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Real Housewives

Filtering by Tag: stay-at-home moms

RHOC Ssn 10/Ep 20 - Reunion Part 1

Glenn Rowley

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It's reunion time in the OC! After a season of seemingly nothing but rumors and drama surrounding Brooks and his fake cancer, the 'Wives sat down with Andy Cohen on a soundstage set somewhere in California to rehash the most controversial season yet in Orange County. Thankfully, and somewhat surprisingly, we were spared any mention of Brooks, PET scans or the dreaded "c" word during Part 1, which focused instead on much of what happened towards the beginning of the season. As I did with RHONY, I'll split up the three-part reunion by package and topic of conversation. First, let's break down the seating on the couches and the Housewives' reunion looks...

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On the Couches

Seating is a little tricky when there are only five women in the main cast, as there are significantly fewer arrangement options than say, the eight 'Wives in NYC. In fact, as the season raced on part of me wondered if the reunion would simply be 4 on 1, with Vicki on one side of Andy and the rest of the women on the other. Ultimately, the seating chart Bravo decided on - with Vicki and Heather on the left couch and Shannon, Tamra and Megan on the right - was one of the only arrangements that could've worked. The only other option would've been for Tamra and Heather to trade places, but Tammy Sue had much too significant a season to be relegated to the end of a couch.

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Vicki and Shannon are the natural, right picks for the hot seats next to Andy considering that they ended the season at each other's throats with their friendship having self-destructed in a kamikaze of betrayal and hurt feelings. So yes, the seating makes sense. However, my biggest disappointment is that it's honestly not all that different from where the ladies sat last season. Vicki and Tamra have basically traded places, Lizzie's been traded out for Meghan and Shannon and Heather are in the exact same spots they occupied at the reunion for Season 9. It would've been downright revolutionary had production merely switched the couches, with two women on the right and three on the left. I guess the more things change in the OC, the more they stay the same. 

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Ranking the Housewives' Looks

When it comes to reunion looks, the first ladies of the OC are significantly different from the rest of the Housewives in other cities. They generally tend to stick to short cocktail dresses in solid colors, forgoing the floor-length gowns and over-the-top ensembles found in other cities across the franchise. This reunion was no exception. My favorite look this year goes to Heather for her edgy, black Tom Ford number. Her makeup is also ON. POINT. this year – I couldn't stop noticing every time there was a close-up of her face. As for the others, I liked Vicki's pearls, but she might be trying a teensy bit too hard with the angelic white after a season of being demonized. I'm glad Tamra finally moved away from the pink she's worn for the last two reunions, but the tiny stomach cutout makes no sense to me. The color of Shannon's deep purple Yves Saint Laurent dress is simply gorgeous, but runs the risk of looking slightly madame with its conservative cut paired with her jewelry. And Meghan was almost my runner up for favorite look for her red dress mixed with the new brunette locks, but the dress is a basic wrap-dress – too basic to really stand out. Far and away, Heather blows the rest of the ladies out of the water.

Stepmom Wars & Sweeping Judgements

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After a couple of questions about Tamra's granddaughter and Vicki's double nip-slip on Instagram, things kick off with a package about the tension early in the season between Vicki and Meghan. Being a new stepmom may be tough, but being the new girl around the OG of the OC is even harder. Vicki stands by her opinions from Tahiti about what a stepmom's boundaries should be and the difference between biological and stepchildren, but Meghan's defensively points out that since Vicki doesn't have stepchildren, she can't know the difference. Newsflash Meghan, by that logic, you can't understand the difference either since you don't have biological children. Five seconds later, Vicki's backtracking to say she doesn't understand how it all works since she doesn't have adopted or stepchildren, but Meghan's not letting it slide, calling her opinions disrespectful. 

