Welcome back to another week of The Real Housewives of Orange County. One with, frankly, a whole lot of drinking and not a lot happening. Out of everything that’s happened so far this season, this episode felt most like a bunch of filler. Which is especially strange considering all of the women are stuck together. In Palm Springs. For Braunwyn Windham-Burke‘s 20-year vow renewal. You think that equation would equal fireworks. But instead, it was a whole lot of…nothing.
Honestly, the biggest confrontation comes at the very top of the hour, with Shannon Beador continuing to argue with Kelly Dodd over the concept of a tincture. But even that simmering feud isn’t that interesting. Because it really just boils down to the fact that Kelly doesn’t understand what a tincture even is, and was flat-out wrong in accusing Shannon of starting a water line. Shannon never said any such thing. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned this season, it’s this. Never tell Shannon Storms Beador she said something she didn’t say!
As the vow renewal transitions into the reception, Shannon takes a moment to reflect on her own vow renewal back in Season 11. Can you believe that was already four years ago? I distinctly remember getting choked up watching because I was so invested at the time in the Beadors making it. Woefully, Shannon tells her kids that the Windham-Burkes’ vow renewal was much more of a fun party atmosphere. And it’s actually quite sad seeing Shannon continue to beat herself up over how the divorce impacted her kids. It’s her worst fear. And clearly she carries around more guilt for it than we even see as viewers.
The reception/afterparty is nothing but unsubstantial chaos. Watching it back, I almost pity the editors who were responsible for piecing together some sort of narrative cohesion out of the event. More because, honestly, nothing of much interest actually happened. Gina Kirschenheiter‘s not drinking to support Braunwyn‘s sobriety. Shannon, on the other hand, is completely plastered. Like, offering sad, unsolicited advice to Braunwyn’s kids level of wasted. Across the room, random pieces of metal are falling out of Dr. Deb‘s multi-colored dreadlocks. And Gina and Emily Simpson decide to corner Elizabeth Lyn Vargas in an effort to get to the bottom of her relationship with boyfriend Jimmy Juarez.
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Over the course of the season, Elizabeth has slowly started winning me over. (I really came into Season 15 expecting to vehemently dislike her. Maybe because she was introduced as Kelly‘s friend?) Despite her very aggressive college softball player energy, I can’t help but like her so far. But she’s all sorts of confusing and contradictory here.
No, the newest RHOC ‘Wife doesn’t have sex with her boyfriend. No, they don’t even make out. Yes, it’s because she’s technically still married. But apparently it’s more because Jimmy doesn’t want to? However, five minutes later, she admits they did sleep together once upon a time. But that was before Jimmy found out she wasn’t divorced yet. And it’s stopped since then. Huh? The whole thing just really doesn’t make sense unless it’s some sort of stipulation in Elizabeth’s divorce proceedings with her billionaire ex.
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Meanwhile, Kelly and a very drunk Shannon get into once again over the tincture. It’s a classic case of Shannon getting caught up on some issue and not letting it go. Or it may just be the alcohol talking. But she really didn’t appreciate how Kelly confronted her at the end of the vow renewal. Because Shannon Storms Beador wouldn’t call anyone’s house sad and depressing! Oh wait, that’s the wrong petty Shannon feud. She would never start a competing water brand! That’s the one.
But, Kelly’s more concerned about pointing out how drunk Shannon is, and the vibe between the two is simmering with an undercurrent of tension. It’s combative and weird, and I can’t decide whether this fragile peace treaty they’ve called is going to last the season. Either way, I sure hope it was worth throwing away Shannon’s friendships with Tamra Judge and Vicki Gunvalson…
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When Kelly pulls one of her trademark childish jokes, the scene flashes back to the Season 11 trip to Ireland. Remember when she did that nose-flicking prank in that pub in Dublin? Yeah, that’s the same one she’s still pulling four seasons later. Shannon takes the nose flick better this time, but really all the whole exchange does is remind me just how far this show has fallen from its very best days. We just didn’t know how good we had it back in the OC’s glory days, did we? Inexplicably, the night ends with Shannon drunkenly patching things up with Braunwyn, so I suppose all’s well that ends well?
The next morning, Braunwyn heads off to a 6:45 a.m. AA meeting with Gina and Emily in tow, while Shannon complains about her egg white omelette being undercooked. (Honestly I’m not sure how Shannon is even functioning, considering the massive hangover she must have from all that tequila. I mean, we haven’t seen her that drunk on this show…maybe ever.) Meanwhile, Elizabeth‘s in her room having a full-blown breakdown over her divorce. Because apparently she and her ex have a 10,000-square-foot mansion somewhere in Palm Springs that she misses.
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She feels the whole ordeal has shown that she’s not quite the strong and empowered woman she’s always seen herself to be. She’s worried the judge in the trial just sees her as a gold-digger. And it’s all well and good, but something’s not adding up here. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s hard to empathize — or care that much — when there’s so much we aren’t being told about the situation. Especially since she’s legally not allowed to discuss details on camera. But put a pin in that thought for a moment.
Later, all the ladies converge at the pool to rehash the weekend’s drama. But they’re horrified to find out that two of Braunwyn‘s kids have come down with lice. Somehow, it miraculously hasn’t spread to the other five — just the twins — but Kelly is freaking out over being in such close proximity with the kids at the party. Funny how she cares so much about getting lice, but has spent the last eight months downplaying the coronavirus, hmm? Though I must admit, I did get a good laugh out of the producers flashing back to Kelly hugging one of the twins and then cutting to him itching his head.
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Speaking of coronavirus, the looming pandemic is the other topic of poolside conversation. And frankly, it’s appalling. Kelly scoffs that 30 people have died from the virus (at the time of filming) and likens it to the flu. Emily agrees while most of the others stay silent. That is until Elizabeth gets on her big pharma soapbox and loses all the goodwill she’s gotten out of me this season. The newbie spouts off dangerous conspiracy theories about the virus being blown out of proportion and patronizingly tells the ladies it will dissipate in a matter of months.
Watching this conversation play back while we’re eight months into the pandemic, when more than 250,000 Americans have now died from the virus, is just gross. Not to mention that infection rates in nearly all 50 states are running rampant with no end in sight. It’s particularly disappointing of Bravo to give these women a platform to spout misinformation — even if it’s outdated by months — and not correct the record. Do better.
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Finally, the conversation turns to Elizabeth‘s pending divorce, which is just 30 days away. And try as she might, she just can’t make it make sense to the other ladies. Apparently, she calls and texts with her ex regularly. Like all the time. She even reads a tearful, simpering text she’d send him the night before about how much he hurt her, and the ‘Wives are baffled. In the text, Elizabeth alludes to her ex being dishonest, but he was also the one who blindsided her by filing. And now I just want details of what exactly happened.
Gina in particular bombards Elizabeth with strongly-worded advice to cut her losses and run. But the rookie just can’t stand the thought of her ex “winning.” And she’s also determined to take him for as much as she possibly can. Which, good on you, girl. Naturally, the episode ends with Kelly pushing Elizabeth in the pool. Fully clothed. But like Braunwyn jokingly threatens as the ‘Wives walk away, if Elizabeth brings up her ex one more time, she’ll be going back in the water.
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TELL US – DOES ANYTHING ABOUT ELIZABETH’S DIVORCE OR RELATIONSHIP MAKE SENSE TO YOU? WAS DRUNK SHANNON ENTERTAINING OR CRINGEWORTHY? DOES BRAVO HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY REGARDING THE MISINFORMATION THE WOMEN ARE SPREADING ABOUT CORONAVIRUS ON CAMERA?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]