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.