Gretchen's somehow worse than the rest and other stories from the 'Real Housewives of Orange County' reunion (part two of three)

I don't even know with this shit.

What began last week as an experiment in no-investment TV-watching has become a sort of hellscape in week two, my brain -- and body -- just born down on by the collective weight of RELATIONSHIP CHALLENGES on display in the Real Housewives of Orange County reunion. Gretchen and Heather are at odds over a part they were both up for on Malibu Country last fall? Alexis struggles to deal with the fallout of once calling another housewife a "bully"? Someone didn't get invited to go wedding dress shopping and considers it one of the worst days of her life? Ladies, stop it, the stuff you're going through is all hitting WAY too close to home!

If last week's spotlight shone on Vicki and her completely natural face, I didn't mean to imply you had too much work done, then last night was all about Gretchen. Gretchen Gretchen Gretchen Gretchen Gretchen. Who hates this woman? EVERYONE hates this woman.

"Everything's, like, confusing to you, Gretchen."

"You're such a f**king difficult person to be friends with, Gretchen!"

"Umm, your story wasn't that great this year, Gretchen."

Can you guess which barb stung the most?

Somewhere between her thousand utterances of the word "text," Gretchen described to us, and a thirsty Andy Cohen, the elaborate marriage proposal she orchestrated for her radio personality fiancee, Slade. (We're not going to touch the fact that this guy is named Slade. There's NO TIME.) First, as many Housewives have in the past, Gretchen paid for studio time to record a very special song just for him. "First, I hope he recognizes my voice," she admitted. "Second…I hope it makes him cry." Cut to: Slade's radio show, where his shockingly-coiffed assistant throws on the track. He strains to hear his woman amidst the auto-tuning and magne-poetry, but eventually…he gets there. "Is that G?" IT IS. Cut to: a stretch limo, winging him toward a skyscraper. Cut to: the roof of that skyscraper, where Gretchen poses in some sort of Marilyn Monroe costume (WOMEN LOVE MARILYN MONROE, AMERICA, IT'S JUST A FACT) waiting with a velvet box. So she's going to propose? Gretchen is going to totally upend the gender roles so tied to the tradition?

Slade says yes, as if reality TV offers an alternative answer. But the true drama kicks in weeks, or months later when that proposal -- which Gretchen had clearly gone to great lengths and costs to arrange -- is called into question by her fellow housewives. It's not that they think the engagement is phony, per se, but, like…the timing of it is suspicious? Lydia, granted the power of wisdom by her princess headband, was the one to call out Gretchen's generally dull circumstances this season. It would make sense for Gretchen to do something so incredibly over-the-top to log a little more screen time.


The waterworks hit fast and furious for Gretchen, confused (remember, everything is confusing to her) by how her contractually-appointed "friends" could stoop so low and undermine her special day. Like a team of firefighters, the ladies all gathered around the woman and offered their sincerest apologies. Vicki: "I'd never want to hurt you, Gretchen. That's not the kind of person I am." Because no apology is complete without a defense of one's character! Tears are clearly a safe word on this show, because after Gretchen's breakdown everyone pretty much left her alone.

…Thankfully Alexis was still fresh to attack, which everyone did with enthusiasm! A while ago (maybe seven years, who knows) Alexis was asked to leave a party of...Tamara's? and in the process of exiting the restaurant called Gretchen a "bully." The nerve! At least call her something appropriate, like "bitch" or the c-word. "Bully"...that's just so hateful. Not to mention the fact that people "commit suicide over that word," as Lydia pointed out, even if she misidentified the cause and effect.

Five minutes of discussing a word for children later, the ladies settled down and reflected on all they'd been through in the past hour. Gretchen seemed hopeful that yes, she could be friends with all these women who hate her and have made sport of her systematic psychological ruination. And Alexis shrugged off all the drama they'd dug up. What does it matter?

"We're just a dysfunctional family."