If a RHOC episode airs on Bravo, but nobody mentions Brooks Ayers or his cancer drama, does it even count?
The first installment of The Real Housewives of Orange County Season 10 reunion on Oct. 19 kicked off on a pretty yawn-tastic note with no props, screaming matches, or threats to walk off set. What gives?!
Things did get interesting, however, when Meghan King Edmonds imitated Shannon Beador’s “judge-y eyes,” Tamra Judge opened up for the first time about her nasty custody battle with ex-husband Simon Barney and estranged daughter, Sidney, and former Housewife Alexis Bellino penned a letter to host Andy Cohen defending her strong Christian values while simultaneously bashing Tamra.
Oh, and Vicki Gunvalson claimed to have created the Real Housewives franchise 11 years ago and implied that only attractive people deserved to get an education. She also joked that she took four Xanax before sitting on those hallowed Housewives couches, but judging by this week’s snooze factor, it looked like she wasn’t the only one. Read the recap for more only slightly catty moments!
This week’s episode was pretty tame. That is, unless you’re Meghan. Then it was pretty rough. The ladies initiated the newest Orange County Housewife, who debuted her new wavy brunette ‘do, with a round of criticism right off the bat. When Meghan wasn’t catching flak for wanting to be the biological mother to stepdaughter Hayley, she was ridiculed for her parenting choices. Detective Edmonds just couldn’t catch a break!
Once again, the OG of the OC (who called her own daughter a “sh-t stirrer” on last week’s finale) took it upon herself to comment on Meghan’s parenting and claimed that she could never love a stepchild as much as a biological child. But don’t get upset, Vicki’s argument fell completely flat the more she contradicted herself, which was a lot.
When Andy asked the ladies a viewer’s question about adoptive parents telling their children that their love is different and not as authentic as the love for a biological child, Vicki was the first to speak. “No, I have two older sisters that are adopted,” she explained. “My parents loved us all equally. I’m sure my mom had a different liking to the three of us, but she never talked about it.”
Meghan quickly pointed out the contradiction, but Vicki just kept talking (and digging herself deeper into a hole). “[My mother] never talked about it. From my perspective, we were all created equal, we were all treated equal. I don’t have adopted children. I don’t have stepchildren,” she continued. “I think it’s great that you love your children. But I am also saying that if and when you have a child, you will see the difference.” Well that’s certainly something for the whole family to look forward to.
Another viewer asked why Meghan called Vicki a hypocrite for buying her daughter, Briana Culberson, a new car, to which the newest Housewife explained, “Vicki told me to take away Hayley’s car and not to give her these things. Yet, here you are giving your daughter a car.”
And then Vicki responded.
“Well, my daughter is educated and she works full-time and she’s married,” she said. “My daughter has a full-time job and is a mother of two. I just believe that you should make your children work for something. [My children] know what hard work is. I was just giving you advice. It’s a recipe for disaster when you don’t make your children accountable at 17 years old.” Understatements just aren’t really Vicki’s thing.
Vicki took a break (maybe the Xanax finally kicked in) and passed the criticism stick to Shannon, who started in on Meghan’s decision to put Hayley on birth control. “I think I was a little bit vocal about it because of the way that she presented it,” the at-home colonic enthusiast explained. “You started out the conversation with ‘I made the decision.’”
“I was giving her a way to talk about sex openly, which I think is well overdue by the time you’re 17 years old,” Meghan said. “This isn’t something that I necessarily condone, but you’re an adult in so many ways and you’re going to do what you want to do, regarding sex, and here is me giving you this opportunity to go on birth control if you want to.” The other women supported Meghan’s choice and Shannon sat back in defeat, undoubtedly thinking about her next lemon bowl arrangement.
The Matriarch of Woo-hoos
The tone shifted drastically when a montage of Vicki’s deceased mother, Joanne Steinmetz, played. Vicki still insisted that she didn’t regret her decision to let Bravo film the moment she got the call at Shannon’s house informing her of her mother’s passing, explaining, “I really didn’t realize the cameras were filming at all. I think I was in shock that I didn’t have my mom. It’s real stuff. You guys were very gracious about all that stuff. Everybody called me from Bravo.”
Despite her strong support system, Vicki did admit that she still misses her mother. “Our void is getting worse. I need my mom and I don’t feel like I have anybody that’s watching out for me,” she said, holding back tears. “I’m having a real tough time finding peace with not having her in my life.”
“It’s chilling to remember,” Shannon recalled, describing the moment she found Vicki distraught in the kitchen, “just the sounds that were coming from her.”
Vicki said that there was no autopsy performed because she “didn’t want to get her [mother] cut up,” but the coroner thought that the cause of death was either a massive heart attack or a brain aneurysm.
