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Real Housewives

Filtering by Tag: canada

RHOC Season 8 Uncensored

Glenn Rowley

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In 2013, Season 8 of The Real Housewives of Orange County premiered on Bravo and ended up becoming one of the most unforgettable seasons in Housewives history. Thanks to the perfect combination of Housewives, surprising alliances, and major moments in the lives of the ladies, the season earned its own look back with the RHOC Season 8 Uncensored special. Featuring never-before-seen footage and brand new interviews with Housewives and producers alike, we got to learn more than we ever knew about what really went down in the OC. Read on for my full recap of all the revelations and new details from the special...

A Whole New Vicki?

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The start of Season 8 revealed a shocking new face in the OC – except the new face was a Housewife we'd known since the beginning. Vicki Gunvalson. Between seasons, the OG of the OC had decided to get some fairly major plastic surgery on her face following the “Miss Piggy” comparisons levied at her by Slade Smiley in Season 7. Vicki specifically chose to undergo surgery while the cameras weren't rolling so that she could come into Season 8 healed and looking better than ever. However, this plan was foiled when her daughter Briana went into labor with Vicki's first grandchild and Bravo wanted to catch the moment on camera. So, production was pushed up to just a couple of weeks into the OG's post-surgery recovery. Camera crews arrived at the hospital on the night of baby Troy's birth and when Vicki came down to meet them in the parking lot, they were shocked to see her swollen face mostly frozen in place since the secret surgery. Much of the season essentially documented the healing process of Vicki's face - almost episode by episode fans could see differences in her appearance as the dust settled.

Shady Friendships & Shifting Alliances

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To say that the season began with the dynamic between all the 'Wives in a very strange place is an understatement. For multiple seasons the shows main alliances consisted of Vicki and her BFF Tamra Judge in one corner and their arch-rivals Gretchen Rossi and Alexis Bellino in the other. However, over the course of the previous season, Vicki and Tamra's rock-solid sisterhood had been blown to smithereens by the OG's relationship with Brooks Ayers while Gretchen and Alexis feuded over a job as a local lifestyle correspondent for FOX5. In the most baffling turn of events possible, mortal enemies Tamra and Gretchen started Season 8 as BFFs, leaving Vicki and Alexis to develop a new friendship with each other. As such, the show entered unchartered territory with the women in alliances that just one year prior would have been unthinkable. 

Alexis Returns & Lydia Joins the Show

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Additionally, Alexis's return to the show, complete with a freshly-shorn haircut, was another surprise. Her story is that she quit the show after spending most of Season 7 as the primary target of the other women's criticism (pretentious intervention in Costa Rica, anyone?) while most of her co-stars claim she was fired by Bravo. Either way, Alexis still had more story left to tell, and this time she was coming back with a friend in tow...For Season 8 producers chose to add a sixth Housewife to the cast, which is a rare move for the OC franchise. Lydia McLaughlin joined the show as a friend of Alexis and brought a whole new flavor to Orange County. A thirty-two-year-old born again Christian who originally hailed from Canada, Lydia was the editor for Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine with her husband Doug - whom viewers lovingly dubbed "Jesus Abs." However, while she was already friends with Alexis, Lydia's first time meeting the rest of the women was more explosive than she could have ever predicted...

CUT Fitness Chaos

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In the first major event of the season, Tamra threw a dinner party to celebrate the groundbreaking of her new fitness studio, CUT Fitness. According to executive producer Kevin Lee, the party started off on the wrong foot because the rest of the 'Wives resented that Alexis was returning to the show. Battle lines were drawn as soon as Vicki walked in with Alexis and Lydia - with those three on one side and Tamra, Gretchen and Heather Dubrow firmly on the other. Co-executive producer Bill Fritz revealed that part of the tension stemmed from the fact that in between Seasons 7 and 8, Gretchen had accused former bestie Alexis and her "camp" of trying to steal a number of her personal appearances. Don't mess with a Housewife's fame, y'all. Of course, drama erupted the second Tamra confronted Alexis over why she would want to come to the dinner in the first place when she'd been threatening legal action against the hostess for slander, which resulted in the epic "YOU GET THE F--- OUT!" moment where Tamra kicked Alexis out the party. In the ensuing chaos, producers claimed that Heather made a beeline to them and promised she had other friends who could join the show to replace Alexis while Gretchen breaking into applause at her former friend getting booted signified the permanent end to their once-close friendship. What a welcome for Lydia, am I right?

