For all of us who consume the Real Housewives franchise like a Sommelier drinks a Ramona Pinot Grigiot (that is to say, with a whole lot of disgust followed by a slight pang of clever amusement) we have come to expect certain things, familiar characters if you will. That is why it was not at all surprising when Lydia McLaughlin unveiled her hidden secret weapon: a crazy mother. Yes, Jill Zarin has one. So does Marisol Patton (and I firmly believe the only reason she is still a Housewife of Miami is so that her mother will be around). Every woman on the Real Housewives of New Jersey is really just a crazy mother in one way or another. Beverly Hills wannabe Fetch tried to have a crazy mother but her mom was just as boring and striving as she was. No one wants a mom who tries. No one. But this Judy, well, she's something else entirely.
But let's talk about all the boring stuff first shall we? Wow, last night sure was a snooze. The most exciting thing about the first 20 minutes of the The Real Housewives of Orange County was, honestly, the hair accessories. First Lydia was wearing some sort of headband that is like something you put on baby girls that is like an elastic that has one burst of marabou on it. It is a mark, not of an attractive baby, but of an overly annoying mother. It shows you that this is the woman who would endanger the blood flow to her daughter's still developing brain so that she can be "fabulous" and everyone can ooh and coo at her one little sartorial flourish. It's as if these mothers think that having a little elastic headband will distract people from the fact that this tiny human being is quite literally sitting in its own s**t at that very moment. It does not.
Then we go to Alexis' bathroom where she was talking about God knows what with Our Lord and Savior Jim Bellino. Actually God does know because they were talking directly to him. I can't even hear the sounds of her voice anymore. It's like she is some sort of crazy dog whistle that operates on a frequency that is above human. Maybe she's talking directly to the lord in the same language that the crazy angel uses in Date with an Angel one of the best movies on HBO on constant repeat in my formative years. Anyway, Alexis then whips out what appears to be the world's last remaining Scrunchie. Yes, the one thing from the '90s that BuzzFeed has yet to find a way to create nostalgia around, and it is sitting right there in Alexis double-sided bathroom. It was an eggshell color and she put it in her hair and no elastic touched her precious locks because it had Scrunchie all around it. (Can you believe that there is a woman out there in the world right now who is a Scrunchie millionaire? Can you even deal with that? Can you accept the fact that she is not a Real Housewife of Somewhere? How is any of this even possible?)
What can we say about Gretchen? Oh, she's sad that Slade has to tend to his son with Spina Bifida and can't put a baby in her and all she can hear is the deafening ticks of her biological clock. She sat there on the couch talking to him and fiddling with a bit of elastic with a piece of Maribu on it that was once one of her garters but she can't wait to put on her baby's head. What can we say about Tamra? Oh, she's mad at Vicki for not coming to the Moving In Party for the Wines by Wives Dot Com office. First of all, this business does not need an office. It needs a Skype account and some guy at a laptop in a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Keep the overhead down people! And now Tamra and Vicky, who already have offices of their own, have vanity offices at some scummy industrial park somewhere in Tarzana. Is that even in Orange County? Who knows? Who cares! It's gross.
Speaking of Vicki, she had two very important conversations with men last night. First up was her son-in-law Ryan, who helped her put a car seat in her car with the help of the klieg lights he just had lying around in the garage. You know, as people do. Anyway, after the seat Vicki was like, "Listen, Ryan. I want Brooks to come by the house." And Ryan said, "No, sorry. We didn't agree to that. I have safety concerns." OK, I hate Brooks as much as the next person and he is a bigger grifter than Anjelica Huston in The Grifters, but he is not a "safety concern." What is he worried about? That Brooks is going to kidnap his baby and hold him for ransom and he's going to have to get a suitcase full of unmarked bills or something? That is just silly. But Vicki pushed and said she wanted Brooks to come and Ryan said, "Well, we're moving out then." And Vicki said OK. Ryan is pissed, she is pissed but wants him to say everything is fine, and he just walked into the house without saying a word.
