Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 8, Episode 6 of Bravo's "Real Housewives of Orange County," titled "A Star is Reborn?"
The ladies of Orange County have moved from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays, so we all must spring forward one hour to revel in their rarefied world of crystallized decay and disposable ennui. Let's get it started!
Since Heather is the self-appointed queen of champagne (or "champs" as she business-class casually refers to it) she and Lydia and Tamra have a Perrier-Jouët toast at an oddly rustic-looking restaurant. The three settle in and commence smack talking, mostly about Alexis and her Jesus/Bully fixation.
Lydia, still the awkward newcomer but looking rather fetching in her onyx bejeweled headband, posits that she can be friends with everyone -- Tamra, Heather, and Alexis. She's not in third grade with friendship bracelets anymore! To which I say: There should be a line of "Real Housewives" themed friendship bracelets, if someone hasn't licensed them already. @bravoandy #callme.
The three women are served heaping entrees, as Lydia exclaims, "It's a party on our plate." In an uncharacteristically genuine and somewhat sober moment, they come to the realization that they actually might like each other.
Meanwhile, in a cavernous bathroom built for two, Alexis announces that Jim's new flannel pants have arrived. The crimson-and-black plaid pants look identical to the ones he's wearing in the shot. Does he have a fresh pair delivered every evening? We don't have much time to ponder, as Alexis and Jim execute a tandem grooming session. Jim lathers up to shave and Alexis uses about seven different cleansers to extricate the geological layers of makeup she apparently wears each day as she brings out the ol' dead horse of bullying for one final flog.
Jim then asks Alexis to define insanity. She answers, "doing the same thing over and over with the same result." Jim corrects her, barking, "with different results." They are both misquoting a quote that is falsely attributed to Albert Einstein. So -- misquoting a misquote! Love it.
But Jim is correct in his pronouncement that Alexis is taking the scripture too seriously by allowing herself to silently take abuse from the other ladies. Then, he suddenly turns from sage, micro-bearded elder to enraged, over-caffeinated high school football coach by shouting, "Enough is enough! You need to get in a defensive position!"
Alexis looks stricken and doubtful. Side note: My lovely mother-in-law Sarah Wagner, an expert on timeless etiquette and "Real Housewives" foibles, posed the following question: "What is your take on Alexis with her high-necked dresses and string of pearls? It is such a contrast to her previous season's appearances. Are the viewers expected to forget her past? Perhaps their pastor spoke with her."
It has indeed been quite the modesty makeover! Although sadly I suspect it was likely a third-rate publicist and not a learned pastor that suggested her classy-gal style overhaul.
Anyhow! Vicki and her well-intentioned but increasingly militant son-in-law Ryan assemble a car seat in Vicki's garage, which is just as cumbersome and vexing as the issues between them. Vicki wants her gadabout boyfriend Brooks to be welcome in her home. Ryan says he respects Vicki but does not respect her decision to be with Brooks.
C'mon, Vicki, assert yourself! You own the house! Tell Lieutenant Overstepping Boundaries to let you live your life or go dig a judgmental foxhole elsewhere. I am far from a Brooks advocate, but it's not heartening to see Vicki steamrolled like this.
Now we fade in to a storyline about Lydia and her stoner mom. "Saying my mom is eccentric is putting it mildly," Lydia explains. "She beats to her own drum." Oh these women and their problems with simple colloquialisms! But, all linguistic quibbles are moot as mama Judy bursts on the scene; a sweet, bubbly acid casualty with a sparkly heart of gold. The mother-daughter pair go shopping, and we see Judy spray an unsuspecting sales girl with "magic fairy dust" and the purchase of almost three thousand dollars' worth of regrettable outfits. Judy says that shopping bags are bad because they come from trees, and something about how she was once a tree. Then, she takes the bag anyway.
Across town ... honey, Slade's home! Slade actually looks non-sleazy in a button-down and tie. He expresses concern about his son, whom he last saw in a New York intensive care unit. Then he frets about Gretchen's mood, and wonders why she has stopped talking about the two of them starting a family, which seems like a ridiculous thing to focus on, but who knows what is bouncing around the panic-stricken brain of a father whose child is sick. There are clearly a lot of issues at play here, none of which I am remotely qualified to comment on. It is just very sad.
In a typically abrupt transition, Heather and Tamra go shopping in an upscale activewear boutique! After discussing their boobs and various age-related gravitational pulls, Heather gets a call from her agent offering her a role on "Hot In Cleveland" and Tamra gives her the fakest smile-grimace that has ever been bared in an upscale female activewear boutique dressing room, and that, my friends, is an extremely high bar.
It's date night for Vicki (who dons a mink coat recalling a streamlined version of Bette Midler's in "Big Business") to meet Brooks, who looks sort of schlubby in a mock-turtleneck polo. "I got all dressed up," Vicki says, wistfully.
Brooks orders a round of "Vicki-tinis" (for the un-initiated, it's a dirty martini with bleu cheese stuffed olives). Vicki quickly launches in to the "what are we doing?" question. She reveals that she has a strong emotional and spiritual connection with him. He admits that he's seeing other people. She, of course, loses it.
Brooks then takes the scoundrel's way out, putting it all back on Vicki, reminding her that she brought her anti-Brooks daughter and son-in-law back into her home, and that changed the dynamic. "If they lived in my house, they'd live by my rules," says the southern-fried smoothie.
Then Vicki raises up both arms and makes an unfathomably depressing marionette move, saying she's being pulled in two different directions -- she loves her daughter and she loves Brooks. Toward which direction will the mighty fates pull?
Meanwhile, Lydia and Stoner Mom Judy have lunch. They want an outside table, only by that, Judy meant an inside table. Outside.
Their lunch is to celebrate Judy's not smoking pot for three months. The fact that Judy is so obviously stoned for this occasion fills this recapper with unprecedented glee. Lydia then explains that, growing up, she turned to God in the absence of parental guidance.
"You were so flighty and in land of the bunnies," she says to her mom, who hoists her glass of sparkling water, regarding it with silent awe. They toast her new chapter of sobriety as I keenly visualize Judy rolling a joint under the table and smoking it out the window on her way back home on Highway 1.
Next, we're at "Wines With Wives" headquarters, a nebulous club that Vicki and Tamra started. Indeed, WWW's mission, goals, and reason for existence is totally unclear. But Tamra's been "working very hard," and there's a "wine trip to Malibu" in the works. Will Vicki participate and come through or flake out and further sully their friendship?
Elsewhere in Swanksville, the Dubrow brood arrives at a nice restaurant. The kids busy themselves with homework and coloring. Heather rubs her high cheekbones and mentions the stress descending upon her over the next few weeks. Terry makes a silly joke with the kids about Heather not having "math genes," sending Heather into broody frosty-mode. Terry makes another joke about letting the kids stay up late while Heather films her TV show and Heather is now spitting tacks.
They seem to be having a difficult time communicating on a very basic level.
Heather continues to freeze Terry out, concentrating on the kids' homework, as he makes recalcitrant overtures. Then, hapless Terry says the worst thing you could ever say to anyone in any situation, ever:
Heather's eyes turn to obsidian shards of doom, and what should have been an enviable family dinner limps to a tense conclusion, as did this refreshingly loose and loopy episode! Thank you, Judy.
Next time: A high-stakes wine tasting in ... Malibu. Terry uses the "D word." Vicki tries on a bad shearling coat, and Tamra swears like a sailor! Tally-ho, friends!
"The Real Housewives of Orange County" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.