Welcome back to Queen for an Episode, the feature where I use a loose ranking format to collate my thoughts about marginal human beings. These ones are from Texas. The women of Dallas are back for another crack at the bat after a patchy first season, and I’ve got to say: this was actually pretty fucking decent. So draw on those circles of rouge, make those brows point heavenward, and let’s dive in.
Now, I know that very few of you watched Dallas — few enough that cancellation rumours were ever-swirling and there were rumours that season two only happened because the entire cast agreed to work for free (which I obviously choose to believe). So in the spirit of Dallas and its much-vaunted churrity world, I’ll do you the favour of catching you up on all the main players before diving into their respective crimes against humanity from last night’s premiere. What can I say? I’m a giving sort, and my tarot draws have been good, and we’re entering Virgo season (a.k.a. my season) so I feel generous.
Before we go any further, it feels right to pour one out for our fallen soldiers, Tiffany Hendra and Marie Reyes. Tiffany didn’t contribute much in her role as LeeAnne Locken’s handmaiden, but every rageaholic carnie needs a lady-in-waiting to hold her chaw when the shit gets real so I honour Tiffany for her service. As for Marie, she was a wonderfully wormy Friend Of, exactly the kind of craven, morally void sociopath every franchise deserves to pad out its supporting cast. I gather that Tiffany will be back this season in a recurring capacity, but Marie is gone for good, at least until Umbrella Corporation genetically engineers her replacement. Not for nothing, but these two also comprised 100% of The Diversity soooo bang-up job as usual, Bravo.
But that’s the past. Let’s get ranking.
6. Cary: Tempted to just sum her up as “the brown-haired one,” but: Cary is your bog standard plastic surgeon’s wife, with the distinction that her husband treats her like a creepy doll in that he dresses her and brushes her hair and so on. She spent season one combatting the force of nature that is LeeAnne Locken, which… don’t mess with the carnie if you don’t wanna go for a ride, ya know? Last night Cary met LeeAnne in a park where she pretended to be LeeAnne’s friend before ruthlessly selling her out to her enemies, and I’m sorry, when you’re cribbing scene notes from Real Housewives of Toronto then just pack it in. That show got cancelled for a reason.
5. Stephanie: Stephanie is Brandi Redmond’s deposed BFF with whom she’s now in the middle of a consuming war. That usually happens in season three so the show is ahead of schedule in its developmental milestones. Congratulations, RHOD. You’re Gifted. I came out of S1 preferring Stephanie to Brandi because she was a little more low-key and less prone to obnoxious feces babble, but I’ve come to find her shifty and insincere in a way I don’t necessarily enjoy. Her mewling attempts to get Brandi back onside after their falling out were promising, though. I don’t think she has anything in her as groundbreaking as Jill Zarin bellowing down a phone about Bobby’s slit-open throat, but here’s hoping.
4. Brandi: Brandi started RHOD as a human shit joke antagonizing LeeAnne for kicks, but then she got shoaled by her veteran brother’s attempted suicide and the throbbing horror of her dysfunctional marriage, revealing herself as a promising wound drenched in pathos (not that I’m revelling in any of it, especially the brother, whom I hope is now well). Whatever I may think about her, Brandi certainly applies herself to the material. I’m impressed with how thoroughly she’s thrown herself into season two, dropping her best friend and striking up a bond with her worst enemy seemingly for the sport of it. Reminiscent of Tamra “Tammy” Waddle Vieth Barney Judge, whom I’ve always regarded very highly as a professional. Her freezing out Stephanie at the party was as tense a TV moment as I’ve seen in a while, which was a pleasant surprise (kadooze to Dallas for getting all the wives together in the premiere, by the way; very simple and important touch that the show often fumbles).
3. LeeAnne: LeeAnne was very obviously the find in the season one cast, a former carnie compensating for her shame in that label by hurling herself headlong into Dallas’s upper middle class (specifically its charity scene), proudly clutching it to her chest as her entire identity, and melting down so hard she blacked out anytime it was threatened. There were iMessage printouts. There was smashed tableware. LeeAnne once punched a passing streetcar. She threatened to “gut” Marie Reyes “carnie style” to the unanimous horror and confusion of all. There was a long lost incident where she shit in a gift basket. All this to say LeeAnne carried season one, and it was a pleasure to see her back in action, resuming her feud with Cary and hoarding Brandi’s goodwill to herself like a friendship dragon. Love that the non-sequitur of her in the hot dog outfit is getting answered as soon as next week, leaving Kameron’s vocal fry as the only remaining mystery of the season.
2. D’Andra: If there’s one single element that elevated the Dallas S2 premiere, it was the bang-up newbie casting. Producers seem to have gone for a combination of affluence and broad ridiculousness in their rookie ‘wives, and it paid big dividends. In addition to having possibly the best name in the Housewives canon (though Pettifleur might beg to differ), D’Andra also brings one of the best subplots I’ve ever seen, a two-woman drag show reenactment of the plot of Dallas. D’Andra’s mother, Dee Simmons, is a wonderful concoction of fur and lacquered hair and jet black eyeshadow who lured D’Andra from her prosperous career at the U.S. Department of Energy by pledging her control of the family business (the instant classic Ultimate Living, a line of moisturizers and cosmetics they sold on the Christian network in the ’90s). It’s been 13 years since D’Andra left D.C., and Dee hasn’t given her shit. The tension between them is horrifying and there’s a real sense that this very show could be the thing that makes the bottom finally blow out. I’m rapt. I’d watch a whole prestige drama spin-off about the Simmons religious cosmetic dynasty. Tell me you couldn’t see this as the title card with some screaming organs in the background. Make it happen, Bravo.
1. Kameron: Oh, man, Kameron. Kameron is a stellar piece of casting. She’s Tinsley after the lobotomy. She’s Elle Woods if she learned nothing in the end. She’s Big Bird masquerading as a member of Dallas high society. Best of all, I get the sense that she’s this show’s answer to Gamble Breaux, and her entire idiot persona is a carefully curated act to troll others and remedy her own boredom. Intrigued! Kameron’s big project for the series is launching a new line of pink dog food, which is so exquisite and absurd and almost satirical that she might as well have thrown her artificial leg across Le Cirque. I’m excited our season ahead, Kameron and I. I wish her and her consort, Louis Vuitton Westcott, all the best in their line of pink dog food (and, if that goes well, the subsequent line of blue dog food. For boy dogs. Genius).
Next week: Dee approaches Uncle Junior about having D’Andra put out of the way for good.