Remember that scene in Poltergeist when the technician whose job it was to photograph the gazillions of ghosts living and thriving inside the little blonde girl’s closet decided to go into the kitchen late at night to cook himself a steak? Remember how that steak became infested with ravenous maggots that burst forth from the center of the slab of red meat and the way your pre-teen stomach began to topple and turn as you watched that thing crawl across the white Formica countertop? Can you also recall what happened next, when the guy went into the bathroom and began pulling the skin off his face in gigantic hunks of blood and tendons until all we saw was a grotesque vision of bone and hollowed-out eye sockets and the sink below him was filled with heaping shreds of plasma-covered muscle? Yeah, I’d rather watch that scene every single night on a loop and use the sound effects from the sequence as I walk down the aisle on my wedding day than ever fucking hear the word “Munchausen” ever again.
And while we’re on the topic of DREADFULTHINGS I’D RATHER EXPERIENCE INSTEAD OF PART ONE OF THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS REUNION, let’s take a gander at what would unquestionably bring me more joy than watching grown and wealthy women argue about an incident that might not have even transpired and, if it did happen, it transpired off-camera and thus can never be proven and doesn’t even sound particularly interesting or incriminating in the first place:
• I’d rather watch the last five minutes of every episode of Full House – you know, the portion where the studio scoring magically sets in like an orchestra lives in the ceiling and every mishap under the yellow sun is solved by an adult talking solemnly to a child in a bedroom – and then time how long it takes me to create a noose out of some cable wires.
• I’d rather be present for the birth of my ex-boyfriend’s child, if only so I can declare, “She looks just like me!” at the very moment the baby is yanked free from his wife’s stretched-out vagina.
• I’d rather go back in time and once again attend the very first concert I ever saw, which means someone had better pull Tiffany out of retirement today because I’d like to hear I Think We’re Alone Now and I’d like to hear it immediately and I kind of insist that she do all the hand gestures she did in the video.
• I’d rather read and highlight all of the emails in my spam folder about the benefits of Viagra (I think I’m listed on some mailing list as “Neil” and someone out there thinks Neil’s got a limp cock) and then purchase some of that Viagra, as well as a bottle of the magical moisturizer Cindy Crawford pushes on television in the dead of night, the one that exists all because of some phenomenal super-melon. I also rather go out and farm those fucking cantaloupes myself in a field where there’s no shade.
• I’d rather do CrossFit.
Yes, my dear and fellow survivors of a season of complete bullshit, I am really not looking forward to watching these women sit in uncomfortable cocktail dresses on opposing sofas and fight for the next three hours, especially when the fights don’t matter or make any sense. I mean, just so I’m clear, I think the main fight is about whether or not Lisa Vanderpump used her Swami Priestess prowess to command Lisa Rinna’s ginormous lips to form the three syllables that make up “Munchausen” and then attempt to deny any wrongdoing, right? Seriously: we’ve arrived at the fucking reunion and I still have no idea what these people are even brawling about anymore. But I’m pretty sure that Lisa Rinna wants Lisa Vanderpump to rise to a standing position, apologize in song (preferably one that rhymes) for being the Commander of All Things Evil, and then create enough of a flow of tears – even if she’s gotta stab herself in the inner thigh with some tweezers to do it – so one of her false eyelashes comes off in her hand because the only thing that will appease Lisa Rinna at this point is actually watching Lisa Vanderpump fall apart piece by piece. And she will wait. She’s got time, Lisa Rinna does! That pilot for a talk show headed by a crazy person who only has access to D-list friends is not being picked up any time soon! I asked Vince, Eileen’s favorite gambler, to run some stats for me and he has indicated that the over-under of Lisa Rinna becoming the next Oprah – or even the next Carnie Wilson – is slim to none. He also encouraged me to start betting a third of my salary on Women’s Soccer, but I hung tough and slipped him both the number for a Gambler’s Anonymous hotline and a rusty shiv that he can use to dig his way out of the Rosemary’s Baby-style home he lives in with a soap actress who is either slowly descending into absolute madness or has somehow allowed herself to believe that being on The Real Housewives might nicely serve as an extended audition tape for the remake of Repulsion that one of the voices screaming inside of her head told her was a go-project at the same studio that made the film where she portrayed an alien in a unitard.
