'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: To Sur, with love
I packed your nylons for you.
Let’s just leave that alone for a second.
This season, I have been complaining ceaselessly about two things: 1) Every episode of "RHOBH," and I mean EVERY, has been a fabulous party, jaunt, or repast, and 2) at these events, it has been impossible to tell if Taylor's and Kim’s unraveling lives are the producers’ invention or deserve an intervention.
This episode’s celebration, which took place at the launch of Lisa’s new Sur restaurant, squeezed reality between these two bookends of merriment and misery. While Lisa, Adrienne, Camille and Kyle swanned around beautifully, enjoying the company of their husbands, canapes and diamonds, Kim arrived late, in purple and insane, hiding from new boyfriend Ken in the bathroom. A newly separated Taylor even later, with her therapist in tow. (I’m going to have to try this maneuver sometime, if you can pay in pigs-in-a-blanket.) Even the villain Cedric made a brief and tumultuous appearance, leading my trusty viewing companion to finally wail, “Will there be any END to the arrivals to this party?”
NO. Because the major theme, of course, was breakdown -- not only of Taylor's and Kim’s relationships, but also of their psyches -- and we’re nearing the finale and the producers have to cram this all in before Pandora’s wedding.
Let’s start with Taylor. The episode began with her standing at her massive kitchen island with her therapist (he seems to have graduated to bespoke suits and cravats for these appearances) showing him a pink behavior chart she’d created for Kennedy. It stretched longer than a mortgage application, giving stars or X’s for behaviors like interrupting, leaving parties early and punching Taylor in the face. (Wait, that’s the one she should have created for Russell!) The therapist fingered it, then said, “This must have taken a lot of work,” an opaque statement to which Taylor responded with an enthusiastic nod. After that, he said, “But it’s really you and Russell that should be behaving, though, isn’t it?” Or that’s what he would have said had I been there to slap him upside the head with a Psychology 101 textbook.
We then centered in on Kim and Ken, who were engaged in the difficult act of trying to leave a hotel room. Hence the spectacularly creepy “I packed your nylons for you” we see above, to which Kim responded by kneeling in the bathroom, applying makeup, and trying to take her (presumably prescription) drugs, which Ken eventually wrapped in a towel...did I get that right? Drugs wrapped in a towel, the better for which to Kim to lock herself in the bathroom and consume at Sur.
But the ladies saved the hard stuff for Sur. There, Kim arrived, with a much-lauded flat stomach, and immediately whispered to Adrienne that she was leaving Ken and it was “not working out.” She then darted away from Ken at every turn, finally finding a seat alone with Kyle, where she confessed that she spent every day crying, Ken put her down, and that she was leaving him. Kyle, who wept with her, seemed also strangely unsympathetic for someone who’d urged her sister to get out of the relationship, until, undaunted, Kim then confessed, despite the aforementioned flat stomach, that she was three months late on her period.
Here, Kyle had the right answer. “Um ... no offense, but are you sure it’s not menopause?” she asked. Unlike the nearly sexegenerian Ramona on last season’s "RHONY," Kyle did not have a pregnancy test handy. But the two did pass a sisterly lip gloss wand back and forth before their respective mates sat down and interrupted the tete-a-tete.
Taylor’s entrance was a little more scripted. Gathering the ladies in a back room, with therapist at the head of the table, she apologized to the assembled for putting them in a bad position all season, explaining that the fading black eye precipitated her finally leaving. As she broke down, Kyle and Lisa murmured she had no reason to apologize, none at all, while a surprisingly adamant Adrienne rushed to Camille’s defense, stating she did in fact owe Camille an apology, you didn’t sue friends, and that Camille was putting herself in danger of a lawsuit by even sitting down at the table. Taylor took responsibility for this too, and the impromptu judges, wearing the preternaturally motionless foreheads of their station, finally all agreed to forgive, placing their hands over one another in a move I would like to dub the Diamond Huddle.
But to come back, finally, to the nylons, it seems the events that neatly hide all but the most advantageous showings for most of the Housewives -- Pandora’s engagement party; Adrienne’s triumph with the crowd in Sacramento; Kyle and Mauricio’s lip-glossed love -- are wearing terribly on the Housewives who can’t even maintain a public face. Literally, in Taylor and Kim’s case, as Taylor now sports a black eye, and Kim, who has entered rehab in real life, is either AWOL or in the bathroom.
Last week Lisa posted a pic from Pandora’s wedding on Twitter and I briefly imagined that there might be at least one Housewife content to keep a truly private event private, having already given viewers an engagement party and a hen party to enjoy.
But, no. Again, we’re ending the season with a visibly menopausal woman claiming she is pregnant, and Pandora, like Ramona and Cynthia before her, descending the staircase like a terrible seed pod that bursts into a full-flowered bride. (Oh @BravoAndy, your wishful thinking is showing!)
I’m not saying we need to go all “An American Family” in the Housewives franchise, but when the balance is split between hiding abusive partners and showcasing million-dollar weddings, can viewers accept -- even encourage -- a bit more honesty? Would it kill us to see Lisa in sweats quarreling with Ken over the remote, if that meant the cameras also had to record Russell socking Taylor?
Because it’s one thing when these fake-o events are harmless false advertising -- a blushing bride, a hot husband, two successful workaholics, a foul-mouthed Brandi. Only in Hollywood could a team of cameras set out to film reality and come back with some Dentyne-commercial-worthy performance.
But if they’re hiding wife-beating, emotional abuse, and addiction, we have to rethink on who and what we're shining the light.
— Lizzie Skurnick
Photo: "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast members (clockwise from top left): Lisa Vanderpump, Adrienne Maloof, Taylor Armstrong, Kim Richards, Brandi Granville, Dana Wilkey, Kyle Richards and Camille Grammer. Credit: Richard McLaren / Bravo