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Real Housewives

RHOC Season 12 Premiere Recap - The Great Divide

Glenn Rowley

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The First Ladies of Bravo are back for Season 12 of The Real Housewives of Orange County! With a former Housewife returning and wounds from last season still fresh, the divide within the cast is deeper and more painful than ever before. Read on for a full recap on the ladies' lives and feuds...

A new season means a new intro and brand-new taglines! Compared to last season's positively life-giving bunch, this year's one-liners are a bit of a mixed bag, but my vote for best tagline goes to Lydia McLaughlin. Now, this may be a controversial choice but I can't better than "If you can't handle my sparkle, then stay off my rainbow" to describe the fairy-like returning Housewife otherwise known as the "friendship whisperer" of the OC.

Quick thoughts on the others: Shannon Beador has been on a roll with her taglines the past few seasons and this year's clever juxtaposition between organic truth and artificial lies is no exception. Tamra Judge's quip about being "pint-sized, baptized and highly prized" is easily my runner-up for best tagline and most likely to be the overall fan favorite. Meanwhile, new mom Meghan King Edmonds is typically no-nonsense as she accuses her cast mates of acting like "babies," but I'm distracted by being simultaneously in love with her floral-print dress and repulsed by her #MomLife trucker hat. Kelly Dodd's "If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you" is nonsensical, which is right on brand for her, while rookie Peggy Sulahian has basically plagiarized RHONY's Kelly Killoren Bensimon's original tagline...And then there's Vicki Gunvalson, who emphatically proclaims "I go big or go home, and I am not going home." Oh Vicki, please never go home. 

The premiere opens on Shannon, who's gained both a new dog and 40 pounds since we last saw her. Archie is a welcome addition; the weight is not. Shannon contributes the weight gain to stress surrounding the allegations Vicki made last season that her husband David was physically abusive. Tearing up in her confessional, Shannon reveals that David is back to being distant with her and as she explains that she's "embarrassed" of her body and doesn't recognize herself in the mirror, it's truly heartbreaking. However, Shannon has always been no holds barred about sharing her life on camera and this new struggle is just another layer of vulnerability and bravery that makes her even more relatable. 

Meanwhile, Vicki's insurance business is booming and she's moving the Coto Insurance offices to a newer, bigger location. Kelly drops by for a visit - within five seconds comparing herself to Donald Trump because of course - for some mean girl banter about the other 'Wives. Neither Kelly nor Vicki have seen or spoken to Tamra or Shannon since the Season 11 reunion, but the hurt feelings on both sides are still fresh. Always classy, Kelly calls Tamra's fitness competition from last year "a race amongst pigs" while Vicki recalls that her one-time bestie spat in her face "like a testosterone psycho" on the bus ride from hell which, I have to admit, made me laugh out loud. Kelly thinks her nemeses owe Vicki an apology, but the OG is confident that they're just mad she and Kelly are the "popular girls." But are they though?

Still on her Christian kick, Tamra heads to bible study at...Lydia's house! It's been four seasons since we last saw Lydia but it turns out that she reached out to Tamra after her baptism and the two have remained in touch. (For those of you who need a refresher on her first season, Lydia was the new Housewife introduced in Season 8 before famously walking away from the show when she was asked back for Season 9.) Obviously the show is completely different from the last time Lydia was a Housewife, so it will be fascinating to see how she fits into the new post-Heather Dubrow landscape. In fact, Vicki and Tamra are the only remaining 'Wives from her previous tenure on the show, and when she finds out that they are now mortal enemies, she's determined to get the former BFFs back together. 

Meghan's entire life has changed since last season. Shortly after the Season 11 reunion, she gave birth to baby Aspen and is now completely focused on being a mom. Apparently, having a new baby has also transformed Meghan's husband Jim, whom she swears up and down is more attentive and engaged than ever before. (Personally, I'll believe it when I see it for more than a five-minute segment in the first episode.) With all of her time and attention on Aspen, Meghan is her own little world and entirely disconnected from the other ladies' drama...so far.

After more than a few scenes catching up on the ladies' lives - Shannon and Tamra shopping for formal dresses with their girls, Kelly contemplating vaginal rejuvenation (no thanks), Vicki visiting Briana (who approves of her new, retired homicide detective boyfriend), Lydia meets Vicki for lunch at Balboa Bay Resort. Upon seeing her for the first time in years, the OG describes the returning 'Wife as "Disneyland all the time" which is absolutely true. Ironically, their lunch spot is the same hotel where Tamra was baptized in Season 10, which is the perfect segue into why Lydia asked Vicki to meet. Lydia brings up the good memories she had with the former besties during Tamra's bachelorette weekend in Mexico during Season 8, and wants to use her powers as the friendship whisperer to help the veteran 'Wives reconcile. However, Vicki breaks down the drama Lydia has missed: Tamra is angry at Vicki for spreading rumors that her husband Eddie is gay, while Vicki's still holding a grudge over Tamra calling her a con artist at the Season 11 reunion. Among a million other things. As Vicki threatens that the "gloves are coming off" if Tamra (and Shannon) continue coming after her, Lydia realizes that she has her work cut out for her if she wants to heal this fractured friendship...

What did you think of the RHOC premiere? Are you happy Lydia is back? Is there any hope for Tamra and Vicki's friendship? Which tagline is your favorite? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!