Five episodes to watch while you drunk-dial your fiancé from an after-hours club.
Welcome back to The Essential…, where we propose five episodes that embody the perfect madness of one special Housewife. To quote the great Aretha Franklin, let’s go back let’s go back let’s go way on to way back when, because it’s time we celebrated this show’s original sin, the woman who just barely dodged the bullet of becoming Mrs. Jo Smiley. Early RHOC is waaack, but Jo is truly the one thing that salvages it (til S3, of course; then you’re on your fucking own). Behold: five beautiful, oughts-drenched moments of Slade-castrating Zen.
S01E04: “Talk, Talk, Talk”
In a continuation of one of the series’s most surreal storylines, Shane Keough is tasked with hunting the rabbits that have been overrunning Coto since the extermination of all the coyotes (allegory alert). Jo takes this opportunity to commence her alcohol-laced, Slade-spiting courtship of the young idiot, which in this installment concludes with her “jokingly” pointing Shane’s rabbit gun directly at Slade.
S01E06: “Shocking News”
Slade’s myriad frustrations with Jo come to a head at a dinner during which Jo sucks down a massive fishbowl drink in real time. Slade wants Jo to respect him by not going to random-ass Beverly Hills parties 24/7! Jo wonders why she should she have to stay home with the kids “when they’re not even my kids” (her words)! Jo winds up alone at the bar, sobbing, hammered, drunk-breakup-texting Slade. Is this really the same season that gives us Jeana attending minor league baseball games? you think.
S01E07: “The Finale”
The Smiley drama continues as Slade removes Jo’s (JSMILY) license plate from her car, she drives off anyway, and he immediately pursues her in a car chase, mowing down his own flowerbed in the process. Of course, they both want a Season 2 (and eventual spinoff, somehow), so it ends in a tearful reconciliation. God bless us, every one.
S02E06: “Studio, Jewelry, and Babies”
Jo’s much-vaunted recording career begins in earnest, as she attends her first studio session…at which she can’t adequately perform until Slade speeds up the freeway from Coto with her Starbucks. A seminal moment in both music history and the continuing degradation of Slade Smiley.
Jo and Slade see a couple’s therapist who lays the blame for their failed relationship entirely at Jo’s feet before essentially instructing Slade to dump her. Jo is surprisingly upset, though I imagine mainly in a “he dumped me?” sort of way, but uh I’m gonna refer you to seasons 5 through 8 of this very program to suggest that she’s better off. The postscript: Slade squanders the already-negative amount of sympathy he has by rolling up to the finale party with some Pussycat Dolls reject chick he clearly hired to attend with him.
S02E01: “The Housewives Are Back!”
Jo and her friend JJ visit the Playboy Mansion; Slade seethes; JJ tells Jo to leave him (again). Another enjoyably emasculating romp!
S02E02: “Be Nice to the New Girl”
Jo asks a psychic whether should she maaaybe…leave Slade and move to LA??? The psychic says yes; Slade overhears; see above. (While we’re here, incidentally, permit me to enter into the record JJ’s warning to Slade before the reading: “What if she tells ya bad things? Like that JoJo’s gonna move to LA with me? Would ya hit her?”)
S02E07: “Jo Jo the Housewife”
Slade and Jo are invited to the release party of The Dutchess (I told you this would be oughts-y), but oh no! Jo’s moving to LA that day. Wait, didn’t she tell Slade about moving to LA? Oooooops!
S03E11: “Here Comes the Bride”
Jo upstages the first 99% of the season by showing up late in the finale to flirt with Colton Keough in some sort of comedy-horror sequel.