Real Housewives of OC Recap: Bravo’s Most Basic Bitches are Back

Vicki Gunvalson’s obnoxious “woo hoo” is in the opening credits AGAIN. Will Bravo ever realize that this middle-aged middle-schooler’s antics are as tired as it gets (even more tired than Lisa Vanderpump’s bump-it)? Probably not.

Tamra is babysitting her granddaughter and indoctrinating young Ava with her #ClassyAF ways by exposing her to profanity. Kelly visits Vicki at her office where they make fun on one of Vicki’s employees’ nails. Vicki, as professional as always, wonders how she wipes her butt. Shannon is preparing a healthy dinner of quinoa and lamenting her recent weight gain. She blames Vicki for causing the stress that led her to eat and drink too much. Normally I’m on board when anyone blames Vicki for anything, but I think there is more to Shannon’s stress than Vicki’s domestic violence accusation against David.

Enter David, who is less than thrilled with Shannon’s quinoa bowl. She badgers him about whether he thinks it’s good or just fine, and David tells her the best she’s going to get out of non-gourmet quinoa is just fine. Shannon’s neediness in this scene is painful to watch. She is so desperate for David’s validation, methinks that while the quinoa may be just fine, her marriage is not. In her talking head she admits her weight gain has affected her confidence and there is a distance between her and David now that she finds especially disheartening, since just last year he surprised her with a vow renewal. Getting fat sucks, and I admire Shannon for discussing her feelings about it. I hope she can find a source of confidence within herself that is separate from her physicality, but since she lives in Orange County I suspect this is impossible.

Coto Insurance has outgrown its current location, and Vicki’s office is in a shambles as she prepares to move. I have to give Vicki credit for her hustle but I find it perplexing that anyone would find her credible enough to do business with. She is a clown. Kelly and Vicki mock Tamra’s gym and her fitness competition. Vicki feels justified in this because Tamra called her a bad person, a con artist and an old lady at last year’s reunion. Two out of three ain’t bad. Vicki pathetically characterizes Tamra and Shannon’s enmity towards her as jealousy because she and Kelly are the popular girls. Kelly says she doesn’t care about being popular and Vicki, in the first glimmer of personal insight I’ve ever seen out of her, says she does care. We know you care Vicki–your lust to be the Queen Bee of Sweet Valley High wears you like a sad cloak of desperation.

Tamra goes to a bible study at Lydia’s house. Lydia is back! She inquires about the status of Tamra’s relationships with the other women and is surprised to hear that Tamra and Vicki aren’t on speaking terms. One of Lydia’s best memories is of the three of them “whooping it up” in Puerta Vallarta. Why is she surprised? These two aren’t on speaking terms every other week. The bible study verse just happens to dovetail perfectly with the circumstances of Tamra’s “salvation,” giving her an opportunity to fake cry about her estrangement from daughter Sidney. I’m sure Sidney loves seeing the intimate details of her fractured relationship with her mother discussed on television–and not even organically discussed, but in a scene staged specifically for the subject. Tamra, thou hast no shame.

It’s Meghan, Jim and baby Aspen! Meghan looks very happy and Jim is adorable as he bickers with her over Aspen’s outfit. I grew to love Meghan last season (despite the boring IVF storyline), as she proved herself to be a voice of reason who could engage in mature and civil discourse even when she disagreed with people. I’m glad she’s back and hope she continues in the same vein.

Vicki’s boyfriend Steve shows up at her house with red roses–much like the ones she sent herself he sent her when she was in Ireland. He seems like a nice, low-key guy with a good sense of humor–I wonder what he sees in neurotic drama queen Vicki?

Off to Kelly’s house, where she’s bellowing for her mother. They talk about vaginal rejuvenation–nobody wanted to hear about it when Sonja did it a couple of seasons ago, and nobody wants to hear about it now. Kelly encourages her mother to get out and date, but 30 years of a bad marriage has turned her off to relationships. Even though Kelly and Michael are working on their marriage, sometimes she feels suffocated and needs a break. I hope they work it out–a husband who can be supportive and keep a straight face while you mangle a puppetmaster analogy is a keeper.

