By Marcus Jones
November 11, 2020 at 10:54 PM EST
Credit: Bravo
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Fifteen seasons into Real Housewives of Orange County, and dare I say that the show feels fresh again? For as much as these women like to claim they’re straight shooters, rarely do we see the level of candidness displayed by Braunwyn, Elizabeth, and Gina tonight.

The episode starts with Emily FaceTiming Gina to talk about the aftermath of Shannon’s housewarming, where Gina got Braunwyn so worked up she admitted she was an alcoholic and stormed out. While she doesn’t fully articulate this sentiment, it sounds like Gina already has too much drama on her plate between dealing with her DUI, the divorce, and the domestic violence case, and can’t handle taking on Braunwyn’s baggage as well. Which, if she told Braunwyn this, would be perfectly fine boundaries to set.

For her part, Braunwyn seems in better spirits kicking off the episode with a scene of her family cheering on her 14-year-old as he tries out some drag looks for the first time. Paired with a scene shortly after of Shannon’s oldest daughter Sophie talking to her about writing a book from the perspective of a child of divorce, it’s nice that the show is giving the kid’s confessionals to say their part about sensitive subjects. It also just reminds me of the OC Angels era of the show where the teen children were standouts.

In between those heart-to-hearts with the kids is Gina going to see her lawyer about the legal troubles she’s dealing with, and trying to decide if she should give a victim impact statement in the domestic violence trial. It’s obviously a fraught topic for her to bring up, especially on the show, but she does get through talking about it in an honest, diplomatic way.

Now at a bridal shop with Braunwyn and Kelly, it almost feels like a bait and switch to see Braunwyn be the one there to try on dresses. Yes, she has a vow renewal coming up, but Kelly is the one who's supposed to be planning an actual wedding. Instead, Kelly is particularly brutal about the shop’s inventory and laments being a three-time bride. She also isn’t particularly delicate with her questions about Braunwyn’s son, which is as expected, but still disappointing nonetheless.

Next, we go to Elizabeth’s house where the show still hasn’t run out of gas sharing her origin story. This week’s lesson about the newest housewife is that she considers her nieces and nephews to be her children and that her sister is a heroin addict.

A more fun fact to learn though is that Elizabeth’s front door is a Dutch door, so when Gina and Shannon visit, she jokingly only opens the top half of it for them. Gina is entertained even further seeing how seriously Shannon takes Elizabeth’s humblebrags, going tit-for-tat with her about Ferraris.

All in all, it is really time for Shannon to stop mentioning the “sad” comment again, because it has blown out of proportion, past the point where Gina or Braunwyn even care about it. It’s hard not to believe she didn’t say it by the way she's treating the accusation like defamation of her character. Literally, none of the parties involved would be angry if Shannon just said the comment must have been taken out of context. It’s not like Gina feels exuberant about the circumstances in which she had to move to her new condo.

Shannon does come off better going with Kelly to meet Elizabeth at the car dealership. Throwing her into a go-kart and watching her spaz out? TV gold. Hearing Kelly Dodd downplay the incoming coronavirus pandemic however made me want to light my TV on fire. Sometime during the trio’s conversation, the show cuts to Elizabeth in a confessional saying she connects with Braunwyn because Braunwyn reminds her of her heroin-addicted sister, which feels like something Braunwyn might not love hearing.

Now in the back half of the show, Gina and Braunwyn finally get some one-on-one time driving to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting together, and the car ride turns into one of the most vulnerable scenes to ever happen on the show. Braunwyn owns up to being drunk even in her most poignant moments last season, how her husband Sean enabled her drinking at times, and how they used having children as a way to avoid dealing with her alcohol dependency.

A quick cut to Emily and one-and-done OC housewife Lizzie planning a plus-size bathing suit line is a breath of fresh air, but the episode reaches its climax with Gina and Braunwyn sitting in a coffee shop post-AA meeting, exchanging what seems like one of the most genuine apologies to ever happen on Real Housewives — at least Braunwyn’s side of it, anyway.

They make up, Gina finally accepts her invitation to Braunwyn’s vow renewal, and the episode ends on a powerful note, with Gina strongly weathering a visit from her ex-husband Matt, making sure their issues don’t affect their children, but still deciding to stand up for herself in court by sharing her victim impact statement.

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The Real Housewives of Orange County

Bravo turns its cameras on California’s ladies who lunch (and shop, and tan, and get plastic surgery, and bicker…)
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