(July 11, 2012) – At one point it gets to be too much and too little at the same time. You could waste your time, as I did, and watch part one of the Real Housewives of Orange County’s seventh season reunion. Or you could trust your instinct and correctly predict what would happen – without spending one precious minute watching Andy Cohen bait his employees into behaving poorly while trying to make their colleagues look bad.
Last night the attacks were, predictably, too much. In return for suffering through them, we gained far too little new information about or insight into the cast of Bravo’s longest-running Reality TV show.
What We Already Knew
1. The single-minded obsession with bashing Alexis Bellino.
First of all, as it turned out, Andy devoted half of the episode to discussing everything that is supposedly wrong with Alexis. We literally went through 30 minutes of discussions about how Alexis is too subservient to her husband Jim, before discussing how inauthentic she is. Clearly Alexis is the single-most important part of this cast, commanding far more than what should be her 20% share of this show.
Of course we already knew, three of the five ladies loathe Alexis . They have no idea – or perhaps are unwilling to admit – why they dislike her. Tamra Barney, Gretchen Bellino and Heather Dubrow want us to believe this is because Alexis is allegedly controlled by her husband and that she’s extraordinarily fake. I’m not buy it.
While I doubt she’s Pinocchio to Jim’s Geppetto, I recognize Alexis may very well may be pretending to be far more affluent and content than she really is. Still even if everything they say about her is true, I do not understand why they hate her unless, of course, they’re wildly jealous and the mere sight of her makes them feel inferior.
I say that because Alexis’ having a controlling husband and putting a happy spin on everything could never make anyone feel as threatened as these women are. Something else is going on here. My guess is that Tamra is green with envy about Alexis’ life, her body, her good looks, her grace, and her enduring marriage. I think Gretchen jumped onto the bash-Alexis train because she believes Tamra controls this cast and she will do anything to stay on her good side.
Heather, that’s a tricky one. Heather is definitely jealous that Alexis got that part-time gig at Fox 5-San Diego gig. You could see it on her face when she first heard about it. Heather would have loved being on camera without having to film far away from home. She also heard, prior to this season wrapping up, that Alexis made the bold statement that Heather is no Angelina Jolie. Personally, I do not think Angelina is the greatest actress known to man, but that comment was a dig. Heather did not forget it after the Bravo team showed her that footage when she filmed her video diary segments. I believe it inspired Heather to join Tamra and Gretchen in finding fault with every little thing Alexis does, including uttering one of the craziest lines I’ve ever heard on one of these shows: “If you have a ring WEAR it!”
Why would a grown woman care if someone chooses to wear costume jewelry? Well more than 99% of Manhattan is wearing costume jewelry 365 days a year. And I have news for Heather: the 1% who aren’t are not exactly the 1% that Occupy Wall Street was protesting against. I know for a fact that at least half of the Park Avenue princesses who lunch are regularly sporting Lovie Howell-sized baubles they buy from designers like Janis Savitt, who gets that many women – particularly very rich women – want to have fun and play dress-up without breaking the bank.
2. Alexis is trying to retain her dignity and her sanity
You can just tell, as she’s sitting there on the right hand side sofa with Vicki Gunvalson, as she stares across the stage at the three women who want to verbally skin her alive, she knows she’s entered a hornet’s nest with a swarm of angry women, armed with an arsenal of preplanned stinging comments.
All I could think when I heard Tamra screech at her, “you’re psychotic, Jesus Jugs” is that Ms. Barney had that mocking moniker up her sleeve well before she arrived at the reunion. Last night when I logged onto Twitter and saw she was lobbying her followers to retweet it – with hopes that it would start to trend – I was positive I was right. I promptly unfollowed her.
Tamra is just too mean and too unsophisticated to understand that in order to be a compelling character you have to display at least one redeemable quality to round your personality into the fully-fleshed, third-dimension.
Fortunately Alexis seems to get this – far better than I probably would if I were in her shoes. She says she was “released” from caring about Tamra’s opinion when they met for coffee earlier in the season and the resident mean girl promised to be “brutally honest” with her. Alexis knows Tamra is nasty, as a result she “drew the line” and no longer values her point of view.
What We Didn’t Know
1. That Gretchen had her lips done
Personally I couldn’t care less. Right from the beginning of the season, I was pretty sure something had been done to her face during the off-season. Still I just don’t care what any of them do to try and improve their appearances.
What I did find interesting and kind of sad is that Alexis is the one who let the cat out of the bag that Gretchen wasn’t merely using a lip plumper, as she claimed when Vicki hosted the cast during her Cajun party. I don’t think it’s a great idea to reveal someone’s secrets just because you’re mad at them. Still I get why she did it.
Alexis has been wronged. Gretchen is not a loyal friend. She can tell Alexis all she wants, “I care about you… I always defend you…I love you enough to jeopardize the friendship to tell you the truth.” Gretchen is not a good friend. She’s a back stabber. Joining a gang-up on her “good friend,” as she did in Costa Rica during the discussion Heather euphemistically called “an intervention” is not love.
2. This cast gets lots of information about the Bellinos while shopping in Nordstrom
Didn’t Dr. Terry start this a while back when he mentioned he’d heard Jim bragging about something while eavesdropping a conversation in Nordstrom? Last night Heather and Tamra said they know from talking to employees of the same department store that she treats the sales people like trash and that she’s “so rude to us.”
I am not sure if I believe this. Something about it just doesn’t ring true to me. But if I owned or managed Nordstrom, I’d be very curious to know if my employees were trash talking my customers by talking about them on Facebook, as Heather asserted.
3. Volatile Vicki must be on Valium
Of course I don’t really know the real Ms. Gunvalson, but I do know Television Vicki, who is normally always game to scream and emote on camera. Last night, during this reunion, relatively speaking, she was cool as a cucumber. She made it sound like in the past she was unhappily married and as a result, not always at her best. I am not so sure that is the reason she was on her best behavior last night.
I think three things were going on. One, she knows how vulnerable she is dating Brooks who pretty much no one likes and who has had his own share of child support problems in the past. She knows they’ll gun for her if she says too much.
Two, in the past Vicki had someone strong to back up her most outrageous statements. This season, she only has Alexis whom Vicki does not perceive as strong. And Alexis is not like Tamra. She’s not going to sign onto Vicki’s BS when Vicki is wrong. Alexis is not a soldier for hire. She knows the difference between right and wrong.
Three, I believe Vicki was on Xanax or Valium or something else to keep her calm. And I, for one, cannot blame her. I wish I were on it, too, when I was watching this insanity. These women are too much and they offer far too little to justify watching them making the same accusations at each other that they have all season long. These chicks need new schticks.
All photos are courtesy of BravoTV.com
About the Author (Author Profile)
I am a New York City publicist who specializes in promoting luxury products and experiences and occasionally moonlight as a journalist.
Relatively new to the world of blogging, I have watched and enjoyed Bravo’s Housewives shows since the first season of the Real Housewives of Orange County. I created this blog over the 4th of July holiday of 2011 because I enjoy writing and love to figure out how to blend images and words to create something that is both visually compelling and interesting to read.