The first ladies of Bravo are back for Season 10! The milestone season in Orange County features returning veterans Vicki Gunvalson, Tamra Judge and Heather Dubrow, last season's breakout star Shannon Beador and newcomer Meghan King Edmonds as the main cast this year. Lizzie Rovsek returns part-time as a Friend of the Housewives. Orange County tends to operate best with five 'Wives, so while I miss Lizzie in this episode, maybe the cast shuffling will work out. First impression of this year's intro: it's confusing that the producers have simply rearranged last year's credits when they shot new cast photos and had to edit in a new 'Wife. It's a little bit of a pet peeve of mine because I like seeing a completely new opening every year in every city. However, it's validating to see Vicki front and center holding that orange with both hands. After 10 seasons, she's definitely earned the center spot.
Best tagline of the bunch also goes to Vicki: "I'm the OG of the OC, everyone else is just a copy." I absolutely love it and it's easily the best tagline she's come up with in I don't know how many seasons. Let me just say, it's both absolutely crazy and amazing to me that I've been watching this woman on Bravo for 10 years now. She's always worn the OG of the OC label as a badge of honor, and I'm glad the nickname has finally made it onto the show.
Quick thoughts on the rest of the ladies' taglines: I am a diehard Heather fan but, though her tagline may ring true for her nearly-perfect life, it certainly won't keep any haters from crying "pretentious!" from their couches at home. Shannon's 'nine lemons in a bowl' line is a clever reference to her holistic, feng shui lifestyle, but also hints at trouble getting thrown her way this season. Tamra continues to ride out the whole 'boldness' claim that was part of her tagline from last season. However, she already spent much of last season paying the price for her brashness, so if there's any more payment to be made, she may be going bankrupt this year. Newbie Meghan goes for a memorable play on her status as the wife of a former professional baseball player, but I was more than a little distracted by the giant keyhole cutout in her dress. Seriously, that's a lot of reverse cleavage.
The episode kicks off with Heather and her family at home in their rental house, and as Fancy Pants reiterates that Terry's the only one who doesn't like the smaller space, I'm having deja vu. Wasn't this exactly how last season started too? Instead of simply looking at a model, this year the Dubrows load all their kids into the car to go check out the progress on their new mansion, which is currently in the process of being built. While admiring their nearly complete porte-cochère (I googled it so you didn't have to: it's basically a fancy word for a giant covered porch where a car can pull up to the house), Heather points out in her confessional that, despite his promises to the contrary in Season 8, Terry is working more than he ever has in his career. This is likely due to Botched, his successful plastic surgery show on E! with Paul Nassif of RHOBH, but that obviously doesn't get mentioned on camera.
Next, Vicki and Shannon meet up for a boozy lunch complete with matching reading glasses to decipher the menus. The biggest news during the meal is that Vicki's polarizing boyfriend for the past three seasons, Brooks, has now moved into her house, though she's quick to tell Shannon and the viewers that it's solely under her terms. Terming it a "prenup without the nup", Brooks apparently doesn't have any assets and would get nothing if he moved out and they broke up. For Vicki's fans and fellow Housewives who have been worried about Brooks' motives for the past three seasons, this is supposed to be comforting. The OG then turns the conversation to Shannon's marriage being fixed after last year's tumultuous season, but Shannon merely sips her cocktail and nods along wide-eyed and silent. It's clear that the OC's self-proclaimed 'open book' is hiding something from her friend.
Heather's mansion isn't the only new thing being built - apparently Tamra is getting another set of boobs! Tammy Sue must love going under the knife, considering this is the third boob-related procedure we've seen her have done in her time on the show. Just three seasons ago, she was getting her implants completely removed! Since last year, she's also bonded with her future daughter-in-law, Sarah, who happens to be nine months pregnant with Tamra's first grandchild. Hopefully this means we won't be seeing any more fake crying over Ryan's impending marriage. On the way to the surgery center, Tamra says that she hasn't told any of the other women about her surgery, and Eddie reminds his wife that she doesn't know how to keep a secret, which segues perfectly into a flashback of all the drama Tamra's loose lips caused last year. In her confessional, she claims that she was ridiculed last year for simply being honest, and that she's thinking twice before she speaks. Time will tell if this new leaf Tamra's turned over is a permanent one.
New Housewife Meghan gets introduced to the show by way of Heather and Terry taking her to dinner. Meghan is the third wife of former MLB center fielder Jim Edmonds, who has made regular cameos on RHOC for the past two seasons as a friend of the Dubrows. This isn't the first time we've seen Meghan either - she was doing tequila shots with Vicki and David Beador at Heather's hoedown last season. Heather is a perfect point of entry to the land of Housewives for Meghan. She has a track record of being very welcoming to the newbies over the last two seasons, whereas Vicki and Tamra have a bit more trouble playing nice with the new girls. In her interview, Meghan explains that she had three rules when it came to the type of man she refused to marry: one with children, one who was more than 11 years older than her and a professional athlete. But, she broke all three of her rules because Jim Edmonds asked her on a date!
