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Real Housewives

Filtering by Tag: cast trip

RHOP S2/Ep 11 Recap - The Grande Dame Sham

Glenn Rowley

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This week on The Real Housewives of Potomac, the battle of the hostesses comes to a head in Bermuda and the women strip Karen of her grande dame title upon learning she's moved out of Potomac. Read on for a full recap of all the drama...

We're back in Bermuda and the tension is thick. Charrisse Jackson Jordan is livid with Karen Huger for secretly hosting an exclusive sailing excursion on the day she was supposed to plan for the 'Wives. Under the guise of fixing the bad blood between Gizelle Bryant and Monique Samuels, it was surely an underhanded move on the grande dame's part and Charrisse is ready to confront her rival on a sunset cruise. Unsurprisingly, Karen refuses to apologize for her sneaky power play and the conversation quickly devolves into a verbal sparring match between the two. Karen calls the sunset cruise her nemesis planned just "OK" compared to her "fantastic" event and Charrisse fires back that she spent more on the yacht than the Hugers' net worth before telling the grande dame to take a swim off the side of the boat. As Gizelle points out in her confessional, Charrisse lives for a good Karen fight and she's definitely winning this one. 

Later that night, a defensive Karen vents to Monique about her fight with Charrisse, declaring their friendship officially done regardless of how genuine it was in the past. At the same time, Charrisse off-handedly drops a bombshell that the Hugers bought their Potomac mansion when it was in foreclosure, adding fuel to the speculation that all isn't what it seems when it comes to the finances of Black Bill Gates and family. Maybe this is another reason why Karen is being so cagey and secretive about her move?

The next day, the women soak in Bermuda by attending a traditional game of cricket. It may be one of the island's most popular sporting events, but the game goes entirely over the ladies' heads. Charrisse and Karen spend the afternoon giving each other the cold shoulder, but it turns out that Robyn Dixon is one hot commodity on the island. The men of Bermuda seem to flock to her, entranced by her exotic features and bright green eyes. Yet, despite her therapist's assignment to go on a date with someone other than Juan, she's not feeling it with any of the guys and realizes that this trip is making her reevaluate what she wants back home with her ex-husband. Robyn loves Juan and that's that, homework assignment be damned. 

On the last night in Bermuda, Karen does a complete about-face and comes to Charrisse's hotel suite to offer an unexpected apology. Claiming the two "got off on the wrong foot" in co-hosting the trip, Karen now wants to make up and claims she and Charrisse need to provide a "unified front" in being the alpha females of the group. This is all well and good, but one has to wonder how Charrisse would be taking this mea culpa if she knew all the nasty things Karen said about her that were caught by a hot mic at the end of last week's episode...Either way, the trip ends with an impromptu pajama party in Charrisse's suite and the women even get competitive in a hilarious freestyling rap battle led by Monique. Cheers to Bermuda!

Finally back in Potomac, Ashley Darby is forced to confront the issues with Michael she was running away from by going on the girls trip. The couple's restaurant remains the giant emu-shaped wedge in their relationship. However, Michael reveals that he's already made changes to Ashley's role at Oz while she was away in Bermuda. Without consulting her. Once again, this move by her husband leaves Ashley feeling disrespected and undermined, but the good news is that she'll no longer be in charge of managing the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. Michael's made her just an owner with the hope that this decision will eliminate some of the tension in their relationship and honestly, Ashley doesn't seem too upset about the change.

Charrisse has finally completed the renovations on her brand new champagne room and all the women gather at the Jordan mansion for the room's grand unveiling - complete with a white-gloved butler answering the door and fancy ribbon cutting ceremony. However, a huge piece of gossip is on everyone's lips at the party: word on the street is that Karen came back from Bermuda to a new house in Great Falls, Va. That's right, under the cover of darkness, the Hugers have moved out of Potomac and left the prestigious 20854 zip code behind. This is certainly a far cry from what Karen told the ladies while they were in Bermuda and now the grande dame is going to have some serious explaining to do. 

After the grand unveiling, Karen finally reveals her move to the 'Wives, trying to couch it in "I live in Great Falls now, remember?" No, grande dame, they don't remember. Because you never told them where you were moving. Karen provides yet another cockamamie story about her "private sale option" that's really just code for the fact that she's renting the new house in Great Falls. Naturally suspicious, the women are quick to question the inconsistencies: if Monique could purchase a $5 million mansion in Potomac, why are the Black Bill Gates and the grande dame renting? Ashley gleefully points out that this means Karen will no longer hold the title of "the grande dame of Potomac" but everyone knows Karen won't be giving that title up until someone pries it from her cold, dead hands. Karen argues that the only way she can be stripped of the title is if she chooses to bestow it on someone else but as the conversation turns into a full-blown confrontation, Robyn takes charge and jokingly dethrones the grande dame, tossing her imaginary crown to the ground. Karen doesn't take well to this unceremonious dumping and fires back at Ashley by snapping that she refuses to listen to the opinion of "the idiot on the end of [the couch]." And with that, we get a "To Be Continued..." placard leading into the season finale...

What did you think of this week's RHOP? Has Karen been dethroned as the grande dame of Potomac? Did Charrisse win the battle in Bermuda? Who's the real alpha female of the group? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

RHOP S2/Ep 10 Recap - Welcome to the Bermuda Triangle

Glenn Rowley

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This week on The Real Housewives of Potomac, the women head to Bermuda where Karen brokers a peace treaty between Gizelle and Monique while excluding the rest of the 'Wives from a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plus, the battle of who's hosting the trip continues as Charrisse butts heads with the grande dame, leading to a bombshell accusation off-camera. Read on for a full recap of the many battles in Bermuda...

