Bravo did it to us again last night. Instead of making one episode about the buildup to a not-particularly-interesting event and then the event itself, they promised they’d do that, and then they split it into two. That means that we watched a bunch of people doing absolutely nothing last night while they waited around for Gretchen to perform in Vegas, and then she didn’t actually perform. Next week! Next week, they promise. In the meantime, Heather went on an audition and everyone else did things that I can’t even remember now, 14 hours after the show aired. That’s how much those things didn’t matter.
And as a bit of a housekeeping note, I thought I’d mention that I’m indeed not recapping the New Jersey housewives this season. Not only does it conflict with Mad Men, but interest in the Housewives shows in general seem to be down, both here and elsewhere on the Internet. The last season of Real Housewives that you guys really seemed to care about was Beverly Hills, so after this season is over, we’re taking a Housewives hiatus until it comes around again. And now, on to the recap.
We started with Alexis and Gretchen, who had gathered at Alexis’ house one morning to watch a video of Alexis’ Fox 5 morning show routine. Before the video had even started, Gretchen casually dropped that Fox had asked her to do the segments first, but that she had declined the opportunity because, you guys, GRETCHEN IS JUST SO BUSY AND IN-DEMAND. Gretchen was happy for Alexis, though! So happy that she had gotten her sloppy seconds, and more importantly, that she had the opportunity to tell Alexis that they had asked her first. That’s the kind of information that someone who’s actually your friend keeps to themselves, but as we all know, there are no real friends in the land of Real Housewives.
The clip of Alexis was just as bad as it had been last week, of course, and despite her incredibly rude little victory dance before they watched the video, Gretchen gave Alexis some truly constructive criticism. Namely, that she should talk to a casting coach that Gretchen has used in the past to learn techniques to engage with the audience and look professional on camera. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, Alexis took the entire thing as unfair hatchet job (mere moments after saying that Gretchen’s professional feedback would be really helpful) which she then inexplicably blamed on Gretchen’s newfound and tentative friendship with Tamra. What?
Back at Gretchen’s house, she was folding Slade’s laundry and casually calling all of her castmates to invite them to watch her make a fool of herself while dressed up as a Pussycat Doll in Vegas. She was even going to invite Vicki, which no one (“no one” being Tamra) seemed to think was a good idea. Against all odds, though, Vicki agreed to go, probably because the producers made her. To her credit, though, Vicki did admit that she had been out of line at bunco, and perhaps the Vegas visit would help everyone find calmer seas.
Next up was Heather, who was headed to LA for her first acting audition in ages. Her assistant drove her (is “having and assistant” the new “having a chauffeur?”) and on the way, they talked about Heather’s bland suburban housewife ennui. Yawn. When she got back to the OC after the audition, which went moderately well, she and her husband discussed the reality of how things would change if she got the part, which shoots in Canada. He seemed skeptical at first, but after talking it over, he told her that they would make whatever arrangements were necessary to make it possible for her to do that and not miss the stuff that she wants to experience with her kids. The discussion was pretty ideal for how a real family should handle big career changes, particularly in the world of reality TV, where everyone handles things in the worst way possible, all the time, no matter what.
In stark contrast to the reasonable, mature conversation that Heather and Terry had, we then visited Alexis, who had decided to discuss the idea of a hosting coach with Jim. Earth Jesus, naturally, was having none of it. Despite the fact that it’d take an absolutely negligible amount of time to visit an acting or hosting coach to get better at doing a once-a-week, five-minute segment on local news, Earth Jesus thought that it could some day, down the line, lead to him having an equal relationship partner instead of a wife-servant. It’s important for Earth Jesus to remind everyone, including his wife, that he is the king of his castle and his wife shall have absolutely no interests outside of fixing him sandwiches and giving him sponge baths. Later (at a group dinner, of all places), we found out that Jim can’t even be bothered to masturbate on his own, a fact about which I have no comments because it is too gross.
That means, of course, that Alexis can’t pursue anything that’s important to her, because it is an affront to god that she would regard anything but tending to him and raising his heirs (all they’ll inherent is debt and velour track suits in size XXL, to be clear) as important. In her defense, Alexis seems to be increasingly annoyed by Jim’s lack of concern for what she wants, as she should have been all along. Ideally, she would have gotten annoyed about that before they got married, dumped him, and taken her “talents” elsewhere. Alexis is gorgeous, generally cheerful and slightly dim, she could have landed some Ed Hardy-wearing idiot a few rungs up the later from Earth Jesus.
Pretty soon, it was time for everyone to head to Vegas for Gretchen’s performance. In the limo on the way there, the subject of Alexis (who wasn’t present) came up, and the group expressed more skepticism at Alexis’ version of her life. As we discussed last week (at Heather’s prompting), a lot of what Alexis says just doesn’t quite…gel. It’s hard to pick out things that might be factual lies because I’m not sure how you fact-check what cars someone owns, but it doesn’t pass the metaphorical sniff test. Even now, years after Alexis’ addition to the cast, none of the other cast members seemed to have any idea what Earth Jesus actually does for a living, and the fact that they keep skipping from house to house and car to car sounds as suspicious to them as it does to me. You know who else did that? Constantly stoned ex-cast member Lynn, whose long and storied past of evictions and financial issues eventually came to light.
Already in Vegas, Gretchen was going forward with the performance without even a word about the (probably made-up) voice drama that she’d mentioned so many times over the past two episodes. The problem now was that she couldn’t stuff all the choreography into her puny little her head, even though all the Pussycat Dolls’ guest stars who don’t have a dance background have to do is shimmy around a little and remember which direction they’re supposed to step in. Gretchen, like Alexis, isn’t a rocket scientist.
Once the rehearsal was done, Gretchen met up with the newly arrived cast (except for Alexis, who was in a hotel room having almost-blackface applied by an utterly terrible makeup artist) and gave them a sermon about how hard it is to sing onstage as opposed to singing in your car or your shower. It was probably a good idea to lower everyone’s expectations of her singing voice, despite the fact that they were assuredly low to begin with, and Heather actually agreed with her that singing onstage is a tough thing to do. Good plan, Gretchen.
Finally, the entire group got together at dinner, where Tamra helpfully pointed out Earth Jesus’ new chin implant and we admired the other new procedures in the cast. Everything was actually going along fine, which was surprising for this particular group, and then Brooks broke in to the conversation with some bizarre greeting card speech about telling a woman you love her. Oh, Brooks. A smooth southern accent can talk you through a lot, and it’s clearly talked its way through whatever brain cells Vicki has left to rub together. Does he even have a job? I know Vicki says that they met in an insurance industry…thingy, but does Brooks actually work? He’s always hanging around in Orange County, going to Vegas with Vicki, taking her to lunch. Doesn’t he live in Mississippi? Is he aware of how far that is from California? To her credit, Tamra still isn’t buying it. She may have been the mean girl of the cast for a long time, but I still think she has the keenest bullshit detector I’ve seen on Real Housewives since the halcyon days of Bethenny.
And then, you know, that was it. Bravo pulled that infuriating-but-not-surprising thing it always does by giving us a full episode of buildup to some sort of event and leaving us under the assumption that there will be some sort of payoff at the end of the episode, and then there wasn’t. We won’t get to see Gretchen make a moderate fool of herself until next week. Is there any better example of why Real Housewives is starting to grate on everyone’s nerves?