The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
I like how Bravo continues to experiment with the format of the reunion specials, which used to look like badly lit prom photos and now resemble something like a behind-the-scenes special and a very fancy bat mitzvah montage video all at the same time. We started to see some footage of the women getting ready just a few seasons back — was it OC? Atlanta? They all sort of blur together after awhile, like the features on Kim Zolciak-Biermann’s face — and this time, we started to get even more footage of what happens when the ladies aren’t sitting on the couches. Mainly, Erika erupts that she has to pee, while Lisa Rinna wonders where her food is going to be and then promptly ignores eating it.
This new strategy is strange for a couple of reasons. First of all, Bravo takes very good care that none of us see the amount of production that goes into the show, like when they make all of the women say “in this group” when what they really mean is, “in the cast of this show.” But at the reunions, they’re dabbling more and more with letting us see how the sausage is made. How does it change our perceptions now that we know the women get breaks and go backstage to confer with their glam professionals during the big fights? I’m not sure that it does, except that it lets us in on that very secret that Bravo doesn’t want us to know, that this is all a glamorously massaged façade. Just like the boobs Lisa Vanderpump makes with her two-toned sequin dress: They’re very real but they were manufactured for our amusement.
The other funny thing about the lunch break footage is that we see Teddi in Kyle’s dressing room talking about Dorit, and Dorit in Lisa’s dressing room talking about Teddi. Of course I love when everyone is fighting, but the point of the reunion is that you have to say things in front of the whole group and people are held accountable for these words. Here, we get the women saying things that they can’t be held accountable for. This isn’t the reunion, this is just an extension of any lunch that they would have in West Hollywood at some place with salads named after abstract nouns like “penitence.”
That makes me wonder whether Dorit knew just what she was doing with her moment of apology to St. Camille of Grammer in the hallway, or if these were actually genuine moments. Now everything that happens at the reunion is held to the same sort of speculation that events of the regular season are. Are Dorit and Camille manipulating us when they put all that ball gag stuff behind them and hug it out? Maybe? Did they know that the cameras were there? How could they not? Should this have gone down on a couch? Most certainly.
But the weirdest thing is that we learn Lisa Vanderpump takes off her dress in between takes. The only reason I could think she would want to do this is because she doesn’t want to spill any of her lunch on that dress, but considering how little we ever see these women eat, I don’t know if she’s even shoveling any wilted greens into her gob before going back out under those hot lights. Of course, getting home and taking off your fancy clothes and undoing your Spanx is one of the greatest feelings in the whole world, but unless she’s also shucking her foundational garments while she’s in her bathrobe, what is the point of any of it? The hair in the rollers, I totally get. Taking the dress off? Totally weird.
I will say that lunch does perk Erika up a little bit and she seems much more like herself after that break. Yes, she is still touchy and clearly does not want to be there, but at least her rapport with Lisar and Dorit is funny and filled with the hearty Erika goodness that we know and love. Teddi also manages to acquit herself nicely, explaining why she was upset about things like Dorit being late and schooling her on glassware, and also taking accountability for when she was wrong, like when she dredged up the mean things that Dorit said about Lisar earlier in the season.
Dorit also manages to make one big mea culpa by apologizing to Lisa for their confrontation on the giant ferris wheel. She says what the scholars and students at the Real Housewives Institute have been saying all along: She should have taken Lisar’s feelings into consideration a little bit more. This is big for Dorit. Huge. As big as all of the gross bobby pins in her hair.
But just a little bit later, I lost all hope that Dorit might be able to rehabilitate her image. While they are talking about how Teddi got upset when Dorit was making fun of her for serving rosé in champagne glasses or whatever the hell that fight was about, Teddi explains that she wasn’t upset that she wanted a new glass, just about how Dorit handled it. Lisa turns to her and says, “Now that you’ve seen it and saw how the fans reacted, don’t you have a better idea of how you might have handled that situation differently? How you could have handled it better?” Dorit, dead-eyed, turns back to her and says no. That is because Dorit is incapable of self-reflection or self-awareness. It’s great for television, but it’s awful for inviting people over to your house for wine.
The really good bits of gossip, meanwhile, come from Camille, the biggest of which is that she and psychic Allison DuBois from the infamous season one “Dinner Party from Hell” are no longer on speaking terms. It seems that the world’s first famous vaper was pissed about the episode when it aired and thinks Camille set her up to disgrace herself on national television.
Camille, in rare form, shows up wearing the ball gag she gave Dorit as a gift on her arm like a giant bracelet or a really avante garde version of one of Lynne Curtin’s cuffs. Eventually, she gives it to Andy becaus he requested it for the Watch What Happens Live clubhouse, where he can put it next to the blue bunny that Kim Richards returned to Lisa Rinna during last season’s reunion.
That made me think about this reunion as a whole. All of these arguments, all of these squabbles just seem so silly, petty, and entirely made up. I never thought that I would miss hearing the word “Munchausen,” but here we are. The one good fight that we got out of this reunion was one barely hinted at during the season. It was when Dorit got angry that Lisa Vanderpump cut her head off for the pictures she was using for Where the Hell Can You Find This Magazine Monthly.
Erika and Lisar finally get us to an interesting place. Was Lisa really cropping Dorit’s features out of these photos because Dorit was unhappy with them, or was she doing it as a middle finger to Dorit, who talked badly about the photo shoot in the first place? This is the kind of thing we will never know. This is the kind of behind-the-scenes jockeying and acrimony that we really want to know about, but that the Bravo execs will never give us. We’ll have to settle for Lisa pushing a salad around in a Styrofoam container while wearing her bathrobe.