I have a confession to make: the image of Yolanda’s bloody implant is slowly destroying me from the inside out. I’ve had dreams about that thing. The very worst one involved placing my head dreamily upon a pillow I thought was made out of baby pink cotton candy only to find that the sugary fluff had disappeared and what enveloped me instead was a gelatinous mess of silicone and guts. Really though, that gooey implant terrified me as much as catching a glimpse of a Pegasus in a movie usually does and a big part of me believes that the implant did not actually come from deep inside Yolanda’s chest cavity as the world-renowned surgeon wearing the colorful baker’s hat would have us believe. I think there’s a good chance the implant really originates from the dankest and darkest depths of the bottom of the ocean where its kin continues to frolic with mythical beasts that are made entirely of gills and whatever it is that first birthed Faye Resnick.
I’m hoping (and praying…and chanting…and lighting candles) that now that Yolanda’s implants are out of her body for good, the nightmares will finally cease. I realize, of course, that the visual revelation of Erika Jayne that has been promised to us tonight could cause a new phobia to burst forth, but I made sure to exercise for an extra hour earlier today so chronic exhaustion would crush fear. Besides, there’s probably not all that much to be nervous about. It’s not like I haven’t seen porn before.
We last left the Housewives in the Hamptons – and they’re still there because this show now moves at the sluggish pace of a snail that has been crippled by malaria and whatever eventually gives Lisa Rinna food poisoning. But I have high hopes for tonight! Bethenny is coming and she and her mouth are usually reliable for bringing about a few snide comments and really? As long as this episode does not involve a swan suffering from explosive diarrhea, I’ll consider it a triumph of entertainment. Besides, there’s always the possibility that Kyle will let a little bit more of the Kim that’s clearly stuffed deep inside of her to dribble out when nobody besides a cameraman is looking and at least I’ll have another reason to dislike the woman besides the fact that she’s vapid and superficial and absolutely transfixed by any proximity to fame.
Tonight we begin with the Housewives having some dinner at the white party (the smart ones are drinking Chardonnay so as not to soil their duds) and they immediately launch into a discussion about how hard it is when a couple you know gets divorced and hatred springs up between them where once only love had lived. Eileen, the apparent optimist in the group, doesn’t know how you can hate someone after having slept with the person and it’s probably a very bad sign that I burst into spontaneous and unceasing laughter at her naiveté for about five minutes straight. But then Lisa asks Eileen about her marriages and it turns out that Eileen has been married three times. The news surprises Ms. Vanderpump and she asks some questions then about Vince. Turns out that he and Eileen met on a soap opera and their characters had to do some smooching and they felt a chemistry almost immediately despite the fact that each was married to another person. “So how did the affair start?” asks Lisa – and the reaction to her question is a beat of stunned silence from Eileen and a shake of the feathered head from Lisa Rinna. Listen, I get that maybe Eileen feels a little bit of shame about how her marriage began, but here again I find myself a wee bit confused. Why are so many people on this show so desperate to hide the details of their lives? I mean, I get why Kyle is on this show. Despite the fact that she alleges that she’d rather give up all her Chanel than discuss her damaged sister, I think we all know that Kyle might stop breathing if cameras weren’t pointed squarely in her direction at least four times a week. (Does anyone else think that she spends her hiatus practicing her laugh in the mirror so she can make sure she only has one chin?) But Eileen is an actual actress with a real career and if she doesn’t want to talk about things like her marriage, why is she on a show called The Real Housewives?
The next glorious morning, Kyle fixes her hair, Eileen does squats poolside in a one-piece, and Lisa Rinna is decked out all in white and again manages not to end up filthy like I would be in ten minutes flat. They’re planning to go first to a wine tasting and later they’ll head over to Bethenny’s house. “Are you good with Lisa Vanderpump?” Bethenny asks Kyle over the phone – which means some good shit-talking must have gone down between these two off-camera and I would so much rather watch unedited footage of that than the women traipsing through a vineyard. Also, Bethenny says she’s never heard of the magazine Lisa appeared on and I haven’t either, but there’s something coy and quietly vicious about every single question Bethenny throws Kyle’s way. I think this gathering is going to be her cardio. Meanwhile, over at the hotel the other ladies went bolting from, Lisa and Ken are getting ready for the day too. I’m mildly confused that everyone is dressed in white to go stomp around grapes, but then again, I’m kind of a klutz. More shocking than anything is that Giggy walks a whole bunch of steps without falling over into an fatigued fluffy heap and I was so exited for him that he was able to move on his own that I cheered.
