Going from covering Paris Fashion Week to covering Real Housewives of Orange County is something of a culture shock, to say the least. Gone are the elaborate tweeds of the Chanel and Alexander McQueen shows, replaced by the “silk” (polyester) frocks of a bunch of women with too much plastic surgery and too little sense. On top of all that, last night’s episode brought an 80s theme party, so things were even tackier than usual. Also: Who knew they still made hair crimpers?
Despite Bravo’s promise of a wild episode, all the got from our Housewives this time around was a bunch of build-up with no release. Is it possible to have Real Housewives blue balls? Am I allowed to say “blue balls” on this website? Am I going to get fired over Real Housewives? These are the questions of our times.
We started in the car with Gretchen and Slade yet again, this time in the morning. Slade was sermonizing about his newfound love for comedy, which he thinks is his true calling and the thing that he’s intended to do, and even Gretchen was smart enough to realize that a) it’s not, and b) Slade’s an idiot with no real skills. I think we actually got to see the moment that Slade’s loserdom started to click for her. I’m no great fan of Gretchen, which is probably obvious, but I also don’t think she’s actually dumb enough to go through with marrying some sleazy Housewife hanger-on. After seeing their conversation, in which Gretchen also made Slade promise to never involve her in his “comedy” routines again, I can’t imagine that they’ll end up riding off into the sunset.
Elsewhere, the episode’s requisite party was being planned. Heather and Tamra were having drinks and gossiping, and Tamra announced that she’d reprise her role from a previous season as bunco host, this time with an 80s theme. Naturally, talk then turned to the other wives, which included some mutual laughter over Alexis calling herself a “news anchor” before they really got down to business: Slade’s Improv routine. Heather told Tamra that he had called her fat but, in a feat of reasonableness, also told her not to get upset about it and that it just made him look dumb.
You could almost see the rage rising in Tamra’s face as she processed the comments, but Heather’s ability to talk her down off the ledge when she started shrieking showed the promise that we’d all hoped would be realized by our dear brunette newcomer. She then suggested that Slade recent venom might be a result of his nervousness about Tamra’s new friendship with Gretchen, and that the best way to deal with the problem would be to kill Slade with kindness and totally shut down all his ammunition. Heather does have a brain between her ears when she’s not laying it on thick to make herself an interesting character, you guys. I’m as surprised as anyone.
In the meantime, Alexis was at the plastic surgeon’s office, which is basically her second home. Despite that, the prospect of getting her nose fixed seemed to terrify her for reasons that weren’t entirely clear, but perhaps because Alexis was under the impression that the doctor was going to remove her nose from her face in order to fix it. That sounds like me making a joke about Alexis’ intelligence, but in reality, that’s more or less what she said. She thought that in order to repair her sinuses or whatever, the doc was going to pop her nose off of her face and sit it on the table for a little while.
Afterward, Alexis and Gretchen got together for reasons that weren’t entirely clear, but the conversation did involve Gretchen fussing at Alexis for daring to get the bump in her nose reduced while its internal structure was being fixed. Of all the plastic surgery and Botox and fillers that happen on any given season of Real Housewives, why take issue with this procedure in particular? Not only does getting the shape of your nose fixed while you’re already having nose surgery make sense logistically, but it’s also incredibly common, even among people who wouldn’t get breast implants or a facelift. For once, I’m on Alexis’ side. Everyone mark the calendars, it actually happened.
At Vicki’s office, some poor employee was trying to teach her how to print things and mostly failing. Not because she wasn’t a good teacher or because the task wasn’t simple, but instead because Vicki can’t learn how to do things like that. Her Vickiness gets in the way. Afterward, Vicki sat the same girl down and complained about her divorce and her daughter’s surgery, which are two things worthy of complaint, sure. I’ll grant that. Vicki’s always been such a toxic, obnoxious, holier-than-thou person, though, that even hearing about her legitimate problems and concerns is pretty tedious. I feel bad for Brianna and Donn, but not for Vicki. For her, I feel mostly contempt.
