So Kim Richards, that shrieking combination of blonde hair and terribly articulated excuses, got arrested Wednesday night in Beverly Hills. Seems she turned belligerent at the Polo Lounge where she was allegedly downing vodka tonics and then got into an argument before being led away by security. Instead of calling her Uber-designated-driver or stumbling onto the beautifully manicured lawns of the famed hotel, she chose instead to lock herself in a bathroom and refuse to come out and that’s apparently where the Beverly Hills Hotel security gave up and called for the L.A.P.D. who arrived on the scene to drag the alcoholic who is not and has never struggled with her sobriety off to jail for a litany of broken legalities. While in custody, she kicked a police officer before being released on $20,000 bail.
The news of the Housewife’s arrest hit the internet yesterday afternoon and spread like chlamydia across the gossip sites I like to frequent, though these days those sites report about people I have never even heard of, like the fertile Teen Moms and the G-list remedial twirlers who apparently appear on Dancing With the Stars. The breaking news about Kim Richards, however, was news I stopped to take a look at and my very first thought after skimming the article was this: Who will she blame for this public event that is now legally documented? Will it be her sister Kyle? Will it be Bravo? Will it be that child a psychic told her a few seasons ago lives in a portal somewhere in her house? Because let’s be serious – there is not a shot in the blazing fires of Hell that Kim Richards will use this experience as an opportunity to look inward and place the blame squarely on herself.
Allow me to be perfectly clear here: I do not typically take any joy in another person’s pain. I do not hear about embarrassing things happening to celebrities and think, “Good!” and my face does not twist into a smug expression because somebody I don’t know is suffering. I’m not even the type of person who giggles when someone trips down the stairs. But this scenario is different in the sense that, while I do not feel particularly joyful about the very newest events in Kim Richards’ life, I also do not feel badly for her in the least, and I think there’s something perversely interesting about that.
I have been exposed to addiction and it is a waking, noisy nightmare for anyone directly or peripherally involved. When a family member craves a drug or a drink more than the light, the entire family is plunged into pitch-black darkness. What ends up happening is that the trust and belief that was once ingrained within you – that people are strong, that love is enough, that sobriety is forever – begins to thin and to fray and to lose its softness and soon that comfy blanket of trust that you and that family member used to cuddle under and use to make sick forts becomes all but transparent. Once addiction hits a family, that family is never the same. There is moving forward and there is acceptance and the reconstruction of belief, but something has been compromised – tested – and the sadness and anxiety the addiction brings directly impacts every person involved, including those who have never used a single substance.
When my brother went through a problem with substance abuse several years ago, my family all but fell apart. We all dealt with the dawning understanding of how bad it actually was differently. Some of us felt shock and some of us felt sadness. Me? I felt anger running hotly through every single one of my cells. I felt the heat of fury climbing slowly up my spine. I felt repulsion for my brother’s choices every time I ran my hands through my long hair.
Now that it’s over – now that he’s fully sober – I can reflect back and I wonder if anger was the best way for me to deal with what occurred and I’m not sure that it was, but it was how I reacted. That my reaction differed so significantly from my closest family members helped to plunge us all into disagreements that never actually achieved a resolution. And perhaps the oddest part of the entire awful journey was that, once he was sober, we all came to believe and accept that fact at rates we were each comfortable with. I remember a particularly vivid and hideous moment where my brother was supposedly clean and the rest of the siblings were invited over to my parents’ house for brunch and my sister didn’t want to go and she didn’t want to bring her children to be around their uncle who was allegedly newly sober; she believed him, but it’s not like the kid hadn’t lied to us all for a long time. As far as I saw it, that was my sister’s choice and it was a choice that made sense to me. But even had it not made sense, it should have been a choice that was respected by the rest of us because she had to get to that place of belief and trust with him again in her own manner and in her own time. My stepfather did not have the same reaction, and he was furious with her – and nobody does furious like he does. That said, nobody does calm explaining like I do and I called him late one night and began the conversation by telling him how much I loved him and that I appreciated that I was able to be brutally honest with him and when he was finally in the headspace where he was able to hear what I was saying through the fog of his own anger and fears, I told him that addiction was a fucked up thing and so was sobriety and we were all adults in the family and we would all reach emotional destinations in our own time and that better be something that he started to accept because otherwise the family would remain just as fractured as it was when my brother was on drug-filled benders.
My brother has been sober for a long time now and it’s almost hard to remember what those long months were like, but I clearly recall wondering what would finally be his bottom and I also recall emotionally distancing myself from his damaging behavior so successfully that I almost wished he would just die if he refused to do the work to get better. The real him was already dying in those days, and his refusal to take accountability for anything was something I could not accept.
