“I go big or go home, and I am not going home,” Vicki Gunvalson—the longest running cast member of any Real Housewives city—says emphatically in the opening credits for Season 12 of Real Housewives of Orange County. But as her role in the show becomes more and more forced, it might be time for her—and Bravo—to rethink that.
There are no graceful exits on Real Housewives, but some have managed to bow out more skillfully than others. O.C.’s Jeana Keough knew it was her time when she quit on good terms in Season 5, while Bethenny Frankel of New York left in Season 4 to venture out on her own lucrative spinoffs (of course, she had to crawl back in Season 7, but that’s a-whole-nother story). Others—like Atlanta’s Claudia Jordan or New York’s Cindy Barshop—were so boring that they went out with a whimper and not a bang, mostly because they couldn’t muster up enough noise for viewers to really notice that they were no longer around.
Vicki’s television death, conversely, has been slow and painful. Gone is Brooks Ayers, the oily, real-life Flannery O’Conner character who (allegedly) roped Vicki into a cancer scam that led to one of the most riveting seasons in the history of reality TV. Her friendships are now superficial. (Say what you will about the gruesome twosome that was Vicki and Tamra and you’ll probably be right, but at least their friendship seemed somewhat—in the context of reality TV, anyway—genuine.) Now Vicki is forced to hang on with the duds, the cast members (or “friends” of the Housewives) so insecure in their contracts for future seasons that they’d rather form a tenuous friendship with an utter ghoul than risk being fired.
On Monday night’s episode of Orange County, Vicki requested that her upcoming birthday party include a roast, something her daughter Brianna immediately kiboshed, knowing that her mother has no sense of humor about herself. And therein lies one of the many problems of Vicki staying on the show—there’s no joy, no silliness, and no intrigue, so what is there? A new Republican cop boyfriend who, along with Vicki’s son-in-law, gave her a freakin’ gun for her birthday; her friendship with Lydia, a devout Christian (and maybe robot) who is terrified of drag queens and obsessed with taking sides; Kelly, who seems ready to jump ship as soon as she stops shooting herself in the foot; and a bunch of O.C. has-beens who are slithering their way into Vicki’s party for their lifeblood, a few more seconds of screen time.
It’s worth noting that Vicki isn’t the only problem going on with O.C. right now. Shannon’s ongoing conversations with her husband David about their struggling marriage, the way she insults him in public, and the way she is unable to have a productive conversation, are all painful to watch. During a call with Tamra, Shannon refers to Vicki as “Victim,” which is a bit rich considering Shannon’s habit of extreme martyrdom and the way she blames Vicki for everything ranging from her weight to her issues with David. Then, of course, there’s Lydia—DAMN LYDIA—who spent last week dressed as a panicked Charlie Chaplin voodoo doll and rumored homophobe Peggy who can’t seem to hit her stride. Kelly’s issues are almost too obvious to mention and Meghan who is fine, but boring, even when mad on post pregnancy hormones. Tamra, to her credit, is still able to bring fresh drama—though I’m not sure that’s too her credit.
But while it all feels stale, it’s Vicki who needs cutting loose. More and more, she turns to rumor mongering that goes beyond what’s typical on the Real Housewives, accusing Shannon’s husband of domestic violence (something that, if true, is better dealt with through supportive channels instead of outing Shannon on TV) and furthering the speculation that Eddie, Tamra’s husband, is not exclusively into women. Eddie’s sexuality is not a big deal in anyway whatsoever, but to continuously bring it up (or help facilitate conversations about it) while cameras are rolling seems hurtful beyond what is appropriate...even for these assholes.
On Instagram last night, Tamra initially poked fun at the accusations, before getting more serious, writing:
They are nothing but homophobic bullies that think it’s okay to try and Out a straight man hoping to humiliate him. Well guess what it didn’t work ! It’s Not the 1920's and being gay is not something to be ashamed of or mocked. You should all be ashamed of yourself. We all know who was behind this .... bye [sic]
Initially in the caption, Tamra compared Vicki to Phaedra Parks of Real Housewives of Atlanta, who was kicked off the show after constructing a vicious rape rumor involving two of her cast mates.
“You should all be ashamed of yourself,” Tamra wrote, originally. “Vicki was 100% behind this and I hope she loses her job just like Phaedra.”
Unlike Tamra (who herself has said some equally terrible things during her time as a Housewife), I don’t think Vicki should be kicked off the show exclusively for what she’s done to Eddie. More so, she should be kicked off because she’s flailing and her time has come to its natural end.
And speaking of natural, here are some very natural faces.