So far we have spent two episodes talking about the fact that Teddi Mellencamp, a grown woman and accountability coach, cannot reasonably draft a text message. This has been the central conflict of the story, and I find it to be a conflict that is so easily solved that I don’t want to spend that much time talking about it.
It all boils down to this: Teddi texted everyone that she is having a retreat and she would like them to come. She then said, “Come when you want. I don’t care if you come or not, but maybe it would be nice.” The entire problem here is that Teddi refuses to make her intentions clear. If she wants them there, she should say, “I would like for you to come,” not qualify it with, “Maybe you won’t be into it,” to shield herself from some of her co-workers not wanting to join her at her retreat. To make it worse, when they ask her questions about it, she can provide no clarity whatsoever. “When should we be there?” “Whenever we want.” “What should we bring?” “I don’t know. Stuff?” “Should we even bother at this point?” “I don’t know, and I don’t really care.”
I would find all of this incredibly frustrating. If you want me to attend something just tell me when and where and I will be there. I have literally never turned down an invitation, and that includes to take a Scientology e-meter test in the 42nd Street subway station. I really don’t like Sutton, but I can’t say that I blame her for being confused by Teddi’s wishy-washy responses to all of her questions.
All of this stuff comes up at dinner with Teddi, Lisa, and Sutton, and it’s clear that Teddi and Sutton don’t really like each other. Teddi says that she is very direct as a person and that’s what she wants from a friend, not someone who is going to kiss her ass. In her defense, Sutton is like a dog with a bone with this thing about the retreat. She keeps bringing it up and panting for an answer. Just chill out a bit, Sutton. Relax and don’t try so hard and maybe it will happen.
The difference between her and Garcelle, the other new addition to the cast, is stark. You can see it when everyone arrives at Kyle’s house for dinner. First of all, everyone is dressed like they’re going to Elton John’s birthday party, and it is a lot of fashion on display. Kyle is wearing a white shirt with marabou around the sleeves, which is a little Carol Channing, but cute. Teddi even looks cute wearing a silver lamé ’70s disco dress. Dorit looks chic even though she has a giant chain in her hair and is carrying the $1,860 Perrin Paris clutch that Sutton gave out in the gift bags at her store opening. (How did she afford that? Did you see how many shots there were in this episode of that ugly clutch that looks like a boxing glove humping a piano bench? She deffo got those for free.)
Erika and Lisa arrive together in matching fabulosity, with Erika in balloon sleeves and latex pants and Rinna in a zebra pantsuit with bell-bottoms bigger than one of Harry Hamlin’s pie plates. Rachel Zoe just sent it over today! Denise, fresh from surgery, is wearing a Champagne-and-gold cocktail dress that she makes look effortless. Then there’s Sutton, the only person wearing a color, in an ill-fitting Dolce & Gabbana red dress with the reliquary of the Virgin Mary on the front and other religious-looking embellishments. It looks like a pillow you would find in the discount bin at Pier One. When asked if it’s couture she says, “No, it’s just ready to wear,” and Teddi, who still looks better than Sutton, says, “What’s ready to wear?” The dismissive downward glare of Erika Jayne at that moment is enough to flip the jet stream off its course.
As Sutton stands around uptight and everyone strains to find a topic of conversation, Garcelle struts in, wearing a white men’s shirt tucked into a billowing tulle skirt that is a blacker version of Carrie Bradshaw’s infamous tutu. Immediately everyone lights up and accepts her and wants to talk about her outfit and play with her. She is everything Sutton wants to be and can’t figure out.
Then, when everyone is sitting down to dinner, Sutton is put out because there aren’t place cards and she doesn’t know where to sit. As everyone is taking their seats, Sutton goes up to Kyle at the head of the table and is like, “Kyle, where should I sit? I don’t know where to sit and I’m feeling very uncomfortable.” Just sit anywhere! This isn’t musical chairs. There are enough seats for everyone. Find the empty chair and smother it with your ready-to-wear monstrosity. Sutton says that she is very well mannered, but if she was that well mannered, she wouldn’t have made her host and all the other guests uncomfortable with her actions. If she was well mannered she would have found a place, sat down next to anyone and said, “Hello, I’m Sutton,” and introduced a flaccid hand to the person sitting on either side of her; it’s not that hard.
