RHBH Reunion: “Being friends with you is like playing chess with Bobby Fischer.”

January 31st, 2012

I’ve never been a great fan of Real Housewives reunions in general, so when I say that part one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Reunion was actually pretty interesting, I mean it. Not everything that was talked about was particularly amazing, but the way that the other cast members systematically picked at Lisa was worth watching if only for how incredibly bad they were at doing it.

Taylor also gave some very frank answers about her life with Russell and the highs and lows of an abusive relationship, all of which sounded exactly like you would expect from someone who’s in intense therapy six months after the suicide of her estranged husband/abuser. I found them perfectly reasonable and satisfying, but as always, Taylor seems to be something of a human Rorschach test – people see in her what they want to see. As is customary for reunions, let’s talk about the things we learned last night after the jump.

1. Kim was in rehab during the taping of the reunion. Kyle refused to say what it was that Kim was on (spoiler: booze), but everyone seemed to agree that she definitely needed to be there.

2. Lisa’s not telling how much the wedding cost. Her daughter doesn’t even know, apparently. I bet Kevin the Big Gay Wedding Planner would tell us. For a price.

3. Lisa hurt Adrienne’s little fee-fees. Lisa called the Maloof dog Jackpot “Crackpot” on Twitter because fans of the show were joking about Giggy vs. Jackpot, and she also referred to Adrienne’s shoe as the Maloof Hoof, as we all saw a few episodes back. All kinds of jokes are regularly made about Lisa’s dog and she made a last name joke about her own shoe line as well, so I’m not sure what the big deal is. With all the shit-talking that goes on in these shows, those two incidents don’t even seem remotely worth dragging out to address in a season where someone went to rehab and someone else committed suicide. Who cares. Toughen up, Adrienne.

4. Lisa also hurt Kyle’s little fee-fees. Lisa said that Kyle, the repeated public splits-doer, does stuff like that for attention. Kyle. KYLE. LISTEN TO ME. You can’t get self-righteously angry when someone calls getting up on a table in the middle of a party and doing the splits in front of a camera crew a bid to attract attention. By definition, that’s exactly what it is. It’s not a value judgment. Y’all are all famewhores. You’re on Real Housewives. Those two things are synonymous. Dismount the high horse.

Lisa countered by mentioning Kyle’s claim that she preys on the weak, which sounds like a much worse thing to say about someone with whom you’re supposed to be friends, but according to Kyle that’s not nearly as bad as making light fun of the attention-whoring tendencies of a reality TV star. Plus, plus, Lisa said the mean thing first, so Kyle’s mean thing is totally justified! Kyle also complained that Lisa is smart which makes fighting with her hard, and as far as I can tell, it’s not Lisa’s fault that she’s smarter than everyone else. Kyle’s the biggest Mean Girl of them all, and it seemed like she was merely mad that she couldn’t Mean Girl Lisa into submission like she does everyone else.

4.1 Kyle does do a pretty good Lisa impersonation, though.

5. The Housewives do indeed own expensive things. Lisa owns a 30,000EUR Valentino dress, which in today’s US dollars is about 40 grand. By contrast, Camille’s most expensive dress cost a paltry $12,000 by a designer she didn’t mention. Lisa defended the enormous expenditure by explaining that she bought that dress before the recession, so, you know, that was kind of like sofa change back then. At that price, the dress has to be couture, and I think she should have brought it to show us. SHOW US THE COUTURE, LISA.

6. Taylor’s shrink is a doctor of osteopathy. Taylor said it was ok, he was a psychiatrist and could prescribe medication, but he just went to a “DO” school instead of an MD school. I did a little Googling, naturally, and it sounds like that’s a real thing that exists and it’s possible to get licensed as a legitimate psychiatrist in the US with that kind of degree. I went to journalism school, though, so if you have a background in medicine and know more about the distinctions between a DO and and MD, please share with us in the comments.

7. Camille didn’t think this season should have aired. She thought it wouldn’t be fair to Russell’s children, both Kennedy and those from previous relationships. That’s fair, probably. I didn’t think it should have aired back when it started, but now I’m just sort of ambivalent.

