If there is one thing getting me through this three-part Reunion it is the hope that at some point Brandi Glanville’s face will pop when she either smirks too hard or says the word motherfucker with too much enthusiasm. See, I kind of have no doubt that the popping will eventually occur – have you seen her? – and I have an inkling that, when it happens, thousands of those pesky alien thetans, the spiritual manifestations of former ravaged souls that Scientology swears are inside us all, will explode from her cheeks, forehead, and lips and they will run fleeing from the crazy lady they have been shoved inside of for far too long. And if those thetans have the capacity for sight, I’d like to recommend that they run directly towards Lisa Vanderpump, because if you have to be locked inside of someone, she is your very best bet. She will dress the thetans in satin onesies and they can romp around her palatial grounds with Giggy and then settle in for the night on sheets with a higher thread count than even Xenu slumbered upon.
Yes, before making my peace with the fact that I am unable to turn away from women – most of whom should know better, as should I – as they hash and rehash the same arguments they have been engaged in for months (and years), I rewarded my brain by watching Going Clear, a remarkable documentary about Scientology.
How can people behave this way? I thought to myself many times throughout the film as I watched former members of the religion discuss how they ran from prison camps and were then stalked on the outside by those still enmeshed in Scientology. But then I thought about the many Housewives this delightful franchise has born and I realized just how common questionable behavior is in a world ruled by attaining power and attention at any cost. And really? While many of Scientology’s tenets strike me as beyond bizarre, they are nowhere near as bizarre as Kim Richards, who shows up to the Reunion sober and wearing a dress that is in the shade of Peeps Pink – though such a comparison sounds cruel because a rabbit-shaped marshmallow definitely has more self-awareness than Kim.
Reunion recaps are the toughest recaps to write; there’s very little that comes out that’s new. Instead, it is an overlong event the women arrive at dressed in gowns like they’re actually going somewhere good but all they will do while decked out in lace and sequins and sheer overlays of chiffon is sit on a couch beside people who hate them. They will be asked question after question about events that have already transpired – events that they have already fought about exhaustively – and we will watch them as they watch clips of the very worst of their behavior and the whole thing could read as something rather meta, but it’s too hard to think analytically over all the screaming.
They’re odd things, these Reunions. They involve people who understand that ongoing and ever-raging conflicts are their best bet at remaining on television and I really think that some of these women would keel over and die if they were not followed by cameras. They have collectively become far too accustomed to consuming generic adoration instead of carbohydrates and most of them cannot afford to lose any more weight.
Imagine what it would be like, a Bravo executive might have murmured excitedly to a coworker while drunk at a company happy hour, if we force seven women to sit on a couch in a studio for hours at a time and we bring up traumatic events continually so that they will burst into tears, begin to shriek, or go bounding off the set while we follow the tantrum with a camera. Imagine how easy it will be to get viewers who don’t know these women to form detached alliances with them! Imagine what grown women will do to stay relevant after they get used to being recognized at Starbucks! Imagine how quickly their egos will inflate, even though they have absolutely no talent and are famous simply for being famous! And imagine how insane it could really be if we could get a former child star who is trapped inside the body of a pitiful excuse for a mammal on the show!
I hope that executive got a raise – or got fired. It’s all so very confusing.
Not confusing is the wave of total icks that descend upon me simply by the way Sir Andy Cohen begins these Reunions. He flicks his odd eyes over to the women one at a time and greets each individually (“Hi, Kyle!”) and each one then has to greet him back (“Hi, Andy.”). I have no real idea what it is about this unnecessary greeting system that makes me wish that I could unzip my skin and hand wash it in a delicate cleanser that smells like coconuts, but my reaction to the somewhat snide greetings –said by a man who will spend the next eight hours bringing up every single misstep these women have made – is strong. Let me put it this way: in the History of Greetings, Andy Cohen’s Reunion hellos come in third as the most sinister. The number two slot is held by Hannibal Lector (“Hello, Clarice”), and never moving from the top spot is Richard Dawson, the host of the old version of Family Feud. (For those of you who are very young or had parents who didn’t allow you to watch shit TV, Richard Dawson was the host of a mindless game show that I loved and he would greet each member of the family playing the game by shaking the hands of the men and then all but tonguing every woman. It did not matter if one person was fifteen-year-old cousin Krissy and another was eighty-seven-year-old Grandma Dollie; he slobbered on them all.)
