Real Housewives of Orange County season 11 premiere recap: When the Ship Hits the Fan
Last season of the RHOC was like a multi-episode arc of House as the ladies desperately tried to solve the mystery of whatever ailment Vicki Gunvalson’s long time hustler of a boyfriend Brooks was suffering from. Whatever it was, they know it was not cancer as he claimed. And these women — whose medical expertise likely comes from diagnosing their friends on WebMD — were adamant that they had all the evidence they needed to prove that Brooks lied about everything. Who could forget those calls to Newport Imaging, fake medical records, and conflicting stories from Vicki? All of which made Vicki an outcast and caused her to sever ties with basically everyone. Vicki even said she felt like she was being “nailed to the cross” in the women’s quest for the truth (ironically this was said as Tamra Judge got baptized). Now, can I just interject to say that you have to give these ladies credit — they are the OGs of Bravo in every way possible! Not just the first housewives but also the first to create the dramatic, line in the sand drawing, “are they really sick?” story line that is now all the rage. Brooks and Cancer-gate paved the way for Yolanda Foster and Munchausen-gate on RHOBH and the skepticism over Gigi’s chemo treatments for her rheumatoid arthritis on Shahs of Sunset. Suddenly every Bravolebrity has a medical degree!
But back to present day OC and the start of season 11: Have the ladies even seen Vicki since Cancer-gate was busted wide open? Is Brooks still performing those Jedi mind tricks to make her believe he’s good and her friends are from the dark side? Well, first we open with an awesome, ’80s style split-screen to peep into what Tamra Judge, Heather Dubrow, Shannon Beador, and Meghan Edmonds are up to.
Shannon is playing a pick-up game of basketball with her family — in her indoor home court in her house that she deems way too big. The Beadors are downsizing in the near future because their giant mansion is too much. They’re not moving because the bank is making them — Shannon wants to be clear on that. Her family of five does not need so much space even though they want to add a dog to the mix. I understand, I often sleep in the closet of my two-bedroom apartment to feel snugger in my surroundings. Who needs tons of space when you can store books in your oven and use your shower rod as extra closet space? But really, I think Shannon just wants to be able to see what her husband is doing at any given moment. Yes, they’re in a great place with the two-year mark of David’s affair creeping up on them. This is monumental because the therapist told them it takes two years to get over an affair. So sure, just like mono or the flu, they’re almost cured of infidelity. But I have a hunch that living in a house where they could go for days without seeing each other may not be ideal at this point in their marriage.
Heather “Fancy Pants” Dubrow is in the midst of a very important parenting lesson. Moms, are you listening? It’s never too early to teach the virtues of giving your hostess a gift, preferably champs. Let the mommy shaming begin for those of you who have neglected to have the “talk” with your elementary school aged kids about this important life skill! Otherwise, not a whole lot else has changed. Her husband Terry is still never home and Hotel Dubrow (seriously that mansion is bigger than most resorts) is still not finished. Taking bets now on which will be ready first: the Sagrada Família or Hotel Dubrow?
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Meghan and Jimmy are finally in a new house that none of Jimmy’s ex-wives ever lived in. She’s about to start IVF due to the fact that Jimmy already has four kids and had a vasectomy. She’s tripping over the fact that you need to start the IVF treatment on the second day of your period and that is the exact day they went to the doctor to get started. Jimmy, however, already has a new baby that’s clearly taken up space in his heart and mind: They’ve gone into the candle-making business, and Jimmy is making the candles himself! Let’s take a moment to welcome the latest Real Housewives business venture to the market.
Tamra’s relationship with G-d is better than ever since her baptism — and her sex life is on point because of it. She calls out to G-d like 20 times a night! Her husband Eddie really is a lucky man because beyond the divine sex, Tamra has never looked better. She’s working out hard at the gym with a trainer who cheers her on with motivational mantras like, “the back is the new butt.” So, here’s the thing — Tamra is actually on a mission to fight the war against menopause by getting into the best shape of her life. Seriously, let’s put Tamra on the war on terror or gun control because she’s a warrior who won’t back down. She’s even going to be in a fitness competition that basically looks like a beauty pageant with six packs and dumbbells.
