This week on our favorite show, Rich Women Doing Things, the rich women do things. They reveal that their husbands have acrylic nails on one hand so that it’s easier to play the guitar, and when they share a photo of said hand with the howling group, it looks just like John Travolta in the Hairspray movie. They come down to dinner at a friend’s house wearing a Gucci ensemble that looks like it was knitted by 20 dozen spiders rolling on Molly and probably cost $20,000. For dinner at a friend’s house. They show off their vintage Cartier bracelets and refuse to tell their friends how much they were worth though they could probably use them to pay off the student loans for the current graduating class of Sarah Lawrence University.
But mostly, the women just sit around and knit because they had nothing to talk about. Nope. Nothing is going on. Nothing here. No articles, no bombshells, no secret meetings. Nothing. Just boring old life in Beverly Hills. Haha. JK. They talk even more about Erika, mostly while she isn’t around. Week in and week out, it’s hard to watch this and hard to talk about it, but this episode gave us a reprieve, an unusually lighter moment. Instead of Erika’s legal woes and Tom robbing plane crash victims, we get to have [checks notes] a discussion about race in America. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but one adventure is to have your pubes plucked out by the ghost of John Wayne Gacy and the other adventure is being DaBaby’s publicist.
Not that conversations about race are awful. In fact, the one held around Kyle’s table in Behind The Target, California, is the sort of uncomfortable, mindful, and mine-filled chat that we should all be having. Kathy Hilton, just as much of a producer as her sister, wants to play a game, and instead she brings up how she was friends with Michael Jackson, who said he doesn’t see skin color. We then have another conversation like the one that Crystal had with Sutton back in Lake Taco. (Sadly, Sutton was just like, “I’m not bringing this up again,” rather than try to learn from her last altercation.)
Thankfully, this time we have Garcelle around to tell the women that, of course, people see color, and they need to. Everyone, especially white people, needs to understand how the lives of people of color, especially Black people in America, are different and need to recognize those differences if we want to fight for true equality. Yes, the spirit of everyone being the same and treating everyone the same is great, but it is as far from us as the dinosaurs are from understanding the differences between Peacock and Paramount Plus. (Pro tip: one has Girls5Eva.) Garcelle says, simply, “If you don’t see color, then you don’t see me,” and it’s very powerful.
Also powerful is Dorit’s response to the conversation, especially when it turns to how to raise your children to be anti-racist. “I’ve always taught them it’s not the color of the skin, and we’ve had a lot of people who work for us [emphasis mine because, hooooo nelly] who are Black and Hispanic and Filipino, and they’re used to it. Some of the people they have loved most in the world are dark-skinned.” Girl. Dorit. You literally just said your kids aren’t racist because the help are all POC. Then she says, “My mother’s best friend is Black.” That’s like following a Whopper with a Big Mac. It wasn’t even “some of my best friends are Black,” she has to pull her mother into this because she has no Black friends.
Garcelle counters by asking, “Do brown people only help at your house?” which is a simple but devastating question, which is what prompts Dorit’s bit about her mom’s Black bestie. Dorit, however, mishears it as “Do only brown people help at your house?” and reacts to that. She says, of course, there aren’t just people of color working for her, there are white people working for her, too. But what Garcelle means is that Dorit’s children need to have some relationships with people of color who are their equals, who are their peers. Learning to like the people who are paid to wait on you is totally different than accepting BIPOC people as individuals.
OK, so we got all the race stuff out of the way. Does that mean we can skip the Erika stuff? No? Well, hello, my name is Dame Brian Moylan, and I am now DaBaby’s publicist.
The confrontation between Erika and Garcelle continues with Erika returning to the group and blubbering through the rest of the scene and Garcelle expressing what seems to be genuine remorse that she brought this up and Erika was hurt. Erika decides to leave and she waits outside for an Uber with Kyle, Dorit, and Rinna. Garcelle says, “Notice who is here and notice who is out there.” She later tells Crystal that no one is on her side. “Sides are weird,” Crystal says. She’s right, but there are clearly sides. Garcelle says “ever since I joined this group,” i.e. ever since she was cast on the show, she’s felt like an outsider to the “core group” of the Get Along Gang. I also feel like the GAG, for short, is part of the reason why we’ve had a few tedious seasons of RHOBH up until now. No one could pierce it, and the clique would close ranks and decimate whoever opposed them. First it was LVP, then it was Denise, but now that one of their own is threatened they’re protecting her from outside forces, a mitzvah Denise was never granted.
