The only thing I know with any certainty in life is you shouldn’t mess with another woman’s handbag, especially a woman you don’t know. Some rando named Nina broke that cardinal rule of the Woman Code, and it was the match we needed to ignite the gasoline fumes coming off last night’s episode of Real Housewives of Orange County. It wouldn’t have happened at all, though, if Shannon hadn’t doused her party first.
I’d say that the episode started out innocently enough, but that would be a lie, because it started with Shannon’s middle school-aged daughter questioning her dad about wet dreams in a cheesy costume shop. That, in addition to the extremely scream-heavy preview we saw last week, was all you really needed to see in order to know how much of a mess we were in for last night. Thanks to the party’s theme (70s and Tequila Shots, as far as I could tell), it was one of the more bizarre fights I’ve seen on Real Housewives in recent memory, and, much to my great happiness, its drama overtook the majority of the episode.
We did have to visit a bit with the people who would later be bit actors in the episode’s real plot, though: Meghan and Heather, they of the disinterested (but rich!) husbands. They got together so Heather could stab Meghan in the stomach with her baby medicine, and once that was over, Meghan announced she would soon be making a speech on behalf of those fighting colon cancer. Heather seemed unclear on several points, including exactly how the speech would benefit anyone and Meghan’s confidence in her own ability to extemporaneously speak in public, which is, by all indications, not supported by reality.
It got overshadowed by all the eventual drunken shouting in this episode, but Meghan’s husband’s complete and total disinterest in the baby they are trying to conceive is starting to drive me insane on her behalf. The dude married her. The dude pulled his swimmers out of the chest freezer in the basement to knock her up. She is going to carry the baby for nine months and then push it out of her body, neither of which are simple tasks, and then they are going to coparent the baby for the rest of its life, even if he eventually trades her in for a younger model, as older, richer men are wont to do. The least he could do is pretend to care about his wife or that baby for five second for her TV show. Instead, he needs her to know that someone is buying a private jet.
Okay, before I pop a vein ranting about men not willing to deal with the situations they themselves have gotten into, we need to move onto the party, as it is the actual whole point of the episode and, by extension, this recap. The party was one of the sadder-looking affairs in Real Housewives history: the decorations were kind of sparse and cheap-looking, the liquor was plentiful but not top-shelf, and the number of guests seemed paltry compared to the size of the venue, which gave the impression that the invitation had only been warmly received by a tiny fraction of the people on the guest list. Those who showed up were either dressed in cheap-looking costumes or outfits that looked like they were intended for an early 2000s Playboy party; Shannon was going for a retro-glam blowout and she ended up with something that felt more like a themed Sweet Sixteen in someone’s parents’ finished basement. In short, it was a party that matched Shannon’s personality pretty well.
The best Real Housewives fights often have some sort of conspiracy to them: Was someone spreading rumors behind someone else’s back? Did one cast member try to sabotage another’s party? Has an alliance been created to take down a mutually hated Housewife? Last night, the big question was whether or not Shannon had set new cast member Kelly up by inviting a couple of mutual friends who had some nasty things to say. If I had to guess, I’d guess that’s exactly what Shannon did, even though there are exactly zero people to root for in a fight between Shannon and Kelly that also tangentially involves Vicki.
When Kelly and her scary narcissist husband walked into the party, it took almost no time for a malevolent blonde stranger to sidle up to them both and remind Kelly they had run into each other a couple years prior, when Kelly was separated from her husband and had a boyfriend. To Kelly’s husband’s limited credit, he didn’t take the bait on that particular provocation; after all, the boyfriend wasn’t a secret and he had twisted his wife’s arm until she returned home, so what did he care? Kelly managed not to lose her mind immediately, either, which is exactly what I expected to happen. But, as we all know, that didn’t last.
In the intervening time between the proverbial match-lighting and the entire party blowing up, everybody set about the task of getting as drunk as possible. We saw Vicki do at least three straight tequila shots with her new BFF Kelly, and they were rapidly drinking cocktails in between like the party was gonna convert to a cash bar at midnight. Heather, for her part, drank enough champagne that she fell off her roller skates and then sat down to have a serious talk with her husband in which he might have been drunk too, because he finally copped to being kind of an absentee parent. He will probably not change that any time soon, but he expressed seemingly genuine regret and the conversation wasn’t combative or petty, which counts as a minor miracle in the reality TV universe.
Elsewhere at the party, though, the real drama was just popping off. In spite of Shannon’s blonde friend’s inability to start a fight at the top of the evening, she had more success later, when aided by her brunette sidekick’s purse-snatching. (Okay, she didn’t steal a purse. She just moved Vicki’s. But still, don’t bother anyone’s bag! Are you nuts?) When Kelly and Vicki realized they couldn’t find it, they went on a search, which ultimately led them to walk in on Shannon holding court with the two problem-starters, who were beginning to recount the blonde’s drama with Kelly while Tamra gnawed silently on some meat on a stick in a nearby chair.
Things devolved very quickly and followed a logic that is only evident to the profoundly inebriated, but let’s get one thing out of the way: objectively, Shannon was indeed dressed like Mrs. Roper. Kelly may have been rude, loud and drunk, but she was not wrong. In my book, that counts for something. Also, I don’t think she was wrong to think those two women had been invited to the party to provoke her. The party was thrown explicitly for the show, the two women knew they were going to a party thrown for the cast, and they presumably knew who the other cast members were, if they run in that particular tacky, monied corner of Orange County social life. Shannon is friends with these women and has hated Kelly from day one, so you’d think that, at some point, they would have compared notes on their apparent common enemy, especially if one has a story she thinks is juicy. It just seems unlikely that this would have gone down by chance, especially when Shannon is so badly in need of a story line.
In the background of the initial fight, Heather glided by on her roller skates, unaware of the riot beginning next to her and quickly sucked into the drama vortex that had opened between Shannon and Kelly. At that point, they had mostly run out of substantive beef with each other and had moved on to insulting each others’ outfits (which, to be fair, were both bad!), at which point Kelly’s husband noticed what was going on and stepped in. He didn’t step in to stop the fight, though–instead, he stepped in to help Kelly roast Shannon, at which point Shannon literally ran off to find her husband like a kindergartner being bullied on the playground. It was a bizarrely juvenile display, even by Real Housewives standards.
When Shannon found her dude, whose name I have not bothered to learn yet, Vicki had taken the opportunity to draw him into a fight of her own by exclaiming “I DIDN’T LIE ABOUT CANCER” at him, completely out of context and without even the benefit of any preceding conversation. No one had so much as mentioned Vicki’s alleged cancer scamming all night, and, in fact, everyone had been pretty cordial with her–for someone who blathers so much about wanting to move on to other things, Vicki sure as hell took the opportunity to yell WORLDSTAR and run straight toward the fracas.
Once the warring factions had been separated and Kelly and Vicki had been deposited in a limo to simultaneously rave at themselves over the evening’s injustices, Vicki ran straight toward another problem: she called Brooks. Ostensibly, this call was to rant at him for creating all these problems with which she was still contending, but anyone who’s ever been sad and drunk and not over one of her exes knows why she really called him, which was simply because it was a good excuse to talk to him and she doesn’t have many of those left. Thankfully she got his voicemail, but if this is the beginning of Brooks making a return to Real Housewives plot lines, I’m going to walk directly into the sea.
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