And so the worst season of Real Housewives of Orange County — and potentially any Housewives series — has come to an end.
On Monday, Bravo wrapped up the Season 12 reunion with a shocking reconciliation between Tamra, Shannon and Vicki after the latter apologized for hurting them and promised to be there for Shannon in the wake of her divorce to David. But rather than feel sad to say goodbye to these women or excited at the prospect of this trio whooping it up again together, I felt nothing but relief that it was finally over. This season has been a slog from start to finish, and a tough season like this deserves to be faced with tough decisions. That's right: I'm talking about a major cast overhaul.
I'm not saying Bravo should bring in a few new faces and demote former all-stars to recurring guest roles. I'm talking about gutting the cast and starting from scratch, or close to it. New York City did it to great success after Season 4, and it's time O.C. does the same. Otherwise, we won't be saying goodbye to one or two (or three or four) cast members; we'll soon be saying goodbye to the entire series because there's only so much more of this "Vicki the Victim" nonsense anyone can take.
However, Orange County isn't the only Housewives series carrying around some dead weight (although it is the worst offender). Here are all the Housewives Bravo needs to drop, for our sake and for theirs.
1. Vicki Gunvalson, Orange County
As much as it pains me to say this, it's time to say goodbye to the O.G. of the O.C. We've seen Housewives relationships hit horrific lows and somehow bounce back before (see: Kandi ever being in the same room as Porsha after the latter accused the singer of being a rapist), but moving past a cancer scam is a pretty tough sell. I do believe that Vicki and Tamra could potentially move past this in light of Vicki's apology — Shannon, on the other hand, is impossible to predict — but it was clear during the reunion that Vicki still doesn't understand exactly what she did wrong or how much she hurt her former friends by spreading rumors that Tamra's husband was gay and Shannon's husband was physically abusive. And that's not even getting into the fact that she still accepts no accountability when it comes to Brooks' cancer scam, despite already admitting to lying. Apologizing was a big step for Vicki, but a part of her will always believe she was a victim in all of this, which will make it near-to-impossible to close the door on the Brooks era for good. It's time to move on, and as long as Vicki's still in the mix, I fear we'll always be stuck in the past.
2. Tamra Judge, Orange County
Yes, losing both Tamra and Vicki would be a devastating blow for the franchise — or at least it would have been a few years ago. The two women who helped launch the Housewives franchise into a global phenomenon are now just anchors weighing the whole thing down. The second Tamra emerged from that hotel pool and pledged her heart to Jesus, she really has taken huge strides to becoming a better person. Sadly, as great as that is for Tamra (and I really do applaud her for the work she's done on herself), it makes for terrible TV. And to be honest, seeing how the show has negatively affected Tamra's relationship with her estranged daughter is just heartbreaking, and when she cries about Sidney on-air (despite her daughter begging Tamra never to bring her up), it makes me feel complicit in this self-destructive spiral. As fun as it is to watch Housewives fight with each other, watching their families implode is far from entertainment.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. When Carole first joined New York in Season 5, she was a breath of fresh. She seemed so cool and effortlessly hip. In fact, I couldn't believe an actual journalist who used to hang with the Kennedys agreed to be a Housewife at all! But over the years, something changed. Was it her relationship with Adam and his "sexy salads"? Was it her joined-at-the-hip friendship Bethenny? Or was it simply the fact that Carole miscalculated how many good summers she had left, and her Housewives tenure has simply run its course? We may never know, and really, I'm OK with that.
4. Lydia McLaughlin, Orange County
No one wanted Lydia to return after Season 8, and I doubt anyone — except anyone with vested interest in Nobleman Magazine, of course — wants her to return for Round 3. Lydia brought nothing to the table this year except a cruel, dismissive attitude towards Shannon, who was clearly in need of compassion, and a whole lot of misinformed discussion surrounding her husband's balls. Next. Move on. Pass. Sayonara. Goodbye.
Dallas was the dark horse of the Housewives franchise this year, coming out of nowhere to dominate 2017. However, there was one dark spot on the otherwise perfect second season: Stephanie. Literally the only thing about Stephanie that was mildly interesting was the fact that her husband bought a mansion with an in-ground pool in the living room without asking her or considering the safety hazards for their small children. Other than that, she was just the ultimate hanger-on, first to Carey and then to Brandi. In a city filled with distinct personalities and strong voices, Stephanie just gets lost in the mix.
6. Meghan King Edmonds, Orange County
Yes, another O.C. Housewife. That's how bad this city has gotten when the only cast members I want to see return are Kelly Dodd and Shannon Beador, which isn't exactly shade on Meghan. The problem with Meghan isn't that she's mean or annoying; it's just that she's fairly dull. Meghan rarely gets too involved with any of the drama these days, and she often feels more like a supporting player than a main cast member. Meghan showed some fire during the reunion, but she seriously needs to step it up if she wants to stick around much longer because I can't take one more scene about candles.
I actually really like Cynthia. She seems very sweet and genuine, and she also serves some seriously gorgeous looks. But to be a great Housewife, you need to be so much more than that, especially in Atlanta, which is populated by the funniest, quickest-witted women in the franchise. I was excited to see Single Cynthia this season now that she and Peter are through, but somehow her single life is far more banal than her married life. I wouldn't actually mind if Cynthia stuck around next season, but I would like her to be more than just there all the time if she does. Then again, maybe Atlanta needs Cynthia to balance out the near-constant insanity. So you know what, Bravo, I trust you. Keep her or ditch her, but if you do decide Cynthia should stick around, can you ask her to at least zhuzh up the drama a little?
Although Kim is no longer a series regular, she has never truly left Beverly Hills. When Kim first began making appearances following her exit in Season 5, it was a welcome return. But as time has gone on, it's become clear that Kim should be nowhere near this show. Her toxic relationship with Lisa Rinna is not frothy entertainment, but has repeatedly sunk to truly upsetting and dark, dark depths. There is nothing fun about watching a woman openly struggling with sobriety being constantly questioned, attacked and accused on national TV. We only want the best for Kim, and we think at this point the best thing is for her to step away from the Housewives and all that negativity.
Siggy will always be remembered as having one of the greatest Housewives entrances of all time, but she has come a long way since strolling into lunch fresh from a face lift sipping soup through a straw. In her second season, Siggy has done a complete 180, and not for the better. The woman who was once relatable and funny is now a raw sore of overbearing emotions. No apology, no amount of remorse, nothing seems good enough to heal any of of Siggy's wounds this season. Whatever minor dramas she finds herself in, from Cakegate to the "Soggy Flicker" hubbub, Siggy just WILL. NOT. LET. GO. It's exhausting, and has resulted in this season spinning its wheels rather than driving the storylines forward. Unless she learns to let dead horses lie, it's time to say goodbye.