In an effort to lift everyone’s spirits again, Vicki recounted the story of her mother’s recent arrest for road rage after she keyed the Harley-Davidson of an aggressive tailgater in a T.J. Maxx parking lot. A few minutes later, Vicki’s mother noticed the police arriving outside and hid in the bathroom, standing on a toilet seat and locking the stall door. When the officers ordered her to come out, she told them that she had a gun (but she didn’t really). She was taken into custody, found guilty, and had to pay thousands of dollars to repaint the classic motorcycle.
“I think she was funny as sh-t,” Tamra said about Vicki’s mother. So do we, Tamra. So do we.
Tamra’s Custody Bombshell
Tamra’s attorneys better get ready, because she just spilled some pretty big beans about her nasty custody battle with ex-husband Simon. The Bravo vet finally opened up about her children and revealed that she has been estranged from her oldest daughter, Sidney, for about two years.
When Sidney sat her mother down and said, “I don’t want to live with you anymore. You’ve ruined my dad’s life,” the Housewife was shocked.
“I had no idea where it was coming from,” Tamra said. “And she basically left that day and two years later has not come back. I was trying to do everything I could do to try to get her back and I didn’t understand why Sidney left.”
Tamra bought her daughter a necklace during a trip to Hawaii, and after months of silence, Sidney finally reciprocated contact. “She texted me for the first time in a really long time and said, ‘Thank you so much for the necklace. I love you,’” Tamra explained, trying to stay composed. “I hadn’t heard those words in so long. I said, ‘I love you too and we can work this out.’”
But the happiness didn’t last much longer. When Tamra got back to her hotel, the news that Simon was trying to take away her custody of their children was everywhere. “And she never talked to me again,” the mother remarked while crying. Tamra went to court to fight her ex-husband’s petition. The court-appointed therapist suggested that Sidney receive more extensive counseling, but Simon would not allow it. They went back to court, Tamra trying to get her daughter help and Simon fighting not to get her help, and he eventually won. “Right after that, my son, Spencer, wouldn’t speak to his dad and now he lives with me full-time,” she revealed. “So the whole family is so separated.”
Andy asked why Tamra didn’t talk about the vicious custody battle when it was going on last season and she replied, “When your child turns their back on you, it’s humiliating. A couple months later, I’m in the press and he’s saying I’m a monster mom and that my kids should be taken away from me.”
Tamra revealed that she had hit bottom. “I remember laying in bed thinking, I can’t do this anymore,” she recalled. She also explained that the reason she initially sought advice from the “pasture” and began her religious journey was because of the custody battle and problems with her estranged child.
When Tamra went into work at CUT Fitness one day during the legal battle, a client approached her and asked if she would like to go to church. “I said, ‘Yeah, I do because I really feel like I’m going to die right now. I just don’t have any help,’” she continued. “We went to church and I remember sitting there and crying. I went back and it just felt right. It gave me what I needed in life.”
Andy referenced Tamra’s baptism speech where she revealed that she had forgiven her ex-husband for the pain he inflicted and asked if she still felt the same way now. “Yeah, because I wouldn’t be where I’m at now if it wasn’t for him,” she said. “Sometimes you have to go through things in your life to get to a better place, and I wouldn’t be [on the show] if it wasn’t for him.” You are one classy lady, Tamra.
The Return of Jesus Jugs
No reunion show is complete without a surprise (and insane) blast from Housewives past, and this week’s episode did not disappoint. Enter: Jesus Jugs (or Alexis Bellino, if you’re getting technical).
Andy asked Tamra how she thought former cast member and super-Christian Alexis would react to her religious reinvention. “I hope that she’s happy for me,” Tamra responded. But boy, was she wrong. Alexis had written Andy an email about the depiction of God and religion on the show, and let’s just say that it wasn’t very nice.
“When I became a cast member of The Real Housewives of Orange County five years ago, I knew that I would be judged because of my appearance and my love for Jesus, with Tamra being my biggest harasser,” Alexis wrote. “But over time, the viewers saw that although I’m far from perfect, and regardless of my bra size, my love for people and my non-backstabbing showed through. And that in fact, I love Jesus and cannot sit back and watch a mockery being made of my lord and savior.”
Alexis continued, saying that although God loves people who aren’t perfect, “that doesn’t give you a hall pass to become baptized and then continue your old unkind and manipulative ways.” She included a few more tiny jabs at Tamra before finally signing the letter, “Sincerely and forever, Jesus Barbie.”
“She’s the type of Christian that gives other Christians a bad name,” Tamra replied. “That’s one of the reasons that I always made fun of her. She always contradicted herself as a good Christian, but yet she would do things like that.” Emphasis on “one of the reasons.”
Things are just starting to heat up, but judging by the previews for next week’s reunion episode, these ladies could use all the prayers they can get.
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