It’s a good thing I don’t have a fantasy football team comprised of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast members, because I would’ve lost my shirt last night. Or maybe a horse race is a better metaphor (Sorry — I’m not a sports person, and I couldn’t watch Luck if you paid me). But I will say that I was wrong to back Adrienne all season as breakout mensch cast member, because last night, Brandi ran past all the old nags and became filly of the year. The title winner! The prize Whore Horse. Congratulations, Brandi Glanville — if next week goes as planned, you will have officially won this season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. And with a late entry to the race and barely a minute on the clock!
Last night’s reunion special, the second of three installments, was worlds juicier than the first one, if only because of the addition of braless, vital, truth-telling Brandi, who instigated drama the moment she sashayed out and took her place on the Couch of Righteousness, next to Dame Vanderfabulous and St. Camille. Brandi’s very presence made Kyle twitch and wince involuntarily, if only because Richards is not used to being around women she realizes are more authentic and appealing than she is, not to mention attractive and limber. Remember: Kyle has the self-awareness of the titular sociopath in We Need to Talk About Kevin and the narcissism of a particularly deplorable Byzantine despot. So every time Kyle becomes aware of a formidable human being and the “competition centers” of her lizard brain fire up to say, “Hey! That woman is more charming than you are and she’s not being appropriately fawning to you or toward the Richards Empire,” her overdeveloped ego — something she no doubt fertilizes with the same Biotin supplement she uses to keep her hair at an age-inappropriate length — starts shooting sparks of anger that otherwise interfere with her logic and language. It’s actually really fascinating, and the net result helps make Brandi MVP of the season, if only because Glanville’s personality is the water that makes the Wicked Witch collapse and shrivel, Madonna-like, into the floor.
Brandi is also a blessing because she’s willing to call bullshit on Taylor. She is the only one this season, with the qualified exception of Camille, who has had the balls to do so, post-suicide. And the timing of Brandi’s assault couldn’t have had more of an impact. Did you guys watch Taylor on The View and the Today show plugging her book? Barbara Walters called her brave! Matt Lauer lowered his voice to reverent “I’m interviewing a real-life Precious” decibels! I won’t reprise any doubts around whether or not she was abused, but after watching her on this press junket, I can say for sure that her eyebrows certainly were. Yikes! But in all seriousness, if you’d like a well-researched and impressively documented account of the events in Taylor’s book and how certain accounts of her abuse conflict with the very public timeline of her life before Russell’s death, I strongly recommend you read this exposé by Diane Dimond, the author of this original account of the Armstrongs’ grifting in tandem.
Pursuant to the hunch that the Armstrongs worked as a team, Brandi had the nerve to mention last night that Taylor and Russell were not only in cahoots, but that, according to the late Mr. Armstrong, he had only sent Camille that threatening e-mail after being directed to do so by his wife. This is a revelation! Not in its suggestion (all of us on Shana-watch were hip to the idea of Taylor having dirty hands), but its mention on-camera was straight-up jaw dropping. Good for Brandi. It’s also just shocking to watch people tell the truth and be able to know right away when others are lying. And when Camille called Taylor out for lying about her séance/tea party Lisa shit-talk scheme, PLUS when Kyle tried to use against Brandi a reputation-slamming rumor about how she slashed Eddie Cibrian’s tires, how many of you guys cheered, as I did, when Camille and Brandi said, respectively, “Nope” and “Yup”? When you tell the truth and the other person stammers in your wake, you win. Somewhere in the shadow of that righteous and gorgeous blonde solidarity, I like to think that Kelsey Grammer and Eddie Cibrian both lost their erections.
So Camille had a gorgeous showing last night as well, not that she had anything to answer for. Her behavior, as Andy Cohen demonstrated in her clip reel and by comparing comments about her from last season to mentions of her from this one, has been impeccable and sublime. But kudos to Cohen for asking Grammer about whether she made a conscious decision to fix her reputation in between seasons. Camille’s white lie of “No, this is just me” is probably exactly in line with Dr. Howard Bragman’s orders.
And I hope that next week Kyle will have some further ‘splaining to do, since her appearance on these reunion specials has so far been defensive and peripheral. The idea that she didn’t stand up to Lisa in solidarity with Taylor during the tea [arty because she has too much sister-related drama in her life is something I’d lose my voice calling bullshit on, all day and night. Her vitriol-fueled explanation of the difference between sexy and slutty seemed to be some terrible monologue deleted from All About Eve because it had just made Bette Davis’s character seem sad. And the idea that she didn’t feel responsible for giving Brandi back her FUCKING CRUTCHES after her psychotic and substance-addled sister told them that she had HIDDEN THEM, was something out of a bizarre fairy tale starring only witches. And by the way, Kyle — I’m going to keep harping on the Crutches Thing the way gorgeous Gail Collins will never not mention Mitt Romney’s strapping the family dog to the roof of his car every chance she gets. Kyle, how dare you tell Brandi to “drop it” when she had the nerve to implicate you in your decision not to maybe just tell her where her crutches had been hidden by your insane sister! And when Kyle said “that was horrible” instead of “I’m sorry”? It’s not even the “I apologize if your feelings were hurt” non-apology that people who don’t really feel any regret are smart enough to belch out when they’re busted. It was just nasty, remorseless, defensive posturing and Kim-enabling on Kyle’s part.
In fact, when the topic of game night came up, Kyle’s admittance of her mean girl behavior only demonstrated remorse in relation to how she knew she came across to audiences at home. At first, you could tell Kyle was doggy-paddling toward redemption in a sea of her own tears by apologizing to Brandi from behind clenched teeth, but she meant none of it. Her shallow rationale that she was only cold and cliquey to Brandi from the get-go because she was new, and an outsider, is an insane bid for clemency. And yet, that’s all she wants!
