When pondering which of all the current Real Housewives has the absolute worst relationship, it's tempting to go straight to the couple in which the husband called his wife the C-word on camera and is probably going to prison. But when Vicki Gunvalson and Brooks look like a model of relational health by comparison, you are at least a very serious contender.
Before diving deep into the shipwreck that is Shannon and David's marriage, let's consider the competition.
New Jersey: Juicy Joe and Teresa Giudice. Though they are the obvious choice, primarily by virtue of both being gross, terrible humans, they really do suit each other. Sure, Juicy referred to Teresa as his "bitch wife," something any couples therapist would advise against. But the clanging of their sweaty, hairy loins produced Milania, the most delightful cast member ever to appear on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. And for that alone I am tempted to grant them a reprieve.
Atlanta: Phaedra Parks and Apollo Nida. While Phaedra was working overtime learning how to embalm dead bodies, Apollo was apparently conspiring to commit mail, bank and wire fraud. Even worse, he was texting Kenya! The shellacked façade of their marriage began to visibly crack this season, primarily due to the fact that they seemingly hate each other. On the plus side, however, Apollo is SO FINE. And Phaedra's constant uttering of the words "Fix It Jesus" may in fact summon some timely divine help.
New York: Kristen and Josh Taekman. It hasn't taken long for all of Housewives-watching humanity to peg Josh as the absolute worst. He may not be facing prison time like the male halves of several other contenders, but that doesn't compensate for taking less than minimal interest in his daughter's ability to walk and then complaining that dinner's not on the table when he comes home. Also, Kristen may or may not have become a cast member just to show the world what a dick he is. I would probably rank them at least a close second.
Beverly Hills: Kim and Kingsley Richards. Sure, they're cute together and in deep, interspecies love. But also, Kingsley is likely to grievously injure Kim eventually, and quite possibly take her life. They give new meaning to: "It's complicated."
So now, Orange County: Shannon and David. I mean, obviously there's the whole thing about his email stating that he was going to leave her. Which apparently he took back, off-camera. So now they're going to Puerto Vallarta to hang out with Vicki and Brooks, two people that no one else on the show can collectively stand to be around. The one thing I know about Puerto Vallarta is that it was a common Love Boat destination, but as soon as Shannon and David get there it turns into The Hate Boat, and no lingering butt-touches can convince us otherwise. (Nice try, though, David.)
Vicki tells us, "I think it's important for David and Shannon to be around healthy couples." So what are they doing on vacation with Vicki and Brooks? Actually, I have to say, Vicki seems so relaxed and like she's having the time of her life, high-fiving her chef, Victor, and smoking cigars but not inhaling. She doesn't even get offended when Shannon is prissy about the size of her guest room, or pretend to fall asleep while anyone's talking! Of Vicki's cigar smoking, Shannon says, "It's like big and fat and it smells and it's just…there's spit on the end of it. I mean, there's nothing pretty about it." Which also may be a clue as to why her marriage is failing.
Though Shannon and David seem to have a brief moment of fun on a jet ski, things get awkward when Vicki asks the simple question, "Do you guys like being with each other?" While Shannon says that she does like to be with David, David very studiously scoops up some guacamole with a tortilla chip and remains silent. When Shannon repeats the question, David says, "Shannon and I struggle a little bit because our interest levels are a little bit different. I like to work out, and Shannon likes to…to…not work out." Irreconcilable differences, apparently. Vicki is seeing red flags in the fact that Shannon just wants love and attention, and David gives her none. And then he's all, "Are you mad?" and Shannon is like, "[Angrily] NO." So that's really healthy, too.
The worst, though, is when they're all at dinner with Vicki's brother Billy (who is totally the Roger Clinton of the OC Housewives) and his girlfriend, and David and Shannon start going at each other over whether or not he likes tequila. Vicki, who actually DOES have some astute things to say about relationships (kill me now, I know, but I found her to be very observant about this whole thing), notes that Shannon is chiseling and picking away at David, and if she keeps at it he's going to pull away. And, I mean, it seems like maybe that jet ski has sailed.
Shannon keeps saying that she feels weird because everyone's eyes are on her relationship (you know, because she made it a plot point!) but her relationship is FINE! FINE! It's FINE! I mean, obviously. The scrutiny is embarrassing, she says. And then to lessen the embarrassment, she returns to the table after a bathroom break and says to David, in full earshot of everyone, "Maybe next time you can make me not look like a bitch." This is before anyone has even ordered an appetizer!
Shannon and David have a brief tete-a-tete outside, in which she tells him that she feels misunderstood and he touches her butt. So, I guess I see where she's coming from when she says he's not a great communicator. Vicki thinks that Shannon needs to get drunk and dance on bars for her marriage to be saved, and I guess that happens next week. But then it looks like David also maybe tells her again that he wants a divorce. In any case, these two seem to loathe each other in a way that makes me physically uncomfortable to watch. They get my vote for worst current Housewives relationship, and of course you should feel free to cosign or disagree in the comments.
In other news, Heather gets a personal chef and hopes that Shannon isn't turning Vicki against her. (I would argue that Vicki was already most of the way there, and Shannon's tale of being thrown out of Heather's house just adds extra evidence to her already fully-formed opinions.)
The entire Dubrow family watches Heather get punched in the face in her episode of Hawaii Five-O (and how many times can they watch and/or mention that one episode?) and Heather's son reads her to filth by practically screaming, "You're never gonna be Angelina Jolie, mom!" Terry Dubrow is jolly, as he has not yet been traumatized by Janice Dickinson.
Tamra complains that Eddie isn't taking care of their stupid robot baby that he never wanted, and speaks a great truth when she says, "It is the most embarrassing thing to be in public with a robot baby that is crying." Vicki and Shannon also have an interesting conversation about Tamra, and her blabbing of Shannon's marriage woes (which she also told Vicki). Shannon says she likes but now doesn't trust Tamra, and Vicki cosigns, citing some historical issues involving Brooks and telling Shannon to keep her eyes open.
And finally, in a landmark turn of events, Lizzie is actually a little bit interesting! She wants husband Christian to help out more with their screaming kids, so she can focus on her swimwear line. It turns out that he really wants her to forget the business and be strictly a stay-at-home mom. It's not something that puts them in contention for worst current Housewives marriage, but it's a little grody, and Lizzie gets genuinely emotional when talking about it. She consults Heather and then God, both of whom tell her that she can, in fact, have it all. The fact that her advice is on par with the Big Guy's is going to enhance Heather's already healthy ego, I think.
Next time: Like monkeys on typewriters producing Hamlet, Shannon and David unconsciously enact entire passages of dialogue from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.