As Andy weirdly welcomes the women, we are able to see the look each chose for this momentous occasion where they will be reminded how much their fellow Housewives and the fans despise them. As mentioned earlier, Kim looks like a marshmallow Peep; Kyle is wearing red and already looks like she’s trying hard not to cry; Yolanda looks sleek and chic in a white sheath; Lisa Rinna looks oddly businesslike in her white dress and I’m not so sure I like her in white, as the contrast makes her kohl-lined eyes look like she’s been punched in the face (is that what Harry did?) while the kohl looks kind of cool when she’s clad in all black; Brandi might be in a pale pink dress, but it’s impossible to tell because my eyes cannot stop staring at her remarkably swollen face; Eileen looks plain and pretty in strapless blue; and Lisa Vanderpump is swathed in a lot of purple and she has her hair in a Bumpit, which is terribly unfortunate.
Poufed up hair aside, she is still my favorite and I still want to vacation in her closet.
First we get the happy stuff out of the way – and we should embrace the moment because the rest of the Reunion is bound to be an explosive debacle of epic proportions. Andy mentions how successful Yolanda’s genetically-perfect daughters are doing in the modeling world and then he announces that Kim will be appearing in Sharknado 3, which is clearly the best casting idea anybody has ever had in the history of forever. Plus, Nancy McKeon and Hayley Mills were unavailable; they were both on luxurious vacations, spending the money they saved from their years as child stars instead of drinking it away and blaming everybody else for it. Kim has also been on the show Revenge, a show I watched back when it was good, and I cannot imagine how any producer looked at footage from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and decided, “Yes! We should hire her immediately!” but I guess such a thing happened.
(I have not seen either Sharknado 1 or Sharknado 2, as I already watch enough shit television to have permanently damaged my soul, but I will watch Sharknado 3 under one condition: that Kim Richards is eaten by that carnivorous shark and that her final words as she is gnawed upon will be some garbled version of, “You stole my goddamn house!” which will make about as much sense when she says it to a shark as it does when she says it to her sister. I’d also like to request that she is bitten directly in the larynx, which might make hearing her final words difficult but I believe we have all heard them enough times to get the point just by reading her lips.)
Moving on from the upcoming AFI tribute to Kim Richards, the finest actress of our time, we find out that Yolanda is badly struggling with her Lyme disease. It’s truly awful to watch her eyes fill with tears as she discusses the way her brain needs quiet, especially since it’s already abundantly clear that the only thing she will not be graced with during a Housewives Reunion is any form of solitude. The other Housewives look on with concern as she talks about her health challenges and it’s evident that every single one of them feels badly that she is struggling. And the reason for the universal good wishes and concern she receives is directly related to the fact that Yolanda has never fought dirty or repelled acquaintances or caused viewers to believe entirely in creatures from the underworld.
Revealed next is that Kim and Kyle have not spoken in about three months, which means that it makes perfect psychological sense for their first interaction to be on camera. They don’t delve into what it finally was that caused the separation because this Reunion is three parts, my friends! They’ve got to keep some of the bullshit contained for a while to ensure that the later episodes will be fraught with dramatic misery, but rumor has it that the silence started the moment Kim’s dog mauled Kyle’s daughter. As Andy peppers Kim with questions about how it feels to be estranged from her sister, Kyle sits stone-cold quiet, her hexagon-shaped face only hinting at the devastation and the anger she feels, which you can see if you focus on her eyes or her lips – or that twitch that randomly comes into her cheek whenever Kim waxes poetic about Brandi.
As Kyle appears miserable about the separation that has befallen her family, Kim reveals that she is feeling just fine. She says that she misses her sister, but she’s actually really happy these days and that maybe one day they will speak in a healthy environment, like a therapist’s office. Finally opening her mouth when Andy Cohen turns to stare at her for a reaction, Kyle keeps the waterworks in check for the moment and says, “I’m only interested in having honest conversations” with her sister, which means this standoff will undoubtedly last until the very end of time.