Seems I’m feeling way more excited than Eileen. She’s still freaked out about the personal questions Lisa Vanderpump tossed her way the night before and now she doesn’t know how to deal with the woman. Having unresolved feelings make Eileen seriously uncomfortable – which means the soap star and I have exactly one thing in common – so I think we should all expect some words to spit forth from her mouth by the end of the weekend. And sure, we’ll get to the Lisa/Eileen thing eventually, but first we get to hear that Lisa Rinna – the only one of the Housewives who has yet to meet Erika – Googled her to find out who she is and stumbled across a little video of Erika Jayne in all of her slutty glory. Finally – finally! – we get to see the alter ego Erika talks about all the time and our first glance is a black and white video for Painkillr. First things first: I did not spell the title of the song incorrectly. Erika Jayne is so modern that she no longer requires the full use of vowels. But honestly, who the fuck cares about proper language when we get to watch Erika Jayne writhe around on the floor and straddle a bed with iron posts while singing maybe the most generic pop song ever recorded? Lisa Rinna is amazed at how blatantly sexual Erika is and Lisa Vanderpump tells her to stop being so judgmental. I’m imagining that Lisa Vanderpump has rolled across plenty of iron beds in her day too and she had a fucking great time doing it.
Lisa Rinna passes her phone around so the others can see Erika Jayne in action. Eileen likes it – a lot. Lisa Vanderpump wants to make her own video and quickly considers if she’ll be violating any laws of the Humane Society if she included Giggy and tied him to a bedpost. And Kyle goes fleeing from a bug that lands near her because her mother raised her to say that she was allergic to all things that fly (besides private jets owned by rich men) because running away from tables filled with people is a guaranteed way to get her some attention.
The vineyard excursion over, the women are all back at the house when Erika and her heels arrive in the Hamptons. Everyone greets her warmly and she’s wearing a necklace that’s the size of my couch and sunglasses that surely cost more than my car, but I can’t help but like this woman. She just seems like a good sport and a fun hang. Plus, just about every appearance she makes is accompanied by a splice of footage of her gyrating as Erika Jayne and it’s all so ridiculous that I kind of love it. Also, Erika is no dummy. She flat-out states that when she’s around a gaggle of Beverly Hills women, she needs to stay focused by watching and listening and I guess not engaging in anything that will leave potential enemies with fodder to use against her. Her theory is probably correct, but it’s also mildly comical considering that there’s apparently a treasure trove’s worth of shit online someone could use to try to humiliate her. Still, Erika seems hard to embarrass and harder still to bring down and her husband will sue the shit out of anyone who even tries so she just flings her platinum hair back until it glistens in the midday sun and wonders in which nearby potato field her private plane is parked.
Erika brings the women some swag from her show and tells them she is picking up Yolanda on her way back from the Hamptons. And then she says something that literally made what I think is my spleen clench in alarm: Yolanda cannot wait to show her what was removed from her body. So fucking help me, if we are treated to another shot of that implant, I might need therapy and I might need it instantly and does anyone know if mental health professionals make house calls at 10:00 PM on a Tuesday and, if they do, do they take my insurance?
Speaking of Yolanda, she is recovering in Ohio and she is so very grateful that David is helping to take care of her. “This is not what you signed up for, my baby,” she coos to him and he’s being so kind and solicitous to her that I considered going for a quick ride on the David-Foster-is-not-a-total-dick bandwagon – until he says to Lisa Vanderpump over the phone, “Let’s just say this: Ken has better tits than her.” The guy sucks bloody crusty implants.
