Monday, September 25, 2023
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I Decided to Start ‘Real Housewives of Orange County’ From Season 17. Here’s What I’ve Learned So Far

I’m always vaguely annoyed when people proudly announces the name a reality TV show they haven’t seen, as if avoiding quality drunk-women-yelling-at-each-other content were some kind of badge of moral honor. (It’s not, though I do try to avoid it in my personal life.) I’m no Real Housewives newbie, to be sure, but up until now, my tastes in the franchise had remained firmly rooted on the Eastern Seaboard; I’m depressingly up on Real Housewives of New Jersey, although I still long for the halcyon days of Danielle Staub, and I’m as addicted to the new season of Real Housewives of New York City as every other Jenna-Lyons-loving lesbian I know. (While I’m on the topic, can we talk about how badly the girls bullied Jenna for her genetic disorder last week? Gross of them!)

I would have been perfectly happy to go on favoring only the housewives of NYC and Jersey, but I just moved to Los Angeles to be near my partner, who hails from Orange County, so it seemed like a good time to go boldly westward, and see what I was missing on the Real Housewives of Orange County all these years. Here’s what I’ve gleaned from my foray into Season 17:

All these women are blonde. Like, so blonde.

By my count, three-fourths of the cast of Real Housewives of Orange County Season 17 is blonde, which definitely holds up to my understanding of, ahem, certain parts of California (hello, Century City! No, you did not deserve your positive shout-out in the Barbie movie!). But it doesn’t hold true at all for Orange County, which has a large proportion of Black, Latinx, and AAPI residents and definitely isn’t only comprised of white, blonde women with expensive purses.

Yoga is a whole thing.

This, on the other hand, actually reflects my experience of living in Southern California, where even my most jaded, misanthropic friends are constantly trying to drag me to yoga classes. Ironically, though, when new cast member Jenn Pedranti holds a yoga event for the ladies, it attracts severe drama and in-class fighting, which…probably negates the point of doing yoga in the first place? Whatever gets your heart rate up!

People kiss dogs on the mouth. 

Gross, sorry! I don’t care how California-hippie you are. 

As in other Real Housewives cities, interpersonal conflict is king.

“Conflict is not abuse,” Sarah Schulman famously wrote, but even she might have revised her opinion after spending an episode’s worth of time with the ladies of RHOC, who (at present) are totally consumed in a flame war about who said what about whom on whose podcast. It’s nice, in a way; you could almost imagine these women’s grandmothers and great-grandmothers convening to fight just as much generations ago—although, of course, their beef would be hashed out via telegraph. 



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