Um, I believe it was implied that the Skinny Girl would show up at some point tonight. After all, our Beverly Hills ladies are heading to the Hamptons and who is more representative of the Hamptons than Bethenny Frankel? In fact, I heard through the grapevine that Bethenny is even considering running for Mayor of Southampton because she found out that she couldn’t throw her hat into the race to be the next Queen. Her platform? That every road sign in the community should be painted the exact shade of red that’s in her brand’s logo. I don’t see how the woman can lose.
We all saw Bethenny in the previews for this season and I guess I expected that she’d be onscreen from the get go. While I don’t care that much about catching a glimpse of her on her own show, I was looking forward to seeing her in this bowl of non-fat, non-dairy, non-gluten Housewives soup. See, I just love crossover episodes of television shows, don’t you? There’s this extra special thrill that comes with watching the Love Boat as it flows intentionally towards Fantasy Island or seeing Mork and his rainbow suspenders saunter into Arnold’s to visit with the Happy Days gang. It’s a joining together of some of our favorite characters – a double dose of in-jokes – and it almost doesn’t even matter that the episode itself never actually lives up to all the hype that preceded it because there’s just something kind of delightful about watching the Griffins dine with the Simpsons or witnessing a Carrington toss a Colby off a balcony and onto the hard marble floor below.
It was with this barely contained surge of excitement barreling through me that I settled down to watch what I figured would undoubtedly be the Entertainment Moment of the Year. And sure, it’s only January 5th, but what other recent televised moment should get that glorious distinction? Twins showing up to compete as one person on the new season of The Bachelor? A convicted murderer potentially getting closer to an appeal because of additional information that might have been uncovered through a Netflix series? Yeah, okay – that last one might trump the west coast Housewives colliding with some of our east coast Housewives, but just barely.
It’s the absolutely unnecessary act of having a pop-up version of Kyle By Alene Too (still the dumbest name for a store with the ugliest clothing ever) opening in the Hamptons that brings our Beverly Hills ladies to my very own shores. Lisa Vanderpump is heading there for a different reason. She is on the cover of some magazine and there’s a party to celebrate it and every one of the women except for Yolanda will be there. I figured Bethenny would be there too even though she is the single busiest woman who has ever roamed the planet. I figured she’d make sure to patrol the land and keep the California women in line. I knew it would require some effort. She’d have to clear her packed schedule to make time to hang out with her dear friend Kyle. This action might involve rescheduling appointments with her attorney (because the woman has had the longest running divorce in the history of Manhattan – and I feel badly for her for that) as well as spending a little bit of time practicing her barbed quips in front of a mirror. Bethenny might be a little out of practice, see. Her own season ended. She hasn’t had to scream directly into Sonja Morgan’s face that she’s entirely full of shit in months and well, it takes a little bit of energy to get back that staggering level of sarcastic bitchery when it’s been latent for a spell. I’d also just assumed that Bethenny would squeeze into her day the time to properly mark her turf before the other Housewives descended upon New York and that she’d accomplish such a thing by tossing urine from her car window onto the road that leads out to the Hamptons and politely asking her driver to stop periodically so she could also hang some used tampons on the trees because the only thing Bethenny likes less than her former husband is when assholes like Brandi Glanville make public comments about how Kyle and her friends are too old to ovulate. Bethenny will shut that Glanville woman up if it’s the last thing she fucking does.
But we don’t even get to see Bethenny this week and I call foul. Instead, we start all the way across the country in California as Kyle packs lots of lace dresses for her trip. She’s trying valiantly to pass off light pink as white and attempting to keep her closet from collapsing in around her. Meanwhile, over in Philadelphia, Lisa Rinna has arrived to conquer the QVC audience. First, though, she needs to smite all the germs that could possibly be lurking in her hotel room. I’ll applaud her hygiene for now because it strikes me as fairly aspirational, but if she starts traveling around with her own plastic bubble, I might need to rethink my stance. Continuing to set up where all our favorite Housewives are, we are taken back to Beverly Hills where Erika is being followed around her palatial manor by a woman who is furiously taking notes about all of her mistress’ gripes: there’s no water in the hot tub and one of the flower beds is a fucking pain in the ass. It’s a lot of work to live on five acres of property in a house that’s more than three times that size. Fortunately, her house came up with its own philosophy, which every house tends to so at some point after it has a few drinks or a bad breakup: it needs to be returned to its former glory – and that actually sounds like the prologue for a really good possession film where the house wins in the end and shimmies away in triumph wearing a mesh catsuit. Once it’s clear that Erika is not joking about destroying that pain in the ass flower bed, she is ready to pick her wardrobe for both the Hamptons (where she’ll be greeting the women as Erika) and Chicago (where she will be gyrating for the masses as Erika Jayne, Mistress of the Night). She will also be flying by Ohio to bring Yolanda home after her surgery and I’m guessing it will be Erika going to pick her up because that crystal catsuit could be disorienting to someone just waking up from anesthesia.
