The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Lisa Vanderpump is an animal hoarder. There, I said it. You expect to see her on an episode of some A&E show with feces all over her home and a dead critter or two squished beneath a pile of old issues of Time and a bunch of junk she bought for a dollar in the bargain bin at Target. However, she does not.
The only thing that separates Lisa from a real animal hoarder is that she has immense wealth and an estate large enough for two miniature ponies, four white swans, two black swans, a colony of bees, a chicken coop, eight monkey butlers, and about 18 different dogs, including one that is treated like he is an actual human being who literally gets a seat at the table. She also can afford a team of people to clean up after them, feed them, care for them, brush them, pluck them, dress them up in matching outfits, and otherwise attend to them when Lisa has flitted on to some new creature or another.
That’s the thing about Lisa’s little Neverland Ranch menagerie; it is really just an ostentatious show of wealth. It’s like those bankers who live in Manhattan and have six children — it’s as much about telling people they can afford the room, board, and schooling for such a brood as much as it is about loving each and every one of those children. Even if it is only a subconscious motivation, I think it is a motivation that needs to be examined.
Speaking of which, all we do this week on the Real Lunchmeats of Boar’s Head Bay is examine everyone’s motivations. First, we watch everyone SoulCycle, which is the most basic thing I have ever seen the Housewives do. What makes it even more infuriating is that it was for charity, so I can’t even make fun of it or something horrible will happen, like my dog will get cancer or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend won’t get renewed for a second season. Everyone’s reaction to Soul, as it is affectionately known, reveals a lot about their characters. Kathryn is super competitive about it, Lisa is trying to weasel out of it, Kyle is entirely earnest about the whole endeavor, and Erika Jaynerardi, well, she is just whipping her hair back and forth like a woman in a French-cut leotard on top of a muscle car in a White Snake video. God, I love her.
After Soul (which is even more basic than spilling your Pumpkin Spice Latte on a pair of Tori Burch flats) everyone has lunch and, to be honest, I’m still trying to grasp exactly why Kyle and Yolanda have beef. I’ve watched it three times now and I still don’t understand how it all devolved. One thing I know for sure though, is that Kyle Richards starts everything. She’s the one who brings up Lisar to Yolanda at lunch. She’s the one who whispers to Lisa at lunch about Yolanda calling Lisar bipolar. She’s the one who starts the gossip session at Lisa’s house when they’re sitting in her gazebo sipping rosé. It’s always Kyle.
That said, Yolanda doesn’t behave too admirably at lunch. Ugh, how many times do I just have to say that they are all wrong? Kyle and Lisa were wrong whispering about Yolanda calling Lisar “bipolar.” Then, after she’s caught, Kyle tries to say that she was having a private conversation with Lisa. Um, a private conversation at a lunch with four other people, six cameras, and a cadre of producers looking at their clipboards on the sidewalk outside? Sure. Real private. That’s like screwing someone center court at a Lakers game and then getting pissed off when someone else looks at your boob.
Yolanda is a mess, and it is especially annoying that she keeps doing this thing where she’s like, “I could have called Lisar bipolar, but I didn’t.” Um, you just did. That’s like when an attorney in a rape trial calls the victim a slut, and then the judge sustains the objection so the jury is supposed to ignore it. They already heard it. The impression is made. It’s not going to go away. The problem with this strategy is that it’s all recrimination with none of the responsibilities.
The same thing is true for Yolanda to be all like, “I hold so many things in the vault, but I have more integrity than to say anything.” If you have so much integrity, why do you even have a vault in the first place? Now she’s just baiting people, trying to get them to think about the awful things she knows about Kyle that she won’t say. If she’s making accusations but not enumerating them, then that doesn’t show much integrity at all.
Kyle doesn’t have much integrity, either. Yolanda brings up Lisa talking about her kid’s health yet again, and the annoying thing is that Lisa was just answering a question that Kyle posed (need I remind you that she posed it repeatedly until Lisa was forced into an answer). Kyle just sits by while Yolanda takes on Lisa and never once says, “In Lisa’s defense, I’m the one who asked about your kids.” Lisa really is blameless here. I think Yolanda is really reaching to try to involve her in this whole debacle.
God, lunch was awful. But I don’t know what was worse, that or Lisar talking to Jenny “Give Them All Measels” McCarthy about how she and her husband have tried pegging. Now, if this was Kathryn talking about pegging her husband, Donnie, the last grape Popsicle on the hottest day of the summer, that would have been an entirely different conversation. However, it was not.
Yolanda sends Kyle an email about how mean Kyle was at lunch (and seriously, Kyle did take an overly defensive tone) and it is stupid. She could have just sent, like, 20 smiling poop emojis and called it a night. The kicker is the line, “Your lack of compassion is not a good look.” Here’s my problem with Yolanda this season: She is obviously ill, I don’t doubt that, but anytime someone tries to call her on some of her behavior, they’re not being sensitive to her sickness. I’m sorry, she can be ill and still act like a jerk. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. It was also really shady to CC all of the women on the email, but let’s be honest, Kyle would have forwarded that mofo as soon as she finished reading it and BCC’d everyone on her interchange with Yolanda anyway. This wasn’t going to stay private, so thinking that it has the pretense of privacy is sort of like, well, whispering to your friend at lunch in front of everyone. (Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone.)
