Do we feel sorry for Kelly?
If it’s a little muffled in here, it’s because I’m writing this recap from the inside of a paper bag—I now need one in order to breathe. I snuck into one of Vicki’s many suitcases and made the voyage to Ireland with the Real Harpies of Orange County. What I saw on the Emerald Isle was a shock and awe campaign of drama—a mess of unprecedented proportions.
If I’m getting ahead of myself, it’s because it’s hard not to. Last night’s episode was decent—Kelly’s crumbling marriage counts for something—but the real meat was in the previews. Those previews! There’s screaming, there’s fighting, there’s Shannon cradling Tamra in her arms like a shellshocked baby. Oh, there is just so much to look forward to in this world.
But the key to happiness is living in the now. After all, there’s a lot going on. Shannon has thirty minutes to get out of her hospital-grade, paraben-free mansion and into a rental shanty, which leaves her no time to dwell on her mother-in-law’s outburst at The Blue Beet the other night. She can’t stomach the idea of having poor people touch her shit, so movers are out of the question. She alone must rifle through her many, many, many closets full of high-end garbage, empty bottles of filtered water, gilded napkin rings, a plastic-free stoller she hasn’t used since LOCK was in diapers.
Is she sad about the move? Yes and no. There were good times in this house, like when her kids cooked her and David that anniversary dinner. But there were bad times, too, like when her husband maintained a yearlong affair with a woman whom his family hoped would replace her (more on that later). Good riddance, she thinks as she wanders the halls. But her kids are watching, so she fights off pretend tears as she lovingly drags her fingers across the lead-free walls one last time.
Meanwhile, at Coto Financial Services, someone is playing a sick joke on Vicki: she’s been asked to star in a cancer commercial. A couple of rich white dudes (are there any other kind of dudes on this show?) have dreamed up a “cure all cancer” insurance policy, and who better to promote it than Vicki, a person who has never had cancer but helped someone else pretend they did for over a year?
I mean, honestly. Who okayed this meeting? Thankfully her son Michael is there, and he steps in to let everyone know the facts: his mom was involved a fake cancer scheme. He says that she’s no longer a part of it, but that she is the last person alive to still claim that she “doesn’t know for sure” whether or not the perpetrator was lying about being sick, proving once again that Vicki’s kids are her strongest attribute. They are quite possibly the only people in her life who hold her accountable for her bullshit. What’s that saying? Something about kids keeping you humble? Whatever it is, Vicki should have it tattooed.
May I discuss a pet peeve? I have many, and while throughout the years Tamra has engaged in them all, listening to her talk about her diet is particularly annoying. You see, diets are like dreams: they are only of interest to their participants. You gave up red meat? You’re cutting out sugar? Great. Go do it over there, where I can’t hear you.
Tamra and Eddie have a date night and discuss all the things she can’t eat because she has only five weeks until her adult pageant. Eddie basically tells her to fuck all that; it’s date night now and it’s time to get drunk. He pours her up some sake and tells her that he’s concerned—she’s seemed stressed lately. She says that yes, maybe that’s true, but she’s planned this great getaway for the survivors of The Glamis Dune Disaster® and it’ll just be so nice to relax and unwind with the girls. And Eddie’s like, “Wait, what the fuck are you talking about are you seriously going to invite Housewives on a trip that’s supposed to relax you? Are you out of your mind?” God love him.
Which brings me to my next point: Eddie is a much better husband than Simon. Usually I wouldn’t dwell on the past—like I said, live in the now—but the Ghosts of Househusbands Past are haunting this episode like Lynne Curtin at a botox party, because Kelly hates her husband. He’s a controlling, domineering narcissist. She tried to leave him once, but he got a better lawyer and threatened sole custody, so she gave in and stayed with him. The ladies rally around her in support, which in this group means they talk at length about their own experiences with terrible men.
There are worse ways to relate, sure. Sometimes practical advice from someone who’s been there can be very helpful. But this episode is a tit-for-tat game of Which Husband is Worse. Our contenders are Simon Barney, Michael Dodd, and Donn Gunvalson. Since Bravo (regrettably) won’t lock them all in a cage and make them fight to the death, the winner must be decided the old-fashioned way: by a series of one-ups and tireless attention-grabbing from the women who were (or are) married to them. Bonus points will be awarded to whichever wife (or ex) circles the conversation back to herself the most.
One by one the ladies arrive at the mud spa, each one a glistening, exfoliated moth to a champagne flame. Then they mud up their titties and discuss Shannon’s marriage: Apparently David’s “other woman” was a friend of the family. She and his sister had been close for a long time—she even came to family dinners! The ladies are in disbelief, but Vicki says it’s no wonder. She says that people in happy marriages don’t cheat, that there has to be a reason why one spouse goes astray. To which this circle of muddy hens responds, “Why don’t you shut the fuck up, Vicki. I don’t see you in any marriage. Mind your own goddamn business.” (Ugh, okay, that didn’t happen. But if I close my eyes and imagine it, it almost feels like it did.)
Then Kelly and Vicki go in together for a massage, Vicki squawking away about not needing a “happy ending,” but hey, if it’s available she’ll take it. (Is that really something that happens to women? Do we honestly want total strangers fingering us on massage tables? I won’t speak for everyone, but my answer is a very hearty no.) Kelly’s masseuse must have really jarred something loose, because before too long she’s crying about Michael never celebrates their anniversary and how being married to him is just so so hard.
Vicki, who has two failed marriages and got dumped by a man faking cancer, listens intently so that she can share more of that expert relationship advice she was spewing in the mud pit. At the first break in Kelly’s sobs she delivers a swift diagnosis: Kelly’s love tank is empty, just like hers was when she was with Donn. Vicki is like the Donald Trump of relationship experts: she has no experience, no facts, and nothing but hot air inside of her. Yet she persists, distorting facts and mispronouncing words and delivering awful advice to anyone with half a brain. I know plenty of you are on her side, but I’m changing the channel.
I end this week with a very important question: Do we feel sorry for Kelly? Is she trapped in a marriage, or too lazy to get a divorce? Is her daughter tired of seeing her parents fight, or does she fear they’ll split up? I was disarmed, even if temporarily, watching Kelly ask her mom for advice on where to go from here. Something in me wonders if she isn’t in some sort of cycle of abuse, if she feels powerless against the weight of her husband and his high-powered lawyers. Because listen, I hate Kelly, but I hate any man who would exert power over her even more.