“Welcome to the Freak Show” is the title of the season finale of “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” and yes, that seems a bit on the cosmetically-sculpted nose for this series, but it’s also literally true.
Gina Kirschenheiter loves Halloween like Linus loves the Great Pumpkin, and so she decides to throw a circus sideshow-themed party to wrap up the 17th season of the founding series of the Housewives franchise.
She’s dressed up as a sexy ringmaster with her boyfriend Travis her pre-tamed lion. Emily Simpson arrives as a box of popcorn – yellow popcorn covering her bustier top above red-and-white striped leggings for the box. Jenn Pedranti is the Cowardly Lion, Shannon Storms Beador is a fortune teller, Taylor Armstrong a pink poof of cotton candy, and Heather Dubrow a Cirque du Housewives aerialist.
And Tamra Judge? “I’m going to keep with my theme all year,” she tells Gina and Jenn at the costume store earlier in the episode. “I’m going to be an evil clown.”
No one is surprised.
“It’s very appropriate,” Gina says after Tamra arrives at the party looking like a meaner Harley Quinn. “She’s like a little Chucky doll. She’s coming in for her next kill.”
Her target in recent weeks has been Heather, whom Tamra accused the previous week of calling Gina and Emily losers. Much of the finale is spent investigating that claim. When Gina, hurt and angry, meets Heather to talk it out, Heather has a smoking gun: a podcast hosted by Teddi Mellencamp of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” where Teddi is talking with Tamra about how she, not Heather, had called her castmates losers.
Gina is back on Team Heather by the time the circus party kicks off with costumed unicyclists and stilt walkers mingling with the guests.
“I just want everybody to get along,” she tells Emily, apparently forgetting what kind of show she is on.
Tamra is not impressed.
“Gina was basically what I call Heather-merized,” she says, dismissing her defection to Heather.
But Emily is also willing to forgive and forget, and after she and Heather step aside for a private chat, during which Heather reveals Tamra had mocked her career as an attorney and party planner on the girls’ trip to Montana earlier this season.
Now Tamra looks nervous. She may be an evil clown but she’s no ventriloquist’s dummy, and the tides are shifting against her.
Undeterred, Tamra takes her evil clown-ness across the room to confront Heather, who, realizing she’s got the upper hand, stares her down.
“I’m fine with the truth,” she tells Tamra. “I don’t like your nonsense and your spinning things.
“I’m not interested in this,” Heather continues, with a perfectly executed dismissive wave of her hand.
The camera cuts to the closed door of the women’s restroom inside of which Jenn, Shannon and a very tipsy Taylor are loudly trying to figure out how to get out of their Cowardly Lion, fortune teller and cotton candy costumes to relieve themselves.
“You are laboring under the misconception that I give a (hoot),” Heather continues.
“I don’t care about you either,” Tamra replies weakly.
“Then let’s move on,” Heather says, turning on her heel to walk away.
“Yeah, goodbye, (bad lady),” Tamra replies.
Cut back to the exterior of the restroom: Jenn, Shannon and Taylor still haven’t figured out how to go.
Speaking of bathrooms, the second biggest storyline this week involves Shannon arriving at Tamra’s house with a home colonic contraption she’s thinking of marketing as her next big product line. Jenn arrives, unaware that Shannon intends to have her try it out – Jenn had complained about her irregularity in Mexico a week earlier.
After we’re treated to scenes of Jenn on the potty, Shannon in the open doorway coaching her how to use the thing, and Tamra rolling on the floor laughing while holding her glass of wine, everything works exactly as planned. Stay tuned, I guess, for the Beador Bidet on a home shopping network soon, I guess?
Back at the freak show, everyone eventually gets back into their costumes and grits their teeth to take a group photo that Gina insists on getting, no matter how awkward it now feels.
“It’s like when you force your kids to take family photos,” she tells the camera. “Everybody knows that’s the worst (bleepin’) day ever. But smile, take the picture!
“Because I want the (bleepin’) memory, (bad ladies).”