The Real Housewives of Orange County
I am now willing to admit, six episodes into this season, that I have not been this engaged with RHOC since we were first introduced to a little revelation that goes by the name Shannon Storms Beador-Jackson. (I don’t know where the Jackson came from, but it sounded nice in the moment.) Most of this has to do not with the return of Heather Dubrow but the introduction of Noella Bergener, a dumpster who was thankfully lit on fire just after the cameras started rolling. Not only is she delightfully unhinged and a great foil for many of the women on the cast, but she can also wear the hell out of some clothes. The glossy color-blocked short set she wears to Chez Dubrow? Chef’s kiss. Her blue and white dress with the giant Countess by Luann de Lesseps statement necklace? Divine. She not only understood the assignment, she also got a five on the AP test.
The episode starts with Noella telling Gina that she found her soon-to-be ex-husband Sour James in Mykonos. Then Gina asks a question that only has one answer: “What is he doing in Mykonos?” Drugs, Gina. That is all one could or should be doing in the Greek paradise. He might also be having anonymous sex with someone in the ruins of an old church, but even if he is doing that, he is most likely also doing drugs. Then she tells us that she finally masturbated that morning after a long dry spell and uses jazz hands to accentuate this announcement. Wait? Were those jazz hands, or is that like the Noella version of making a fist and pumping it up and down to simulate jerking off? Is that how Noella diddles? Enjoy it, sister.
Noella’s next great scene is when she arrives at Chex Dubrow (it’s called that because the cereal sponsors it), and Heather is filming a QVC infomercial for hair gummies when she arrives. Noella says that Heather planned the meeting, she knew she would be filming, and she wanted Noella to be there and be impressed with her BGBE, big girl boss energy. She then goes into Heather’s “study” and notes that it is “a shrine to a really good and thorough narcissist.” Noella clearly has Heather’s number, and I couldn’t be happier that the one person who sees through her uncrackable façade is also the cast member most likely to throw a Molotov cocktail onto someone’s driveway.
This meeting between the two of them is a great scene because it’s what happens when thirsty meets phony. Heather confronts Noella about calling her a “fake bitch,” which is something we all know to be true. She tells Heather she only said that because she’s lashing out. Then Heather asked about why she told Gina she couldn’t be trusted. Noella says that she talked to Nicole, the grifter behind the iron mask, the night after Heather’s party when we found out that she sued Terry Dubrow. Noella says that between that call and the next time she talked to Nicole, her feelings about the Dubrows had changed.
Noella seems to allege that Heather and Terry gave Nicole a talking-to about changing the subject every time her former lawsuit comes up. What Noella was saying by way of the “slamming people into walls” comment maybe wasn’t that Heather was physically assaulting people à la NeNe Leakes in her closet — but that she was getting forceful with production about what she would and would not allow on camera. I find this all to be entirely believable, and, to be honest, I’m kind of on Noella’s side about this.
At the end of the conversation, Heather says that she knows that Noella is going through a lot with the divorce and “I don’t think I’m the right friend for you.” What, exactly, does that mean in this context? Now I have sent many a boy from Grindr packing after finding out he lied about his pictures or the chemistry is not there. I am not above it. But I would never say to a new acquaintance that we weren’t meant to be friends; I’d just never call again. I would just refuse to see them. However, Heather is contractually obligated to be Noella’s friend. Is she saying she is going to stop filming with her? That she’s going to try to freeze her out? That she won’t invite her on cast trips? Considering she’s the only woman not invited to Cabo, that sounds exactly what she’s trying to do (and by the looks of next week’s preview, it looks like she’s failing).
The same comment hits a little bit differently when Nicole tells Noella the same thing on FaceTime. When Noella is talking about how none of her friends are reaching out or offering her solace during her divorce, Nicole says something like, “Clearly, I cannot be the friend that you need me to be. I think you’re being unkind, so I’m ending this call.” The first part sounds like Nicole is saying that Noella is too needy and she just doesn’t have time to be someone’s emotional support animal at this time. Very valid. The second sentence sounds like something the Dubrows scripted for her so that they’ll forgive her and allow her to be on the show. It was as scripted as Hot in Cleveland.
The other reason that I’m loving this season has to do with Emily Simpson. Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Halo Dolly Aura Photography Morgans is on notice because Emily is rapidly becoming my favorite Housewife. Case in point, the exchange she has with Heather in the infrared sauna when she says she’s going to pass out and pulls an entire turkey sandwich out of her purse like she’s in a Scooby-Doo cartoon.
“Are you eating a sandwich?” Heather asks.
“Yes, is that wrong?” Emily answers.
“It’s turkey.” This is the funniest and truest thing I have ever heard. Who wants to detox in a sauna when instead you could be having a $5 footlong? Also, it’s turkey! Turkey is free of all toxins. It’s not like she’s eating baloney or Spam or whatever the fuck it is they use to flavor La Croix that also has zero calories. It’s turkey. It’s fine.
Emily’s other great scene comes at the book party that Heather throws for her daughter Max who wrote a book for teenagers. I only know a handful of teenagers, but the ones I know would rather read comic books about lesbians in space than read a book about how to be a teenager. I also know they would rather do just about anything than read a book that is not about communism. Maybe I just know the wrong teenagers, who knows.
To fully understand what Emily has to say, we have to stop by Dr. Jen, who reveals that she was sued by her former billionaire boyfriend just days after she got married to the broseph formerly known as Ryan. (Another reason to love Emily: She points out he changed his name from “Ryan” to “Ryne,” and now it is just more confusing to say and spell. He seems like the one dude on the football team who was convinced he was different because he listened to Nirvana and would talk to the stoners but was just one of the same old assholes on the football team.) Here is the article we see flashed on the screen if you want to investigate further. The gist of it is the ex claimed that Dr. Jen owed him $850,000 because the gifts he gave her were actually short-term loans.
This leads us to Emily getting completely wasted at the party and going full Emily Simpson, PI, on Dr. Jen in a way that all the viewers wanted her to. She starts by talking into Nicole’s giant purse that looks like a ’90s cell phone bejeweled within an inch of a drag queen’s life. (Gina says it reminds her of Zack Morris, and I realize that not only am I the same age as Gina with the same references and from the same region of the U.S., but we are basically the same person: poor, slightly confused, and hanging onto the fringes of the Real Housewives for dear life.)
“Hello. This purse cost $15,000 and only holds lipgloss,” she starts talking into the phone and then changing to how she will be paying $1,000 a month in student loans until she dies. “No one paid for me to go to school, Dr. Jen.” After Jen tells her that she was on scholarship multiple times, Emily starts pressing for details like she’s Analise Keating and is about to get away with murder. Q: What did she pay her ex back for? (A: Everything.) Q: Was he hot? (A: No.) And every time Jen tries to give her a polite answer, Emily doesn’t believe her. She doesn’t believe that Jen was into his personality. She doesn’t believe she wasn’t in it for the money, and she won’t let Jen escape. This conversation was like the goose that laid the golden turd, and I wanted to wallow around in it for the entire evening.
Luckily for both Jen and Emily, Gina came in and shut the convo down before it got out of hand, sending a wasted Emily home so that her husband, Shane, could watch her pee and then try to get some anal. And as Emily walked out of the party, remembering that she flirted with the bartender, remembering that she took countless tequila shots, remembering that she made fun of a grown man’s name, she once again felt like 27-year-old Emily back in 2004 with all of her own hair and an ill-advised belly-button ring. She was the girl in the Nova Models headshot we got to see, her head held high, and her bust held even higher, and that confidence, that swag, that unalloyed determination to live life to the fullest is what finally let Shane in the back door.