Lisa Vanderpump has to pack too. She’s excited to grace the cover of Bella, a magazine I’ve never heard of, but good for Lisa! While she’s there she will meet up with Kyle – and speaking of Kyle and her family, Lisa asks Ken if he has heard that Kim was arrested for shoplifting $600 worth of merchandise from Target. (I remember reading some reports that said that one thing she stole was a coloring book.) Lisa believes that there’s no way a sane version of Kim would have done such a thing, so she’s got to be on something again and she knows that Kyle is about to be made to feel like shit about it all. Lisa decides to call Kyle right away and Kyle answers the phone in tears. She heard about her own sister’s arrest on TMZ. She knows definitively that her sister is not okay. She knows that Kim is not ready to really get healthy and the pain in her voice is clear.
And speaking of Kim, the woman she once called “a beast” while she was allegedly sober is over in Malibu. Eileen is also packing and Vince, reclining on the bed, checks out the price tags of everything his wife is sticking into a suitcase. His startled reactions annoy Eileen who not only makes her own money, but she also doesn’t take him to task for his, um, financial choices. “I don’t ask you what you’re betting on,” she says, and I know that this guy does something in the gambling arena, but it’s all starting to concern me just a bit. It doesn’t make me feel any better when she starts listing some of his bets: basketball bets, tennis bets. Holy hell, can someone say foreshadowing? (Really – can someone else say it? It’s making me feel quite mean.)
In another home near a beach, Yolanda has woken up frazzled after hardly sleeping the night before. She is getting ready to leave for her surgery to remove her ruptured breast implants that she says have lodged into her lymph nodes and chest area. She’s scared and she breaks down and she cries to her maid who is tremendously consoling in the way her dick husband is not just a few minutes later when, in the car, he reaches over to grab her tits so he can say goodbye to them.
And holy shit, still nobody has left town! Erika meets up with her husband at some empty restaurant and they discuss how he might meet her while she’s on her trip. It’ll be no problem at all! He will take one of their planes and she will take the other one and this is exactly like every conversation I have with the men in my life. While they’re dining, the LAPD Chief of Police comes over to the table to shake their hands just so we can be reminded again that Erika and her husband are Very Important Citizens, but the thing is, they also seem like decent people. Her husband appears to be pretty consumed by his work, but he also strikes me as a rather nice man so far – or just one who’s smart enough to put his best foot forward every time a camera lens is pointed directly at his face. After he leaves, Erika calls Lisa Vanderpump to tell her that she’s heading off to Chicago so she can “give the gays everything they want at Gay Pride” – which sounds like a promise she might not be able to keep – and then she will jump on her own plane and meet them in the Hamptons. She signs off by calling Lisa “diva” and “gorgeous” and Lisa just giggles like a prototype of a Jackie Collins vixen because she knows she’s just getting her due.
In Ohio, Yolanda, David, and Daisy the Health Advocate set off to the hospital. Contemplating aloud all the procedures she’s already had done, Yolanda says that she’s about to be a toothless, boobless, brainless wonder and David – who might actually be evil – repeats her words, “toothless, boobles, and brainless,” before saying, “Yup, that’s just exactly what I married.” Even after hearing the musings of a douchebag, Yolanda refuses to remove her wedding ring before she marches into surgery like the soldier she claims to be. Her surgeon is apparently one of the very best and she comes in to soothe her patient’s nerves even though this isn’t Yolanda’s first time at the surgery races. After the doctor leaves to go scrub up, Yolanda uses her remaining time pre-surgery to call Gigi to tell her that she loves her. It’s a sweet moment for sure, but I sort of really hope that she called her other kids too – even if it happened off-camera – because otherwise that just seems like a spicy recipe for a family-screaming match that will surely go down in the not so distant future. Oh, and once the surgery actually starts, some of it is shown on camera – including the moment when her bloody implant is plopped down on a hospital table for all of us to never again unsee.
Back at QVC, Lisa Rinna is ready to get this shit going because she can make more in one hour on QVC than she did in an entire year back when she owned her store. Before she can wander on air and commandeer the hearts and wallets of her loyal viewers, she meets up with a designer. The guy immediately busts out the top secret intel that he designed all the bridesmaid dresses for Nicky Hilton’s wedding and suddenly I feel like only twenty minutes or so have gone by and I have been made to think about far too many members of the Hilton/Richards family for fucking comfort. “Kensington Palace, okay?” asks the designer. “I mean, can you get any better?” Listen, I have no idea who this guy is and he seems like a nice person, but all I can really concentrate on is how much I am loving the words “Paris’ dress” and “QVC” being spoken in the same paragraph. After he leaves to make an appointment with his lawyer to fight the upcoming slander suit the Hiltons will shortly be lodging against him, Isaac Mizrahi wanders in. Everybody’s at QVC today! Lisa tells him that she’s selling some cute jackets and they wish each other well. (By the way, Lisa Rinna’s imaginary friend is named Shirley. Random fun fact.) Once she’s standing on the set, Lisa reveals that what she really wants to do is to empower women and she believes the very first step in toppling the crippling patriarchy is for ladies out there to buy her faux-shearling jacket with the princess seaming. Her stuff is selling, though – and she will keep hocking her goods until her hustle runs out somewhere around the time she turns one hundred and three years old.
