On other, more glamorous Real Housewives shows, the ladies often jet off to Bali or Banff or the Bahamas for a super-glam on-camera vacation. For Real Housewives of Dallas, the Bravo network has seen fit only to schlep the gals down to Lake Travis for two nights. On a bus.
Away the women roll to a sprawling lake house built by cast member Brandi Redmond’s husband Bryan and pal Stephanie Hollman’s husband Travis. It’s a big, bland pile of bricks with a pool and a lake view, which the cameras don’t ever bother to feature.
The centerpiece of episode nine of this 10-part series (the finale is next week, followed by a “reunion” special) is a catered birthday dinner for three of the wives. Rambunctious party scenes are a staple of Housewives shows. Remember Teresa Giudice flipping the table and yelling “prostitution whore!” at the multifamily meal on RHONJ? Or Camille Grammer’s psychic pal spilling nasty predictions over that boozy dinner with the RH’s of Beverly Hills?
Those episodes were full of fireworks. RHOD’s lakeside slumber party merely lights some damp squibs. The title of this week’s hour is “Killing Time in Austin.” It feels as if this version of the series is doing just that, ticking off minutes until it can clear the time slot to make way for the return of the ratings-pulling crazypants shenanigans of the New Jersey franchise.
Down at Lake Travis, it’s charity-mad LeeAnne Locken in the center ring, as usual. LeeAnne is a gorgeous woman with a heart for good causes and the temperament of a trapped wolverine. This week she’s more than a little miffed that her fellow housewives keep circulating a story about that time she took too many laxatives, had a dram too much alcohol, and didn’t make it to the ladies’ room in time.
Scatology is the dominant theme of RHOD. You have to wonder what the women did during the filming to tick off the crew and editors of this show so badly that every hour ended up loaded with references to pee and poop. This week they include the moment Brandi urinates into a red plastic cup on the bus trip from Dallas to Austin. Cut right to a commercial for a “bladder support” device.
Back at the dinner party, Brandi, bless her sodden heart, gets snockered, does a backward somersault over the tabletop, and then tumbles off her chair onto the floor. Brandi does two things at warp speed in every episode: get drunk and start weeping.
“Brandi and Jesus juice [her nickname for wine] make a lot of decisions together,” observes Brandi’s best friend Stephanie, a pretty blonde who laugh-cackles like an evil sister in Macbeth.
The plan for the weekend in Austin appears to be to hang out at the pile of bricks for a night, pick at chef-prepared scallops, drink too many fireballs and glasses of Pinot Noir, and then wake up early to enjoy a spa day at Austin’s Four Seasons. And here’s where it’s really clear that Bravo has treated RHOD like a throwaway: After the camera crew has left for the night, a major brouhaha breaks out between LeeAnne and the nearly silent Marie Reyes (the one who wore the twiglet hat a few weeks back).
No footage of this contretemps makes it to the small screen; just audio clips of LeeAnne shouting at Marie, captured on Cary’s phone. There’s also a secondhand retelling of the argument by Stephanie in her to-the-camera post-production confessional.
What might have been the high point of the series (or low, depending on how you measure awful behavior among adult women who fancy themselves cultured and privileged), happens off-camera. Viewers only get the tell, but not the show.
So all that’s left on episode nine is the aftermath of blow-up. LeeAnne again explains her hair-trigger temper with references to her crappy childhood. Marie looks terrified as she tries to explain that she’s not the one who revealed the story of LeeAnne’s loose bowels. Tiffany Hendra, LeeAnne’s constant enabler, begs the others to walk in LeeAnne’s espadrilles and try to understand her.
Apologies. Hugs. Cary Deuber (the plastic surgeon’s wife) rolls her eyes under perma-arched brows.
Another tense dinner unfolds at the Austin location of Bob’s Steak & Chop House. LeeAnne drills her death-stare into Cary and Tiffany. Brandi babbles some nonsense about her fear of sharks and then disappears into the restroom. “Worst girls’ trip ever,” snaps Cary.
Previews of episode 10 feature the Byron Nelson golf tournament, two of the housewives falling into a swimming pool, and a revolting close-up of rabbit feces on the carpet at the Redmond home.
On this show, even the pets are party poopers.
Real Housewives of Dallas airs at 9 pm Mondays on Bravo. You can also watch episodes online.