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Tamra and Heather both get dragged into the conversation, with Tamra backing Vicki's opinions as a mom and Fancy Pants being asked whether her friendship with Jimmy's ex-wife Allison is a conflict of interest in her relationship with Meghan. However, she insists the former MLB star and his second wife didn't break up because of the newbie 'Wife, so it wasn't an issue. When the OG and the 30-year-old (31 now!) start arguing over whether Vicki was a hypocrite for gifting Briana a car after she told Meghan to take away Hayley's, Heather puts a stop to the conversation by telling Vicki she can't issue such "sweeping judgements" about how other people should live, parent and behave. Isn't that the entire job of a Housewife though?

Remembering Vicki's Mom

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Next conversation turns to the biggest tragedy of the season - the sudden death of Vicki's mom. Andy asks if Vicki regrets the cameras being there when she found out, but she says she was in so much shock that she didn't even realize the cameras were filming. There was quite a bit of debate on social media about whether the cameras should've gone down and given Vicki privacy, but I feel like the situation was actually treated very compassionately and didn't feel exploitative. For her part, Vicki claims Bravo handled everything very graciously and were nothing but supportive of her in her time of need. At the end of the day, it was Vicki's decision to include the unexpected tragedy in the season's footage because it's what was happening in her reality. She then shares a hilarious story about when her mom was arrested in a TJ Maxx for keying a motorcycle that was riding her butt into the parking lot. Joanne Steinmetz, you will be missed.

Judgey Eyes and CharityGate

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After a funny montage about the Housewives' very specific ordering habits at restaurants, the ladies relive Shannon and Meghan's feud that drove the early part of the season. From being disinvited to the JDRF gala to having "judgey eyes," Shannon couldn't do anything right when it came to Meghan. Andy asks if Shannon thinks she overreacted in Napa with the whole private cell phone drama, but she insists that she stormed away because she knew what Meghan was trying to do. At the time, she had just come from the couples retreat and had a ton of stress on her marriage - the last thing Shannon needed was to get pulled into a brawl with the new girl she barely knows. However, Andy points out that by the end of the season, things started looking up for the pair and Shannon explains that they were tentatively trying to move their relationship forward. Meghan says the turning point was when Shannon went out of her way to make a few calls to get LeAnn, Jimmy's cancer-stricken first wife, into her doctors. At the time, Shannon had no reason to do anything kind for Meghan or her family, but she did it out of the goodness of her heart. Now Meghan loves Shannon! No really, just ask her.

Tamra's Secret Battle

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Part 1 ends with the focus squarely on Tamra, who spent much of this season getting her groove back after a terrible Season 9. After a year of staying silent, Tamra finally opens up on the couch about the nasty custody battle she was going through at the time and how her oldest daughter Sidney cut off contact with her after moving in with Tamra's ex-husband Simon. The process was any parent's worst nightmare, but Tamra chose not to disclose it on the show in order to protect her kids. Knowing everything she was really going through at the time certainly helps put her bad behavior in better perspective. 

xoxo, Jesus Barbie

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The topic turns to Tamra's recent religious conversion and all the changes she's been making in her life. Andy asks what Tamra thinks her former nemesis and outspoken Christian Alexis Bellino would think of her being baptized and Tamra says she hopes Alexis would be supportive. Surprise, surprise, Andy got an email from Alexis the night before the reunion, which she asked to be read to Tamra. In the email, Alexis goes for the jugular, calling Tamra out for not being a good Christian and making a "mockery" of Jesus. According to Alexis, someone's faith shouldn't be put on display for entertainment, signing the note "Jesus Barbie." The ladies are all understandably shocked by this judgmental outburst and Tamra defends herself by saying that Alexis is the kind of Christian that gives Christianity a bad name. If Alexis was such a good Christian, she probably shouldn't be judging Tamra so harshly. And with that, we're left with a cliffhanger until next week's Part 2!

