I’ve often complained that seasons of Real Housewives have felt interminable in the past, but season seven of Real Housewives of Orange County might be the first run of the show that’s actually interminable. Last night’s episode was number 18, and it looks as thought we have at least a two-part season finale (and then a reunion, which will surely be at least two parts) before we can stick a fork in this one. It hasn’t been a bad season – average-ish, I’d say – but 22 episodes seems excessive, to say the least.

Last night’s installment was also sort of average-ish, with no big fights among the Housewives, and in fact, no scenes involving more than one of them at all. That might be a first for the series, actually. Everyone went their separate ways, mostly to deal with their men in one way or another, all the way from getting engaged to buying new teeth. In the grand pantheon of phrases I’ve written about Real Housewives, I’d say that “buying new teeth” is up there with the weirdest.

We opened at the dentist office, and as it turns out, Brooks is missing teeth. Even if I hadn’t disliked Brooks before, I would dislike him now for living up to that very embarrassing southern stereotype, and the fact that he does only makes me more irritated with him. I, for the record, have all of my own teeth, and they are spectacular. And white. And straight! Not all southerners are like that, y’all, and there’s absolutely no reason that a grown man with the means to fly himself to California on the regular to see his reality star girlfriend can’t deal with his own grill. Unless Vicki’s paying for all the flights, of course…

Thankfully, things quickly moved on from Brooks’ four remaining yellow teeth to a dinner with Tamra and Eddie to go over the Alexis Intervention in Costa Rica. Tamra halfway feels sorry for Alexis and halfway can’t stand her, which more or less sums up my own feelings about Jesus Barbie. After the standard smack-talking, Eddie announced a trip for the two of them to Bora Bora. Tamra seemed genuinely surprised, although I doubt she was, and then she broke what is surely a Housewives production rule and started whooping it up with random restaurant patrons who were enjoying meals at other tables. I like Tamra, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the girl, you know?

On set with Alexis, things were actually going…better. Better! Maybe that hosting coach actually helped, because Alexis managed to say a few sentences without mispronouncing any words in an obvious way, interact reasonably with the person she was interviewing (about bathing suits, a topic about which Alexis is clearly passionate) and come off fairly natural. She even said a sentence full of words that almost all started with “s” without dissolving into a spitting, hissing pile of nonsense. Alexis might be halfway literate after all. Who knew?

Suddenly, Tamra and Eddie were in a car to the airport, trying to fend off questions from Gretchen about what they were doing that weekend. Tamra didn’t want to tell anyone that she was going on a trip because everyone would assume that she was going to get engaged, and then if she didn’t, she’d seem like a giant jackass. And she was right, that’s how female friends would react to that news; when our marketing director Hilary got surprised with a trip to Paris last month, the first thing out of my mouth when she told me was that her boyfriend was going to propose. And he did! Of course, when she announced it, instead of saying congratulations, I said “I told ya so.” That’s sort of the same thing as “congratulations, right?” Sorry, Hilary.

While Tamra braced herself for a proposal coming at any minute, Heather was meeting with an event planner to talk about throwing a name-changing party, which seems kind of contrived to me. Not that all of the parties on this show aren’t completely contrived, because they absolutely are, but it still bears saying. The party planner was about as stereotypically OC as you can get – obvious highlights, suggestions about turning Heather’s new initials into a Louis Vuitton monogram, a package of edible diamonds in her purse that she wanted to use to bedazzle Heather’s cake. Thankfully, Heather vetoed about half of it, but the edible diamonds made the cut. You can’t win ‘em all.

We then checked back in with Tamra and Eddie, who had just arrived to an absolutely bonkers villa on stilts in the most beautiful turquoise waters ever. I’m generally jealous of the trips that the Housewives take because they never seem to appreciate how amazing it is to get to go to the places they’re going, but Tamra seemed genuinely moved that Eddie (read: the producers)(side note: rumor has it that the trip was originally planned for Slade to propose to Gretchen) had planned such a nice vacation for her. Tamra doesn’t think she deserves nice things, and reality TV aside, I think that’s a self-esteem issue that a lot of women with similar romantic and familial histories have, and that is sad. Everyone deserves nice things every now and then, and Tamra’s one of the only Housewives to express any kind of genuine appreciation for getting to go to places like Bora Bora.

