Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 8, Episode 13 of Bravo's "Real Housewives of Orange County," titled "Wedding Dress Stress."
It's a common truism that in life, and in reality TV, major upheavals like weddings, holidays, cross-country moves, and assembling IKEA furniture can turn rational, lovable humans into diabolical, swarthy sailor versions of themselves. Let's see if this episode proves or disproves this theory, as Tamra shops for her wedding dress.
Now, there have been many commenters aboard the Tamra hate-train, whilst others aim their vitriol Vicki-wards. I try, as your recapper, to remain neutral, but I will say that there's something about Tamra's oft-filthy chutzpah that appeals to me this season. That said, let's get into this mess!
We open on CUT Fitness, which seemingly has not advanced very much, design-wise, in recent weeks. It looks like a flatteringly lit demolition zone. Undaunted, Eddie and Tamra sit at a makeshift dinner table and eat some Greek takeout as they discuss the lack of flooring and the previous week's Salsa party.
"You could pass as a gay man in a split second," Tamra tells Eddie, as we flash back to Eddie in criminally tight pants executing a Lambada-level move.
"I like to dance," Eddie shrugs.
Tamra then relates that she's annoyed with Gretchen. She doesn't think it's fair that Gretchen expressed reservations about joining her in wedding dress shopping if Alexis was also attending.
Eddie rationally states, "This is childish," as Tamra feeds some unidentified Greek leftovers to their dog.
Over in Dubrow-ville, Heather gets a call for a possible reccurring role on a new show entitled "Malibu Country." This time, Terry does not crack a corny joke or belittle her; instead he seems genuinely excited about her career trajectory. It's a rather rapid turnaround, but I'll give the Dubrows the benefit of the doubt.
And, at long last, it's the day of Tamra's wedding dress shopping trip! As a snarky set-up, Lauri interviews, "I think it's funny that it's Tamra's third time at the altar."
"Every other wedding dress was a maternity dress," Tamra says in her interview. Point taken.
As one united team of bridal support, the women file into a limo, shepherded by a tired-looking, umbrella-wielding chauffeur. Inside the limo, Lydia says she believes in love and marriage and thinks Tamra should "go big."
And ... Gretchen is coming! Before they pick up the group's current bête noire, the girls relive the "cheeseburger" shade that Slade threw Lydia at her Salsa party.
Vicki (who seems, er, a bit puffier than usual?) relates that Slade wants to "cut down a woman."
"Grow up, Slade, you're not a girl ... or maybe you are." Vicki continues, in a typically garbled insult.
The group mutually agrees that Slade shouldn't comment on a woman's appearance. Lydia calls him a "tool" and says that she's not afraid to tell that to Gretchen. Then, there's talk about Gretchen's new Rolls Royce and how it's probably rented.
Oh man, would I love to be Gretchen arriving into this black stretch limo of goodwill! But, she slides in with pride, wearing a crimson trench and a gigantic engagement ring from her late fiancé Jeff. Vicki wonders why, of all days, Gretchen decided to bust out this particular morbid bling. There's not too much time for speculation as the ladies emerge at Mark Zunino bridal, where a supplicant stylist calls them all "runway material".
"I'm going to plan this whole wedding around the dress," Tamra says. No pressure, Mark Zunino.
The girls paw through the dresses. Some are sparkly. Some are slinky. Most are very ornate and, on a purely tactile basis, I want to try them all on. Choosing one option, Tamra, never one for mincing words, asks Mark Z. how she would "hide the nipples." Then, Heather, who has bat-ears when it comes to Veuve Clicquot, inquires, "Was that a cork pop?"
It was. The girls all recline, glasses aloft, as Tamra comes out in a sweetheart-neckline bombshell dress. Lydia says, in what I assume is meant to be a compliment, "You look like Pamela Anderson."
"You look like bridal Barbie," quoth another.
"There's something so elegant and sweet and innocent about seeing someone in a wedding gown," Alexis interviews. "Even Tamra."
Thus putting Alexis in contention for the Undermining Award of the season. Tamra totters out in another dress, a very revealing number with a cascading lace bodice.
"Your figure is to die for," Heather says. It's sort of true!
Alexis has a moment with Heather, and they call a truce, as Tamra's crystallized wedding dress twinkles in the foreground. But there is no love lost with these ladies and Gretchen.
