The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
According to the Eileen Davidson Accord of 2013, all members of the Real Housewives Institute must wait five episodes before judging the character and behavior of a new cast member. Finally, that fifth episode has arrived. We can officially issue a decree on the personality of one Dorit Kemsley and this was the perfect episode in which to do it because she was the sole actor and driver of the narrative.
Ladies and gentlemen, as president and founder of the Real Housewives Institute, I officially declare in the year two thousand and seventeen of our Lord Andy Cohen that Dorit is awful. I also decree not to call her silly names like “Dorito” because we are smarter and cleverer than a bunch of Call of Duty–obsessed eighth-graders lisping through our retainers in the schoolyard. We are intelligent and articulate (and also vicious) people who will ascertain exactly what is wrong with her.
My diagnosis of Dorit is that she is a selfish narcissist, but that seems to be a prerequisite for casting on most of these types of reality shows. What makes Dorit awful is that she is simultaneously obsessed with coming across in a certain way for the public and also completely unaware of how her words and behavior will appear to most Americans watching this show. This is a common disorder among Real Housewives (see also: Camille Grammer in season one, before her canonization as St. Camille of Grammer).
This is the saddest thing about Dorit. She’s not even awful in her own unique way. At least baddies like Brandi Glanville, Danielle Staub, and Kelly Dodd are their own unique snowflakes of personality disorders and psychological pathology. Dorit is just a boring Housewife who is trying to do too much with what little she has, just like so many quickly fired Housewives before her. All ye mighty look upon Dorit and despair.
The best way to see this is by looking at her dinner party at her incredibly ugly home that looks like it was built out of cubes of California beach sand and then partially dissolved by the rising tide of poor taste and diminished fortunes. (Her and her husband’s money seems precarious at best.) First of all, this “dinner party” is happening in broad daylight, which is incredibly odd, even if it is happening on the longest day of the year. Secondly, Dorit claims that she only wants interesting and intelligent people at her gathering and the only standout is Elliot Mintz, Paris Hilton’s former publicist who speaks in fortune-cookie platitudes and Successories-poster catchphrases.
Dorit says, “I grew up middle-to-upper-class.” This is the perfect illustration of what I’m talking about. This may be a statement of fact, but that Dorit has no idea that real upper-class people would never say that makes her thirst transparent and also reveals that she is completely unaware of how she reads to society at large. She follows that up with, “I come from a long line of women that take a lot of pride in presenting and serving and hosting.” As I have said before, when it comes to Dorit, the patriarchy is coming from inside the house.
Finally, she says, “I am the type of person that wants to take it to another level.” Which level is that? By having eight vaguely interesting people sit around her outdoor furniture and eat contemporary California cuisine before the sun has even gone down? That’s a level even the Real Housewives of Orange County can reach. Where is your next level? When ready to sit down, Dorit announces, “My guests, shall we sit for dinner?” Dorit does not see them as people, but only through the lens of being her guests. They are nothing without her.
Even worse than Dorit, however, is her husband, PK, an anal fissure wearing a pair of camouflage Crocs. Dorit wants us all to believe that she lives this classy, exclusive life, and then her husband shouts across the room, “Darling, I’m digging that view,” to point out to everyone around that his wife has a nice ass and that he is a red-blooded heterosexual male who only values his wife for how she looks. Next he decides that he is going to tell Lisa Rinna how she feels and why she reacted the way she did in her fight with Lisa Vanderpump. Then he goes as far as to tell her what to do, as if she’s some kind of simpleton who even bothered asking his advice in the first place. This is mansplaining, plain and simple. Neither PK nor Dorit see it that way, which is part of what makes them so ordinarily awful. Lisar is trying to express her true emotions and PK is trying to reevaluate them into a narrative that works for him (and also benefits his friend Lisa Vanderpump).
