The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Season 5 Premiere Recap: What Would Lisa Do?

Photo: Bravo
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Episode Title
Guess Who’s Coming to the White Party
Editor’s Rating

Hello, ladies and gentlemen who like gentlemen. Welcome, welcome to the Real Housewives Institute. I am your senior vice-president of cultural studies, Dame Brian Moylan. We have a very special treat for you today: a 60-minute video all about one of the biggest and most important backyard parties in all of California, the White Party. No, it was not named after the gay circuit party in Palm Springs, thought it features just as many gays with Botox and possibly even more inappropriately small articles of clothing. It was actually named after the Republican Party. Ha-ha. Just joking. That was just my little funny.

The White Party is a decades-old institution started by Kyle Richards in the basketball court behind her house. Initially, it would just be a few of her drunk homosexual friends who would stumble over after too many mimosas during Sunday Funday, and they would play Cee-Cee Peniston on the boom box and dance around the basketball court while Kyle’s neighbors looked o,n shaking their heads as their hoses sputtered streams of water into arid bushes.

But these days, it is a huge event. There are hundreds of people coming. There is a Fatburger truck. There are lights and a DJ and a girl in a bikini writhing around in an inflatable ball in a pool and, in deference to the long history of sea creatures in Beverly Hills, there is a mermaid. While there was no White Party in 2012 for logistical reasons (mainly that Bravo did not fund it), this year’s was an especially exciting event.

What made this White Party so unique? Well, it featured all of the old Real Housewives returned from the dead to visit the living. St. Camille of Grammer came down from Mt. Olympus riding a white steed with her long flaxen hair flowing behind her and 171 ceremonial doves carrying the train of her resplendent dress. Adrienne, the queen of the Maloofs, a race of mole people that live under a mountain, came up from her earthen kingdom with her child bride, the 25-year-old heir to a brewery fortune. The bards have written many accounts of his beauty. And there was Taylor Armstrong, who came from, heck, I don’t know where Taylor Armstrong lives. Probably the wet woods behind a middle school somewhere that is supposedly the birthplace of the Slender Man.

All of these women were back to pay their respects to the current Housewives and, in reciprocation, all the current Housewives lit votives to their memory and heaped compliments upon them. The alumnae caught them up with their comings and goings, their benign rulings and their malevolent tumult. For a minute we were all happy, looking on them once again and remembering the good-old times, when the darkness used to burble up from underneath the glittery surface of their lives, before the aggression and discord so overt, right there on the surface. Everything was better back them. Well, except for Yolanda’s hair. That looks much better now.

The thing that was missing from this little reunion was Brandi. Oh, you thought I was going to say Carlton and Joyce, the unused side of a Q-tip lying in a Four Seasons bathroom trashcan, but we don’t miss them at all, do we? No, we do not. Brandi wasn’t able to join in on the fun because, well, she’s just about pissed off everyone on the whole damn show.

I used to love Brandi, but there’s just something about her I can’t stand anymore. It’s like she always has to be the victim somehow. At the White Party she said, and I paraphrase, “Everyone is ignoring me. It’s just like when I first met these women and they were mean to me.” Okay, it is not. The first time, these women were actually really mean to her for no reason other than she was new and they were threatened. That was actually pretty awful. This time, they left her out of their little MTV’s The Grind reunion on the dance floor because she has had altercations with every single one of those women. Since her initial spats with the group, she has fought with Lisa, Kyle, Kim, Adrienne, and Joyce, the extra set of buttons that comes with a skirt that you throw away when you take the tags off. Everyone is gun-shy about talking to Brandi because she is crazy and she is mean, and then she plays it off like they’re the ones that are wrong.

Brandi also did the Housewives party trick that I hate the most. They walk up to someone who is talking to a group of people and say, “Can I have a conversation with you alone?” The answer to that should always be no. That is like if Courtney Love pulled over in her limo and asked, “Do you want to go for a joyride?” You should just say no! Sure, you are going to have a good story to tell at cocktail parties for a decade, but you could probably lose your life, definitely lose your sanity, and maybe be around some hard drugs whose street names you don’t even recognize. Anyway, Adrienne and Brandi go off and decided that they’re going to try to patch things up. Great. Good. Best of luck. I don’t really care.

That’s the problem with Brandi: She thinks that she can say awful things, call people out, and then say she’s sorry. That’s not how this works. A simple "sorry" does not wash everything away like some sort of verbal colonic. She’s not a 6-year-old who hit her brother with a stick. She is a grown woman who really hurt people’s feelings and caused some major trouble in some of these people’s lives. And they’re just supposed to shrug and say they’re over it? Or they’re supposed to let her in on all the fun and remember what a good time she can be? No. They’re wary. They put their hand on that oven one too many times, and now they’ve stopped cooking. They’re all ordering pad Thai off Seamless. Sorry, Brandi. Delivery is easier.