Back in the Hamptons, Lisa Rinna, Erika, and Eileen are heading over soon to Bethenny’s. Both Erika and Eileen are Bethenny virgins but Lisa has met her before and she really likes her. And speaking of Kyle’s dear friend, Bethenny’s house is white and there are pops of Skinny Girl red everywhere you look. These two women go way back, y’all. Not only did Bethenny used to shop at Forever 21 with Paris and Nicky, but she actually used to date Kyle’s ex-boyfriend and the two met when Bethenny went clomping over to her at a restaurant to ask if the crazy expensive makeup remover she found in the guy’s medicine cabinet once belonged to Kyle. It’s such an adorable story, right? Not only do we get a bit of clarity that Bethenny was always abrasive, but we also get confirmation that Kyle was always able to afford really expensive stuff. This is going to be the story I tell to my children and my children’s children every year on their birthdays.
Despite all the shit I (or anyone with eyes and ears) could talk about Bethenny, I do love her house and it’s impressive what she has done for herself as a businessperson. And I can rhapsodize until I’m blue in the face about her astonishing levels of ambition, but I’d so much rather hear her ask Kyle about what’s really going on with the most errant member of the Richards clan. Kyle tells Bethenny that it’s been really bad lately and she resents how everyone is asking her things about what’s going on. Then she begins to cry. See, it’s okay for Bethenny to ask Kyle questions in the way it’s not okay when Lisa Rinna does. After all, Bethenny has known Kyle and Kim for decades – and Bethenny is a bigger star. Kyle’s got standards when it comes to releasing secrets, people.
(Fun fact: Kyle’s mother used to keep a mayonnaise jar filled to the brim with diamonds. It’s really remarkable her daughters ended up as fucked up as they did, right?)
After Bethenny asks about Erika, Kyle shows her pictures of Erika on her private plane. Bethenny thinks she’s beautiful and it seems all the women are kind of enchanted by Erika. Lisa Rinna and Eileen are all but sitting on the woman’s lap and braiding her hair in the limo when Ken, Lisa, and Giggy get in to join them. Lisa Vanderpump tells Erika that the video she saw was erotic and beautifully shot, though maybe she wasn’t looking at the same piece of film Bethenny was when Erika Jayne had a few of her own fingers buried in her ass crack. When the women arrive at Bethenny’s, their host is pretty friendly and she ushers them outside. Lisa Vanderpump considers Bethenny a woman to be reckoned with and I guess that’s pretty clear when she says “rim job” in the first five seconds of her dinner party. Ken eventually leaves to go meet up with a friend for dinner and Erika takes a moment to run to the bathroom (maybe one of those rings shoved up her ass caused some tenderness). While she’s gone, the rest of them talk about how they like Erika, especially Eileen. In fact, I think Eileen might have a tiny nonsexual crush on her new friend – or her new friend’s alter ego – and she definitely likes Erika way more than she likes Bethenny who spouts out judgmental comments that are then followed by a quick sarcastic laugh designed to mask the truth of what she just said.
You know who doesn’t care about other peoples’ judgment? Erika – and Erika Jayne. Go ahead! Call her a hooker! Hookers are fabulous! She will happily represent all the hookers in the world because, really, she’s just like they are. All hookers live in a home the size of a continent and have their own pilots! After all, it’s 2016! Let’s declare it the Year of the Prostitute!
It turns out that Bethenny and Erika have some things in common. Both were cocktail waitresses in Beverly Hills and both sold their souls to Bravo and both have Andy Cohen on speed dial and well, that’s kind of it. As scallops and couscous are served and Erika’s music video is brought up again, the artist known as Erika Jayne looks none too pleased when Bethenny says that she’s already looked at it and noticed that Erika had a hand shoved up her vagina halfway through the song. She then gives Erika some lessons on branding – which means that Bethenny has been carefully studying her good friend Ramona Singer to properly gage the very worst time to shove unwanted opinions someone’s way the very day you meet her. Bethenny’s sage advice to the woman who does not appear to be hurting for money or minor adoration or career advice is that she should rebrand herself as the walking embodiment of female empowerment. “That’s what I do,” replies Erika – and now fuck, I really need to get myself a whip and a bed with some posts because that’s gotta be the reason I don’t feel powerful all the time! The conversation continues as Lisa Rinna begins to get sick to her stomach at the table – which means it was either the scallops or all the talk about fingers plunging into ass cracks that did her in – and she begins to visibly sweat and immediately gets up from the table to go back to the Hamptons house and I commend her for not puking and shitting all over Bethenny’s lovely table setting.
