I have excused my imaginary lover Kyle Cooke from so much bad behavior over the years: drunken cheating, drunken yelling, drunken thinking that a mullet wig is cool. But I absolutely have to draw the line here: Not preparing even a whiff of a gift for your fiancée’s 30th birthday deserves the electric chair.
Seriously, how clueless are straight guys? Well, I shouldn’t even say that. Andrea and Alex, who barely know her, show up with what I assume is a giant cake from Eataly for her birthday. Luke got her a donation to the animal shelter she and Kyle foster dogs from (and if you don’t follow the Cooke-Batulas on Instagram just for the puppy content, you are missing out). Even Lindsay got Amanda a pogo stick, which she is shockingly good at riding, and I will make no pogo stick jokes at this moment — please respect my privacy.
Everyone is at Amanda’s ’90s-themed birthday party, and none of these kids even remembers the ’90s, which is when both Kyle and I lost our virginities (sadly not to each other). Paige asks Kyle what to get her. Kyle is wearing faded jeans, a flannel shirt, and a backward baseball cap, so basically he looks like every boy in high school who called me the F-slur. He tells Paige he didn’t get her anything. Kyle. My man. What is wrong with you? It’s your girlfriend’s birthday. You always have to get her something. Even if she says “I don’t want any gifts this year,” you have to get her something. A dinner out. A little piece of jewelry. A Walgreens gift card. The only unacceptable thing to get her is nothing.
Paige tells Lindsay about this, and Lindsay is like, “Kyle, get up here. It is an emergency.” Lindsay usually exaggerates everything, but she was not wrong about this. The National Guard should have been called. Instead, Paige demands his credit card and books the couple a trip to the Bahamas, and then Kyle says, “Wait, do you need a passport? Mine expired during COVID.” Dude. Dude. DUDE. Seriously. Paige cancels it and is basically like, You’re on your own, buddy. And he should be. This is Kyle’s grave, and he should lie in it and we should all pee on him because not doing anything for your partner’s birthday is the dumbest, stupidest, idiotic-est unforced error in the whole world.
Other than Kyle being an absolute idiot, this is such a fun episode with everyone being their best, craziest selves. Lindsay is on the hunt to get laid. She misses with a Greek bartender but then hits it off with some guy named Matt who we haven’t even seen yet. With her shopping around all summer, how are she and Carl — the early bird getting the worm — ever going to get together? Danielle is having a blast, nursing a giant bottle of rosé with a scrunchie around the neck and ordering shots for everyone at a pool party that she says is the lamest party she has ever been to. Mya shows off her cooking skills, and Luke finally shows up. Why has he been absent? He says he was in Minnesota “doing some stuff for work.” Dude, your job is being on a reality-TV show and being a model. Both of those things happen in New York.
Ciara doesn’t do much other than pine away for Austen and ask Lindsay if there was anything between the two of them, to which Lindsay is like, I have decided that man-child is not ready for this jelly. The only person we manage to hate more is Alex. Oomfs (which is an Oompa Loompa but on Twitter) said the piles of Amazon boxes in front of the door turned into a human, and his name is Alex. That is the perfect explanation. He’s stiff, boring, and no one wants him around — just like an empty Amazon box. While he’s making cookies for the gang from a Toll House slice-and-bake log, someone tries to eat one of the balls of raw dough and Alex shoos them away, telling them they can’t. Gah! Why is Alex such a rule follower? And why would you rob someone of the joy of raw cookie dough? Ben & Jerry’s sells that shit in a bag in the freezer section — that is how good it is. That is Alex. Robbing everything of joy as if he’s a big bowl of baked chicken breast, steamed broccoli, and brown rice.
The only person in the house who had as bad a week as Kyle is Paige. Oh, Paige. Our poor, lost, influencing fairy. The episode starts with Craig telling her that he did indeed fuck Kristin Cavallari and that if he were in Nashville again, he would have someone to hook up with. Oh, not after saying that on national television you won’t, mon frère. Paige is saddened he’s hooking up with someone else, but that’s only because she doesn’t want to be exclusive. “Maybe I made this something in my head that it wasn’t,” she tells Ciara. Um, no. You made it something out in the universe that it wasn’t. Paige seems to want to be able to hook up with and lead on any guy she wants, so she doesn’t make it exclusive with anyone. But then when one of the dudes dares to exercise his right to non-exclusivity, she gets all bent out of shape.
What becomes clear later on is she actually cares about Craig, and that’s why his getting down and dirty with a onetime star of The Hills has her so in her feels. (Or maybe it’s just because K.C.’s Instagram following is about five times the size of hers.) Craig, meanwhile, seems fine with this arrangement because he can shag all over the place like a well-laid carpet. “Just because everyone doesn’t understand our setup doesn’t mean it doesn’t work,” he tells Amanda. “It does work.” Um, does it? ’Cause Paige is all sad about it and you’re running around the house shouting at people, so it seems to work about as much as Luke — who, as we have already established, does not work at all.
While Craig is telling Amanda about this, Paige is upstairs making out with Andrea in her bed, and Ciara is also sitting there trying not to get too much in the way. When he leaves, Paige says, “Fuck Kristin all you want. I can get hot people, too.” This is my problem with her continued flirtation with Andrea: He seems actually interested in her and made his intentions clear. She keeps flirting and making out with him while harboring feelings for Craig. She clearly doesn’t want anything real with Andrea but keeps him around to prove some kind of stupid point to Craig.
At the end of the episode, Andrea literally grabs Paige in the hallway and brings her behind a closed door for what sounds like a very slobbery make-out sesh. (What is this room? Why are there no cameras? Is this the new pantry? Or is it the laundry room? Were they tonguing next to a lint trap?) We know they’re in there because we heard a little ding and there was an arrow pointing to them. Whenever the editors give us an arrow, we know something bad is about to happen; it’s like when they show you what time it is on Housewives — they only include this information to lead someone to filth and for all of us to clap along at home.
The no good that is clearly up is Paige using Andrea for her own ego boost, to make Craig jealous, and to drive an insanely hot Italian man wild with desire for someone he can never truly have. Mya accuses Craig of gaslighting Paige, which he clearly did, but I think Paige is gaslighting Andrea. She keeps engaging his affection and drawing him into spending more time with her but has no intention of actually engaging with him. The only thing worse than that is the proliferation and misuse of the term gaslight. Oh, that and Kyle not buying Amanda anything for her birthday.