Brandi wasn’t the only one who was on some kind of attrition tour at the White Party. Lisa had a lot of making up to do as well. The thing is, I don’t even remember what Lisa did. I don’t remember why everyone is mad at Lisa. They’re all grumbling about her, saying that she has a really hard time saying that she was wrong, but what she was wrong about? Why are all these women so upset? Is she supposed to apologize for the ratings success of reality-television mushroom cloud Vanderpump Rules? Is this still that silly thing about whether she maybe might have told Brandi to bring along some tabloids on vacation? It can’t be that. God, I can’t remember.

Kyle has lunch with Lisa so that they can forgive each other, and Kyle says, “What happened happened. Let’s just move past this.” First of all, what the hell happened? Not one single person on the entire episode was able to articulate it, and they’re all looking for Lisa to apologize. What the hell is she supposed to apologize for? The only one who made it explicit was Yolanda, who said, “I was sick and I wanted you there more.” Everyone else has just vague misgivings about Lisa. Whose side are we supposed to be on? (I’m #TeamLisa.)

Second, Kyle does not want to move past it. Lisa was totally right about that. Kyle says, “Let’s move forward, let’s never talk about it again,” but meanwhile, the whole conversation is about Lisa’s mystery slight and how Kyle is so upset about it. Is she really over it? I don’t think so. I feel like Kyle just stockpiles ammunition against people, and when the time is right, she just blows the whole powder keg she’s been storing up in that mental armory of hers and dredges up all the past infringements against her she has enumerated in her little black book of misdeeds. She does it to Kim (RIP? Where the hell was Kim?) all the time.

Enough about all these old people and their intractable squabbles; we have a new Housewife, and it is none other than Lisa Rinna. I am going to take a moment and question Lisa Rinna’s motives for even being on this show. WTF was with Lisa Rinna on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? She obviously does not need the money like Kim Richards or Brandi. She doesn’t really need the fame like every succubus on Orange County. She doesn’t really have a book or a line of liquor or a fabric store on the Lower East Side. Why is Lisa Rinna here? Does she just need that much attention and validation? Did one of Andy Cohen’s researchers dig up something super dark from the Deep Web while trying to find old footage of her for a Watch What Happens Live appearance? Does Andy know where the bodies are buried? What? Why? So many questions.  

But — and this might be early to say it, but I’m going on record now — I’m not going to say anything bad about Lisa Rinna. If only in deference to my old favorite show Melrose Place, I have no bad things to say about her. Yes, her lips are ridiculous. Yes her highlights are like the yellow lines down the center of a forgotten highway. Yes, she uses her daughters' middle names when talking about them even though they are 13 and 16 years old, not 13 and 16 months old (seriously, what is the statute of limitations on using middle names?). But Lisa Rinna is kind of awesome.

It seems like Lisa already knows all of these women, which is a refreshing change of pace from how women arrive on the show and have to spend a few episodes making the rounds and supplicating themselves before the older concubines of their lord and master Andy Cohen. Starting with episode one, she’s just in the mix, being normal, having a good time. Lisa Rinna seems like the kind of lady who will laugh at the joke of herself before you can make it at her, which I think is a wonderful quality.

Lisa Rinna showed up to the White Party with her husband Harry Hamlin, who seems like a honey-glazed ham of a person, even though they had the Mad Men wrap party that night. (Lisa Rinna was not comfortable with where Vincent Kartheiser put his hands the last Mad Men party they went to, so she was really looking for any excuse to cut it short.) But there she was in Kyle’s backyard letting the blue lights make everyone look like the bedspread in a hotel when you hold a black light up to it. Everyone looked like every episode of CSI in that backyard, and the neighbors still watered their plants and shook their heads wondering just what the big deal was, who all these people were, and just when the house music was going to end so that they could watch The Good Wife on DVR and get a good night’s rest.

Around 11, St. Camille of Grammer decided that she had paid her dues to this party and climbed back in her limo — white, of course — and let it drive her back to whatever Zen ranch she calls home these days. She closed the limo door and the car started to roll down that quiet cul-de-sac that had been transformed into a nightclub for the evening, the streets glutted with sports cars, Mercedes, and the occasional hybrid. Camille took of her earrings and plopped them into her ludicrously small clutch. She stared out the window at the lawns going by, their green unreal even in the simmering darkness, even through the tint of the windows that transposes a rain cloud on everything you see from the back of the limo.

She let out a deep breath thinking about how much fun that was, to be with the old girls again, laughing and dishing and catching up. She thought about the cameras with their klieg lights and burly men waving them around in their faces. They’re not like a drug, exactly, but more like a black hole, sucking you in and transfixing her with energy, with a vibration that she finds difficult to process, a rush of hormones that is intoxicating, though it leaves her shaky. She kicked off her shoes and curled her slender legs up underneath herself and got comfortable in the contours of the limo seat. She wondered about who lived in all the houses the car ambled past on its trip toward the freeway. She wondered if they knew there was a party tonight with famous people. She wondered if they wanted to be there, if they were happy in their quiet lives or if they felt some kind of inherent lack, like a decayed tooth that lost its filling. She wondered if they cared about the cameras. She looked out on the rows and rows of houses hidden in the hills and she didn’t care about them anymore — the cameras, not the people, but maybe a little of both. She was glad, for a change, that she was riding in a limo alone.