The Real Housewives of Orange County
The fight at Heather’s $36,000 sushi party where no one ate the sushi and it just drowned in the slurry of a melting HD ice sculpture is both crazier than I anticipated but somehow also not nearly as exciting. As all of the women arrive, Shannon sees her old friend Nicole and says there is nothing the same about her from 16 years ago, meaning plastic surgery. She should have said, “She’s been remade more times than A Star Is Born,” but I’m not there to write her jokes. She also doesn’t understand why Nicole would be friends with Heather and Terry, knowing that Heather sued him back in the day. Yeah, same sister.
As the party is percolating and Noella is swinging around her floor-length braid that is being attacked by a swarm of butterflies, the various and sundried factions of this party start to come together. Gina gets Heather in the kitchen and tells her that Shannon told them that Nicole sued Terry at one point. Gina tells us that she didn’t want Heather to look like an asshole in her own house when people were going to be talking about it or when the truth eventually surfaces because, hello, they’ve all made this show before. They all know that it coming out is as inevitable as at least one member of BTS.
Meanwhile, Emily meets Nicole and slyly turns the conversation toward her plastic surgery and starts asking about her boobs, and Nicole says, “There is a long story there,” basically confirming what we already know to be true. As Gina is in the kitchen talking to Heather, Emily sits down next to Nicole and Shannon and tells Shannon what is going down in the kitchen, leaving Emily alone with Nicole and Dr. Jen, who hustled in there like Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant Igor hoping to lap up any nugget of brain that might fall on the floor.
Emily asks Nicole if it’s true that she sued Terry, and she says yes. This is the only time that someone should yell, “She said yes!” and it should never have anything to do with someone popping the question in an overpriced restaurant. She did sue Terry. And she has been friends with Heather for six years and never brought it up? What kind of crazy con is this? Is she Dirty John’s sister?
As Emily is trying to talk to Nicole about what is a monstrously insane detail of her friendship with Heather, Nicole tells her that she will take this up with Heather and “if I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it.” Girl, Emily has just done you a solid to let you know that your little ruse is up, so instead of insulting her, you should be getting your story straight while Heather takes you to the electric chair and flips the switch with a bottle of Champagne. Emily tries to explain, in a raised voice, that she was being her friend this whole night, and Nicole says that she barely even knows her, “So sit down.”
This starts one of the greatest exchanges in Housewives history. “But I am sitting,” Emily, who is indeed sitting, says to Nicole.
“Sit. Sit. Sit with your …” she gestures around her neck to indicate Emily’s asymmetrical top. “Sit.”
“You need to direct this anger at someone else.”
“You are stupid. Sit. Go eat your sushi, bitch.”
“You just sat there and talked about how you’re so uneducated. All you’ve ever done is be a mom, and you’re going to call me stupid?” Emily is now shouting. Like the Hulk, you do not want to see Emily Simpson angry. She is usually the sanest and mild-mannered of the women in the Housewives diaspora, but when she snaps, she snaaaaaaaapppps, and just knowing that is inside of Emily and can come out at any moment is what makes her, at least in my opinion, a top-tier Housewife. Well, that and how good she looks in a one-piece.
My favorite part of the scene, though, is that Gina stays calm and tries to marshal Emily away, and when she thinks she can calm the situation, Emily shouts at her, “You are with me!” And Gina goes to her! It’s like she uses the voice from Dune. Gina knows her place; she knows where her loyalty needs to lie, and it is with Emily.
While this is all shaking out, Heather goes upstairs, gets Terry, and tells him to come downstairs in his motorcycle jacket. (No, it’s not a Marlon Brandon in The Wild One motorcycle jacket, it’s a Tim Allen in Wild Hogs motorcycle jacket.) He finally realizes who Nicole is. She says she was a young model and was pressured by her lawyers into suing him and she felt bad about it. Apparently, the suit was dropped, and Terry laughs about it and thanks her for dropping it. Heather is also fine with this, says that they’re friends and she deserves a second chance. Um, yeah, I wouldn’t be mad about the lawsuit; I’d be mad about the fact that she was lying to me for six years about who she really was. Anna Delvey learned everything she knows from Nicole.
Emily is right. When she finally rejoins the party, she tells Shannon that the real villain is Nicole because “everything you said is true.” Yes. How is no one focusing on this? How is no one focusing on Nicole?
Now that Heather is done with Nicole, she walks into the kitchen, holding a glass of white wine in one hand and the other hand in the pocket of an exquisite black dress, and says, “Gina, Shannon, I’d like to talk to you for a minute,” and she just keeps walking like she is calling them to the principal’s office. She dresses both of them down for doing this at her house and gives a speech about shooting the messenger that is so rehearsed I think that she already delivered it on Malibu Country.
Shannon has her knickers wadded up so high at this point that they’re halfway to Santa Barbara because she doesn’t want Emily and Gina to say anything, and she thinks that everyone thinks she hurt Heather intentionally. Ugh, this is my problem with Shannon. She is so hung up on everyone thinking that she is this good and honest person that she can’t admit to anything she’s done. She wants to play the game and totally skate away from the consequences.
She stays late at the party to apologize to Heather one more time. She tells Heather she is really a loyal and trustworthy person. “But you’re not!” Heather yells at her. Finally, someone tells the truth. She isn’t! She just wants to think that she is when her actions, season after season, woman after woman, show exactly the opposite. How many times do we have to play this same game of Parcheesi because no one ever seems to win or remember exactly what the rules are?
There are a bunch of things that happen in this episode: Gina goes to dinner with Shane to talk about her oldest daughter becoming a Mormon and being cast on RHOSLC; Dr. Jen goes to dinner with her husband Ryne, who has no idea how to spell his name or wear something other than a bathing suit to at least a mildly dressy restaurant. But it keeps coming back to this thing with Heather, Terry, and Nicole. Heather talks about it at lunch with Gina and Emily, and they all think that Shannon had it out for Heather and wanted to hurt her.
You are all missing the point! She said something because it is totally weird and crazy to be friends with someone for six years not knowing that person tried to sue you decades ago. If I was Heather, I would be glad that Shannon told me. I would be happy that the truth finally came out, and I would be like, “Um, Patrick Bateman called and he is scared of you, so maybe you should go kill him or something. I don’t care. Just don’t do it in my house.”
What I really keep coming back to, though, is how off this whole thing feels. People always ask how real the show is, and I think that’s asking the wrong question. We all know that it is produced to some degree, and we accept that as the price of admission. I think the real question is how authentic the show is, and this episode has all the authenticity of the fake plate of food sitting in a diner window for the better part of three weeks. Heather seems so high-handed and imperious, so careful not to upset anyone, so clearly paying the part. Nicole seemed there to fight and take on Emily with her canned insults to secure herself a job. Noella and Dr. Jen are nipping about the scenes, trying to insert themselves into everyone else’s drama and failing miserably. They’re like unskilled trainees. They’re basically the counter workers at the U.K.’s first Popeyes, who still don’t know that a biscuit isn’t something crunchy you serve with tea.
This fight had all the fireworks and some great comedy, but it wasn’t revelatory at all. It reminded me of Real Housewives of Sydney, which was dreadful because all the women showed up playing parts and ready to fight and weren’t authentic. Housewives is best when this environment pressures the women to let down their artifice and let something true bubble to the surface. That isn’t happening here. We’re focused on who said what to whom and why Shannon would do this. The one revelatory thing is that this crazy Nicole woman duped her friend for six years, and no one is focused on that; it is brushed away with one of Heather’s manicured nails because she’s too worried about how she’s going to look if she’s at all concerned about it. As if any of us are going to care.