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The Post-Wife Lives of ‘The Real Housewives of Orange County’

If you’re new to The Real Housewives of Orange County, my immediate thought is that you and I lead extremely different lives.  Also, I feel I should point out that the show’s name is monumentally misleading.  Much like the other Housewives franchise (with the marked exception of Dallas), the majority of the ladies are neither stay-at-home nor, well, wives. As of late, the cast seems to be suffering through a series of sometimes-synchronized divorces, with results that are questionable at best.  Here’s an early-season accounting of where things stand.

Vicki

“Every woman wants to get married.  I wanna get married.” 

We’re just five episodes into the new season, and one thing is clear.  Of the show’s single ladies, Vicki “Love Tank” Gunvalson seems the most stable.  Yes, you may point out that she’s the one with the most distance from her split.  Ex-husband Donn was dropped from the series (and Vicki’s life)  after the couple’s 2014 divorce.  But for a woman suffering from “empty nest” syndrome since her kids were 18 (they’re now in their early thirties), the speed of her relationship rebound is pretty impressive.

Still, it’s important to keep in mind that being the “most stable” in this bunch isn’t really saying much.  If the season previews are any indication, we’re in for some possible bumps in her romance with Steve Lodge‘s brother.

Shannon

“If you’re going to give me a bench, I need a player”

For years, the ups and downs of Shannon’s relationship with (now-ex, then-current) husband David have been a (if not THE) driver of Shannon’s storyline.

Now, with the couple’s divorce now officially under her belt (and – more importantly – that stupid Peleton that he bought as a “gift” officially out of the house), Shannon’s ready to shine. And a tequila-fueled tumble through Mexico (culminating with a naked Tamra breaking her ankle in a hot tub) is only the beginning.

Still, her divorce is incredibly fresh.  And even at Shannon’s most alcohol-driven exuberance, the darkness in her storyline is more prominent than ever.  For one, there’s her husband’s social media-based PDA with his new girlfriend (she’s 20 years his junior; looks like they’re still together).  There’s Shannon’s own drunken sobs about her fears of starting over, plus her consistently frank discussion of her body issues. All of that being said, if there’s one silver lining to Shannon’s ordeal, it’s her recent reconciliation with castmate (and fellow recent divorcee) Kelly.  It feels like only yesterday Kelly was calling Shannon “Mrs. Roper,” while echos of Shannon screeching “it was youuuuuuuuuu” sounded off in the distance.  My, how far we have come

Kelly

“I bought him a $700 dinner, and he makes me buy my own sunglasses.  I just think that’s low class”

We seem to be stuck in the never-ending cycle of Kelly Dodd’s fury.  After finding out that castmate Vicki set Kelly’s ex-husband up with another woman, Kelly was understandably hurt.  But after the third or fourth time that Kelly brought up the offending act (always to a different audience, and always with a fresh new tone of rage in her voice), my understanding was wearing a little thin.

Ultimately, and as horribly as Kelly has behaved during her past seasons, it’s hard to really hold her accountable for much this season.  Though all outward appearances (read: a steady stream of men) suggest otherwise, Kelly’s still processing a divorce that occurred all too recently.  As she admitted in an uncharacteristically serious moment of candor, “The reality is, I just got out of a 13 year marriage, and I am not used to being alone.”

Gina

“On Long Island, that sh** would never fly’

So far this season, Gina’s husband Matt has been a character in name only.  Without going into details, Gina explained that the couple moved to Orange County in the hopes of easing Matt’s prior commuter lifestyle.  In ways that are never made quite clear, that seems to have evolved to him living in LA while she stays in the ‘burbs with the couple’s children.  In some worlds, I guess that could be normal, but with Gina’s (not-joking) “jokes” about how she keeps herself busy by drinking too much time, it was definitely not a good sign.

It was with approximately zero surprise, then, that I reacted to the recent news that the couple is divorcing.   As I actually kind of like what we’ve seen of Gina so far (her bravery, as a newly minted castmember, in standing up to series vet Vicki is unparalleled), my hope is it’s for the best.

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