I’m not quite sure how it can be this way, but there remains a rather quixotic side to my personality and it's really starting to piss me off. It just doesn't make any sense! Really, you’d think a constant and steady exposure to questionable people starring on mindless reality shows would have eliminated my patently unrealistic levels of idealism, but that's just not the case – and I can’t seem to help it. I somehow still harbor the insane belief that most people are good, that they actively want to better humanity at large. Trust me: I've tried to quiet the blatantly out-of-vogue ideals I still blame my parents for instilling in me back when they were hippies who tried to pass carob off as chocolate. It's totally their fault that I cannot seem to cease having faith in the fact that the vast majority of us must have actual reasons for the times we find ourselves behaving in a manner that could best be described as heinously inappropriate.
The thing is, I no longer have any sort of pride about feeling this way. Holding tight to an optimistic mindset has turned into nothing but a fool’s game, one that ends in a shootout as balls (and not the fun scrotumy kind) fly at my head. Gone are the days when everything made actual sense, when someone's questionable motivations could be entirely justified with just a little bit of logic. We simply don’t live in that world anymore. Instead, we now exist in a time where an educated CEO – a mother no less – can go on an interview blitz where she steadfastly refuses to apologize for calling the virtual stranger she invited into her home a prostitute before telling her that her music videos have a shitty production value. We live in a world where this rude creature gives snappy sound bytes accompanied by a toothy smile about how she’s been chosen to guest star on a show precisely because she’s an asshole and she would therefore never temper her assholery just to be a decent person. After all, being decent is not what made her a zillionaire.
Welcome to the dystopia, everybody. It’s a land drenched in Skinnygirl crimson and it smells like a knockoff version of Chanel perfume and it’s run in absentia by Mayor Kim Richards –otherwise known as She Who Shall Not Be Mentioned. Leave your integrity at the door of Kyle By Alene Too and instead shrug on an overpriced ugly caftan. You'll fit right in.
Yes, the Beverly Hills Housewives are still in the Hamptons. Eileen remains miffed that Lisa Vanderpump used the word "affair" to characterize the beginning of her marriage – the one that started with an affair – and nothing else has really changed. Yolanda is still recovering from her latest surgery, Erika is still blonde and wrapped in a Teflon coating of sass and cash, Lisa Rinna is still back-pedaling every time she says something that she could even be mildly taken to task for during the upcoming seventeen-hour Reunion, and Bethenny is still around because she believes that she might actually become invisible if she can't see her own reflection in the shiny lens of a camera. But things might be looking up! Tonight we'll get to meet the newest Housewife, a woman who once had a connection to O.J. Simpson and thinks Faye Resnick is a monster who hails from the deepest bowels of hell. I don't even know what this person's name is yet but I've already decided to name my firstborn after her.
We begin at Kyle’s store, the one she's testing out to see if ladies on the east coast will flock to in order to buy diaphanous garments they don't need. (We won’t, Kyle. Stay in Los Angeles.) Her pop-up place is getting a push from Bethenny, a lovely lady who considers herself the less-hung version of Justin Bieber. She's there to host a signing for her new book, the one curiously titled I Suck at Relationships So You Don't Have To. (After I pick up the illustrated version of Human Centipede and read the thing cover to cover, I'll be sure to buy Bethenny's book next.) In the limo on the way to the store, Erika, Lisa Rinna, and Eileen discuss how Eileen now feels guilty. She confronted Lisa Vanderpump recently about how she made her feel uncomfortable and now Eileen is concerned that her confrontation has resulted in Lisa feeling uncomfortable and holy shit, Eileen really hates having an unresolved emotion. Erika's advice to the jittery soap star before her is to have a cocktail and to immediately stop giving a shit about any of it and if I liked women who wrote songs about misspelled painkillers, I'd be having me quite the crush right now.
Back at the store, Kyle lets Bethenny know something she couldn't possibly have figured out herself because only real women have feelings and shells of human carcasses do not. See, Kyle wants her friend to realize that calling Erika's video cheap and laughable might have hurt Erika's feelings. Rather than look even slightly chastened by her behavior, Bethenny simply gulps back any sort of normal sentiment and defends her behavior while crossing her arms like a three year old who needs to take a time-out and go sit on a naughty step for a while in a dungeon. But color me shocked because there's a chance that Kyle actually broke through to the crunchy core at Bethenny's center! Bethenny approaches Erika to say that she feels badly that maybe she insulted her last night by stating outright that Erika's career is a huge joke and that she looks like a whore in the music video that sucks stringy balls. "I'm a big girl," shrugs Erika to Bethenny’s apology before giving the camera the single most exquisite side-eye I have ever seen – and staunch heterosexuality aside, I think I’m in love.
