Hmm. For the penultimate episode of the season, this week’s Real Housewives of Orange County sure felt strange. And honestly, I have to admit it feels quite odd to be recapping tonight given the chaos that’s happened in Washington D.C. today. Over the last 15 years, the Housewives franchise has often provided a much-needed dose of escapism from the horrors and headlines of real life. Tonight in the O.C., however, provided no such relief from the reality of a mob storming the Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the democratic process. But alas, here we are. And the recapping must go on…
I think my biggest issue with this episode of Real Housewives of Orange County is that it really just boiled down to a series of one-on-one conversations. Because of coronavirus restrictions, the women haven’t been able to congregate together since the trip to Lake Arrowhead. And really, they haven’t all been together since before the pandemic shut down production. Right? Since the cast trip to Palm Springs? So basically they’re left to talk in pairs, or film with their kids, siblings and significant others. None of which is particularly interesting on its own without a main storyline driving the narrative.
For example, Shannon Beador is busy preparing to send her oldest daughter off to college. This is a personal storyline we’ve seen done a dozen times on the Real Housewives. And frankly, it was more interesting when Vicki Gunvalson and Jeana Keough did it in the early days of RHOC. It was more interesting when Yolanda Hadid and Kyle Richards did it at the same time on Season 4 of RHOBH. Heck, it’s even happening right this second on RHOA with Kandi Burruss. So we’re really just hitting a well-worn beat, no matter how many toxin-free headboards Shannon buys.
Next, we see the beginning of the end for Braunwyn Windham-Burke and Sean Burke. Well, not the end. Because they’re technically still together as of this writing. But you know what I mean. I’ve been rather neutral about Braunwyn for most of this season, even erring on the side of supportive. But this conversation with her husband feels like the biggest reach in the world. Months after their 20-year vow renewal, she’s inventing all these problems about how her husband isn’t meeting her needs anymore. Which basically revolve around one thing: Sean doesn’t do enough to entertain her.
RELATED: Real Housewives of Orange County Star Braunwyn Windham-Burke Says She’s A Lesbian And Has Never Been Attracted To Men
At least that’s what I heard in between her demands for romantic getaways to the Montage and complaints about how un-sexy their massive house is. I mean, girl. You have your own nightclub in the basement. If you’re bored, maybe it’s your own fault. And I feel for Sean, who’s helpless to do anything as he watches his marriage of 20 years slip through his fingers. I support Braunwyn in her sobriety, and cheer on her recent coming out journey, but this whole exchange left a bad and bitter taste in my mouth.
Recovered from COVID, Emily Simpson heads to Gina Kirschenheiter‘s sad and depressing condo for some good old-fashioned gossip. Em still hasn’t heard about the Lake Arrowhead trip, so there’s a lot to catch up on. After some mild complaining about Braunwyn, Gina turns the conversation to speculation about Shannon‘s relationship with John Janssen. She thinks there may be some trouble in paradise for the veteran Housewife, and claims both Shannon and John have spent quarantine drinking too much and fighting as a result. Weirdly, the one thing Gina doesn’t fill Emily in on is Elizabeth Lyn Vargas growing up in a literal cult. Which, if I was spilling to my best friend, would seem to be the most interesting thing to talk about. But OK.
RELATED: Gina Kirschenheiter Thinks Braunwyn Windham-Burke Should Leave Real Housewives Of Orange County; Says Braunwyn’s Issues “Put Us In A Very Scary Situation”
Emily has to find that information out on her own. Which she does later, when she stops by Elizabeth‘s beach house for a chat. (Emily really is making the rounds this week, huh?) The lawyer takes the newbie’s cult confession in stride, and it strikes me that Emily generally acts as a great sounding board for the other, more dramatic ‘Wives. It’s really the only role she’s played all season. Now that Elizabeth’s divorce is final, she also pesters the rookie about whether she’s finally having sex with her boyfriend. Which, considering she just opened up to you about the sexual abuse she suffered throughout her childhood, maybe isn’t the smartest move, Em.
