On the latest episode of “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” we discover the Tequila Paradox of Real Housewifery in which the spirit of the blue agave plant can be both good and bad at the exact same time.
The good came in the realization by Braunwyn Windham-Burke that she’ll be just fine without her old pal tequila, and that she’d had a blast at a party where others were drinking even as she is an alcoholic in recovery.
“Old Braunwyn would have been drinking all day and would have already been passed out,” she said at one point during her vow renewal party in Palm Springs. “And I’m realizing I can enjoy life being sober, and I am so grateful.”
And the bad? Well, we need to talk about Shannon.
Shannon Storms Beador gave lip service to Braunwyn’s sobriety on Wednesday’s episode while at the same time enjoying bottle service in her suite at the hotel before heading over to Braunwyn’s reception.
And while Braunwyn’s work on sobriety has occupied most of the season so far, Shannon’s shenanigans were a throwback to the days when she and the other housewives got unapologetically sloshed on the regular.
Look, we don’t want anyone to drink too much; we don’t. But you cannot be a “Real Housewives” watcher and not know that bad behavior and hypocrisy, two of the key ingredients for the entertainment cocktail that is the franchise, skyrocket when they’re sloshed.
Braunwyn, you may recall from the previous episode, wasn’t serving tequila at her party, given how much trouble it got her into pre-sobriety. Shannon and Kelly Dodd couldn’t imagine such an onerous one-night restriction so they stopped at a liquor store on the drive to the desert and stocked up.
As the party got started — with plenty of other cocktails available — Shannon, her boyfriend John, and her kids went back to their room where Shannon and John cracked open her bottle for a bit of pre-gaming.
Let the record show that Shannon’s kids — who’d attended her vow renewal to her now ex-husband a few years earlier — thought it appropriate to tell her how much more fun and happy Braunwyn’s ceremony was compared to their mom’s.
Let the record further show that Shannon started to cry as she flashed back to the ex-husband telling her, “I can’t wait to spend the next 50 years growing old with you.” Shannon was a bit emotional and dipped into the tequila. With each sip, she talked about how she was doing this in her room “to show respect” for Braunwyn’s no-tequila wishes.
Cut to the party in progress where housewife Gina Kirschenheiter is holding fast to her promise to Braunwyn not to drink any alcohol in solidarity with her sobriety.
“How sweet is that?” Braunwyn says to housewife Emily Simpson before a cut to a camera confessional for more. “For Gina to say, ‘I can take a night off,’ that is what showing up for another person looks like,”
Kelly is saying inappropriate Kelly things to yet another octogenarian, this time Braunwyn’s grandmother Mama Jo.
“I know so many people that would love you,” she tells this sweet little grandmother. “Are you ready to (work) it out?”
“Do they have money?” sweet little grandmother asks, and in that moment, Kelly perhaps imagines a possible future some four decades hence.
Shannon finally shows up and right away it’s obvious she wasn’t sipping chamomile tea back in the suite.
“Shannon tonight, on a scale of one to drunk, is 20 sheets to the wind,” Gina declares, clearly using the new math.
Shannon calls over Braunwyn’s teen children Jacob and Rowan and inexplicably launches into a long recounting of what her kids had told her about the difference between Shannon and Braunwyn’s vow renewals. They look on silently, awkwardly, giggling, until she’s finished.
“All right, OK, have a good night sweeties, thank you,” Shannon says when she’s finished.
“That was such awkward (stuff),” says Jacob as he flees. “She’s so (bleepin’) drunk.”
Shannon runs into Kelly, whom she’d backstabbed for telling Braunwyn about her tequila bottle, and then has the temerity to declare: “I didn’t have any of the tequila that we bought.”
When Shannon finally runs into Braunwyn, she’s at the I-forgot-why-I-was-mad-at-you-now-I-really-love-you stage of her night.
“I have had one drink,” Shannon tells her, which, frankly, isn’t a good look for someone who self-righteously battled with Braunwyn in early episodes over her truthfulness about that thing she said about Gina’s new house.
“Shocking, Shannon, I had no idea you’d been drinking!!” Braunwyn tells the camera. “Shannon, you’re hammered!”
Among the other amuse-bouches served this episode we learned:
— Braunwyn announced that when she asked her mother, an actual medical doctor, to go to therapy with her, Dr. Deb suggested they take ecstasy together instead.
— When Shannon was in her cups at the reception, she “accidentally” referred to boyfriend John as her “husband.”
— Poolside the day after the party, Elizabeth admits to the others that though her divorce will be final in 30 days she still talks and texts her husband all the time. “You make no sense,” Gina tells her.
— Two of Braunwyn’s kids woke up the next morning with lice. Shockingly, none of the housewives were riled up enough to nit-pick this news.
— COVID-19 is almost here. The day after the reception, March 11, the housewives talked about the news — 30 dead, no fans at the Golden State Warriors game — though for now they’re unconcerned. “This is completely blown out of proportion,” Elizabeth declares. “In 60 days, it’s going to be gone.”
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