NEXT: What has become of Vicki post Cancer-gate?
Vicki made some major changes: a haircut, some weight loss, a new kitchen and, hallelujah, Brooks finally moved out. But not because she kicked him out — he was a martyr who decided it was time to end things. That’s very noble considering he was caught red-handed in lie after lie by Vicki’s super sleuth friends. The jig was up and it was time for him to pack up and take his show to another town (or a group of less inquisitive, WebMD-reading friends). Vicki admitted to lying down in the street, crying and begging him not to leave even though she knows their relationship “kinda pissed off some of my friends.” To be perfectly blunt, that’s like saying Brooks “kinda had cancer.” But, this sad version of Vicki misses her friends, is desperate to “whoop it up” with them again, and hopes they’ll finally believe she wasn’t in on the Cancer-gate. The problem is the ladies have not forgiven or forgotten. They still want an apology and answers to every last question Vicki expertly dodged on the reunion. Conundrums like, did Vicki see Brooks’ medical book? Was she in charge of his medical binder? Did she ever set foot in City of Hope for Brooks’ chemo sessions? Why did she lie about Terry Dubrow administering an IV to Brooks in the middle of the night? They need these answers before they can move on to the next TBD season-long controversy — but more than anything, they want Vicki to take accountability and apologize. Good thing Heather has a plan…
Now, while you would think that the ladies have moved on and never want to see Vicki again, no such luck. Heather is hell-bent on getting that apology from Vicki and will do whatever it takes to get it. So Heather channels her inner Olivia Pope and devises a plan to extract said apology from Vicki at her upcoming “fancy pants” yacht party. The party is to celebrate life and good friends because Terry had an off-camera health scare. He had an abnormal echocardiogram and they thought he was about to undergo bypass surgery — but thankfully it was a false positive and all was fine. The ordeal, however, has as Vicki would say, filled up Heather’s love tank and she’s ready to impart that love on the world. Or at least just Vicki. So, Heather’s schemes to make a toast at the party that will reiterate that life is too short to hold onto grudges — and basically send subliminal messages to Vicki that this is her big chance to beg for everyone’s forgiveness.
Heather shares her plan with Tamra while they’re casually citrus tree shopping for Hotel Dubrow. Tamra’s skeptical but open. And even though they doubt Shannon will be in on it, Operation Take Accountability is in motion. Heather calls Vicki to extend the invite, calling it a “love” cruise and things feel very forced. But phew, Vicki accepts the invite so Heather should be patting herself on the back because the plan is working, right? Not quite. Ever the control freak, Vicki wasn’t awkward enough on the call for Heather’s liking. Vicki’s no angel but can’t we just let the woman live?
Shannon, as suspected, is not willing to accept an apology from Vicki. She makes this point crystal clear while getting a non-surgical facelift with her new bestie Tamra. Surgery might have been a better option because what they’re doing looks like the equivalent of getting punched in the face over and over. I just have to say two things at this juncture: One, this dynamic duo of Tamra and Shannon is doomed when and if Vicki does get back in the circle. Tamra and Shannon basically admit they’re friends because neither have a relationship with Vicki anymore. And two, I feel like Shannon needs to let up on Vicki a little bit. She was able to forgive her husband for having an affair — Vicki was really just bad at covering for Brooks. Could I play devil’s advocate here for a second and dare suggest that maybe she really was blinded by love? We’ve all dated someone our friends hate but we think is the equivalent of Prince William and don’t see that he was actually Charles Manson until we’ve broken up. (Right?) No one knows for sure what Vicki did or didn’t know about Cancer-gate. Technically, she was just standing by her man. Isn’t that what Shannon did, too? It takes two years to get over an affair — does it really take longer for standing by your man no matter how shady he was?
