I’m not even entirely sure how to write introductions for Real Housewives of Orange County recaps anymore, mostly because if you’ve ever seen an episode of the series, you already know what happened. The Orange County wives have long been one of the franchise’s better casts, but even their relentless infighting, breast-enhancing and party-throwing seems stale by now. I wish that Bravo had scheduled it for Sundays and the New Jersey wives for Tuesdays so that at least I could recap a cast that seems to have genuine drama.
On the other hand, the clashes between the Orange County cast seem increasingly, uh, producer-encouraged. In reality, I’d be willing to bet that none of these women actually hate each other, which would require a certain level of passion and interest. On the contrary, it seems like they’re all delighted by the opportunity to play-fight for a few months, cash their checks and then spend the rest of the year trying to think of ways to cash even more checks off the infamy that their Bravolebrity status provides. Still, though, we have to have a recap.
We started out at the last place I ever want to see the Real Housewives – at a lingerie store. Because Tamra has brand new boobs (which are still a D), she needed brand new bras, but thankfully, there weren’t any blurred nipples and only one bra shot, of which there tend to be plenty when the Housewives undertake these types of endeavors. Instead, there was obscenity of a completely different variety – Vicki complaining about how all her motherly dreams were dashed by Brianna’s Vegas marriage.
She actually dared to say that the wedding “wasn’t all about them,” in which case “them” is the couple getting married. Then who is it about? Vicki, duh. She wanted to plan parties and impress her friends and be the glowing Mother of the Bride, who has succeeded at life and motherhood because she managed to get her daughter married off in a timely manner, and Brianna has deprived her from all of that life force-giving attention. What would Vicki say if Brianna never got married? That Brianna was being selfish by not working harder to find a dude and allow Vicki to plan a wedding? You know what? That’s probably exactly what she’d say.
Over at Gretchen’s house, more talk of weddings was in the air. Slade and Gretchen’s dad went out for a bike ride, and halfway through, Slade and Dad stopped so that Slade could ask him for Gretchen’s hand in marriage. Slade admitted that he didn’t actually have any idea whether Gretchen would say yes or not, and Gretchen’s dad was similarly dubious. Before he would give his blessing (which, as I’ve mentioned before, is a revolting tradition in my mind), Dad insisted that Slade do some work to clean up his reputation and overcome the negative perceptions that people have of him. Despite some mild protestations on Slade’s part to the idea that he needed to “clean up” anything, the ride continued with no further encouragement from Dad on the subject of weddings.
While Slade and Dad talked weddings, Gretchen and Tamra went out to lunch to do some of the same. First, though, they talked business. Tamra wants to open a fitness studio and offer classes, which is actually not a bad idea in the grand scheme of Real Housewives Side Hustles. It seems like everyone in Southern California likes to work out, and having a famous name attached to a place never hurts. If they run it properly, it might actually work, which is more than I can say for most dumb Housewife business ventures.
On the other hand, Gretchen wanted to talk about what wasn’t working – namely, the idea of marrying Slade. Not only is Gretchen worried that Slade’s debt, including his outstanding child support, would become community property and therefore her financial responsibility if they got hitched, but she just doesn’t seem that jazzed about getting married in general. Her tone wasn’t, “I’d LOVE to marry Slade but I’m worried about my financial wellbeing!” but more like, “I don’t want to marry Slade, and getting married doesn’t even make sense, which gives me a convenient excuse not to do it.” Which, of course, is exactly how Gretchen sounded the LAST TIME WE DID THIS STORY LINE. (Last season? Did Bravo think we forgot?)
Of course, this could all be a set up by producers to raise tensions through the end of the season and create another storyline for Gretchen and Slade after the conclusion of the Pussycat Dolls storyline last week. In fact, that’s exactly what it seems like, and almost assuredly what it actually is. At times, Gretchen and Slade’s entire relationship seems like one big Bravo ruse to add some fireworks to the storyline because everyone hates Slade so much. But, you know, let’s suspend disbelief and see what happens. After all, there’s nothing else to do as long as we’re still watching this trash heap of a show.
