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'Real Housewives of Orange County': Making ends meet

November 13, 2009 |  8:03 am

Gretchen_rossi The original Housewives are back, and much has changed for the busty ladies of Coto de Caza.  Last week's season premiere (still can't believe that this is the fifth season!) showed us that Tamra and Simon are possibly going broke. Jeana ... well, she's closer than they are. Lynne is trying to keep her family afloat with those gaudy cuff contraptions. Gretchen ... well, she spends her days in her garage with her new manfriend, Slade. And Vicki, our favorite Wahoo! gal, is still living the life of luxury.

But when it comes to the drama, not much has changed.

At a staged dinner party, er, showcase of Lynne's cuff line, Tamra and Gretchen took the opportunity to unleash their claws. About what? Bad reputations and a vibrator with a cord? Slightly reminiscent of Alex from the "Real Housewives of New York," right?  Their fighting, though entertaining to watch (especially as Jeana tries to ease the tension by asking folks to pass the macaroni), is getting a bit tired. For it to garner a "to be continued" when, really, there wasn't much to "continue" was pushing it. 

Gretchen dealt with the stress from that night by having a tanning party the next day -- the only logical solution. I don't know what was a more awkward moment: when Lynne's 16-year-old daughter, Alexa, asked if she could drink a beer (even Gretchen found that weird) or when Slade, with only a sock hiding his unmentionable, hammed it up for the cameras as he got coated with tanning solution. Will someone please click the stopwatch and end his 15 minutes of fame? 

But the economic bust continued its guest-starring role in this week's episode.

Tamra told Vicki over lunch that Simon is getting his income solely from selling tequila. They pay $2,000 a month in property taxes alone on their home and are thinking of moving. Meanwhile, with the Orange County real estate market drying up, so has Jeana's lavish lifestyle. She's sold watches, cars and some art -- anything to make ends meet.  And she and daughter Kara, who now waits tables to pay for her apartment, have mostly ditched the high-end department stores for H&M discount shopping sessions. Total damage done in the shopping fete seen in this week's episode? Just under $200. A sizable difference than what we saw from Kim of the "Real Housewives of Atlanta" on her shopping sprees. How things have changed for the ladies. Gretchen even had a garage sale! Vicki, who seems to be the only one not affected greatly by the bad economy, took her mother and daughter to Italy, spending over $500 a night on their hotel room. And, I guess, Lynne isn't doing too shabby, given that she's considering getting herself a face lift and her daughter a nose job (getting into the issues with that requires a whole other blog post).

But there's a new housewife in the mix. Jeana is ditching the clan (as previews for next week's episode suggest) and a new blond, Alexis, will attempt to mingle with the brood. Tamra and Simon had dinner with Alexis and her husband, Jim. A very awkward dinner. The tension between Tamra and her ill-tempered hubby was more apparent than ever before. While Alexis and Jim were lovey-dovey (what is with her making him a plate of food? He has hands.), Tamra and Simon were bickering about nonsense. Is anyone else bothered that Simon seems to think Tamra should "obey" him? He married a woman, not a dog. He and Slade need a serious reality check. 

What are your thoughts on the return of the O.C. ladies? Will it be the same without Jeana? What do you think about Lynne considering letting her teen daughter get a nose job?

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Gretchen Rossi Credit: Bravo