And then, suddenly, things got a little less fairy tale-y, both in Bora Bora and back home. Gretchen saw a text on Slade’s phone between him and the jeweler, and she immediately called her dad to interrogate him about whether or not Slade had mentioned a proposal during their bike rides. Dad kept his mouth shut, but that didn’t stop Gretchen from confronting Slade directly, because she is a lot of things, but she is definitely not dumb. Also, she is not looking to get proposed to, and everyone knows that.

Gretchen got angry, which I think was totally justified. She told him clearly that things could not progress before he cleared up some personal things in his life, and he should respect that and show his love and commitment to her by, I don’t know, maybe working on those things and getting his child support cleared up and removing the logical hurdles to engagement? Ignoring all that and forging ahead with a ring against her wishes just puts Gretchen in a crappy position when she eventually has to say no to a person that she’d actually like to continue to be with. In most relationships, that would complicate things in an irreparable way, all because Slade can’t listen to instructions and doesn’t have respect for Gretchen’s feelings. DO YOU HEAR THIS, INTERNET? I’M AGGRAVATED ON HER BEHALF.

I’m also aggravated on Tamra’s behalf, because at this point, she has cleared the hurdle that Eddie had mentioned to their engagement: she got the tattoo removed from her ring finger. And dudes, if you have a lady who does that for you, you can’t plan a surprise trip to a tropical locale shortly thereafter, take her to a romantic, private dinner on the beach and then tell her that you think she’s too traditional and that you two should move in together without a ring, even though she told you she didn’t want to do that because of her kids. That’s just not fair, and it’s what motivates your girlfriend to secretly key your car and blame it on neighborhood teenagers. Buy the ring, you jackass.

Tamra gave herself a little pep talk and was feeling like a human being again in time to go scuba diving and look for pearls in clams (sigh), and I caught a little bit more vacation jealousy. The water is just so BLUE, you guys. So blue. Do you know when the last time I went swimming was? The last time I lived in an apartment complex with a swimming pool. So, approximately July 2010. Why can’t the American fashion industry be centered in, like, San Diego or something, so I can live there? (Note: That would only make me happy for, say, two months, and then I’d be complaining about wanting to come back to New York where I don’t have to see grass.)

And then, of course, we got what we pretty much already knew was coming: Tamra got engaged! Eddie had stuck the ring inside some kind of fake clam for her, and then made her shuck a bunch of other shellfish before he let her have it. And it was a nice ring, too, suitably big for a woman who stars in a reality show about asinine consumerism. Still, though, the rumors that they stepped in to get engaged when Gretchen and Slade bailed on the idea (giving some credence to the thought that Gretchen’s trepidation about getting married is genuine and not just a plot point) were a little distracting, even if I am generally happy that Tamra’s with someone who is not a total bag of dicks. That’s another thing that we all deserve.

  • Kt

    Tamra had me lol-ing the whole time. She was so real and it was easy to relate to. Something you don’t get often on this show. Fav part was when she made the comment about not swimming because your weave comes out, you lose your eyelashes, and then you’re left wondering “is this really what I really look like?!” haha so funny!

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

      Haha, I liked that part too. Your weave comes out, your eyelashes come off…water and modern beauty methods just don’t mix.

    • John

      Getting Simon out of her life has done wonders, I feel. Even thinking that they have to talk for child support or whatever, having that poison in your daily life would surely start to affect your personality. She’s been so much better without Simon.

  • Ashleyg

    So thankful for your recaps because I absolutely couldn’t watch the show. I’m from Mississippi, an hour south of Tupelo to be exact, and aside from people wondering how I managed to have a degree despite my sub par education (you know, because I’m black and wasn’t allowed access to books until segregation ended in 2002), one of the questions I always get asked is if our Rednecks have teeth…SMH. I’m so disgusted by Brooks, and not just because of his teeth but also because he just seems to be an all around creepy, doucher of a guy. Thanks for helping to fight the stereotype, Amanda. I too, have all my teeth and thanks to the dentist and toothpaste, they’re straight and white as well!

    • John

      You mean you’re from the south and actually went to the dentist? They have those in Mississippi?

      I was born in Illinois but grew up in Tennessee and recently moved back to Illinois after 20 years. The things people assume about the South when they’ve never been there . . . ugh.

      • Ashleyg

        LOL, exactly!

