‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’: Of tragedies and situation comedies

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
“Back to Beverly Hills”
Sept. 5, 2011

Listen. Bravo knows there is a giant pink bedazzled elephant tottering around the room in some Jimmy Choos. By now everybody and their purse dog knows that Taylor Armstrong’s husband, Russell Armstrong, committed suicide some three weeks before the premiere of this season. Within moments of his death being announced, the media began furiously blaming reality television — and Bravo in particular — for Armstrong’s death. Meanwhile, the tragic and unexpected event put Bravo in a tailspin as to how to handle this season: should they re-edit it? delay the premiere? kill the season altogether?

NOPE. Instead, some two weeks after Russell’s death, the producers gathered all the ladies, with the notable exception of Taylor, and herded them into La Maloof’s house and had them speculate on the financial and emotional problems that clearly, obviously, and single-handedly led Armstrong to take his own life. There was no meta moment (at least none that was included in the final edit) in which the ladies wondered about the possible deleterious effects of being turned into a character — a villainous character at that — on a reality show. So, well done, Bravo! I’m sure this three-minute segment with Kyle delicately dabbing at her tears while she talks about how in the end it was all his choice, I’m certain this will erase everyone’s concerns about airing this haunted season. I’m also certain that now that you’ve presented your convincing case — “He must have been depressed! He wasn’t as rich as the rest of the cast!” — I’m sure his family will totally see it your way and absolutely not sue you. Everyone can just go ahead and send their lawyers home.

And now with that nasty little bit of business done, a title card appears, explaining that events depicted in this series occurred before Russell’s death.

Rewind many, many months ago: The fabulous Lisa Vanderpump, whose name could be neither more ridiculous nor more perfect, and the true star of this series: Giggy, are meeting daughter Pandora at the salon for some Vanderprimping. Mostly, this is an excuse to get the hens out of the house so that Pandora’s boyfriend of four years, Jason, can ask Pandora’s father, Ken, permission to marry his daughter. Ken is delighted and happily gives his blessing, and the men agree to keep it a secret from the Vanderprincesses. Nothing, unfortunately, is said about Ken cutting off that horrid mullet.

Kyle and Mauricio are packing up their house, presumably moving into a more Real Housewivesy-appropriate manse. Something faux-Tuscan with a too-large foyer and lots of chandeliers. I’m just guessing here. It would seem that since last season’s finale, in which Kyle called her broken china doll of a sister, Kim, an alcoholic on camera, things haven’t been particularly good between the two siblings. WONDER WHY.

Camille, perhaps my most favoritest reality villainess who ever villained (Well, after Michelle the Villainess — but she’s a professional. Of course, some have said that about Camille, too. OH YES I DID.), explains to some unnamed friend who is merely there so that Camille has someone to talk at, that Kelsey Grammer and his new girlfriend just sent a bunch of stuff to Camille from their Hamptons home. As she and Unnamed Friend zip along her Malibu estate in a golf course down to the horse stables, Camille explains that she just wants to simplify her life. Obviously. In the stables, Camille and Unnamed Friend find baby furniture and a box of Camille’s shoes among the things that Kelsey FedExed to her, because the horse stable is the logical place to put such items. I know I store all my summer shoes and cribs in my horse stable. Just makes sense. Camille will have you know that she is feeling much stronger and adjusting to being alone. All alone. So very, very alone.

Speaking of being alone, you know who’d MUCH RATHER BE ALONE rather than SPEND ANOTHER GOD-FORSAKEN MOMENT TOGETHER? La Maloof and Dr. Mr. La Maloof. They bicker over whether or not there was a show entitled $#*! My Dad Says. (There was.) They bicker over whether Camille had a guest starring role on a show that may or may not have been called $#*! My Dad Says. (She did. For some reason.) They bicker over what to serve at the dinner party to celebrate Camille’s inexplicable guest-starring role on said terrible and now-cancelled sitcom. (Guacamole? Or macaroni and cheese?) They bicker over what kind of wine to serve at said dinner party for Camille’s unnecessary and publicity-stunt appearance on a terribly-named sitcom; what does one serve with macaroni and cheese and/or guacamole: red wine or white? (Both.) They bicker and bicker and bicker and bicker. And bicker. But you know who really suffers when a married couple can’t seem to get along? It’s always the personal chef. WON’T ANYONE THINK OF BERNIE?

Kyle meets Taylor and her giant duck lips to go shopping for something to wear to this made-up excuse for a dinner party. Taylor is FREEEEKED OUT because she happened to run into Lisa Vanderpump’s former Vanderplaything, Cedric. Cedric, for those of you who did not watch last season, was Lisa’s Vanderhouseboy until she told him enough was enough, and to pack his Vanderthings and Vanderleave. Cedric, however, took this rather poorly. After getting his eyebrows carefully  groomed and his face lacquered, he went to any media outlet that would listen to him and told them what terrible terrible Vanderpeople Lisa and Ken are.

