Like last week, this week’s episode of Real Housewives of Orange County wasn’t QUITE what I wanted it to be. I’m not sure if that’s a failure of my expectations or of Bravo’s execution, or if maybe the fireworks on past Real Housewives vacations have us all spoiled for any future trips, but I was left wanting. We saw most of the dinner-table fireworks on last week’s episode, and an hour of Alexis feeling sorry for herself isn’t really what I tune in to watch

There were some funny moments, though, plus Vicki’s weird, possibly substance-assisted meltdown at the end of the episode. Because yesterday was a travel day for me, we’re doing this week’s recap with bullet points like last week’s, and you can find it after the jump. One last note: does anyone know when the season finale is? Because last night marked episode 17, which is a bit much.

  • Vicki showed like half a second of self-awareness when she admitted that at some level, everyone on the show is phony and materialistic and that no one is actually going to change in any meaningful way. I fully expect that to be the last second of self-awareness that we ever see her exhibit.
  • Even Gretchen admitted that Alexis sometimes says things in a way that comes across as phony and exaggerates things in a way that makes them difficult to believe. Of any criticism that I’ve ever heard between cast members on Real Housewives, it was perhaps the most mild and reasonable, in addition to it being objectively the truth. And yet, it was still a huge betrayal.
  • As a result, Alexis complained that Gretchen wasn’t a true friend, but what is a “true friend,” anyway? To qualify as a true friend, do you have to lie? When people are voicing legitimate and fair issues that they have with your friend, are you supposed to come to her defense even if you think the criticisms are valid? Even if you think the people who have the criticism are being reasonable in how they’re handling the situation? Even if talking it out with Alexis is far more mature than continuing to bitch about her behind her back? Personally, if someone I considered my close friend thought I handled myself the way that Gretchen thinks Alexis does, I’d want her to say something. Perhaps it would be better to say something privately, but when put on the spot, I come back to my first question: Was Gretchen supposed to lie, or be honest and try to steer things in a constructive direction?
  • Even though Alexis was freaking out and in need of a friend, she noticed that Vicki mostly wanted to talk about herself when she came to see her in her hotel room. (Notably, the years-old attack about which Vicki was complaining was also over some very valid criticisms of Vicki’s bad behavior.)
  • Heather’s talk with Alexis the next morning was both classy and mature. She’s redeemed herself a lot from her crass debut at the beginning of the season.
  • Alexis is gorgeous, but I find her aesthetic…distractingly porn-y. Not just sexy, but like someone who actually has sex for a living. The problems with Alexis are often problems of degree; sure, everyone in her universe looks sorta like her, but she takes it to a level that’s off-putting. Everything’s just a little shorter, tighter and lower-cut. Her boobs and lips are augmented almost as much as they can be. It’s like every part of Alexis’ life is an attempt to win some sort of imaginary competition.
  • Related: When Alexis and Gretchen were discussing things the next day, Alexis asked why no one gets mad when Heather brings a Chanel bag to the beach or says how much something cost. That’s another issue of degree that I’m not particularly surprised Alexis doesn’t perceive, but as best as I can tell, it boils down to the fact that no one doubts that Heather’s engagement ring is real or that she has the money to buy what she wants. We’ve never heard her give anyone a spontaneous list of all the cars in her garage, because when the car is paid for and not leased, you don’t feel the need to prove to anyone that you have it.
  • I loved that Heather’s bathing suit, cover-up, beach bag and sunglasses were all black. SHE REALLY IS FROM NEW YORK.
  • Monkeys. Boobs. Yawn. Gretchen does know the difference between the monkeys on the beach and chimpanzees, though, so that’s something.
  • Tree-planting in the rain forest is just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. The rain forest already has trees. It is the very definition of the type of thing that boring, upper-middle-class white ladies do when they go to a foreign country instead of doing something that might actually teach them anything about the place they’re visiting and the people who live there. It’s warm fuzzies with no substance.
  • Heather did not use the word “irony” correctly, but at least she knows it’s a thing.
  • When I was on field trips as a kid, the “woo” girls always got on my damn nerves. You know, the ones who were excited by everything and constantly whooping and cheering and screaming and whatever. Between this episode and last week’s, I am 100% sure that not only do those girls never really lose that personality trait, but also that it continues to annoy the ever-loving shit out of me.
  • I really wanted someone to fall out of the raft. Not get hurt or anything, but just fall out and get wet and have to be yanked back in. That would have made me really happy, so of course it didn’t happen.
  • A vacation that involves zip-lining and white water rafting sounds like the last vacation I ever want to go on.
  • Vicki’s meltdown was uncomfortable to watch, but one thing stuck out to me: is nursing school a seven-year program? Really? Because I’ve been out of college for four years, and even if you count undergrad, the girls I know who went to nursing school after we graduated have all been nurses for at least two years. So that’s six years, and the nursing program was really only two years of that. Nursing is hard, and I’m certainly not trying to belittle the training that’s required for it, but can’t Vicki just be proud of Brianna for the person she actually is, which seems to be pretty impressive on its own?
  • Also concerning Vicki’s meltdown: All that babbling about wanting Donn back makes her codependent relationship with Brooks seem even more transparent than it already was. Which is impressive, because it was already pretty clear that she was merely with him in order to be with someone, in a sure-to-fail attempt to fill the hole that Donn left. Opportunists like Brooks can spot someone like that a mile away. The stink of desperation permeates everything.
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  • Kriskitty