Now I guess we have to change gears and talk about Kathryn and Erika’s boxing day. First of all, I would like to write homosexual slash fiction about the two boxing trainers who Erika hired so that the two of them could punch it out in private. I promise I will not, even in the last few paragraphs of this recap. But know that is what I am thinking about as I type and will be searching for boxing scenes on YouPorn as soon as I am done writing this.
Secondly, there is something about Kathryn that I am starting to find a little bit unsavory that I can’t quite put my finger on. I think it’s that she’s super competitive. Remember when she was at lunch and was like, “People ask me why I look so good and I tell them it’s HWB — Hard Work, Bitch.” I mean, seriously. Then, she shows off her Linda Hamilton arms to everyone and talks about how she could kick their asses like she was some kind of female assassin that got cut out of the Deadpool movie. Then, when Erika is like, “I have no lady friends,” she is like, “I’m going to be your first lady friend.” Kathryn sees everything in life as a challenge that she has to absolutely kill. She’s like a hedge-fund bro in yoga pants.
While they talk, Erika asks Kathryn what she thinks of Lisa Vanderpump and Erika has some very astute observations about Lisa. Erika says that she thinks Lisa is a “sniper from the side” and likes to manipulate things without getting her fingerprints on things. Lisa may not be the master manipulator that people make her out to be, but I do agree with Erika that she does like to get out from under things.
Since Kathryn is Erika’s only female friend, the first thing she does at Lisa’s wine bar dinner is bring up the fact that Erika warned her not to get caught in Lisa’s web. Yeah, that’s some friend. Erika wasn’t issuing a warning to Kathryn, she was just describing the way that Lisa acts around the women, which are two different things. Still, that’s no way to blow up Erika’s spot.
Eileen, always the most perceptive of the Housewives, correctly discerns that Erika got this impression from the way Lisa handled their little spat in the Hamptons. Remember that? Lisa was asking Eileen personal questions about how her relationship started with her now-husband when the two were already married to other people.
As they’re discussing this again, Lisa gets all mad that Eileen is bringing up old fights, but Eileen isn’t trying to argue about it again or even get an apology from Lisa. She is trying to draw her attention to a pattern of behavior that she had witnessed over the course of two years. Eileen is too damn smart. She’s not the Widow Armstrong, who has the intellect of a Peep you put in the microwave; she’s a real person with the emotional intelligence of Oprah Winfrey and the shower-sex-scene prowess of Shannon Tweed. She also handles the argument perfectly, sticking to her guns without really raising her voice.
Eileen says that Lisa “likes to gloss over uncomfortable things and just carry on.” To prove Eileen’s point, Lisa keeps trying to derail the discussion by charting the movements of the tiny ponies around her vast estate. “Thank God for the ponies,” Eileen says, with the venom of all the snakes in all the basements of all the Redditors on the /r/mensrights subreddit. I have never heard such a powerful insult that involved ponies.
People like to say that Lisa is a manipulator — and I agree — but I don’t think she’s some kind of mastermind, sitting up in her diamond-encrusted closet thinking about ways she can pit one Housewife against another like they’re the Starks and the Lannisters and she’s going to take over the Iron Throne. No. She just doesn’t like uncomfortable situations and she tries to diffuse them as quickly as possible and tries to shift the blame on other people. I don’t think her intent is malicious. I just think she is narcissistic enough to believe she never causes problems and won’t take responsibility for anything.
I feel bad for Eileen because she’s just trying to have an honest discussion and Lisa points her craggy finger that looks like Harry Potter’s little wand (no, not that wand) and says, “Are we good? Because we have to be real fucking good to move on.” Yes, Eileen is good. She knows the score. But if Lisa payed better attention to the game, she might actually learn a thing or two.
Inside the wine bar — which is just a tush-push away from the Shouting Pagoda that Lisa had erected on her property for loud dinners with her co-workers — hangs an amazing portrait of one of Lisa’s ancestors, Edith, the third Dutchess of Brixton, who lived in a proper castle on the English countryside. Before the Great War, she occupied her time with dog breeding (one of her prize-winners sat on her lap in the portrait), shooting, and sending letters to suitors who were hot both for her beauty and intellect, but also for the small fortune that would be used as her dowry.
Lisa had carted this painting around with her, all over the globe, to their houses in France and New York before Beverly Hills, and she put old Aunt Eddie in a subterranean bunker close to the wine, where Lisa thought she would be happiest. But there was something about her eyes. Something about the way Edith looked at her, with a bemused smile that could be read so many ways. She was like one of those yard-sale Jesus paintings that you look at from one side and he’s suffering on the cross and you look at it from another and he’s in heaven with his hands clutched before his sacred heart, emanating its peaceful magic across the entire world below.
Lisa was never sure which way she’s looking at it, or which way Edith was looking at her, but it always reminds her how far she’s come and how she hasn’t traveled far at all. This portrait is like a ghost, like all the nannies that raised her and all of the Benny Hill television specials she watched growing up. It’s a stiff upper lip and a stiffer gin and tonic. It’s an icy exterior that belies a warmth running through the center of her, like a hot spring that burbles up into the frosty mountains of Iceland. All Lisa knows is that, when she looks at it, she feels it looking back at her. It’s not just judging or sizing her up, but teleporting her, bringing her someplace like the cold tiles of the bathroom floor, someplace you don’t want to stoop down to, but you never want to leave.