some are even calling her the show’s “new villain.” The episode kicks off with Heather and Noella having a chat about what was said at dinner in the last episode. Basically, Heather is mad that Noella said she slammed people against a wall when she didn’t. Here’s the thing about that, Noella kind of threw it out as an offhand comment when Heather called her to the principal’s office to tell her that she didn’t want to be her friend. It wasn’t a big deal until Heather made it into a big deal at dinner. Also, Noella seemed like she was defending herself against Heather. Do I believe Noella heard that Heather slammed someone into a wall? Yes. Do I believe Heather did? No. Do I think that Noella maliciously made this thing up to humiliate Heather? No.
What annoys me about the discussion is that Heather uses an increasingly popular tactic in Real Housewives arguments, which is to couch this as “hurting her family.” Noella gives a Housewives apology and says she’s sorry, not for what she said, but for hurting Heather and her family. Heather responds, “When things came between us, I let them go because of what she’s going through. But my family and my life are more important than you and what you are going through.”
Okay, this did not hurt your family. I’ve seen many women use this because, as we all know, kids are off-limits. So if you say this didn’t hurt me but hurt my family, it means the person who said the thing is morally wrong. (Jackie on RHONJ uses this against Teresa, but she is right since the rumor Teresa spread about her marriage could affect her family.) Heather says this when there is no impact on her family whether or not she shoved a crew member. She, personally, is going to look bad, yes. But how will this hurt her family? Maybe Heather means in a broad sense that this will hurt her earning potential, which means she will no longer be able to afford the private jet to take her kids on a college tour. But it’s not like Terry will leave her because she manhandled Tony, the camera operator. This posed as much risk to her family as a bag of kale chips poses to the panda population.
What drives me crazy about it is that it is phony. It is a source of fake indignation so that Heather can once again ride a horse that is higher than the cast of Vanderpump Rules at anyone’s birthday party. It’s all phony — her airs, her friendships, even her anger. She doesn’t like Noella because she thinks Noella cheapens the show and doesn’t want her there. That’s it. Just say it, Heather. Just be real, even for a second, instead of as fake as all of Noella’s Birkins.
Luckily there were a few fun moments in the episode. We got Emily Simpson getting all Katniss Everdeen when everyone goes arching. Actually, no. I take that back. She was way more Geena Davis at the Olympics. She and Shannon mend whatever rift is between them and dress up as bears to try to scare the women and fail miserably. We also see Shannon and Gina mooning over a chicken salad while Noella and Heather are upstairs fighting. That is why I love these two. So relatable. I would much rather be at that kitchen island housing a bowl of chicken salad than engaging in anyone’s drama. Oh, and the montage of Dr. Jen just repeating everything that Heather says was a classic of the genre, and we should all shove a few extra singles in the editors’ thongs for that one.
There were lots of things to hate, too. First of all, if any of you ever subject me to a private concert of any kind, you will immediately be convicted of assholism in the first degree. There is nothing worse than sitting there bopping your head along, trying to focus on three guys in front of you when you just want the whole thing to be over. You can’t just stare passively, but you also can’t go full Oprah and try to sing along to lyrics that no one even bothered to write on a cue card. What is the right level of enthusiasm to display in this situation? There is not one. That is why it should never happen. But at least no one voraciously sucked face during it like it’s a one-on-one date on The Bachelor.
Other awful things were Gina freaking out at Noella for not knowing the name of her friend Tatiana the Terrible. Gina is drunk; I get it. She is activated. I also think that everyone has that one friend that, no matter what she or he does, you will get upset by it. “Can you believe they ordered a salad?! They’re so awful.” “You won’t even believe what they did next. They invited me to brunch. As if!” “I sent him nudes and then he blocked me on Grindr and Instagram. The nerve.” Wait, that last one is something different. But you know what I mean.
We don’t have to pile on against Noella along with Gina and everyone else (bar Shannon who, like Gina Not Davis, says she likes to help people when they’re down so that they will always be grateful to her). We don’t have to pick sides. There is no hashtag TeamPhony or hashtag TeamThirsty. They can both be good; they can both be awful. They can both be wrong and horrible and ruining the show in their own ways or finding a way to drag it out of the gutter where it has been since Vicki broke up with Brooks. It’s all relative. It all matters and none of it matters because none of it is real. Neither of them are telling the truth or being authentic, and that is the worst kind of Housewifery there is. Tell either of these women to speak their actual truth or have Emily shoot at them with her arrows. Either way, we win.