What would you call that episode of Real Housewives of Orange County that we had last night? A placeholder? Almost nonexistent? Filler? Yes, I think filler is most apt term for what that was. But I must ask: haven’t all the episodes seemed a little like filler so far this season, save for maybe one?
Even so, it was ok that last night’s was bad because there were more important things afoot in the televised universe. Namely, the college football national championship. Weird game, amirite? Roll Tide!
Moving on. In last night’s episode, Vicki finally took Don on a vacation, Gretchen tried to mother Lynn’s kids while Lynn tried to mother her new face, Alpha Douche and Family went to rock band church, and Tamra and Simon began to realize that their mutual deal with Satan is crumbling before their eyes.
We’ll start with Alexis and Alpha Douche Jim, since they didn’t really have any storyline to speak of. Instead, they just did what they’ve been talking about on every episode since their advent to the series: they went to church. A band played, and they sat there with their kids, and Alexis wore something inappropriate, but the whole thing seemed pretty innocuous. Plus, the fact that they attended something that required their silence and attention gave them both less of an opportunity to speak in this episode, so I’m going to call that a net gain for viewers. Or it might be a net loss, depending on how you look at it.
Also, we had Lynn and Gretchen, whose stories were two sides of the same coin. Remember that Lynn has a daughter that’s always depressed, right? The younger one that didn’t get the nose job? I can’t remember her name, which is probably indicative of how much attention Lynn doesn’t pay to her. Well, Lynn can’t be bothered to worry about whether or not the kid is actually depressed, and has dismissed her in front of Gretchen a few times, and Gretchen was concerned. Picture Gretchen making her concerned face here.
She called Lynn and asked her if it would be ok if she took her depressed daughter out shopping in order to talk to her, woman-to-woman, and hopefully get her to open up a bit about what’s been bothering her. The viewers got to hear both sides of this phone conversation, and Lynn sounded like she was all for it.
The idea itself seems fairly benevolent to me, and also like something that the producers probably suggested so that Gretchen could continue to have a storyline. Maybe it’s not so benevolent to do it on camera, but Lynn’s daughter has said in those “confessional” interviews over and over that she’s depressed and no one pays any attention to her, so maybe she’ll still appreciate the effort on Gretchen’s part, right?
Wrong. Gretchen probably didn’t do it as well as it could have been done, but she did seem genuinely concerned. When Lynn asked her daughter about it afterward, she rolled her eyes and called it an “ambush” (which I guess is sort of accurate) and Lynn pretended to be offended by the fact that Gretchen even wanted to do it in the first place.
Now, maybe Lynn is like Lenny from Memento, and she got bonked on the head sometime in the past and can’t form new memories. Or maybe whatever drugs she’s on (I’m guessing quaaludes, those seem appropriately retro for someone her age) screw up her ability to recall things from the recent past, so she can’t remember that she told Gretchen that she was all for it. Whatever the issue is, if she had thought Gretchen’s offer was inappropriate, it probably would have done her well to tell her so on-camera so that she didn’t look like even more of a space cadet, or worse, like a parent with no backbone that’s just trying to appease her kids in order to get out of actually parenting them.
After that storyline, I had my stink face on, but then something weird happened. The show started talking about Vicki and her reconnection with Don, and then I actually felt kind of touched. And we’re not supposed to be touched by this show. We’re supposed to be repulsed, disgusted, revolted. We’re supposed to feel superior and smug about our moral acuity in relation to these horrible women. Hardly do I ever have a positive emotion when watching this show, let alone internalize the events in such a way that I think I might actually relate to one of the characters.
You see, I’m kind of a difficult girl. Difficult in some of the same ways that Vicki is – headstrong, ambitious, loud-mouthed. I hope I’m a less reprehensible human being in a lot of ways (and a more respectful international traveler), but if I’m any of these women, I’m Vicki. So to see her, out of all the women, get the happy ending with the nice guy that puts up with all of her crazy yapping? Gotta say, it was kinda reassuring.
She and Don went to Turks and Caicos on a surprise trip that she had planned just for him, no kids and no housewives. They drank and ate and the whole thing made me want a big glass of rum punch and a conch fritter, but mostly it made me want to be someplace that isn’t a frozen tundra (it snowed in Athens, Georgia, last night – only the third time in the six years I’ve lived here).
And in what was perhaps the most genuine thing (well, the most genuine positive thing – I have no problem believing that these women genuinely hate each other) that we’ve ever seen on this iteration of the Housewives, Vicki had planned a secret vows renewal ceremony for Don, at which she gave him that ring we saw her having made in the last episode. After forcing us to endure their endless sniping and divorce speculation for the past season or two, they’ve managed to right the ship. Lucky them.
Tamra and Beta Douche Simon could probably learn a thing from those two, but Simon is too busy trying to find ways to blame their marriage problems on Vicki (he finds her “unrehensible”) to actually realize that. In fact, Simon appears to be of the “say it, and it shall be” school of thought, and apparently thinks that repeatedly telling his wife that they have a good relationship will eventually make it so.
Those of us that live out here in the harsh light of objective reality know that that isn’t the case, and Tamra appears to agree with us. You see, she shot out of the trailer park a few years back with one objective: find a rich husband. And she did, sort of, and in exchange for that, she was apparently willing to be treated like property.
Well, now that their little house of cards has collapsed and Simon no longer has any money with which to distract her, Tamra has sort of realized that he treats her like crap. Instead of this being the influence of Vicki and her “horrible relationship,” as Simon would have us believe, it seems more like it’s the influence of the show itself. Tamra has gotten a taste of what being an entity unto herself is like, and being under Simon’s skittish, slimy thumb is no longer all that attractive. Particularly since that thumb is now poor and doing tequila promotions.
She ended the episode by wailing to her mother about her possibly impending divorce, and I can’t say I blame her. It’s sad when anyone screws up his or her life, even if the person is a pretty reprehensible human being. Maybe that’s the theme of this season?