The Real Housewives of Dallas
“Everything’s Bigger in Dallas”
April 11, 2016
Y’all. Y’ALL. My entire blogging life has been leading up to this.
Between spending hundreds hours blogging The Real Housewives of New York, Beverly Hills, New Jersey and even Miami; all those charity events I’ve been dragged to against my will; all of those gallons of “Jesus Juice” I’ve drunk to get through blogging those Real Housewives shows; and all my years living not just in Texas — but in Houston, y’all…
… it’s all been leading up to this: me blogging The Real Housewives of Dallas.
Listen, I would be lying if I told you a part of me wasn’t disappointed that Bravo chose Dallas over Houston for its newest Real Housewives franchise. As someone who writes about this particular reality show genre, of course I would have loved to have seen my hometown be skewered by the Real Housewives producers. After all, Houston has plenty of money, shopping, plastic surgery and crazy women with overblown senses of their own self-worth to go around. Did you see that story about that woman with the crazy closet? I mean.
But I’d also be lying if I told you that I’m not relieved that the women of Houston aren’t going to be tarnished with the stigma of shallowness, pretentiousness and pettiness that comes along with being Real Housewives. Leave that to those ladies from Dallas. Because they deserve it, bless their hearts.
We begin with Brandi, our requisite former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, because come on, we’re going to do a Real Housewives of Dallas and NOT have a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader? Stop it, y’all. True Fact: Dallas employs more Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders than any other U.S. city.
Brandi gave up the glamorous and obscenely low-paid cheerleader lifestyle a while ago to make ginger babies with her ginger husband, Bryan (“We both have red hair and our last name is Redman!” Got it.), whom she started dating in the 8th grade so as to make her ex-boyfriend jealous. YOU’LL WANT THIS ALL BACK ONE DAY, RAY KYLE JR. YOU’LL SEE.
Other fun facts about Brandi’s relationship with her husband: he proposed to her twice because the first time she had such terrible diarrhea that she needed a do-over (romantic!), and it does not appear that Brandi has any idea what, exactly, Bryan does for a living, just that he wants to be rich by 40.
Brandi’s best friend of 7 years, Stephanie, is also a stay-at-home mother whose husband, Travis, does … something. Enough something that they live on the Four Season’s golf course, which in Dallas is apparently the height of “big ol’ McMansion” fanciness.
Stephanie and Travis’ marriage is the kind in which she earns an allowance from her husband by doing a bunch of nonsense chores for him, like programming the garage door. So, you know, super healthy and very equal, and not paternalistic at all.
Stephanie grew up in Oklahoma in a Baptist family (OT level: No Dancing), which explains a lot: she married the first person who asked and got the Hell out of Oklahoma as fast as she could. If that meant hitching her wagon to a man with a profound supraorbital ridge and a need to humiliate her in front of the cameras about not packing their children’s ski jackets for an upcoming trip, then so be it. I mean, have you ever been to Oklahoma? It’s even worse than Dallas.
As for her relationship with Brandi, the two of them like to drink “Jesus Juice” together — which they call “Jesus Juice” without of hint of post-Michael Jackson irony, pee in bushes, have Stephanie fart on command, after which Brandi dances around in it. I could not make any part of any of that up if I tried.
Cary is a certified registered nurse first assistant who works with her plastic surgeon husband, Mark. It’s telling that this is one of the healthier-seeming relationships on the show, even though Mark is Cary’s third (!!) husband, and his entire family attended her second wedding. She does not wear underpants under her surgery scrubs, needs to meet one Sonja Morgan, stat.
Tiffany is a more mysterious character. I’m not exactly clear on what it is she does in Dallas, other than shop for guitars and sit around cafes with her Keith Urban impersonator of a husband, Aaron. Seriously, this guy has completely ripped off Keith Urban’s entire look, down to the dippy parted-in-the-middle, overly-highlighted country-rock hairdo that is going to be SO EMBARRASSING in photos 3 years from now. But on top of that he’s a country singer? But then, ON TOP OF THAT, he opened up his mouth and out came this Australian accent and then I was suddenly worried that it actually was Keith Urban? But then had to ask myself why Keith Urban would be living in Dallas with some woman who is decidedly not Nicole Kidman? Anyway, the point is, this guy needs to find a whole new schtick because the world doesn’t need more than one Keith Urban, mate.
Tiffany explains that she used to be a model/TV host/softcore actress of some sort in Los Angeles, but all of the cocaine parties became too much for her, so she packed up Keith Urban Lite and moved him back to her hometown of Dallas. Where she does something. Maybe she works with Brandi and Stephanie’s husbands? Dunno.
Finally, there’s LeeAnne. Every Real Housewives series needs its self-anointed Grande Dame of the group, full of judgment and ideas about how everyone else should be conducting themselves — your Lisa Vanderpumps and Caroline Manzos and Jill Zarins of the group — and LeeAnne is Dallas’. In fact, her friend Tiffany declares her to be the “mayor of Dallas,” in what is just a shameless rip-off of Miami’s Lea Black, to whom LeeAnne clearly fancies herself be akin. You know, just without all the money and actual social power.
LeeAnne grew up a “carnie kid,” which she explains helped prepare her for Dallas society. Except, I’m not exactly clear on how she became a part of Dallas society? I get that LeeAnne works with charities, but I don’t know in what capacity she works with them. Is she an actual employee of the charities? Because there are multiple charities that she appears to be attached to? Or is she doing this work pro bono? If so, how does she afford this lifestyle? Because she herself explains that she is not a millionaire, and her live-in boyfriend is a cop, and it’s unlikely she inherited a fortune from her carnie parents, so …. what is going on here?
