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Real Housewives

RHOC Season 11 Premiere - When the Ship Hits the Fan

Glenn Rowley

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The first ladies of Bravo are back! That's right, The Real Housewives of Orange County has cleared the 10-year mark and is starting Season 11. Veteran 'Wives Vicki Gunvalson, Tamra Judge, Heather Dubrow and Shannon Beador are back, along with Meghan King Edmonds and new girl Kelly Dodd. 

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As the familiar notes of the theme music, start I'm already jumping for joy because we have a new intro! Hooray! After using a recycled version of the Season 9 opening last year, I'm super happy to see that the ladies in new looks for the revamped intro. Immediately my vote for best tagline goes to Shannon for "Karma's a bitch, so I don't have to be one!" Not only does it cheekily reference the holistic Housewife's love of all things Eastern and mystical, but it made me laugh out loud too. Quick thoughts on the others: Tamra's is amusing and seamlessly blends her path to Christianity last season with her upcoming storyline as an aspiring bodybuilder. Heather revealed on her podcast that Bravo came up with her line, but I thought it cleverly poked fun at her Fancy Pants persona...and also happens to be kind of true. Meghan's sticking with another baseball analogy for her second season and the reference to "choosing her team wisely" must have to do with either her alliances with the other 'Wives or the in vitro journey we'll be seeing this year. Newbie Kelly promises to be a barrel of fun, so expectations are sufficiently high. And OG Vicki takes solid aim at her frenemies with "Before you judge me, you better be perfect." As a whole, I have to say that the new bunch of taglines are among the series' strongest and it's a promising way to start of the season. 

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Now onto the episode! We start by catching up with Tamra, who is apparently training for an amateur fitness competition. Following her baptism last season, she's still on the straight and narrow path back to Jesus, but she's determined to get to the pearly gates looking her very best - menopause be damned! As Tamra climbs a rope and I see that her arms are now bigger than mine, it hits me that Tamra as a bodybuilder kind of scares me a little. And also that I need to recommit to the gym regularly. In other news, Meghan and her husband Jimmy have moved into a new home, started a candle business (random?) and Meghan's prepping to start IVF treatments in order to get pregnant. Heather's still overseeing the construction of the palatial Dubrow Chateau while Terry's working more than ever thanks to filming Botched, plus its new spinoff Botched By Nature, on top of his surgical practice. And Shannon and David seem to be doing better than ever, having put his infidelity from Season 9 in the rearview mirror to focus on selling their house and downsizing. 

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And then there's Vicki, who was left friendless following last season's fake cancer debacle involving her shady boyfriend Brooks Ayers. Thankfully, the most controversial couple in the OC has (FINALLY) broken up and Brooks moved out, seemingly for good this time. Which hopefully means that this season won't be dominated by his drama the way that last year got hijacked. (Seriously, if I never hear the words "fake cancer" again, I'll be perfectly happy.) However, despite breaking things off with Brooks and living on her own, Vicki still remains estranged from the rest of the group. One by one, the other 'Wives explain in their confessionals that all they're looking for is some form of accountability from Vicki that she was in on the cancer scam and a sincere apology to start moving on, (minus Shannon who doesn't want anything to do with her), but the OG continues to maintain that she had nothing to do with Brooks's lies. And if she had to do it all over again, she claims that she would still stand by her man.

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Due to Jimmy's new job as a coach for the Arizona Cardinals, Meghan's left to go to her doctor's appointments for IVF without him. Thankfully her mom is able to come to the OC to go to the appointments in her husband's place. With this IVF storyline, Meghan's hoping to break the stigma that remains surrounding both IVF and infertility in general for the millions of women watching, and today she's undergoing a hysteroscopy. However, because of her uniquely c-shaped uterus, the procedure turns out to be incredibly painful for Meghan and she spends the majority of it screaming in tears of pain. This on top of her deathly phobia of needles and it appears this IVF appointment isn't exactly a walk in the park for the 31-year-old mother-to-be.

