Hidden photo scandal rocks Real Housewives
LAST week's episode of the Real Housewives of Melbourne ended with Venus throwing a bizarre hissy fit, demanding the other women bow down before her aristocratic title.
This week, we open at a cafe the next day, where Venus is still smarting that Gamble would dare poke fun at her credentials as a 'Lady'. Gina and Lydia's expressions suggest they perhaps don't think it's that big of a deal:
During the previous night's fracas, Lydia apparently sidled up to Venus' husband James and jokingly asked him, "How are you, my Lord?"
Venus is here to tell Lydia this brutal attack has hurt her husband deeply. Why, he's probably crying at home right now.
Gina tries to talk some sense into this newbie, pointing out that you don't last too long on this show without a sense of humour - and suggests she leave James in the car at the next engagement.
"He's too sensitive darl - don't bring him. I can't stand precious. Don't bring him if he can't cope," she sniffs.
Talk turns to Gamble, and after a few jokes among the group about the slimline Housewife's urgent need to eat a sandwich, Lydia adopts an Oprah-esque tone of concern: "So did you chat to her about her eating disorder that we're actually all really concerned about?" Touching.
Next we're with an old friend: Chyka, who bailed on Real Housewives at the end of last season, returns this week as a Special Guest Star (very Heather Locklear). She welcomes a few of the girls for lunch at to her country cottage - which is, of course, the size of a commercial aircraft hangar.
Janet, Sally and Jackie fill Chyka in on all the goss and fights she's missing as a civilian non-Housewife. Chyka revels in it all, safe in the knowledge she can just stay put in her giant country estate, not having to attend another of these trainwreck soirees ever again.
Janet's holds court about the suddenly close friendship between Gina and Lydia - one a learned barrister, the other a woman famous for pearlers like "seventy-oneth floor" who Janet alleges "left school at nine. She's as f**king dumb as dogs**t."
Later into the evening, we're with Venus as she goes for a date with husband James. They do what any loved-up couple would on a romantic evening out: furiously decry the insolence of lowly commoner Gamble Breaux.
"I don't know if Gamble has a tertiary education, but I KNOW that she CERTAINLY doesn't have much education on Lord and Lady titles," says Venus.
You're probably right Venus, but given Gamble is neither a Jane Austen heroine nor a medieval court jester, this is not actually the burn you seem to think it is.
Venis is also smarting that Gina dubbed her husband 'precious'.
"We're like the lowest maintenance people out there," she says. "We're just easy-breezy, enjoyable, funny people to be around." MEGA LOLZ.
We're at home with Lydia next, which of course means ample shots of her dog Figaro looking forlornly off camera, telepathically begging a crew member to smuggle him out of the house at the end of the day's shooting.
Lydia's interviewing kitchen hands for her new cooking venture. You see, in order to host cooking classes at home, she'll need a staff of four to do all the ... work. She warns each of her applicants that, health and safety be damned, Figaro will be a paws-on figure in the kitchen.
Figaro himself seems thrilled with this news:
Gina and Gamble meet up for a one-on-one lunch and an attempt at peacemaking. Gamble says she wants to keep trying to reignite the friendship, but they note that every single interaction they have "turns toxic."
And sure enough, this one does too - a civil airing of their issues soon turns into Gina labelling Gamble "mad."
"Oh, thanks a lot. You're calling me insane?" asks Gamble.
"No I'm not, I just said you're MAAAD!"
As Gamble fumes, Gina tells her she's "all over the place." More and more, this 'friendship' seems wildly imbalaced - and it's Gina who's gaslighting Gamble, repeatedly pushing her buttons then calmly telling her she's become hysterical and impossible to reason with.
Gamble seems to be getting wise to her methods though: "She always railroads the conversation … she certainly swings her dick around."
We're with Venus next, who's helping her sister (and Janet Jackson impersonator) Rebecca shop for flowers for her upcoming wedding
But there's a problem: Rebecca's got cold feet.
Clearly emotional, Rebecca confesses that she's adrift in a sea of conflicting emotions.
"Are you serious? We put a deposit down only last week. Have you paid a deposit on the dress?" asks Venus.
This might sound insensitive, but you don't become a well-to-do Real Housewife by forfeiting wedding deposits willy nilly now do you.
This week's big climactic soiree is Gamble's stepson Luke's 21st, but it's really Gamble's party: She's commandeered everything from costumes to music. The theme, based on Gamble's outfit, is '14th place Eurovision entrant':
Gamble might be steamrollering his celebration by turning it into a fairy dress-up party, but Luke appreciates his Stepmum's enthusiasm - which he tells u in a piece to camera while dressed as a clinically depressed Wiggle for some reason:
Gamble goes to check on the musical act she's organised for the night - Jason Singh, former lead singer of Taxiride. Just what a 21st birthday needs: The former frontman of a band popular when the birthday boy was still in nappies road testing his solo material.
The ladies arrive, all in various states of fairy regalia, and the party's in full swing. Bursting with pride, Luke's dad Rick delivers a beautiful 21st speech to his weeping son, Gamble beaming next to them. LOVE THESE THREE.
As the night wears on, and over in a quiet corner, Janet sits Gamble and Sally down for a chat. She says she's just become privy to some … information.
Apparently Venus has unflattering covert photos of both Gamble and Janet saved on her phone - photos she was sent on the sly by someone else and that she may have nefarious plans for.
Agreeing that this sounds "weird and creepy," they set off to confront Venus, who's partying with the rest of the gang.
Venus denies, denies, denies - but also refuses to let them check her phone.
Four-season veteran Janet knows when she's being bullsh*tted, and fixes Venus with a bone-chilling stare:
"I don't believe you, and I'm not prepared to leave it at that," Janet tells Venus.
Shout out to Lydia, staring mutely through this whole fracas, perhaps deaf to the argument thanks to her elf ears.
Relenting, Venus allows her trusted friend Gina to have a quick private scroll through her camera roll. No photos. There, case closed. Can we move on?
"Wait ... have you got WhatsApp?" asks Jackie. ONYA JAX.
At that, Venus bolts away, apparently needing to lock herself in the dunny for a few minutes to freshen up (aka delete suss photos from her WhatsApp).
She emerges after a few minutes, and by now, the ladies have well and truly turned on her.
"What the f**k is going on?" asks Gamble.
"It's creepy s**t," says Janet of the newest member of the gang.
"And it's adding to the other creepy s**t."
Next week: The ladies helicopter to a vineyard, go truffle hunting - and get to the bottom of this whole photo scandal.
Real Housewives of Melbourne airs Wednesday 8:30pm on Foxtel's Arena Channel. Check back here right after each episode for our full recap -and chat all things Housewives with recapper and former Taxiride backup dancer Nick Bond on Twitter at @bondnickbond.