The first charity event of this episode — because there are multiple charity events in this episode — takes place at Cary’s house where she sells gaudy jewelery on her dining room table to raise money for charity boob jobs. It is the most Dallas thing to ever happen ever.
Everyone arrives and grabs a glass or three of Jesus Juice, and before you know it, Brandi and Stephanie are talking about how their bellies and vaginas will never be the same after having kids, and also, somehow, farting. LeeAnne watches disapprovingly nearby before issuing the greatest of all Texas insults: “It’s getting a little Plano in here.”
I do not know how I have gone this many years of my life without ever having said “It’s getting a little Plano in here” before, BUT THAT CHANGES RIGHT NOW.
The second charity event of the episode takes place at LeeAnn’s friend Marie’s McMansion — the two met when they were promotional models together —
— to raise money for Dallas AIDS services.
Before they go to Marie’s house, Brandi and Stephanie guzzle some Jesus Juice in Brandi’s closet. In the single most manufactured interaction of the show, Stephanie warns her friend that she told Cary that Brandi does a LeeAnn impersonation, and that Cary is going to want to see it at this charity event they will all be attending. Brandi then performs said impersonation which is basically just Karl Childers from Sling Blade.
It also might be brilliant.
So, everyone arrives at Marie’s charity event and everyone eats canapes and drinks Jesus Juice and in no time, Cary is demanding that Brandi do her LeeAnn impersonation, but Brandi demurs, as LeeAnn is standing right there, y’all, come on. However, when the speakers at the event talk about their organization, Brandi can’t help but laugh at the way LeeAnn Sling Blades out, mmm-hmming and nodding along with them the entire time.
Somehow, word gets around to Tiffany that Brandi does this impersonation, and informs LeeAnn. The two then confront Brandi, who would have looked shocked if it were physically possible. (Seriously, these women need to find a good cosmetic dermatology charity to support and get all of their Botox redone. Maybe fillers, too.) They demand that Brandi perform her little “mimic” for them, and she’s like, “How about no?” Because, uh, no?
Later, while Brandi and Stephanie are checking each other’s makeup, LeeAnn stalks up to them and calls them “so cute, spot-checking each other, just adorable,” before growling that she “doesn’t miss a beat, by the way. Cute as piiiiiiiiie.”
She’s so awful. I think I’m in love.
Brandi suggests that the two of them go sit and talk, and there the single most aggressive passive aggressive conversation I have ever seen on any of these shows takes place. Brandi begins by explaining that she imitates people “out of fun.” But LeeAnn interrupts her to finish Brandi’s thought, explaining that LeeAnn “sees who [Brandi] is, [she’s] a ‘sweetheart’,” and that mimicking people is Brandi’s “comedy.” “There is nothing in me that doesn’t accept you,” LeeAnn declares, meaning absolutely not a single word that she is saying.
Brandi is like, “Cool, but here’s the thing: at the charity event last week, we were raising money for people with HIV, and you decided to get up and tell your whole carnie story and I’m worried about you. I think you’re really insecure, and I feel sorry for you.”
“That’s really sweet of you,” LeeAnn replies.
“You guys are sweet,” LeeAnn continues, “You haven’t been out in society, you haven’t been out in Dallas.” To this, Brandi pouts that her priorities are her children, and LeeAnn responds that she chose not to have children, as though someone had accused her otherwise.
Brandi then starts calling nonsense on the whole CONCEPT of charity events, complaining that the money spent on the food and drink would better be served if they just gave it directly to the charity, which is a STEP TOO FAR for LeeAnn and her entire purpose on this planet. “I go to charities not because I need to, but because I want to,” she declares. “ME TOO,” Brandi counters. “ARE YOU CALLING ME A LIAR?” LeeAnn demands to know before announcing that she doesn’t judge anyone, that’s God’s job. “YOU NEED HELP,” Brandi calls after her.
Alright, so, a few questions and comments. First, I need to know: was this originally filmed as a pilot for a different reality series? One that wasn’t a Real Housewives franchise, but maybe something like “Charity Ladies of Dallas”? Because the word “charity” had to have been uttered no fewer than 15,000 times in 40 minutes, and there was just SO MUCH FOCUS on charity work. Also, the women are all connected to one another through their attendance of these charity events, whereas on other Real Housewives series the cast have often never met one another until they thrown together and forced to socialize in front of the cameras.
My guess? They filmed this as an entirely new series that uses the Real Housewives format but interjected with more of a theme, sort of like Married to Medicine. But then Bravo looked at what they had and decided it fit the Real Housewives model neatly enough that it could be a new franchise. It would explain why not as much attention is put on the ladies’ and husband’s careers (at least in this episode), the amateurish-looking opener that is not as polished as other Real Housewives’ openers, and the monomania about charity functions which was just plain weird. You didn’t invent charities, Dallas.
But even though it doesn’t feel like it was originally imagined as a Real Housewives series, does The Real Housewives of Dallas not already feel like the MOST Real Housewives of any Real Housewives series? The social climbing, the wealth from dubious sources, the gaudy McMansions, the class resentments, the drinking, the fights over nothing at all, the uncomfortable marital dynamics. It’s all here, y’all. It’s all here, and somehow even bigger. After all, you do know what they say about Texas.
The Real Housewives of Dallas airs on Bravo on Monday at 9 p.m.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.