The real question that needs to be explored on this episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is what in the hell did Kim Richards ingest before or during that Poker Party and where can I get myself some of whatever she’s swallowing?
I kid. Addiction is not something to take lightly, but perhaps it’s also not something to trot out for the cameras that are omnipresent in the life one leads as a fading reality starlet whose chief storyline is a very questionable sobriety. The whole thing feels invasive to watch and wrong to write about, and I’m just saying that perhaps if I took one of Kim’s “pain pills,” I’d feel less guilty about chronicling the downfall of a woman who has hit bottom so many times that she has constant grass stains on her knees.
Maybe Bravo is aware that they’re diving into the abyss of codependent misery and taking uncomfortable viewers with them, so we begin this episode on a (natural) high and silly moment at Kyle’s store, the one she got because she was bored after her last kid went off to preschool. You know how you often purchase commercial real estate and stock it with hideous blouses in colors like chartreuse and coral on a regular basis due to boredom?
Kyle Richards: she’s just like us – said nobody ever.
Kyle and a very blonde male friend who uses words like “gorge” to describe sinfully unattractive clothing are getting together at the store to meet with party planners since Kyle misses being in a sorority so much that she is throwing a mixer. But there’s a twist! Instead of drunk college freshmen scrawling all over one another with highlighters under a black light, Kyle is hosting a Bottom and Top soirée for her gay friends.
“Everyone in town has four or five gays of their own,” explains Kyle, unaware that she cannot actually own a person in the way that she is so proud to own Chanel dog bowls. “And a lot of my gays are single,” she muses sadly, though maybe it was just the stupid straw fedora she was wearing that I found to be sad.
But yes, Kyle is desperately concerned with the dire issues gay men in Los Angeles are dealing with these days, primarily the one that there are very few “tops” around the city. And if Kyle can do anything to support people who are struggling, by God, she will dive in hair extensions-first to solve the problem.
Now listen: I don’t like Kyle. I think she is a childish woman who, due to her pretend desire to avoid conflict, comes off as a friend who severely lacks loyalty. It has enraged me for years that she accuses grown women of holding grudges when really it’s just adults choosing to tread carefully with a person who has betrayed them. That said, later in the episode when she has to deal with the shit-show that is the terrifying two-headed beast with the faces of her sister and Brandi, I do feel for her and I absolutely give her a pass for those interactions. I find Kyle annoying – but I believe that Kim and Brandi are two very sick people who refuse to acknowledge how their actions directly impact others and their transgressions are far worse in my mind than Kyle flashing her wealth and sliding into a split at a party because she misses the attention she had back when she was a child star.
Heading to sunnier pastures, Yolanda strolls through the closet in her Malibu mansion. She needs to pack for a trip to Italy where her husband is hosting a charity event. I’m all for philanthropy, but David Foster will never cease to create a spiral wave of nausea that develops inside of me every time I see his face or when – oh dear, I might need Pepto Bismol just to think about it – he sits down at his grand piano at a dinner party and forces his guests to sing along to his catalogue of bland songs. Still, I think that Yolanda is one of the good ones, and watching her fluidly pack a suitcase makes me want to be a better person, one who arranges my clothing by hue.
Into the scene comes Anwar, Yolanda’s son, who is all of a sudden on this show more than Giggy! Anwar is cute too – he’s maybe not as fluffy as Giggy and he may not be nearly as well accessorized as the dog and he’d never be allowed to eat Giggy’s kibble because it has too many carbs for Yolanda to allow it – but he’s sweet and I like the way Yolanda comes off as a mother. She’s loving and involved and, seeing scenes like this one, I hope that the Lyme disease she’s suffering from according to all those recent reports starts to abate. She has children to raise and lemons to grow! I truly wish her well.
Speaking of women who come off as normal, Lisa Vanderpump is feeling anxious. Her son, who was adopted many years ago, wants to research his genetic lineage and there’s a real fear inside of Lisa that he might want to find his birth mother. She speaks of her conflicted emotions about him undertaking such an action with eloquence and she has tears in her eyes when she says, “It’s my job as a mother not to stand in his way,” and her strength makes me like her all the more. And should she ever despair that she’s experiencing too much of an empty nest in that gigantic home, I would like to offer myself up for adoption, though I’d request that my mother retain visitation rights as it only seems fair since she went through labor with me during a blizzard.
