At first, I had intended this recap to cover two episodes’ worth of ground because we missed last week’s episode due to vacation, but when I watched the episodes last night and this morning, I was struck by how little actually happened during them. We’re about midway through this season of Real Housewives of Orange County, and the middle is rarely a particularly fascinating place in these series. The first half’s plots are either old or tying themselves up, and we haven’t yet reached the drama that will take us through the end of the season. We’re in the murky middle, in which Shannon has the major storyline.
By now you’ve probably all picked up on the fact that I find Shannon bland at best, smug and whiny at worst. Last week’s episode centered on her surprise vow renewal at the same Rancho Santa Fe hotel where she and her formerly cheating husband were married 16 years prior, to which Vicki and Kelly were not invited. That meant everyone at the party got along, which was a nice break from Kelly’s drunken shrieking (or Kelly’s sober shrieking–she’s versatile). For some reason, the cast of that Bravo show about house-flipping was also there. (Except Zoila, which is too bad because Zoila is the best part of that show.)
After the vow-renewal, Shannon’s husband whisked her off to Cabo for a surprise second honeymoon, which is the least he can do for cheating on her and then having it become her most significant plot line on a well-watched reality show. A camera crew didn’t follow them to Cabo, but they did make their own video diary, which mostly showed them acting like drunken teenagers, complete with the dude’s blurred-out crotch while he climbed nude into a hot tub. The footage will embarrass their tweens for years to come, but when your kids are that age, that’s sort of your job as parents.
Meghan also got knocked up sometimes in the past two episodes, although I’m not entirely sure which one it was because I watched them together and there was nothing distinct about either of them. On the issue of Meghan’s pregnancy, I think I speak for all of us when I say: finally. Not that this means Meghan will stop talking about it, of course, because it’s her main narrative and that means she’s got to believe in it. The nice thing about the Meghan/baby story, though, is that Meghan’s mom comes around for it, and Meghan’s mom, like Briana, is a starkly normal, pleasant person whose presence reminds us all just how strange the rest of the women really are.
Speaking of Briana, she figured prominently in the second of the two episodes. Vicki had invited Kelly and Tamra out to the Merv Griffin estate in Palm Desert for her birthday, along with her two kids and the grandkids, and apparently it was also on or near Briana’s birthday. The house was gorgeous and far more tasteful than most of the gaudy McMansions Bravolebrities are wont to occupy, so getting to see its interior and some of the grounds was worth the episode in and of itself. At the house, another genuinely nice thing happened: Vicki managed to wrest Briana’s husband from Marine Corps control for the weekend, allowing him his first visit since Briana had left Oklahoma with the kids. Briana and the kids hadn’t known he was coming.
Toward the end of last night’s episode, though, we did get a little bit of drama. In a previous interaction, Heather had told Tamra she was unsure if she should bring her son on an upcoming cast trip to Glamis Dunes because she didn’t want him to have to witness a potential Kelly meltdown. All things considered, that’s a rational fear; even at her best, Kelly doesn’t know how to act in public after a couple cocktails, and cast trips are always pumped full of booze for maximum drama potential. And in general, if you’re going to be on reality TV, it’s responsible to shield your kids from as much of the drama as possible.
This would all have been fine if Tamra hadn’t told Vicki, who then trotted that information out to Kelly, probably as a way to strengthen their relationship and further pull her away from the rest of the group. Kelly also found out that Tamra told Heather about Kelly’s impersonations, and when you combine all that with Kelly’s unreturned apology text (complete with the official “I’m a psycho and I’m not really sorry but I’m acknowledging it!” emoji), it was time for an Official Sit Down between the two of them.
Because Heather isn’t a fool and Tamra needed to clean up her modest involvement in their feud, Tamra joined the dinner as a moderator and cooler head, which is nuts when you think about how easily riled she was only a couple years ago. Getting rid of a controlling man and improving your life does interesting things to your behavior, ya know? Kelly could probably stand to look into that again. (To her credit, she already tried once. Easier said than done when dude controls your financial security.)
Heather and Kelly’s dinner got heated at times but was mostly harmless, and they came to an uneasy truce that should be familiar to Real Housewives viewers and that probably won’t last. For me, though, the most important revelation of the evening was that Kelly, like Vicki, doesn’t seem to grasp how apologies work. Traditionally, the act has two parts and requires the independent action of two participants: the person who has done wrong, who offers the apology, and the person who has been wronged, who either accepts the apology, rejects it, or accepts it and imposes conditions of that acceptance. Kelly and Vicki only seem to know about the first half of that process, which is a very sixth-grade-reading-level understanding of apologies.
Both Kelly and Vicki expect to behave like jackals, say something to the effect of, “I’m sorry, that was bad,” and have it guarantee the person against whom they’ve transgressed will forgive them. In reality, forgiveness takes time and things that require forgiveness usually also violate trust, which may never come back even if the person genuinely accepts the apology. It’s also possible to accept an apology and not want to rebuild a relationship, and that’s an entirely rational reaction in many circumstances. Kelly and Vicki both see anything but an immediate, full acceptance of their apologies as the person trying to bully or victimize them, which is absurd and probably also why they make entertaining reality TV cast members to begin with.
Next time, we’re off to Glamis Dunes, where we already know several Housewives are injured in an accident. Here’s hoping trying times put a couple of the old feuds to bed; after all, we have to make room for some new feuds in the second half of the season.