Those left behind watch Erika’s video again and Kyle is a little nervous about Bethenny spewing out some unsolicited advice in a way that anyone with a pulse might view as rude. “Want some advice?” asks Bethenny. “I don’t love the production value. It looks cheap. It’s trying to look a little avant-garde but it’s not quite getting it.” Eileen jumps in to disagree and to temper the sting of the comments from a virtual stranger before Bethenny also busts in to say she didn’t like the music or the cheesy silver bed or, for that matter, the song itself. In fact, the only thing Bethenny might actually like about Erika’s video is the phone it played on. “Is that bad?” wonders this odd adult woman about how she all but just pulled out a typed list of complaints at the table. But the second Erika simply responds calmly to all of Bethenny’s rapid-fire insults, Bethenny appears flummoxed. “Who is this blonde woman not telling me to go fuck myself after I tried so hard to insult her?” she wonders. “Aren’t all blondes related to Sonja Morgan?” Perplexed and recognizing that nobody is all that charmed by her even in her own home, Bethenny changes her tune and even gets up and does some moves with Erika until she pulls her groin by squatting suggestively near the table and there was even a chrghhhhhh sound effect that went along with it and I guess that makes everything just a little bit better.
In the morning, Lisa Rinna has recovered from whatever alien invaded her insides at Bethenny’s table and she celebrates her reemerging health by doing some pretty impressive yoga. Her Zen vanishes slightly when she goes inside and Eileen tells her that she felt blindsided by Lisa Vanderpump the other day when she was asked about her marriage and it was phrased as “the affair.” She felt grilled and she is sure that she came off as clearly uncomfortable and Lisa Vanderpump is a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them so she had to know that Eileen didn’t enjoy any second of their conversation. She’s annoyed by it all and kind of hurt too. At the same time that Lisa and Eileen are having their pow-wow in the kitchen, Ken, Lisa, and Erika travel to the house. In the limo, Lisa asks Erika all kinds of questions, but none of them ruffle Erika all that much. She knows what’s going on right here. She realizes that Lisa likes to be in control and that she enjoys her role as the leader of the group and Erika doesn’t so much as perspire under her questioning. She didn’t glisten when Bethenny came at her either. Erika just gazed evenly at both of them and she smiled serenely and then she looked directly at the camera during an interview and wondered aloud about Bethenny: “Is she being a bitch or is she just being…” and the she took a fucking glorious ten-second beat before finishing her question with the word “jealous” and it was stated in a tone made entirely out of the purest form of organic honey and I don’t know when this woman’s birthday is, but I’m about to start celebrating it.
Eileen, however, is sweating her ass off. She has taken Lisa’s questioning personally and she sees it as an indication that Lisa does not respect her so she asks the violator to sit down with her. She prefaces the conversation by saying that maybe she’s just being a little oversensitive, but she wants Lisa to know that she was genuinely uncomfortable about it all. Lisa is immediately conciliatory about hurting Eileen’s feelings and she tells Eileen to just come out and tell her if she’s ever being too intrusive and that Eileen should never feel like she has to answer anything she doesn’t want to tell. Eileen nods and throws out a few “uh huhs” but she doesn’t think anything was resolved. Now, I usually find Eileen to be pretty logical, but I’m not quite sure what she was looking for as a resolution here. Lisa apologized. She indicated how Eileen could communicate with her in the future to make Lisa stop from tossing out unwanted questions. What else does Eileen want? I’m not even sure that she knows.
Next time, Bethenny apologizes for insulting Erika, Eileen bursts into tears about something, Yolanda flies home, and the new Housewife who used to date OJ Simpson shows up. If the producers went after this woman simply because of her one-time proximity to the murderer who went free (until he was arrested eventually for something else entirely), I’d like to take a moment to thank them for their restraint in not promoting Faye Resnick into being a full Housewife. Then again, her schedule was probably crammed too full with playdates so she could build sand castles with Yolanda’s implant on the ocean floor.
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.