Housewives Rules 101

Next, in an amusing segment the show's producers revealed the list of unspoken rules that the Housewives have developed over the years for being on camera. These rules of extreme convenience include the following:

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  • New 'Wives are never to stand in front of veterans on camera, particularly Tamra.
  • Housewives are to never eat on camera because it's impossible to look glamorous and beautiful while doing so.
  • Housewives form cliques and promise to have each other's back, but the alliances are subject to change from season to season.
  • All friendships of convenience between other 'Wives are to be exposed and undermined.
  • Develop real friendships with your fellow cast mates or you will be called out.

A Bachelorette Party Turned Battlefield

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Next up for discussion is the unforgettable trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for Tamra's bachelorette party. Due to the flip-flopped friend dynamic of the season, Gretchen fell into the role of putting the bachelorette party together for Tamra rather than Vicki. Meanwhile, Alexis had been invited to Mexico but one of the hard and fast rules in the Bellinos' traditional marriage is "no bachelor or bachelorette parties," so she stayed behind in the OC. And while Heather ran behind the cameras and jokingly (but kind of seriously) threatened a sexual assault lawsuit if the Mexican strippers so much as touched her during the wild in the hotel, the bachelorette party turned into a turf war between Vicki and Gretchen over who was a better friend to the bride-to-be.

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Vicki essentially went into the trip with a secret plan to snatch Tamra from Gretchen's clutches and when Gretch and Heather went to the bathroom following a snoozy first dinner, the OG saw her chance. With newbie Lydia in tow, Vicki kidnapped Tamra and ditched the other women to go to Andale's, her favorite dive bar in Puerto Vallarta. Despite not having filming permits for the bar and not really knowing where it even was, the Bravo crew spent the majority of the evening following Vicki and the other 'Wives through the streets of Puerto Vallarta as they bought light-up bows, danced on taxis and whooped it up once they found Andale's. Naturally, getting ditched left Gretchen infuriated and the conflict that came out of the night became pivotal to the season's story. Gretchen and Vicki were officially at war with Tamra as the victor's prize, and ultimately the OG would come out on top.

The Dubrows and the "D" Word

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One of Heather's major storylines for Season 8 was the conflict in her marriage with husband Terry Dubrow. After being considered for Season 5 (the year Alexis Bellino joined the show) it's a well-known fact that Terry actually forged Heather's signature on her contract when she finally joined the cast two years later. Terry was the one who pushed Heather to do the show, and producers even described her as a "reluctant participant in her husband's misadventures." Nowadays it's hard to imagine RHOC without Fancy Pants (she remains my all-time favorite OC 'Wife), but in her first couple seasons, Heather admits she had trouble really opening up in front of the cameras. Behind the scenes, the Dubrows' worst fights were about her being on the show because she didn't actually to do reality TV. So when Terry failed to support Heather's renewed acting career, which was being documented throughout the season, Fancy Pants threatened to quit the show and Terry threw the word "divorce" out during a blow-out fight between the two. By the time the season wrapped, Heather and Terry's marriage was stronger than ever but getting to that point was certainly a rocky road.

The Revenge of Lauri Waring Peterson

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Season 8 also brought the return of a familiar face from the show's early days: OG Housewife Lauri Waring Peterson. After leaving the show midway through Season 4 to focus on her new blended family with her Prince Charming, George, Lauri blasted back onto the scene with an agenda to take down her old friend Vicki. Lauri had originally been Vicki's secretary and protege-of-sorts when the show premiered way back in 2006, but the moment she came back to film with Gretchen, Lauri threw the OG of the OC under the bus with a scandalous rumor that she'd caught her in a threesome back in the day. From Vicki's perspective, the attack was insulting but logical: in order for Lauri's return to be as relevant as possible, she had to go after the dog at the very top of the food chain. Mind you, Lauri insists in her interview that she didn't have any vendetta against Vicki, but that's a hard claim to swallow as fans watched the salacious drama unfold.