Vicki defends Brooks moving into her house because she didn't want to grow old alone, ok? The second Brooks-related bombshell of the evening is that he's been diagnosed with cancer. Stage 3 non-Hodgkins lymphoma, to be specific. Ever the fixer, Vicki is frustrated that she can't hand her boyfriend a solution to this trial, and instead he's undergoing chemotherapy complete with side effects of fever, chills and vomiting, but remarkably no hair loss. It's interesting to note that when Vicki told her daughter Briana - who's a registered nurse - about the cancer diagnosis, Briana's first instinct was that Brooks was lying. As Andy Cohen has said, there's never been a time on the show when Briana has ever made less than perfect sense, but why would anyone lie about having cancer? Right?
We jump back to Meghan and her husband, who are directing movers in the unloading of their furniture. Meghan explains that the family has moved at least six times in the last year between St. Louis, Orange County and some unspecified 'desert,' which sounds like an actual nightmare. Bravo loves to play compare and contrast, so while Meghan is gushing over what a wonderful husband Jim is in her interview, we see him teasing her over not being able to multitask and getting frustrated at her playful banter over his packed schedule. Meghan also explains that her family is not your traditional paint-by-the-numbers American dream. As Jim's third wife, she's a #coolstepmom to a 17-year-old stepdaughter, Hayley, who's closer to Meghan's age than her own husband is. Off the top of my head, we haven't seen a legitimate stepmom - or a thirty-year-old for that matter - on the show before, so it will be interesting to see another type of modern American family showcased on the Housewives. As far as first impressions go, I like Meghan and am excited to see more of her, keyhole cutout notwithstanding. She seems funny, hip and self-aware, and let's be honest: any friend of Heather's is a friend of mine.
Shannon and David are packing for a trip as our resident holistic housewife explains that Vicki has no idea how bad their marriage troubles have been in the last few months. After hanging some feng shui relationship crystals, they're on the road to a couples retreat to seek some professional help. Apparently following the Season 9 reunion - where everything between the Beadors seemed better than ever - their marriage once again took a turn for the worse. Even after going to church, meeting with a pastor and getting relationship counseling, their problems weren't fixed. So, Shannon hopes that this couples retreat, which is apparently at a nondescript hotel, solidifies David's commitment to the marriage. The reason for the fractures in their relationship? Apparently, in the off-season from filming, David had an affair! Shannon tearfully explains to the relationship coaches that she caught him whispering on the phone to someone and sensed that something was wrong, but that David insisted she was being crazy and stupid. However, on April Fools' Day of all days, she found a stack of hotel receipts in his briefcase and confronted him once and for all about the cheating. She insists that divorce simply isn't an option and wants to move forward, even after David moved out of the house for a couple of weeks. Their three daughters also found out about the affair, and Shannon worries about the longterm effects the news will have on the girls. It's all incredibly sad and painful to watch, but my biggest question is this: after everything the Beadors went through last season with their relationship falling apart on national TV, why continue making such personal and private issues fodder for millions of viewers? While it can tow the line of feeling exploitative, it's possible that someone watching their story unfold can find common ground with the couple's relationship struggles, David's infidelity included.
Meanwhile, Tamra is hosting a country-themed grandbaby shower for her son and future daughter-in-law at CUT Fitness. Tamra's ex-husband Darren is there along with her gay BFF Ricky and former Housewife Lynne Curtin. After original Housewife Jeana Keough's departure and before the reign of Heather Dubrow, Lynne served as the show's resident brunette, and I'm outrageously happy to see her loony self back on the TV screen. Since she left the show after Season 5, her daughters have both grown up and moved out, she got divorced from her husband Frank and became a grandma! Back in the single life, she's apparently also "re-virginized" herself. It's important to note that while plenty of people seemed to show up for the baby shower, none of the other 'Wives bothered to make an appearance. Tamra's starting the season on the outside looking in, and she seems to know it. We finish the episode cutting back and forth between Vicki and Tamra as they each explain their side of their falling out last season. On the way to the airport with Brooks, Vicki says that while she still wants to be friends with Tamra, she simply can't trust her anymore. Tamra counters to her friend Ricky that the two longtime partners-in-crime both hurt each other last year, but with everything going on in their lives - from Brooks' cancer diagnosis to Tamra becoming a grandma for the first time - they should be drawing closer together and supporting each other through these big life moments. These two have been through plenty of ups and down in their eight years as co-stars and friends, (they're "sister-ish" as Vicki puts it), but we won't be able to see if they can start to rebuild their broken friendship for at least another week. All in all, the premiere was a good catch-up on the lives of all the ladies and I'm looking forward to watching what happens during Bravo's 10th year in Orange County.