Normally I don’t like a clip show, especially a two-hour clip show, but Bravo did a pretty good job with its 100th-episode anniversary edition of Real Housewives of Orange County last night. The show has been on for a sufficiently long period of time (seven years) and has been sufficiently formative to contemporary television (for better or for worse) that a look back is probably in order. I’m not sure that a full two hours was necessary, but there was at least an hour’s worth of highly entertaining behind-the-scenes tidbits in there for long-term Housewives fans. Below, an examination of some of the most interesting things that were blurted out.
1. What was your life like when you first started watching Real Housewives? I remember where I was living and what I was doing while the first season of Real Housewives of Orange County was on the air. I was in my junior year of college at the University of Georgia. For the first part of the season, I still lived in a dorm, and then I moved off campus to an apartment with a roommate where my rent was $386.50 per month. I was so ashamed of liking this horrendous show that I used to avoid watching it in the living room while my roommate was home, but eventually she started watching it too – first begrudgingly, and then with the same schadenfreude that I had. Something tells me that’s more or less how literally everyone started with the Housewives.
2. Slade paid four figures for the privilege of being included in the first season. $2,500! Slade is one of the only humans in history to pay to be on a TV show, instead of the other way around. I’m assuming that when Bravo stopped accepting his checks, he simply started dating any cast member that would have him, which is how we have the unholy Slade-Gretchen union that we have today.
3. Way back when, Andy Cohen thought the Housewives were aspirational. I vaguely remember the show being marketed as a view into privileged lives in Southern California, which seems so absurd now that it’s all about foreclosures and divorces and personal vodka brands.
4. Slade is not self-aware at all, but even he is self-aware enough to know that he was a douche in the first season. That’s how obviously awful Slade was back then: even 2013 Slade can identify it and understand that he should feel shame over his behavior.
5. I can actually remember some of these dumb conversations from 2006. I remember Vicki complaining about her hair being yellow in the car with her mom. How much brain space is that taking up in my head? What other kind of information could be using that space? Could I have graduated college a semester sooner if I had never started watching Bravo?
6. Remember back before the economy collapsed in late 2008, when everyone was rich (“rich”) no matter what they did or how dumb they were? Even Lynne! Remember Lynne? They actually got her off the quaaludes for an afternoon and propped her up to reminisce what she remembers of her days on the show.
7. “That’s what this show is supposed to be about: real, organic issues affecting our lives.” Vicki, reflecting on the time that a car service sent a van instead of a limo to pick her up for the airport.
8. Gretchen’s lip liner in her first season. Presented without comment.
9. “Tam-RAAAH.” Still a classic. Of sorts.
10. Anyone else get the impression that the Tamra-Gretchen friendship may be over? When asked about Gretchen’s cheating and her dead fiancé, Tamra’s tone was…not diplomatic. She isn’t one of those people who’s good at hiding her real feelings about someone, and Gretchen wasn’t too effusive about her affection for Tamra, either. THE PLOT THICKENS. And by “thickens,” I mean “reverts back to how it was two seasons ago.”
11. Tamra left her eyelashes on to go to sleep when she thought she was going to get arrested for assaulting Jeanna. Sometimes I think that Tamra and I are, in some ways, kindred spirits. You gotta make sure your hair looks right if you might have to take a mugshot later on in the evening.
12. Slade thinks that the show saved him from marrying Jo. Somehow I think Jo probably feels the same way.
13. If I had been recapping Real Housewives back in the day, I would have had a Sky Tops tally. Has anyone ever owned one of those things who wasn’t at least a beta Housewife? Also, Sky Tops are still going strong.
14. Vicki credits the existence of Real Housewives to…herself. Because of course she does.