  • winterpenny

    After thinking she was a mean girl, I’m back to liking this season’s Tamra.  I disagree with you about her reaction in the restaurant.  It was actually one of the few real moments on the show and I like the fact that she doesn’t always act like she is better than everyone else.  I was totally jealous of the Bora Bora trip since that is one of my Bucket List items.  Before I die, I will stay in a little hut above the water!!!!  The dinner scene was totally cheesey and set-up.  They aren’t that great of actors. I am glad they got engaged…he appears to be a good guy and they seem happy.  The other housewives were boring. I still don’t like Slade, Alexis has improved in her broadcast abilities and kudos to her for making the effort to better herself, and Vicki and Brooks are just plain creepy even with the new teeth. 

    So now that Tamra is engaged, will Vicki push Brooks to propose once her divorce is finalized?  She seems to be copy Tamra’s life.

    • Jeloi

      Vicki will probably follow Tamra lead, but I think she wants Don back.

  • Chicky

    Thanks to this show I am now ABSOLUTELY OBSESSED with going to Bora Bora.  

  • Ali

    No one cares about your straight, white teeth.  I am, however, glad you felt the need to mention it. Should we all give you a pat on the back now?

    • Relli

       Whoa thats way harsh Tai.

    • NCGal

      Girls, I am, for one very happy for your straight white teeth…now, Ali, be nice.

      • Ali

        Not everyone can afford to go the dentist and pay hundreds (if not thousands) for dental work so they can all brag about their spectacular, straight, white teeth.  That’s great you’re so happy with yours, but it’s also very insensitive to use that as a point to ridicule people from the Southern United States, even if you were merely mentioning it to note the “embarrassing” stereotype that exists.  There are millions of people in this country without health insurance, as I’m sure you’re aware.  Given that point, teasing someone based on something as superficial as whether they have all of their (white) teeth is really crude, and somewhat ignorant.  It also makes people feel bad about themselves when someone like you uses it as a platform to ridicule.  Just sayin’.

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

        When you’re from the South, though, it’s exactly the opposite. Everyone assumes that because of the region of your birth, you don’t wear shoes, don’t speak proper English and have never been to a proper dentist in your life. I hate to see those stereotypes enforced on national TV, and having “bumpkin” Brooks go all the way to fancy-schmancy California to get his teeth fixed only ensures that more people will assume that the rest of us are backward mouth-breathers. If you think I’m ridiculing people from the South in this post, you couldn’t be more incorrect. I was born and raised in Georgia, and I’ll be damned if a show like this gets away with that kind of regionalist, elitist crap. “Let’s all laugh at the poor southerner” is my least favorite trope in modern media, and it’s sadly common.

      • Reality Junkie

        You totally missed the point. If you visit this website on a regular basis, you know that Amanda is from Atlanta. She was trying to bunk the stereotype that everyone from the South is a toothless hillbilly.

      • Chillpill

        WTG pulling a simple comment way out of context.  Amanda was referring to Brooks alone, not to all Southerners and definitely not to YOU.  Why so sensitive, geez.  Unless you are a Southerner with horrible teeth then you shouldn’t be up in arms and overdramatic about this.

        Stereotypes do not exactly equal facts, look up the definition.  Quit bitchin on Amanda who actually makes the show more entertaining for us and if you are really concerned about the millions of people not having enough insurance, donate money to charity or better yet, go take dentistry and fix everyone’s bad teeth.

        I live in a third world country of modest means and yet no one in my family  is missing a tooth and I myself had access to braces and my father, dentures. A grown man should be able to take care of his teeth, period. 

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

      You apparently cared about them enough to use part of your day to write to me about them. We can talk about them more if you’d like. I had braces for a year when I was 12, but they were purely cosmetic. I used to get the little rubber bands changed to match the uniform of the soccer team I was on, depending on the season. 

      • Ali

         Thanks for proving my point.

      • Kitty

        I agree with Ali that not everyone can afford a beautiful, white smile. It is a big issue of affordable access to dental care and healthcare at large. However, I doubt Amanda was making fun of poor people not being able to afford going to the dentist.  We are talking about Brooks, who is supposed to be a rich man, or semi rich man, who in fact is only a sleazy opportunist for whom Vicky has to buy teeth.  I guess she felt she had to do it so that people will give her a break about him. I couldn’t even watch it , I just fast forwarded through that part.  Thank goodness I watch this drivel late at night, prerecorded.  It is my guilty pleasure.