The 'Wives are ready to jet off to Bermuda but before they leave, a few items of business are left to attend to. Gizelle Bryant is nervous to inform her mother that she's planning on breaking up with Kevin, her quasi-boyfriend. After making an effort to date, she simply doesn't know if she can get him out of the friend zone in her mind and, to Gizelle's surprise, her mom is supportive. Meanwhile, en route to the airport Karen reveals that she and the black Bill Gates are moving to a house she found in Great Falls, VA. That's right, the grande dame is leaving Potomac but she's not ready to tell the rest of the 'Wives just yet that she's vacating the posh 20854 zip code. 

The ladies land in Bermuda, and it quickly becomes apparent that the drama over who's hostessing the trip has followed them from Potomac when their driver appears at the airport holding a sign emblazoned with "Huger + Guests." Then, upon arriving at their fancy luxury resort, the women each receive a welcome basket with a note from Karen - and only Karen - attached. All of the 'Wives are utterly confused over who is hosting this trip and Charrisse Jackson Jordan certainly isn't pleased with being sidelined and given no credit by Karen. All I know is if Sha Sha got a condescending welcome basket, she's going to be ready to throw down with the grande dame. 

However, Karen isn't done quite yet. Next, she treats the ladies to a fancy welcome dinner, complete with an impromptu performance by traditional Bermudian Gombey dancers. During the meal, tension remains thick between the battling hostesses and conversation veers toward a number of controversial topics - from Robyn Dixon's "homework assignment" to go on a date with someone other than Juan to Gizelle not being invited to nemesis Monique Samuels' party last week. Finally, the topic of the Hugers' move comes up, leading Karen to cryptically share that her home sold thanks to a cash offer from overseas. Yet, when the women ask point blank where she and the black Bill Gates are moving, Karen clams up and refuses to answer. Hmm...that's not mysterious at all...

The following day, Charrisse, Robyn and Ashley Darby are ready to hit the beach, only to discover that Karen had yet another trick up her sleeve. The grande dame has secretly arranged a sailing excursion with Team Japan of the American Cup in an effort to get Gizelle and Monique to put their bad blood to rest and move forward. Naturally, finding out they weren't invited on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity leaves the other women feeling blindsided and left out. Wasn't Karen just barely preaching about how this trip is all about sisterhood and bonding at dinner the night before?

Both Gizelle and Monique are less than pleased to discover they're being forced to spend the day together - the look on Gizelle's face when Monique stepped onto the bus says it all. On the way to the marina, the OG and the new girl waste no time once again airing their grievances with each other, (reminder: Gizelle thinks Monique is insecure and Monique thinks Gizelle is jealous), but Karen is determined to force the two to get along despite Gizelle telling her nemesis point blank that she "wouldn't be here" without her husband and his bank account. However, Karen's grand plan works! Once the women get out on the sailboat, they are encouraging and kind to one another, and Gizelle helps Monique overcome her fear of being on the water. By the end of the excursion, the pair even share a hug! It's a Potomac miracle!

However, Karen still has to face the wrath of the other 'Wives when she returns from the sailing expedition. Charrisse has planned a sunset cruise for the evening, but before they set sail, Robyn decides to confront the grande dame in her hotel room for hanging herself, Ashley and Sha Sha out to dry. Karen tries to defend actions by claiming that she would've been in a lose-lose situation had she shared anything about the American Cup beforehand, but Robyn takes her to task by pointing out that excluding half the group only made the grande dame look like a hypocrite. Then, as Robyn storms out, a hot mic catches Karen dropping an off-camera bombshell. Just when she thinks the cameras are down, the grande dame unleashes a vitriolic tirade about Charrisse, whom she mistakenly blames for Robyn's ambush. Calling her frenemy "jealous," "evil" and a "New Jersey harlot," Karen spews out that she's not the one going around Potomac "screwing the fireman" and threatens to post a picture of the still-married Charrisse and the mysterious boyfriend who spawned the cease-and-desist letter to Gizelle as the season began if she comes for the grande dame one more time. And with that earth-shattering revelation, the episode ends with an ominous "To Be Continued..."

What did you think of this week's RHOP? Are you Team Karen or Team Charrisse? Can you believe Gizelle and Monique made up? Do Robyn, Ashley and Sha Sha have a right to be angry for being left out? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

RHOP S2/Ep 9 Recap - A Host of Issues

Glenn Rowley

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This week on The Real Housewives of Potomac, Karen and Charrisse butt heads over which 'Wife is hosting the cast trip to Bermuda while Gizelle and Monique's attempt to put their issues to bed only deeps their feud. Plus, Ashley and Robyn reevaluate the future of their respective relationships. Read on for a full recap of the drama, confrontations and shade...

It's the morning after the critics' choice dinner at Oz and Ashley Darby is mustering up the courage to go through the comment cards left by the food bloggers, press and celebrity chefs who attended the event. With hot Chef Brad looking on, Ashley starts reading the reviews and to her surprise and relief, they're mostly positive! Whew! Her husband Michael is noticeably absent for the positive moment, only showing up afterwards with his tail between his legs. Pulling Ashley away from their employees, Michael makes the understatement of the week by pointing out that the couple's verbal assault on each other prior to the event was a "pretty bad" fight and tries to make Ashley promise that they'll never get that heated again. On the one hand, Michael seems remorseful for how he treated his wife, but on the other hand there's a definite undercurrent that he's once again trying to exercise control over her by dictating how she is to feel. Ashley visibly shuts down during the conversation, but thankfully refuses to back down in her confessional. 