    Not that we all don’t realized these shows are scripted…but last night was the greatest example I’ve ever seen. When Heather comes to talk to Alexis the next morning after her crying fest, the first shot shows Alexis with diamond stud earrrings. The very next shot of her shows Alexis with no earrings at all. Then the third shot shows her with big silver hoops she wears the rest of the day. This is all in a span of about a 30 second conversation and was most obvious thing I’ve ever seen on reality TV. Worst editing EVER Bravo!

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      Oooo I missed that, I was kind of zoned out during last night’s episode. (Travel makes me tired.) But it doesn’t surprise me at all – the seams are all there, if you know what you’re looking for.

    • Chichijunk

      that’s awesome! What an incredible observation!  Love it and going to have to keep my eye open for more of that.

    • Matthew

      Nice catch! I didn’t notice it. Is it bad that it makes me feel slightly better that these shows actually are scripted? That maybe there’s a chance some of these women are just good actors instead of awful people? I don’t know where the line gets drawn, though…

  • Laurakasbaum

    Nursing school is generally a four year program, depending on if it is a ADN or BSN program, but most 4-year colleges get you in and out in 4 years if you go full-time. The only time I have seen nursing school take 7 years is if the student goes part-time.

  • KC

    I also wanted them to fall in the river.  It would have at least shut them up.  I bet they also scream on roller coaster, which is soooo annoying!!

    • KC

      coasters  (typo)

  • NCGal

    You got it, Amanda: the difference between Alexis’
    and Heather’s obnoxious and ostentatious flouting is that Heather’s
    “stuff” comes from real money (as far as we know) and Alexis’ comes
    from credit. My reaction to someone as sick as Alexis is akin to me being
    around someone who is addicted or alcoholic and not yet willing to seek
    recovery; it feels like I am somehow a willing participant, signing on to their
    bullsh*t. However, the group intervention was NOT in the best interest of
    Alexis, it was a chance for these horrible women to attack and hone in on the
    weakest wildebeest. There wasn’t a shred of integrity displayed by any of
    them… however articulate they may be. A real friend would have grabbed her
    away as soon as it became apparent that this was a group-style character
    assault and THEN used that opportunity to have the balls to confront one-on-one
    the issues they have regarding their behaviors. Seriously, I thought I was
    watching an episode of Animal Planet: Eat or Be Eaten! Tammy and Vicki are mean,
    mean, mean. Gretchen is the definition of self-absorbed and Heather is an ass.