Go Yell It on the Mountain

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A tricky game of telephone was born out of the gossip Lauri spread, and when the rumor reached Vicki during the cast trip to Canada, she exploded. Decked out in full snow bunny gear on the slopes of Whistler, the OG hunted down the show's executive producer, shoved him up against a brick wall and threatened him that it would hurt a lot worse if this storyline made it to air. To make matters worse, the other woman in the rumor actually turned out to be Vicki's sister, whom the OG insisted be cut out of the conversation. (Only after talking to her sister later and getting her blessing did Vicki use the fact to defend herself in blogs and on WWHL.) Producers note that Lauri was very careful not to ever use the term "threesome," but Vicki's ensuing freakout is still one of the most iconic moments in Housewives history.

Gretchen Rossi: A Cautionary Tale

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Next, the special addresses the downfall of Gretchen over the course of the eighth season. Executive producer Douglas Ross explains that when Gretch joined the show in Season 4, she let viewers completely into her life - from her relationship with now-deceased, older fiancé Jeff Beitzel to getting "naked wasted" by a scheming Tamra and Vicki, nothing seemed to be off-limits. However, as her time on the series progressed, Gretchen started presenting a much more whitewashed, inauthentic picture of herself. Once she started dating Slade Smiley, the much-reviled, self-proclaimed "Housewife Hunter," the execs at Bravo noticed that the couple always seemed to be working some sort of angle for the show. (We all remember the time Slade "bought" her with a Rolls Royce, right?) And everyone knows that once self-production is an automatic death sentence in the Housewives universe.

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This forced inauthenticity was never more clear than in Gretchen's decision to stage an elaborate rooftop proposal to Slade at the end of Season 8. For three seasons, Slade had been floating out the idea of getting engaged to Gretchen but never quite seemed to be able to pull the trigger. Flipping the script in the name of quasi female empowerment, Gretchen put together an extravagant proposal for her boyfriend that involved a song on the radio, a helicopter ride and all of their family and friends - but none of the other Housewives. Heather opines in her confessional that Slade was probably in on the surprise and even Andy Cohen notes that the entire event rang hollow and felt purely put on for the cameras. (Obviously Gretchen denies this.) Not inviting any of her cast mates also proved to be one of the final nails in the coffin for Gretch, though during the special she points the finger at producers for why none of the other ladies were included. Also, it's important to note that it's now been three years and Gretchen and Slade still aren't married. Maybe they'll walk down the aisle if someone offers to turn their wedding into a TV special a la Tamra's OC's Wedding

Winter Wonderland Finale & the Reunion of Rainbow Dresses

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By the time Vicki's Winter Wonderland-themed finale party came around, every other Housewife had her own personal issues with Gretchen. So, throughout the party poor Gretchen was forced to go on a giant apology tour, moving from one sit-down to the next so all the women could air their grievances against her. To this day, Gretch maintains that the other Housewives banded together to get her off the show, but we all know that's not exactly how cast changes work. At the Season 8 reunion, which in my opinion stands as possibly the best Housewives reunion ever, resentment toward Gretchen was at an all-time high and she had simply burned too many bridges to have any shot of staying on the show for Season 9. 

The Legacy of Season 8 in the OC

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To this day, Season 8 of The Real Housewives of Orange County remains a high water mark for both the show and the franchise as a whole. Alexis was let go at the end of the season when it became clear that viewers had now seen the beginning, middle and end to her story arc, while newbie Lydia chose to walk away after just a single season to focus on her family and have a third baby. As Andy succinctly states in the special's closing moments, Season 8 remains iconic for being a changing of the guard in Orange County and will never be forgotten in the annals of Housewives history and the larger pop culture.

What did you think of the RHOC Season 8 Uncensored special? Do you love the season as much as I do? Should Gretchen, Alexis and/or Lydia ever return to the show? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

RHOBH Ssn 6/Ep 4 - The M Word

Glenn Rowley

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The mini-horses have arrived! After last week's disastrous trip to Ohio, Lisa Vanderpump managed to track down another pony via some friends. So, in true Vanderpump fashion, Lisa had the horse flown all the way to Beverly Hills. Except surprise! Lisa is stunned to discover that her friends have brought two mini-horses: an adult and a baby. Speechless, she says that the horses' arrival is the best thing that's ever happened in her life, and now that there are two she obviously needs both of them. The Vanderpump-Todd household is now a veritable zoo with eight swans, two miniature ponies, seven dogs and one 70-year-old potbellied pig by the name of Ken.