It’s maybe because of what I went through that causes me to feel nothing but revulsion for Kim Richards. I feel badly for her family – especially her children – but I’m also willing to wager that, while this last incident might be the one most reported on, it’s probably not the worst thing her kids have been through with their addicted mother. And the reason I can have what is almost a callous reaction to an alcoholic backsliding is directly related to the ways in which Kim has conducted herself on television for the last, oh, five years or so. As an alcoholic, she made the choice to participate on a reality television show. I’m guessing that the biggest reasons to do so were for a paycheck and to feel the heat of a klieg light on her face once again, but her reasons for making the choice no longer interest me. Whatever the reason, she went on the show – and then continued to be on the show even after the public fallout and the heightened family strife that people watched while eating popcorn.
Now, I have always found Kim to be the least interesting of all the Housewives, and that’s a bold statement to make considering that Adrienne Maloof was on the show for years. For me, Kim brought nothing to the table in terms of what I wanted from one of my Housewives. There were no sprawling closets to drool over in Kim’s house and no sarcastic comments were ever made during her confessional interviews that caused me to begrudgingly admit that she is kind of funny. There were literally no storylines about her over the years about anything besides her always being late or cancelling plans; her borderline creepy attachment to her children; her attempt to erase her empty nest by cramming a pitbull she was unable or unwilling to properly train into her house; and her spitting and unwavering fury for those who questioned a sobriety that has always appeared questionable.
I think that anyone who follows this show has heard the rumors that the reason Bravo keeps bringing Kim back to a program she adds nothing but poorly-articulated conflict to is because her sister has convinced the network to keep her on in the hopes that she can make some money and that perhaps the exposure will help to keep her on the straight and narrow. But all that has occurred – time and one more fucking time again – is that Kim resents her sister for having a life that is stable and full of happiness and she despises her for being cautious about her sister’s mental health and wellbeing, which is kind of pure utter bullshit because it is Kim’s fault and Kim’s actions that have caused her sister to harbor any fears in the first place.
Even though I found her odd and not at all funny or interesting, I initially felt some sadness for Kim Richards. I think my empathy reached its height early this season when the women went to a wine tasting and Kim slowly stirred a mango smoothie at the end of the bar and then quietly got up and removed herself from the awkwardness and went outside and called her daughter. But that sadness is gone now. I do not feel badly for Kim; I can probably muster up some empathy, but doing so makes me feel like I’m doing squats. See, Kim has spent all season – actually, she has spent the entire series doing this, but it reached its hideous pinnacle this last season – deflecting attention away from her relapse and her inability to hold herself accountable for her actions by striking out so viciously against everybody else that it has almost rendered me stunned – and when you’re somebody like me who has watched reality television since its inception, it takes a lot to be shocked. Kim managed to do it though, and I sat appalled by her toxicity and her power to manipulate. When she felt vulnerable, she reacted by screaming and pointing in someone’s pale face. She hinted and implied that she knew secrets, life-ruining secrets, about anyone who even looked at her with a hint of suspicion. She wondered aloud to cameras why people tried to get into her business. She laughed when other women cried. She blamed the mauling her niece underwent by her untrained dog on her niece and then hinted that she had hidden and damaging secrets about her own sister’s child in order to direct the attention elsewhere. She decided that Brandi Glanville, perhaps the most uncouth homosapien to ever grace a high-definition television screen, was her very best friend in the whole wide world and looked the other way while that friend called her sister a cunt and threatened to knock her teeth out. And then she proclaimed that she has never struggled with her sobriety after being an addict for decade after decade, a statement that caused every person who has even been on the brink of addiction to say to themselves and to each other, “What the fuck?”
Had Kim continued to stay on this show after going to rehab and allowed her actual life to be her storyline for a show that’s supposed to be about her life, I would have been fine with it. I mean, I think that living a private life when you’re struggling with substance-y demons is probably the healthier route to take, but if she made the choice to continue to live in a televised world, that would have been her decision. That said, it is both ridiculous and insulting to believe that you can publicly announce your lifetime of alcoholism to cameras and then not expect anyone around you to hold you accountable for your cracked-out actions and blisteringly awful behavior. That her response to the other Housewives saying that they are there for her if she is struggling was “blah, blah, blah,” and that she acknowledged that she hadn’t compromised her sobriety in the least, even after admitting to taking one of her ex-husband’s painkillers, just perfectly illustrate that this is a very sick woman, and if she would stop being so vile and nasty and fueled only by lost hope and projection, I’d feel for her.