Kyle’s desperation to be liked by audiences is irreconcilable with her inability to actually care about the people in her life she hurt! She doesn’t get that she shouldn’t be working on making it up to us — she has to make it up to Brandi. And bickering about the difference between hiding her crutches and abetting her sister’s prank of hiding her crutches, when all that poor girl wanted to do was leave, is not the road to redemption. Neither, for that matter, is pleading the bitch edit. Which, to be fair, Kyle hasn’t yet come outright and said “Bravo made me look like an asshole; I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” But when Andy Cohen asked if she was enabling her sister by not talking about her sister’s addiction on-camera, Kyle went down the “Well, you don’t see everything that happens in my life on the show” path, which, I can tell you from past reunions, is never a good thing to say out loud on these shows. Remember how Caroline Manzo shot down Danielle “Scarier than any of these bitches” Staub in the reunion for season one of RHOBJ? Quoth Manzo, in character as the Greek Chorus standing in the place of everyone watching: “Blaming editing is a cop-out.”
Whether or not it’s fair, Bravo viewers don’t want to know that we’re not getting the full picture. You don’t need to remind us that a reality show isn’t reality. We’re watching in order to escape ours. Every time a cast member breaks that fourth wall, it’s because she’s in trouble and she needs a trap door. But Kyle only dug herself in deeper with that “You don’t watch me shower” shtick. Because whether or not the cameras are on all the time, you need to use the time you DO have on-camera to convey that you’re the best kind of person possible. And she failed. She continues to fail! And I’d sooner read Taylor’s book than hers. At least Taylor’s book might end up with her getting sued by Russell’s family; the worst possible consequences of Kyle’s book is that nobody will ever care enough to even pick it up for a gag gift or a hate-read.
Finally, let me end where I started — around my loyalty to Adrienne throughout the entire season. Not to pull a Kyle, but I do think there’s something going on between Adrienne and Lisa that we’re not getting the big picture of, at least now. Adrienne has behaved herself beautifully this entire season, so why is she now sitting on the Couch of Darkness? And what was that “Adrienne’s been talking about you behind your back” remark to Lisa from Brandi and why was Adrienne giving Lisa fish-face scowl-y realness throughout this reunion? Why does she keep going back to minutia like Giggy drinking out of her crystal goblet and the Maloof Hoof garbage? Are the producers giving her the Alex McCord drama warning: “Stir some shit or you’re off the show”? Or did we not see the thing that caused the rift between those two, who used to be neighbor-friends? Is it really Palms-related?
Other break-out moments worthy of discussion from last night’s show include:
- Brandi having the balls to remind America that Taylor’s book is actually not about the thousands of women who die each year from domestic violence, but is, in fact, about her and her need to support herself in the aftermath of her and her husband’s well-documented trail causing financial ruin.
- Taylor’s literal interpretation of Brandi saying “I will kill you” to Kyle at Game Night. Give me a break, Taylor. We get that violence against women is a real thing that is unacceptable, and emotional abuse is very real and worthy of watching out for. But boiling down a harmless girl with a great body’s words to their dictionary meaning out of context never saved any women’s lives.
- Based on Kyle’s refusal to apologize for overreacting to Brandi’s comment about crystal meth, and the previews from next week’s sitdown with Kim (which CAN’T COME QUICKLY ENOUGH), are we to assume that saying out loud that some psychotic bitch is on some kind of speed is the worst thing you can ever do? Or that Brandi’s meth comment had to be taken literally? (See above.) The Richards were right to hoard those crutches, because now, they don’t have a leg to stand on.
- Whoa! How mad did Taylor get when Brandi told her that Russell had confided to her about his e-mail to Camille before he died? Taylor’s the only person allowed to put words in that corpse’s mouth!
- Kyle calling Brandi “Angry Spice” before ladling on the “Taylor is a single mom now, how dare you” and “She’s been through enough this year” stuff officially puts Kyle on Taylor’s emotional payroll. Talk about being manipulated, for twenty years or otherwise; Kyle must be exhausted from doing Shana’s dirty work on this reunion.
- So Kim doesn’t watch the show and “isn’t really into being on the show”? Then what else, besides Bacardi and pharmaceuticals, does she have to live for? Sobriety is going to be a tough road for Kim if she doesn’t take some kind of solace in seeing her own face on the picture box.
- That “Kyle is a c—” text that accidentally went to Kyle could have come from literally anybody who watches this show.
- Lisa fixing her earring while asking “Is slashing a tire really the worst thing you can do?” was pretty much the hottest bitch move of the reunion, second only to Brandi nonchalantly admitting that fuck yes, she slit those tires — she paid for them.
- What’s wrong with being a slut? Absolutely nothing. Kyle: Pick another angle if you want to assassinate Brandi’s character. This one isn’t sticking, and maybe it’s because Brandi has too much of it.
- Taylor being offended at what Giggy tweeted is the latest “Adrienne being offended at what Giggy tweeted.” Remember, America: Giggy is a dog with a fake Twitter account. Those are two grown women. Do we have to do a weigh-in?
- Lisa seems to have applied a layer of critical reasoning to her late-in-the-season warming to Taylor. Her veil of blind loyalty appears to have been replaced with a kind but vigilant gaze, and I think Lisa will figure out soon (if she hasn’t already) that her original defenses around Taylor were born of good intuition. I have a feeling, with Brandi and Camille’s couch counsel and her own British-bred brains (the likes of which Oklahomans have, apparently, never seen!), she’ll do just fine.
Did I miss anything worth commenting on? Please let me know! And I’ll see you guys on Friday, February 17, for my final RHOBH reunion recap this season.