RHBH: “You don’t exist, why would I go to your party?”

December 7th, 2011

I’m still having a bit of a hard time figuring out exactly what happened on last night’s episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Not on the first 40 minutes of it – that part, I understood. Even the part with Kim in it, if you use the term “understood” loosely. Naturally, I’m referring to Taylor’s meltdown. I’m not even sure where to start.

We’ll start at the beginning, though, as we always do. Maybe by the time I get to the unpleasantness, I’ll have figured out what to say about it. Sometimes, bad things happen to people you dislike and maybe don’t trust, and finding a cogent thought about those instances is probably even harder than when the victim is someone likable. And it goes without saying, of course, that trying to deal with any of this stuff is a thousand times harder than just trying to figure out what to say about it in a silly blog. With that in mind, onward.

We started with Lisa, who had gotten together with Pandora and her fiance’s mom to choose a tablescape (Sandra Lee! Everybody drink!) for the impending wedding. The Wedding Planner Who Should Have Been Fired Long Ago had set up three different options on the tennis court out back, and while Lisa had her complaints about all of them, I’m sure she let Pandy have whatever she wanted. That’s how all the wedding preparations have gone thus far – Lisa hems and haws about the budget and the details and the over-the-topness of it all, and then she writes a blank check. I bet next week’s wedding scene is going to be about the flowers.

Our next stop was Paul’s office with Kyle and Mauricio’s mother-in-law, where we saw the end result of her facelift. Although I am generally anti-plastic surgery, I will give credit where credit is due; that was a relatively tasteful and natural-looking facelift. Since Adrienne is the queen of the obvious nip and tuck (as much as I love her, it’s true), my expectations of Paul’s skill level had been far lower. Clearly, he wasn’t the person who did any of her surgeries.

We then moved on to lunch with Brandi and Adrienne, the entire purpose of which was to set the stage for the fact that Brandi would be having a party at her friend’s Malibu beach house later in the episode. Duly noted.

Our next gathering was a Cinco de Mayo party at Kyle’s house, at which point we learned that Kyle doesn’t exactly know how to make a margarita. I mean, it’s just Hawaiian Punch and Cuervo, right? Yeah? If I learned anything in college, it’s the recipe to a margarita! After some criticism over Mauricio’s pants (how dare anyone every criticize how Mauricio looks?!?!), everyone went outside to high-five his mom over her new facelift. Only in Beverly Hills.

I then briefly thought I had switched over to HGTV (it happens sometimes, it’s like an involuntary tic) while Lisa surveyed her new restaurant space and decided she hated everything. I mean, there wasn’t all that much there yet to hate, but what was there, she hated. The contractor tried to distract her by telling her how nice she looked, and in grand Lisa fashion, she was not impressed. She already knew she looked fabulous, she didn’t need some dude in a plaid shirt to kiss her ass about it.

In less self-assured territory, we then visited Kim, who was talking to her laundry and eating a tiny plate of cheetos on the good china in her laundry room. Well. If you ever needed thirty seconds of television to completely explain Kim to someone who had never seen the show before, that would be it.

Things then moved swiftly to everyone preparing for Brandi’s party, with Kyle and Taylor in particular plotting to “have each others’ backs” in the limo on the way to Malibu, as though a tag team rasslin’ match were about to break out. Camille, in a separate limo with her payroll friends, complained that Taylor wouldn’t return any of her texts; at this point, it seems as though losing Taylor as a friend wouldn’t be that big of an issue to cry over.

Taylor and Kyle were the last people to arrive at the party, and meanwhile, everyone was already there to drink wine and eat canapés and enjoy the party before the drama started. Taylor and Camille gave each other an awkwardly long hug, and then Taylor wandered away without saying anything, shrugging and stroking her hair. Elsewhere, the rest of the cast members tried not to make eye contact with Brandi’s nipples.

The nipples didn’t look all that bad or all that obvious on my screen, but I’ll take it from the ladies with larger and clearer pictures – looking at someone’s nips in a sheer white maxi dress all night would be a little awkward and distracting. This is a bit of an awkward group, though, so I have a hard time getting outraged over anyone’s lack of bra. I am a regular viewer of Real Housewives of Atlanta, after all, and those ladies all have giant titties and not a bra among them. (Nene and Kim, I’M LOOKING AT YOU GUYS.) Considering that, I’m far from scandalized over Brandi’s outfit.