Meanwhile, Karen Huger has talked Gizelle Bryant and Monique Samuels into a sit down at hip North Bethesda eatery Summer House Santa Monica to hash out their festering issues with one another. However, the grande dame, who insists on making it clear to the waiter that she is the person hosting this lunch, is less than pleased when Charrisse Jackson Jordan arrives as Monique's uninvited plus one. (Pay attention because Karen's disproportionate displays of pretentiousness and contempt for Charrisse will be important later...)

Gizelle and Monique immediately get into it, sparring back and forth over who wronged who first. The newbie claims Gizelle has been judgmental and hostile from the moment they met while the OG points out that Monique was the one who called her a "stuck up trick" behind her back after throwing Gizelle out of her home. According to Monique, the definition of trick is "childish" (it's not), but Gizelle thinks the language barrier here is that the new girl speaks "trick trash" and can't hold a mature conversation. Yeah, this isn't going well...The issue of Monique asking - or telling, depending on who you're asking - Gizelle for her number following the PAVE event then gets brought up and fingers start flying over a battle of semantics as the women snap at each other. (Note to Mrs. Samuels: telling someone you were going to apologize isn't the same as actually apologizing.) Ultimately nothing is resolved between the two, despite Charrisse's tearful urging that they get along for her sake.

Good news! Karen and the black Bill Gates have sold their home in Potomac! And not only that, they received a cash offer from overseas. (Apparently the nation of China is buying the Hunger mansion. Does this sound shady to anyone else?) The bad news? The Hugers have just a few weeks to find a new house and move. Thus far in their hunt, nothing has met the grande dame's sky-high expectations, though her top two choices are homes in Great Falls, Virginia. Note, this means they are not in the prime Potomac zip code of 20854...As Charrisse so epically pointed out in the first episode of the season, don't let the zip code fool you, baby!

Following her heart to heart with Dr. Jeff, Robyn Dixon is finally willing to talk to a therapist about her complicated relationship with Juan. The question of whether the former high school sweethearts will move forward or move apart remains large and looming in Robyn's mind, though she avoids forcing the conversation with Juan. At first, Robyn seems to have a difficult time answering the therapist's questions personally, but eventually is coaxed to admit that yes, she does want love in her life. However, she doesn't know if she's ready to start dating other people, so the therapist gives her a homework assignment to go on one date with someone other than Juan as a way to find out what her heart is looking for.

Over at the Jordan mansion, Karen drops by for a poolside chat with Charrisse. (Emphasis on pool-side since the grande dame refuses to hop on a pink flamingo pool toy.) Karen suggests that all the ladies are ready for a vacation and enlists Potomac's resident social director to help plan the trip. She wants to go somewhere with sandy beaches and blue water - Charrisse throws out Bermuda as an option and we have a winner! In her confessional, Karen is very clear about the fact that Charrisse is helping plan the trip while she's the one hosting it, but when the two run to tell the other women, they both start taking credit for the vacation. Hmm...something's telling me this is going to be a problem...

Monique is throwing a birthday party for one-year-old Milani at her 26-acre, 5500 sq. ft. lake house in far-off Newburg, Md. Complete with a carnival and petting zoo, the pool party is also serving as a dedication ceremony for Monique's daughter and all the ladies are invited with the obvious exception of Gizelle. As the women gather by the pool, everyone's talking about how excited they are for the trip to Bermuda, and that's when Karen and Charrisse start clashing over who's actually hosting the trip. Karen claims Bermuda was her "brainchild" while Charrisse fires back that the only events the grande dame has ever organized were last season's "gala" in her living room and sad-looking couples yacht party. As shade and side-eye goes flying across the table, the tension between these two is thick and it looks like the Battle of the Bermuda Hostesses is officially on.

The next day, Robyn and Gizelle meet to get their lashes done in preparation for Bermuda. Robyn has the unlucky job of informing her bestie that she wasn't invited to Monique's lake house party. Gizelle, however, is entirely unbothered at this news, claiming she wouldn't have gone to the "Gizelle-hater's" party even if she had been on the guest list. At the same time, Karen and Charrisse are going another round over the Bermuda trip at the Huger residence. Calling Sha Sha her "assistant," Karen eventually compromises by allowing Charrisse to put together the itinerary for one day of the trip - as long as the welcome dinner upon arriving on the island is solely in the grande dame's hands. Never have I ever seen a Housewife be this possessive over the cast trip...

The episode ends with Ashley and Michael attempting to put the spark back in their relationship by going to a couple's pottery class a la Ghost. As with earlier in the episode, Michael is bending over backwards to get back in Ashley's good graces, even bringing up having kids as a way of sucking up to his wife. However, Ashley still has a wall up in the wake of their big blow-up at Oz, and squashes any baby talk by admitting she's not thinking about having kids these days. What she's more concerned about is the status of her relationship with her husband - yes, the Darbys love each other, but are they still in love with each other? As she jets off to the middle of the Atlantic, it seems that Little Miss Ashley may be running away from the problems in her relationship. Either way, the girls' trip to Bermuda can't come fast enough.

What did you think of this week's RHOP? Are you Team Karen or Team Charrisse in the Battle of Bermuda? Will Gizelle and Monique ever get past their petty issues? Should Ashley stay with Michael or run for the hills? Leave your thoughts and opinion in the comments below!

