The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
This week on our favorite show, Rich Women Doing Things, the rich women did things. They told their friends to Google the word satnam before doing yoga, but none of them did so I had to. And it turns out it means “whose name is truth.” They all freaked out when a seagull attacked their boat ride on Lake Taco, then cooed like a baby fresh on a nipple when the bird settled onto the
stern bow to do the inevitable “I’m the king of the world!” joke. They played bocce quite poorly in the side yard while dressed in matching oversize hoodie jackets, far too baggy pants, and bucket hats, as though they were Jamiroquai performing at the 1996 Jingle Ball. They harassed their friends into getting in the pool with them to learn a little bit of Esther Williams choreography and then made those of us at home feel old when one of them had to explain to the kids at home just who Esther Williams was because that reference is now as outdated as your iPod Nano. But most of what the rich women did was deal with Crystal and Sutton because, hoo-boy, there is a lot there.
Sutton’s performance this whole episode goes back to the fact that it seems like she’s not built for reality television and, in fact, it may actually be bad for her mental health. I hope Bravo is paying her in Lexapro and days off because it seems like she needs those more than she needs the money. The morning after her confrontation with Crystal about the “prank” at the restaurant, Sutton is sitting in her room trying not to cry because she’s so upset by how the women treated her the night before. When Kyle and Lisa come in and say she is being “defensive,” she adds it to a literal list of names the women called her the night before, as if she’s Arya Stark but the only thing she’s going to take revenge on is her own self-loathing. We then see a wonderful montage of all the things Lisa has been called during her tenure on the show, and Sutton’s list pales in comparison. How many times do I have to say this: She is not meant for this world of reality TV.
All the women go on a boat ride, and Garcelle is talking to Erika about her husband, Tom, and she mentions that she talked to him that morning and he was back at the law firm. “He’s dedicated his life to being a lawyer; that is first and foremost in his life, and that is who he really is. He loves it,” Erika says. Four days later, she texts the women that she has filed for divorce, and they’re all stunned. This conversation doesn’t make it look like she’s a woman who has the papers drawn up, so the whole thing seems a little suspect. While the bomb dropped in this episode, I think the more telling bits of it are what will come out when Erika finally talks about what was going on and how she felt when it was happening. Oh, we have a whole season to look forward to.
On the boat, Sutton pulls Crystal aside for a chat, and it is one of the craziest conversations I have ever seen on reality TV — and I watched all of both seasons of Joe Millionaire. Sutton is wearing a pair of giant square mint-green sunglasses that are so brilliant they should have an HGTV series where they go into the Magnolia store in Waco and tell everything in it that it sucks, and she’s just flailing. She wants to explain how upset she is and how she feels Crystal is abrupt with her, and Crystal is just looking at her dead in the face and saying, “Okay.” She is ice cold. She is colder than the Zima that is lodged in the corner of the Igloo. She is colder than the best Yo Momma joke you ever heard. She is colder than Princess Anne next time she runs into Meghan Markle at a family reunion.
Sutton tells Crystal she wants to hear her side of what happened the night before, and Crystal is flummoxed. As far as she’s concerned, she did nothing wrong, and Sutton was behaving irrationally (add it to the list!) and freaking out over the silliest things. Crystal tells Sutton the truth: that she feels like she can’t trust her or her emotions. Crystal says she can’t expect Sutton to have a proper reaction to what’s going on because everything she does is so outsize. Sutton reacts by crying and rubbing her face with a magenta roller to “self-soothe” because she feels this helps her in an uncomfortable situation. Crystal just sits there in a beige trench coat that costs more than three of your rent payments and tells Sutton she’s crazy.
Sutton says, “Don’t call me crazy. It’s not true, and it’s not nice.” Is it not true? In this moment, it sure looks true. It looks like Crystal is in control of her emotions and Sutton clearly is not. Like a hormonal teen who was told she can’t go to the BTS concert, Sutton is not in control of herself, and you can tell Crystal just wants her to get it together. “This is definitely not the first time someone has called her crazy,” Crystal says in a confessional. “Maybe to her face, but definitely not the first time.” This is true. This is so true I feel it all the way down my bones to the very crinkles in my toes. This is the truest thing in an episode where Kyle says Dorit lied about getting a nose job. That’s how true it is.
That evening, after skipping dinner, Crystal comes out and talks to Kyle about what happened the night before. She mentions that when Sutton came into her room to “return” her coat (even though they were all still in the house, and the coat wasn’t going to disappear), Sutton surprised her while she was naked, and instead of immediately leaving the room, Sutton made some strange comment and left the coat on the bed. Crystal seems really upset about this, and I think it’s going to be part of their ongoing feud so I’ll demur on talking about it more. I don’t want to inadvertently judge Crystal before the show’s fifth episode because the Eileen Davidson Accord is sacred, and I would not break it except in extreme circumstances.
What Crystal missed at dinner was a conversation that’s as much about the show itself as it is about the women. Lisa brings up what happened the year before between her and Denise and how she was accused of being a bad friend. Lisa repeats a story from her husband, Clash of the Titans star Harry Hamlin, about how he was friends with a man who had raped a woman. All of their friends went to visit this guy in prison, but Harry couldn’t just have blind devotion to this guy. She felt the same thing toward Denise. All the people in the house say, “What now?” Not being able to trust Denise and not being able to abide the actions of a man who is a convicted rapist aren’t even remotely the same. They’re not on the same planet, they’re not in the same solar system, they’re on opposite sides of a single black hole with their molecules being repelled to opposite ends of the space-time continuum.
Lisa confesses that she handled the situation the wrong way, but she doesn’t seem so upset at the collateral damage of her friendship with Denise or of Denise’s public image. Garcelle agrees with Lisa and, for a second, she attempts to be just as cold as Crystal. Lisa says, “I just wanted her to be transparent and vulnerable, and she wasn’t ready.” That sounds more like it’s about how Lisa wanted Denise to bring something to the show that she wasn’t bringing; it sounds more like a work issue than a friend issue. Then Lisa says she knew more about what was going on than anyone else, secrets Denise had that were affecting her behavior, but she wouldn’t bring them up. That’s a dirty trick because now we’re all wondering what the secrets are and what other dark and dirty things Denise has done. It’s sort of like when Kim Richards made insinuations about Harry Hamlin without actually saying them, something that sent Lisa into a glass-shattering rage. But here, she does the same thing and doesn’t mind. She says it under the stars and the sky and the black hole that separates Denise Richards from a sex offender. She says it while the moon skips its light across the surface of the lake and the animals that live deep down, that don’t know if it’s light or dark at all, suffer all of their emotions in silence.