Wednesday, February 24, 2010

RealHousewives Of Orange County: Queen Bees and WannaBees Applied Part 1 of 4: Vicki Gunvalson

The Real Housewives Of Orange County is one of my favorite shows.

I am a self admitted lover of dramatic reality TV, and while I do believe the shows are heavily edited and possibly even a bit scripted, they still offer a fascinating glimpse into the psychology of grown up party girls. These are women who are used to having high social value, some of them are high self esteem, other are low self esteem but have tons of sexual confidence. But no matter what, the ways they interact, talk to and about each other, and use reputations and gossip for revenge is fascinating from a social psychology standpoint.

Yesterday I posted 12 pages of notes from Rosalind Wiseman's Amazing book Queen Bees and Wannabees. I posted them in a rough fashion, because I figured it would be much more interesting to show you how these sorts of cliques, bullying, reputations, gossiping and more play out in "real" life. So I'll be taking a detailed look at every cast member of RHWOC and where they fit in the QB and WB heirarchy.

So today I wanted to start out the series with a look at Vicki Gunvalson.

Why Vicki?

It's certainly not because she's the hottest(Alexis), or the most interested in marketing herself and being a pseudo-celebrity(Gretchen), it's because Vicki is the most popular and wields the most social power.

Don't believe me?

Every episode of RHWOC features a poll where viewers text in votes, EVERY single time Vicki is in a confrontation with another housewife almost 70% of people side with Vicki. Plus as you can see from her blog Vicki Blog She has a lot of supporters in her 558 comments...

Vicki is also the Queen Bee because she utilizes the most tools of bullying. To put it mildly Vicki is a controlling bitch.

Let's look at the Definition of a Queen Bee Applied to Vicki:

The Queen Bee:

Friends do what they want- A constant thread on the show is the fighting between Vicki and Tamra's husband Simon. Why? According to Simon because his (soon to be ex) wife does everything Vicki tells her, and Vicki wants their relationship to be like hers. On the show you can consistently see Vicki getting Tamra to trash her husband as well as do other peer pressurey things.

She is not intimidated by other girls- Best demonstrated in last week's episode where Alexis brought up Vicki's verbal cutting and asked her if she really wanted to have that conversation to which Vicki replied " Bring it on."

She complains about other people copying her, never leaving her alone, or being too sensitive- Vicki consistently says she's just joking and the other girls are being too sensitive. This was best shown during a recent dinner party scene where all of the couples were discussing how they met. During Alexis and Jim's story Vicki and her husband Don both pretended to snore. Loudly. When confronted she said it was a joke and told Alexis to "lighten up."

When she’s hanging in a group she’s the center of attention- See the above story and Vicki's freak out when she scheduled a girls get away and the husbands came along unannounced.

She can argue everyone down, parents, teachers included- Vicki is pretty good at arguing considering she manages some 800 insurance agents and is constantly fighting with both male and female cast memebers...

She makes other girls feel special by anointing them special friends- Her and Tamra definitely have their own special BFF clique. They go out of their way to give Lynne a hard time during her first season, same with Gretchen.

She’s strategically affectionate- Vicki doles out the I love you's when she wants something, but in return she wants Tamra to swear that she's "got her back" and won't talk about her...

She won’t take responsibility when she hurts someone’s feelings- Vicki constantly dodges responsibility by alternately hiding behind the "Just Kidding" defense:

"Why just Joking is Never Funny:

When someone says something mean and then says “ Just kidding” they’re hurting you and then denying your right to be upset. This is supermanipulative. Worse, girls can then threaten to break up with their friends. Girls are forced to either bury their emotions to keep their friends or lose their friends."

Or she says manipulates facts about what she meant when she said other things entirely, as evidenced by her talking about how none of the other husbands besides Don had jobs and then saying she meant that Alexis didn't work (which is true). One thing's for sure, nothing is EVER Vicki's fault.

If she thinks she’s been wronged she feels she has the rights to seek revenge and will do so- Absolutely Vicki constantly talks about how she has to defend herself when she's really talking about revenge.

She's most well known for her verbal "Cutting" or mean teasing as it is defined in QBS and WBs

"Mean Teasing: Teasing is done to make you feel bad, insecure and embarrassed, you’re teased about something others know you feel insecure about, if you defend yourself you’re blown off for being “ too sensitive” or for “ not being able to take a joke.” If you tell them to stop, they tease you more."

Vicki constantly talks about how she is the only one of the girls that works, which while pretty much true still clearly falls into the area of something these women would be upset about. Especially with all the stories of Bankruptcy, Tax Liens, Divorces, and Death settlements between this group...

Vicki also has utilized power plays by avoiding the group in FT Lauderdale because the husbands had come along, she canceled plans and then made plans with another couple she knew thus creating a better offer situation for the other housewives who had come down to FT Lauderdale to hang out with Vicki.

All in All Vicki is the most typical/atypical type of Queen Bee of the cast. She personifies more of the characteristics than any other woman yet because of her looks she doesn't seem to be the center of attention of the show, even though she clearly is. Which of course is the Queen Bees biggest strength " She always gets what she wants, without looking like she's trying."

JS- The King Of Content


  1. At what point, upon meeting a "Vicki", should the pimp hand come into play?

  2. Anonymous9:35 AM

    Seriously? "a bit scripted"?? Really?? I understand that young girls can be naive to think it is not scripted. But come on how a man can be dumb enough to think it is just a bit scripted??? unbelievable. They are actors playing roles. Period.

  3. Anonymous10:32 AM

    ok... Next level post as always JS

    Having worked with and dated a lot of girls who have similar characteritics of Vicki my question would be:

    1. What kind of guy would be able to succesfully date and stand up to a girl like this. It would seem that teasing back would fall into her trap and she would then pull out of the teasing mode and make the person look spiteful for attacking her. Is the best tatic indifference?

    2. I also work in an environment taht is almost 70 percent female and see this behavior all the time. What is the best/most sociably acceptable way to deal a woman like this in the corporate environment? The behavior is so pro-activly manipulative that it would almost seem like attacking is the best option?

    Don't know. Love to hear your advice.

  4. Anonymous2:34 PM

    What the fuck? This manipulative shit makes me sick to my stomach. I hope I never have to marry someone who engages in that kind of behaviour. I want my girls to be nice and caring and positive and fun.

  5. Anonymous3:10 PM

    Just watched the show for the first time. How do these people have so much money? All BMWs, Mercades, awesome houses. I make a decent living, but I must have picked the wrong profession.