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That’s a Little Bitch

This essay is part of Avidly’s “Too Real” series, guest edited by Carissa M. Harris: a series of short, vivid essays focusing on a single moment, scene, or episode from reality tv that has lodged itself in the writer’s soul and refused to leave.

For a person who avoids confrontation at all costs, there’s a certain electrifying satisfaction in seeing unapologetic confrontation play out. I sought out the Real Housewives franchises in March 2021, beginning with Real Housewives of Orange County (RHOC), which debuted in 2006. I have now watched all seasons of Orange County, New York, Atlanta, New Jersey, and Beverly Hills. And yet, it is Kelly Dodd, a person I abhor, whose scene I show to all my non-Housewives-watching friends when trying to lure them into my newly found fandom.

In The Real Housewives of Orange County Season 13, Episode 8, the Housewives and their husbands attend a party for Tamra Judge’s husband Eddie’s 45th birthday. Eddie has had multiple heart procedures in the preceding years, so logically Tamra buys him a red tophat and a red suit speckled with white hearts for the party, telling all the attendees to wear red, too. 

Kelly Dodd, draped in gleaming wine-red satin, confronts Vicki Gunvalson’s then-boyfriend Steve Lodge (in a red cowboy flannel, burnishing the down-home image he attempted to reprise in his recent unsuccessful run for governor of California) about stories he planted about her in Page Six. Steve feigns ignorance and uses fellow Househusband Shane Simpson’s unasked-for intervention as an opportunity to flee. Shane, who butts into the dispute for no apparent reason, wears a dorky red polo shirt that contrasts unsettlingly with his flushed facial sheen. 

Shane is no stranger to instigating petty disputes with Housewives (his own wife included) that smack of misogyny. In a prior episode, Shane yells, “Get her out of here!” down the stairs when Gina Kirschenheiter dares to speak loudly in the Simpsons’ home at 10:15pm, later saying, “Loud groups of women are not my cup of tea.” Emily defends (?) him by calling him “the king of snarkasm.” In the following season, Shane leaves his wife to care for their three children for days at a time under the guise of studying for the California bar exam. Emily did not much care for his snarkasm that year. Deliciously, Shane finally passed the exam in 2020 because the minimum passing score for the bar was, well, lowered. 

Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised, then, when Shane suggests Kelly is aggressive for confronting Steve and taunts her for being drunk. Kelly swivels around, launching a volley of rapid-fire insults at Shane: “You’re a fucking dork. That’s what you are. Loser. You’re a dork. You’re a dork…He’s a little twerp. You little pussy.” 

As if that weren’t enough, she then marches over to the tiled bar, telling Emily: “This little guy’s a little bitch over there.” 

Emily’s voice rises in pitch as she realizes Kelly is calling her husband a little bitch.

RHOC' Fans Take Sides In Kelly Dodd & Emily Simpson's Explosive Fight!

Kelly says, “You never introduced me to him!” 

The editors—God bless them—swoop in with the “Bravo wink:” a clip of Emily introducing Kelly to Shane with the chyron “30 minutes earlier.” 

Kelly proceeds to call Shane “a little peanut gallery” and, in a Beethoven-worthy crescendo, tells him, “You’re a little bitch, dude.” 

Shocked at Kelly’s gall, Emily says, “Kelly, that’s my husband!” 

Kelly factually retorts, “That’s a little bitch!”

See Kelly Dodd and Shane Simpson's RHOC Fight: Video | The Daily Dish

Although Emily gutturally roars, “I’ll fuckin’ kill you” while pointing a red-painted fingernail in Kelly’s face, “That’s a little bitch!” remains the unchallenged pinnacle of the episode. Rather than “he’s a little bitch” or “you’re a little bitch,” she spits out “that’s a little bitch” as if Shane is an ant beneath her shoe. The cruelly specific disdain is delicious. 

Kelly Dodd has absolutely no filter, no scruples, no restraint, and no moral compass. Nothing is more satisfying than Kelly’s pointed rage…when you agree with her. However, the Kelly who calls out bullshit with unmatched zeal is inseparable from the Kelly who screamed “I’M BLACK” on a reunion episode (she’s decidedly not); who suggested that COVID-19 was “God’s way of thinning the herd”; who is renowned for yelling “cunt” at various castmates during arguments. Kelly’s approach can be distilled into one word: “uncowed.” She remains uncowed and unbothered, even when she discovers she’s showered her friend’s husband with a dazzling array of emasculating insults (“loser,” “dork,” “twerp,” “pussy,” “little bitch”). She refuses to back down, standing by her assertion that Shane is a little bitch. It doesn’t matter who that little bitch is married to; the fact of the matter is unchanged, and Kelly stands firm in her assessment. Despite Kelly’s general abhorrence, this scene fulfills me on a primal level. Sometimes Shane is just a little bitch and needs to know it. 

Kristin Lacey is not a little bitch.

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