"The Real Housewives of Orange County is officially back for season 15, sans a few of its longest running stars, and it is truly worse than ever," says Joan Summers. "What began as a show about the utterly petty squabbles of suburban stay-at-home moms and insurance saleswomen soon evolved into a network-defining cornerstone, birthing countless spinoffs and revolutionizing the reality television industry in the process. 15 years later, it is still a show about petty suburbanites, but with an extra sprinkle of coronavirus denial and Trumpism. I did not think that The Real Housewives of Orange County would become more unwatchable without Republican furies Vicki Gunvalson or Tamra Judge, who were axed earlier this year after a tumultuous last season. The season 15 premiere, shockingly, proved there is still quite a ways to fall before this show hits the absolute rock bottom of hell itself. Filming began in January, right at the precipice of the pandemic, when reports out of China detailed a new virus that was causing pneumonia-like symptoms in the Wuhan province. The specter of those reports looms large over the first episode, as cast members breeze about Newport Beach, California, without a mask in sight or a care in the world. More than anything, I found it hard to reckon with just how fast everything spiraled, with statewide lockdowns, mass unemployement, and protests soon to follow. But let me put a pin in that, briefly."