Turns out, Elizabeth‘s also fed up with Braunwyn. Yes, she’s grateful for what the sophomore ‘Wife did for her in Lake Arrowhead. But apparently their bond has been devolving ever since. When Elizabeth tries to open up over FaceTime, Braunwyn seems uninterested. It’s like she can’t wait to get off the call. From Elizabeth’s perspective, why claim you’re all about genuine connection and being real if you…don’t want to genuinely connect? Emily surmises that Braunwyn’s just stuck in a really “selfish place” at the moment. And given the conversation we just saw with Sean, I’d say she’s hit the nail on the head with that one.
RELATED: Real Housewives of Orange County Star Elizabeth Lyn Vargas Slams Braunwyn Windham-Burke For Saying She’d “Be Heartbroken” If Her Husband Dated Someone Else; Kelly Dodd And Emily Simpson Chime In
Braunywn‘s living in Braunwyn World™. And for the moment, that world seemingly only involves her new BFF Shari. Via confessional, Braunwyn admits she wants to be an independent woman just like Shari. But honestly, what I’m seeing is just a transference of her admitted codependence with Sean to her relationship with her friend. Falling in love and falling into codependence is not the same thing, and I’m not sure Braunwyn knows the difference. Either way, she says she’s all about attracting female energy into her life these days.
Also entering Braunwyn World™ is her friend Noella Bergener, who makes her 11th-hour debut tonight. Anyone remember all the rumors during filming that Noella was joining as a last-minute Friend of the Housewives to save the season? Or just me? The most fascinating intel I have on Noella is that she’s also good friends with Vicki. Which would have made things very interesting if the OG of the OC were still on the show. If a big shake-up happens and Vicki does return for Season 16, let’s hope Noella actually comes back as an official Friend. Because that’s one dynamic I’d love to see.
RELATED: Real Housewives of Orange County Alum Vicki Gunvalson Tells Braunwyn Windham-Burke To “Go Home To Her 7 Kids” After Seeing Photos Of Braunwyn With Her Girlfriend
Finally, Kelly Dodd heads over to Shannon‘s house for one more chat. Now that the Beadors have made it through their bout with coronavirus, Shannon claims things are much better. There’s even a check for $1.4 million laying on the table from David Beador! Earlier in the episode, she even met up with John to talk about how committed he was to her. Which, if she already knew about the conversations happening behind her back, I’d have a sneaking suspicion felt a lot like preemptive damage control. But anyway…
Kelly‘s ready to spill the tea and burst Shannon‘s facade. She tells her frenemy that Gina‘s been voicing some concerns about her relationship behind her back. Oh, and Braunwyn too. Basically everyone thinks Shannon’s in a bad spot and hiding it from the cameras. All of this is news to Shannon, who doesn’t appreciate being on the receiving end of so much backbiting and speculation. (You know, kind of like what she did to Elizabeth just a couple episodes ago?)
RELATED: Shannon Beador Says She’s Closed Door On Tamra Judge; Tamra Slams Shannon As “Toxic Manipulator”
However, Kelly‘s also there to join the Braunwyn-bashing club. Apparently, she heard from Emily that the Windham-Burkes are on the brink of becoming one Windham and one Burke. She’s especially confused about Shari living in the house. And goes as far as to intimate that the woman is Braunwyn’s “pretend lesbian lover.” Basically, a consensus has been reached among the rest of the Housewives: Braunwyn isn’t being authentic. Things in her life just don’t add up. And we’ll find out how that goes down next week on the Real Housewives of Orange County Season 15 finale!
TELL US – IS BRAUNWYN BEING INAUTHENTIC? DO THE OTHER REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY STARS HAVE GOOD REASON TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT SHANNON AND JOHN? WHAT IS EMILY’S PURPOSE ON REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]