The Real Housewives of Orange County premiere recap: Shannon becomes numero Uno, Braunwyn comes clean
While it's a shake-up that's been over a decade in the making, it's definitely interesting to see a cast where the Housewife with the most seniority, Shannon Beador, started the show in season 9. Putting things into perspective though, Shannon has been a housewife longer than any of the women on Real Housewives of Potomac or Real Housewives of Dallas.
One would think this means that Shannon would be the one to do the voiceover intro for the premiere, but wait… is that? Did we just hear Jeana Keough?
Obviously, anyone who has stuck with the show since the Housewives were all wearing sky tops will recognize the distinctive voice of the woman who was probably the very first fan favorite Real Housewife. But it doesn't look like the show gives the casual viewer any indication that the voice kicking off the season is the former Playboy Playmate who hasn't had a regular presence on the show since 2011.
Anyways, after a walk down memory lane, the show takes us into Shannon's new house, which seems like a homier downsize that may not have hospital-grade air, but certainly has a pop art portrait of Shannon in the home gym (which honestly looks more like Margaret Josephs from Real Housewives of New Jersey). Here we meet her new boyfriend John, who she stresses does not live with her but brings a whole new set of teenage children that give her new setup a Brady Bunch vibe.
From there we go to the incorrigible Kelly Dodd and her Fox News correspondent boyfriend Rick Leventhal. The real introduction though is to the new Jolie, who is still only 13, but has shot up a couple of inches and is already showing some of the same blue humor her mother is known for. They go see a psychic, which has become a staple of every Housewive franchise, but the predictions Rick gets about his "passionate" relationship with Kelly feel a little too forced for the cameras.
We're brought back down to reality in the next scene though by seeing where Gina Kirschenheiter is living now. If Shannon's blended family is the Brady Bunch, Gina's condo feels more like "It's a Hard-Knock Life." The former New Yorker is pushing through after an extremely tough year between a contentious divorce and a DUI charge, now living with her boyfriend Travis and their combined six kids stuffed between two rooms with bunk beds. After Gina gives Shannon a brief tour of her new place, the show takes us over to Braunwyn Windham-Burke and Kelly meeting up with the newest addition to the show, Elizabeth Lyn Vargas.
Elizabeth already shows a lot of promise as a Real Housewife, filling the audience in on how she's still married to her billionaire husband who had a kid outside their marriage, but has a boyfriend who won't have sex with her until she's officially divorced.
Meanwhile, across town, Emily Simpson is having her 11th-anniversary dinner with her husband Shane. Again the moment feels like the couple trying to convince the camera of their love, but the episode spares us from having to deal with Shane for too long. No word on if he ever passed the bar exam though.
Finishing the trend of house tours during the premiere, the episode crosscuts Braunwyn showing off her new house to Shannon with Gina and Kelly doing hot yoga. Finally we are keyed into what will be the drama this season, with Braunwyn suggesting that Gina's new living situation is "awful," and Gina talking to Kelly about how Braunwyn has a drinking problem.
After a break where we learn more about Elizabeth, including how she plans to step down from running an online music company and open a dog rescue, the show takes us back to Braunwyn's house where she's planning a detente between Kelly and Shannon.
As a joke that brings in a meta element to the show, Kelly gives Shannon a deck of Uno cards as an apology for involving herself in Shannon and Tamra's lawsuit last season. It also references how the show has now split up the Tres Amigas (Shannon's clique with Tamra and Vicki), freeing up Shannon to once again make amends with Kelly.
For all the frivolousness of the very pot and kettle exchange between Shannon and Kelly, the premiere ends with two scenes that mark huge decisions for two of the newer castmates. First, Gina and her boyfriend Travis meet with a lawyer to discuss the next steps of her divorce, and whether or not she wants to get a restraining order for Matt based on his domestic violence charges. It's a poignant moment for the young mom, who weighs what legal action would be best for her and her children.
Next, after multiple scenes of foreshadowing, with pretty much every housewife except Elizabeth making a comment about Braunwyn's drinking, the free spirit apologizes to Emily for her drunken behavior last season, and admits in her confessional that she is an alcoholic.
Bravo turns its cameras on California's ladies who lunch (and shop, and tan, and get plastic surgery, and bicker…)