Reality Roundup: Checking in with Orange County

There are many reality shows that I dip in and out of – but The Real Housewives of Orange County will never be one of those.  Twelve seasons in and with an original castmember still in tow, the show is still running strong, continuously holding its weight in one-liner gold.  In case you haven’t been keeping up this season (or ever) here’s a taste of what you’ve been missing – and (hopefully) an indication of what the OC still has in store.

“I now understand that Peggy’s gone through a lot in her life and I need to give her a second chance.  So I will.  If she fixes that resting b**** face.” – Tamra

Rookie housewife Peggy seemed genuinely puzzled by Tamra’s description of her natural facial posture, spending the large part of their dinner together covering her mouth to prevent the telltale expression from shining through (or was she just trying to hold back laughter?  The truth is, we may never really know).

Still, what she may have been reluctant to say to Tamra’s face, she was more than willing to tell the camera directly: “Don’t act like a b****.  And I won’t give you the face.”

Can’t argue with that.

“There’s a lot of ingredients in this s*** recipe that’s going on here” – Briana

Relegated to scenes this year with returning newcomer Lydia, actual newcomer Peggy, and last year’s newcomer Kelly, self-proclaimed OG Vicki (who, to her credit, has been on the oldest Housewives franchise since the show’s beginning, earning her at least the ‘O’ part of the ‘OG’ title) has struggled to find her filming footing.   Since her season-subsuming feud with castmates Tamra (oh, what I wouldn’t give for just one more pee-the-bed-laughing scene with those two) and Shannon have precluded scenes with those two, she’s needed to get a little more creative – and a little more reliant on her reluctant filming buddy/daughter Briana.

Not that I’m complaining.  I’ve been watching this show since Briana graduated high school, and her level-headed take on her mother’s less-than-level-headed escapades always goes over well.  Still, for Briana’s sanity (she already has two actual toddlers to take care of, after all), I truly hope that Vicki will take her advice and throw back a few fireballs on her way back to friendship with Tamra.

 “Just don’t make any criminal allegations about my husband and we’ll be good”- Shannon (to a moderately not-at-all interested Peggy)

Storming into this season with a grudge to bear against Vicki Gunvalson (and Vicki’s allegations during last season’s reunion), the resentment has yet to subside.

Since Shannon’s clearly refusing to film with Vicki directly, their interactions have been limited to a few distance-keeping moments at group events – but face-to-face is not really how Housewife wars play out anyway.  Instead, dueling wives ignite an all-out propaganda war, using both powers of persuasion and of past grievances to draw their fellow castmembers to their (clearly righteous) side.

This season, newcomer Peggy has been caught in Shannon (backed by bat-out-of-hell Tamra) and Vicki’s emotional tug-of-war more than once – but she’s only shown the most lukewarm signs of choosing sides (mostly, it seems, because she honestly just does not care about the constant petty drama – a stance that calls into question why she joined the show in the first place).  Still, let’s hope she stays in line with Shannon’s allegation-avoiding instructions.  After all, since fellow castmember Meghan recently stirred the pot (or, more accurately, kicked over the cauldron) on that still-sore point, you can be sure they’ll be dragged through the storyline for many episodes to come.

 “Vicki should be happy that everybody wants to include me” – Kelly

I’ve watched enough Southern Charm to know that the phrase “bless her heart” was crafted specifically with Kelly Dodd in mind.  From her “accidentally” stumbling on the rest of the cast filming a scene at a local bar (not that I’m complaining – the woman deserves an Emmy for her masterful work in pressing her face against a window to creep in on a scene outside) to that high-pitched thing her voice does when she’s lying (and let me tell you, it does that a LOT), the woman knows exactly what she’s doing – but that never stops her from acting like she doesn’t.

Her navigation of the constantly shifting social allegiances is no exception.  Having shown her crazy face last season, Kelly opened the current one at the bottom of the very deep hole that she had dug for herself.  However, with her eyes on the prize called Tamra Judge (the season’s clear ring leader), she’s shown a true talent for treating friendships as disposal – and important addition to the Housewife arsenal if there ever was one.

 “Shannon’s a dead ringer for Bret Michaels.  And I don’t even know if that’s a compliment.” – Tamra

I’m a sucker for a Housewife in a costume (bonus points if she drags her dog into it as well).  The thing is, when almost every episode is guaranteed to end in screaming of some variety, there’s only so many ways you can spice that up.  Sure, Shannon picked up some momentum earlier this season by throwing a plate (which, for the record, was NOT. HER. PLATE.), but since then, all tableware has pretty much stayed where it’s supposed to be.

And then drag queen bingo came along.

I didn’t question why the women (expect, notably, for Tamra) insisted on heavy eye makeup and highlighter to complement their manly looks.  I didn’t think twice about why Tamra really thought this would be the perfect event to drag her psychic to (although, to her credit, it really was).  All I needed to do was sit back, buckle in, and wait for someone to say something the slightest bit unpleasant – and, just as they’ve done in every moment of the eleven seasons that have come before, the OC ladies were every bit as nutty as I have come to expect.

New episodes of The Real Housewives of Orange County air 9:00pm ET Monday on Bravo and are available the next day on-demand.

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