There are some truths about the Real Housewives franchise that I have repeatedly voiced and that no one ever seems to mind. You know, things like never inviting a clairvoyant to your party, or if you renew your vows, you go to a divorce, or if you say the name Brandi Glanville three times in a mirror, she arrives with a bottle of chilled white wine and a butcher knife. But there is one truth about these shows that is more ignored than others: never trust a therapist who goes on camera.
The woman where Tamra and her son Ryan are going is called Mckayla. There are many white names of whites in the universe, but this is perhaps the stupidest one I’ve seen. The only stupid behavior of white people is getting a Dave Matthews Band-inspired tattoo (and I’d bet all $ 350 of my retirement savings that Braunwyn’s husband, Sean, has one). Dr. Mckayla, played by Cheri Oteri in the Real Housewives film, invites Tamra to come into therapy so that she can tell the story of Ryan’s childhood that he has already shared. It’s also a story we’ve heard before about how Tamra had him when she was 17, and that he didn’t grow up a very stable life, and that really damaged him.
I had a hard time with this whole scene because, yes, I feel bad for Tamra that she had to raise a child so young. Yes, I feel bad for Ryan that he has had a rough upbringing with a mother who could not always take care of him materially or emotionally. Yes, it is terrible that he is depressed and thinks that he is completely worthless. But is this an excuse for him to wear an American flag hat and to speak to Donald Trump as if he were a punch salesman at an NRA convention? I do not think so. It is really strange that Ryan’s two storylines this season are that he is depressed and seeking treatment and that he loves Trump. Is the show trying to equate mental disorders with inclinations to the right? I hope not, because that seems to be really reductive thinking.
Speaking of that, it was so weird that we got one confessional thought from Eddie about what’s going on with Ryan. It seems that he has always stayed away from Tamra’s relationship with her eldest son, because by the time he arrived, Ryan was well into his twenties. When Tamra discusses his struggles with her, Eddie says: “If you struggle with your youth affairs as a man, then you are not really a man. Okay. So get over it, move on, grow up, take care of your responsibilities, that’s it I don’t disagree with him – one can’t shirk responsibility forever – but he doesn’t see how, in some cases, those issues are what keeps a person from life? Ryan does the right thing by seeking help. sincerely wish him the best, since spiritual suffering is difficult for everyone, but perhaps he should choose a less toxic political ideology and a therapist with the required number of vowels in her first name – just a suggestion.
This episode is strange because we see Tamra more with her son than with the other women. In fact, most women are alone and do their own things and do not really spend much time together. Shannon Beador and Braunwyn are preparing for college with their oldest daughters. Shannon has hired Yosepha, a college prep adviser, to bring her eldest, Sophie, to a good college. I don’t think Sophie really needs an admission advisor. She only wants to go to school with a good women’s club and boys from the South, so just send her to a public school and be ready. Nor does she think that a diploma from an elite university is so different from a diploma from a community college and, oh, maniacal old man, the youth of everything.
Braunwyn is located in Cal State Fullerton, just like the Wendy’s of colleges: good enough to get the job done, but you don’t want to tell anyone that you went there afterwards. She also goes major in visual arts, laughing, maniacal old man, the youth of everything. (This comes from a man with a master’s degree in fine arts in poetry.) The fact that she goes to Fullerton to study art simply means that she probably has to study something else and just have to go back to school to study something useful in the next five years. Even better, Evolution Media should just give her a job as a story producer on Vanderpump Rules, because that is what every fine arts major of a Cal State school does. Let’s remove the intermediary from this art course.
Gina goes to the park with her children and her parents, and she tells them that Matt is trying to get back together with her, and that she has a conflict about it. She says she would like to get back together, but even if she does, she still thinks they should get a divorce. She does not want to include the ‘failure’ of their relationship in the past in their future relationship. What is a marriage other than just repeatedly failing until you are both dead and in the grave? I don’t want to sound like a technical brother based in Patagonia, but without failure there will be no success. How do you learn without fail? Anyway, this all seems to be a foreshadowing of Matt inevitably doing something terrible.
The only real interpersonal drama of this episode is what is going on between the factions of Kelly, Braunwyn and Emily and the Tres Amigas. They all accuse Tamra of being a “puppeteer” and manipulating other people to keep her hands dirty. It seems that everyone has planned dinners in all sorts of configurations in the coming days to ensure that this crazy round of small slights does not remain unexplored.
But the coffee gathering that ends the entire episode left me a little bewildered. Shannon shows up with Tamra and asks how she is doing. “Terrible,” says Tamra. “Thanks for asking.” It doesn’t improve from there. The feeling I get from this conversation is that Shannon was injured because she learned from Kelly that Tamra is talking about her behind her back. Tamra, on the other hand, thinks Shannon orchestrates a kind of rebellion among her women. Now it’s Tamra’s turn to accuse Shannon of being a puppeteer. Please, Shannon can barely get her shit together enough to put all that cream cheese in all that salmon. How is she going to orchestrate all these women to come after Tamra? I really believe that Shannon talks about shit and moves pieces behind the cameras, but Shannon is only concerned about himself. The interest and insight into other people that she would have to show to be a real puppeteer is beyond her.
Tamra does, as always, a great job of turning this all on Shannon and making her feel bad because she doubts Tamra. She explains her misconduct by bringing Kelly’s train and other macro-aggressions to the women, and then has Shannon question her own mind. Has Shannon maintained enough for Tamra? Was she a good friend? Does she really think Tamra is talking about her all that mess? Did she walk with Archie this morning? Did she remember signing a check to Yosepha? Can someone show her how to download Venmo? What is Venmo really? Can the money steal from her? It can probably steal money from her. How does she get her money back when Venmo finally steals it from her? Will Tamra borrow her money? Probably? Possible? Never. Never..