RHOBH Ssn 7/Ep 15 Recap - Hong Kong Fireworks

Glenn Rowley

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The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills take Hong Kong! This week, the ladies of the 90210 head overseas to support Lisa Vanderpump in her fight against animal cruelty, plus it's the perfect excuse for a fabulously exotic girls trip. However, the long-awaited explosion between Erika Girardi and Dorit Kemsley turns the vacation into anything but Shangri-La. Read on to relive all the drama from Hong Kong...

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There's no doubt about it: RHOBH always has the most glamorous cast trips out of any cities in the Housewives franchise. Unlike some of their sister cities (ahem...Jersey), we've seen the women jaunt to far-flung locales like Paris, Amsterdam and Dubai. Over the years. Think RHOA's current trip to Hawaii looks like a good time? The Beverly Hills 'Wives did it first, way back in Season 2. Though, if we're being honest, last season's excursion to Dubai was a bit of a disaster on all fronts, so this time the ladies are hoping for a better outcome. Cue the packing montage! Erika Jayne has her glam squad and high fashion lookbook in tow, Dorit apparently has another assistant whom we've never seen before and Lisa Rinna is left all alone with her dog, proving that the number one hustler of Beverly Hills can basically use anyone as a scene partner when the cameras are around. For Lisa Vanderpump, however, the trip has a far more important purpose: she's overseeing the production of a documentary to stop the barbaric Yulin Dog Festival, a cause she has passionately championed since learning about the week-long slaughter held in Yulin, China every year.

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After a 15-hour flight, the ladies land in Hong Kong and blown away by how picturesque, cosmopolitan and gigantic the city is. Fighting off jetlag, they don their best Chinese-inspired looks (hel-LO Erika Jayne's victory rolls and kimono!) and convene for cocktails at the luxury, 5-star Shangri-La Hotel where they're staying. Over drinks, Eden Sassoon regales the 'Wives with the news that she's invited her online lover "London" to meet her for a weekend of romance in New York City. Not only that, the trip is on her dime. And they're sharing a hotel room. WHAT?? The rest of the women balk at this revelation and jump into common sense, protective mode: what if Eden is being catfished? What if this guy turns out to be an axe murderer and she ends up dismembered in a suite overlooking Times Square? Shouldn't she book a separate room as a safety precaution? The season's official Friend of the Housewives laughs off the women's concerns, saying that she plans to greet her internet lover half-naked in bed when he arrives in the Big Apple. And besides, she could just as easily kill him, right? Whatever you say Eden, but to anyone reading this recap - please take this as a warning regarding internet safety in the age of online dating.

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The following morning, Lisa Rinna needs to get something off her chest with Dorit. Apparently an unnamed source has come to Rinna with information that the newbie may have taken their night of bonding over Xanax and smoothies the wrong way and was spreading a rumor during the trip to Mexico that the biggest pair of lips in Beverly Hills has a pill problem. Dorit staunchly denies the accusation, assuring Rinna that any time she's mentioned it to the other women, she has always maintained that the bag of pills moment was all in good fun. Now Dorit wants to know who told Lisa Rinna, but the latter refuses to reveal her source - changing her story to say that she just magically had a sixth sense about the situation. Hmm...I'm willing to bet money that this mysterious "sixth sense" was actually someone in production filling Rinna in behind the scenes.

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Finally, the 'Wives decide to divide and conquer the city: Lisa Rinna and Eden are heading to the top of Victoria Peak (the highest mountain in Hong Kong) and Kyle Richards and Erika are going sightseeing (a.k.a. staking out Chanel), while LVP is busy filming voiceovers and confessionals for her documentary with Dorit and Eileen Davidson in tow. Yes, you read that correctly: rather than stick with (any of) her pals, Eileen decides to take the high road in a sincere effort to learn more about the queen bee's work with #StopYulinForever. The proverbial olive branch stuns even Lisa Vanderpump herself, who's touched by the gesture and wonders via confessional if this could be the start of a new, less acrimonious chapter between herself and her soap star frenemy.

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Meanwhile, Erika opens up to Kyle about visiting her mother last week while surrounded by turtles and water features in Hong Kong Park, and Lisa Rinna relays her earlier confrontation with Dorit to Eden with the entirety of Hong Kong as a stunning backdrop from their seats in a boba shop. Validating Rinna's suspicions, Eden reveals that Dorit, in fact, questioned her about Rinna's supposed pill problem. Keep in mind that Dorit merely made an offhand comment wondering if her fellow 'Wife's personality was "induced in some way" while Rinna and Eden were on the outs, but now the fire has been flamed and according to Rinna the newest Housewife is being a "pussy with a capital P.")  

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Later that evening, the 'Wives reconvene for a sunset cruise through Victoria Harbour on a traditional Chinese junk boat. With the Hong Kong skyline at their backs, Lisa Vanderpump raises a toast to all the ladies being together and honestly, the experience looks truly magical. As the sun begins to set, LVP opens the floor for discussion and Dorit seizes the opportunity to ask the entire group who told Lisa Rinna she was gossiping about her in Mexico. Rinna once again changes her story, insisting this time that she magically conjured up the idea herself but admits via confessional that she's lying to protect her unnamed source. Dorit points out the rather obvious holes in Rinna's story, but none of the other 'Wives come forward - lending additional credence to my theory that a production source was the person in Rinna's ear. LVP and Kyle both claim they don't remember the scandalous bag of pills being the focal point of conversation in Mexico, but Erika sides with Rinna, asking Dorit why she brought it up at all if she didn't think Rinna had a pill problem.