Speaking of glorious ensembles, it's time to take a look at what our Housewives are wearing to rip one another to pieces until each is just a bloody carcass with cleavage. It's also maybe time for some of them to fire their stylists. Done up in sparkly gold and more hair than is currently on the walls of all of our showers combined is Erika, who looks like Barbie after a long night of patting her puss. Kyle brought her tits as her plus-2 to the reunion so she has something to talk to just in case the rest of the group shuns her. Being that I'd rather have full conversations with my own tits than ever speak a single word to some of these hallucinating monsters, I think Kyle made an excellent choice. Lisa Vanderpump always disappoints me with her reunion outfit, a sentence that pains me to type because I usually find her flawless. Tonight she's wearing a dress that looks like one of her famous friends melted down an Oscar and poured it all over her. Her hair looks fabulous, though. Yolanda is wearing makeup and she looks healthy. That said, she's also clad in that illusion fabric only ice skaters should wear – and even then it should only happen at the Olympics. Kathryn manages to look dull in a vibrant shade of green while Eileen went with a bold red strapless number that's kind of pretty and that's maybe the last lovely thing I'll say about her unless she spontaneously begins to act normally. And I love the blush color Lisa Rinna is wearing and the neckline is incredibly flattering. However, while I have no desire to shame anyone for her weight in much the way Lisa’s been frantically doing all over Twitter (I don't follow her, but I hear things!), I will say that she's unbelievably thin and when she stands sideways, she all but disappears. Any way we can request that she can stand sideways for the entire reunion?
Andy begins by greeting them all individually in a manner that always strikes me as weirdly smarmy, but I found it very hard to concentrate while he leered, “Hi, Erika.” See, my mood, which had gleefully experienced a major upswing when the commercials for this reunion showed all the women in wide shot that did not include Brandi Glanville or Kim Richards, turned dark during the coming attractions that began the episode and the tear of pure gratitude that actually slid down my cheek because of the absence of these dipshits dried like Magic Shell right on my face. Look, I get it. There’s three hours of this bullshit to fill and they can't (oh, God – they just can't) talk about Munchausen’s the entire time. Maybe that’s why Brandi, looking pumped full of generic Restylane, appeared like a smelly fungus that keeps coming back. Kim’s showing up at some point, too. Sure, those of us blessed with common fucking sense can shake our heads with disgust that this cruel idiot continues to discuss her mishaps on television while maintaining how badly she wants her privacy, but I’m sure she was provided a decent paycheck to sit on that couch and she needs the money. Girlfriend's got movers to pay.
We start immediately will viewer questions so Andy can ease them in gently into what's bound to eventually become a nihilistic travesty of epic proportions. The first inquiries are silly: What if the miniature pony had pooped on the private jet? How dare Kathryn insult Eileen's cheap purses? And are those hideous rose gold sunglasses still being carried at Kyle’s hideous store? The answers to all of these questions do not matter. The only thing they're really meant to do is provide a warm-up exercise to get the ladies talking. Squats or Kegel exercises would have done the trick, too. And now that the easy stuff is out of the way, it's time to dive into Erika, a woman who is a timid housewife by day, a terrible singer by night, and a self-proclaimed enigma because one of her paid friends called her that one day and she thought the word sounded expensive. Looking back at the montage of Erika's first season, I'm struck by how perfect she is for this show. Her marriage is a minefield of cautionary tales come to life and her sound bites during interviews are just bitchy and astute enough for me to hope she one day walks away with a huge divorce settlement. The willingness she has to pretend Erika Jayne is both real and loaded with talent is nothing short of hilarious, but her commitment to this fallacy is pretty impressive. I have no doubt she'll be back next season and that she'll hate Lisa Vanderpump more with and more with every day that passes and the feeling might be mutual, especially after Andy points out that Lisa's reunion dress is a replica of Erika's interview outfit. I'd blame Tom Ford for this, but as he is the single most dashing man currently roaming the planet, I'll just blame Lisa Rinna instead since I plan to blame her for everything anyway from this point forward.
By the way, here's a fun game maybe we should all play: take a shot every time Lisa Vanderpump says something during this reunion that makes the other women smirk or lean in to touch one another in a move that screams, "That fucking bitch! Get her!" I fully expect to be comatose by the end of the second hour so I hope someone will inform me about whether or not Andy’s twenty-five year old plaything makes an appearance.
As for how the other people in her life feel about her, Erika lets us know many were initially suspicious as to why a young woman wanted to marry a rich old man. Those people are just judgmental assholes! Tom seems like a lovely guy – and he even allows her to speak sometimes! Meanwhile, her fellow Housewives have absolutely no problem with the fact that she schlepped her glam squad to the faraway desert because they’re all a little bit afraid of Erika and besides, she's not Lisa Vanderpump who they would have clobbered with a huge boulder in the town square had she had the audacity to bring a makeup artist anywhere near Dubai.
