Welcome back to the Season 16 Reunion of The Real Housewives of Orange County. We’re officially on part two and Shannon Beador and Gina Kirschenheiter are still arguing over whether Shannon actually has friends. And whether Gina’s ego has become a tad bit overinflated during her season-long glow-up. Frankly, the answer to both questions is “questionable” at best. Shannon has a demonstrated history over the past eight seasons that, well, she kind of has a hard time being nice to people. And when she is, it’s always about how she’s gone “above and beyond” to display basic human kindness.
Meanwhile, yes, Gina may think she’s the hottest thing in Orange County. Part of that may come from everyone complimenting her new and improved hair constantly. But when you also stop and consider where Gina’s life was at three years ago when we first met her, it makes sense. She’s bounced back from a broken relationship with a husband who was having an affair behind her back. Whom she still tried desperately to protect throughout her first season, by the way. Then there was the public humiliation of the DUI. Then when she was arguably at her lowest, she was abused, attacked and traumatized by her ex. If I had overcome all of that in front of Bravo’s cameras and come out on the other side with a makeover, an unnecessary skincare line and relative peace in my life, I’d be pretty happy with myself too.
I do take issue, however, with Gina‘s attempt to lambast John Janssen for defending Shannon in a private conversation. The push and pull about whether the men should involve themselves in the Housewives’ drama is a question as old as the Bravoverse. And as a general rule, I think it’s ridiculous to say they can’t have opinions or be a sounding board for their wives when called upon. Of course, there are always lines that can be crossed. But in this specific circumstance, am I crazy for thinking John didn’t really do anything wrong? It’s not like he ran across the party to get in Gina’s face and confront her. He simply reacted to what Shannon told him about what happened and then…left the party with her. And yet he’s being painted out to be some sort of monster in that moment. Am I missing something here?
But to use Shannon‘s favorite misused idiom, can we put a pin in this drama? I’m tired of it. And it’s clear at this point that there will be no real resolution between the veteran and the mid-level Housewife. (I refuse to give Gina veteran status, sorry not sorry.) Shannon’s comment about being able to co-exist with Gina “if she’s here” seems to infer that she’s hedging her bets the younger ‘Wife might not be around next season. So at the end of the day, does it really even matter if Shannon and Gina kind of hate each other a little?
The Many Feuds of Noella Bergener
Now on to something a little more interesting. Namely, all the ways Noella Bergener found herself in hot water during the season with, well, nearly every other Housewife. Whether in her personal life or in her fledgling friendships with the other women, the newbie blew onto the show as a tornado of chaos personified.
First she started off on a bad foot with Dr. Jen Armstrong. Thanks to their mutual connection to Braunwyn Windham-Burke, these two essentially hated each other before they were even cast on the show. And I wish more of the root of that animosity had been discussed on the couches. Like, remember the time Dr. Jen called the other women over to her house to try to convince them Noella wasn’t really legally married to James Bergener. And that all the drama surrounding their divorce might be a sham? Where was that discussion?? Instead we got a back and forth about a poorly-lit selfie on Instagram. I really feel like we were robbed of the newbie vs. newbie feud we could’ve had. (I also can’t believe I was ever anything other than Team Jen in this situation…)
Then there were Noella‘s rocky relationships with Gina and Emily Simpson. Both BFFs welcomed the new girl with open arms at the start of the season. Gina was her shoulder to cry on as Sweet James fled the country and abandoned their marriage. Emily gave her free legal advice and even offered to go to her father’s funeral with her. But as the season progressed and Noella began showing her true colors (read: more and more unhinged, narcissistic behavior), they each backed away slowly…and then quickly. It was a classic case of too much, too soon. But really, when is Noella ever anything less than captain of Team Too Much?
Heather’s World Meets Noella’s Alternate Reality
If I can say one thing for certain about Heather Dubrow‘s grand return to RHOC, it’s that she never expected to have to deal with an adversary like Noella. Over the course of the season, this new girl threw jab after jab and accusation after accusation at Fancy Pants. And suddenly, she was spending the whole season dealing with talk of lawsuits, pornography and shoving cameramen against walls.
