Even Vicki Gunvalson’s new facial armor can’t protect her from her apparent fate this season on The Real Housewives of Orange County. Of course we won't know exactly how b**chy things will get, because Monday night’s premiere was basically one big tease for what looks to be an explosive string of episodes. The theme, however, is consistent: Vicki is the b**ch.
After sustaining some hacky commentary from Slade during his brief and terrible reign as an open mic night stand-up comedian, Vicki is still stinging from his idea that she looks like Miss Piggy. Sure, that’s natural. Words hurt and Slade is a douche, but most people just buy themselves some new clothes and take up with a younger man for a few weeks. Vicki, however, wants something more permanent: out the doors goes her hoarse cry “my parents think I’m beautiful!” and in comes surgical procedures from Alexis Bellino’s trusted plastic surgeon-who-totally-only-does-medically-necessary-plastic-surgery-so-back-off. Vicki had fat from her rear injected into her cheeks and “cartilage reconstruction” on her nose (Vicki just say it: you had a nose job). Much like Heidi Montag before her, she claims that her face looks a little strange because she’s still swollen from surgery. Okay, sure. Just know we’ll be here all season, Vicks.
After we meet Vicki’s new face, we prepare to meet the second most important new person in her life: Briana’s baby. Mama Vicki says Briana is “huge” (thanks, mom) and “ready to pop,” and so we follow Vicki, Briana, and Briana’s boyfriend Ryan to the hospital where labor proceeds to take 18 hours and then poof (skipping past the part where labor is a b**ch) Briana has a beautiful baby boy. And Vicki has a new thing she gets to pride herself on: being a grandma.
Of course, she’ll play grandma alone because after the fallout last season over Brooks — King Rapscallion himself — Vicki thought it was best to break up. Still, she says she could go back to him because she’s “like totally handicapped without men.” (Suck it, feminism.) Which means she didn’t so much break up with him as she did prepare him to be one of the main story lines this season.
It’s something Gretchen and Tamara aren’t buying. Later, at Heather’s gala disguised as a clam bake, the cackling bookends (no literally, they are dress identically and cackle endlessly) offer up the theory that Vicki didn’t really break up with Brooks, she’s just hiding him from everyone. I don’t often like to agree with two grown women dressed in bestie matching outfits (accidentally, right), but yeah, Vicki’s probably got Brooks hidden under that pile of furniture she says is there because they’re “renovating.”
Still Tamara and Gretchen are ones to talk. Tamara is engaged to and living with Eddie in his house with his kids. We’re treated to montage of her cleaning every last inch of the house while Eddie, who only owns 49 percent of their company (compared to her 51) takes all day designing business cards. If this wasn’t a regression enough, Eddie then berates Tamara for wearing her sneakers in the house and for leaving lights on — those things are against his rules. Right, because basically when you get engaged it means you promise to boss that little lady around for the rest of your life.
Gretchen isn’t doing much better. Slade recently got a job as a radio DJ, which might be the only job he’s actually capable of, and he’s left her alone to run her own business and make her own breakfast. These are tasks Gretchen doesn’t handle well, resulting in her bothering Slade at “work” so he can tell her how to use their Keurig coffee maker, also known as coffee for dummies machine. At least she’s found some poor soul to help her run her makeup and bag business out of her living room/off of her Barbie pink laptop.
Heather is probably in the best shape of everyone, but mostly because she just does whatever the hell she wants all the time. She brings home live lobsters to test out (oh please, who doesn’t just come home for lunch with a variety of lobster for testing?) for her clambake, which she explains to her children as they look on like she’s speaking Russian. Yes, Heather, we get it, you’re an ex-actress. You could still speak like you’re not reciting lines from a school play. But the kids are onboard; it’s her husband Terry who’s trying to twist her arm to do things his way — namely, to include onion rings on the menu at their clam-less clambake. They do agree on one thing, however, as they munch on their lobster like it’s grilled cheese: they need security in case of intruders or Vicki’s loser boyfriend.
Heather won’t have to worry about Alexis, however, because she’s invited everyone except her: a truth that isn’t lost on Alexis because this is a reality show and everyone knows everyone’s business all the time. But Alexis is convinced she’s doing amazingly. She’s got a new haircut and a new house that her Real Housewife money bought, so clearly everything’s totally different. Especially the part where her husband Jim refuses to get rid of his “art” (cheesy pool hall naked lady sculpture) on the grounds that Alexis is more scantily clad than his statues are. While she should say, "my money bought this house, you lump of dough," she instead says that she will always change her clothes if he tells her to. What century is this?
But Alexis’ inability to stand up to her husband isn’t what we’re here to discuss. According to clever editing, the big concept here is bullying (and best-friend-stealing, which apparently didn’t die in grade school). Alexis thinks Tamara stole her best friend Gretchen, and that she was bullied by the other women because, as she puts it, she’s weaker, outnumbered, and will never be on the same page as them. Tamara and Gretchen, sipping champagne while making fun of all the clothes in an Orange County boutique, cackle over Alexis’ accusation. Because duh, bullying is only bullying if they physically harm that person or make them so distraught they seek out suicide, according to these geniuses. Please, no one let Gretchen have kids.
And after all that wonderful set up, it’s finally time for Heather’s party. Of course, Heather is just a pot stirrer — days before, she had delivered the news that Vicki’s daughter was in labor — something Tamara was insulted not to have heard from Vicki herself. So for the party, Heather places Tamara and Vicki across from each other, because the producers told her to. That well-placed email from Vicki to Tamara about how Eddie is going to leave Tamara sure isn’t going to come up when these ladies are using blunt instruments to crack lobsters open across from one another.
Come party time, Tamara is scared of seeing Vicki and Vicki is afraid to see everyone because she’s alone and her face is still swollen. To ensure that Tamara and Gretchen are all fired up, they somehow get their hands on a totally unstaged photo of Vicki holding onto a beam while the wind tousels her hair and they realize, hey Vicki’s face is totally different.
After Heather wins an argument with her husband over his unfulfilled wish to serve Australian lobster and onion rings (they got Maine lobster and new potatoes, boohoo), Tamara and Gretchen arrive to the “like presidential house” to beat up on Vicki before she gets there. Gretchen is worried that Vicki will “eat” her. Tamara and Gretchen start the rumor that Vicki is only pretending to be broken up with Brooks to keep everyone off her back. And the rest of the episode probably should have had a “b**ch” counter in the corner, because it pretty much only consisted of Vicki and Tamara’s talking head interviews about how much of a b**ch the other is.
Of course it all ends very maturely with them staring dramatically at each other from opposite ends of the party as prelude to any real action whatsoever, and what looks to be the season of the b**ch (and by b**ch, they mean Vicki, but I mean all of these women).
[Photo Credit: Bravo/NBCU]