Call your feng shui expert: There's some bad energy in Orange County
This week’s episode features the debut of Bravo’s 100th Housewife — Peggy Sulahian — but before she’s even gotten any screen time, Peggy is upstaged by a few side characters. Shannon kicks off the hour by having her longtime feng shui consultant — can you imagine being able to refer to your “longtime feng shui consultant” with a straight face? — inspect her new house, and immediately I want this woman to have her own spin-off. She uses phrases like “toilet in your relationship area,” has very strong feelings about the placement of citrus, and refers to ceiling fans as “psychic blenders.” It’s almost like when Parks and Recreation‘s Tom Haverford starts sharing alternate names for his favorite foods (pasta is “long-ass rice,” fried chicken is “fry-fry chicky-chick”), except more soul crushing. (Their meeting also gives Shannon plenty of tagline potential for next season, should she need it: If there’s a toilet in our relationship area, I’ll flush you away. Not bad, right?)
The other scene-stealer is Vicki’s office manager, Linda, who isn’t afraid to put Vicki in her place and — more surprisingly — actually gets Vicki to stay in that place. Vicki is moving her company’s offices this season, and the hassle of boxing up thousands of client files and setting up computers and printers is turning her into a stressed-out mess. Linda is not having any of it. She tells Vicki to calm down, which is definitely not something Vicki is used to hearing. If any other Housewife did that, it’d be a nail-biting confrontation of diva proportions. But when it’s coming from Linda, Vicki just… takes it? How soon can Bravo produce The Real Office Managers of Orange County?
The real purpose of this scene, however — besides making me fall in love with Linda — is to amp up the tension between Vicki and Shannon. While at the office, Vicki mentions they can’t hire their go-to feng shui consultant for the new office because that consultant is the one Shannon uses, and having your ex-friend’s feng shui consultant work on your property is, well, not good for the feng shui.
The feng shui scenes were a welcome start to the episode, mostly because Shannon seemed to be her old self, cracking jokes and one-liners while not tormenting herself about her weight gain. After the season premiere, I was worried that Shannon would spend every episode obsessing over her size, but this week she gets to have a life — like helping her daughter get ready for her winter formal. It’s several glorious minutes of Shannon being an adorably dorky mom while mistakenly thinking that she’s a cool mom. (At least her kids’ friends think she’s a cool mom.) Plus, Shannon’s new dog, Archie, who is without a doubt my favorite thing about this season despite his minimal screen time, gets to be a total rascal in that scene.
Something that hasn’t changed: Meghan’s snoozy dispatches from the world of Mom Land. This week, Meghan spent her screen time doing pretty much exactly what she did last week, and it was only marginally more exciting because her baby farted and threw up a little bit. Nothing to report here.
Meanwhile, Lydia and her husband have started a magazine called Nobleman, which she says is about “what it’s like to be a gentleman in the world today.” After spending some time on the magazine’s website, however, I personally have even less of an idea of what it means to be a “gentleman” than I did before. Does being a gentleman just mean being really, really wealthy? It’s through this magazine project that we met Peggy — she’s married to the founder of a successful car-wheel company, and he apparently embodies the spirit of Nobleman, so they’ve asked him to be featured in the magazine. (Peggy spends much of the episode talking about her family’s extensive luxury car collection and getting showered with $70,000 worth of diamonds, which makes me wonder if any of the Sulahians have actually read the Nobleman “about” page: “He is not one to beat his own chest; the NOBLEMAN is humble despite his great achievements.”)
Before Lydia and Peggy officially meet, Lydia’s husband warns her that maybe she shouldn’t hug Peggy, because he heard that Peggy recently had a double mastectomy after an early-stages breast cancer discovery. It’s the kind of advice typically given in confidence to avoid awkwardness, but Lydia apparently doesn’t pick up on those cues and instead decides to jump right into it in the least sensitive way: “They told me not to hug you.”
Making matters worse, after forcing Peggy to tell her about a deeply personal medical decision shortly after meeting for the very first time, Lydia seems almost annoyed that Peggy is opening up to her. Not only is Lydia uncomfortable talking about cancer — “That’s a big story, Peggy,” she offers weakly — but Lydia also suggests in her one-on-one interview that Peggy was perhaps oversharing. Well, Lydia, if you’re not comfortable talking about this kind of thing, maybe don’t force people to bring it up as soon as you meet them! Changing the topic, she offers to introduce Peggy to the other Housewives, though we’ll have to wait for those intros — first, Lydia still needs to meet some of the Housewives she didn’t overlap with on her last go-round, like Shannon. (Recap continues on page 2)
That meeting happens at a party Tamra is throwing for her granddaughter’s second birthday. It’s an awkward affair from the beginning: Sarah — Tamra’s son’s fiancée — invited Vicki’s daughter, Breanna, and that’s weird because Tamra de-friended Breanna on social media after she and Vicki had their falling out. The two purposefully ignore each other the whole time, and Breanna ends up leaving early because it’s kind of exhausting to spend your time at a party avoiding drama.
Lydia has a hard time avoiding drama too. It’s almost like she thought to herself, “How can I ruin this 2-year-old’s birthday party? Maybe if I dredge up some Vicki-Tamra conflict!” Lydia’s efforts to play peacemaker with Vicki and Tamra seemed well-intentioned last week, but things go south pretty quickly at the party. Lydia sits Tamra and Shannon down to let them know she grabbed a bite with Vicki and that she believes Tamra and Vicki still love each other deep down, and that’s why they hurt each other so deeply. This, on its own, is not a crazy idea. Breanna more or less suggests the same thing earlier in the episode, and Breanna seems like the most rational person in Orange County, apart from maybe Linda. But Lydia doesn’t deliver this idea in the most delicate way. Instead, she tells Tamra and Shannon that they’re “acting the same way almost [Vicki] acted.”
This sets Shannon off, and rightfully so. If someone told you that you’re acting like the person who claimed your husband abused you on national television — the same person you called out for knowingly spreading a false cancer story, no less — you’d be outraged, too! But instead of apologizing and trying to clear the air, she digs in her heels and accuses Shannon of being hostile. All this could have been solved with a quick, “Whoops, I’m sorry, Shannon — I didn’t realize the history there.” Instead, it ends with Lydia and her mother calling Shannon a lost soul as she storms off the set in tears. Sigh.
Shannon will not be getting a break next week, unfortunately — brace yourselves once again for the human wrecking ball that is Kelly. There was a brief moment during this episode when I thought to myself, “If I hadn’t watched last season, I might like Kelly.” Sure, watching her work out with her husband was almost as boring as watching Meghan baby-talk to her kid, but she also modeled some genuinely maturity, like when she expressed empathy for Shannon and said she related to Shannon’s openness about the hard work a marriage requires now that she’s working on her own. That goodwill went out the window, however, when I saw the trailer for next episode, which finds Kelly — surprise — lobbing some nasty insults at Shannon about her weight, with a drink in her hand. Leave Shannon Beador alone! #LeaveShannonBeadorAlone!