The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
If there is one thing that I will never forget about this instant classic of an episode it is Kyle’s felt fedora, the exact color of a red wine stain on a pair of expensive culottes. In fact, this episode is full of awful hats — relatively speaking, Kyle’s isn’t so bad. I feel like because of her seniority she has somehow earned wearing a hat for an entire episode. But Teddi Mellencamp? She can’t leave the house with her head covered in millinery pigeon litter. She wears a huge peacock feather blue fedora at lunch after spin class and then this awful gray skipper’s hat when she goes to see Kyle at some random friend’s house. Her husband Edwin wears a knit beanie inside the house in L.A. in the summer, which is only slightly less appropriate than fondling a co-worker’s buttock after too much eggnog.
Finally there is the hat that Dorit wears both to Teddi’s spin party and to brunch afterward. It bears the words “Beverly Beach” in a girly script, as if her ghost company somehow made itself concrete. It doesn’t look like something that was made intentionally in a large batch, like Mauricio’s ubiquitous The Agency hats. It looks like something that she had made in a store in the mall that will write whatever you want on the front of a hat. It is less a piece of headgear and more of an affront.
That is why, when all the women have brunch after Teddi’s spin class to benefit Lisa Vanderpump’s Vanderpump Dogs, which Lisa doesn’t show up to, all I could think about was awful hats. What I should have been thinking about was The Affair of Lucy Lucy Apple Juicy limping on into its second month, the latest chapter of which is that a story about it appeared on Radar Online and that Dorit is mad about it.
Not only is Dorit mad, but so are all of the other women, who all believe that Lisa planted the story. The first bit of evidence is that the dog is referred to as a “poor creature” which is one of Lisa’s pet phrases. (See what I did there?) The second bit is that everyone thinks that Lisa puts stories in the press. Lisa Rinna says that five years ago Lisa Vanderpump taught her how to plant a story and even gave her a person to contact.
Denise, always delightfully clueless, asks Kyle if her good friend Lisa puts stories in the press. Kyle, like always, tries to swerve around the question, but Dorit presses her on it and forces her to answer. “Do I ever have proof or not? No. I don’t know,” Kyle says. “Have I thought it? Absolutely.” That is pretty damning testimony from Kyle, Lisa’s longtime ally. One would think that Kyle would immediately defend her friend, but we see in clips from the past that Kyle rarely defends Lisa against such allegations. Why? I think because she knows that Lisa is really doing the sort of behind-the-scenes manipulation that the women accuse her of.
We are also treated to a snippet from an old reunion show where Adrienne, Queen of the Maloofs, accuses Lisa of “selling” a story to, once again, Radar Online. Lisa says that she has never “sold” a story for money. Yeah, that’s because she probably gives them away for free. Lisa reminds me so much of Littlefinger from Game of Thrones, always skirting around the drama but always nearby when it happens. She prefers not to lie, but rather skim around the truth, bending it to her will so that nothing she ever says or does seems that far-fetched. Also, just like Littlefinger, everyone knows the game she plays even if they can’t pin it on her.
But we also need to keep our eye on Dorit in this whole mess. Everyone is so intent on taking Lisa Vanderpump down that they all keep telling her, “You did nothing wrong.” Do I think Dorit abused Luce Dawg (as her good friends call her)? Of course not. But I do think that she was lazy and stupid and didn’t think the rules about returning the dog applied to her. She did something wrong, which she has never taken accountability for, so let’s not forget about that.
I do think that what Lisa Vanderpump did, if true, is worse. If she lied about what Dorit may or may not have done to the dog to make herself look better, that is pretty freaking low. After the Radar story came out about Dorit, the next day Lisa was on TMZ saying that Dorit did nothing wrong. Now all of the women think that Lisa planted the story in Radar only to deny it on TMZ, which is either a PR masterstroke or some crazy bullshit that would never happen in a million years.