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Meanwhile, Erika is lounging around her house in a fluffy pink robe. She calls Tom as she explains in her voiceover that they talk about four or five times a day. However, they never see each other during the workday because he's busy being the world's most famous attorney and she's just as busy being Erika Jayne. Cut to her meeting at Marco Marco, the iconic boutique specializing in all things gay and glittery, for some costume fittings. She first tries on a red and black compression catsuit and lets her hair down, proclaiming "and there's your girl. Eat a dick." Next thing we know, she's 100% naked, squeezing into another black bodysuit like that cat from YouTube who can't fit through the door. It takes some serious guts to appear full-frontal (thankfully blurred out) on camera, especially when it's only your second episode. Talk about a memorable second impression. Ultimately, she decides on the first red catsuit because it's more "snatchy." Yes that means what you think it means. 

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Eileen meets Vince for lunch at True Food Kitchen after three days without seeing each other. In her confessional, Eileen explains that the day-to-day dynamic in the Van Patten/Davidson household involves not knowing if they'll even see each other due to work commitments and increasingly busy schedules.. Vinny has just come back from a trip to Del Mar - his first time at the races without his dad. Before their food arrives, Eileen apologizes for an argument they had over the phone earlier that day. Apparently, she snapped at Vince when he spontaneously decided to change plans and go to the beach instead of coming home to take care of Jesse. It's a classic case of sparring gender roles, where Eileen feels that Vince has basically unlimited freedom while she's responsible for keeping everything in the family regimented and together. What Eileen sees as expressing how she feels, Vince takes as an attack. Women are from Venus, men are from Mars. To solve the so-called problem, Vince suggests a possible solution: no talking about anything controversial before 9 a.m. Laughing at the absurdity of the suggestion, Eileen explains in her interview that sometimes it feels like Vince simply doesn't appreciate everything she does for the family. Can't he just take her apology and move on?

Next we get a nice juxtaposition between Lisa Rinna at lunch with her girls and Kyle taking Portia and Sophia to get their ears pierced. The level of drama going on in the Umansky clan while attempting to get new earrings is gut-laugh level hilarious, while Lisa Rinna debates with Amelia and Delilah over letting them stay alone at the family cabin in Canada. Umm, hello girls, remember that time a bear ripped down the cabin door and ate the refrigerator? Still want to stay alone? Over at Villa Rosa, Lisa Vanderpump finally surprises Ken with the pair of horses and he is utterly speechless at these two miniature birthday gifts. Mission accomplished, LVP.

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That evening, Erika and Tom join Yolanda and David at their Malibu estate for dinner. As the Girardis arrive, Yo explains in her interview that Erika has been a reliable support system during this last regression in her battle with Lyme disease. The new 'Wife has shown up for Yolanda time and again, and proven that she genuinely cares. For her part, Erika says that she would gladly drive out to Malibu to visit Yo three times a week if it made her happy, but no more than that because the traffic is just too terrible. Over dinner, conversation naturally turns to music, as Erika explains to David and Yo everything she has going on as Erika Jayne, including a show in Chicago the following night and prepping for the release of two new records. Not to be outdone, David reveals that he has an upcoming show in Tuscany with legendary recording artist Andrea Bocelli for his eponymous charity foundation. Oh, and also the Pope is going to be there. At this surprise revelation, Yolanda is struck with a brilliant idea: what if Erika performs with David for Pope Francis? Erika balks at this suggestion. Does Yolanda want her to burn up in flames? No way will she be singing about concubines and party people in front of His Holiness without going straight to hell. If Madonna won't do it, there's no way Erika Jayne will.  

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The next day, Kyle takes Portia to an acting lesson at Ovation Performing Arts Center. Apparently the youngest Umansky child is the first to express an interest in following in her mom's footsteps as a child actor. In her confessional, Kyle explains that she and Kim got into the entertainment business by default. When their parents divorced, it was the family's primary source of income. However, if Portia goes down this path, Kyle wants to make sure she always sees it as a fun hobby. Fortunately, growing up as a child actor was nothing but a positive experience for Kyle, but she recognizes that it doesn't always work out that way. Many people have blamed Kim's addiction issues on her past as a child star, but Kyle disagrees, saying that she thinks some people are just predisposed to addiction and others aren't.