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Tension is mounting and at this point, the argument shifts to a showdown between Erika Jayne and Dorit. Bad blood has been brewing between the two ever since #Pantygate and - as Erika points out in her confessional - now seems as good a time as any to air their true feelings about each other. Dorit denies ever saying Rinna had a pill problem but Erika bluntly levies that the newbie is just as guilty by implying the same thing. Dorit demands to know what Erika's problem is with her, pointing out that - out of the entire group of women - the pop singer is the only 'Wife she hasn't bonded with despite her best efforts. She also throws out that Erika doesn't talk enough, but the self-proclaimed ice queen fires back that she "say[s] important sh**" while her costar says "too much boring sh**." SHOTS FIRED! Finally, Erika gets to the root of the animosity: she simply doesn't like "bullsh**" and that's exactly what she thinks Dorit is. When Dorit exclaims that she should just say that to her face then, Erika drops the mic because guess what? She just did.

With that, the trip to Hong Kong (and the conclusion of this argument) is "To Be Continued" next week. What did you think of this week's RHOBH? How fabulous was Hong Kong? Who is Lisa Rinna's source? Does she have a pill problem? Are you Team Erika or Team Dorit? Tell me everything in the comments below!

RHOC Season 11 Wrap-Up

Glenn Rowley

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Season 11 of The Real Housewives of Orange County has finally, thankfully come to a close. After 18 episodes and one three-part reunion filled to the brim with shrieking outbursts, abuse rumors, ambush accusations and one freak accident in a dune buggy, I'm breaking down what made the season memorable and what could change for next year. Plus, find out where it stacks up against season past in my annual season rankings! 

WHY IT WORKED

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  • The redemption (and re-crucifixion) of Vicki Gunvalson: The biggest reason to tune into the beginning of Season 11 was to see how the OG of the OC would recover from the last year's fake cancer debacle. Finding herself on the outs with all the other 'Wives, Vicki began the season on her very own personal apology tour, seeking a clean slate with her friends. The OG's efforts were fascinating to watch - while some of the women chose to forgive her and move on, others (like former bestie Shannon Beador) were hesitant to jump back into a friendship with Vicki. But slowly, Vicki successfully managed to reintegrate herself into the group, and by the time the ladies took off to Ireland, all was relatively right between the OC 'Wives. However, Vicki's friendship with newbie Kelly Dodd came back to bite her when the rookie revealed damning gossip the OG had shared off-camera about both David Beador and Eddie Judge. And by season's end, Vicki was once again an outcast, with most of the other women vowing to never let her back in.
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  • Kelly Dodd, drama magnet: If there's one thing newbie Kelly Dodd was good for this year, it was stirring up trouble. Though she was brought into the group by Meghan King Edmonds, the rookie consciously bonded with Vicki and alienated the other women with her juvenile jokes, quick temper and crass behavior. Round after round, she feuded with virtually all the other 'Wives - from accusing Shannon of setting her up at the 70's party and turning the sushi night into a shouting match that pushed Heather Dubrow over the edge to instigating the infamously dark and nasty bus ride in Ireland and attacking Tamra Judge as a mother. By reunion time, Kelly even took things a step farther by essentially rescinding any apologies she had made throughout the season and standing by almost every bit of her bad behavior towards her costars. 
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  • Fancy Pants in the mud: While she's always been my personal favorite Housewife in the OC, it's safe to say that Heather Dubrow had a fairly easygoing season last year. Sure she was affected peripherally by the fake cancer controversy, but all in all Fancy Pants built her mansion, launched her sparkling wine and hawked her and Terry's new skincare line. This year it was much more entertaining to see Heather right in the middle of the drama - whether she was standing up to Kelly's "low, base bullsh*t" at the sushi dinner or facing off with Meghan in the dramatic aftermath of the Glamis accident and #HospitalGate.
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  • A hooley kickin' Irish adventure: Top o' the mornin'! Personally, I loved the ladies' vacation this year to the Emerald Isle. It was a unique change of pace and Meghan King Edmonds' desire to explore her Irish heritage was the perfect excuse to go somewhere other than the typical tropical island graced by OC Housewives getaways. From the moment they arrived, the trip was full of drama - from the pub crawl turned brawl between Tamra and Kelly and the Naked Wasted 2.0 scandal to the bus ride from hell that tore the group dynamic to shreds on the way to the airport. However, the trip was also full of laughs and great moments, including the women milking cows at the landmark Bailey's farm and Vicki getting her flirt on with every Irish man in sight. 

WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

  • Mean girls and bullies: As the drama in Ireland raged, I was shocked to see fans all over social media turning on Tamra, Heather and Shannon - labeling them a clique of mean girls with Kelly cast as the poor, bullied outcast. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around how this narrative was formed, but it's safe to say that no one came out of the season with their hands entirely clean. Over the last two seasons, life in the OC has gotten so toxic that I come away from every episode with a serious case of Orange County fatigue. Let's stop with the labeling, the bullying and the classic strategy known as the "OC gang-up," shall we?
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  • Kelly Dodd, horrific Housewife: While newcomer Kelly fueled the drama this season like a gallon of gasoline dropped onto a forest fire, I seriously question the impact the rookie had on Housewives as a brand. Honestly, there aren't many 'Wives who come across as legitimately, genuinely terrible people, but Kelly took the franchise to a new low with her vulgar outbursts and vicious attacks throughout the season. (Not to mention the inexcusable bashing, fat shaming and bullying she did to fans on social media while and after the show was airing.) As a self-proclaimed expert on all things Housewives, I have to say that Kelly's inclusion in the cast dragged the entire show down and brought out the worst in the women around her.
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  • A lagging second act: The season both started and ended strong, but a number of episodes in the middle sure were rough. The fallout of the Glamis accident was fascinating but once Heather and Meghan made up at their summit dinner, we were subjected to Shannon's terrible mother-in-law, Kelly crying over her toxic marriage at Glen Ivy Spa, Vicki's ill-advised partnership with a cancer charity and Meghan throwing a party to open a candle store in a mall. Snooze. No thank you. I'll take brawling in Ireland over a completely disengaged Jim Edmonds any day.
Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

