Real Housewives of Orange County

The Real Housewives of Orange County Pilot Episode – A Recap

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The Real Housewives of Orange County premiered in March of 2006 focusing on the personal and professional lives of several women residing in a gated community in Orange County, California. 

This week I re-watched the pilot episode. This is my recap. 


Life is different in a gated community. You could be perfectly happy living in a townhouse off a freeway, but few are lucky enough to have a tract home in a residential community with strictly controlled entrances for pedestrians, bicycles, and automobiles. In short if you live outside the gates you are most likely living amongst the disreputable or forgotten by society, but inside you are surrounded by bedazzled jean back pockets, French manicures, Skye tops, and highlighted hair extensions.


“Image is everything,” explained Kimberly Bryant, a petite woman with oversized breast implants and a highlighted hair weave. She and her husband Scott, an executive with a Fortune 200 company, moved their family from Baltimore, Maryland. A few months after settling in Scott turned to Kimberly and asked if she would like to upgrade her chest. He understood her frame was unusually small, but was excited about all the good times jugs would bring. “In Coto most girls get breast implants for graduation,” she added, which was more expensive than a gift certificate to Wet Seal.

It was their intention to raise their daughter Bianca with a different set of values. For example, when you go to the 8th grade prom wear limited eye makeup and a suitable dress, try not to look like a hooker. The night Bianca went to the prom she and her friends gathered in the master bathroom to curl their hair. One of Bianca’s friends confused it with Halloween and came dressed as Newt Gingrich’s wife. “These girls are dressed up like they are grown women, and they are not,” Kimberly wisely observed.


Jeana was a real estate agent, but it wasn’t exactly a job she enjoyed. “Here, this closet has wine,” she’d tell a prospective client. “I guess what I like about this room is that it has big windows and tassels on the couch and curtains. You want it? It’s $10 million dollars.” She happily reported her salary afforded her a certain lifestyle, which included expensive sweat suits and coin purses. When she felt generous she would buy one of her ungrateful children a car, and let it slide when they manhandled the knobs and buttons. “I just broke the window, so I need a new car,” her daughter wailed from the driveway of her beige home. Her husband, Matt, a personality-less former baseball player with a home perm shuffled in the background.

Long before she was putting homes in escrow Jeana was a model and an actress appearing in blockbusters like Lady with Long Hair and Oh, That’s Her. It was the straight to VHS hit Beach Girls, which made Matt call his mother and inform her that he’d found a woman attractive enough to procreate. “I had the right build for his genetics,” Jeana explained, “and now we’ve got three rubies in Shane, Kara (pronounced Car-a), and Colton.” The only problem, besides the fact Matt was a mute, was that the entire family focused their lives on Shane becoming a major league baseball player. “Should he be drafted to a team he will be the third Keough man to do so, which has only happened one other time in history,” Jeana said proudly.

Matt and Jeana had done so much to nurture Shane’s career with sports camps, weekly batting practice, and treating him as if he had already won a Major League Baseball championship. They allowed him to switch high schools so he could have better recruiting prospects, an opportunity he squandered by having a general disinterest in attending school. He vetoed graduation so he could swim laps in the backyard pool. “Things come easy for Shane,” Matt explained while wearing sunglasses with a neck attachment and pleated stonewashed jeans. They were all stunned when he made the 36th round.


Vicki Gunvalson was raising her two children from a previous marriage while running an insurance business out of an office in the front of her house. Now remarried to Donn, a middle-aged man dressed in expensive Hawaiian shirts and never without a garden hose, she found joy in interrogating her daughter and screaming at service workers. “Is that the right way to curl her hair?” she would ask the stylist at the local salon. “Vicki is like my second mom,” daughter Briana’s boyfriend Colby explained. He had come to accept the way she would accompany them on dates or the way she considered herself his life coach.


Tucked under a window in Vicki’s home office was Lauri Waring, a single mother of three children. Lauri loathed selling insurance policies, but needed the job to pay the bills. “I used to live in that house,” she said while pointing to a mud-colored home with an outhouse in the driveway. “Now it’s just me and the kids in a townhouse,” but it was her townhouse. Her ex-husband left her with nothing but kitchen tchotchkes. Outside of work she enjoyed spending time with her friend Lorelei at nightclubs. Her personal life may have been a disaster, but the good news was she had the body of a 25-year old. “You look incredible,” a short man said to her as they tried to dance in unison. “I know,” she whispered back.


On a quiet street lived a 36-year old father of two children and his 24 year-old fiancée. “I am basically a kept woman,” Jo explained while guzzling a glass of wine perched on top of his kitchen counters. She officially retired from her office job at a mortgage company after he proposed to her with a rare overpriced diamond from a jewelry store at a local outside fashion mall. “By 33 I had a taste of the seven figures,” he explained, “and after that it was just a matter of adding zeros.” His wallet wasn’t the only thing she enjoyed, she was also proud of his modeling portfolio. “He will probably never tell you this,” she explained to a producer, “but he did some modeling.” “I am aware of it,” explained the producer, “because he made us several copies.”

Their love was always tested by his expectation for her to raise his children. “I expect Jo to want to spend time with us as a family,” he would explain while checking his watch, “but instead she’s out at clubs with her friends.” Clipping toenails, checking homework, and driving carpool was not something that interested Jo. She wanted to wake up late, lie out by the pool, spend his money on halter dresses, and then stay out until 3:00 am when the bar runs out of lemon drop shots. She wanted to taunt men her own age by waving the ring Slade leased for her in their face. “Sorry, I am taken. I am engaged to a man who expects me to be home soon so I can make lunches for his kids.” She was essentially trapped in a residential prison at least an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles.


It was Slade’s idea for her to find new friends at the tennis and racquet club. Why wouldn’t someone just out of college want to grab drinks with women raising kids in middle school? They could bond over their mutual love of tennis shoes.  “Just look for someone wearing a sun visor at the bar and make conversation,” he assured her. “Excuse me, do you girls live in Coto?” Jo asked a table of women over 40. “Yes, we do,” said Kimberly Bryant. “I just don’t know anyone here and my fiancée told me to find some friends, so I may sit with you?” “Sit down with us!” Kimberly cried.


“When are you getting married?” Kimberly asked, “I notice your enormous ring.” Jo happily explained to them how unaware she was that her engagement ring was a canary diamond. “I guess it is rare or something,” she laughed. The woman to Kimberly’s right clenched her fists under the table. Since Kimberly considered herself a mentor to those without a life path she offered this advice to her new friend. “I had a thriving career in marketing before I had kids. Now I fill up my time by taking Pilates classes or buying lingerie and making up dance routines. I suggest you do the same!”

That afternoon Jo called Slade from her flip phone. She had purchased a cowboy hat and a pink boa at a Party City. After trying on several outfits while an undersexed cameraman filmed her, she beckoned Slade back to the homestead. “Honey, I need you to come home right now,” she begged. Luckily for her Slade didn’t actually do any work at the office, so he was able to fly up the freeway. (He only went into the office to flirt with women). As he opened the front door and walked into the living room she jumped into his arms. He was at first confused. Why is she wearing pigtails? Did she rent this costume with my credit card? Will she regret mounting me and removing her blouse while someone films us? Is this considered a sex tape?

Real Housewives of Orange County, Pilot Episode, Recap, Rewind, First Episode


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