Last night’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills finally delivered the drama we’d been waiting for all season, and in the process, we even got to meet a life coach with prison tattoos named Gary.
The episode kicked off with a reprise of Brandi confronting a Sur waitress about the time she slept with her then-husband Eddie Cibrian. After that, Lisa commiserated with Brandi about precisely how slutty her employee truly is, based on her face alone. And indeed, Scheana (I spelled it out!) does have the kind of face that just looks WEIRD without a dick in her mouth. It’s like when you see somebody without their eyeglasses or after they shaved off a mustache they’ve worn for decades.
Then Kyle visited Yolanda in her lemon grove. Apparently, Kim was meant to show up at Yolanda’s villa as well so that the statuesque Nederlander could show her the ins and outs of the Master Cleanse, which is a thing where girls with eating disorders look like they’re carrying their own piss around in Poland Spring bottles for a week. Well, Kim didn’t show up, but Kyle did, so Yolanda stuttered about how healthful it is to poison your guts with lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup (that last ingredient always gave me pause — who’s behind this thing, Mrs. Butterworth?) instead of eating food.
Kyle told Yolanda never to trust her sister, a person who will seldom show up when she says she will. Kyle also mentioned Escape to Witch Mountain for the first time this season, for those keeping track. Later, she would boastfully mention having worked with James Brolin. Kyle is a sad, beet-and-goat-cheese fart of a woman.
And across town, Kim was trying to be present on Witch Mountain with the help of her aforementioned life coach, Gary. Gary said kind, vague things to Kim like “You’re doing well” and “I’m proud of you,” while Kim talked about how much she’d relish the chance to really bop her sister right in the face, maybe while Kyle was mid-“long-hair dance” at a soiree with a Middle Eastern theme. And sweet Gary, who seems like a black Dr. Phil with less hubris, ignored the cookies Kim baked while dutifully listening to the emotional bloodletting of a doll made out of a corn husk that has been left too long to bake in the cruel sun.
Meanwhile, Lisa came home after a long day of letting cameras film her running a restaurant for a show that she will use to promote another show, to find that her husband, Ken, claimed to have built a pink swing in their backyard, which he adorned with all manner of Pepto-hued embellishments. Lisa was taken by the gesture and swung in the air with the greatest of ease moments before Ken asked her to renew their vows. Lisa said, “All right, but let’s talk later about which show it will be for.”
And Kyle, meanwhile, planned a dinner at a restaurant where she claimed you could sit on the floor and grab your own bread from a wicker snake-charmer basket held by a guy in silly pants who barely comes around to feed you. “Sign us up!” said the girls, who ended up not sitting on the floor at all.
En route to the restaurant, Kyle picked up Marisa Zanuck, an aspiring Real Housewife with the face of Alex McCord and the fashion sense of Mrs. Roper. Oy, this one. I do not care for her. Still not sure why! But kadooze to her for bagging a hot piece. I said it! Mr. Z is hot biscuits.
Kyle and Marisa arrived at the restaurant, and Brandi soon followed. Brandi was wearing a red lip and looked glamorously delicious, but her crimson pout belied dark matters. You see, Adrienne and Paul sued her. Or they threatened to. Basically, Brandi explained, she had to hire an expensive lawyer and show up to some kind of “high noon showdown” meeting with the Malooves because of the thing she said at dinner that time that will not be named for fear of litigation, but which probably had to do with Adrienne’s surrogacy. Poor Brandi.
In two shimmies of a belly dancer’s coin scarf, Kyle’s dinner party soon became a clusterfuck. Taylor and Camille arrived and sat next to Brandi to form some kind of tow-headed skeleton coven, and Taylor immediately went from zero to shit-faced in the time it took me to wince at her outfit. I assume Taylor’s “Do we HAVE a waiter?” remark was left in to telegraph precisely how drunk a size-zero person can get on an empty stomach. Soon Taylor was crying and barking some bizarre, motivational/commiserative jibber jabber about how Brandi shouldn’t walk away from conflict but stand up to it, and how the job of single women is to be assertive. It was messy.
There was also belly dancing.
Camille didn’t go full-Club MTV on us, which was disappointing, but Kyle switched up her “PAY ATTENTION TO ME” dance moves, subbing in her “annoying hair flip and shake” for her “annoying fishy-face splits.” Around this time, Kim decided to tell Kyle that life’s too short to be mad at each other, but that she still resents her for how she’s not supportive. Kyle wore her best “trying to look concerned” face and was generally unsupportive. These two are both garbage, but at least Kim is trying. And I am totally on her side when it comes to not doing that stupid cleanse. You can’t put an addict on a regimen of disordered eating, however temporary, and Yolanda and Kyle were pig-headed in demanding an explanation from her as to why.
Meanwhile, Yolanda criticized the restaurant for not being authentically Middle Eastern and mentioned casually that her husband hadn’t joined them because he was working with Barbra Streisand that night. It’s almost as though Yolanda hasn’t figured out that acting like you’re above your cast members isn’t adorable and endearing to an audience?
One thing bled into the other at the dinner. As food was ignored, Taylor talked about how she can’t date yet because it feels like she’s cheating on her dead husband. And Camille used the unfortunate word choice of gun-shy when describing how Taylor, a widow to a suicide victim, likely felt. There was also a “sad” story about how now Taylor’s daughter doesn’t have her own plane, but mostly, we were treated to an unhinged, wine-fueled ramble from the widow Armstrong. And after Taylor told Camille that she’d settled her lawsuit, Brandi chimed in with the fact that she was just entering into one.