  • Cast shake-ups: As I mentioned above, the dynamic between the first ladies of Bravo has gotten so toxic and angry, that I've reached the conclusion that it's time for a major casting shake-up, a la RHONY Season 5. Could it be time to axe half the cast and move forward with a cleaner slate to reset the show? I say yes, but the question then to be asked is who should stay and who should go? By reunion time it was crystal clear that Meghan had mentally and emotionally checked out, making it a foregone conclusion that she's making her exit and taking baby Aspen with her. Personally, I'm completely over the back-and-forth between erstwhile besties Vicki and Tamra. We get it, you hate each other, it's never going to be like it was. However, as Vicki screamed at the reunion, RHOC is "her" show and the only way she's leaving is if she wants to. So, if we can reasonably assume that Vicki's sticking around for Season 12, that puts a major target on Tamra's back as the 'Wife most likely to be unceremoniously ousted. Kelly is also up in the air. A week ago I would've said she was a shoo-in but after her husband attacked Andy Cohen on Twitter, now I'm not so sure. So, partly as wish fulfillment I'm going to say next season's cast will be Vicki, Heather, Shannon and two new girls. Kelly may sneak in there too, unfortunately, but maybe my wish will come true that she's a one-and-done.

SEASON RANKINGS

  • Season 8: To me, the eighth season serves as the high water mark for the OC in terms of pure entertainment value. The cast was perfect and the season's storylines carried over from the previous year to give viewers a real sense of closure on the Gretchen/Alexis chapter. The addition of Lydia McLaughlin as a rare sixth Housewife was a perfect fit, and the return of Lauri Peterson ushered in the new era of OG Housewives returning to the franchise. Also, there's no denying that the visual of Vicki Gunvalson screaming "I HAVE NEVER BEEN WITH MULTIPLE PARTNERS IN MY LIFE!" at the top of her lungs while dressed as a snow bunny on the slopes of Whistler was pure Housewives gold worthy of being inducted into Bravo's Hall of Fame. The season also gave us what I consider to be the best, most dramatic reunion in RHOC's history - rainbow of dresses included. Plus, you know a season is particularly special when Bravo decides it deserves its own behind-the-scenes Uncensored special.
  • Season 7: This season ushered in the Golden Age of Orange County. Heather Dubrow joining the show added the class and real wealth - as well as a brunette voice of reason - the show so desperately needed. It's a season I love re-watching and it gave us plenty of classic Housewives moments including the "pretentious intervention" of Alexis Bellino in Costa Rica, the bunco party explosion between Vicki and Gretchen decked out in full 80s garb, the introduction of Brooks as the OG's shady boyfriend and what has been arguably the best season finale in OC history (#BowGate and evil eyes anyone? "YOU WERE MY FRIEND, MY SOULMATE, MY SISTER!"). The current success of RHOC can be traced back to this memorable season.
  • Season 9: Losing Gretchen, Alexis and Lydia was a bit of a reset for the franchise and moved the show in a new direction. However, Shannon Beador and Lizzie Rovsek were definitely the right replacements for the departing veterans and the Canadian newbie. After a slow start, the season really picked up at Shannon's Christmas party with drama between Heather and Tamra and Heather and Shannon, which eventually led to the epic "take the Beadors down" clash between Heather and Terry and Shannon and David at poor Lizzie's ill-fated beach house dinner party. The scandal surrounding David's email (and off-camera affair) added real weight to the season and the trip to Bali was a gorgeous, exotic experience that left me aching to visit. 
  • Season 5: Three words will explain my love for this season: Loony Lynne Curtin. Plus, this year was the end of Jeana Keough's time as a Housewife, introduced Alexis to the series and featured the 'Wives running around in masks at Vicki's sleepover TP'ing Jeana's house. We watched Lynne and her family get evicted from their home, Tamra's marriage to Simon implode and the girls take a weekend getaway to San Francisco. Easily the best season of early, pre-Heather Orange County.
  • Season 11: Yes, this season was an improvement on last year, but still failed to catapult itself into the upper echelons of the OC's season rankings. Blame Kelly Dodd.
  • Season 10: Last year, I said in my wrap-up that I was burnt out from this season. Unfortunately, my feelings haven't gotten any more positive with time. Brooks Ayers' fake cancer debacle took over the show like an actual cancer, to the point that we're still dealing with its effects two years later. 
  • Season 6: The sixth season was a major weak spot for the franchise. Peggy Tanous was boring and it was nausea-inducing to watch her and Alexis fight over Jimmy the Chin Bellino and one-up each other season long. Equally gross was being subjected to Tamra's naked bathtub make-out session with Eddie. That and her lesbian fling with Fernanda Rocha are both things I don't ever want to relive. Tamra throwing a glass of wine at Jeana in the finale is often cited as an epic moment in Housewives history, but I found it to be forced and inauthentic. Just my opinion.
  • Seasons 1-4: At this point, the early seasons of the show all kind of run together as the series getting its feet under it. Memorable moments include Tamra and Vicki plotting to get Gretchen "naked wasted" in Season 4, Vicki's family van tirade, the Bass Lake controversy surrounding Gretchen's relationship with Jeff, the OC Angels smackdown and Lauri's fairytale wedding to George Peterson. Oh and obviously the classic moment where Vicki showed up at Michael's frat house to surprise/humiliate him in front of his college friends. Classic Vicki moment right there.