Then Vicki had dinner with Brooks. First of all the waitress comes over and he was like, "I'd like to order Vicki martinis," as if he's out to dinner with the world's most famous person and the waitress should just immediately know what that is. She looked at him quizzically and he said, "You know it's a martini with olives but..." and then Vicki finished his sentence "with, you know, blue cheese in the olives." She says it embarrassed like she doesn't want to bother the waitress to go through all this trouble to make the drink or like a child whose mother just mad her "do that thing" for company. But she does. Also, O to the Em Gee! When was this a Vicki Martini? Like Season 3? How long ago was that? And Brooks wasn't even there for it! I would say this was like when you go visit your mom and she was like, "I made your favorite: Sloppy Joes!" but you haven't had a Sloppy Joe since the last time you went to visit her and you stopped liking them somewhere around your 17th birthday but you just can't figure out how to tell your mom you don't like Sloppy Joes when it brings her so much joy to make them for you. I would say it's like that, but it's not. It's more like having dinner with Tina Fey and the waitress comes over and you're like, "Can we get some Cheesy Blasters. Right? Right? Amiright?!" Embarrassing.
Anyway, at the dinner Brooks said that he wants to come and visit but Vicki said that they won't let him and he tells them that it's her house and she makes the rules and they should do what she says. Give me an NRA membership and call me Strom Thurmon, but Brooks is actually right. Brianna and Ryan have no right to tell Vicki who can and can't be in her house. However, both parties need to pressure her to make a choice. The problem here is not that they don't like each other, it's that Vicki seems perfectly happy having both sides at odds with each other because it means she gets everything. She gets to see Brooks and live with her daughter. They both need to tell her, listen, you need to pick between the two of us and we will move on from there. That is what has happened. Vicki can not have Brooks and the rest of her friends and family, so she needs to decide. I've said that a million times, but there it is again.
Heather Dubrow got a part on Hot in Cleveland which I think of as less of a sitcom and more of a government assistance program for aging actresses without retirement plans. Heather has finally gotten her chance in the unemployment lottery and will be on the show. Good for her. I can't wait to see her tape her episode on her reality type television program.
What I really don't like is this Heather and Terry's Bickering Theater nonsense that we keep getting invited to. It just doesn't seem genuine. It seems like she is getting mad at silly petty things that he said disingenuously to get a rise out of him. I get it, that's annoying, but we don't need to see them fight. Can't we just have one Hosuewives couple that gets along and is in a happy marriage. Actually we have a handful (Mario & Ramona and Mauricio & Kyle come to mind) but can we have another one? Can we have one on OC? Please. Thanks guys.
OK, are you ready? It's now time to talk about Sweet Judy Blue Eyes. Now when you think of Lydia's mother, you don't think of a real actual human being, you think of the witch who sprinkled magic dust on a chicken carcass and brought it to life. Well, it turns out, Judy is just that. Judy lives in a place called the Land of the Bunnies, and there everything is happy and wonderful and everyone is in harmony with the earth. Everything is made out of jade crystals and everyone makes their living as turquoise jewelry salespeople on the sides of the road in New Mexico. Their bunnies don't hop and play in the meadow all day, they walk upright and tell you what to do. They are your lords and masters and they make sure that everyone is kind to nature and wears flowy outfits from the Stevie Nicks Collection for Chicos.
Yes, Judy is sort of like Glenda the Good Witch if Glenda had a gravity bong set up in her bathtub. When she encounters a stranger, she needs to sprinkle them with her magic dust and say a little prayer so that they are in her world too. "Shimmer of hope. Shine of belief. Shock of humor," she says as the dust she keeps in a little magical jar rains down on everyone around her. Judy's other magical gift is that she can make money appear from nowhere. Yes, she is rich. She just has money to throw around like they're rainbows on a clear day in a field where the sun beats down on the grass and a handsome naked man with long hair approaches in slow motion through the wild flowers to lay you down on a hillside and suckle your various nectars.
The problem is, Lydia does not like the Land of the Bunnies. She doesn't want her mother to live there and the two times that she has visited she has had to call her mother right away and have her come pick her up and rescue her and take her someplace real and cold and cynical. It is a church. Yes, Lydia lives in the House of the Lord and that seems diametrically opposed to where Judy has built her marshmallow palace. I guess it makes sense. We all rebel against our parents in many ways and the more extreme the parents usually the more extreme the rebellion. If your mom is essentially a Wiccan priestess that you would rebel by becoming a Puritan.
