On last night’s episode of “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” many significant things occurred. Tamra and Vicki made up (that was quick, right?), we learned Heather has a problem child (which totally messes with her perfect facade), and we met the new Housewife. On paper, Lydia McLaughlin appears to be a perfect fit for “The Real Housewives” franchise. Her family came from money, she describes herself as a princess, and her husband takes her out for date night on their private boat. Sounds just right, doesn’t she?
Too bad our first encounter with Lydia is so inauspicious. As she’s a friend-of-a-friend of Heather’s, she decides to meet with her to discuss including her in the magazine her husband runs, Beverly Hills Lifestyle. Heather is pretty much immediately unimpressed. The only thing that might have made this meeting worse is if Lydia was wearing a Girl Scout uniform and selling Do-si-dos. When she opens the door, Lydia appears to be about fourteen years old (and appears to have last cut her hair around then as well). She speaks in an annoyingly nasal little girl voice, and wants to hug Heather hello. Heather, as we know, is not a hugger. I’m not even sure she voluntarily hugs her husband without an appointment.
Worse, Lydia doesn’t exactly come off as the sharpest knife in the drawer. In admiring Heather’s palatial estate, she says it seems new because it doesn’t have any “marks.” This has to be one of the weirdest compliments I’ve heard, sort of like admiring someone’s facelift for its lack of visible scarring. She then delivers the most damning strike against her — she’s friends with Alexis. Heather’s face actually freezes in thinly veiled disgust, as if she just realized Lydia pooped on her sofa.
To her credit, Lydia doesn’t seem to be fast friends with Alexis. They lived in the same gated community for a while, they both had small kids, yada yada yada. Heather is torn, as Lydia is also friends with someone she truly likes and not just the brain-damaged Barbie, so she’ll need to gather a little more information before she dismisses Lydia out of hand.
I’m with Heather in sitting squarely on the fence when it comes to the new girl. Lydia talks at great length about how she doesn’t want her kids to be swept up in the big money attitudes of Orange County, as her family tried to keep her grounded growing up as well. That’s a good sign. She’s also religious, which we know from a cross hanging on the wall as well as her story of meeting her husband at a Christian camp. Of course, we know having a close relationship with God hasn’t spared Alexis from being annoyingly self-pitying. It also hasn’t stopped her from gossiping, and judging from the promo for next week’s show, it hasn’t stopped Lydia, either.
During their brief meeting, Heather admires Lydia’s enormous diamond ring. Lydia explains it’s not hers, as her real ring is at the jewelers. This is an opportunity for Heather to Alexis-bash, telling the story of how Alexis wears a fake ring and doesn’t like to talk about it. I’m not sure if Heather is just hoping to start a fight with Alexis or just left her brain in one of the upstairs bathrooms, but this is pretty much an invitation for Lydia to go galloping back to her buddy to tattle. This kind of petty drama is, of course, what the entire “Real Housewives” franchise is run on, so I can’t help but feel as if it’s a little scripted. Still, Lydia seems all too happy to giggle behind Heather’s back, the bearer of bad news. It’s as if she asked herself what would Jesus do, then decides the son of God would get a latte, a cigarette and a copy of Us Weekly, then turn some water into beer for a kegger.
While Lydia may yet win me over, the fact that she looks like a teenager and is badly in need of a damn haircut (seriously, she looks like she wants to audition for a back-up singer gig on “The Partridge Family”) makes me feel like the show has cast a kid (albeit a kid with two children of her own) among the grown-ups. Whether she’ll be able to hold her own remains to be seen. The good news is that next week, she won’t have to worry about stepping up to the plate, as the other women will apparently be fighting each other with too much enthusiasm to pay much attention to her anyway.
What do you think of Lydia? Do you think she’s going to stick to Team Alexis?