Over at Vicki’s house, party preparations were underway. Vicki and Tamra apparently started some kind of wine club, which was supposedly what this get-together was for, but mostly it seemed like it was designed by producers to force Vicki’s family into the same room with Brooks in the immediate aftermath of last week’s wedding announcement. While her makeup was being done, Vicki took the opportunity to bitch and moan some more about Brianna’s wedding and how Vicki’s been crying herself to sleep and how she doesn’t know if it’s a happy or sad time. Hint: When your daughter gets married to her longtime boyfriend, it’s a happy time, no matter how she does it. Vicki also went out of her way to brag about what a close, amazing relationship she and her daughter have, but Bravo helpfully provided more than enough evidence to the contrary. At best, Brianna seems to tolerate her mother because she knows that she can’t help being a self-serving moron.
At the party, Tamra and her son arrived and made small talk, which they opened up to Vicki and Brooks after a few minutes. Once the other guests started arriving, things got slightly less dull, what with all the talk of Tamra having her ill-advised wedding band tattoo cut off of her body. When Vicki’s son arrived, Vicki sent him and Brooks out on the balcony to talk for the first time, and Brooks immediately wanted to gossip about Brianna’s wedding. Mike (I think that’s his name?) shut Brooks down immediately and excused himself from the conversation, which only makes me wonder more how Vicki, the world’s most annoying narcissist, ended up with two employed, mature, functional adult children. Maybe Donn really is that much of a saint?
Brianna and her husband were still en route to the party, and during their drive, Brianna asked a few rhetorical questions about Brooks that I think we’d all like to have answered. Among them: What does he actually do for a living? Why isn’t he with his four kids in Mississippi? Why is he in California all the time if both his work and his kids are in Mississippi? Why haven’t any of those things been addressed so far this season?
After what seemed like 800 years, Brianna and her husband finally arrived to the party. They got there just in time to come inside and find Vicki with the entire party gathered around, announcing Brianna’s marriage in the same tone in which other people might announce the death of a loved one. Vicki actually started crying and prefaced the whole thing by saying that the events of the prior week had changed HER life forever, because it’s important that she remind all of us that the only thing on her mind is how everyone else’s deeply personal life decisions impact her. Her daughter’s wellbeing and happiness? That’s not her concern. Still, Brianna and her husband made the best of the situation and seemed happy that everyone finally knew.
Once people dispersed back into the party, Brooks sauntered over to Vicki and Tamra to declare that their sons were “the bomb dot com” (HE ACTUALLY SAID THAT) and “the real real” (THAT TOO), after having only met each of them for a handful of minutes, and he also declared that he loved Vicki’s son. Vicki seemed to be charmed by all of Brooks’ false, empty declarations, but Tamra was having none of it. I know that Vicki is too hard-headed and narcissistic to listen to anyone else’s opinion (or even allow them to voice it), but it would do her a world of good to listen to someone, anyone, else about Brooks, particularly something with as afine-tuned a bullshit detector as Tamra.
Vicki then excused herself to go address her daughter and new son-in-law and tell them that the night was all about them…and then tell them that it was time to meet her boyfriend Brooks! Against their will! Has Vicki been this bad for the entire seven-season run of Real Housewives, or have her marital troubles and eventual split sent her over the edge in the past season or two? This year in particular, she seems so aggressively deluded and self-serving that I can barely pay attention to anything else that’s going on when she’s in a scene. I find her behavior completely revolting for a grown woman.
Despite Brianna’s reluctance, Vicki did eventually get the four of them in the room together, at which point Brooks tried to lay it on thick about how he had been praying for Brianna through her cancer scare and how it was so funny that she and her mother both ended up meeting southern boys in California (insert self-gagging motion here). Brianna was largely unmoved because Brianna is both logical and reasonable, which means that she smelled the stink on Brooks a mile away.
Which is not to say that Brianna’s role in the meeting was beyond reproach. She called Mississippi the armpit of the country, and although that’s arguably true (and that’s coming from a native Southerner here), it’s also kind of a petty thing to say. Brianna then burrowed into her husband’s shoulder and mumbled a bunch of stuff instead of outright saying what her problem with Brooks was, and if she’s going to say it in the first place, she should stand up and say it. What Brianna should have done overall, though, was shake Brooks’ hand, nod politely through approximately a minute of small talk, and then excuse herself politely from the room to rejoin the rest of the party. Unfortunately, none of that happened and we had to listen to far more of Brooks’ deluded “charm” than I was prepared to deal with.
And finally, although this is not related to a storyline or to anything else, really: Were Tamra and Brianna wearing the same dress?