The first Real Housewives of Bravo’s mega-franchise are coming back for a lucky 13th season. Before catching the latest drama, brush up on your ABCs of The Real Housewives of Orange County.
A is for ACCIDENTS
Sometimes you spill champagne. Sometimes you overturn an ATV. Even in pristine Orange County, they happen.
B is for BASEBALL PLAYERS
They’re mothers to them! They’re married to them! Play ball, ladies!
C is for COTO DE CAZA
Before Bravo scoured every inch of Orange County to curate the perfect cast for its franchise flagship, there was Coto de Caza, the exclusive gated community which provided the backdrop — and the wealthy ‘wives of which provided the inspiration — for the first season of the zeitgeist-blasting series.
D is for DIVORCE
Most of them have done it at least once.
E is for EVIL EYE
It’s always heartbreaking to watch the dissolution of a true and deep Real Housewives friendship, but the breakup of Vicki and Tamra was especially painful in that it was over someone so unworthy — Brooks — and something (among many other things) so, so stupid — Tamra’s alleged “evil eye.”
F is for FAKE CANCER
SEE ALSO: fake boobs, fake hair, fake money, fake manners
G is for GLAMPING
Why on earth would they ever camp normally?
H is for HYPOCRISY
Reality TV exposes the hypocrisy in everyone, it’s true — especially on The Real Housewives, in any city. But the ladies of the OC prove to be hypocrites more than the casts of all the other series in the franchise, whether they’re flinging judgments and accusations at each other in regards to their marriages, their plastic surgeries, their incomes (or lack thereof), their wardrobes, their alcohol consumption, their gold-digging…
I is for IMPLANTS
Just about everyone’s got them in. Tamra got them out!
J is for JESUS JUGS
Even more succinct (and alliterative!) than Alexis’ season 6 tagline (“God is my savior, my husband is my king, and my body? It’s sinful”) is Tamra’s nickname for her. Oddly enough, Alexis was offended by the epithet rather than appreciative of its efficiency.
K is for KARMA
Welcome to the OC. Karma’s a bitch.
L is for LOVE TANK
We regret that we are compelled to even bring this up again, but for the sake of being thorough: Vicki has a love tank. Sometimes it’s empty. Sometimes it’s full.
M is for MONEY
Yes, obviously, this is a show about rich people. And yes, NeNe Leakes is very rich, bitch, and Ramona Singer finds making her own money to be an aphrodisiac, which is another topic entirely. But no Housewives across all of Bravo-dom have a passion for money — just for cold, hard, lifeless cash for its own sake — equal to these SoCal suburbanites. They all love talking about it almost as much as they love flaunting it, but nobody with more enthusiasm than Jeana, whose taglines in the first five seasons include the lines “I crave money,” “I love money,” and “money is a girl’s best friend.” Okay! We get it!
N is for NAKED WASTED
What does this even mean? Whatever it is, Tamra first demonstrated her mild sociopathic tendencies (which she had removed along with her ‘Simon’ tattoo, we honestly believe) when she endeavored to get Gretchen “naked wasted” with a series of tequila shots — after which poor Gretchen had a slurred but ultimately innocuous interlude with Tamra’s son in the bathroom — at an infamous season 4 dinner party.
O is for ORIGINAL
You can keep your Big Apple divas and your Georgia peaches. The sweet, sweet citrus of Orange County was the very first taste of rich reality drama that Bravo ever gave us, and for the original Housewives of them all, we are eternally grateful.
P is for PLASTIC SURGERY
They just love it. Heather loves it so much she married it!
Q is for THE QUIET WOMAN
Whether it was a Bravo producer with remarkable foresight or just a gift from the reality TV gods, we could not be more thrilled that season 12’s utterly disastrous shriek-fest of a dinner party took place at a restaurant called, of all things, The Quiet Woman.
R is for RECESSION
We’ve established how much these women love money and the ostentatious display thereof. But the unpolished early seasons — before the show was part of a franchise with a refined formula of drink-throwing and international-vacationing — were more explicitly an examination of an extravagant lifestyle than they were a plotted celebration of it (now, of course, it’s both). By the time RHOC hit its fifth year, it was unfolding like a morality play of American excess, as the women who had once so shamelessly flaunted their wealth began downsizing with great urgency — many of them unable to do it fast enough. Amid the yard sales and the short sales and the evictions through which the ‘wives grit their whitened teeth and tossed their matted weaves, however, there was always Vicki, blinking furiously and wondering aloud why nobody else had a job.
S is for SLADE
A lot has changed over the course of a dozen seasons. But one thing, one small element that has stubbornly clung to the show for much of its run, is Slade Smiley, Housewife Hunter. The Slade Trade can be traced from Jo to Lauri to Gretchen, where it seems to have plateaued, but keep an eye out.
T is for TEQUILA
Other than the occasional champs break (i.e. whenever Heather is hosting a party), there’s only one real drink of choice in the OC.
U is for UGLY SWEATERS
In season 9, the ladies got festive with a party where the wardrobe matched the words.
V is for VICKI
We didn’t want to give a whole letter to any single housewife, but Vicki Gunvalson, being as essential to the DNA of RHOC as Botox and margaritas, deserves special treatment. May the OG of the OC whoop it up on our TV screens for as long as the show shall live.
W is for WHOOP IT UP
SEE ALSO: woo-hoo
X is for X-HIBITIONISM
Oh, what’s that you say? Spelling ‘exhibitionism’ without the e is tacky and anti-intellectual? Are you suggesting that the Real Housewives of Orange County are not tacky or anti-intellectual (in addition to being exhibitionists, with or without an e)?
Y is for YOUTH
If you don’t believe that Vicki is the true heart and soul of RHOC, just look back to season 1, when her tagline (which was a candid quote in those early days, before the more recent seasons’ carefully crafted quips) was “I don’t want to get old!” Regrettably, despite her protestations, Vicki has in fact only gotten older since that moment, but neither she nor any of her contemporaries have ever lost their obsession with youth (or their Botox technicians’ phone numbers).
Z is for ZODIAC
“I am not a freak!” a triumphant Vicki, an Aries, proudly informs everyone after they all had birth chart readings in season 2. “My soul was born with energy!” There’s no other explanation. Like the vigor of Vicki, the magic of RHOC was written in the stars.