'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: Baggage handlers
Poor Housewives. Here they are, at the modest multimillion-dollar ski cabin of their newly charming friend, Camille, simply trying to enjoy a private chef, breathtaking views and a glass of wine or two. Still, despite their teetering Prada boots, precise blowouts and make-up-artist-applied smokey eyes, one drunken blonde can still make the whole thing go pear-shaped.
Though the greater Housewives franchise has given us plenty of women literally forced to sell the clothes off their backs to maintain house and home, in their second season, Haves and Have-Nots are not the ruling demarcation of our well-padded Beverly Hills clan. Rather, as we get to know them better, the ladies have begun to rather awkwardly separate into two far more interesting camps: the Have-it-Togethers and Definitely-do-Nots, with Adrienne, Lisa, Kyle and new member Camille leading up the former, and the slurred-voiced Taylor and Kim staggering around to unsteadily hold up the banner of the latter.
Truly straining the Definitely Does Not meter of course, is Taylor, whose Beaver Creek Breakdown at Camille's spread put RHONY's Kelly Bensimon's pathetic jelly bean debacle to shame. After being drunkenly plied with advice and white wine in a hot tub by a disingenuously solicitous and well-coiffed Kyle, Taylor put on a spa robe to wake Kim from a dead sleep to weepily apologize for being such a jerk in the last season.
This was a nice, if somewhat overwrought, gesture, but what followed was a wipeout no ski concierge could prevent. First, the weeping Taylor placed herself under a heap of towels in Kyle's suitcase, deep in a closet. Discovered, she was shepherded back to her room by a wide-eyed but grimly "Oh, ha ha ha, you impish creature!" Kyle and Kim. But what happened next no one could dispense with faux cheer (or fur). Discovering her blue-and-red-flowered makeup bag was missing, Taylor peered ghoulishly like a death's head into the bathroom mirror while a crowd of fluttering Housewives searched, casting more-than-concerned glances behind her back. By cocktails, Adrienne had moved to openly telling Taylor she was having a nervous breakdown, which Taylor proceeded to soundly confirm by weeping through the entire dinner, pausing only when the chef emerged to extol the virtues of her ginger-carrot soup.
By the end of the trip, Team Has it Together, only trained to hold off fake-cigarette-puffing psychics, went from mildly concerned to nonplussed to practically backing away. At the airport, hauling their 12,000 bags back to Beverly Hills (Taylor, now extricated, was walking upright), they'd reached the tacit agreement that their friend had passed beyond any help that lip gloss -- or lip service -- could give.
After the recent suicide of Taylor's husband, Russell Armstrong, Bravo pulled the series back for a re-edit. Their spin was that Taylor and Armstrong's storyline would be edited to adjust to the new circumstances, presumably to show more respect for the deceased. This, unsurprisingly, has not happened, although I think it's too early to tell if the clear augmentation of Taylor's misery -- as well as the intimations of physical abuse by Russell -- are necessarily the worst thing. Because, in fact, the rest of the episode took pains to explore visions of marriages that were far healthier. Lisa and Mr. Jiggy went to look at a new restaurant space to expand her successful Sur, and Mr. Jiggy gave firm but constructive criticism to his wife's plans, kind of sexily, I might add. (I admit it! I find Mr. Jiggy's constructive criticism sexy!) Kyle and Mauricio went out to a dinner in which they had an actual discussion about her sister, one in which Mauricio pointed out that he might be able to patch up his relationship with Kim, though it would take more work than Kyle needed. And the humorously pugnacious Maloof mate repeatedly tried to dissuade his wife from traveling to the epicenter of the enraged fans of her sports team, The Sacramento Kings, while simultaneously telling her that whatever she did, he would be going along.
The point is, the men disagreed with their wives, but as a result of love and engagement with their family, not separation and distance. It's not surprising the Bravo Andy (I can't think of him as anything but his Twitter handle) chose to launch the resumption of the network's aftershow, "Watch What Happens Live," with the warm but ruthless person of "Millionaire Matchmaker's" Patti Stanger as his guest, not any of the Housewives themselves.
The uncannily correct dating guru is as close to a relationship therapist as the network has, and if anyone's qualified to drop useful knowledge while maintaining gravitas about the recent death (if only from the recent round of facial injections), it's she. I'm going to be watching closely -- and agreeing with Andy it's a silent mitzvah we don't have to depend on Rachel Zoe.
--Lizzie Skurnick. Follow her on Twitter @lizzieskurnick
"Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast. Photo credit: Richard McLaren/Bravo