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'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: Taylor in Wonderland

November 5, 2010 |  8:55 am

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It was more than dueling children’s parties in Beverly Hills this week for the housewives. These parties served as a marker of the dividing lines between the two sides that seem to make up this show: the delusional, money-and-influence obsessed ones, with the others who at least have some sort of connection to Earth.

This week, both Taylor Armstrong and Kyle Richards had toddler-age daughters celebrating birthdays. Taylor’s party (and who are we kidding here? It was Taylor’s party more than her daughter’s) was beyond opulent. It was beautiful in a disgustingly exorbitant kind of way, with a "Mad Hatter" theme and tiny sandwiches and colorful deserts. It took place at the Houdini mansion ($10,000 to rent), had a musician performing a song for her daughter, Kennedy, and had champagne for the grownups. This, clearly, wasn’t a celebration of the life of this child; here was, instead, a commemoration of the anniversary of the time Taylor gave birth. Because everything has to be about Taylor, right? 

This episode was very revealing. Now we know, for the most part, who these women are. We saw them as mothers, and through their mothering we were able to get a glimpse of their character. This week said a lot about Taylor. The jury had been out on her from the beginning. She seemed sheepish, diminished by an awkward, wealthy husband who ran the household. In the first week, she talked about how she wanted to break out on her own, fearing that her husband would figure out that, despite all her plastic surgeon’s wizardry, she was aging. All that turned out to be rather disingenuous, and she came out this week as terribly self-centered, annoying and absurdly out of touch with reality.

She starts the episode at the jeweler finding the perfect diamond necklace for her 4-year-old daughter. The jeweler tells her, “Every girl needs a big, gorgeous diamond for her fourth birthday.” No, she doesn’t. She needs an empty box. A doll. Friends to play with.

“Kids’ parties in Beverly Hills have gotten out of control,” said Kim, whose daughter’s party was a bit more tempered, for Beverly Hills, at least. In her backyard was a moon bounce. A petting zoo. You know, fun stuff — things a kid would actually enjoy.

As usual, Lisa Vanderpump played a very important role this week. It says a lot about a show — or a city, if you believe that Beverly Hills is, indeed, like this — when a snarky British woman who time-traveled from a 1980s soap opera is the one grounded in reality. With her, we had a chance to see past her witty comments to what’s underneath: an insecure woman, scratching to find her place now that her children have left her an empty nest. She appeared to be a dedicated mother. Her face when her son, Max, made a surprise visit to her birthday lunch couldn’t have been manufactured for television. It was refreshingly genuine. (Not a word you use much with housewives, huh?)

And Lisa said she saw herself in Kyle with her children. She called it like she saw it with Taylor’s party, too. She saw what we at home saw: a miserable child, a mother soaking up the spotlight, and, oh, Taylor’s awkward and controlling husband.

Taylor rebutted with something straight from the Camille Grammer playbook (don’t worry, we’ll get to her shortly): I’m so generous. I did this all for my daughter. Lisa would rather just go out and buy herself more shoes.

“I’d rather throw a huge party for my daughter,” Taylor said. “That’s just how I am.” And, she added about daughter: “She's definitely a little overwhelmed.” (Actually, the poor child was miserable ... at her mother’s party.)

Speaking of self-absorbed, that brings us to Camille. There’s no debating that Camille would have sided with Taylor’s party, but she couldn’t attend as she was too busy getting away from the imagined stresses of California for Hawaii. And, my goodness, it is stressful in California. Having to instruct a servant on how to arrange the fruit on her kitchen counter and get her house manager (yeah, she has one of those) to plan her trip to Hawaii? Poor thing! No wonder she needs to get away!

“When Kelsey’s not around, it’s twice as much work,” she lamented. (For those keeping count at home, yes, she did reference husband Kelsey Grammer, again, for the 3,435,874,185th time.)

So, for Camille’s sake, let’s pause here momentarily for a little math lesson: When you multiply anything by zero, the product is zero. Thus:

[(Grammer Family - Kelsey) x Doing no actual work whatsoever] = 0

Nevertheless, Camille still must have the opportunity to rejuvenate. She needs the therapy of the beach, the paddle boarding and, apparently, the time to share a hot tub with a friend who looks like Rush Limbaugh’s creepier older brother. “I’m busy all the time,” she whines to the unsympathetic audience. “I run, like, several different homes.” She also takes the credit for her husband’s sobriety. And, in case you missed it last week, she launched Patricia Arquette to the super-stardom that comes from a warmed-over show anchoring CBS’ Friday night lineup and drawing in the crowd that watches Lifetime in the middle of the night.

Camille also wants us to know she gave away a car because, as she said, “Kelsey and I, we’re very generous people.” (Look! She mentioned him again!)

Meanwhile, we don’t hear much from the other Housewives this week. Kim Richards bounced around the screen a few times looking like Lamb Chop having gone through Extreme Makeover, revealing very little about her character. Which says a lot in and of itself.

Although we see very little of Adrienne Maloof this week, we are able to catch in a brief blink of the camera that she is actually tethered to the real world. She gave us the lesson of the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” this week: Children are the great equalizer. You can own all the basketball teams in the world and all the casino-hotels in Las Vegas — you’re still going to have to wrangle with your kids to just sit down and eat their lunch.

Unless, of course, you’re Camille Grammer. You have a fleet of nannies for that.

— Rick Rojas

Photo: Taylor Armstrong. Credit: Adam Olszewski / Bravo

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