Well, Heather’s big fancy yacht party finally arrives, and this is not some tiny boat — this is like the Titanic — and every person who steps on board is more glamorous than the next. The theme, of course, is “love,” and there’s an over the top, pink dessert bar straight out of My Super Sweet Sixteen. Vicki’s on her way with her date/bodyguard, former OC housewife Jeana Keough. Is that the best move since Jeana was famously doused with a glass of wine by Tamra at one of the last parties she showed up at? I gotta hand it to Vicki, however, she’s going to this party willing to do whatever it takes to win her friend back. Anything from bend over to have Jeana kick their asses. Little do Vicki and Jeana know but they’re walking straight into Heather’s lair… [cue the evil laugh]… and here we go as all the ladies are finally in the same space together for the first time since the reunion. Heather is all but rubbing her hands together in anticipation of orchestrating the greatest apology and public display of “owning it” in history. Vicki won’t know what hit her…
NEXT: But first we must meet the new housewife…
But before the plan comes together, the ladies meet Kelly, this season’s new housewife. Kelly is a pal of Meghan’s and the best way to describe her is colorful. She lives in a four-story, 4,700-square-foot home that features a bar on every floor. I’m pretty sure there are nightclubs in Vegas that aren’t so plentiful. She shares her mansion with her mom, brother, husband, and daughter — and Kelly’s really got a way with words. Here are some of my favorites that she spews at Tamra within 30 seconds of meeting her on the yacht:
“You need to call a vet because those puppies look sick!” She says in reaction to Tamra’s perfectly chiseled arms.
“Are you into fitness?” Kelly asks Tamra. “Try fittin’ dis into your mouth.”
The “dis” is Kelly’s boob that she tries to shove into Tamra’s mouth! And the deal is sealed — Tamra has a possible best friend replacement if things go south with Shannon, who, by the way is looking on absolutely horrified. Kelly spots Shannon’s USC cell phone case and asks if it stands for “University of Spoiled Children.” These two will not be friends as Shannon has a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who is “unkind.” And, as luck would have it for friendless Vicki — she and Kelly share an aesthetician! They’re soul mates destined to whoop it up! And lucky for Vicki, Kelly was not around for Cancer-gate. Shannon is so tense watching all this unfold that I can only assume she’ll need a long session with Dr. Moon to recover. But Shannon will have to let it go for now because the time has come for Heather to put the final piece of her plan in action.
Heather stands up to make a tearful toast about Terry’s health scare and why they wanted to share a special night with those who are important to them and those they love the most. “But they weren’t available so we called you!” Heather’s little joke was funny, but I think it was a secret zing at Vicki just in case she wasn’t paying attention. The Beadors, however, have a different takeaway. “It’s almost like having cancer and not really having it,” David snickers to Shannon. This negative Shannon is not going to fly — remember when she was sure the Dubrows were trying to take down the Beadors? She needs to take a deep breath and let some of this go because it’s not going to be fun to watch her lose it. And Vicki is not having it and is not going to kiss Shannon’s ass — in fact, she makes it clear that Shannon can kiss hers. The stage has been set for a battle between these two this season and it’s not going to be pretty.
But never mind Shannon for now because you cannot underestimate the power of Heather Dubrow. By golly, her PLAN WORKED! Within minutes, a tearful Vicki has no idea what hit her and asks Heather to join her downstairs. Vicki breaks down and says how touched she was by Terry’s story — she wants that kind of love in her life, too. Vicki pretty much said everything that Heather had hoped for — Vicki didn’t want to believe what the ladies were saying because she was fighting for something that was slipping through her fingers with Brooks. Then there it was, the big moment — Vicki asks for forgiveness, asks to move on and asks if they could be friends again!
And survey says? A cliffhanger!
We have to wait until next week to find out if Heather really will indeed start anew with Vicki. But, Vicki didn’t utter the magic words of “I’m Sorry” so, I have a feeling that Heather isn’t backing down until her plan is executed exactly how she intended!
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