"You seem submissive to your husband," Andy muses to Erika in perhaps the biggest understatement of the season. No, explains Erika, she's not submissive to her husband/father. She is respectful because the man works hard and he bought her a plane and all of that extra hair and she can deal with being grounded or told to shut her mouth every so often if it means she can thrive in a mansion with enough bedrooms that she never has to see the guy unless it's to ask for her allowance. Hey, we all make choices in life and I actually have no problem with the ones Erika's made. Let her live and prosper – and let her turn her considerable quiet bitchiness on Lisa Rinna next season and stop by Faye Resnick's house on the way home and piss on her front lawn.
We finally change the subject to the superstardom Yolanda's kids have achieved in the world of modeling and she gives them all the credit, though a tiny part of her must be congratulating herself for denying them food during their formative years to prepare them for a life of being judged and sold purely by their gorgeous features. When I tell you that maybe no other sequence in the history of this show – not the wine glass being shattered in Amsterdam and not Kim screaming that Kyle stole her fucking house – has settled in my psyche with more alarm than the moment when Yolanda served Gigi a fingernail-sized portion of cake like you'd serve someone blow in a toilet stall, I'm not kidding.
And now it's time to delve into the destruction of Yolanda's marriage, the one that always made so many of us uncomfortable to watch, even when it was made to appear idyllic. Her obsequious obedience to the man was vomit-inducing, as were the jeans he often wore. Watching him this season as he looked like he wanted to gnaw his own arm off to get away from the sick lady was depressing, and it's hard not to hate the guy who apparently was too busy writing shitty songs for some tenor than to recall that he agreed to be in this relationship through sickness and in health. But how is Yolanda handling it? It sounds like she blames herself for making a man have to take care of her. After all, it's not David who changed; it's she who moved a health advocate into her home and vacationed in hyperbolic chambers. He's a good man, Yolanda insists, even though she wishes she could have gotten well before they made the choice to divorce. The rest of it she'd like to keep to herself – or at least wait until People Magazine offers her a cover story to spill all the lemons.
Hey, Kyle? Any chance Yolanda's sickness might have been a manifestation of symptoms that stemmed from the fact that her marriage was being destroyed while a camera crew was camping out next to her vitamin closet? Well, Kyle says, she can't really answer because she's not a doctor – and neither, by the way, is Yolanda's health advocate, Daisy, who is on the set and ready to implant all the women with pallets in their asses to ward off the nightmare of menopause. Perhaps David Foster is not such a douchebag, after all. Perhaps he just wanted to escape from insane people who stick things inside their anuses but feel okay about doing so because whatever is being shoved up there is all natural.
Now on to Kathryn! The montage that sums up her inaugural season means a whole lot of nothing to me except for one thing: her very warranted fury towards Faye Resnick. See, Faye Resnick is a total asshole. She sold out her murdered friend weeks after her death. She collaborated with a tabloid reporter to tell the dead woman's story. She capitalized on her selfish infamy by spreading her ass wide enough for Playboy that we could find out if she had one of those implanted pallets. (She did not.) She's best friends with Kyle Richards. I mean, case fucking closed, no? Not if you're Kyle it's not! She will defend Faye to the bitter end and tell all of us that her dear friend did not like how she was portrayed on this show! What people said about her caused her to feel great anger and sadness – much like I'd imagine Kathryn felt when Faye Resnick wrote about her in a motherfucking book. But the thing Kyle can really not understand is the huge disconnect that exists between the fun, loyal Faye she knows and the cannibalistic Cyclops everyone else sees when they're forced to look at her.
Maybe we should allow Kathryn to explain. Her name was not brought into the O.J. Simpson saga until Faye wrote about it in a book she profited from. Isn't that gross, Kyle? "I understand," huffs Kyle, flinging her arms about while whispering to her tits that she's glad they're around to support her as all of these uptight bitches cannot seem to let go of being slandered twenty years ago. And can Kathryn please not talk about someone who didn't sign up to be a Real Housewife? Um, hasn’t this asshole appeared on every fucking season of this show thus far? Are we expected to believe she was coerced into signing a release to be on camera? I've been giving her a bit of a break this season, but this moment helps reiterate the magnitude of just how much Kyle Richards blows.
"She was not patronizing to you," Kyle trembles at Kathryn. "When Faye said, 'You look beautiful,' she meant it." Problem fucking solved, genius.