We’re finally in New York! Lisa, Ken, and Giggy arrive and hop in a helicopter that will whisk them off to the White Party. Lisa feels really flattered that she’s getting this treatment; she’s even booked rooms for her friends in the same hotel where the magazine arranged for her to stay. Sadly, no slumber parties will be taking place because the hotel in question is way too loud and Kyle and Eileen have already decided to get the hell out of there. Mauricio rushes to the rescue from clear across the country by snagging his wife a huge house for them to stay in and while Kyle knows Lisa might not be thrilled that they left, sleep is paramount so she has decided to not really care about the reaction.
Over in Ohio, Yolanda’s surgery has ended and the doctor goes to speak to David. She tells him that there was silicone wedged all the way up to Yolanda’s clavicle and she believes she got it all removed. When David goes in to see her, Yolanda is lying in recovery where she is crying and looking like she’s in a tremendous amount of pain. Listen: I really don’t know what is the ultimate cause of all of the ailments Yolanda claims to have, but I hope for all of our sakes that these surgeries stop occurring.
In a sunnier land, Lisa checks into the Southampton hotel and Giggy, walking three steps on his own for the very first time in his entire life, goes skidding across the floor. He’s just not used to not being carried. Meanwhile, Lisa gets a note that tells her that Kyle and Eileen have gone fleeing from the noise to a nearby mansion instead of staying at a hotel where there’s a constant party by the pool and zero room service. I mean, what are they? Animals? How can they possibly survive without room service? Lisa’s annoyed. She can’t bail on the hotel because the magazine arranged the accommodations and she’s shocked by how high-maintenance her friends are acting. After all, when she stayed with Kyle in Italy, she had to rough it by being in a room that’s only half the size of her bathroom! Why couldn’t Kyle just deal with some enforced insomnia? Now look: I love Lisa Vanderpump. I love her cheekiness and I love her boldness. I love that she’s usually rational. I love that she never liked Kim Richards and she never even attempted to hide it. But I think Lisa is being pretty ridiculous here. Her friends weren’t comfortable so they made themselves comfortable and invited her to join them as well and were understanding when she explained why she couldn’t. Get over it, Lisa. This kind of silly behavior is beneath you.
Knowing that they might be in trouble for doing absolutely nothing wrong, Lisa Rinna, Eileen, and Kyle pile into the limo and head over to the party being thrown for Lisa Vanderpump. Right away, Lisa Vanderpump announces to the group that she hates them for moving out of the hotel and Lisa Rinna looks at her blankly before telling us that Lisa Vanderpump should just be thanking them for flying three thousand miles to come support her. This calm and blunt manner is something I’m starting to really appreciate and I only pray that Lisa Rinna stays this way because I sort of remember saying something similar about Brandi Glanville back in the day. (I was naive and foolish! Forgive me so I can then begin to forgive myself!) Anyway, once the fight about nothing settles down, the women start to ask Kyle about Kim and Kyle answers their questions petulantly. No, she has not spoken to her sister. Yes, she knows where Kim is and obviously she is doing what she can to help her. And sure, she admits that her sister was not of sound mind when she stole the Play-Doh barber set and the Fisher Price farm with the doors that make a “moo” sound when you close them, but she really doesn’t want to talk about any of it right now and she really doesn’t understand why her fellow castmates on the reality show they’re all on – the same reality show her sister appeared on for years – won’t stop asking her about Kim. Dear Lord, is nothing sacred?
And then Kyle flashes a little bit of the Kim that’s inside of her – and it is fucking terrifying. We watch it happen. We see her all but turn into a mutating creature that was accidentally generated in a laboratory by a scientist with schizophrenia and that creature needs to be destroyed before it destroys all of us. Yes, Kyle practices out her very own remix of Kim’s infamous, “Want me to tell?” that she chided Lisa Rinna with last season while actually having nothing on the woman. Kyle puts her own spin on things. Annoyed with the incessant badgering by her friends, she wonders, “Do you want me to talk about your stuff that you don’t want to talk about? Because I can if you want me to go there.” And she says every single word of it with a look of wide-eyed amazement that her privacy would end up being so invaded just because she signed a contract to have her life filmed.
Next week, Bethenny finally shows up and immediately begins to fight with Erika for reasons I still don’t fully understand. I think it has something to do with Bethenny calling Erika “a Bambi” when Erika clearly wants to be the hunter, but really, who knows? I’m guessing that the larger reason for the confrontation between these two women is that Bethenny doesn’t know how to have a normal conversation with a stranger because she’s all aggression and teeth. Also, Erika finally meets Lisa Rinna, the women finally meet Erika Jayne and her bedazzled catsuit, and Lisa Vanderpump grills Eileen about the affair that began her marriage to Vince, leaving Eileen to feel uncomfortable. I can already tell there will be at least an entire segment at the nine-part reunion dedicated to this issue because really, still nothing else has happened yet this season and the only really juicy story is the one that Kyle doesn’t want to tell.
Maybe Erika’s philosophy-possessed house will get her to talk.
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.