It's the most wonderful time of year, you guys — the time when Brian Moylan takes a break from recapping the Real Housewives to go gallivanting around the globe, and I get to share my thoughts on the latest from the ladies who lunch.
Like my fairy godfather Brian before me, I am distinctly unenamored with new Housewife Erika Girardi. She doesn't do anything especially egregious in this episode, but I want to start out by talking about how much she bugs me because I'm scared my actual reactions will devolve into a Lisa Rinna bashing session. I don't want to go there. I love Lisa Rinna … but she wasn't at her best tonight.
Anyway, Erika may very well have been at her best tonight, but her best is still pretty freaking crappy. If I hear her refer to herself in the third person one more time — using her "music business" name, Erika Jayne — I'm going to find a track of her unsweetened vocals and go full-court press. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about Erika's music as far as Real Housewife records go, but somehow, the contrived setups of bogus photo shoots and costume fittings that seem quaintly charming on Melissa Gorga or Kim Zolciak just don't fly in Beverly Hills. L.A. is the heart of the global entertainment industry, so a feeble Housewife music charade comes across decidedly tone-deaf. Lounging on a chaise in a robe well past noon, Erika assures us she's just as busy as her lawyer husband Tom, then rambles on this ridiculous point that there's some kind of career balance in their marriage.
Like I said, she doesn't do anything wrong, but there's no love lost between Erika and me. It's a welcome shift away from catsuits and blurred-for-basic-cable nipples, when we catch up with Eileen having lunch with Vince, juxtaposed with Lisa Rinna's lunch with her daughters. It's all very civilized: dry white wine and iced tea and halibut and Moroccan chicken and Dijon and kale and the Il Tram chopped salad. This is L.A. life at its most civilized, a far cry from the rats that run over my feet in the Rockefeller Center food court.
Civilized is a good word for Lisa Rinna. Part of what I love about her is how civilized she remains in times of drama. Lisa R. keeps her cool and stays cordial, adult, sane. It's this polished veneer, though, that ultimately makes her less relatable. Her confessionals exhibit such a fluffy, glossy, showbiz sheen that they play more like empty small talk than intimate moments with the audience. I guess, like anything else, being Lisa Rinna has its pros and cons. You've got to hand it to her when she claims that her QVC ventures are set apart from other actresses' because she actually knows what she's doing. It's hard not to believe it, she just seems made for QVC.
Coverage of Eileen and Lisa R.'s domestic lives segues into Kyle's ear-piercing field trip with her daughters, which includes a somewhat disturbing flashback to her daughter Sophia's previous ear-piercing experience, when she cried like a baby. The actual baby in the family, Portia, also has great fear of needles — or whatever you call those staple-y things that fine Beverly Hills jewelers use to pierce ears — but real feelings are merely a jumping-off point for Portia, the pint-size drama queen.
Kyle explains that Portia has had a flair for the theatrical since birth, so she's finally giving in to Portia's wish to take up acting, although there seems to be a bit of the pushy stage-mother in Kyle. During Portia's acting lesson, she yells out from the sidelines, offering useless pointers like, "Don't laugh!" when Portia's not even laughing, and "Do your British accent!" when Portia is already doing a British accent. It's not really clear what instigated the acting lessons, but based on the way Portia carries on about her ear piercing — she fans her heart like a old genteel southern lady — I'd say the kid's got talent!
Speaking of prized ponies, Lisa Vanderpump finally succeeds in securing the miniature horse she wants to get Ken for his birthday — although why this is her idea of a good gift is totally beyond me. Anyway, Lisa V. manages to come up with two tiny horsies, courtesy of her friends Tina and Hank (who, pulling up in their utility vehicle full of hay, don't seem like Vanderpeeps). I was thinking this has to be one of the all-time dumber Real Housewives subplots and wondering whether the whole thing was just a ruse for Lisa V. to work in a "Maloof hoof" reference, but then I did a little casual Googling and learned that these "Little America Mini" horses are all the rage in Beverly Hills. Hmm. Let's just move on.
Then the episode's big subplot arrives in the form of Lisa Rinna's theory that Yolanda is suffering from Munchausen syndrome, the definition of which she has conveniently pulled up on her phone ready to share at Ken's other birthday party. (It's the one he's not invited to.) The ladies are all atwitter — although not yet tweeting — that Yolanda's symptoms may be psychosomatic. They don't "get" why Yolanda posts some Instagram photos that depict her dark existence in hospital beds and medical machines, tubes flying akimbo, but also posts some Instagram photos showing the lighter side of her life, like yachting with David on a serene lake in Canada.
What is Lisa Rinna's problem? Yolanda is allowed to share the full gamut of her experiences on social media. Maybe the darker posts will draw attention to her suffering and help advance the quest for treatment, or maybe they'll just be a source of comfort to those who may be feeling alone in their own struggle. Maybe Yolanda's happier posts will teach people that there is life after Lyme disease, or whatever she actually has.
Lisa Rinna tries to play the innocent nice-guy card, that she hates to discuss this, but people keep asking her about it, and she feels so awful because she doesn't know what to say. Poor thing. That's almost as bad as Lyme disease, or whatever it is.
Look, I'm the first person to call Yolanda crazy. But if she's not really sick, then she's gone to quite a lot of trouble to seem like it. If she's willing to live her life under all that duress, then far be it from me or anyone to second-guess the validity of her illness. I mean, for God's sake, Yolanda even opens up to the camera about the toll its taken on her marriage, going so far as to hint at a possible divorce. ("We're either going to all get through it together or we're not.") On this issue, I'm standing firmly with that great bastion of maturity and class, Kyle Richards, who says of Lisa Rinna's gossip-mongering, "Now may be a good time to keep those big lips closed."