Side note: you guys, we're more than halfway through part one of this madness and nobody has said the "M" word! Maybe we all just imagined the entire thing and this season was really a thrill ride of fantastically interesting disagreements and adventures! Can a folie a deux exist amongst an entire viewing audience? Can somebody maybe ask Daisy? I'm betting she's a fake psychiatrist, too.
Now that Kathryn's sort of been redeemed in my eyes for calling attention to the creature that is Kyle’s best friend and her impressionable child's fake aunt, it's time to explore whether or not she's a bully for making fun of the fact that Lisa Rinna is emancipated. No, she's not a bully, Kathryn insists. She's playful! And nothing is more hilarious than accusing someone of having an eating disorder! As for the vulnerability Kathryn showed while talking about her father's suicide, she's still feeling raw about it all, especially because she just lost her nephew to an overdose. Illustrating that there's still some humanity left in the room, the ladies gather around her for comfort and to offer some Kleenex. It'll be interesting to see if Kathryn is invited back next year. I'm guessing now that she'll be included in the cast, if only so Andy can ogle her hot husband with more frequency.
Okay, I totally jinxed us because it's Munchausen Season now, a yearlong affliction I'm certain will never end. As the Munchausen montage plays, we get to revisit Yolanda’s floor to ceiling closet filled with pills and Kyle asking questions about Yolanda's children and the smug looks the women wear as they watch the clips, all seemingly believing that each one of them is currently being individually exonerated even though absolutely nothing new is being presented.
So let's (again) get into it:
Lisa Rinna was not inspired by Yolanda's Instagram posts where she was shown being stuck with humongous needles.
Lisa Vanderpump found herself confused by the copious amount of sick-girl selfies Yolanda threw up online for the world to judge as well as how, the day after she'd post something where she looked close to death, she’d go ahead and share a recent photo of herself appearing totally healthy.
Kyle doesn't appreciate that Lisa Rinna dragged her into the Munchausen discussion when she never said a single word about such a thing.
Yolanda is furious that Kyle didn't throw herself on top of Lisa Rinna and knock her teeth out to stop her from bringing up the word Munchausen because that's what a true friend like Faye Resnick would have done.
As for the inconsistencies in her stories and the fluctuating timeline she continues to toss around, Yolanda waves those accusations away and everyone is really too timid to follow up too closely. Besides, Yolanda doesn't even like anyone in that room besides Erika so she's not about to clarify shit.
The big finish – for now – centers around how it even came to be that Munchausen’s was brought up in the first place. Turns out, Lisa Rinna's hairdresser knows someone who has Munchausen’s and their discussion made Lisa contemplate Yolanda's sliding-scale-sickness. Was it real, she wondered?
"How can you even fake medical records?" questions the allegedly ill woman who clearly has not seen one episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County.
"This was not malicious," insists Lisa Rinna. Then she forges ahead and declares she's about to be "really really honest." Ready for some real real honesty? Okay, so they were all at her birthday party, the one Yolanda showed up for looking like a corpse, and when she left, Ken mentioned that Yolanda looked awful. At that, Lisa Rinna sprung into action! She stood tall (and thin) and announced that Yolanda was sick! They must all stand by her! Even Harry Hamlin stood up for Yolanda and her grey pallor! And it was Lisa Vanderpump, that wench in Tom Ford – the one she copied from Erika – who then sniped, "There goes our fucking storyline." Lisa Rinna even snaps her fingers when she says this line because she believes it’s just so very incriminating (and because doing jazz hands would not have been appropriate). In the meantime, Lisa Vanderpump asserts that such a thing was never said – and if it was, why did no camera record her saying it? But there’s more! Lisa Rinna claims that Lisa Vanderpump then called her on the phone and encouraged her to bring up that Yolanda should become the spokeswoman for Munchausen’s! She's got stacks of fucking phone records to prove calls were made! And at this bit of nonsense, Yolanda covers her face with her hands, dabs daintily at her eyes, and walks off the set while Lisa Rinna proudly declares, "I did it!" like she just accomplished something besides self-inflicted starvation.
By the way, Eileen did not say more than five words this entire episode. Maybe she's experiencing some stage fright. If that’s the case, Daisy is here to help her. She will ram some pill made out of kale and dirt she gathered on a spiritual hike the last time she was in Timbuktu straight up Eileen's ass and that will cure her of all of her ailments. Just give her a second so she can tend to her favorite sick client first.
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.