The problem with Sutton, and there are many, is that she is trying to force her idea of how things should be handled on the group as a whole rather than figuring out how the group works and inserting herself into it. When Garcelle asks if Mauricio will be “getting some” that night because Kyle just returned home from months away, Sutton says loudly, “That is not dinner-table conversation.” Um, does she know who is at this dinner table? Has she seen an Erika Jayne video? Does she know that Lisa Rinna has a whole chapter in her book about blow-job techniques? In this group, that is dinner-table conversation, and her trying to put the kibosh on it is making her look worse than them talking about BJs over the soup course.
Next, Lisa introduces an idiotic game where everyone goes around the table and says what their first impression of the person next to them was and what they think of that person now. When someone asks the particulars, Mauricio says, “We’re skipping the guys.” He wants no part of production’s reindeer games. I agree with Sutton, this game is dumb. It’s like, “I thought you were beautiful at first and now I think you’re even more beautiful.” As everyone is being so nice Mauricio says, “You are all so sweet. These are not the girls I know,” which introduces a montage of all of the wineglass-smashing fights we’ve seen over the years.
I would now like to play a game, and it is called, “How many edibles did Mauricio eat before this dinner party?” I’ll guess three. Maybe four? First he’s hanging out in just his towel [insert Eartha Kitt growl here] in the living room and can’t even remember that there is a dinner party happening in his home in the next 60 minutes. Then he opts out of the game and makes fun of the women from the far side of the table. Then, when Aaron goes on his tirade about Western medicine, Mauricio is like, “Yeah, man. That’s so true, man,” at the end of the table like Aaron is talking about his time touring with the Dead.
Aaron’s speech. Okay. Phew. Um. Yeah. I’m not really sure how to address this. It kicks off when Kyle says, “Aaron, other than training arms every day, we’re not really sure what you do.” The answer should have been something like, “I run a clinic for alternative medicine,” or something summing up his entire business in a few sentences. Easy. To the point. Instead, Aaron launches into a monologue that starts with, “Everything you know about medicine is wrong.” It’s like the first sentence of a whiteboard YouTube video that is 43 minutes long.
I am not going to attack the contents of Aaron’s speech. I couldn’t really tell what he was talking about and I have a feeling that, as long as it seemed on television, it went on even longer in person. It’s hard to gauge exactly what he meant by the spliced segments about how there is room in an atom and we can smash it with sound but we can’t cure diseases, or about how cancer is a body’s best friend. I don’t know what was going on. He had obviously been drinking, and he might have had a little bit of Mauricio’s edible. I can’t say. I have no clue. I can’t put this into context other than to say that he should have noticed he lost the audience and just stopped talking.
What’s really odd is what he and Denise have to say about it. She tells him to speak very carefully. In the preview of the season, this comment seemed to be used in relation to Denise’s relationship with Brandi Glanville (say her name three times and she shall appear), so I’m a little sad that it was actually uttered in a totally different context. Denise says that Aaron is followed all the time because his methods of healing are better than those promoted by big corporations that make money off traditional medicine. This seems, I don’t know, far-fetched. It reminds me of Randy and Evi Quaid, a Hollywood couple that fell into a group paranoid delusion that they were being pursued. It’s all … rather odd. But then someone brings up the sex of Teddi’s baby, and everything seems to snap back to normal.
Then the party starts to disband, and everyone hangs around doing shots of Fireball in Kyle’s living room. Things eventually get very rowdy and Kyle Richards dependably pulls out her only party trick: doing the splits. But did you notice that, as she gets closer and closer to the ground, she doesn’t quite make it? She has to sort of cheat to get down to the carpet, and it made me very sad. The passage of time gets us all. Limbs straighten, joints freeze, tendons clench, suppleness leaks out of the body like nectar through a sieve, and all we will have at the end of it are awkward dinner parties saved by so many shots of indigestible fire.