Shannon Beador Is My Spiritual Housewife, I’m Sorry In Advance

- Real Housewives of Orange County -
Shannon Beador Is My Spiritual Housewife, I’m Sorry In Advance

If I could ask one question to any fellow Bravoholic – by way of introduction and psychological exam – it would be this: “Who is your spiritual Housewife?” Not favorite per se, but I'd want to know the Housewife they connect to most, for better or worse. If the Housewives franchise was created as an ossified look behind the gates, a spiritual Housewife is its next generation reveal. It's less about understanding the hard cost of such a moneyed and aspirational life and more about relating to the gossamer essence of its inhabitants.

For me, my spiritual Housewife is Shannon Storms Beador. Yes. That’s right. Gird your loins and get nine lemons. I stan for Shan. (Don’t forget the bowl.)

I realize it might be a confusing choice to admit connecting to a woman who has so often introduced herself by way of apologetic shame, but Shannon is a mirror for some complicated aspects of myself that I otherwise struggle to accept: The ways I set my value according to an external, physical appraisal of my body specific to its size; the self-destructive streak I deploy when periods of deep frustration bubbling from within are finally released; my sense of immediate trust that is often invested in exactly the wrong person (perhaps because of that very choice, a need to prove my instinct about them wrong by making our relationship right); and, who are we kidding, a bit of frustrated anger when there are consequences for choices I chose to make (mostly because, much like Shan, I hadn’t actually thought them out).

The second Shannon stepped on screen, I was fascinated. Here was a tightly-wound woman obsessed with solving any number of deep emotional ailments with holistic medicine, green architecture, and feng shui. She was a wife constantly on edge, with a partner who seemed exhausted and disconnected from and by their life. She was a woman brimming with anger and misdirected pain, for whom vodka was an often necessary relief, even before her surprise vow renewal took place (an event at which one would think sober memories would be valued at their peak).

Shannon seemed like a person who felt perpetually misunderstood, and yet because she was also unable or unwilling to set boundaries and communicate honestly, she often trusted people who would exacerbate triggers. Which is to say, she never broke her own cycle.

The first two episodes of Season 16 have centered around Shannon’s somewhat bewildering choice to entrust gossip in two friends with whom she has a complicated history, Gina Kirschenheiter and Emily Simpson. Shannon made a decision off-camera to tell an otherwise united duo that Heather Dubrow’s plastic surgeon husband Terry Dubrow was once sued by one of Heather’s good friends and new cast member Nicole James.

And yet Shannon, seemingly sincerely, thought she could keep this highly-valued secret a secret after she told this secret to two cast members. Shannon told the secret about Nicole suing Terry mere hours before filming the first big group event of the season. It was a self-destructive choice by Shannon, who often instinctively counter-produces her own role on the show.

And Shannon's decision to loop Emily and Gina in was correctly intuited by the duo as friendship bait and switch; it was clearly a senior cast member trying to stir the plot. It wasn't actual concern or benign gossip that bonds.

And yet, through my own connection to Shan, I saw something else: I saw a woman yearning to connect. Not because she intended to spoil Heather’s party (with apologies to Nobu’s spoiled fish), but to feel like she was once again part of a team.

Typically, seasoned Housewives accrue power as their time on the show continues forward. And yet, Shannon seems to always scramble for the middle instead. If it’s possible for a Housewife to remain an underdog after eight seasons, then here Shannon is: an anxious woman not attempting to break out as a central figure, but rather, to unsteadily fit in.

Shannon can’t help but stand out, though, often because of opposing characteristics that set her apart. She's at points both goofy and reserved, someone who delights in giggling at her own sly humor, and on the other side of the coin, she's the creator of a health supplement brand, even though so many of her relationships and coping mechanisms have included a toxic core.

She's a woman focused on holistic medicine and has frequent appointments to her beloved healer Dr. Moon for a top-layer treatment as deeper wounds remain. The best remedy, acceptance, is second only to everything else.

One misplaced decision after the next, because she is doing herself no favors by staying in a cocoon, a perpetually frazzled party of one. Who among us hasn’t been that girl at a friend’s event, trying to cope with the fact that she always seems to end up alone?

And yet, with Shannon, she never truly is, because I see so many pieces of myself, and little remnants of shattered glass, in her. She's a mirror for my own mistakes. Shannon may not know who she is, but by watching her journey on Orange County, I have finally started to understand myself.

I see us, Shan. Tonight, and next week.

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