Over at Gretchen’s house, Gretchen was again participating in her endless getting-ready rituals (at least 60% of the time we see her on this show, she’s somewhere in the process of doing her hair or picking an outfit) while Slade talked at her, this time about Gretchen dancing with Pussycat Dolls in Vegas. Apparently the woman who runs the group thought Gretchen would be a good “celebrity” (Gretchen is a “celebrity” in the same way that Slade’s routine was “comedy”) guest for the new Pussycat Dolls club in Vegas. The more they talked about it, the more it became obvious that Slade had already put Gretchen up to it and worked out all the details before she had even been informed the discussion was happening. Do we really need any more indications that Slade’s riding on the coattails of whatever silly reality star career Gretchen has and looking to cash in while he can?
Later, while Gretchen and someone who I’m sure she calls her “stylist” but who is really just her Best Gay were picking outfits for the 80s bunco party, Tamra called to find out what had happened at the Improv from the horse’s mouth. Their conversation was pretty civil, with Gretchen suggesting that at some point, Tamra and Slade should sit down together and work out their differences so that their friendship could continue to grow. The whole interaction was almost disconcertingly mature, particularly for a Bravo show.
Almost the same thing can be said for the incredibly sober get-together that Vicki and Tamra had next. Tamra went over to visit and check out how Vicki was holding up under the pressure of divorce and family illness (hint: not particularly well), but naturally, conversation turned to Slade and his Improv routine. Tamra tried to spread the gospel of “kill him with kindness,” and as was perhaps predictable, Vicki wasn’t having any of it. Although that’s not the mature reaction, it is the one that makes for better reality television, so I’m on board with it for my own selfish purposes. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about Vicki the Villain if it turns out that her daughter actually has cancer, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.
Naturally, the bunco party was the next thing on the schedule. Everyone got all 80s’d out and looked like a bunch of aging sorority girls going to a themed social. (What, you guys didn’t have those?) Everyone got there and actually behaved themselves and played bunco for a little while, which is a game that I understand about as well as Gretchen does. (Which is not at all.) Tamra had brought gift bags of sex toys for everyone, and Alexis mistook some kind of nipple-tingle stuff in a tube for lipgloss. Tamra took the opportunity to make a crack about her nipples. Real Housewives continued apace.
Vicki eventually got one too many drinks in her, though, and she started complaining to some random bystander about how disrespectful Slade is and how awful Gretchen is for keeping him around and how she just couldn’t understand what kind of woman stays with that kind of man. On the one hand, I agree with her – Gretchen is pretty and has a source of income and could do better than Slade if she chose to cut him lose. On the other hand, Mopey Vicki is perhaps even more annoying than other varieties of Vicki, which is no small accomplishment, if you choose to regard it as one. Maybe “feat” is a more appropriate term. Talking shit about someone when the person is sitting literally three feet from you with her back turned is the kind of passive-aggressive idiocy that makes women like Vicki so utterly rage-inducing. If Vicki has an issue, she should either shut up about it in the presence of the whole group or act like a grown woman and pull Gretchen aside to explain it and find a resolution.
Of course, if all the women on this show acted in a way befitting adults, there’d be no show at all. Also, don’t think I’m letting Gretchen off the hook here – she knew that Slade was planning to say nasty things about her cast members (which she lied about when things between her and Vicki and the random gay dude with the awful hair blew up) and still participated in the show at large, even if she wasn’t there for that bit, which would annoy me if my friend were doing it. I’m not sure why it surprised Vicki, though – she and Gretchen already hate each other, so why would she assume that Gretchen would give her any kind of consideration in those situations? In my mind, if Tamra can live with Gretchen’s apology and explanation and continue with their fledgling friendship, Vicki needs to shut her mouth and deal with it. Slade’s not the first person to call her Miss Piggy, and surely more grievous wrongs have been done to her in the past.
The episode abruptly ended with Tamra letting in the dudes, all of whom were dressed as 80s hair band members, as was the theme. Naturally, Slade was a part of that group, and that set Mopey Vicki off. Or at least it will next week – we got all of the build-up and none of the action last night, despite the fact that Andy Cohen kept promising us on Twitter that the episode would be insane. It wasn’t, but next week’s show might live up to that descriptor.