ANYWAY. SO. Taylor and her duck lips run into Cedric outside the store where she and Kyle are shopping, and she FREEEEEKS out. For some reason. Taylor’s convinced that Lisa will be Vanderpissed that she ran into Cedric? Sure. Because that’s how people behave: they get mad at other people for running into, completely coincidentally, people with whom they do not get along. Basically, this whole non-event is a set up to 1. remind everyone that Cedric exists and 2. establish that Taylor and Lisa don’t play nicely together. Kyle tries to tell Taylor and her duck lips that they mustn’t be intimated by Lisa and her Vanderbritishness. Taylor then quacks in an interview that there are people in her life that are there because she hasn’t spoken up for herself and it’s time to clean house.


La Maloof and Dr. Mr. La Maloof prepare for their dinner party, which La Maloof manages to do — IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT OR NOT — without teams of hairdressers and make-up artists. You can brush your hair and apply mascara by yourself?! Who knew you could even do such a thing? Certainly no one in Jersey or New York City, that’s who.

La Maloof and Dr. Mr. La Maloof introduce us to the newest member of their family: Jackpot, the small purse dog. Nice try, Maloofs. While Jackpot is cute enough, he is NO GIGGY. Jackpot’s gonna need a lot more malformities from acute inbreeding to achieve that perfect, Giggy-esque something-something. Also, La Maloofs will be serving $2,200 champagne — the most expensive in the world, they’ll have you know — because of course.

Everyone arrives at La Maloof’s, and all seem to have received a memo to wear blue, except for Kim, who is sporting some sort of crazy Nudie suit (not a nude suit — click the clicky), which, points for you, Kim! Also, well done not drinking that champagne that was offered! I’m sure you’ve changed!

Other things that have changed: Kyle apparently reached out to Camille on the occasion of her being unceremoniously dumped by her husband for a newer model. They are cordial now, so that’s something. Still, Kyle’s not speaking to her sister, Porter Wagner, so that’s a little awkward. Also weird? The fact that no one brought their husbands except for Lisa. Where’s Mauricio? Where’s Russell? (SO WEIRD, RIGHT?)

After Giggy and Jackpot snarl at one another for a while, La Maloofs drag everyone into a screening room so as to “enjoy” Camille’s performance on $#*! My Dad Says. And everyone laughs much too hard for much too long and yet none of their faces move at all. Also, Dr. Mr. La Maloof would like you to know that he’s seen all of Camille’s performances, if you catch his disgusting, disgusting drift.

Dinner service begins with La Maloofs bickering, again, about nothing in particular. La Maloof doesn’t like the way Dr. Mr. La Maloof is opening the champagne. La Maloof doesn’t want Dr. Mr. La Maloof to horn in on her toast. La Maloof thinks Dr. Mr. La Maloof is being rude and condescending. La Maloof clearly hates Dr. Mr. La Maloof and his stupid face. Everyone would like to climb under the table, please, and the first course has yet to be served.

At some point during the dinner, Dr. Mr. La Maloof turns his attention from irritatng his wife to asking Taylor and her duck lips uncomfortable questions about her marriage. Taylor quacks about how she and Russell are going to a marriage therapist, and she’s finding her voice, and quack quack quack, working on things. Quack.

Lisa announces that her husband, Ken, would never deign go to a marriage therapist, and Ken’s all: TRUTH. You see, Ken is different from Americans in that he wouldn’t want his wife to go to a therapist: it’s a husband’s job to keep his wife Vanderhappy, and he’d feel weak if he had to rely on a therapist to save his marriage. And all the housewives look shocked and sputter and make noises about doing it “for the children,” and they are very very defensive, even if their faces suggest nothing of the sort.

Taylor and her duck lips excuse themselves from the table to go cry in the bathroom to Kyle about how Ken called her weak and he hurt her feelings and that she can’t believe a grown man who dresses his dog in doll clothes has the audacity to pass judgment on someone else. OVER THE LINE, TAYLOR. LEAVE GIGGY OUT OF IT. And at some point, Lisa enters the bathroom to apply some lipstick and Vanderglare at Taylor, before stomping out in a cloud of disdain and Hermes Perfume 24 Faubourg.

Kyle returns to the table, and attempts to explain to Ken that he offended Taylor, but Ken becomes offended at the use of the word “offended” and Kyle complains that she needs an entire dictionary of words that she can’t use in this crowd, including: insecure, insignificant and now offended. WORD TO YOUR DEAD MOTHER, KYLE. Taylor and her duck lips eventually return to the table, where Ken offers a non-apology suggesting that perhaps he shouldn’t have said anything at all. And with that, Lisa announces she has to leave now to pick up a Vanderfriend from the Vanderairport, and departs while everyone gives her the stink eye for being so painfully obvious. Or they would have if they could have moved their faces at all.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs on Bravo Mondays at 9 p.m.


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