That night they try not to talk too much about Erika while everyone wears black except for Sutton, dressed like she’s trying to be Cher from Clueless in red plaid, and Garcelle, who is in a red dress with a bow at the throat and the waist like she’s a hastily wrapped gift for an office Secret Santa. Lisa Rinna is dissolving into a leopard print sleeping bag masquerading as a parka to escape the law. I only mention this dinner so I could talk about their outfits.
The next morning the first blockbuster article about Tom and Erika comes out in the L.A. Times, and for once we are confronted with a headline from a story that is not from like All The Scalding Hot T dot com or some other bullshit. The women all think the reason Erika left last night and she melted down the day before is because she knew this was about to hit newsstands. That makes complete sense. The article is not good. We all know most of the allegations now: Tom stole money from widows, orphans, burn victims, and others to fund their lavish lifestyle. The phrase the women take out of it, as I did when I initially read it, was “Ponzi Scheme.”
The most damning revelation for Erika personally is that supposedly Tom’s firm gave EJ Global, Erika’s LLC for her entertainment business, $20 million in loans that were meant to go to clients. The women have different reactions to this and fall into the same camps that fans have fallen into. Kyle says if $20 million showed up in her account, she would notice it and ask questions. Lisa Rinna says that she signs things Harry Hamlin tells her to all the time, and she can’t see Tom ever talking to Erika about the details of his business or his finances. Kyle has lots of questions, and Lisa believes her friend.
Sutton, a rich lady with the forensic accountants and the divorce settlement to prove it, says that she also has LLCs in her name, and it is that person’s duty to know who puts money in that company and where it’s going. She’s totally right, but that may not be the way every rich wife runs — or ignores — her LLC. (Also, Sutton is probably right, but she only seems to want to talk about money when it’s other people’s.)
There is no way I can sugar-coat this: the article looks bad for Erika. Of course, her friends have questions, I had the same ones, I still have the same ones because I think we’re going to see a lot of things play out in this case over several years. But what Sutton instigates next seems a little bit odd to me. She calls the women and says they should meet to discuss the situation without Erika. Dorit’s house is nominated because she owns Gucci glasses (Gucci makes glasses?) and needs a reason to show them off on national television so she can write them off on her taxes. (Haha. JK.)
Before the meeting, Dorit says she wants to sit down with Erika and ask, “Did you know?” Of course she does, and she should. That is how I would approach this situation if it were someone in my close inner circle (or one of my coworkers, depending on how you view the relationships on the show). Ask this person to respond, see what her story is, and then decide whether or not you believe it. I think it is fair, and I don’t think Erika would mind being asked those questions. If there is one thing we know about Erika, it’s that she isn’t going to answer anything or give out any information that she doesn’t want out there; what the women do with that information is up to them.
Sutton arrives last and sits down with a speech she has seemingly rehearsed. She has something she wants to say. “I think we are being placed in a bad position,” she says. “I think we are hearing stories that, to me, don’t add up. I left very concerned, and I started thinking, and my alarms went off, and red flags started going off.” Sutton then closes by saying she “doesn’t want to be around our friend during this time.”
I think that Sutton is right. All of the women (bar Rinna) are questioning the story Erika is telling, which is natural and correct. But it seems like Sutton has already convicted Erika without even asking for her side of the story or without trying to clarify her confusion. I feel like that is the least courtesy they could give her (and I have a feeling based on the preview we’re going to get it next week). But also, what kind of friend abandons someone when they are clearly going through a difficult time without even checking in with her. It’s as if Sutton is saying, “I’m worried I’m going to get sued if I’m friends with her, so I’m out.” That isn’t much of a friend. That’s not even much of an enemy. Everyone deserves a trial, right, and I can’t wait to see how next week’s cross-examination goes.