'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' finale recap: Pink Ladies
I’m not giving her away; I’m sharing her.
And thus proud papa Ken gets the best line of this "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" episode as he “agrees” to give away daughter Pandora to the beaming swain Jason in the couple’s splendiferous wedding, which comprises the triumphant finale of the show. (If every real-life father actually NOW says this as he makes the handoff, forgive me; I’m a little rusty on what passes for wit in wedding marches these days.)
And this was not the only thing passed on in this episode. (Squeamish? Just go ahead and skip ahead two paragraphs RIGHT NOW. Trust me.) Producers could not help but juxtapose the celebration of matrimony with the institution’s far less celebratory end: a colonoscopy, which Mr. Maloof, a.k.a. Paul Nassif, gamely went through on camera, thus giving viewers a snapshot of the far more quotidian duties that make up married life.
Adrienne came along for moral support, though brusquely refused to help with the enema. (“Moral support is one thing, but ... [INCREDULOUS SILENCE].”) However, before departing on six-inch heels, jeweled cellphone in hand, Adrienne held her husband’s hand in recovery as he released his post-colonospic air in a series of blasts while drowsily objecting to her laughter. Pandora, pay attention! Enjoy that pink gown, because it morphs into a backless paper one.
This irrefutably genuine view of marriage was joined by a pretty genuine version of a wedding day’s stress, as well. (Minus $700,000 in pin money and a group of triplet makeup artists.) Consider "RHONY's" Ramona’s “renewal” of vows with husband Mario, which were simply the culmination of her seasonlong nonsurgical renewing procedures. Or Cynthia and Peter’s debacle of a joining-forces on "RHOATL," in which the mother and sister tried to hide the license, the ceremony bankrupted the couple, and the groom showed up drunk.
In Bev, Lisa wandered around in sweats with her hair pinned up, put on a ridiculous tiara, as requested, and burst into tears as her daughter swept down their staircase. She even unromantically refused to listen to her husband practice his speech. (“Darling, you cannot bring this up with me two hours before the ceremony; this is ridiculous.”) On "RHOATL," the big question was whether Cynthia would make it to the top of the staircase at all.
But most surprising -- and enlightening -- was that viewers did not get to see the ceremony at all. (We did see the pink padded room studded with hanging diamond strands, which to me looked like flagella in the center of some pulsating organism, faint light shining through the translucent pink flesh. But: to each her own!)
Instead, we watched the bride walk up the aisle -- and then immediately watched them be declared husband and bride. The vows, as they should be, were reserved for the assembled. And the party, rather than being an opportunity for scandals and confrontations, was instead presented as a silent, softly lit montage, the kind of work you might expect from an especially ambitious videographer.
How Pandora and Jason will do when those pesky enema/wedding speech items come up in future, we cannot know. But it speaks well of the couple that they didn’t let their wedding be cannibalized by the network, just as the ladies’ gathering three weeks later also seemed one of the few genuine get-togethers I’ve ever seen.
Remember, we began the series with an awkward party at Dana's that quickly devolved into Brandi, Kim, and Kyle hurling insults each other. (“Slut!” “Meth addict!”) Now, at Kyle’s, Brandi, Dana, and Kim were not present. (Kim checked herself into rehab shortly after the series wrapped; Brandi and Dana, I assume, were simply not invited.)
For the first time, the ladies sat around drinking Prosecco and enjoying each others’ company. Camille passed around an iPhone pic of her new boyfriend’s abs. (“Is he legal?”) Lisa pulled out some photos for the wedding. (“You look nervous!”) Adrienne showed a new batch of her shoes. (“These are a huge improvement!”) These are the kind of comments that are catty when you don’t know a lady, and warmly helpful when you do. This situation was a striking example of the latter.
The only jarring note -- it’s a biggie -- is whether or not Russell had yet killed himself when they all met. I am pretty sure he had, which makes all that joyful noise a little off-key. (“How are you?” “I’m doing better.” “Let’s look at pictures of my daughter’s wedding!”) I cannot imagine but that it would have been unbearable to see the pink, resplendent results of someone else's 30-year marriage when your husband, who beat you, had just killed himself.
And yet, it’s undeniable that, for the first time on the entire series, Taylor looked and acted normal, as did the ladies themselves. I am interested to see whether I will feel as sanguine about them all after next week’s reunion show. (Doubtful.) But for a moment, let us all enjoy our sojourn in that pink, padded "RHOBH" room.
— 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