Real Housewives of Orange County got a little too raw for reality TV last night, didn’t it? And not in a Tamra-and-Eddie-in-the-bathtub way, which would have almost been preferable, but in a Vicki-and-Donn-are-real-people-and-we-all-kinda-forgot way. I found the episode mostly quite difficult to watch because I’d rather forget that these people are doing things on the show that impact their real lives, but I guess it’s good to get that reminder every now and then.
But the episode wasn’t all Donn and Vicki. Some of it was Alexis Couture, and I’m sure that Alexis is still in a snit over the fact that her ugly suburban hooker dresses were overshadowed by someone’s real life. Them’s the breaks, babe. Oh, and some people went to Vegas, but that didn’t seem to have anything to do with the rest of the episode.
We started with Vicki and Donn bickering with each other about laundry and the kids and the cleanliness of the house, which was as awkward and unpleasant as it has been for the entire season. I’m just fine with broadcasting the details of someone’s plastic surgery or drunken debauchery or even house foreclosure all over the TV for the schadenfreude of others, but something about the Vicki and Donn situation just makes me uncomfortable on a very basic level. In much the same way that watching Kim be called an alcoholic and have a meltdown in the back of a limo made me uncomfortable on the season finale of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills; scenes were Vicki and Donn bicker and seethe without making eye contact make me feel like an intruder, but more on that later.
For now, things then switched over to Gretchen and Slade, who had arrived back in Southern California from their trip to Texas and nothing had changed. Slade was still broke and Gretchen was still making fun of him for being imaginarily fat and undecided about whether or not she wants to pop out a couple of kids with him. So far, two scenes, no progress. I’d say that the more things change, the more they stay the same, but…nothing’s changed.
Quickly thereafter it was time to visit Pegatha, who was trying to plan out her weekend color schemes for a Vegas trip for her husband’s birthday. Tamra and Eddie were going to be joining them in Vegas as well, in addition to another couple that we don’t care about, but Alexis and Jim were not coming. Which was fine, because can you even imagine how much of a buzzkill Earth Jesus would be in Vegas? Not to mention Alexis running around, picking up after him like the man-toddler he is? Or, god forbid, Earth Jesus at a nightclub? With a few drinks in him? That’s nightmare fuel for real. Don’t think about it too hard, I’m not paying your therapist bills.
And then, POOF, we were in Vegas at the same type of nouveau-rich restaurant/bar/lounge that these people always go to. Do the vodka cocktails and salads with Balsamic taste better when they’re served on a surf board? No? That’s what I thought. They didn’t really even eat or drink, though, they just sat around and pontificated about how sad and annoying it is when “people” (Earth Jesus and his dim-bulb bride) try to keep up with the Joneses. What, does Micah think he is the Joneses? With his used Bentley and fugly Gucci monogram blazer with matching second-tier blinged-out watch? He thinks he’s the leader of the pack here? What pack does he lead, the pack of annoying guys at bars who are pounding vodka Red Bulls and wearing Ed Hardy t-shirts? Can you tell I’m not a huge fan of vodka?
We then teleported back to Orange County to revisit Gretchen and Slade, who were still pretending that Slade had work contracts and income and, I don’t know, a job. He doesn’t, don’t let him fool you with the “Oh, my contracts are ending, whatever shall I do?” line. You’ll keep doing what you’ve been doing, Slade: Mooching off of whatever Housewife will wave her crotch at you. Meanwhile, Gretchen was still explaining away his child support issues by claiming that he had a change in income, but apparently it had occurred to no one that child support can be adjusted if you lose your job and go to court to prove it. They had a Serious Child Support Conversation and Slade sounded like he didn’t ever intend to pay his debt to his baby mama and Gretchen cried and wondered if sometimes love isn’t enough. I can tell you that it’s definitely not enough once the courts get involved; you can’t pay child support in rainbows and fluffer-nutter sandwiches.
Next up was Alexis, who sat down with a party planner to get the ball rolling on a fabulous French-themed party for the private debut of her dress line, except she didn’t want any French food at the shindig. She doesn’t understand French things or French words and especially not French foods, because we all know how nasty brioche and crepes and bÃ©chamel sauces are. I mean, who would eat that stuff? What kind of philistine do we think Alexis is? Oh, and especially not foie gras. We all remember what happened when someone suggested she try that stuff last year. Alexis is far too delicate for such things. Let’s just have some grilled chicken and lettuce on a croissant instead, ok?