With that, my coverage of Season 11 in Orange County is over. What were the best and worst parts of the season for you? Who do you think should come back next year? Let me know in the comments!

RHONJ Season 7 Wrap-Up

Glenn Rowley

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

After eighteen episodes of redemption, drama and bitter feuding, Season 7 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey has reached its conclusion. So, as has become tradition on That Housewives Guy, I'm breaking down the reasons I loved this season so much as well as what could and should change for Season 8. Plus, I give my take on where Season 7 ranks against years past in Jersey...

WHY IT WORKED

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  • Sincerely Siggy: Relationship expert Siggy Flicker burst onto the scene as the first Jewish Housewife in the Italian-dominated history of the franchise.  From the moment we met the Sig with her face wrapped in a scarf post-facelift and sipping lobster bisque through a straw, I instantly fell in love with her and she became an unforgettable addition in the Housewives canon. Initially introduced as a friend of Jacqueline Laurita, Siggy's goal throughout the entire season was to bring the feuding Jersey OGs together and help them heal from years of family feuds and friendships falling apart. All Siggy ever wants is peace. And while her strategy and relationship expertise seemed to work at first (the cast spa-cation in episode 7 was a standout for me), by season's end Siggy realized the wounds between the veterans may be simply too deep for her to fix alone. What endears Siggy to me the most is the light and positivity that simply radiates from her. She's hilariously funny, loves fiercely, is genuine, emotional and real - basically everything you want in a rookie Housewife. Siggy brought a new, distinctly Jewish perspective to the Jersey franchise and I am 100 percent here for it.
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  • Dolores Catania, Italian Whisperer: The other new addition to the Jersey gang this season was Dolores Catania, a longtime friend of both Jacqueline and Teresa Giudice with deep ties to former OGs Caroline and Dina Manzo as well. In fact, to call Dolores a "new addition" is a blatant misnomer considering that she's made frequent appearances on the show since the very beginning and - as revealed by Dina recently - was originally supposed to be a Housewife way back in Season 1 before she dropped out and was replaced by Caroline. Dolores also happens to be BFFs with Siggy and proved throughout the season to be the levelheaded voice of reason among the group. Having so much history with all the other women, she also had a particular knack for breaking things for viewers in her confessionals. Whether that meant explaining the fundamental differences between how Teresa and Jacqueline operate or providing insight into Italian-American culture, Dolores' commentary was invaluable for both longtime fans and brand-new viewers. But one word of warning: push the rookie 'Wife past her breaking point (like the drama did in Vermont) and you'll quickly see her Paterson side come out!
jacqueline-laurita-rhonj-season-7
  • War and peace: For the better part of a decade, we've watched the dynamics implode and rebuild and explode again between the Guidices, Gorgas, Lauritas (and Manzos). The connections between these women and their families are deeply entrenched and the history is centered on families and goes back decades. It's part of what makes RHONJ so different from other cities in the Housewives franchise. So, from the moment Teresa came home from Danbury, Jacqueline and Melissa Gorga braced themselves for a rollercoaster of drama. However, "Namaste" Teresa came home determined to make peace and - in a near miracle - she and sister-in-law Melissa put years of family feuding to bed once and for all. On the other hand, Tre's road to rebuilding with Jacqueline was much rockier, full of twists and turns as the former besties tried to navigate past years of hurt feelings. After a couple false starts, the drama exploded on the disastrous cast trip to Vermont as an argument over Season 4's Strippergate (of all things) drew a permanent line in the sand with Teresa and Melissa on one side, Jacqueline on the other and the newbies caught in the crossfire. The fallout was gripping and it went from bad to worse between the women, leading to Jac's great escape with poor Siggy and Dolores running after her fleeing Range Rover in the finale. The drama was vicious and seems insurmountable, but if there's one thing we've learned from the Jersey ladies it's to never say never when it comes to their relationships with each other. Yes, Italians fight hard but they love each other just as intensely. 

WHAT COULD CHANGE

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

  • Feuding family no more: Ever since the christening heard 'round the world in the Season 3 premiere, fans have watched the Giudice/Gorga family feud take center stage as the primary storyline driving RHONJ forward. From Strippergate and tabloid scandals to therapy sessions and a fistfight between Joes, we've seen the family go through some pretty dark drama. But this season, the relationships between Teresa, Melissa and Joe are fixed on all sides and the OG shut down the tension with Friends of the Housewives Kathy Wakile and Rosie Pierri, seeing her cousins' attempt at reconciliation as a ploy to get back in the spotlight after not reaching out to her once during her time at Danbury. The bond between sisters-in-law Teresa and Melissa seems genuine and solid, so can we finally call the family feud over and done with? The Jersey franchise has always been about family, but honestly, that dead horse doesn't need to be beaten one second longer. 
melissa-gorga-rhonj-season-7
  • Jersey girls go international: The cast trip is a cornerstone of every season of Housewives in every city across the franchise, but year after year the Jersey 'Wives have stayed stateside for their big vacations. From Napa Valley and Arizona to Florida and Vermont, the ladies have made it work and the drama has been far from disappointing, but next season can we please send them to some far-flung, exotic destination to watch all the drama boil over? I completely get that Teresa hasn't been allowed to leave the country for the past couple of seasons due to her legal issues, but now that they're in her rearview mirror, I'd love to see the ladies explore Siggy's roots in Israel (and perhaps visit the bomb shelter where she was born). Who's with me?
Photo Credit: Instagram @daniellestaub