Moving away from the miserable sisters, Andy decides to refocus on Yolanda because, as he says in the most unfortunate phrasing ever for a woman debilitated by illness, “We’re going to lose Yolanda at some point.” While she’s still around – before she runs away towards a place where her brain can find some quiet – Andy shows a montage of how Yolanda attempted to be the voice of reason all season while the other women fired off verbal grenades in very public settings. The crux of the footage deals with Yolanda trying to get Brandi to act like a decent person instead of a demonic piece of shit that escaped from Satan’s sphincter, and when Andy then inquires about why Yolanda doesn’t cut Brandi loose after all of her disgraceful behavior, Yolanda explains that she is different from the other women. She “looks at life with an open heart instead of with judgment.” But when Kyle posits the belief that maybe Yolanda is able to keep “an open heart” for Brandi and her puffed out face because she has never been at the receiving end of her toxic vitriol – besides that one time Brandi called Yolanda’s teenage daughter an alcoholic – Yolanda explains that she will not allow Brandi to push her to the side “because that’s what everybody does.” And she then adds, “I think it’s easy for all of us to kick her to the curb like a bag of trash.”
First of all, if there is an adult human being that everyone always seems to kick to the curb, it is that adult human being’s fault. Society as a whole did not get together for a secret meeting that you gained entrance into by invoking the secret code (“Brandi’s an unhinged-lunatic-alcoholic-twat”) to collectively choose Brandi Glanville to be the person we should all detest. Even the other Housewives did not randomly pick her name from a hat and then sigh and think to themselves, “Well, I feel a little badly that I’ll have to kick her to the curb, but her name was picked.” It is Brandi’s stupidity and her inability to self-assess or to remain sober that causes pretty much everyone in her path to eventually decide she is a monster. And as for that reference to a bag of trash, I’m quite certain that there has never been a more apt visual illustration of Brandi. Here I have spent an entire season trying to figure out synonyms for the word “asshole” so I can at least vary my insults, and Yolanda nailed it in one try. Brandi is a bag of trash, and it’s one stuffed to capacity with used tampons, moldy apple cores, empty wine bottles with cigarette butts stuck to the bottom, and empty canisters of Xanax, which I hope she refilled before this Reunion.
The entire time that Yolanda speaks about Brandi and her disastrous turn on this show, Brandi says nothing. She sits motionless, like a pufferfish who has just been stun gunned, and it’s right about here that I realized that Brandi probably came into this Reunion with an intention: to keep her fucking mouth shut and to just allow everybody’s blatant hypocrisy to bury every single woman there until Brandi, The Hypocrite Hunter, assumes her version of a victorious stance (her legs spread as far apart as they can go) and stands high above the carnage. And she manages to stay almost mute for the first ten minutes, but the previews clearly illustrate that this idiot finds her voice – perhaps by rifling through that bag of trash to locate the real Brandi – and it is a voice that can only say witless and horrible things to women who are not perfect but don’t actually deserve such bile-filled viciousness heaved their way.
Example? Brandi told Yolanda that her seventeen-year-old daughter Bella is not an alcoholic, despite the rumors running rampant that she is – and neither is Brandi, so there. It was a full-on shocking statement because it was made about a kid directly to the kid’s mother’s face at a moment when the mother was literally bending over backwards to give Brandi a break while inviting her over to the most gorgeous yoga setting I can even make my mind imagine while I’m experiencing shavasana on my living room floor. And by the way, there is no chance that Brandi paid even a nickel for that session. When asked about such an appalling statement, Yolanda explains that she chose not to react, and sure – that’s one way to go. Another way is by knocking Brandi off of her Malibu bluff for being such a piece of shit but such a large bag of garbage might really tarnish the perfect coastline.
“I feel compassion for Brandi,” says Yolanda, and I can only hope that it’s the meds talking because Brandi is a lost cause. Yolanda will continue to invite her to dinner and Brandi will continue to sweat off her makeup and bring up finger-banging at the table.