RHOC Ssn 10/Ep 8 - Judgy Eyes & Tahitian Skies

Glenn Rowley

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Things finally started to heat up this week as the 'Wives jetted off on a trip to Tahiti. I hate to admit it, but prior to this episode, this season had been lagging for me a bit. Plenty has been going on in the 'Wives individual lives - the passing of Vicki's mom, Tamra becoming a grandma, Shannon and David attempting to repair their marriage and Heather building her family's dream home - but being roughly one third of the way through the season, it felt like the ladies were barely interacting with each other. With all the big life moments, there wasn't any narrative thread or dramatic tension pulling the separate storylines together. However, it appears that the problem is being fixed by a classic Housewives move: forcing the women onto an island together. But first, we had another classic tradition from Bravo's toolbox: game night.

Meghan wasted no time putting together the game night she invited the ladies to last week. After the passing of Vicki's mom, the newbie thinks that what the group really needs is an excuse to have some fun and laugh. Setting up for the party, she manages to put stepdaughter Hayley to work too. After last week's misadventures in step-parenting, Meghan's trying to set more ground rules for the 17-year-old, but Hayley's not having it and responds to Meghan's attempt at providing structure with a petulant "let's wait till dad gets home." Isn't that supposed to work the other way around? While setting up, Meghan calls Heather, who's managed to liquor Terry up for a midday shopping date. (Apparently in the Dubrow house, spending $400 on a shirt is a decent price point.) Meghan explains that when she first decided to host the couples night she thought Jimmy would be there, but he's out of town which leaves the hostess couple-less. Never fear, because Terry can't make the game night either (on account of an early-morning surgery), so Heather can team up as her partner. 

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Game night is upon us and most of the ladies arrive with their men in tow - minus Vicki who apparently had to work late. Naturally, I couldn't be happier to see Christian Rovsek on my TV screen. Upon arrival, Shannon is nice to Meghan's face, but passive-aggressively celebrates finally receiving an invitation to a Meghan Edmonds party in her confessional. Almost immediately, the whispered gossip starts as Shannon wonders to Lizzie about why Meghan decided to host a couples night sans Jimmy. Lizzie agrees that if she was hosting a party and Christian wasn't there, she would have a girls night instead, but Shannon decides not to pry into the situation and sticks to silent judgement. Eventually, Vicki and Brooks arrive - with a vow not to stay long - and the games begin. 

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You would think after last season's "Shag, Marry, Kill" debacle at Heather's Valentine's party, this group would have learned their lesson about game nights, but here we are again. First up is the newlywed game, which works out better for some couples than others. At first, the questions about sending the men to a body repair shop (David wants new knees, Brooks needs hair plugs, obviously Christian is perfect and apparently Eddie is too) and fill-in-the-blank answers are lighthearted and funny. However, the fun hits a snag when the moderators ask whether the husbands are more or less romantic than the week after they started dating their wives. When the Beadors reveal their answers, Shannon says more romantic, but David says less, which doesn't go over well with the Housewife who's trying to get over her husband's affair. The couple start bickering and Shannon tearfully accuses David of making her look foolish in front of their friends. There's still an entire table of desserts to be eaten, but Vicki announces that she's tired of the games and ready to leave. The OG was most definitely on one tonight and don't worry, game night was only the beginning. Heather wisely calls out Vicki's behavior in her interview, pointing out that Meghan went out of her way to put together a fun evening for the group and you don't just say "sorry, bored, skipping out" in the middle of the games. It's rude.

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Once Vicki and Brooks leave, Meghan fills the other ladies in over dessert on her plans to get Botox for the first time. In her confessional, Shannon asks for a magnifying glass to find a single wrinkle on the 30-year-old's face, but lets her facial expression do all the talking in person. Meghan insists the Botox is preventative and calls Shannon out on having "judgy eyes." Shannon counters in her interview that "it's called having an expression, Meghan" but I absolutely agree with the newbie on this one. Even if she's not saying anything, Shannon wears her judgements on her sleeve and you always know exactly what she's thinking. There's no denying that Meghan has managed to get on Shannon's bad side over the course of the last eight episodes and the judgy eyes are a problem. Shannon takes the comment as her cue to exit, claiming that David has an early morning, and the party quickly comes to an end with Heather and Meghan the last revelers remaining. 