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In an effort to get all the 'Wives together, Heather's throwing the first party of the season and meets Tamra at a local nursery to run the idea past her while shopping for citrus trees. Having just gone through a secret wake-up call regarding Terry's health, Fancy Pants is putting together a little dinner cruise on a yacht in the spirit of love and friendship. However, when it comes to the guest list, Heather's conflicted about whether or not to invite Vicki. None of the other women have seen the OG for months, but Heather's feeling these days like everyone deserves a second chance - Vicki included. Tamra points out that Shannon will be upset if their former friend shows up at the party, but at the end of the day it's Fancy Pants's party and she can invite who she wants. 

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Next we finally meet newbie Kelly, who goes out to dinner with Meghan at OC eatery The Quiet Woman. Apparently, Meghan has known the newest 'Wife for about a year and can bond with her over IVF since Kelly used in vitro to conceive her daughter, Jolie. (For the record, I asked Kelly on Twitter, and she named her daughter after the french word for "beautiful," not Angelina.) From the get-go, Kelly's personality seems to scream "in your face FUN" with a capital F, as she boasts about being voted homecoming queen in high school and making varsity cheer as a junior. So when Meghan invites her to come along to Heather's yacht party the following weekend to meet the girls, Kelly's all in for a good time.

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While Heather calls Vicki to extend the olive branch invitation, Shannon and Tamra are at the doctor's office getting a new cosmetic treatment called Ultherapy. Rocking a gorgeous gold top in her confessional, Shannon admits that it would've been unthinkable two years ago for her to say that Tamra is one of her better friends but hey, when someone fakes cancer real miracles can happen. Shannon also reiterates that she has no interest in renewing a friendship with her once-close former friend Vicki. She's capable of forgiving for last year's medical records nightmare, but that doesn't mean they'll ever go back to being Aries buddies like they were during Shannon's first season on the show. And forgiving certainly doesn't mean Shannon will be excited to see Vicki at Heather's yacht party either.

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After seeing a glimpse into Kelly's unconventional home life (which involves living in a four-story beach house with her husband, daughter, mother and brother), it's time to hit the marina for Heather's party. Boarding a yacht called the Icon, the Dubrows' guests - including the other 'Wives and their significant others - are treated to a gorgeous spread of food and, of course, champs. When Meghan introduces Kelly to Tamra and Shannon, the rookie makes quite an impression with her "MC Hammered" sense of humor. Tamra's amused when Kelly tries to stuff her boob in the veteran 'Wife's mouth upon meeting. Shannon, not so much. 

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Tension creeps in when Vicki makes her grand entrance with former OG Housewife Jeana Keough in tow, but there's no time to dwell on the negativity because the yacht sets sail and it's time for dinner! Once everyone is seated, Heather stands to make a heartfelt toast, revealing that Terry recently underwent a health scare involving a stress EKG that could've resulted in his needing a heart bypass surgery. Thankfully, the test turned out to be a false positive, but it made the Dubrows really sit back and reevaluate what - and who - was really important in their lives. Everyone is surprised by this news and visibly moved, and I have to confess that seeing Heather tear up in her confessional as she talked about how much Terry means to her made me get a little emotional as well. With the toast having made its intended impact, Vicki gets up from the table and asks Heather to come to the lower deck of the yacht for a private chat. 

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Once the two 'Wives are alone, Vicki starts off by thanking Heather for even inviting her to the party in the first place. Then, she jumps headfirst into the real issue, admitting that she handled everything that went on last year the wrong way and was simply trying to maintain a toxic relationship that was slipping through her fingers. Still insisting she wasn't in on any cancer scam, the OG asks for Heather's forgiveness and hopes to move forward with a fresh start and clean slate. Now, this is exactly what Heather had been talking about earlier in the episode - that everyone deserves a second chance - but before she can reply, the screen cuts to black and the premiere is over! We'll have to wait until next week to see what Heather has to say about Vicki's mea culpa moment. 

What did you think of the RHOC premiere? Can you believe we're watching Season 11? Was your first impression of Kelly good or bad? Is there any way Vicki can get back into the other 'Wives good graces? Leave your thoughts and reactions below in the comments!