So let’s start at the beginning. When it comes to the lawsuit in question, Noella claims Nicole James told her in confidence that her suit against Terry Dubrow was never actually dropped. And that she walked away with a settlement for quite a lot of cash. Setting aside the question of why she would be friends with someone who successfully sued her husband for malpractice, Heather hits back with a reality check. There’s no such thing as hiding a settlement with a doctor. They’re all reported to the state medical board. Dr. Jen can second that fact. Of course, with Nicole not present, we’ll never know if Noella’s telling the truth, but either she or Nicole is lying.
The game Noella gifted Max Dubrow seems pretty cut and dry from my perspective. Yes, it was inappropriate to give a teenager. No, I don’t think Noella knew what any of the NSFW cards said. But the way she chose to handle the aftermath was just all wrong. And even here, she’s not backing down and simply reiterating an apology. Instead, she’s choosing to argue over the semantics of what can be considered pornography. And for the record: yes, some of the cards were clearly pornographic in nature. Pornographic content isn’t limited to just the visual. So even in a battle of semantics, Noella once again in the wrong here.
As for the accusations that Heather was physically assaulting members of the crew, that’s simply not true either. Andy Cohen even steps in to put the matter to rest: if something like what Noella‘s alleging had happened on camera, production would’ve used it. And frankly, though he didn’t explicitly spell this out, if it had occurred when every single camera just happened to be down, you can bet production — and the network — would’ve confirmed it. Instead, all Noella has to go on is the shot of Heather putting her hand up to the camera and turning it away from her staircase. Which we all saw at the end of the season premiere. There’s literally nothing to it besides Noella’s alternate reality. That being said, I do wish Andy had brought up Noella’s allegation that Emily knew about the non-existent shove too…
After a revelation per Dr. Jen‘s watchful eye that Shannon had a facelift five weeks before filming the reunion (which looks incredible, by the way), we get a whole segment on how much the reigning vet has changed since she joined the show in Season 9. There’s also an update about her relationship with David Beador, which is non-existent these days, and her sex life with John, which is anything but, apparently. But let’s skip ahead, shall we?
Dr. Jen’s Broken Marriage
One element of this season that really keep me interested was Dr. Jen putting her marital issues with Ryne Holliday out there for all the viewers to see. The whole storyline felt very reminiscent of old-school RHOC to me, particularly when compared to the dissolution of Noella‘s marriage to Sweet James. Interestingly, however, Ryne (or Ryan?) isn’t present to join his wife on the couch. But Andy doesn’t clarify whether the oft-shirtless Househusband was invited to the reunion or if he just declined to show up. Dr. Jen readily admits Ryne balked at getting vulnerable in front of Bravo’s cameras. She also confesses he moved out temporarily after filming, but that things seem to be headed in a better direction. Let’s hope they’re still together by Season 17?
Rocky (Mountain) Karma
Finally, the last major topic to cover is the cast trip to Aspen. And would you look at that? Noella blames all her problems with the group during the vacation on Heather. Are we surprised? Andy brings up the “karma” conversation from the first night of the trip. And once again, Noella’s attempting to rewrite history, this time to make herself look like the victim. Honey, you were the one who fired off about Heather’s karma first. You don’t get sympathy points when she simply responds in kind. The newbie also uses the excuse that her dad had just passed away for why she felt especially fragile and ganged up on. Which is understandable. But if you’re mourning such a major loss, maybe it’s not the time to jet off on a girls trip?
The reunion closes with a look back on the ‘Wives time as OC Realz. The music video in the finale has been dissected, dragged and discoursed on to death since it aired, but I for one unabashedly loved it. Then, the ‘Wives go around the circle and try saying one nice thing about someone else in the cast. Noella finally comes up something positive to say about Dr. Jen. And Heather even manages to eke out a bit of hope that she and Noella can actually get to know each other (if they’re both back for Season 17). And with a toast using pineapple champagne, that’s a wrap on Sweet 16 in the OC!
TELL US – WHICH OF NOELLA’S VARIOUS FEUDS WAS THE MOST ENTERTAINING? WHO DO YOU BELIEVE IS LYING ABOUT THE HIDDEN SETTLEMENT: NICOLE OR NOELLA? DO YOU CONSIDER HEATHER PROPERLY VINDICATED BY ANDY OF NOELLA’S ACCUSATIONS? WILL DR. JEN AND RYNE STAY TOGETHER? WHO DO YOU WANT TO RETURN NEXT SEASON?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]