Speaking of awkwardness, one of Camille’s payroll friends had gotten roped into (or maybe she started it? I don’t remember) a side conversation with Taylor about Camille’s public comments and how her daughter’s in danger, and let’s talk about all of that for a second, ok? I don’t doubt for a second that Taylor was abused. I know that some of you do, but I think that the evidence (including medical records, which Taylor is not smart enough to effectively fake) is more than compelling that Russell struck her on at least a couple of occasions (and it never just happens “a couple of times”). Between that and Russell’s history of restraining orders and domestic violence allegations, I think it takes a lot of willful ignorance to suggest that nothing happened to Taylor.

That doesn’t mean Taylor is a perfect person, though. Shitty things happen to shitty people sometimes, and suggesting that Camille somehow put her daughter in further danger by refusing to keep quiet about what Taylor had already told everyone who would listen is pretty awful. The only people endangering Kennedy were Russell, who was actually perpetrating the violence, and Taylor, who was too codependent to take her daughter out of harm’s way. It’s unconscionable to try and pass that blame to Camille. In grand Taylor fashion, though, she had to continue to blame Camille so that she can transfer the attention to something other than why she’s still sticking around in an abusive relationship and expecting everyone to sit back and say nothing about it.

Naturally, Taylor flipped out on Camille’s friend for even speaking to her (which seemed fine as long as Taylor was the one doing all the talking, as she was at the beginning of the conversation), but as soon as DiDi (or however you spell her name) tried to explain that Camille had also been through a lot in her relationship and wanted to smooth things over, all hell broke loose. How dare anyone try to apologize to Taylor? And how dare any third party even bring up a conversation that had happened in front of a half dozen other people and a full reality TV camera crew?

Taylor then demanded that the fight be taken outside, which didn’t entirely make sense because the whole group just moved out onto the deck instead of watching them argue in the living room. What, did she think the cameras couldn’t go out there? That the extension cords weren’t that long? Once outside, Taylor dissolved into a genuinely sad heap of screaming and pointing, spit and hair flying everywhere. Someone in the peanut gallery tried to chime in with something deep about the ocean and the finality of life, but Real Housewives generally don’t do all that well with abstract thought, so the fight continued apace.

Obviously, this whole episode had stopped being about Camille and DiDi a long time ago, if it ever really was. Brandi said that she thought it would be best if Taylor left, which made me actually utter the phrase “no duh” for the first time since middle school. Pretty soon everyone was scattering to their respective limos to talk about the ridiculous spectacle they had all witnessed. Except for Taylor, of course, who was still shrieking about things, including how much she needed a lighter so that she could have a cigarette. She even had the limo driver pull over so that she could smoke it out of the window. I don’t think we’ve ever seen Taylor smoke on the show before and it’s something she probably hides from the cameras for image reasons, which should indicate to anyone who’s wondering that Taylor actually did come unraveled last night.

Even now, the morning after, I’m left not knowing exactly what to think of the end of the episode. On the one hand, that breakdown sure did look like the genuine article, and I don’t doubt for a second that the abuse actually happened and that it drove Taylor to the end of her rope. On the other hand, though, I can’t shake the suspicion that Taylor’s also perhaps a bit of a sociopath – charming, manipulative, sympathetic, down on her luck and in need of a helping hand. In last night’s Watch What Happens Live, she came off as incredibly self-aware and forthright, although perhaps a little bit too self-aware for someone dealing with everything that’s on her plate so soon after her estranged husband’s suicide? On the third hand (I don’t actually have a third hand), far be it from me to criticize how anyone else grieves that sort of loss. But then again, Taylor’s history of grifting and fraud certainly line up with a textbook sociopath.

Like I said, I don’t know. Maybe if I hadn’t just read an article about sociopaths yesterday, I wouldn’t be contemplating any of this, but Taylor has seemed a little “off” to me for a while now, and I’m not the only one who’s sensing it. It’s not just perfect people who find themselves the victims of abuse, after all. Even though I believe that she’s been through some horrific things, I can’t help but think that I should be wary of everything else she says. You know what I do believe, though? That Bravo should be ashamed of themselves for exploiting any of this for entertainment purposes. If there’s anything we know by now, though, it’s that the people who run Bravo are incapable of feeling shame.

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