      • 19yearslater

        What . . . you don’t have to be rich to buy toothbrush, toothpaste and floss; which is what it takes to keep your teeth in your mouth. If you can’t handle the fact that some people have had braces I might suggest frequenting a blog which is not about luxury goods. 

      • queencrone

        I think someone forgot to bring their sense of humor today.  Take all the time you need to go and find it!  Don’t leave home without it!

        In other words:  Lighten up Ali!  Not everything is personally directed towards you to hurt you.

    • John

      Not sure that was warranted . . .

    • Reality Junkie

      WOW!!! I am so tired of commenters who feel the need to be ugly to others. This website doesn’t usually have too much of that. Now we have Ali….

      • Nancy from SB

         I second that, Reality Junkie!

        Besides Amanda’s writing, I read this blog (and no others) for that very reason – people are civil here, and able to “politely disagree” – rarely does it attract those who use the anonymity of the internet to lash out with hatred & contempt at complete strangers.

    • queencrone

      Oh sure!  It must be nice to be able to brag about being able to pat people on the back.  What about those who have no hands?  HMMMMMM?  

  • NCGal

    Thank
    you, Amanda!!! Sure miss your take on the NY ladies…eyebrow arch…

    Mazel to
    Tamara…Bora Bora looked like a dream and Eddie seems like a guy that doesn’t
    put up with a lot of bullshi*, so, good on ‘em, both! The ring in the clam was
    the worst acting job ever, but sweet nonetheless.

    The part
    where Gretchen is getting increasingly upset with Slade is so transparently
    fake to me. I don’t believe for one nano-second that Gretchen is really into
    Slade. I think she has used him for lo these last couple of years as a way to
    increase her “plotline interested” on the show, and that’s it. I
    think it’s reciprocal, by the way. I think she has always had
    “trepidation” about marrying Slade…I don’t think she ever had that
    intention, ever. Not even for a day. She will dump him and then she be the
    victim and will cry and snort to the camera and not be able to say her
    “m” sounds and claim that she loved him, she really did you guys, but
    he was just soooo irresponsible…which she knew from day-freakin’-ONE! But
    this way she can appear like she’d tried and appear as though she has integrity.
    Afraid of marriage? Give me a break. I know that if that girl was in anyway
    hooked up with a man with money, ANY man with money, I guarantee you she’d be
    hitched with a tacky over-the-top-spackle-dy televised wedding faster than a
    Kardashian on crack. I’d have so much more respect for her is she’d just man-up
    and break up with the fool and move on. Whew…guess I had some energy around
    that :0

    • John

      I can’t stand Slade and used to like Gretchen, so I kind of agree, but I think that you can absolutely date something without wanting to marry them unless they work on things that are absolutely changeable. She’s not asking him to change his personality; she’s asking him to become financially secure before they marry, which is absolutely a smart thing to do.

       

      • NCGal

        I agree. My point is that I NEVER bought that Gretchen was ever into Slade, but saw him as a useful part of her storyline. I think, just like Slade, she is a user of people. She is all about whatever is going to, in her mind, catapult her to the next level. The really sad part is that someone like Gretchen looks so empty to me. That and she has to be pretty exhausted at the end of the day.

  • http://www.PurseBlog.com/ Hilary Sloan

    Amanda, I just want to say, I forgive you. And from now on, I too will assume a vacation witha significant other means a proposal is inevitable. You had the wisdom.

  • Sara

    I so want to go to Bora-Bora now.

    I really liked Tamra during this episode.

  • John

    I think it shows that maybe Alexis isn’t as bad as advertised if she can actually take constructive criticism and then improve on her job. I can’t defend the clothes line or the husband but that shows a good attitude and willingness to do better.

  • Reality Junkie

    What’s up with Gretchen’s “trench coat” dress with the red piping?

  • Kitty

    Amanda, I just stumbled on this tasty nugget. Apparently Taylor Armstrong tried to payoff various lawsuits with fake birkins. 
    http://jezebel.com/5918400/taylor-armstrong-tried-to-pay-off-lawsuit-settlement-with-fake-birkin-bags

    • Relli

      Lol, so I am not the only one who saw this today and was suddenly disappointed that we werent currently in RHOBH! Can you believe it! Do you think she knew?!?!