At a restaurant meeting that was sad in a far different way, Tamra and Vicki got together to take tequila shots and talk divorce. I’m not entirely inclined to make snarky jokes about a situation that is so obviously real in a way that we’re not so much accustomed to from “reality” TV, but I will say this: Vicki talked over and over about waiting for god to do something to her relationship, but then she talked about staying at the office late so that she wouldn’t have to interact with Donn at night. If you’re looking to save your relationship, that’s perhaps not the course of action that I’d recommend. Of course, that’s easy for me to say from my perch in the peanut gallery.
But Tamra and Vicki, being veteran Housewives and apparently somewhat used to bearing their souls for public consumption, didn’t just stop there. Tamra asked if Vicki and Donn were sexually involved any longer, and Vicki said that they hadn’t been in two years. It would seem that the vow renewal that we saw last season would fall within that time frame, which just goes to show you that things like that don’t save a marriage. Particularly not if done on reality television. But I feel like I’m slipping into snark here, which I don’t want to do about this particular scene. It’s easy to forget that some of what goes on in a reality TV show actually is reality, in the traditional (and sometimes heartbreaking) sense of the word.
In further sadness of yet another variety, we finally saw Alexis Couture in all of its…err…glory. I’m sorry, glory doesn’t seem to tell the whole story there. In all of it’s…flammable glory! Yes, I think that paints the picture nicely. The dresses were short, synthetic horror shows with names like “Sex and the City” and “Simply Fabulous,” which tells you a great deal about Alexis’ level of sophistication (or complete lack thereof), just in case the jury was still out for you. And then, just when I thought the worst was over, a model trotted out a bikini named “Barely There,” which had what can only be accurately described as a crotch necklace. I’m not sure where in the Bible it instructs us to adorn our genitals with spandex and jewels, but maybe Alexis can show me some time. I mean the Bible verse, not her vagina jewels.
And for a few minutes, everything went just fine, or at least as fine as it coule have gone. All of our Housewives were nervously pushing the sanitized, inoffensive, easy-to-pronounce quasi-French food around their plates and the models were all upright and moving and that was basically the best that anyone could hope for. Earth Jesus even stayed out of view of the cameras for most of the event, making it extra tolerable for those who have already built up a mighty tolerance for this particular sort of Housewives bullshit. And if I have anything, it’s a tolerance.
But suddenly, during the show, Tamra got a text that Vicki was in the hospital and Gretchen…got mad at Vicki? I’m not great fan of Vicki’s, naturally, but it’s not like she was sitting at home going, “I’ll show that bitch Alexis, I’ll start bleeding out of my butt and need surgery right in the middle of her cheap polyester fashion show! All of those croissants with go to waste! It’ll be awesome!” We all know that the only person in the Real Housewives universe who’s self-involved enough to Munchausen herself in the name of attention is Danielle Staub, and she’s not even a cast member anymore.
That didn’t stop Gretchen from throwing a fit about Vicki’s incredibly rude medical emergency or the fact that Tamra was upset about it, though. And maybe Tamra should have left immediately when she found out what was going on, but she seemed genuinely concerned and going to the hospital to bother the nurses wouldn’t have solved anything that I can think of. It would have merely given Alexis and Gretchen a chance to grouse about the distraction behind her back instead of to her face, and this way, we got to see the entire selfish panorama without interruption.
And it was spectacular. Not a note of concern crossed Gretchen’s makeup-shellacked face. Other than concern for Alexis and her interrupted party, of course. I’m not sure when it was established that Gretchen has beef with Vicki, although from the filming patterns that I’ve seen emerge over the season, it seems like no one can tolerate to interact with Gretchen except Alexis. Gretchen generally only films with her or Slade, and with all the effort that goes in to getting all of the ladies together, that’s a pattern that probably tells a pretty significant story. In all likelihood, Gretchen is as intolerable in real life as she is on the show. For some reason, that strikes me as a little bit comforting.
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