This became the talk of the room, but the ladies — and Ken and Mauricio — split up to discuss it in their respective cliques. Lisa and Ken did a valiant job of defending their friend Brandi, and Yolanda and Mauricio both expressed the belief that if Brandi were to call Adrienne, the attorney’s letter would vanish.
Lisa chimed in to point out the hypocrisy of last season’s Adrienne being all “friends don’t sue friends” around the time that the Malooves got a letter from Taylor and Russell’s lawyer threatening to take them to court if they continued to leak news about their abusive marriage to tabloids. And while Taylor seconded that notion, Mauricio gathered douche fuel. He sat reclined in a T-shirt under a blazer with frayed jeans and a casualness only known to the frattiest jerk you watch Bravo just to avoid. Mauricio couldn’t wait to tell Brandi how badly she deserved her fate. He told her that the spirit in which she meant the thing she had said about Adrienne doomed her. He said that he’d been sent “plenty” of lawyer’s letters (BTW, Mauricio — why are you bragging about that?) and how, once he picks up the phone, they go away. Brandi explained that, according to the letter she received, she was not to contact Paul nor Adrienne. Mauricio was steadfast in his dissonance. Kyle shrunk like a turtle to second her beau. “I don’t want any of this,” she muttered, with cowardice. There was hummus, I think.
Then, Taylor brought up her personal experience with her late husband in order to compare it to the matter of Adrienne being lawsuit-happy. Taylor said Adrienne’s accusations were more serious and were grounded in something beyond her control. That’s when Kim dropped in out of nowhere to say to Taylor, “You had a choice, you could have left him.” Whoa! Kim weighing in on the culpability of an ambiguous adversary was a clusterfuck Easter egg. Say it with me: “SHUT UP, KIM!”
Meanwhile, Ken defended Brandi against Mauricio’s attempt at branding her with the scarlet letter G for gossiper, while Camille did her best to validate the parts of Taylor’s speech she could understand. “We don’t have the extra emotional support that married women have, so we need to be strong” is a phrase that I believe was used.
Oh! And Mauricio said the following extremely feminist thing about his daughters: “They have amazing brains.” Please tell me this line will be uttered by Ron Burgundy in the Anchorman sequel.
As things heated up between Ken and Mauricio about whether or not Brandi should try calling Adrienne and Paul despite the admonitions of lawyers on either side, Kim once more decided to stick her (rhinoplasty-enhanced, based on her profile on Watch What Happens Live!) nose into the proceedings. “Actually, this is not the first time that Brandi has made … ” she began, then rephrased: "I have said some things about me that are untrue.” Kim was referencing the incident in which Brandi accused her of doing crystal meth, but Kim was also, in doing so, withholding the grace necessary to forgive someone she claimed to have done after Brandi apologized. Brandi, to the credit of her quick wit, replied that what she had said at the time about the meth wasn’t “untrue, merely incorrect,” a phrase that confused Kim but which meant: “Just because I may not have pinned down exactly what you were fucked up on doesn’t mean you weren’t fucked up.”
This statement flummoxed Kim, who bleated, exasperatedly, “You just don’t throw things out about people.”
Which brings me to my latest understanding of who Kim Richards is as a person.
Kim Richards has been dealt a bad hand. She was born into a family with values I personally find reprehensible — that is, a show-business clan that valued looks and fame as a means of getting by in a world that holds only fleeting opportunities for the possessors of both. She has neither the critical intellect nor the emotional intelligence to high-function as an adult, and I fear that her recovery has been compromised by her inability to make amends to those she’s hurt — to truly take responsibility for that which she CAN control. Not to get too AA on your asses, but I read a lot about addiction, and I know not to judge a person just because she has a disease. But there’s an expression in AA (You don’t say! Are there acronyms, too?) that goes as follows: You’re only as sick as your secrets.
One of the many reasons why Kim Richards is as sick as she is has to do with the fact that she hoards secrets the way the Collyer Brothers held onto old newspapers. To her, the offense often pales to the disclosure of the deed. In other words, it was worse that Brandi said on-camera that Kim was doing crystal meth than it was the fact that Brandi could have very well been onto something. It was more malicious of Brandi to have outed a secret of Adrienne’s — however potentially negligible — than it was for Adrienne to have overreacted litigiously. And in the case of the Kyle/Kim blowout in the season-one finale, Kyle’s on-camera declaration of her sister’s alcoholism was, Kim knew, the Nagasaki to her Hiroshima — the biggest bombshell she could deliver in response to the “You stole my house!” comment; a secret that had eaten away at Kim since it had happened.
And this is why I love this show. Sure, we can talk about Kim’s breasts in that gown and how much Adrienne Maloof looks more and more each week like an H.R. Pufnstuf creation, and we’ll all share giggles at women more glamorous and wealthy than we are by tittering about their appearances. But if you want to spear the heart of the schadenfreude-fueled beast that is our addiction to these shows, you’ll look behind the weary eyes. Behind those false lashes and that thick liner and expert-applied shimmer shadow. Inside these women lies a reservoir of damaged darkness. And I, for one, am delighted that this show has come back from an extended lag to cast its exquisite shadow on our souls once more.