I cannot believe there are actual fans showing up to get Bethenny's autograph – I counted at least three – but who can even worry about the fact that Bethenny is someone's idol when there's flashback footage of Kim Richards crawling off into the wilderness after a confrontation with Lisa Rinna? Since we've yet to see her anywhere but on TMZ, there's a part of me that believes Kim is still in the woods somewhere trying to ferment bark. The weird thing is, Lisa Rinna announces that she feels a sense of guilt for what Kim is currently going through. I guess it's sweet that Lisa even cares about Kim’s well-being after the woman so gleefully attempted to destroy her on camera last year, but let’s be honest: this is guilt that’s seriously being misplaced. Kim is a mess. Kim has been a mess for a long fucking time now and Lisa is not to blame for any of it. Kyle is not to blame for her sister's shit either. It's all on Kim to get better and to make changes and to finally go ahead and choose life just like George Michael recommended back when his hair was frosted and he pretended to be straight.
Later that night, the women (and Ken and Giggy) gather for dinner, but the mood is a little tense. Eileen has moved beyond feeling nervous and now she’s just annoyed that Lisa hasn't apologized more vociferously for the comments she made about Eileen's marriage. Listen, I will say that I appreciate how Eileen expresses herself both calmly and rationally when she wants to get a point across. She's not the type to fling some wine or whip out nunchucks at the table and she's probably the last person in the entire Bravo family who would grab tight onto a woman's weave and give a violent yank. I do, however, vaguely remember Lisa apologizing for offending her last week so I don’t really understand the issue. Then again, what do I know? Maybe I dreamed the entire thing. Maybe this entire franchise is just a dream...
And if this is all just a dream, the introduction of Brandi Glanville’s name into the conversation has just turned it into a sweaty night terror. Erika wants to know why Brandi elicits such strong feelings in this group. I guess it's a fair question, but can't she just Google the woman’s name and scroll through hundreds of pages of pictures of Brandi exposing her tampon string or giving children the finger? Come on, Erika! The newest love of my life can't possibly be so dense. Of course, once her name is whispered aloud, the women have got some things to say. Brandi is a jealous person. Brandi is manipulative. Brandi was the catalyst for a ton of pain. And I think the only thing any of us can now say with any sort of certainty is that Brandi is in her home at this very moment – whichever one she recently moved into because girlfriend moves all the time – and she's guzzling wine and speaking either to her hairdresser or to herself in a mirror about how much these women suck and how they're just mean and that she bets they don't even ovulate anymore and that she has never done anything wrong, not ever, and then she will pass out only wearing a thong and she will dribble cheap Pinot onto her pillowcase and then blame LeAnn Rimes for the stain.
But Brandi's not the only one who has behaved questionably. When Lisa Vanderpump asks Kyle what she can actively do to reduce the pain of her sister's troubles on herself so as not to continue to allow herself to be so emotionally tortured by something she cannot possibly control, Kyle’s jaw clenches defensively. She hates that her family shit is out there! She doesn’t know why people want to keep asking her about her sister! And there's nothing anyone can do to stop this information from being so public! To that little outburst, dear Kyle, I'd like to give you a teensy suggestion. Maybe think about getting your ass off of a reality show. See, that way cameras won’t follow you all the time and your friends who are actually your co-stars can talk about something else. How about that? Problem fucking solved.
Over a lovely lobster dinner, the women discuss Yolanda and how she’s doing now that about a gallon of silicone has been sucked out of her chest cavity. Erika's off to pick her up tomorrow and Lisa Rinna would really like to know if this latest surgery will be the cure for whatever it is that's been destroying her friend from be inside out. Will the removal of that horrible implant cure her Lyme disease? Does Yolanda even have Lyme disease? And while we're on the subject of things that might or might not exist, Kyle wants to know if Lisa Vanderpump actually has any feelings because she never seems to want to dig deep and share important facets of her life with an audience of millions and that's an interesting comment for someone to make after constantly going into convulsions when anything less than flattering about herself is even spoken about in a quiet hush.
Someone who does have something real and painful to share is Eileen. She reveals that she was once in a deeply violent physical relationship that finally ended when the guy broke her nose and she summoned the strength to get out. It's a story that is heartbreaking and deeply personal and Kyle celebrates such bravery by changing the subject to how much she appreciates that everyone showed up to her store.