8. Several of the Housewives think the show saved Taylor’s life. That might be true. Attention and scrutiny are the ultimate enemy of domestic abusers, and having more people present in her home life and being taped and photographed regularly would make it much harder for an abuser to fly under the radar. As far as why Russell would sign on to a reality show, what Taylor said made sense – everything we know about Russell’s fraudulent business dealings and grifting indicates he was some sort of narcissist and probably would have loved the attention associated with reality TV, and domestic abusers generally aren’t cold, logical animals. I’m sure he thought he could get away with it, just like he got away with bilking people out of their money for so long.

9. Several of the Housewives were also confused about what to think of Russell. Camille and Lisa both said that sometimes Taylor admitted that Russell was awful and abusive, other times she encouraged them to like him. That fits in perfectly with the profile of a domestic violence victim, as do the feelings of codependence on the control and violence that Taylor described. Ultimately, neither Camille nor Lisa seemed to have any overall doubt that Taylor was abused, only that they didn’t know what to think in the moment while it was happening. Lisa revealed that she had seen a text where Russell called Taylor names and cursed her out, which is clearly emotionally abusive. With third party confirmation of that kind of treatment plus the objective evidence of Taylor’s medical problems, hopefully the issue of what happened to Taylor can be put to rest.

10. Lisa and Adrienne have beef over Adrienne’s chef. Lisa thought it was inappropriate that Adrienne let one of her household employees badmouth one of her friends to a national television audience, and although I generally don’t like how Housewives treat The Help, I think that’s a perfectly reasonable gripe. It’s not anyone’s personal chef’s place to tell America that he thinks his employer’s friend is an asshole.

11. And beef over whether or not Lisa sells stories, apparently. Based on the roundabout explanation of the accusations that Adrienne gave (which had basically no details, you’ll notice), someone at Radar Online tried to convince her to sell them a story by promising her that Lisa has also sold them stories. Adrienne didn’t have anything to say when asked what exactly Lisa had sold, and I can’t think of anything that Radar has run that would have had to come from Lisa and not anyone else, particularly something that would merit the huge $25,000 price tag that Adrienne may or may not have made up off the top of her head.

Based on my admittedly limited knowledge of the online gossip market, $25,000 for a story with no pictures and no name that can be publicly attached to it as a source is a pretty enormous price tag. It would have to have been some kind of bombshell, particularly when you consider that the Housewives aren’t anywhere near A-list stars. Of the things I can find that Radar has published about the Housewives, none of them seem to contain the kind of specific knowledge that only another cast mate would have that would be so good as to require such a large payment. I call bullshit.

Speaking of which, of course the Radar reporter would have lied to Adrienne (and Camille? I can’t remember who said what.) about other cast members selling stories while trying to convince her to do exactly the same thing. Online gossip mongers don’t take any kind of oath to tell the truth when they’re trying to get you to snitch behind your friend’s back about something. That seems so utterly and blatantly obvious that I can’t honestly conceive of how Adrienne and Camille would actually believe it. Tabloid reporters lie to get information. Water is wet. Earth travels around the sun.

So let’s talk about the attempted character assassination of Lisa that went on last night, shall we? According to Brandi, who I believe because she seems constitutionally incapable of ever telling a lie, even when it would greatly behoove her, the entire thing was a setup by the other cast members and they tried to enlist her help in the poorly executed endeavor. Brandi, of course, declined because she and Lisa seem to have struck up something of a friendship. It certainly seemed like there was some plan to target Lisa, considering all of the stupid little nitpicky complaints that everyone had against her – the Maloof Hoof? Really? That’s offensive?

I’m not entirely sure why the other housewives would have turned on Lisa, though. Has she snubbed them in some way that we don’t know about because her status as the fan favorite has gone to her head? Are they simply jealous that viewers like Lisa so much and aren’t as enthusiastic about them? Has Kyle enlisted them all in some kind of epic Mean Girl power struggle? Adrienne certainly seems more wishy-washy and easily lead than she did last season, and Taylor would be easy to influence. None of it quite fits, though, and I can’t help but get the feeling that there’s another shoe that will drop eventually. Right now it just seems like jealousy, particularly when they can’t think of anything better to complain about than silly little jokes about shoes and dogs. In the grand pantheon of awful things that have been said about people on Real Housewives, neither of those even come close to being notable.

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