Countdown to Orange County

There’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon…one that will be turning into a bright blaze of Vicki Gunvalson-branded magic faster than you can say “whoop it up” (and certainly faster than you can say “is ‘whoop it up’ still a catch phrase appropriate for a face-lifted grandmother of two??”).  With the July 16 return of The Real Housewives of Orange County fast approaching, there’s no time like the present to catch up on last season.  But if (for some insane reason) you don’t think you’ll have time to watch and rewatch the 21 gems that comprise RHOC season 12, here are a few suggestions on where to get started.

1. The Not So Quiet Woman (Season 12, Episode 3)

If you’re going to watch just one episode of last year’s RHOC, I feel obligated to tell you that it would be your loss.  But, with all judgement aside, if you’re going to stick with just the one, ‘The Not So Quiet Woman’ is it.  Just ask Molly Shannon.

At the episode’s titular Quiet Woman, a subset of the RHOC had been sitting down to dinner when, like a drunken moth to the Bravo cameras’ flame, their castmate Kelly Dodd showed up.  For reasons still a little fuzzy to everyone (and, perhaps most of all, to Shannon herself), the ongoing tension between Kelly and Shannon gave rise to Shannon throwing a plate of food on the floor and Kelly pressing her mouth, fish-style, against one of the restaurant’s many stained glass windows.

Queit Woman aside, the epsiode also features a rare Charlie the Guinea Pig sighting (RIP, I assume…sadly, it doesn’t seem that those animals last that long).

2. A Case of the Vickis (Season 12, Episode 17)

In every Housewives season, there comes a time when the producers stick the cast in confined spaces, mix a little jet lag with a lot of alcohol, and wait to see what happens.  For Season 12 of RHOC, Iceland was honored as the setting of said sadistically gleeful experiment.

Following an all-day hiking excursion and several equally intense days of drinking, Vicki Gunvalson suffered a heart attack (or, you know, hangover.  Whichever.)  After emerging from her room with a robe over her head (“Does she think she’s Michael Jackson?” questioned an uncharacteristically insightful Tamra), Vicki spent some uneventful time in the hospital as her friends bickered about visiting her, all without ever actually…you know.  Visiting.

And as if that weren’t enough, the subsequent Tamra/Vicki reunion (complete with a mildly coherent Shannon Beador muttering “f*****g liar” in the background), is well worth the wait.

3. Breast Intentions (Season 12, Episode 11)

From the moment Shannon’s golden retriever attempts to thwart her work call (…been there), I knew I was in for a particular treat.  But when the action moved to Kelly’s “Goodbye GG’s” volleyball tournament (a pre-breast reduction send-off), I was officially hooked.

From Vicki’s genuine befuddlement over why not EVERYONE has to love her to Shannon’s overly confident trash talking, the game was just barely overshadowed by the epic marathon of an all-Housewives throwdown that rounded out the day.

4. Candle Wicks and Lunatics (Season 12, Episode 19)

Considering the then-impeding divorces of Kelly and Michael and Shannon and David, respectively, it’s difficult to imagine Meghan’s season finale candle party (yes…candle party. Moving on) going any other way.  Between a quietly smug Peggy effortlessly inspiring Shannon’s nonsensical rant (“I’m not an expert, but if you’re screaming at a party ‘you f****** lunatic,’ you’re probably the one that’s an f****** lunatic,” observed Lydia), and Kelly unabashedly talking about Michael directly in front of him, the writing on the wall was about as subtle as Kelly’s blinged-out statement earrings.

5. Armenian Rhapsody (Season 12, Episode 14)

The depth of emotion in Vicki and Tamra’s on-again/off-again “Thelma and Louise” pairing has fueled basically every season since Tamra joined the cast – and Season 12 is no exception.

However, not even those two could keep the spotlight off the episode’s true breakout star .  9 year old Koko (son of one-season Housewife Peggy Sulahian) proudly holds that title in his gentle little hands.  Between the belly-dancer-induced sparkle in his eyes and his stoic reaction to a truly whacked-out Vicki, Koko is by far the Bravo star we all need.

Catch up on full twelfth season of The Real Housewives of Orange County on demand.  Season 13 premieres July 16 at 9pm ET on Bravo.