The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
This week on our favorite show, Rich Women Doing Things, the rich women did things. They took a private jet to Lake Tahoe (or Lake Taco, as I like to call it) and were forced to carry all of their belongings into the house because COVID cancelled valets. They prepared dinner for their friends, burning the salmon, even though there was already a chef on staff in their 18-bedroom AirBNB complete with a sports bar, cinema room, indoor pool, and hot tub. (Girl, if your AirBNB is that big, it is officially like a room that Ramona Singer is in: just a BNB because all of the Air has been sucked out.) They also taught us what a “knobber” is, which I thought was the name of one of Scooby-Doo’s cousins, but I guess I am wrong.
Mostly what the rich women did was talk about race. Oooh boy. Fasten your safety belts, assume the crash position, and secure the oxygen mask to your own face before assisting a child, because I — a middle-aged, cis, white man — am about to explain racism in America and, well, RIP the comments section of this post. (Also, while we’re RIP-ing things, also RIP Giggy, RIP Bobby Zarin, and RIP Beautique.)
Seriously though, I did love both of these conversations, if only because they illustrated how to have the different conversations surrounding race, implicit bias, and diversity that keep popping up like Andy Cohen’s chubbies when he was asked to judge the Fire Island Swimsuit Competition brought to you by Andrew Christian and Jungle Juice. The first conversation is between Kyle and Garcelle at a lovely restaurant in the Valley, so it’s not really Beverly Hills. Kyle doesn’t know why she and Garcelle have a problem and just wants to move past it and have a hug and start over. Garcelle loves this idea, but she has to bring up why Kyle said at the reunion that Garcelle never paid the donation she pledged at her charity fundraiser turned stealth pilot for Kris Jenner to join the Bravo family. Kyle says she raised the point because things were bad between her and Garcelle, who then asked, “Would you have asked that of one of the white women?” Kyle is taken aback by the question because, yes, if one of her show enemies who was white didn’t pay, she would have raised that concern.
What Kyle didn’t realize, what Garcelle had to point out to her, is that raising the issue with her is very different than raising it with a white coworker. As Garcelle points out, there are stereotypes about Black people not paying their bills and not tipping, and because of that the comment that Kyle made is in a completely different context. (Garcelle has since paid and said it was a communication error.) When Garcelle points this out, Kyle says, “I wouldn’t think of that,” to which Garcelle responds, “Because it’s not your reality.” Garcelle then shares several other examples of how this affects her life and says in confessional that most people don’t even realize the things Black people have to consider to navigate a world full of race-related landmines.
Now, it shouldn’t be up to Black people to teach white people to notice when things might be racially insensitive, but after this conversation, Kyle admits that she regrets saying what she did and would think differently in the future. I would also like to hope that Kyle will now notice how she was wrong about this and how she didn’t even realize she was being biased in other situations, and this will make her a better person.
She admits she was wrong about what she did to Garcelle in a late-night chat in Lake Taco with Crystal and Sutton. She tells the women what she learned and how Garcelle was cut deeply by Kyle’s words and Kyle says she didn’t mean for it to have racial implications. Sutton says, “Yes, of course you didn’t mean that.” Sutton lets Kyle off easy because Sutton sees herself in Kyle’s position and would also like to be let off easily.
But there’s thankfully a person of color in this conversation too, and this, right here, is why there needs to be actual diversity in these casts. Crystal is not going to let Kyle off so easily. She says essentially, “Yes, you didn’t mean that, but as a person of color who has had to endure remarks that played on racial stereotypes inadvertently, it’s still a hurtful and difficult experience.” The thing to do in this situation is exactly what Kyle did: listen to the person speaking, try to be empathetic, and grow from that experience. Sadly, that is the exact opposite of what Sutton does.
Unfortunately, the fight gets cut off right in the middle, so I can’t see how she reacts, but she tries to stop this line of conversation and say, “No. I’m not doing that. I’m not talking about racial stereotypes,” and Crystal says the truest thing of all: “Well, it’s easy for you not to.” Exactly! It is easy for her not to because she is a white woman of means navigating this world with a great amount of privilege. She draws a parallel to what Garcelle and Crystal have experienced with the stereotypes of “rednecks” that she has had to endure. The difference is, there are plenty of positive portrayals of white people to offset those redneck tropes. That is not always the case for Black or Asian women. Even when disputing her privilege, Sutton can’t see how privileged she really is.
I’ll be curious to see where this goes next week, whether or not Kyle will come to Crystal’s defense, and how all of the other women will react. Yes, it’s hard when there are politics on our shows, where we all want to just unplug and watch a bunch of rich women do things, but I hope that if we can have these conversations out of the gate and educate the Housewives how to treat their coworkers of color, these will be conversations we don’t have to keep having again and again. Though, until there is racial equality, maybe we should.
Instead of that, can we talk for a second about Krazy Kathy Hilton? I am obsessed. Obsessed! She brings a fan on vacation because she needs to listen to the white noise to stay asleep. She also has had staff for so many years she does not know how to operate a plug. No, not an electronic device: a plug. She can’t plug things in. She also won’t get a new phone, she’ll send her sister to do it instead. She calls her sister “Doogie” for no particular reason. She knows that her sister Kim is a nightmare creature from a dark dimension. Why have they been hiding Kathy from us all of these years?
While we’re talking about things we learned about the new girls, how about Crystal’s hot brother who is a Chinese pop star, and her housekeeper Lucy, who is as wonderfully mean as she should be? Not since Flipping Out’s Zoila have I encountered a domestic worker that I wanted to befriend and have on my television every damn week. And what about what we learned about Crystal during “Two Truths and a Lie”? She worked the phones for an escort agency and they wanted her to be a madam. I know we can’t judge her yet because we all signed the EDA (Eileen Davidson Accord), but this is very juicy.
The one problem I have with that game was how reticent Erika is to play it. They set it up in the trailer like there would be some major revelation, and then [zerbert noise]. The three things she told was that she wore a wire in a federal investigation, she was adopted, and she worked for the mob. She told us that she was adopted by her stepfather, but wouldn’t say which of the others were true or not. She said she already said too much. On the show last season, we saw her visit some of the bikini bars she worked at in New Jersey, some of which, maybe, were run by the mob like the Bada Bing on The Sopranos. This was filmed only a week before Election Day, when Erika filed for divorce from Tom. Does that mean she wore a wire? Do we think she wore a wire for Tom’s case? Was this something else in the past? This game wasn’t that revealing, it just left us with even more questions — like what, exactly, does burned salmon taste like?