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The following day the Beadors meet with Tina Konkin, their marriage counselor from the couples retreat, for a therapy session. Shannon concedes that David is sharing more with her, but when reminders of the affair come up, tensions escalate like they did at the game night. According to the counselor, the Beadors are not yet in a place in their relationship where they should be discussing the affair without a mediator, and she tells Shannon that the memories aren't safe to talk about with David at this point. For his part, David admits that he sees talking about it as a surefire way to spark an argument, and doesn't see the point of the counseling then. In her interview, Shannon says that she understands why David doesn't want to work through the issue, but that he doesn't understand what it's like to have a spouse who's cheated on you. He may be dealing with a lot of shame, but they need to both put in the necessary effort to heal their marriage. The marriage counselor advises that it often takes years to fully overcome the effects of an affair, and that while the Beadors are doing a lot of things right, they need to recommit to being honest with each other.  

Next we get a packing montage of the 'Wives all prepping for Tahiti. Tamra's leaving Eddie in charge of the kids for the first time, Meghan's FaceTiming Jimmy and Hayley from their cabin at Lake Havasu, Shannon's packing her storehouse of holistic remedies and Heather is individually wrapping her shoes and folding her clothing in white tissue paper. Next time I pack for a trip, Fancy Pants needs to do it for me. In a bit of a non sequitur, Shannon also manages to bring up Meghan King Edmonds' litany of offenses against her. Uh oh, Shannon's referencing her full name. It looks like "Meghan King Edmonds" is this year's "Heather Dubrow." Watch out miss 30-year-old, you're officially on Shannon Beador's blacklist. Eventually everyone arrives at LAX: Shannon's already tan, Lizzie's rocking an all-white look and Heather's pulling a Madonna in a bra and "holey" shirt according to Vicki. As the women tote their bags through to the Air Tahiti Nui terminal, Meghan talks Lizzie's ear off about how she hasn't seen her husband in two weeks. (This is about the third time we've heard this story in the first half hour of this episode alone.) In her confessional, Lizzie says that type of long-distance love wouldn't fly with her, but different strokes for different folks...The women board the plane - thankfully Tahiti is 17 hours closer than Bali was last year - and they're officially en route. Of course Vicki is reading "Women, Wealth and Retirement" while the others nap and binge on Downton Abbey. Never change, Vicki Gunvalson, never change.

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Woo-hoo, the Housewives are in Tahiti! Vicki explains that before she passed, her mom was constantly telling her to slow down and smell the roses and she's finally taking her advice - with Tahitian roses. (Side note, Vick, those "little banjos" being played are called ukeleles.) Shannon on the other hand is coughing up black and green, and decides to call it a night while the rest of the women hit the hotel bar. Tamra admits that last year's trip to Bali was a definite low point for her, but she's at a good place with all the ladies now and just wants to have fun on this trip. Lizzie orders water, tipping the group off that she thinks she may be pregnant!

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Meghan also brings her marriage into the conversation yet again. Vicki thinks the Edmonds' relationship is confusing and admits in her interview that she would probably ship Meghan off to California too if she was married to her. The OG also seizes the moment to question the newbie on why her stepdaughter is living with her instead of her biological mom. Meghan explains that LeAnn can't take care of a teenager full-time as she's battling colon cancer and is very ill. (LeAnn sadly lost her battle with cancer this week and passed away.) Tamra says in her interview that Meghan needs to find her boundaries as a stepparent, but the whole thing is a very personal situation and I'm not sure why any of the women feel the need to pass judgement on Meghan stepping up to the plate and helping take care of her family. Somehow, the JDRF charity event also gets brought up, and Lizzie calls Meghan out on her cold treatment of Shannon, saying she doesn't understand the dynamic between the two women. Lizzie asks if Meghan ever apologized, to which Meghan defensively responds that she's not sorry and Lizzie doesn't have to get it. In her confessional, the new 'Wife explains that just because everyone else disagrees with her, it doesn't mean that she'll change her opinion. If we've learned one thing about Meghan so far this season, it's that she refuses to back down. 

