The Real Housewives of Melbourne are back. Now in it’s third season, and certified as an overseas success after airing in the US and UK, the ladies are back to drink champagne, fight, go on unnecessary holidays, rinse and repeat.
The opening credits roll, introducing you to the cast – which, like paramecium dividing and multiplying into a disease that will eventually kill us all, has grown again in it’s third season. The list of Nixon’s enemies/Housewives this year includes returning cast members:
- Janet Roach, adjunct professor in shit-stirring whose side job as cover model for Cougars magazine allows her to pursue her love of having strains of botulism stabbed into her face;
- Pettifleur Berenger, Sri-Lankan born, fashion forward property developer who switches bitches;
- Gamble Breaux, ‘ditzy blonde’ type, classic fish out of water Sydneysider in Melbourne and lover of small dogs;
- Lydia Schiavello, fair-weather friend, resident ‘sexpot’ and responsible for the destruction of the English language;
- Jackie Gillies, Effie-esque psychic, possible trademark owner of the word ‘Shine™’ and the housewife who ‘keeps it real’
- Chyka Keebaugh, mast in a storm, sensible business woman and human Pinterest board;
- Gina Liano, arguably the breakout star, eye shadow connoisseur and solely responsible for the ozone hole above Australia after sealing her hair this morning;
A new housewife arrives in the form of Susie McLean – who is probably most famous for her five-month marriage to former St Kilda president Rod Butterss. She’s also the president of the Toorak branch of the Country Women’s Association, which is…really dull, as far as reality television back stories go.
Anyway, we open season three on Chyka and her husband Bruce – two stylish, reasonable humans in the gaggle of hair and ostentatious Chanel accessories. Chyka is getting ready to host her book club, furthering her ambition to become Australia’s white Oprah. She freely admits that it’s very little to do with literary appreciation and more to do with catching up on the latest gossip. Well, duh.
Chyka has invited Jackie, Janet and Susie (whose first husband was Bruce’s school friend, natch) along with some other normal human women who clearly have more money and free time than you and I could ever dream of.
Susie arrives last, and we smash cut to her intro piece – in which a housewife gets to show the version of her life before producers tear it all down and reduce them to just some eyelash extensions and calling someone the c-word in a restaurant bathroom. She says some things about her life, and it could come out of the mouth of any Toorak woman worth her Celine tote. She also says she gets called a ‘MILF’ by her sons schoolmates, so that’s gross. Susie is big on being a ‘traditional’ housewife, all into baking and internalising her rage.
Anyway, back at the book club, the other housewives discuss how they know Susie. Apparently, she has been friends* with Chyka for 20 years, Gina and Janet for a decade and Lydia since she was a teenager.
(*Not ‘friends’ like you, me or regular people have ‘friends’. ‘Friends’ here means, ‘Yes, I know these people – but I only speak of them out of my contractual obligation to this show, rather than any meaningful relationship.’)
Jackie brings up Pettifleur, who caused a stir amongst in this battery hen house, by publishing a book called ‘Switching the Bitch’ and generally testing everyone’s patience with her forthright opinions. Smash cut to Pettifleur heading to lunch with Lydia. God, having eight housewives is already exhausting and we’re only at six.
So, Pettifleur has been in Germany at a ‘health retreat’ like a deadset character from a soap opera. I was just waiting for an intertitle to read ‘In tonight’s episode, Pettifleur will be played by a Chanel lambskin flap bag with a side ponytail.’
Lydia was largely absent last season with her husband suffering health problems, but she’s back in a big way this year – starting by becoming a ‘friend’ of Pettifleur.
Lydia comes in all guns blazing after returning from a holiday in England where, among other things, she attended the cricket at Lords. Pettifleur asks if Shane Warne was there, as there are rumours rumbling around the Melbourne social set that Lydia and Warnie are having an affair.
Lydia scoffs, and gives a spiel about being an ambassador for the Shane Warne Foundation – a role she quietly walked away from before the debacle that old mate Shane is currently involved in.
There’s a little dance around the topic of whether Lydia has gotten Warnie’s 16 cents, but she quickly shuts it down.
BUT OF COURSE, back at Oprah’s Chyka’s book club – the topic has shifted to Lydia, and the King of Spin. But, being the Real Housewives, nothing is every about the other person – you MUST relate to you personally in some way. Janet is a master of this and casually drops the bombshell that Shane Warne, international cricket legend and baked beans enthusiast, messaged her for what was, for all intents and purposes, a booty call.
Apparently, Lydia is unhappy with Janet. The crossed wire, though, is that Janet thinks its because of the booty call, but Lydia – who has taken to calling the 50-something year old Janet, ‘Grandma’ – is hopping mad over a war of words on Twitter, where Janet called Lydia: ‘Lydiot’. We then go between the two parties involved explaining there side, but at this point – you much like me or, indeed, anyone with a high school education will struggle to care.
We then catch up on why Pettifleur is back this season, and it’s all about Gamble. Both were introduced in season two and famously clashed – with Pettifleur believing Gamble to be a lazy trophy wife, while Gamble thought her to be rude, hypocritical and condescending. In a way, they were both right.
Pettifleur then brings up that ‘a socialite’ told her that Gamble met her fiancé Rick on SugarDaddy.com, that he still maintains an active profile on there – and then calls her a ‘black widow’. “She mates, and kills,” she says, practically drooling with venom.
It’s very mean, especially since Gamble has been honest about meeting Rick through online dating on eHarmony – and it comes off as a cheap and desperate shot from Pettifleur. Lydia rightly gives her an ‘it’s none of our business’ talk, but Pettifleur takes this as an attack – why wouldn’t Lydia blindly support her hateful rumour?