The oddest bit of the whole conversation is how the couple reacts to Lisar’s revelation that Eileen’s mother passed away days before the reunion and she didn’t tell anyone about it. They think that was inappropriate behavior, but to figure out why, you have to dig kind of deep. They seem to think that Eileen would withhold that information in order to throw it back in the women’s faces at a later date. They imagine her saying, “You were so mean to me and my mother just died,” but no one knew that at the time. Yes, that would be unfair. However, Eileen didn’t do that. In fact, she has never brought it up or tried to use it as ammunition against the women. Like Lisar says, we should all be able to decide how much we disclose and Eileen has done that, wanting the women to treat her as they always would rather than treat her a bit more kindly because of her recent loss.
If we look at this even more deeply, it points to the mercenary quality possessed by both Dorit and PK, a puppy’s corpse floating in a puddle of Monster energy drink. They think Eileen would do this because that is what both of them would do, and they are projecting their behavior onto Eileen.
Eileen was correct to bring it up with Dorit when they had their aborted beach walk, because she doesn’t want Dorit thinking that her mother’s death influenced what was going on with her and Lisa. However, Dorit handles the situation all wrong. “I don’t remember that conversation at all!” she says, and then puts Eileen in the incredibly awkward situation of having to explain a conversation she heard second-hand from Lisar. I do believe that Dorit doesn’t remember this conversation at all because, as she points out, this conversation had nothing to do with her and is therefore deemed completely irrelevant.
Naturally, Dorit lacks the social grace and charm to carry off this situation in an appropriate way. Even if she did forget what they talked about, she could say, “I don’t remember that conversation, but it seems to me that you want me to know that your mother’s death had nothing to do with your fight with Lisa, and I think that, so we’re all good.” Dorit even could have followed that up with a bit of inquisition about Eileen’s side of the fight to try to bond with Eileen and understand the situation that she’s walking into. She does not. She is intent on making Eileen feel stupid and uncomfortable because, in that scenario, Dorit comes out on top.
She continues to bungle this conversation at lunch with St. Camille of Grammer. In fact, she gives off a horrible first impression to her hostess and continues to deteriorate relations with Erika Jayne, who already clearly hates Dorit. The worst is when Dorit questions Erika about her music career and says that because she deals with Boy George every day, she should know a lot about this industry. That’s sort of like a pilot’s wife saying she should be able to land a plane. Then she tries to explain to this table of women what being in your 40s is like. “Honey, you’ve been 40 a week” is Erika’s perfect retort, summing up how Dorit tries to be an expert in everything and should probably do more listening and far less talking.
But it is her treatment of Eileen that continues to ruffle feathers, particularly when she interrupts Eileen to finish her point with the classic CNN talking-head retort, “Let me finish.” Dorit obviously was brought in to shake things up and make this show about more than rich women doing things. She’s succeeding at that, but in a bland and annoying way that is bad for her. She’s trying to impose herself on the women rather than trying to be a part of them, which will end up leading to a lot of fights and a quick eviction for Dorit.
As I said before, no one knows this better than St. Camille of Grammer, whose shoulder-shrugging condescension made her a quick villain at the outset of this series. That fall was followed quickly by her redemption after her husband divorced her, she saw herself on television, and consulted one genius of a PR strategist. St. Camille is still the only Housewife to ever successfully rehab her image (partially at the expense of Taylor Armstrong) and then she ducked out before we could change our minds once again. Because of that, during this whole lunch, I wanted her to take Dorit aside and sit her down on a bench on the veranda of her new Malibu home. With the trees and houses and lemon groves and ocean in the background, St. Camille would just hold Dorit by her shoulders and stare into her eyes, their souls somehow connecting, their minds somehow melding like they shared an alien physiology that the rest of us could not understand.
Then, when their bond was firm, St. Camille would grab Dorit’s melon-sized head and hold it to her firm bosom, calming and delighting her, imparting all of her wisdom as if by osmosis, making her not just a better reality-television character, but a better person, one who understands how others feel and how her actions affect them. One who listens before she responds. One who knows not to wear metallic fabrics for her interstitial photo shoot. One who can let her soul float outside her body and get some perspective and then let it float further and further away, through the lemon-scented air, and reach over the soft shushing of the waves to find its way to forever.