"I wish Gretchen would eat some of her own makeup so she could become pretty on the inside again," Alexis says in an interview.
And, of course, the B-word comes up -- Brooks. Vicki and Brooks left the Salsa night together but afterwards, something bad happened. Apparently they went to dinner and Brooks ended everything.
"I don't fit his mold," Vicki explains. "His biggest 'love language' is quality time and that doesn't work for me any more." I feel slightly bad for her, because you just know Lauri is about to drop the bomb.
"I heard some things," Lauri tells Vicki, in the background of the bridal shop. "It's really uncomfortable information -- he's dating one of my daughter's friends." At first, Vicki takes this in stride, acknowledging that they broke up and should both be dating other people. They had an agreement that they were both done.
"I love Brooks. He got in my mind, he got in my heart," Vicki says. Then, in a deathly pause that any woman of any stripe can identify with, she continues, "I want to know who this bitch is."
"She's under 21," Lauri says, helpfully. "I know they're together. She's been with him. Breakfast, and dinner, and so forth."
Lauri elaborates that Brooks met her at a poker party when he was "throwing hundred dollar bills" to all female attendees.
"Whatever," Vicki sadly rationalizes, "that's what men do in the middle of the night."
Everyone agrees that Vicki does not deserve this. Yet Vicki still has a lot of feelings for Brooks (WHY?) but Lauri continues, saying that she's viewed ... a videotape. And it comes out that Brooks' current sweetheart did a porn video.
Gretchen interviews that she isn't surprised, because Vicki was philandering while with Don, and philandering while with Brooks, and that, of course, "Karma's a bitch."
Meanwhile, Tamra has found the dress of her dreams. It enhances her "beautiful curves" and her "boobs are up" and she's crying with joy. It's the one! "I love this dress," Tamra says. "Its perfect. All $10,000 of it." At which point Gretchen bails the bridal boutique, claiming a "speaking engagement."
Vicki, who wins the Palme D'or of diverting attention to her emotional issues in any given situation, stifles sobs in a corner as Tamra rejoices in her wedding dress selection. Lauri tries to calm Vicki down after proffering her devastating intel. And, yet, there's more! Brooks has a condo, and apparently the twenty-year-old amateur porn star has been there. And, to add insult to injury to this peroxide crew, she's a brunette.
Everyone stumbles back into the limo. Tamra feels like a princess. Vicki says she's doing great, but her bleary botulism-bloated eyes tell a different story. The group retires to Border Grill, as Vicki steps out to make a call. Tamra predicts that Vicki will probably take a call during her wedding, saying, "Excuse me, I need to make some money." Heh.
While Vicki takes care of her insurance business, Lauri divulges the whole Brooks situation to the group at large. At the phrase "porn video", Heather's eyebrows hit the ceiling. "Why would she give this terrible information to Vicki about Brooks?" Heather interviews. Vicki returns to the table and says, "Tequila makes me happy." Let's hope so.
Susan Feniger, a chef familiar to "Real Housewives" and "Top Chef Masters" viewers, serves their post-wedding dress purchase meal with an abundance of gusto, as Heather shares the news that she's scored her guest-starring role on "Malibu Country", also starring Lily Tomlin, Sara Rue, and Reba McEntire.
"Heather was fancy-pants before, but now she's like a fancy outfit," Lydia exclaims. Oh, I am growing more and more fond of Lydia with every sound bite. Heather then reveals that Gretchen told her she was also offered a part on the very same show. But, when Heather asked the casting director, he said no dice.
At the Bravo-mandated "humor bumper," Susan Feniger talks about cooking and serving a placenta, and promises that, as a wedding gift to Tamra, she'll cook and serve her placenta, too. "Check please," Vicki says, echoing most of the western world.
"Gretchen tells me she gave up this role on 'Malibu Country' to come dress shopping, or ... she's a liar," Tamra says, a foreboding note in her voice. "I really opened up to her, and she bold-faced lied to me."
While I know the expression is "bald-face lie", I feel as though this malapropism actually applies in this situation. So, bravo Tamra, who actually played it cool throughout this entire fragmented, crystal-beaded episode.
NEXT WEEK -- Lydia is taking everyone to Canada! There's skiing! There's slurring! There's more talk of Vicki's threesome, which I sincerely doubt anyone wants to hear more about, ever. But please tune in, my friends. I can't go through it alone.
"Real Housewives of Orange County" airs Mondays, 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.