The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Well, it’s official! We can now pinpoint the exact moment when season two of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills morphed into the series Intervention. Of course, I’m talking about the scene in the hotel bathroom when Kim was scrambling on the floor for … we have no idea. It doesn’t matter. It’s not our job to empathize with a wounded soul or to project our sober thoughts onto those of a sick mind’s. But come on, guys. When Kim moved the shower curtain aside to stare at that shampoo bottle, then muttered, “I need to take my medicine” to her beleaguered beloved, Rock Biter Ken? That was a prelude to some Ken Seeley–moderated, Kim-has-agreed-to-be-a-part-of-a-documentary-about-addiction, “Your addiction has affected me negatively in the following ways” A&E shit. Even the music changed! Rewind your DVRs and listen to the anxious, plodding score they used under Kim’s hotel bathroom scene. It sounds like Intervention music, but without the soothing outro song underneath the addict’s update.
But there’s no need to dive right into that Requiem for a Dream–sequence in what I’m sure is the smallest hotel room available in California that does not charge by the hour. Let’s back up.
This week’s episode took place very far from Hawaii, in anticipation of the opening of Lisa Vanderpump’s extremely classy-looking restaurant, SUR. Which I thought was a word, but turns out to be an acronym for “Sexy Unique Restaurant.” Fine. Look, it worked for T.G.I. Friday’s and, to some extent, KFC. At the top of the show, Kyle’s daughter Farah, because she is under contract, had to phonily wonder to her mom, “Are you going to approach Kim, or will you wait for her to come to you?” I’m paraphrasing, but can you imagine a teenage girl ever asking her mom questions about her game plan when it comes to confronting her aunt? I’m just saying, using teenage daughters as pimps for your exposition shouldn’t be considered abuse, but it should also be considered revolting and uncomfortable.
Soon after that, in Kim-Land, we got to meet Thierry, another put-upon, low-status peon in this nightmarish universe. Thierry is Kim’s makeup artist, and his job is to show up in tiny, methy-looking hotel rooms and apply powder to the pinched, ghost face of his addiction-saddled client after enduring bizarre “Kim jokes,” like “look at this lip gloss — it’s really a vibrator!” and “Isn’t it funny that my boyfriend brought me a Sprite without ice?” Thierry, to his credit, is either a very loyal person, or somebody grotesquely desperate to be on television. But that peek into Kim and Ken’s “home life,” or their life in a hotel room that, I’m not exaggerating, would be “a bit much” if it were a movie set somebody designed to look like the narcotic-strewn nest of two feral burnouts, was heavy-duty business. Kim openly complained about her gravelly beau to her attending Frenchman, and Ken Rock Biter did his best to keep his characteristically soft-spoken but also totally weird personality under wraps. But you could tell he was close to the end of his rope when it came to his mean, insane girlfriend. And it was around this time when Kim sort of morphed into a pockmarked, withered version of the bird from the movie Up — she began bark-yapping in that shrill, beaky way about how, if she wants pepperoni pizza, Ken will order ham. And so on. It was a true and pure nightmare, and I could actually feel my skin become clammy and scaly at the mere visual suggestion of what it would be like to actually be in that awful room — especially once Ken took his much-hyped shower and it got all steamy? Shudders.
Soon after that, we were at the SUR party, and Lisa wore a dress straight out of the Jon-Benet for American Girl Place Spring Collection, but at least it wasn’t too tight in the gunt region. And Brandi wore a bandage dress her breasts heaved out of and basically rubbed her vagina all over every breathing man in a 40 foot radius of her legs and anus. And there was a mildly funny interaction between Lisa and the Malooves’ chef, whom Paul has been slowly altering, surgically, so he can look more like him. Remember how that chef hates Lisa? Well, Lisa had no idea who he was, so — ha-ha! That’s funny, not only because one-sided vitriol is positively ticklish in its unbalance, but because we are living in an age and society in which servants mingle socially with their masters and masters’ compatriots! If Maggie Smith’s character from Downton Abbey could get a load of this premise, she’d only stop laughing for the amount of time it would take her to vomit blood into one of her giant hats.
Soon it became apparent that the SUR launch was packed to its hilt with every known person who had no business whatsoever being there. And not just all of those stone Buddhas, whose very presence spat in the face of Zen minimalism! I mean, at least twelve to fourteen of Lisa’s waitresses had, at one point, fucked Brandi’s ex-husband, and the one Brandi recognized got either sent home or kicked off The Bachelor, I can’t keep track of all of these magnificent skanks. And then, of course, Cedric the Entertaining showed up. Because Brandi’s friendship with him was set up in, what, episode three? And as David Mamet once wrote — in between all of his scribbled erotic odes to both Rebecca Pidgeon and Herman Cain’s “999” plan — you can’t show an alliance with a gay houseguest turned grifter in episode three without having him go off in episode nineteen. And go off he did!
First of all, I have this to say about Cedric: What a weirdo. Second of all, what was he doing there? Besides being weird? Nothing at all. His half-spirited “I love you” and “I’m here for you” to Lisa were as creepy as his bracelet choices, and the whole party crash just reeked of things done half-assededly and with ambiguous intentions beyond screen time. Even if the producers did set it up so Cedric would appear and cause drama, he could have at least committed to the scenario, whether it was in the spirit of reconciling with Lisa or by causing a stink. What’s wrong with reality performers today? Back in my time, you’d either flip a table or you were out on your ass!
Anyway, Cedric’s weak-sauce nodding and smirking as Lisa asked him to leave, plus his marathon double-kiss good-byes to every single woman who framed his path to the exit was a slow-deflating whoopee cushion of who-gives-a-shit. These women can do bad all by themselves — they keep the drama flowing in a single night better than any walk-on from a vaguely European gigolo ever would or could. And now that Taylor is back in the picture, who needs a low-budget grifter when this series has the real deal? Cedric is truly Steve Martin to Taylor’s Michael Caine in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Speaking of Taylor, Mrs. Armstrong had a hot date with her therapist to the SUR opening. That’s completely normal, right? To go with your shrink to a party? And to show him your daughter’s chore wheel on pink oaktag before you hit the road? Talk about a prelude to a romantic evening! And who else is suspicious that the scene between Dr. Sophy, Doctor of Osteopathy, and Taylor, Doctor of making me feel sad and confused about the place of domestic violence accusations on national television, took place in the recent past, instead of when it was supposed to? I know there have been speculations in past comments about Taylor’s manipulation of the timeline and facts as they relate to her abuse — which I won’t comment on, if only because I think there are reasons for both sides to be correct, and I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure. But I thought that Taylor’s weight and carriage seemed distinctly discontinuous with her other footage. Or am I nuts?
The good news is that, when you’re watching this show, you never need to wait more than two minutes to find a good example of what “nuts” really looks like. Or did I call that “good news”? I meant horrendous reality. Soon after the chore wheel scene with Taylor and Dr. S, we got to check back with Kim and Ken. That bathroom floor scene begat Ken’s frustration with Kim’s inability to leave one location for another. And then, Kim’s substance-fueled obsessions with whether she was wearing the right shoes or bra gave Ken’s past reputation for perhaps being a bit controlling a run for its money. Because sure, Ken’s got some serious issues and is clearly very damaged. But if you were dating Kim, first of all — God help you. And second, would you let her out of your sight? If you loved her? She’s like Madison in Splash when she’s climbing on the “Don’t Walk” sign in Times Square, only without the healthy Nordic qualities that made it clear to 1980’s America that Daryl Hannah was never addicted to snorting pills.
By then, those of us who hadn’t switched off the show for more uplifting fare, like the second half of Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark, were treated to a limo scene way darker than anything that ever happened in Boogie Nights to Rollergirl. Kim fidgeted with her dress and the garbage around her as Ken tried to keep it together and rely on a higher power to both get him through the night and justify, somehow, his decision to agree to be filmed for this show. And as Kim’s dress strap drooped past her bony, sun-damaged shoulder, her whimsical curiosity about buttons to press and treasures to discover only gave rise to more and more horrors around her. And then, the testimonial that the producers chose to intercept Kim’s action with sort of reeked of cruelty by contrast. “I’m a Virgo,” poor Kim deadpanned to the camera, justifying by association her weasel-like burrowing actions in the backseat of that car. And while I’m the last person to hop on the bandwagon of RHOBH detractors — those who say it’s too dark, too mean, too sad to watch — I did think that juxtaposition between her misguided astrological justification of what were clearly drug-motivated actions was a little smug. You wouldn’t pull that out for a Watch What Happens Live drinking game, would you? “Every time Kim calls herself a Virgo, then locks herself in a bathroom for 45 minutes so she can, with chemical assistance, stave off the approach of reality, take a sip of your cocktail!” Well, maybe you would. But not me! I start watching these episodes once I’m already drunk.
So, then we suffered through the consequences of Kim’s presence in public. At the SUR party, Kim was greeted with multiple compliments about how thin she looked, which is gross and sad considering that she was sick. And then we got the requisite season-end pregnancy scare, just like Ramona Singer had last year on RHONYC. And those are always good for an authentic guffaw. I mean, menopausal women thinking their wombs are good for anything besides storing cat toys? LOL! But it’s way sadder when the person who hasn’t had her period in three months is actually suffering from low body weight and serious addiction — the former symptom being something that’s consistently met with praise at parties like this one. But poor Kim thought she was preggo. “I’d love a puppy, or a kitty,” she acknowledged to the camera in her aside, officially completing her transformation into Jerri Blank. And then, Kim told anyone at the party who would listen and wasn’t Kyle that she was leaving Ken and had already packed her bags. Which was less believable than her pregnancy, frankly. Kim can’t pack her bags in fewer than fifteen episodes — everybody knows that! Even Pandora’s hot piece fiancé, who doesn’t know where he is in a given moment until he is told.
Finally, Kyle, at Adrienne’s prompting, came over to her sister and Faye Resnick to ask Kim what was going on. And then, Kim and Kyle cried at each other for ten minutes until their mutual male mates came over to break it up. I don’t even know what to say about this, besides oy vey. Oy vey to the max. Also, when Kyle said that she herself wasn’t sophisticated, but instead, was the most immature person she knew, I gagged on my own tongue. If they gave out Golden Globes for crowbarring yourself into conversations about people who are not you in a fake, self-deprecating, “I’m a goofy Gus who shops at Target!” kind of way, then maybe Kyle would have had a reason for attending this Sunday’s ceremony. But sure, it was sad, and Kyle had a point, and thank God she cares. But I will say this: The idea of how badly Kyle wanted Kim to be happy perhaps overshadowed the notion of Kim being healthy. And Kim gazing at a vase flower, then taking it out to play with it, may make her happy — but her sobriety, and maintaining it, must be her job now. I give the Richardses a lot of shit about being failed child actors, but there’s serious truth to the existential tragedy of being somebody who once had a purpose, and then, after adolescence, did not. I’m not being flip when I say that Kim’s job now is to stay healthy and sober, and the rest is all a distant priority. I hope she’s strong enough to commit to that goal with the tenacity of somebody getting her first Disney gig.
All of that said, at this point in the SUR party, the drama was merely simmering. Soon, Taylor showed up with Dr. Sophy and gave hugs to everybody besides Camille, who wisely perched in a distant corner in a lovely red frock that was unlike the white blazer-y stuff she usually wore this season. Maybe she avoided red until then because the color reminded her of last year’s Tonys? And maybe I should free up my brain for thinking about other things.
So, Taylor sat down with all the girls besides Kim, who had locked herself in the SUR bathroom, and told them all, beneath under-eye concealer that Lisa had pointed out was covering up a black eye, and told them … well, it was sort of unclear because she just started crying. Basically, she’d left Russell, and the black eye was the last straw, and she was hurt. That was the gist. And while Lisa and Kyle were all too happy to say “It’s okay! We love you!” at Taylor’s outpouring of ambiguous emotional vomit, Adrienne, once more, demonstrated her status as the only sentient adult on this show NOT heavily medicated (sorry, Queen Camille — it’s not a character judgment! And after Kelsey’s win this Sunday for Boss, I’d call it a necessity). Adrienne, against the tide of forgiveness the other ladies afforded Taylor, brought the conversation back to the threatening e-mail Camille had received. And despite Lisa’s B.S. assertion that Taylor had no idea about Russell’s menacing missive, Adrienne held her ground and, eventually, got an apology from Taylor to Camille after saying, clearly, “We can’t be honest, because she was threatened with a lawsuit.” And people actually heard her! So good for Adrienne. Seriously — if anybody won this season, it’s her and her terrific, flawless-besides-his-politics husband. And let’s throw Camille up there in the holy trinity of natural beauty. The rest disappoint, but do not surprise. And good luck being close with Taylor Armstrong! I hope your trust doesn’t backfire in any way in the future. (Yikes.)
Shortly after that on-site group-therapy-lite session, brought to you by Taylor’s date, Dr. Appropriate, Kyle’s mother-in-law Estella managed to somehow pry Kim out of the bathroom. And for those of you looking for Easter eggs, did you catch Dana-Pam behind Estella and Kim, after the bathroom incident? Can we safely say that Ms. Wilkey’s packed up her $25,000 dollar shades and hit the road after this season?
Other things to discuss in the comments below:
Are you going to cry next week, at Pandora’s wedding? I probably will, and not just because I heard reports that Kim was not at the reunion!
Were you afraid that Ken was going to turn into Rock Biter Hulk after Brandi and Paul laughed at that random “Gay Bull Mastiff” line? Related: Does Ken have a temper, do you think? That Maloof incident from last week was the closest we came to his heart of darkness, but there’s got to be more that lurks in him, and not only because his looks seem synonymous with the word lurks.
I know it’s horrible and I condemned the cruelty of Kim’s exploitation in the paragraphs above, but her turn-on-a-dime response to being pregnant — “I’m gonna have another baby! No, I don’t want one. I want to travel.” — made me laugh out loud. I’m sorry, I know it’s wrong. But that bitch has still got timing!
Even more points to Adrienne for getting the honor of being billed as RuPaul’s friend! Beats Faye Resnik for street cred, yes/yes?
I give Lisa’s Ken a lot of shit for being in outer space/as oblivious to life as Pandora’s fiancé. But good for him stepping up to Cedric and saying, “You gotta go, mate. You’re spoiling our night.” And, to a lesser extent, good for Brandi for speaking up right away when Lisa asked Cedric, “Who invited you?” That could have been the source of some passive-aggressive tension at a later date. And who needs that when we have ACTUAL aggression?
Kim’s Homer Simpson granny glasses being back sort of made my night. Again, I’m sorry about where my happiness is found. But joy is still joy.