Lemons for everybody!
The next segment is all about Brandi’s drinking, and she babbles a response about how she has two sons and she doesn’t drink all the time but that being around this group makes her drink.
“How do you feel about being called a mean drunk?” Andy asks the mean drunk.
“I can give you a lap dance if you’d like,” responds Brandi, which I think might be her own special way of saying that sometimes she’s not a mean drunk; sometimes she’s a drunk who likes to gyrate on men who are attracted to other men.
It was hard to follow the logic of the situation…
But when Eileen is asked about calling Brandi a mean drunk, she explains that she can only judge Brandi’s behavior based on what she has seen of it, and what she has personally witnessed time and again is Brandi becoming “aggressive, bitchy, not nice, and slurry,” which is all true to any person who has seen it.
And see – that’s another thing: this Reunion was taped after the season had already started airing. Brandi (and let’s throw Kim into this too) watched how they behaved on camera. They saw it with their own eyes – and not for one single second will I even entertain the possibility that women who go on The Real Housewives don’t watch every single episode of this show – and you shouldn’t consider such a thing either because it’s nonsense. So these women saw just how unhinged they appeared, but even now they refuse to accept that it was their own actions and words that caused others to judge them. The reason for such a refusal to see the truth is either that they watched the show while surrounded by D-Level sycophants who assured them that everything is Kyle’s fault or because they have absolutely no self-awareness.
The second option is the far more terrifying one.
Also somewhat terrifying is the way that Kyle begins to blink very quickly and unnaturally the moment Kim steps up to defend her best friend. For a moment there, I feared that Kyle was having a stroke.
After only a few snarky remarks and before the bloodshed can soil her perfect white dress, Yolanda bids adieu to the women. She is ready to go home and rest, and I wish her all the best in her recovery. I also wish she would take me with her because continuing to watch this televised slaughter is starting to make me feel queasy.
But the insults and poor attempts at defecting blame must go on and that means so must I and I am rewarded for it almost immediately when Andy asks Kim if she is more discerning about taking jobs than Lisa Rinna, who apparently earned seven figures for appearing in a Depends ad.
“Oh, one hundred percent,” says the woman about to appear in Sharknado 3. “I have a little more pride than you do.”
“You did appear on Diving With the Stars,” needles Andy, which is pretty funny – but not nearly as funny as when Lisa Rinna turns to Kim and tells her, “I turned that down.” Probably my favorite second of all of it was the quiet smile that Eileen shot towards Lisa after her remark. Eileen appears to be a damn loyal friend, and when it is brought up that Lisa has an eating disorder, Eileen shoots that allegation down by saying that she has known Lisa for decades and that rumor is not true, despite the fact that Brandi texted Lisa to let her know that she is “an anorexic old hag.” Don’t worry though! Brandi can’t even remember saying such a thing so that means it never happened.
I’m not even sure how it starts, but the next few horrifying minutes become all about how much Brandi and Kyle hate each other. Hasn’t this already been established? Can’t they just give each other nasty looks? Or can that not be the game because Brandi’s face won’t move? Either way, it gets ugly fast:
“If I have a few drinks, who cares?” asks Brandi.
“I don’t walk around with a tampon string hanging out,” snaps Kyle.
“Because you don’t get your period anymore, bitch!” rages Brandi with sheer eloquence.
Then Brandi announces that Kyle “smokes pot,” and makes a toking gesture. Um, who cares? It’s not as though any exotic vacation or lovely dinner party or bullshit relay race through the streets of Beverly Hills was ever ruined because Kyle was just too high. It’s a terrible argument made by a moron and I suppose that I can say anything I want because I do still get my period and I will now mentally high-five my uterus for keeping me as perfectly youthful as Ms. Glanville.