Back on her private plane, Erika is faced with a legitimate problem. The teabag her personal stewardess delivers to her with a curtsey is not steeping to its full potential. Fortunately, Yolanda boards and her make-up free appearance takes Erika's mind off her own major problems. While she looks pale, Yolanda also looks pretty good and I'm happy for her that she feels that she has maybe turned a corner in her health crisis. That said, my goodwill was almost shot to hell when she showed Erika pictures of that fucking bloody implant, the one that none of us should have even had to look at once, let alone twice. While she’s flying home, Yolanda gets emotional. She feels like people maybe think she's crazy and that she's not genuinely sick and I’d love to say that she is blabbering some kooky-talk here, but I know quite a few folks who absolutely harbor this belief.
With the Hamptons just a hazy memory now, the women return home and that's when Faye Resnick oozes her way onscreen. She's here to gallop to the rescue like a show pony who should have been shot long ago to help Kyle overhaul her closet into a space that’s feminine and romantic and she's more than qualified because she's already designed Paris' house and Paris’ New York apartment and if anybody knows how to remove clothing, it's Kyle’s very demure niece.
In a way happier space that doesn’t make me want to contemplate how to best fashion a noose from hangers, an ugly hair extension, and a diuretic, Lisa Vanderpump is hosting an event for dogs who are able to detect cancer. The women all show up to support both Lisa and the charity. Even Camille is there and I suppose it's nice to see her but now I'm afraid that Taylor is hiding in a bathroom stall trying to time her entrance perfectly and that maybe Carlton is chanting some incantation in the kitchen that will cause Kyle’s left tit to spontaneously fall off and, good God, what if Adrienne Maloof suddenly appears on the arm of an eighteen year old? The Ghosts of Housewives Past terrify me way more than global warming.
Lisa Rinna doesn't share my concerns or my terror. She is far too preoccupied to worry about having a lip-off with Taylor because she’s just run into Kathryn, an old acquaintance of hers and our newest Housewife. A former model, Kathryn used to be married to Marcus Allen, the guy who used to be O.J. Simpson’s best friend. He also was rumored to have had an affair with Nicole Brown Simpson before O.J. didn't murder her. Oh, and who perpetuated the rumors of the affair? Faye fucking Resnick, the asshole who branded herself the murder victim's best friend in the whole wide world and then illustrated her steadfast loyalty by writing a tell-all book as fast as a ghostwriter could make it happen and then posing for Playboy because nothing says devotion like spreading it wide.
Kathryn is married to someone else now – some other football player – and she tells Lisa Vanderpump that she's there to support the charity because I guess it goes against the Official Housewife Oath to be completely honest and say, "I received a call sheet that instructed me to show up here so I could pretend to be randomly meeting all of you." The new girl's presence kind of startles Kyle because Kyle is very defensive of Faye because Kyle has the single worst taste in friends ever seen outside of the movie Heathers. She attempts to explain the origin of the Kathryn-Faye-O.J. connection before she throws her hands up in alarm (and in a decent approximation of the jazz hands her mother used to have her practice at night after brushing her hair one hundred times so it would gleam like the fucking Chrysler Building) and finally says that she doesn't really want to talk about any of it. Just so we're clear, this season Kyle wants to discuss nothing besides the fact that she's not a stage mother and that her husband is growing wealthier by the day. (Jazz hands again!)
After sweating their asses off on the terrace of Pump, the women head off to a place that’s air conditioned so they can down some vodka and lay the seeds of future conflict. Kathryn arrives and we learn that she knows Yolanda from their modeling days and that her husband is nine years younger than she is and she's never even once considered getting breast implants. Way more interesting though is when Kyle – who hates conflict – asks Kathryn if she knows her BFF, the renowned author who attempted to destroy some lives for profit. "Never met her," Kathryn responds blithely before telling us that her opinion of the woman is not at all favorable and I believe I have just found the newest Vice President of the We Hate Faye club! Who wants to join? The secret handshake is giving Faye the finger. Shhh...pass it on.
Now sure – I can bemoan the fact that Faye Resnick is about to become a major presence on this show when just a brief glimpse of her face or her tail usually results in my requiring some medication, but I won’t. No, I have decided to see The Faye Thing as a gift because her appearance alone single-handedly made me realize that people are not in fact all good at heart and some individuals suck so badly that even an exposure to them via television can kill the optimism that’s tingling inside of your soul. That’s right, everyone – Faye Resnick has personally slaughtered my soul. And I hope she’ll commemorate that death with a new pictorial in Playboy.
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle.