This episode is like a weekend in the Hamptons. It’s long and slow, like a cat stretching its paws on a sun-dappled settee. It’s loose and luxurious, like the breeze through a white silk dress. It’s like a cloud of mosquitos, hovering around your head and annoying the hell out of you. It’s like bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Long Island Expressway, full of rich people who don’t move anywhere or do anything. They’re all just marinating in the juices of their own exclusivity.
Yes, the only thing that really matters is how Erika Girardi shows up in her private jet, fresh from Chicago Pride, to class up the joint. Lisar’s reaction to Erika is a lot like mine: At first she’s like, “Please, this bimbo is stupid and gross and her video looks like a public-service announcement for thong safety.” After she meets Erika, though, she’s like, “Alright, I get it, she’s freaking amazing.” That’s the thing about Erika. If you give her 15 minutes, she’ll convert you.
That’s why it’s great to see Eileen get so into Erika. I don’t think Bethenny is jealous of Erika, but Eileen definitely is. She wants to be able to show off her humps, her lovely lady lumps, but doesn’t have the courage to do it. She’s held in by some outdated idea of decorum that, clearly, doesn’t hold Erika back. That’s probably because a gaggle of gay scientists created Erika in a lab. They were never afraid of their sexuality and taught Erika to live the same way. Maybe she’s just more evolved than the rest of us. Who knows?
The person with the most complicated reaction to Erika, though, is none other than Bethenny Frankel, that overflowing bag of microwave popcorn, who hosts a dinner party for the Real Housewives from the opposite coast as they visit the Hamptons. When she and Kyle look at Erika’s Instagram, Bethenny is like, “Okay, she’s ridiculous.” Which, duh. The point of Erika is that she is ridiculous. The ridiculousness is the entire point of the enterprise — just like the chicken dance, Nicki Minaj lyrics, and vajazzling,
Bethenny says she really loves Erika, but she certainly isn’t acting like it. She calls her “Bambi,” which is not a compliment. She’s all like, “This hooker slut over here is crazy and sleeps with old men and it’s awesome.” It’s as if Bethenny is saying that Erika is great — and by now, we can all agree that she is — but the words she uses to describe her are derogatory. Which Bethenny should we believe? It’s like she loves Erika for being herself, but hates her for being so obviously sexual. The patriarchy has colonized her speech.
The worst part is when Bethenny is all, “You should market this as like empowering for women,” and Erika responds like, “Um, that’s the point, stupidface.” Erika totally saves it with the quote of all eternity, though: “I don’t know anything about margaritas and I don’t know anything about being skinny, so I don’t mess with her Skinny Girl shit. So maybe she shouldn’t mess with mine.” Erika, I throw myself at your feet. I am your humble servant forever. I will kiss your ring. I will pat your puss, until death or cancellation do us part.
Nevertheless, Bethenny isn’t entirely wrong. Erika could market herself better. We’re drawn to to Erika on the show — and she’s attractive as a person to Bethenny — because of the juxtaposition between Erika Jayne, the bottomless vortex of pussy power, and Erika Girardi, the wife and mother who flies a private jet and lives in Beverly Hills and sits at dinner parties with stuffy old lawyers while trying not to yawn in their wrinkly, privileged faces. When Erika Jayne performs at Chicago Pride, America’s fifth largest Homosexual Gay Pride Celebration, we miss the part of her that isn’t writhing to a dance beat that sounds like the later stages of a meth binge. Erika Jayne is a single entendre, and that’s as appealing as an open-faced Oreo.
I was glad to see Bethenny in this episode, mostly because I (kind of) want to be her. Her haircut is amazing, her house is amazing, and her outfit was amazing until she rips it trying to be Erika Jayne. It’s all perfect. The most perfect thing, though, is Kyle’s story about how she met Bethenny during her waitress days: She walked up to her table and said, “I’m dating your ex-boyfriend. Is that your expensive eye-makeup remover in his bathroom? What kind of crazy bitch spends that much money on eye-makeup remover?” That’s the Bethenny we loved, the brash underdog who didn’t give a hoot who she offended. When she does stuff like that now, however, she comes across as a shrill know-it-all who you want to smother with eye rolls until she stops talking forever.