Anyway, over at Gamble’s – she’s deep in the throes of planning her wedding to Rick. Her wedding dress designer, Alin (pronounced ALAN), comes over and gives her blank stares when she suggests a ‘Chinese Opera’ theme that sounds a bit racist (read: one kabuki mask short of yellowface.) There’s a quick discussion over whether she’ll invite Pettifleur and she’s like ‘Yeah, but only because I’m on this dumb show.’ Because who would invite someone TO YOUR WEDDING that actively dislikes you?
Over at the House of Liano, Gina has hired a twink named Josh to be her PA since she is so busy doing pretty much everything (be on Neighbours, Celebrity Apprentice, have a shoe line) except be an actual legal practitioner. Josh’s main role is to stare at Gina’s lioness mane while she orders him to do a job that could be condensed into an app. The main point to her brief introduction to season three is to allow Susie to set up a ‘Baking Day’ with all of the girls – inviting Gina, and by extension Pettifleur.
There’s some brief to and fros between Lydia and her husband, Andrew as well as Jackie and her husband, BenGilliesInternationalRockStarFromSilverchair. Lydia again talks about Warnie and how nothing is going on, while Jackie has been getting pressure from her mother to have a baby. The most important take away from all of it is that Ben says that he has a ‘chubby’ from all the sex/baby talk and then I died.
We go back to Lydia’s house, where her poor housekeeper Johanna happens to stumble upon her. Because Madame has between cars while her husband buys her another Porsche – Lydia commandeers Johanna’s car as a driver. It’s all very condescending, and Johanna should just get in that car and drive and never look back.
Speaking of cars, Chyka and Bruce sit down with their daughter Francesca, ‘Chessie’ about what she was up to when they were away on holiday. As twenty-one year olds are wont to do, she says ‘nothing’ coyly – with both parties knowing full well that something is wrong. Apparently, Chessie scratched Bruce’s car while picking up friends – and they get mad, but in a reasonable way, and it’s all very normal and emotionally satisfying and WHO CARES GET BACK TO CALLING EACH OTHER NAMES.
As if summoned by a smart edit, Gamble meets with Lydia for lunch – where Lydia, because the wind has shifted directions, decides to spill the details of Pettifleur’s conversation to her. After some brief bonding over their mutual dislike of Janet, Gamble, maturely, dismisses Pettifleur’s rumour mongering with a laugh. JUST KIDDING. Gamble is raving over it; she calls Pettifleur a slag and/or a slut – and then labels her a praying mantis, saying she rips the head off of men after she’s f***ed them.
Concluding the episode, a funky guitar riff introduces us to Susie’s baking day – suggesting it will be a fun day where the dust-ups will be between flour and dough. Oh, producers. I didn’t come down in the last shower.
Lydia is being chauffeured to the event by Johanna, cloyingly pointing out left and right, and giving her ‘good job’ reassurance when she operates the car like any adult human with a drivers license. If I was Johanna, I would just grip the steering wheel tightly and drive straight into the Yarra River.
The big tension is between Janet and Lydia, but then Pettifleur arrives and Gamble gets her back right up. Pettifleur confides in Gina that she’s having drama with her son, Nathan, after she kicked him out of the house – this may return later on in the season, but right now it’s no big deal.
Over at the kitchen counter, Susie pointedly asks Lydia whether she and Shane Warne are practicing their flipper together – and Lydia is so shocked that Janet gets to bear the brunt of her new mood. Janet and Lydia exeunt to the lounge room to beef, with Jackie and Pettifleur in tow.
Janet and Lydia have a back and forth – with Lydia continuing with jabs about Janet’s age, while Janet continues to call her an idiot. They agree to disagree, putting a band-aid over the infected, gushing wound.
Gamble decides to go in, because a producer gave her a sharp poke in the ribs. Immediately, she goes in on Pettifleur on why she called her a ‘black widow’ and all her other nasty rumours. Pettifleur puts two and two together and comes up with Lydia Schiavello and turns her lasers onto her, saying how dare she tell the subject of a private conversation that was filmed for a high-rating reality show.
At this point, Jackie Gillies – Queen of Newie, Psychic to the Stars and all-round top chick – does the most sensible thing that I have ever seen in my life – stands up and walks out of the room to join Chyka, Susie and Gina in the kitchen.
Jackie says that Lydia is a ‘flip-flopper’ and Susie quietly confirms this, saying in her talking head that Lydia spread ‘nasty gossip’ about her after her first divorce.
Back in Pettifleur’s world, which we are all just living in, she blasts Gamble for ruining the reputation of her book by bringing up rumours of a plagiarised title. Gamble says her opinions on Pettifleur’s book can’t have been that important, and besides her use of the word ‘bitch’ in ‘Switch the Bitch’ was very loaded.
After this, the argument just devolves into a series of expletives and high-pitched screaming – with the gist of it that Pettifleur saying Gamble caused her legal headaches and is also a sugar baby, while Gamble cursing the air blue that Pettifleur is a liar with no filters.
Of course, as it must – episode one ends with high drama. Gamble suddenly gets up to leave, but not without a parting shot: “Go f*** yourself, Pettifleur!”
And that’s it for episode one! What did you think? Has Lydia gone into Shane Warne’s jungle? Should Simone Warne be on Season 4? And why didn’t we see more of Gina?
In next week’s episode: Susie and Lydia yell at each other and Jackie says that someone is talking behind some of the women’s back – What. A. Shocker.