Tamra has been a wreck this season thanks to a nasty custody battle with her ex-husband, Simon Barney. Tamra opened up about the emotional details on Monday’s reunion, starting with how her daughter Sidney now lives with her dad, and even testified in court against her. “When your child turns their back on you, it’s humiliating,” she sobbed, when host Andy Cohen asked why she didn’t bring this up during the season.
Another major theme was how Tamra turned to religion this season to help her through her struggles. Wondering how one of the most sordid reality shows around handles such a sensitive topic?
1) The show takes it somewhat seriously … but it’s still “Real Housewives.”
Tamra announced earlier this season that she found Jesus, and it wasn’t just a publicity stunt. On the reunion, she tearfully explained how it happened: During her custody battle, a woman approached her at work and said, “I’ve kind of seen some things going on and was wondering if you want to go to church with me.” Tamra went to church with the woman and said she just sat there sobbing. “It just kind of felt right,” she said. “It gave me what I needed.”
At the same time, she gives soundbites like this: “I think that God speaks to everybody at different times. And when he got me down to my lowest that I could possibly be, he brought me back up,” Tamra said in one on-camera interview. “And here I am to say that I’m saved! And if you don’t like it, you can suck it.”
2) A baptism can serve as an emotional event and gathering spot where all the cast members get together to argue.
It’s a rule on the “Housewives” franchise that there always has to be a big event where everyone is in the same place; inevitably, camera-ready fights break out. Last week, that was Tamra’s baptism. She gathered everyone around at a hotel swimming pool with a pastor so she could “wash away” her sins, and read a speech about her new sense of religion — and how she forgave her ex-husband for making her life so terrible. She was dunked under the water wearing a long white dress. When she emerged, a church choir was singing.
Meanwhile, the baptism also served as a venue where the other cast members could confer about whether Vicki is lying about whether her boyfriend Brooks has cancer. It turns into quite the spat, as no one is sure what to believe. Yes, in the same breath as baptism, you have “possibly fake cancer.”
3) Just the topic of religion can result in drama.
Obviously! This is key. In fact, former “Real Housewives of OC” star Alexis Bellino emailed Andy Cohen with a special message to read to Tamra on-air during the reunion. A quick reminder: Alexis, also open about her faith and Christianity when she was on the show, was occasionally known as “Jesus Barbie.” As a reference to Alexis’s breast implants, Tamra called her “Jesus Jugs.” (Again…this is “Real Housewives.”) Here’s Alexis’s complete email:
“When I became a cast member of ‘Real Housewives of Orange County’ five years ago, I knew that I would be judged because of my appearance and my love for Jesus, with Tamra being my biggest harasser. But over time, viewers saw that although I’m far from perfect, and regardless of my bra size, my love for people and my non-backstabbing showed through. And in fact I do love Jesus, which is why I cannot sit back and watch a mockery be made of my savior. The greatest part of a walk with God is that he loves you where you are. You don’t need to be perfect. However, that doesn’t give you a hall pass to become baptized and then continue your old unkind and manipulative ways. Someone’s faith is not for entertainment, it’s their sole reason for existence. Sincerely and forever, Jesus Barbie.”
Luckily, Tamra came to this show prepared with a zinger. “She’s the type of Christian that gives Christians a bad name,” she shot back. “All I can say to her is I’m sorry you feel the way you do, I will pray for you. And this is my journey, not hers. She has no idea what’s going on.
And if she was a good Christian, she probably would not be judging me right now,” Tamra added. “That’s one of the reasons, actually, Andy, I always made fun of her. Because she contradicted herself as a good Christian, but yet she would do things like that.”