The problem is Lydia is winning. She has lured her mother out of the Land of the Bunnies permanently. She told Judy that her babies (one of which has the Christian name "Maverick") are going to live the holy life of the church and no Priestess of the Bunnies is ever going to love and cuddle her spawn. So Judy has left the Bunnies behind and has gone to live in the real world with the rest of us. When we meet Judy, her color has faded and her wind in her hair has died down to something that leaves her locks languid. We see them shopping and we see them at lunch and you can tell, just tell, that Judy misses the bunnies, oh yes she does. She thinks about them with every stray thought and thinks about bringing them up at every lull in the conversation, but she does not. She lives the life of a sad exile.
But as soon as lunch was over and Lydia drove away, Judy got in her car and she looked out on the sad parking lot in front of her. It was nothing but pavement and that green brown grass that is as brittle as overly-dyed hair. There were yellow lines and the haze of the hot afternoon making them flit a bit back and forth. She couldn't take it anymore. Judy had to go home. She took out her magic pipe and inhaled. This is the kind of pipe where you suck in instead of blowing out, and a little tune played. The world swirled around her and suddenly she was there, bright and relaxed and she saw the bunnies approaching the car.
"Welcome back, Judy," a big one, called Britghtstar, said to her. He was brown with a white belly and blue eyes. "Would you like to come to a picnic?" he asked, opening her car door. He took her hand and she stepped out. Suddenly she was wearing a violet gown and there were streamers hanging from a floral crown around her head. Judy was so delighted to be back, so happy to get going to a picnic. The parking lot was gone and before her there was a sea of dandelions just all yellow and magical and all you could hear was the buzzing of invisible bees going about their work. Brightstar still had her hand and she started to wade through the weeds towards whatever lunch awaited her. She took several slow steps, getting her bearings in this world that she had left for months.
"No," Brightstar said, stopping her for a moment. "Here we only skip."
Follow Brian Moylan on Facebook and Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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We enter on a road. Winding, deserted, it plunges deep into a dark and hazy wood. We race through, the darkness getting darker, and a dank chill takes over the air. After several minutes we have reached a clearing — a tall and creaky mansion. In the air, you hear faint giggles: a curious juxtaposition to the sadness that feels the air around.
This is the story of curious female and part-time manic pixie dream cartoon, Emily Maynard. Single mom to daughter Ricki, she was won and then lost by the rogue fizzy-lifting-drink maker Brad Womack. A mysterious sprite, she was the dream of every dude from former Bachelorette Ashley Hebert’s season. Emily, of glittery blonde hair and world's most annoying voice, is a woman with a dream, though — and she's a single mom whose fiancé died in a sad, sad story, so we can't make fun of her and America must de facto love her. A Ms. Havisham of our time.
She's 26. She spoils her daughter with chocolate chips and pancakes because — ha ha! — she is a real, down-home Amurrican mom. But every night as she climbs up the stairs, she hears the creak in the steps and realizes she's alone in the house that racing built. Her castle of sadness and broken dreams. A house so sad that she cannot leave it, in fear that it will swallow her Ricki whole — or at least drain her of her childhood innocence and joy.
She thought she had found the answer in that dastardly Brad Womack. You see, he had previously proposed, but, in a shocking twist not seen on TV, their romance did not last. She's a simple, wistful girl: engaged twice, married never. But her good fortune lies in her ability to be super-logical. Third time's the charm, America! She will find love on this show or she will die trying to keep it alive. Being engaged is special. Lucky for our fair Emily, she is granted a guide for this epic quest: the noble Chris Harrison, here to navigate the murky waters of love.
NEXT: The quiet before the storm
Emily, leaving her precious diamond child Ricki at home, is nervous but sparkly. Her Bumpit is high and her worries are nigh. In this kingdom, we take a shot every time someone says tragic. We’re up to three 30 minutes in. It is going to be a good night.
Emily hears the dull hum of the approaching limousines and her heart begins to race as she feels a stirring deep within her — it warms her from her heart to her tiny, shaky wrists and ankles "Babies! A minivan full of babies!" she cries, clasping her hands to her chest, her fragile bones clanking from the force of her joy. Imagine — a future for her home at last; enough babies to keep her Ricki’s happiness safe from the house that eats happiness. She will need those babies.
Chris, ever the intuitive guide, tells her to reel that s**t in because while these dudes are "here for her," and definitely not for the cameras, it doesn't mean she should lead with her deep, dark secret.
