As soon as Ashley walked into Eliza Limehouse’s “plantation” party looking like the Thanksgiving queen, dressed in a turkey fedora like she was in some sort of holiday-themed Hallmark Channel movie, I knew it was going to be a very long night. (I would like to include a shoutout to Chelsea who, in the opening moments of the episode, decides to return a mustard-colored fedora. After all we’ve been through this season on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, it seemed like the only appropriate action.)
My problem with Ashley is that she falls on the wrong side of Andy Cohen’s axiom about reality star villains. He says there are people we love to hate and there are people that we just hate. Ashley is someone we just hate. I was shocked that, as a producer on the show, Whitney would let her back on in the first place after she’s continuously maligned his mother, Patricia. Just look at their interaction. Whitney approaches her at the party and says he doesn’t appreciate the awful things she says. Ashley says that his mother said awful things too, and that she’s “almost 80 so she should know better.”
Ashley’s apologies, sincere or otherwise, always come with some kind of insult. When talking to Madison (the owner of Gwynn’s, not Austen’s spurned lover), Ashley apologizes to her and Danni for everything she’s done and says she’s sorry for what she did to Kathryn in past seasons. Madison says, “Then why do you keep saying awful things about her on social media?”
“Well, I don’t really want to get into that, so keep your mouth shut,” Ashley roars. That’s the thing about apologies. It’s not like hosting a dinner party where you get to set the menu. It’s more like a school potluck dinner, where you can only serve what you’re assigned. She can’t choose what she is and is not willing to be sorry for or talk about, she has to show up with a plate of brownies if that is what Marcia, the Soup Nazi of the PTA, told her to bring in the first place.
If there is one part of Ashley’s story that I do believe, it’s that Patricia was going around trashing Kathryn behind her back and off camera to get everyone to hate her. That seems to totally track. Other than that, everything that Ashley says is complete and utter nonsense.
Ashley just goes around the party offending various and assorted groups. She tells Chelsea and Cameran that she wants to be friends and Cameran cuts right to the chase: “Then why did you say we were all losers on social media?” Then the editors cut to the screen shot in question and it only has 16 likes, which is the harshest read ever in the history of reality television Twitter.
The whole thing is just a debacle, and, seriously, why did we have to see that? There was no way that Ashley was going to do what it takes to be forgiven, that she would have her motives called into question, or that she wouldn’t lash out in the most predicable and disgusting ways. There was no way that anyone on the show would forgive her or move forward with her. Her appearance only served as a highlight in the season trailer, though, like a dud firework, it ended up fizzling out with only a faint queef released out into the night.
Of course Ashley was thrust upon us by Eliza “Fetch” Limehouse, who is literally the worst. “I’m an outcast,” she says, “so I wanted to give Ashley the chance to make peace.” She thinks by bringing this woman who is universally reviled by the cast back into their lives that it is going to make her less of an outcast? Did she not believe everything that they had said about her? Did she not watch the show? Why would she give her a chance?
Then, as Ashley meanders around the party like Typhoid Mary, infecting everyone with her insanity but not dying from it, Eliza is like, “Oh wow, it is bad. Should I ask her to leave?” How about listen to everyone in your life who says that she’s awful? How about pay attention? I have absolutely no time for Eliza and her bad Warby Parker shell-frame glasses and her fur-collared sweater looking like a 19-year-old who just raided a thrift store but then also shelled out for catering for a plantation party.
The person I do have time for is Susan, Eliza’s mother. She looks like a plain Southern belle, just as regular as a gingham tablecloth. But then, when she sits down with Eliza she’s like, “Isn’t your boyfriend too old? Do you think you’re dating him because you have daddy issues? And what about this couch? It looks like someone died on it. And your top is bad and the clip in your hair is bad and neither of them matches and that makes them even badder.” Why are we even wasting our time with Eliza? Get Susan on this show for good and we can have her duke it out with Patricia to see who is the final supreme.
There wasn’t much else going on this episode, since Ashley sucked most of the oxygen out of the hour. Kathryn and Chelsea took Austen to The Barre Method, where he plies and pas de bourrées with the two of them in the world’s ladiest exercise class. Jazzercise, honestly, has more testosterone than the Barre Method. I’m so comfortable with my femininity that I will answer to the pronoun “she,” but even I wouldn’t go to Barre.
The only other drama was the residual effects of Craig and Naomie and this dumb fight about whether she’s going to go to Colorado. Naomie says she can’t disrespect her new boyfriend Mehtul by going on a trip with her ex-boyfriend Craig. As Cameran points out, that is pullshit, which is bullshit but also pulling shit at the same time. Naomie told them she wasn’t going because of Craig, and that I understand. By why wouldn’t Mehtul want her to go? Yes, it’s weird to go on a vacation with your ex, but it’s also weird to be coworkers on a reality show with your ex, so that has to be taken into consideration. But is he afraid she’s going to stray with Craig? Is he that insecure in their relationship? And who wants a man who tells her when and where to go places and with whom?
Finally Naomie and Craig sit down at the plantation party and talk out their differences. Craig tells her he knows it’s over and that he’s happy for her and Mehtul. I think that’s what he said. Anyway, no one yelled, no one cried, and at the end Naomie said to him, “I kind of enjoy talking to you like a normal person.” It’s so sweet that everything is a little bit back to normal. Then Craig and Shep do the smartest thing I’ve ever seen either of them do. They go to the pier to try to catch fish so that they can avoid Ashley altogether. Oh, if only the rest of us could be so lucky.