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'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: The serious business of love

December 3, 2010 |  8:30 am

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Thanksgiving may have been last Thursday, but I feel like I need to share something I’m thankful for: a respite from the "Housewives" last week, and a break from Camille Grammer on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” on Thursday night.

It was a night of romance for the housewives. It was, indeed, a rather boring night. No fights, not too much cattiness. Just a glimpse into married life in Beverly Hills. There are some married couples on the show who make me squirm and others who make me smile.

So, the discussion for this week: Marriage. (And in the case of Kim Richards, blind dating.)

The Nassif-Maloof couple is one that makes me smile. They have one of those stereotypical sitcom marriages -– dysfunctional but it works. They gel together. He screws up, he doesn’t show up to her family’s events, he’s sometimes sloppy and is the worst when it comes to placing an order for dinner. And she's generally dismissive of him, blowing him off as a fool. On this anniversary –- their eighth –- he comes through and gives her the perfect gift for the woman who has everything (including a hotel/casino and an NBA team): a dog.

But, oddly enough, it’s a dog that highlights the strains in another marriage, between Taylor Armstrong and her husband, Russell. Russell, as you may recall, at the ridiculous Mad Hatter party that Taylor threw for their daughter, gave the daughter a puppy for her birthday, even though Taylor clearly forbade him from doing so. Turns out the girl is allergic, and the doctor suggests getting rid of the dog. It would seem obvious to follow the doctor’s order. Plus, kids are resilient. She’ll get over it. No, he says, he wants to keep that dog.

The Armstrongs try to look romantic in the process of having this conversation in the backyard on the outdoor couch by the pool. They are a couple who are painful to watch: they have practically no chemistry, like the two of them have never met.

I’ve talked in the past about how I had soured on Taylor. She, like Camille, was all about the money, and about bragging about her splurges. I hate to drag out that word, but she seems quite insecure. And it’s sad. Behind the pouty lips and hair ripped from the pages of the Kim Zolciak wig line catalog, and despite the big house and the money and seemingly all the things that cement status, she comes across as empty. Taylor’s reaching for status as though it can fill what is otherwise a hollow shell of her life.

What the material things do for Taylor, Kim's children usually do for her. It was refreshing this week to see Kim step out of her comfort zone. She was as painfully awkward as usual, with all the trembling anxiety that has become central to her character. But she put herself out there. (I’m not kidding – you saw the dress!) She didn’t pull out the I-was-a-child-actress-so-that’s-why [fill in the blank]. She seemed to have a fun time, and I felt happy for her. Martin, the older English man with whom Lisa Vanderpump set her up on a blind date, seemed to mesh well with her. They may not be soul mates, but it’s a positive development –- the first one to come out of this show in a while.

The show, if anything, served as a reminder of what marriage should be about. Take Kyle Richards and her husband, or Lisa Vanderpump and hers –- they’ve found something that works.

Taylor watched Kyle in envy, seeing her husband swoon over her and how she reciprocated. Later, at lunch, Taylor told her about how she hoped her marriage would grow into something like that, and how she hoped she and her husband could become good friends.

That isn’t where they are at now, though.

“I feel like we’re great business partners,” a tearful Taylor told Kyle.

Marriage for them was just a merger. And as a good businessman will tell you, love has no place in business.

QUESTIONS:

I’m still filled with the spirit of Thanksgiving, so share with me which "Housewives" moments you are grateful for this season.

Since it’s not practical to give Women Who Have Everything a material thing for the holidays, let’s offer them some wisdom. What advice, if any, would you want to pass along to these ladies?

-- Rick Rojas

UPDATE: Hat tip to Joanne for catching my flub on Taylor Armstrong's husband's name. It's Russell, not Lawrence.

Photo: Kyle Richards, Taylor Armstrong, Lisa Vanderpump and Kim Richards Credit: Jason DeCrow/Bravo

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