The problem is — we’re not going to meet any princes, Emily. We're going to meet 25 DUDES. The dudiest dudes to ever dude. Let’s meet this stone cold pack of kinderbros, shall we?
- Kalon is from Houston, Texas, and you know is just a total douchebag from second one. He "used" to be a total player. Those two popped collars say otherwise though. Bro.
- Ryan is from Augusta Georgia and already is the clear frontrunner. He teaches kids and is a good Southern boy with a cute dog. He also gives her a semi-endearing sign when he gets there and she is smitten kitten over him. It’s almost as if he was… made… for Emily… curious.
- Tony is from Beaverton, Ore. He sells wood and is a dad, too! (I'm sensing a theme here.) He has a flesh-colored soul patch that he borrowed from the land of SpencerPrattia, so there’s not much we can do with him.
- Lerone is from Los Angeles. A family man with a very tiny dog that loves the s**t out of MILFs.
- David is our token singer-songwriter from NYC. OF COURSE. Walking the mean streets of Manha — OH NO NOT A SONG ABOUT EMILY THIS IS TERRIBLE PLEASE MAKE IT STOP. Secondhand Embarrassment is a first-hand killer.
- Charlie is from Nashville, and also another clear frontrunner. He was in an accident and almost died, you guys. He broke a bunch of s**t and had a brain injury — and only then realized he wanted a family. The one thing he really has going for him is that his dog freaking RULES. I have no idea how he’s going to leave that pooch, until I realize how much this head injury might be to his rational thought process; "I may have had a head injury but there's nothing wrong with my heart!” A thought that only a bitter ABC writer could craft.
- Next up is hipster Jef. NO F, because there wasn’t enough room for his pompadour and that letter "f." He’s from Salt Lake and is the CEO of a bottled water company that builds wells for impoverished communities around the world. Oh and he skateboards because that is what every mature professional adultperson does. And it is a genetic fact that ladies can’t help but love a man on a skateboard — they just roll right into your heart!
NEXT: Opening old wounds
- OH GOOD ANOTHER RACER CAR DRIVER. I mean… Arie! His name is Arie and he’s from Scottsdale, Ariz., because the producers of this show lost their souls long ago and like to bring pain and tears to national television. (Fair Emily, ever the optimist, is reminded of her long-lost love, hopes to find the ghost of her old fiancé in this man’s bucket seats.)
Next we have the actual dudes entering the scene. We’ll run through them listicle-style because 90 percent of them will be gone in 20 minutes anyway.
There’s Sean from Dallas, Doug from Seattle (another single dad!), glorious male-parody Jackson the fitness model (we’d play a drinking game every time he showed his abs if he made it past tonight), and Joe the exuberant professional yeller from Los Angeles. He probably visits oxygen bars and drinks a lot of wheat grass and went to the Chris Traeger School of Emotions.
There’s Kyle from Long Beach, who feels like a party DJ from the local bar mitzvah circuit, and Chris (aka Mr. SUPERRELIGIOUS) who is both blessed and praying to God, and I’m just uncomfortable at this point. Aaron is a biology teacher who is also from Long Beach (the production team really couldn’t be assed to look all that far outside of Los Angeles County, huh?) and he has hipster glasses and (it hurts to type this) CHEMISTRY with Emily. Alessandro is clearly the token stoner dad that’s apparently Brazilian. I’m not sure what he’s doing on this show, though, because didn’t Girls get picked up for a second season? You guys, HE IS A GRAIN MERCHANT. I can’t.
Next up we have Stevie from JERSEY. His actual profession is allegedly Party MC, and I am convinced that Hollywood is contractually obligated to only cast the worst of the worst New Jersey stereotypes on everything. I have a personal obsession with Stevie, though, because he looks like this kid I used to hate in college, so clearly I hope he falls into the pool. I'm glad he stays on because I want to see everyone hate him when he causes all sorts of weird obsessive drama that is completely of his own making.
Charlie is next and he is so completely inoffensive I have nothing else to add. We should also note at this point that Tony the lumber trader shows up and pulls out a glass slipper! Because girls only like Disney movies! Oh my cod, the cheese right now. This one really hurts my soul, though, because it’s actually a brilliant move, as Emily was stitched together from the facets of other Disney queens from the past.
Next comes OH NO a dude in granny drag. Randy is from Hermosa Beach and is totally going to Norman Bates the s**t out of Emily. Where’s Harrison?!