When the news broke, I went on several sites to see what the readers were saying, and the overwhelming reaction seemed to be resignation that what we already knew was the case was in fact the reality. I tried to remember what the reaction was all those years ago to somebody like Robert Downey, Jr. continuing to fall off the bumpy wagon with alarming frequency and I’m pretty sure that, for the most part, it was one of sadness and hope that the guy could get better, that he could grab those drug demons by the scruff of the throat and prove that he was in fact stronger than they were. And look! Now the guy is fucking Iron Man.
It’s impossible to deny that the reaction to Downey’s substance issues and the reactions to Kim Richards’ issues differ remarkably, but for very clear reasons. There was no doubt about how terrifically talented he was while I’m not sure that Kim Richards has ever embodied the combined spirits of Strasberg and Stanislavsky, but I think that I’m right when I say that the largest reason for the disparity is due entirely to what we know about each person’s life and how we got that arsenal of knowledge. When it came to Downey, we got our information from some news reports and from court hearings where he’d address the Judge and his sickness radiated bile-green across the television screen and he appeared stuck in his disease and his eyes stared out almost frantically and it was impossible not to feel his quantifiable sense of despair while simultaneously understanding that this man was in dire pain and needed help. When it comes to Richards, we get the majority of our information directly from her garbled and trembling voice that only speaks half-truths and full lies. We get footage she has given written consent for that shows her clearly unstable and probably not sober. We hear the soundbytes formulated from her broken and vicious mind that are designed to turn the focus from her madness to those who are witnessing it. And we also get silence because, though one of her requirements for being a Housewife is for her to write a blog after each episode that could potentially provide an explanation for the emotional butchery she continues to orchestrate, she rarely to never provides her required blog to the Bravo website, once again shirking any accountability.
Some of what is being bandied about on websites by readers sick of Kim Richards and her bullshit are comments about how she would make the latest incident – the arrest, the kicking of the police officer – all somebody else’s fault. I posted a comment like that too, and though I said it in jest and to continue my reaction of being snarky to anything this woman does, I almost didn’t expect that all of us who made comments such as those would be proven so right so soon. But then early this morning, I saw a story on TMZ with the headline, “Watching the Reunion Show DROVE HER TO DRINK.” The story goes on to quote “sources” who rhapsodize pathetically about how much stress poor Kim has been under, what with her terminal ex-husband and her daughter’s upcoming wedding and her dog that likes to mangle family members and having such shitty family members who have the audacity to get annoyed when they are mangled by a dog. Oh, and allegedly Kim finally watched the Reunion so she could blog about it – was it an invisible blog? – and the things she heard Lisa Vanderpump and Lisa Rinna say drove her to drink. And to all of that, I say that Kim Richards deserves to experience the racking pain she will feel until she finally dies or changes.
That her reaction, delivered through the mouthpiece of “sources,” is that this latest incident is still not her fault or directly related to her refusal to work a sobriety program, then I can honestly say that I don’t care what happens to Kim Richards. That is not a statement or a sentiment I would ever say about anybody else, from people in my life to people I have only read about, but this strikes me as a very special and sick circumstance. As a viewer of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I have watched the participants say both wise and irrational things and behave like refined human beings and also like caged carnivorous animals. I have watched some get a kind edit and then get ravaged the following season, though to be fair, every bit of footage that is edited is footage in which the women consented to appear. I have maintained my enjoyment for some of the Housewives, formed a level of detached apathy for others, and grown to completely hate two of them, and all of my opinions and feelings are connected directly to the actions that played out onscreen. Reality television is no longer a thing its participants can claim has an impact they could never have expected. It’s been around far too long. It has made hundreds and hundreds of random people temporary stars. It has flushed most of them down the societal toilet almost immediately. It has destroyed more than a few who thought that the fame and recognition would last forever.
Kim Richards is a lost cause and she’s not any fun to watch because her levels of delusion have begun to outweigh every other quality she once had or could potentially develop. She is a vacant, spiteful, and very sick woman, and the public reaction to her latest loss in sobriety proves that it’s very hard to root for a woman who shuns self-awareness and accountability like they are made of poison. She has earned this lack of goodwill many feel for her, sad though it is, and it is my opinion that none of it matters, that she will not change, and should she ever stumble upon this particular blog post, her reaction will be to point at her computer screen like it’s my face and snarl that I’d better watch my step – which I will do while she’s tumbling down hers.