Photo Credit: Instagram @daniellestaub

  • Cast shake-ups: Changes in the cast from season to season are almost inevitable in the Housewives universe (though RHONJ holds the record for keeping the same cast of 'Wives from Seasons 3 to 5). However, I feel fairly confident that I speak for the majority of Housewives fans when I say all the girls from Season 7 need to come back next year. I'm obsessed with thedynamic between these ladies and in my well-versed opinion, the Fabulous Five is near-perfect as a cast. Jacqueline has already confirmed on Twitter that she'll be back for Season 8, Teresa and Melissa are no-brainers and I'd like to see Siggy and Dolores continue to thrive and blossom in front of Bravo's cameras. The one major addition next season is the rumored return of Tre and Jac's fellow OG Danielle Staub, the iconic Housewives villain who helped turn RHONJ into a pop culture phenomenon back during the days of Seasons 1 and 2. As revealed in the finale's "Where Are They Now?" cards, Teresa recently reached out to Danielle and the two seem to be building a friendship again - hitting the yoga studio and attending events together. If Danielle's rumored return does happen, Season 8 will undoubtedly be one for the books.

SEASON RANKINGS

  1. Season 2: The Jersey 'Wives sophomore outing is undoubtedly the franchise at its most iconic. From Dina Manzo's abrupt exit following her showdown with Danielle Staub to the chaotic country club brawl between Danielle, Jacqueline and Teresa, Season 2 built on the foundation of the show's first year and reached a fever pitch. I mean, who can forget Danielle pulling a mannequin head out at the reunion to demonstrate getting her extensions ripped out or Teresa shoving Andy Cohen in a blind rage? 
  2. Season 4: Strippergate. The implosion of Teresa's friendships with Jacqueline and Caroline after the night on the deck. The surprise eleventh hour appearance by Dina. The Napa Valley RV trip. For many, Season 4 represents some of the very best drama that Housewives has to give. The issues between the women reached cataclysmic heights as Teresa found herself at war with each of the other 'Wives. By the time the epic, three-part reunion aired, it seemed the Jersey women would never be able to come back from the toxic darkness that had consumed the show.
  3. Season 7: In many ways, this season was a return to form for RHONJ and even while some fans were critical, I loved every minute. The drama may have been as dark as it was in the days of Strippergate, it turned out to be exactly what I didn't even know I needed. From Teresa's emotional homecoming and the addition of Siggy and Dolores to the hellish Vermont trip and Jacqueline's unraveling, the show returned from a long hiatus to tell a story that was real, authentic and ultimately heartfelt.
  4. Season 3: With the introduction of her sister-in-law Melissa Gorga and cousin Kathy Wakile, Teresa Giudice's family drama became RHONJ's primary storyline and turned her into the unequivocal star of the show. Upon airing, the chaotic christening was the highest-rated season premiere in the history of both the Housewives franchise and Bravo as a whole. However, the network's decision to film Seasons 3 and 4 back-to-back resulted in a confusing third season reunion with Jacqueline not showing up and the other women bitterly divided over events viewers wouldn't see play out for a full year. 
  5. Season 1: Teresa's iconic table flip. Cop Without a Badge. While the first season may seem tame and brief by today's standards, the Jersey 'Wives became instant celebrities when they hit TV screens back in 2009. In fact, it's easy to long for the relatively simple days when the Manzos, Lauritas and Giudices were united against villain Danielle Staub as a common enemy and Caroline Manzo uttered the famous words "Let me tell you something about my family..." 
  6. Season 5: The season began with Superstorm Sandy and ended with the Giudices, Manzos, Lauritas, Gorgas and Wakiles finally brokering a fragile peace treaty, but boy was it rough getting there. The cast trips to Lake George and Arizona were essentially settings for fist fights and extended therapy sessions. Add in the finale brawl at Kim D.'s second Posche boutique (which had to be largely edited out for legal reasons) and the introduction of minor players like Penny, Johnny the Greek and Jan stirring up trouble and cheating rumors about Melissa, and many aspects of the season were simply confusing. Still, the emotional payoff of seeing forgiveness and peace between Teresa and her brother brought tears to my eyes, though by the end of the reunion Caroline was ready to exit stage left.
  7. Season 6: I feel the need to start with the caveat that I actually really enjoyed much of Season 6. That being said, it's indisputably the weakest link in the RHONJ canon. The conviction and subsequent sentencing of Teresa and Joe Giudice cast a somber, dark shadow over production, which was truncated into a short, choppy run of episodes. Personally, I rejoiced in the return of Dina (namaste, bitches!) and immediately liked twins Nicole Napolitano and Teresa Aprea, but the less said about Amber Marchese and her husband Jim's stain on the show's legacy the better...

With that, it's time to say goodbye to Season 7 of RHONJ. Did you enjoy the season as much as I did? How would you rank the show's seven seasons from best to worst? Should all the ladies come back next year? Should Danielle Staub? Let me know in the comments!