After talking to Teddi, Kyle decides she’s going to go over to Lisa’s house to tell her that everyone thinks that Lisa put the story in the press. When Kyle confronts Lisa she gets immediately defensive, as does her husband Ken, who was plugged in only ten minutes prior and is still not fully charged. But Kyle says something really interesting: “You always say when there’s a story in the press to ask who it benefits.” That means that Kyle knows that Lisa knows that the stories are there are there for a reason. Maybe Kyle knows a little bit more about Lisa’s theories on media manipulation than she lets on.
Lisa swears on her children’s life and on the life of Giggy, someone who she may possibly love even more than her children, that she didn’t plant the story in the press. Let’s assume for a minute that is true. Who does that story in Radar benefit if not Lisa? Dorit’s enemies, whomever they might be, including the former business partner who is currently suing her. But how would they know about this? Maybe it gets more exposure for Vanderpump Dogs, which means it might benefit John Secada. It also might benefit Lucy Lucy Apple Juicy, who recently signed with the same manager as the “Cash me outside” girl and is pursuing a career as the world’s first canine rapper.
There are other people who could have put that story out there for sure, and Lisa might be telling the truth. It’s hard to say that Lisa is denying everything so vigorously because she’s a liar. The easy thing is just to believe Lisa, and there are plenty of her fans who, no matter how many guns smoke right in their faces, will categorically believe Lisa.
However, she hasn’t done anything to try to make Dorit feel better. She has been talking to the press, but she never called Dorit to see if she was upset that the story got leaked. She didn’t vow that if it was anyone on her staff talking to the press she would fire them. She seems more concerned about how she is going to look in all of this than about anyone’s feelings.
There is one thing that Kyle says that is at the crux of this whole argument: “Sometimes you value your image more than your friendships.” That seems to be everyone’s problem with Lisa and something she doesn’t want to hear. I can very easily believe that is true. I can also believe it’s not true, and the speed with which both Lisa and Ken dismiss Kyle makes me think the latter.
Ken often infuriates me in these situations. I love how loyal he is to his wife in all circumstances, but him yelling at Kyle that she is not Lisa’s friend is not helping. Kyle can’t blindly follow Lisa and defend her if she thinks she’s done something wrong. Also, showing up to tell Lisa that everyone thinks she planted this story and to try to get her side of the story is being a friend. But neither of them wants to talk to Kyle. They just flat-out deny that it is happening — just like they did with Brandi and those tabloids all those years ago — and take it as an affront that anyone would even question them.
It does seem a little bit sad to me, whether Lisa is lying or telling the truth, that she would end a 12-year friendship over this. Kyle and Lisa have been thick as thieves (in Manzo-ese) and embarked on this great experiment together. Even when annoyed with each other, they’ve always focused on being fun and finding the light. The thought that what amounts to one small misunderstanding — which amounts to Lisa being upset that Kyle didn’t defend her against her better judgment — would derail all that makes me a little sad for both of them, but also for us as viewers. We might never get to see these two cackling in ridiculous delight ever again, and I think the world would be a little less for losing that laughter.
Kyle knew all this the second she parked her car at Lisa’s house and shut the engine off. She knew that in a minute she would have to run past that phalanx of swans and confront her friend about something uncomfortable. She knew that crossing the moat that runs in front of Villa Rosa, a luxury airport lounge that people actually live in, was like crossing the Rubicon. She took a minute and stared out the window and thought about it all. She thought about her sisters, both of whom were angry with her because of these television shows. She thought about her daughters, all of whom grew up on-camera for better or worse. She thought about Lisa, whom she made a silent pact with nine years ago to see this thing through to the end and get rich and famous off of it. She thought about it all and how it was all going to change in an instant.
She sat alone in her car, the great valleys of Los Angeles opening up far below her, dotted with mansions and impossible flower-beds but also utility cables, mudslides, construction dumpsters, sinkholes, and all the ugliness that can be bleached by the unblinking sun. She thought about starting the car and going home. She thought about it all ending the minute she opened the door and how she should probably just return home, cuddle with her dogs, and let it all blow over. Then she took a breath and opened her door anyway.