Some ghost named Nate walked past and disappated through the walls, so we have nothing to say here other than he is blonde.
Brent is the resident Old Balls and from Fresno. Also I am just realizing now that nearly ever dudebro on this show has Brent’s haircut. They must all go to the same Supercuts. Also he has six children because… I have no idea why. That is so many children.
Next is John, a.k.a. "Wolf," and he actually admits that this is a nickname and has people write it on the screen of a national televised program. He is very orange so I suppose he doesn’t know any better.
NEXT: Guard and protect your egg.
Okay, let’s just get right to it: eggs are the new masks, you guys! Actually, Travis just thought that Emily was actually a bird that could sit and then hatch the mutant ostrich monster baby that he created while lost in The Bush in Australia. It was a cold and lonely time, but that Ostrich — her name was Melinda — kept him warm. She looked into his soul. She was shot for steaks the next day. Emily, with her puckish demeanor and squawking voice was the obvious choice to bring his bird-monster-love-baby into the world. Of course all the dudes are like WTF, Ostrich egg? But Travis doesn’t care — he knows there’s a chance for him, and a life just waiting to horrify beneath that shell.
Next is Fabio, erm, Michael from Austin, Texas. He gives Emily a guitar pick and probably dandruff shoulder. After him struts Jean-Paul, a.k.a. baby John Mayer.
Alejandro rolls up speaking Español and is laying it on so thick that my eyes have gotten stuck in the back of my head from rolling.
And last and definitely the least is Kalon (what the hell is that name, even?), showing up in a helicopter to make sure that everyone hates him. Stevie hates him because he can’t deal with someone being more loud and obnoxious than him. I can’t wait to find out that Kalon has, like, 17 girlfriends at home. He's the game-player who clearly either has another girlfriend at home or wants to become an actor. Everyone hates him so much, I'm dying laughing.
Spoiler alert: the first impression rose is actually a horcrux of Brad Womack’s. Emily has hidden them throughout the season and the men must find them to prove themselves worthy enough of the quest to destroy him (which is actually what happens at the end of the season. Not a marriage proposal. Spoiler alert!).
Chris shows up for his one-on-one time with a pair of bobbleheads to represent the two of them. Emily turns them into Voodoo dolls and with the kiss of the bobbleheads, Chris is now bound by mystical forces to follow Emily on her quest to destroy The Womack.
JEF H8S MATERIAL THINGS, YOU GUYS. Except for his skateboard. And probably his iPad. And definitely his espresso machine (hand-pulled, none of that automated crap. Duh). He looks like an extra from the Arcade Fire.
Doug is a single dad just like 99 percent of these dudes, but this unique snowflake decided to forge a letter from his son Austin for Emily. This, of course, reheats the blood running within Emily’s veins. Babies! Children! Doug gets the first impression rose for this.
Stevie (that dude I hate) is in SALES (of course). He knows fakery, because salesmen are the world's most honest humans and can smell fakery a mile away. He makes sure to do nothing but obsessively talk about every move Kalon makes because that always goes so well for people on these shows. Go dance on some tables to LMFAO, dude.
Arie actually does the smart thing and tells Emily he's a race car driver like her dead fiancé. I’m sure the producers were waiting for some drama, but Emily — blinded by how well their features would combined to make genetically superior tiny humans — tells him it doesn’t matter.
NEXT: The rose ceremony
So the obvious ones get roses. Sent home are Lerone (even Emily finds your MILF obsession creepy, dude), David, Jackson The Fitness Model (OH NO! Devastated), Randy (duh, Emily is not trying to end up living in the Bates Motel), Baby John Mayer, and Brent. Brent being the biggest surprise as he already comes with a minivan of babies, so I’m not sure what Emily was thinking there. Look at all the babies she could’ve had automatically! So many babies. Oh well, next time (only maybe not because Brent starts crying saying he’s going to die alone because he’s Old Balls & has a small herd of children). Hang in there, bud.
I’m just glad Stevie made it through so I have someone to misplace all my anger on.
Emily whisks away towards her castle of tears and old engagements. She must check on fair Ricki. Make sure the house hasn’t eaten her soul yet. Not much longer now, dear house — and you will have your fill.
Follow Alicia on Twitter: @alicialutes
[Image Credit: ABC]
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