Still, the Bethenny and Kyle catch-up session is amazing, if only for that picture of them when they first met 25 years ago. The hair! It was both trying too hard and not nearly accomplished enough, like a starlet making her first appearance as one of the disposable girlfriends on Charles in Charge. I could listen to an entire hour of stories about Bethenny and Kyle running around Los Angeles sleeping with all the dudes, then picking up Paris and Nicky after school and driving them for ice cream. Can that be Bravo’s next show? Please? I’ll start my spec script now.
Since we’re talking about things that we want to see, how about talking about things that we never want to see again? Number one is Ricky Gervais hosting the Golden Globes, and right below him is David Foster (Wallace), the swishing gecko tongue who, until recently, was married to Yolanda Bananas Foster. During the little moment we see of him, he not only jokes about how his wife’s breasts were small and awful after she had her implants taken out, but also jokes with Lisa about how big her husband’s boobs are. When is that ever funny? And just like Ricky Gervais, this guy sits there with a smug smile on his face. He thinks he’s edgy and naughty, but he’s really just an awful man who makes dated jokes about Charlie Sheen. God, he is the worst. And by “he,” I mean both Ricky and David.
What’s funny about the RHOBH is how it develops this dramatic irony with its stars. As season one aired with a smirking Camille Grammer, we knew that her husband would divorce her. In season two, we knew that the tortured Taylor Armstrong would have to endure her husband’s suicide. In both cases, there was a spirit of comeuppance or relief about how things played out. Not so with Yolanda. When she says things like, “This is not what you signed up for,” and he makes cracks about her body, it makes me want to smother Yolanda in lemons and give her a hug that will last until the final Avengers movie hits theaters.
I guess we should also address Lisa and Eileen’s affair conversation. Do we really have to? This is so silly. Lisa likes to pump people with questions. I don’t really blame her; so do I. If you think that I can sit down at a dinner with Padma Lakshmi and not ask her every question I’ve ever had about Glitter, you are sadly mistaken. (Again, sorry Padma.) The affair sort of comes up in conversation, so Lisa jumps at the opportunity. Is that tactless? Yes. However, Eileen keeps answering her questions. She isn’t giving off an “I don’t want to talk about this” vibe. As Lisa says, if she didn’t want to talk about it, just say so. Also, Lisar and Kyle clearly feel the line of questioning is a little touchy, but they don’t do nothing. They could have said, “Lisa, knock it off. Not at dinner.” Instead, they sit there, pushing their risotto around on their plates as if they were actually going to eat.
That same night, somewhere on one of the grass-fringed beaches, a woman stands against the darkness, casting no shadow. She can’t see the stars in the ocean. No light flickers across the roiling water. Even the breeze that blows her red hair against her face seems to move with the water’s shushing rhythm. She stands at the dune, the sand so cold it hurts her feet, but she can’t move. She is staring at the house, the one she knows those other women are staying in, and she can’t look away. She wants to be there too, not because their house is bigger or nicer, but because it has something her house doesn’t. It has the connection, that thing that beams their existences up into the satellites, splintering them each into a million streams that go into a million homes. Those streams keep them alive, like a river that never stops flowing, a spring of eternal youth that will never dry, no matter how many drink from it. She stares at the windows as each blinks out. A green light is fastened to a pole on the back deck.
Jill Zarin stares at that green light, hoping it can draw her in like a tractor beam, dragging her limp body through the salt spray. But it won’t, not for her. She knows that now. Her light had been extinguished, her stream dammed up. She holds a small, square, remote-control device in her hand. She lifts it and points it at the house, pushing a button while squinting at the deck, blurring that green light into a fractured star. She hopes that somehow, it will ignite.