This week on our favorite television program Rich Women Doing Things, the rich women did things. They brought their sisters to the beach house they bought just so they could knock it down, even though they already live in Los Angeles, which if it isn’t one giant beach then it is at least one giant seagull swooping down and stealing a half-eaten piece of pizza out of your hand. They carried a bag that was a black ball with an enormous tassel hanging off of it and looked like some sort of weapon you’d see in a Quentin Tarantino film. They talked about wanting to have more babies even though they are Carole Radziwill’s last two good summers away from 50. They talked to their drivers in Spanish using an Italian accent — even though they answered them back in English — which made them sound like Luigi walking into a Chipotle.
But mostly what they did was talk about Crystal and her use of the word “dark.” Of all the Lucy Lucy Apple Juiceys that we could be stuck with this season, it’s Crystal saying that Sutton said something dark. Oh Jesus. Give me Pantygate. Give me Denise Richards’s lesbian affair and sausage-fingered husband. Give me being such a fucking liar, Camille. Give me anything except for this fight.
Before we can go on talking about it, I have to call time on gaslighting as a term on Housewives specifically but also life in general. Much like bullying before it, the word has been overused and misused to the point of it being utterly meaningless. It first came up when Crystal used it correctly, or at least as correctly as wearing a Skims bra as a waist trainer. She said that she felt violated and the other women told her she didn’t feel violated. Okay, I get it, I can see your point.
This episode, when Crystal goes to a lunch with Kyle that’s more like being sent to the principal’s office than a shared meal, Crystal once again refuses to say the “dark” thing that Sutton said to her last year in Tahoe. Kyle says that Crystal is gaslighting her. No, she is not. She is just not sharing the information that you want her to share. That is not gaslighting, which is someone trying to drive you insane by telling you that something real is actually fake. What Crystal is doing is annoying, but if everything that was annoying was gaslighting, then those people who stand outside of subway stops and ask if you have a minute for the environment would be gaslighting so much that they would actually explode.
Kyle once again misuses the term at dinner in Mexico. We can’t have nice things, and we can’t have new terms. We can’t have free guac on our burritos, we can’t have Johnny Depp leave us alone for even two consecutive days, and we can’t get rid of daylight saving time. I’m not saying that all of this is the fault of the term gaslighting, but I am not saying it’s not, either. So we are taking it away or at least renaming it. Now gaslighting only refers to when you hold a lighter up to your butt while you fart. That is it. Sorry, I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.
I guess we now have to talk about this actual fight between Crystal and Sutton, and I really don’t want to because it is so dumb. When Sutton and Garcelle have dinner after Sutton is done playing a game of Operation on the ice cubes in her grapefruit juice, she says what she thinks Crystal is talking about is a story where Sutton’s daughter had her friends over in her pool and it was a Black girl, a Chinese girl, and, to quote Sutton, “I don’t know, some red-headed girl.” (Ginger erasure. So Sutton.) Garcelle tells her that it can’t be that. That can’t be the thing that was “dark” and “problematic.” Garcelle also says she won’t let it rest until Crystal says what Sutton said, which just proves what we always say about the Rich Women: They can’t ever let shit go.
I must remind everyone that, as much as this is a fight between Sutton and Crystal, who both seem to be over this, it is really a power struggle between Garcelle and Kyle to see who is the bigger super-producer in the group. Kyle is trying to work Crystal, and Garcelle is trying to gin up Sutton, and together they’re tugging on this story line, trying to get it up like two strippers tugging on a client with a severe case of whiskey dick. The only reason Crystal even brought it up is because Garcelle wrongly accused her of setting a trap for Sutton.
That dinner in Mexico seemed to me a case of everyone getting more upset that Sutton might be wrongly accused of racism than Crystal interpreting what she said as problematic. Once again, Crystal is not allowed her feelings. They tell her that it is not dark; they tell her that she did not hear what she thought she heard and couldn’t have felt how she thought she felt. I would like to have heard Crystal explain why she thought what Sutton said was problematic, but why would Crystal tell this group? Why would she share anything with them? At this point, they have constantly denied her lived experience, so why would they believe her now?
Erika cuts right to the chase and says what Sutton really wants is Crystal to say that she doesn’t think she’s a racist. I don’t think that Crystal thinks she is. But that doesn’t mean Sutton is incapable of saying things that are insensitive, like she did last year in Tahoe. Sutton has learned from that mistake, and I think we all grew a little bit watching it.
What happens after that, though, left a taste in my mouth even worse than Ramona Pinot. Sutton accuses Crystal of trying to ruin her reputation twice. She backs this up by saying that Crystal has a pattern of making up lies behind her friends’ backs. This is something we have not seen any evidence of whatsoever on the show. In confessional, Sutton says she has heard from people who used to be Crystal’s friends that she will do whatever it takes to get close to the most powerful woman in the group, but she won’t say what Crystal did or where she heard this from. Lisa Rinna says she also heard this but didn’t want to “use it.”
Wait, so aren’t both of these women now doing exactly what they accused Crystal of doing? Aren’t they bringing something up but not saying it and making everyone assume the worst? That is behavior that, when Crystal did it, was so “dangerous,” but now no one seems to mind or even bring it up. I’m totally with Crystal — there seems to be one set of rules for everyone else and a different set for Crystal. No wonder she’s sitting at the end of that table looking like a single pasta noodle that’s been left to boil too long. She’s totally defeated because she is always wrong; she is always dangerous; she is always passive-aggressive. These women haven’t given her a chance to be anything but. If I were Crystal, I’d call my own damn private jet and fly back to L.A. where she can treat her real friends like shit rather than letting her fake friends treat her like shit. That’s what she does, right?
What’s so weird about this season is that we’re focusing on this drama that is so petty not even Tom or Lori wants to be related to it when there is crazy shit happening in everyone else’s lives. Erika is still dealing with legal drama. Dorit is microdosing psilocybin to get over her trauma. (This is a lie that I wish were real.) And now, Lisa Rinna is dealing with the loss of her mother Lois. I feel awful for her, of course, and loved the tribute we got for Lois, who was an occasional and jubilant figure on the show, but Lisa was back to work so quickly without even one hair on her iconic haircut out of place. We all grieve differently, and I’m sure she’s really going through it, but in Mexico, with the sound of the waves rolling into their suites, the glint of the stars lighting up the night, the soft tang of the humid air on their tongues, I’m sure her mother feels both a million miles away and right up on her shoulders.