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The next morning, Vicki stops by Shannon's room to fill her in on what she missed the previous night before the group heads out to do some shopping before catching their ferry to Mo'orea. First stop: the Musée de la Perle. When Heather tries on a pearl and cognac diamond statement necklace, Tamra asks her whether she'd have to ask Terry for permission to make such an extravagant purchase. (Keep in mind that the Dubrows recently went $130,000 over their cabinetry budget so this one necklace is small change in comparison.) Fancy Pants admits that there's a "threshold" of about $10,000 that she can spend without discussing it as a couple. Shannon then throws the question back at Tamra, who also admits she would obviously discuss large purchases with Eddie.

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Somehow, this conversation opens up a huge can of worms about the 'Wives spending their husbands' hard-earned money, with Vicki leading the charge for the working women. The OG claims that if you don't have a paying job, it's not your money to spend. This blanket statement is passive-aggressively directed at the likes of Shannon and Meghan, whom are both stay-at-home wives. Meghan counters that the money is shared because they're married, and Shannon points out that she's worked for 15 years to run the Beador household but Vicki's having none of it. Having always been a strong, independent woman, she believes wives should be allowed to spend the money only if they're actively contributing to the family coffers. As the women move into the pearl museum, Vicki stands her ground to Heather, and tells the woman who just wrote a $250,000 check a few weeks back that spending your husband's money without asking is how wives get themselves into trouble. 

Meghan quietly asks Tamra why Vicki is so heated about the topic, and Tamra clarifies that her BFF is probably referring to the types of disrespectful gold diggers who spend tons of money without asking. However, she also points out in her confessional that Vicki's always been used to supporting a man, not the other way around, and if Brooks had money you'd bet she'd be sitting at home surrounded by designer bags and bonbons. So is Vicki implying that Meghan's a gold digger? The newbie says that if that's the case, maybe the OG is simply jealous of her living situation and she doesn't really care. 

I need to pause for a second because having grown up with a stay-at-home mom, this is an issue I have plenty of opinions about. I love Vicki but this is a situation where her argument is completely out of line. Stay-at-home moms (or stepmoms) are just as valid and have just as much value as women who work for a living. Passing judgement on the 'Wives who choose a different home situation than she does, which in reality is every single member of the cast past and present, simply makes her look bad. I can't even begin to explain impact it made in my life growing up to have my mom at home. Vicki's judgement is rude and unacceptable, particularly to all the fans of the show who are stay-at-home mothers.

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While waiting for the ferry to Mo'orea, the women grab some more cocktails. Cheers to the fun bus! Heather tries unsuccessfully to steer the conversation towards embarrassing moments, but Vicki's not finished. She starts questioning Meghan about why she quit her job selling medical software when she started dating Jimmy. After all, you can fall in love and continue to work, can't you? Vicki keeps the rapid-fire questions coming, asking why the newlywed constantly stays behind in Orange County when Jimmy goes back to St. Louis. What's Meghan going to do when Jimmy moves on to wife number four? Meghan tries to explain yet again that she sacrifices so that Hayley can stay in school in the OC, but points out in her interview that Vicki's trying to indict her on the witness stand rather than get to know her. In a separate confessional, Heather - in a fabulous new black look - says that historically everyone says that Vicki has trouble with the new girls. While that wasn't her specific experience with the OG, she can see the validity of the point in the way she's picking on Meghan. In her final interview of the night, Vicki snidely says that it's very obvious Jim Edmonds has money, so what does Meghan do to contribute if she doesn't work? The answer is she goes to her husband for cash. In Vicki Gunvalson's world, that's apparently the worst sin a wife can commit.