Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 8, Episode 5 of Bravo's "Real Housewives of Orange County," titled "The Party is DONE."
Sunday nights offer a cornucopia of cerebral television -- nuanced dialogue, multi-layered metaphors, and trenchant commentary on modern society as seen through the lens of gimlet-eyed midcentury ad men or a richly imagined nobility locked in anepic battle for supremacy. But Monday, ah Monday, is the time to celebrate all things artless, facile and decidedly shrill -- "The Squeal Housewives of Orange County," as it were. Let's do this!
We last saw our ladies embroiled in another scripted dinner party disaster, as the traitorous Alexis of the House of Bellino was forcibly removed from the premises for her crime of ... existing.
Tamra, who has quickly turned into one of the lesser-known smoky-eyed serpents from Dante's "Inferno," lets forth a string of obscenities as Alexis hustles out into the night. Nobody in the OC coven is really surprised to witness one of their own evicted from the table, with the exception of a triumphantly clapping Gretchen and a sad-face Vicki, whose new ally has been cruelly exiled by the hand of Tamra.
Enthusiastic Muppet person Lydia has something incoherent to say, then Heather makes a futile attempt at diplomacy, trying to diffuse the nuclear bomb that is Tamra, while Gretchen reasons that Alexis should not have come to the party if she wasn't prepared to be "confronted." Then, Vicki and Gretchen go at it as Heather throws some serious side-eye at each.
"The whole thing is weird and embarrassing," Vicki says, summing up this season so far.
Outside of the party, Alexis freaks out to Lydia in an idling limo, wondering why Vicki didn't leave with her -- she came to support Vicki, after all. While Lydia does not approve of Tamra's harridan-like conduct, she remains skeptical of Alexis' flagrant use of the word "bully."
On the topic of said bullying, Alexis screeches, "I had to go on Xanax for it, Lydia!"
Hostess of the year Tamra slinks over to the limo, remarkably calm given the circumstances. She says that maybe Alexis shouldn't be around the group if they make her so upset. Sage advice, Tamra, to a fellow cast member of a reality show who is essentially under contract to spend time with "the group."
Tamra then announces, "I was more than gracious," and I spit out my Pinot Noir.
(Recapper exits, goes to kitchen for refill.)
Annd we're back! Alexis deems Tamra the "Queen of Mean," but says she's grateful to have the Lord to fall back on, and I heartily agree -- the Lord presumably won't scream at you to "get the f**k out" of His fitness studio christening.
Tamra clatters back to the dinner party, announces proudly that she just spied on Alexis and Lydia, and reveals that Lydia sided with the crew at the table, which earns the new cast member dubious kudos. Heather then delivers her public service announcement of the night: "There are many people in this world that need to be medicated for many different reasons, and her little rich girl problems aren't one of them."
The poor, poor psychic woman now has to "bless the space," as Heather quips to the camera that they might need an exorcist instead. Undaunted, the psychic calls on "ascended masters and spirit guides" to get the evil energy out of the gym space once and for all! Tamra then prays for "Success, and a really hard body."
Pass the Xanax.
Now, we're at Vicki's regal mud-toned home -- her extended family is flying in, and Vicki is nervous, OCD-ing around the kitchen, re-arranging chairs, and ogling Brianna's "push present" diamond ring. Vicki reveals that she had to buy her own wedding ring(s) as we bask in a rare candid moment of genuine mother-daughter bonding, which Vicki summarily halts by hauling out a graphic family album of Vicki getting a C-Section.
Brianna muses that the root of Tamra and Vicki's feud is really Brooks, and says she feels conflicted because she thinks Brooks is the worst, too. But ultimately mother and daughter agree that family is what's most important and they share a boob-grazing side-hug.
Next we see Gretchen in a cluttered walk-in closet as she hustles off to New York to be with Slade, who's son is very sick with an unspecified but clearly very grave illness. She shares a similar revelation about What's Important to camera.
And now we're at Casa Ranchero, a festive-looking boîte with cheery palapa-roof outdoor tables. Eddie and Tamra are seated right in the center of it all, as candles flicker and frosty beers are consumed. Tamra says that Eddie feels right at home at a Mexican restaurant, that it brings out his "Inner beaner."
At which point, I spit out my Pinot Noir, again.
Back at Casa Racial Slur, Tamra fills Eddie in on the previous night's events, throwing everyone under the out-of-control limo-bus. But Eddie gently changes the subject, saying he wants to talk about something good. Not "guacamole good," as Tamra suggests, but rather something positive and enlightening in their lives.
See, Eddie wants to talk about their upcoming marriage, or lack of plans thereof. He says he knows nothing about weddings and that he has very little time to plan. Then he says that he thinks it might be best to delay the wedding plans so they won't have so much stress. Oh really ...
Eddie clarifies, sort of, by saying, "I don't want to say, 'Oh, f**k. I'm getting married. I want to say, 'Oh, yay. I'm getting married.'"
Which sounds a little bit like stalling, which Tamra picks up on immediately and fumes as such to camera.
Cut to the arrival of the Gunvalson clan, as the sweet atonal honk of Minnesota voices fills the air. Vicki predicts "cocktails and utter chaos" and that's pretty much what ensues. Everyone wishes that her ex-husband Don were still in the picture. Her brother Billy warns that good guys are hard to come by in California because so many of them are "on the fence" (read: gay). Ironically, Vicki's brother looks like Sean Hayes on a very, very bad day. Vicki gives her family a tour of her grotto and fire pit as her mother looks on, unimpressed.
It's weird not having Don here, says absolutely everyone. There's not enough beer! The fridge is moldy! Oh, Don, why hast thou forsaken us? Vicki's son-in-law Ryan also misses Don/disapproves of Brooks. Ryan then casually announces that he has installed cameras all over the house, as they don't want Brooks lurking about.
Then, with not nearly enough foreshadowing (as far as I'm concerned), the big Brooks bombshell is revealed -- Ryan leans in and shares the sordid tale with Vicki's brother, who listens, mouth agape.
Apparently, Vicki and co. all went to Mexico before the baby was born. One day, Ryan and Brooks hit the Mexican pharmacy (?), and en route back to the hotel, Brooks salaciously pointed out two "prostitute dressed girls," made "perverse sounds," and gave Ryan the "bro code" sign. But there is no bro code with Ryan! Make no mistake. Just because Ryan is from the south doesn't mean he and Brooks are forever bonded by some south-of-the-border-prostitute-ogling code!
Next, Vicki meets her biological son Michael for lunch, the highlight of which is a priceless flashback to Vicki crashing Michael's Boulder frat house on Game Day. Michael's mortified face says it all, including why he has not given his mother his current home address.
Vicki says she feels persecuted by her increasingly militant son-in-law Ryan, and is frustrated that she can't have her boyfriend over. Vicki's brother suddenly sympathizes, assuring her that it's her house and her rules, seemingly playing both sides of "the fence" (ha).
Next week: We meet Lydia's hippie mom who actually utters the words, "God created marijuana, man." Vicki and Ryan have a showdown. Terry and Heather have a fancy brawl at a fancy restaurant. Brooks admits to dating other people. 'Til next Mindless Monday, people!
Next week, "Real Housewives of Orange County" moves to Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.