Ryan is still in Oklahoma while Brianna struggles to raise her two rambunctious toddlers by herself. Vicki is of course there to fill the void and refers to herself as Brianna’s husband while Ryan is away. Eww. The mother-daughter relationship isn’t significant enough? Her need to smother Brianna is so profound that she has to overshadow the most intimate relationship in her daughter’s life? Well, it’s Vicki, so of course there are no boundaries. And despite having to endure Vicki’s presence in them, the scenes with Brianna, Troy and Owen are very cute.

Brianna and Vicki discuss Steve. Brianna likes Steve–he is the polar opposite of Brooks. He has a job, he’s calm and therefore a good foil to Vicki’s mania, he doesn’t hit on Brianna (and doesn’t fake having cancer). I have to admit that even though it looks like Vicki does everything wrong, obviously she’s done something right to have raised the mature and reasonable Brianna.

Tamra and Eddie are at Cut Fitness, where they discuss whether Tamra should follow Lydia the “friend-whisperer’s” suggestion to have lunch with Vicki. Of course Eddie is against it because he cannot now, and has not for a long time, been able to stand Vicki Gunvalson. He’s resigned to the fact that his wife needs to interact with her to create drama for her RHOOC paycheck, so he just calmly offers his advice even though he know Tamra can’t take it. Eddie knows it’s all fake and nothing to get worked up about.

Lydia has three little boys now. She and her family have moved to Newport Beach, basically to get away from her mom, whose pot-smoking is on a new level since recreational weed was legalized in California. Lydia and her husband Doug held a ten-year vow renewal on the beach at Laguna, and this may the only vow renewal in Housewives history that doesn’t bode ill for the long-term success of the marriage. Seriously, how is such a stable and apparently solid couple on this show? Lydia says she has grown in the three years since she was a regular cast member, and is now strong, knows who she is and is proud of who she is. She always seemed that way to me, so if she is now stronger and even more sure of herself, Lydia should prove to be a force to be reckoned with.

Tamra and her niece join Shannon and her oldest daughter to shop for the girls’ formal dresses. And when I say girls, I mean the niece and the daughter. Unlike what Vicki and the rest of the cast seem to think, women in their 40’s and 50’s are not “girls.” Tamra of course takes the opportunity to feel sorry for herself over missing certain milestones with her daughter–then quit airing her dirty laundry on TV!–and Shannon browses for clothing that will not fit her. She refuses to buy fat clothes, because doing so might mean that she is okay with the way she looks. I get that she doesn’t want to resign herself to being overweight forever, but it’s kind of sad to see how much her self-worth depends on her weight.

Shannon and Tamra talk about Shannon’s efforts to lose weight, and Tamra encourages her that “this time” she’ll do it. Say what you want about Tamra, but if anyone is a good sounding board and motivator for getting in shape, it’s Tamra. Shannon points out her belly and says that weight gain in the middle is attributable to stress. It is also attributable to booze. Shannon once again blames Vicki for causing her stress, but Tamra wisely surmises that Shannon’s real source of stress is David’s affair. I can’t believe I just used Tamra Judge and wise in the same sentence.

Vicki and Lydia meet for drinks. Lydia’s motive is to reunite Vicki and Tamra, and she sets the stage by reminiscing about their escapades in Mexico. She knows things are different between Vicki and Tamra now and asks Vicki about saying Eddie was gay. Lydia is the rare shit-stirrer whose shit-stirring is an honest attempt to find out what led to an unpleasant situation so it can be rectified. Lydia is a shit-stirrer with a heart of gold. Vicki protests that she only said Eddie was gay because Tamra said she was a con artist. Lydia astutely calls this out as retaliation. Vicki tells Lydia she’s never conned anyone in her life. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Vicki’s whole life is a con, and a pretty successful one.

From this conversation, Lydia realizes that the rift between Vicki and Tamra is deeper than she thought, but still thinks there is hope for these two vicious women to reconcile and be “sisters” again. I’d say good luck, Lydia, but I really don’t care. How many times have we seen this same storyline play out on this show? How much damage do two people have to inflict on each other before deciding to just go their separate ways? But this isn’t real life, it’s the Housewives, and everyone has a job to do. So we’ll mindlessly strap in for yet another season of will they or won’t they, and hope that Bravo will take away the crack pipe one day soon.

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