Meanwhile, Lisa Rinna's stuck at home while Harry, Delilah and Amelia are vacationing in Canada because she's working on her popular QVC clothing line. She points the success of her fashion line to the fact that she approaches it not as a celebrity, but as someone who genuinely knows what she's talking about. Fashion is truly her passion, and she makes sure to be involved in every part of the design and retail process. The biggest takeaway for viewers? Always be a little nervous about chartreuse!

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Also heading to Canada are Yolanda and David, who are taking a 10-day trip to British Columbia. Via confessional, Yolanda explains that her battle with Lyme disease has been "very taxing" on her relationship with David. After all, she was diagnosed basically the minute they got married. She admits that David often gets impatient, but that he's allowed to feel that way since the disease affects him just as much as Yolanda. In many ways, David has lost his partner in crime. This trip to B.C. is a good chance for the couple to reconnect and get back to the core of their love while kayaking and gliding by pods of dolphins on their yacht. Somewhat forebodingly, Yolanda predicts that they will either get through this trial together or they won't. It's certainly an eerie comment in the wake of their divorce announcement.

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Back in Beverly Hills, Lisa Vanderpump has invited most of the other 'Wives over to Villa Rosa to see the new mini-horses. Lisa Rinna and Kyle, who admits she's expecting the horses to be unicorns with wings at this point, both arrive while Eileen is running late from work. Almost immediately upon sitting down, Lisa V. asks Kyle about Kim, who apparently trashed the Brit in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. Apparently, the former 'Wife said that Lisa was "phony" while promoting her appearance in Sharknado 3. Lisa V. doesn't understand why Kim would say something like that when she's only ever tried to be supported, however Kyle isn't anxious to discuss her sister with the women. Lisa supposes it's better than being called a "CU Next Tuesday" by Brandi.

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Lisa Rinna changes the subject by bringing up Yolanda, whom she learned was on vacation in Canada via Instagram. The news is confusing to the women. Does that mean she's feeling better? After all, the last time Lisa Rinna visited Yo with Eileen, she was so sick in bed that she said she refused to move until she was better. Kyle is quick to point out that maybe getting her fillings taken out made a difference, but Lisa V. admits she doesn't understand the situation at all. Lisa R. just wants to know what the deal is with all of Yolanda's pictures on social media. What's the message she's trying to share with picture after picture of hyperbaric chambers and needs in her arm? What does she need? To make matters worse, people around town have started asking all of the 'Wives about Yolanda's illness and they never know what to say. Lisa Rinna got caught up in one of these conversations and now feels guilty about engaging in the topic, feeling like she didn't have Yolanda's back. Then, Lisa Rinna whips out her phone to deliver a shocking suggestion: could Yolanda have Munchausen syndrome? Lisa R. explains that, according to Wikipedia, Munchausen has been renamed "factitious disorder, wherein those affected feign disease, illness or psychological trauma to draw attention, sympathy or reassurance to themselves. 

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Needless to say, Kyle and Lisa V. are stunned by this allegation. Kyle admits that whatever Yolanda is dealing with, it definitely has a wide, strange variety of symptoms that fall under the ambiguous umbrella of Lyme disease. Lisa Rinna feels like she needs to purge herself for even saying it out loud, but feels the question needs to be asked: is this real? Right on cue, Eileen arrives straight from the Y&R set and immediately senses the tension in the air as the ladies try to change the subject. Eileen presses them on what happened, and Lisa R. recounts the conversation of Yolanda and how guilty she feels for engaging in it with someone behind Yo's back. In her interview, Lisa Rinna blames her actions on merely being human, and Eileen advises her to simply go talk to Yolanda about it when the time is right. Lisa Vanderpump, however, thinks there's no point in saying anything now. The OG rightly points out that there's no upside to getting involved in gossip about Yolanda and senses that this subject will explode if they don't leave it alone. To break up the tension, she brings the 'Wives to the backyard to introduce them to the miniature horses and all three are delighted to chase the ponies around the yard. Lisa Rinna still feels terrible for even bringing the Munchausen subject up, but Kyle tells her to stop beating herself up over it. However, in her interview, Kyle points out that this conversation has now put them all in a bad situation. An allegation like faking an illness isn't something you can just take back, and she for one doesn't want to be around when Yolanda finds out.