While watching the first installment of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," I couldn't help but think of how genteel the whole affair was. Especially when you hearken back to the last Real Housewives reunion we witnessed; that would be "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" to be exact. High-pitched screams, finger-pointing and one no-show who boycotted in protest against one of her cast mates. No such histrionics for "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." Sharp-tongued barbs are delivered with the arch of an eyebrow (at least, that's what it looked like) and only slightly elevated tones, while everyone stayed in their seats. Can't all these Housewives reunion shows be so refined?
Kim Richards didn't attend the Reunion due to her rehab stint, which sister Kyle Richards stayed mum about, except to say her sister was doing well. The other Housewives admit they knew something was off with Kim, they just couldn't figure out what it was. Hmm. There was a lot of that going around this season.
Host Andy Cohen decided to ease the ladies into the quicksand by lobbing a couple of softball questions at them. Did Lisa Vanderpump get cheek implants (and we don't mean in her face)? What was up with that tiara at Pandy's wedding? And did that wedding cost a million dollars? No, to one and three and a blame it on Pandora for the second. Adrienne Maloof gets in a dig about Lisa being a princess, a comment Lisa wisely lets slide. Plenty of time to shred her later.
Speaking of Adrienne, her ultra-sensitive, self-righteous petty side came roaring out in all its glory. The primary target of her ire was former neighbor, Lisa. She remains upset that Lisa's daughter chose to have her bachelorette party at a competing casino. Lisa claims she only showed up to wiggle her junk in a Chippendale's face, but had no hand in the plans. Adrienne finds that hard to believe, since she planned half of Pandy's wedding. So that automatically translates to wielding an iron fist over the bachelorette party? Wow. If that was the case, then mothers everywhere are making their daughters invade cheesy nightclubs clad in ticky-tacky veils while grinding against random strangers all before sending them into wedded bliss.
An entire segment was devoted to the silly (funny) little comments Lisa made throughout the season: Jackpot the Crackpot, the Maloof Hoof (I thought it was funny. And cute.), Kyle doing the splits for "attention" (well…). Lisa was stung by the criticism hurled at her and apologized before declaring a moratorium on any more witticisms in the future (say it ain't so!). Adrienne, seriously, get over yourself.
Lisa strikes back that she was put out by some of the things she heard Kyle say during the season, namely that she "preys on the weak." Kyle claims it was in defense of the fragile Taylor Armstrong, who they all know was being "abused." Huh. So now they all knew. Even though the rallying cry all season was they couldn't be sure. Kyle likens friendship with Lisa to playing chess with Bobby Fischer, because every move is "calculated." Lisa raises an eyebrow at that one and retorts she's afraid of Kyle. God forbid she ever get on her bad side. Kyle seems surprised by this - um, hello, Game Night?
The crass spirit of Dana Wilkey manages to worm its way into the proceedings, when the price tag for those $25,000 sunglasses is invoked. All the Housewives concur it's tacky to talk about money and what things cost. Yet when a viewer wants to know what's the most any of them have ever spent on an item of clothing, Camille Grammer and Lisa offer up their anecdotes, while Adrienne gives her "couple of hundred thousand dollars" estimate for her in-home spa. Go figure.
Well, we knew it was coming. Russell Armstrong's suicide and its aftermath are laid out on the table. Turns out, Adrienne was for the show airing as scheduled, while Camille was against it. And that, Camille, is why Bravo is ready to boot your tuckus outta there. Taylor believed the cameras would protect her from Russell's abuse and force a change - good or bad - of some kind between them. The drama between Camille and Taylor at that Mad Tea Party comes to the fore and Camille's still not ready to let Taylor off the hook for her behavior or trying to make her the bad guy. Camille calls her out for claiming she told her things about her marriage in confidence when 1) she told all the Housewives the same stories and 2) she's on a reality show for God's sake. Nothing's private. Preach it, Sister Camille.
The layers of the Armstrong marriage are revealed and they ain't pretty. From vile texts, nasty gram birthday messages to narcissistic behavior to daily control and abuse, Russell is portrayed as well…a monster. Taylor shared that she almost welcomed being hit, since it would put an end to whatever rampage he might have been on that day. The Housewives could never wrap their heads around the relationship and Lisa personally wanted no part of it. First, Taylor tells them how horrific he is, then commands them to like him. It's like whiplash. Camille alludes to being verbally abused (by Kelsey Grammer??) and can empathize to a degree with Taylor.
The infamous threatening email to Camille is dissected and Adrienne maintains Taylor knew all about it; in fact, according to Brandi Glanville, they wrote it together. At least that's what Russell told Brandi. "Supposibly." Taylor still disavows any knowledge or responsibility, but Adrienne's skeptical eyebrow never returns to its natural position. Or does it?
Adrienne and Lisa have another go-round about Bernie the chef (admit it, his faces were priceless) selling tabloid stories about Lisa and his "supposibly" "dry, ethnic food." Again, a useless segment about a bunch of nonsense. Nonsense. Speaking of selling tabloid stories, Adrienne has it on good authority that Lisa's main source of income is derived by cashing checks from the rags in exchange for good gossip. Lisa's gobsmacked by the accusation, vehemently denying Adrienne's allegations. Lisa warns Adrienne she won't take the lies and that she's veering into slanderous territory. That shuts Adrienne up. For the moment.
Brandi Glanville joins the fray in the final few minutes to dish on her non-wedding. And no, the famous Eddie Cibrian doesn't call her to chastise her behavior on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." She doesn't speak to him. And FYI, he's not famous.
Next time, Kyle's got jokes, Taylor lies and Brandi strikes back.
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