How is it that Real Housewives of Orange County is the longest running of the Real Housewives franchise and somehow it still feels the freshest?
Factoring in my hatred for the lukewarm New Jersey and my overwhelming love of Shannon Beador, I really looked forward to every OC episode this season and almost always, these terrible narcissists managed to deliver. Last night, however...
The Season 11 finale was good, but it wasn’t necessarily great (looks like they’re saving all their good stuff for the reunion). Shannon had a party for Tamra, the ladies got in an argument, Vicki stormed out with her (new) boyfriend, and, at one point, a rich white woman shouted “Bye Felicia!” It’s not all that dissimilar from the Season 1o finale which centered around Tamra’s baptism, during which the ladies got in an argument, Vicki stormed out with her (old) boyfriend, and, at one point, a different rich white woman shouted “Bye Felicia!”
Last year, that made for one of the greatest Housewives episodes of all time—mostly because of my beloved Shannon’s botched enema—but this year, it mostly felt repetitive. The women are so fully over Vicki that they don’t even want to interact with her as a coworker (i.e., for money) anymore. Their relationships have always been toxic, but only now have they become stale.
It’s worth adding that there was also a lot of unpleasant social stuff at play in last night’s finale. Now I’m no Kelly Dodd fan, but I do not doubt her claims that the other women were ganging up on her and pushing her to react. She’s also right about Heather—she is controlling and awful. If RHOC was a high school, she’d be the least trustworthy person in your class because at least you could predict Tamra or Vicki’s mean behavior—but Heather’s, fueled by wealth and popularity, would destroy you in lasting ways that you didn’t think were possible. “I barely remember the time Tamra shoved me in Ireland,” you’d reminisce at the reunion. “But yeah, I’m still in therapy from the time Heather convinced everyone that I was crazy and that they shouldn’t be friends with me.”
And Meghan. Sweet boring Meghan who’s off the show to go live her happy life with her angry husband and new baby in St. Louis. We owe a lot to her: her investigation into Brooks’s cancer lies, her doggedness in not letting go of Brooks’s cancer lies, her encouragement of Jimmy Edmond’s passion for candles, and—as we saw last night—her unwillingness to be swept up into a mob mentality. At Tamra’s party, she was the only one willing to call Heather on her shit and defend (the almost indefensible) Kelly while Tamra and Shannon literally had her backed into a corner, berating her about calling Shannon an “elephant” when all she really did was use the common turn of phrase “address the elephant in the room.”
Kelly is pathetic, but picking on a pathetic person—especially one that’s been fed her information by someone as demonic and soulless as Vicki—somehow feels worse. Forgive the violent metaphor, but the woman has gotten enough rope to hang herself on her own, so there’s really no need for them to tie the noose themselves.
As for the rest, I worry about Shannon. I really do.