Keeping Brandi in front of the firing squad where she belongs, it comes out that, while in Amsterdam, Brandi told Lisa that Kyle had told her that Lisa was having an affair with her trainer. “That’s what your best friend said about you,” Brandi reports happily, the envy dripping off of her puckered lips. There are two problems with Brandi weaving such a tale – on camera! – and the first is that Lisa doesn’t have trainer. The second is that there is no way that Kyle would confide in Brandi, and the likelihood that they will become friends in the future doesn’t appear promising, especially when Brandi mutters “fucking cunt” under her breath. It’s a good moment; even Andy stops to ask her what she just said about Kyle and at first Brandi gives her typical response – the same one remedial students in middle school give when confronted: “What?” But then she relents and says that she called Kyle a “cunt” and everybody just stares at her like she is filth, except for Kim who is relieved that someone else is the target for a while and she doesn’t say a single syllable to her best friend about how it’s not very nice to call her sister a cunt.
All things Amsterdam are then explored and we get to learn the surprising news that Brandi did in fact sleep with the twenty-three year old boy she met there, explaining it thusly: “I fucked him and it was great.” Since then, she and the boy have spoken and he wants to visit her. But Lisa Vanderpump – the mother of the best friend of this kid – has a different story because she claims that he told her that he wouldn’t sleep with Brandi because she was too drunk and Brandi’s eyes narrow into even slittier slits than usual at being accused of not fucking a twenty-three year old stranger who is best friends with her enemy’s son.
This is it, I thought. This will be the moment when Brandi’s face pops! But my joyful anticipation was for naught and I can only hope for the explosion in part two if this endless Reunion.
But did Brandi go quietly into the good night, grateful that her face hadn’t burst? Of course she didn’t! Instead she looked at a woman who has been married to the same man for decades and said about Amsterdam Andre, “I think you’re just pissed he didn’t want to fuck you.” From there, they get into The Slap Incident and Lisa logically explains that it wasn’t that the slap was hard, but it felt like a violation.
Trying to help Lisa explain that Brandi always takes “fun” too far, Andy suggests that it’s like when an owner is playing with a dog and the dog gets too excited and bites the owner, but holy shit – Brandi must have a serious problem with either dogs or owners because she completely loses her mind and tells Andy that she will not be abused by him as she is already taking abuse from everybody else, once again removing herself from having any responsibility for causing the chaos that leads to the confrontations she calls abuse. Whatever, Brandi – your inability to rationalize effectively is terrifying, but to make you feel better, I’d like to suggest that nobody ever compare Brandi to a dog again. Let’s just stick with the bag of trash analogy and call it a day.
What it comes down to is that Brandi thinks that Lisa used the fact that she slapped her as a way to hate Brandi forever, but what she doesn’t see is that normal people don’t search and hope for reasons to hate people they once loved. And when Lisa calmly says, “I’m not interested in that kind of friendship,” holy fuck, that’s where it all becomes chilling because this is Brandi’s response: “Watch your back…” It is said in a sinister singsong kind of way, like how it would sound if Charles Manson were auditioning for the Glee Club at his very first reformatory. It is scary as hell and when Lisa laughingly responds to the threat made in song by saying, “I’m sure I have to now,” Brandi responds with a dry and humorless, “You do,” and then she tells Kyle that she has beaten her up in her mind thousands of times and on that peaceful image of a show that was supposed to be about rich women cavorting in the California sunshine, part one of the Reunion mercifully ends.
The previews tease that Kim and Kyle will continue to fight next week – hey, at least they’re speaking! – and their dialogue will go a little something like this when Andy brings up the fact that Kyle’s daughter was badly bitten by Kim’s dog. (Warning: to get the full effect, you must imagine Kyle saying her lines with an expression of shock and disgust and Kim gurgling her lines with a psychotic satisfaction.)
Kim: I’ve never told the real story.
Kyle: About my child?
Kyle: Oh, wow.
Kim: And you won’t like it…
Kim’s last sentence – said about her own niece – is spoken in a manner just as melodic and menacing as when Brandi threatened Lisa and to say it’s unnerving would be a grave understatement.
She and Brandi deserve one another and absolutely nothing more. And should those Scientology origin stories be correct, I can only hope that one day both women will be dropped into a simmering volcano.
I will bring the marshmallows.
Kyle will bring the weed.