    • John

      By doing that in the manner they did, Alexis now has no reason to listen to them. If they had sat her down and talked through things reasonably (bwahahaha), then she might see they had a legitimate complaint. But their actions now tell her she doesn’t have to listen and they don’t have solid footing on their reasoning. Vicki is right, though. It’s hard to have the most materialistic women in the planet telling you that you are materialistic. Also, she’s not that weird woman from RHOBH — with the fiance and the 25,000 sunglasses- who is quite, quite worse than Alexis.

      I think it would be awesome if they all sat down and went over everyone’s complaints with each other. Can you imagine Vicki’s reaction?

    • Relli

      Omg I know! All I could think throughout her talking head segment on the beach with Alexis is REALLY! I mean know on some level they are all self absorbed but G really took it to a whole new low. This is why I think Alexis might actually have some self-awareness because on the beach she was actually making sense and G looked like a toddler, the most self absorbed people I know. When she asked her for examples to loan some credibility to her statements I almost died when all G could do was stare back open mouthed and keep making her “me and my feelings” statements. Also when Vicki is making the most sense, you might be totally crazy

    • Reality Junkie

      You nailed it, NC Gal.

  • Relli

    Regarding bullet point 3: Its a tough call.

    I have friends like Alexis who exaggerate the truth constantly or play dumb when they really know the understand something, and constantly act like we are in some sort of imaginary competition. While it is aggravating it does not mean that they don’t have good qualities or have slain some dragons for me in life and that what i think makes a good friend, being there when your needed. But I  dont lie to them or coddle them in way,  i also dont spent time picking them apart what i don’t like about them because it would be easy for them to do the same to me. Instead i guess i just humor them when they get like that and change the subject.

    To me Alexis is all about the image because her reality isn’t that great and she knows it, you can tell by the way she tries to play things off jokingly ALL THE TIME. She is in a marriage with some greasy, chin implant who sold her a pocketful of moonbeams and doesn’t like his kids…I would be making lemonade too. While I agree with Kriskitty that this all scripted, its a terrible feeling to realize that everyone you thought was your friend (or frenemy) secretly hates things about  you and takes the time to discuss a way to confront you on it behind your back. Its happened to me many times, sometimes legitimate stuff and some not at all and once a group of mean girls even included my 8th grade teacher.

    If I were going to translate “Alexisnese” I would say that her comment to G about not having her back or being a good friend were more about realizing that she was in on it the whole time and let her walk into the lions cage without armor. AND G realized that when she ran out of the dinner and why she so desperately needed Alexis’ validation of a hug and to be let in to talk. BOTH G and Vicki went in their for their own personal gain and the fact that Alexis was able to catch that, makes me feel stronger that Lexi is not as dumb as she looks or acts.

    WOO girls do suck.

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      I think this is all quite astute, although I don’t know if Gretchen knew that the specific intervention was going to happen.

  • John

    I have a friend who will not listen to any sort of constructive criticism or even advice. If it is not what she wants to hear, she’s not listening. The subject changes, etc., and she hung up on me one time when she didn’t like the advice I was giving- she was unemployed at the time and I suggested she find a job- any job- even outside her field just to be working; she could quit if a job in her field opened up; but, that meant that she could no longer complain about something. She doesn’t want a friend who is willing to help with advice, she just wants someone to agree with her.

    Also, no RHONY?? Please start recapping it!!! 

    • Reality Junkie

      I second that…Amanda, please consider recapping RHONY. Mad Men is finished next week (can you hear my heart breaking?) and OC HAS to be wrapping sometime soon. Unless Bravo has decided to just follow these women year-round.

      Alternatively, perhaps you want to heed my previous suggestion that you recap “Toddlers & Tiaras”!

      • Kitty

        Yes Amanda, please recap NY.  I believe I read in one of your posts that you are now in New York. You may run into Ramona and her crazy eyes or LuLu being all classy and french and mad at your recap. It could be FUN!

      • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

        Unfortunately, I need a bit of a break from Real Housewives! I’ll be back when Beverly Hills is back, probably. Recapping can be wearying work, and often the Housewives are on twice a week, even three times. After a few years of that, I think I’m perilously close to doing nothing more than complaining every week about how much I hate these shows, so it’s time for a bit of a mental break. It seems that interest in the Beverly Hills show is the highest, so I’ll try to get myself back in shape by the time it rolls around. 

        In the meantime, if there’s another show you guys want to see recapped, I’m open to suggestions. I started recapping Mad Men because someone asked me to on Twitter and it seemed like it might be fun. You never know! 

        I’d really like to recap Girls, so hopefully next season, it won’t air at the same time as Mad Men.

      • http://twitter.com/uyendee Uyen Dee

        Can you recap TrueBlood?

  • John

    WOOOOO

  • Reality Junkie

    The MAIN things that made me sick to my stomach about this episode:

    1) The purposeful and premeditated bullying gang up on Alexis. Sure, she probably deserves it, but that it was done in front of millions of people and that they so ENJOYED doing it was repulsive.

    2) Gretchen was more concerned about Alexis letting Vicki console her than she was about how Alexis really felt. Yeah, she’s about as good a friend as Slade is a good Dad.

    3) The screaming on the rafting trip. Sorry but I wanted them ALL to go in the water and sorrier still, to get scratched up - just a little bit.

    4) I have come to really despise Gretchen and everything she is about. Her slimy boyfriend (I think I’d rather be with Brooks); the way she says “sunthing” instead of “something” (presumably to not compromise the twelve coats of paint on her lips); her big, ugly plastic “GC” handbags; her insincere version of “friendship”…I could go on and on. But her flippant reference to Charla Nash, the woman who had to have a FACE TRANSPLANT because of a chimpanzee attack, just threw me over the edge. Maybe I’m overreacting because that incident was so tragic that it really had an impact on me emotionally, but how dare she?

    • Sherine

      I totally agree with you on your second point. I also dislike Heather. Not only is she boring, but comes across just as annoyingly pretentious as Alexis to me. If Heather came up to me with an intervention, I’d slap her before she could say “champs!”
      Why aren’t the girls having an intervention for Gretchen regarding her overly dependent boyfriend? How about one with Vicki about Brooks? Or even one with Tamra about her need to always attack a fellow woman? I find Brooks, Slade and Tamra’s evil qualities a lot more unbearable than Alexis bragging about her cars.

  • Zooey

    GIRLS!! Definitely recap Girls!

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      I’m really hoping that next season won’t air at the same time as Mad Men so that I can! 

    • NCGal

      Yes!!! Definitely Girls, but Amanda, having followed you since the beginning, I am telling you, NY this season is rich with quirky material and an almost entirely new and very interesting cast (no Cindy Barshop snores), you’d totally dig it, you’d be infused, recharged, regenrated…’saying… :)

  • PurseJunkie

    Regarding point 6: Alexis kind of does have sex for a living.  It’s a bummer for her that she didn’t pick a better guy to do it with.

    • NCGal

      OOOOOOOSAH-NAP, grrrl!

  • Nancy from SB

    I LOVE THIS!!! THANK YOU, AMANDA!:

    “When I was on field trips as a kid, the “woo” girls always got on my
    damn nerves. You know, the ones who were excited by everything and
    constantly whooping and cheering and screaming and whatever. Between
    this episode and last week’s, I am 100% sure that not only do those
    girls never really lose that personality trait, but also that it
    continues to annoy the ever-loving shit out of me.”

    You said what I’ve been thinking since this show started – why on earth does Vicki think this is an endearing quality to shout like an 8 year old, much less make it her “trademark”?  It is totally annoying and I don’t believe anyone thinks it’s cute. I’ve stopped going to concerts because I invariably get seated next to some (grown woman) idiot who needs attention by doing this. If I had a list of pet peeves, this would probably number two, right after people who honk their horn to lock their car (you can disable it people, or just push the lock down manually!).  Thanks for articulating it so well.

  • Suz

    Uh-oh…..Alexis seems to be veering toward the Janice Muppet look……

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