That blizzard on the dawn of my birth was one thing. But the hail of crazy that typically rains down upon Kim gains in velocity as Brandi knocks on her door. She’s there to check on her Best Friend Forever now that Kim is home from the hospital, and it’s alluded to that Kim had some kind of pneumonia that caused a fractured rib and a hernia that she attempted to self-medicate by taking one of her ex-husband’s cancer pills before going to get actual help from a real doctor. I don’t doubt that Kim was sick, but even her explanations for legitimate illnesses come off sounding suspicious, and I think it’s because the raggedy rasp of a voice with which she croaks her words out make her sound as though she’s searching for the truth. And the cough she hacks out during her visit with Brandi makes me realize that the Surgeon General might have found a new spokesmodel for anti-smoking ads.
There’s a moment where Brandi admonishes Kim for taking medicine that was not prescribed to her, and it’s advice that’s so normal and wise that I almost couldn’t believe it was Brandi who was spewing it. But then Brandi had to ruin any goodwill I began to have for her by asking Kim who she had spoken to since the Poker Party in an effort to passively aggressively find out if Kim had spoken with Kyle. You could almost see the strength with which Brandi began chanting mantras in the hopes that Kim and Kyle were now forever estranged, but she did not get the response she hoped for desperately and the whole thing was gross.
I’d like to take a second to publicly endorse that the editors of this show be paid a hefty salary, and as evidence of their greatness, we should look at how they cut back and forth seamlessly between the conversation Kim had with Brandi and the one she had the day before with Kyle. I actually laughed when I saw that the Kim/Kyle pow-wow was shown with a bluish tint to indicate to the viewer that it was a conversation that took place at a different time than the one with Kim had with Brandi. The visual dichotomy struck me as woefully unnecessary: if there’s one thing I don’t think even the most intoxicated viewer would give Kim credit for it would be the superpower of being in two places at once since she can barely remain in her own head for long.
The Brandi conversation was all about how much Brandi loves Kim and how she knows that Kyle has not been there for her sister in the staunch way she has been for the last six months. Brandi wonders out loud to a teetering addict who has problematic judgment even when she’s sober about where Kyle was during the four nights when Kim called Brandi late at night to share her feelings. My guess is that Kyle was sleeping during those evenings due to the exhaustion she has faced dealing with her sister’s illness for the last four decades, but Brandi is not someone who can think beyond herself.
It would be sweet – utterly and completely misguided, but sweet – if Brandi could actually just put her energy into caring about Kim, but her larger issue is with being Kim’s favorite. She’s the kind of sad woman (yes, even gorgeous women with insane bodies can be quite sad) who asks her friend, “Who do you love more?” and then laughs as though she’s making a joke when in fact she’d very much like an answer to her question. She also tells Kim that she needs strong people to lean on, which is true, but it’s tragically hilarious that Brandi – who can barely stand up straight in a social situation where her only lucid thoughts are vicious after that first glass of wine slides down her gullet – is the right woman for the thankless job.
As these two great minds meld, it is decided that Brandi should attend Kyle’s mixer so they can mend a friendship that never really existed. And obviously Kim will inform Kyle in advance that she’s bringing a shit-stirring social drunk to a party Kyle is throwing, right? Stop being silly! To give her sister a head’s up would be considerate!
What’s sad (or one of the things that’s sad in an episode chock-full of misery) is that the talk that Kyle and Kim just had was emotional and loving and the two sisters seemed to be back on the right path. I don’t really get why Kim has an issue with Kyle in the first place, but I think it’s rooted in the fact that Kyle knows Kim’s history and she knows Kim’s secrets and Kim is a shattered shard of a person who hides from the truth and always has.
As the party descends upon us like a swarm of locusts, Kyle gussies herself up in a teeny sequin dress and scales the shelves of her closet to find the right purse for the evening. Kyle looks very pretty, and with those sequins you will be able to spot her in a crowd, but it might have been best to have worn less eye makeup because she will weep it off by night’s end.
The mixer draws a small crowd, but Eileen and both Lisas show up for the festivities. Lisa Rinna is all legs and lips and she hugs Lisa Vanderpump and then exclaims, “I love Lisa Vanderpump! She smells like roses!” I adore both ladies named Lisa, regardless of what they smell like. They are shrewd and funny and fucking normal, which is a relief on this show. Plus, during a later scene in which Lisa Rinna made small-talk with Kim, whom she has recently described as “cuckoo for cocoa puffs” and “out of her fucking mind” was maybe my favorite minute of the show because Lisa looked politely terrified and it reminded me of that time I nervously pet a hungry goat at the petting zoo when I was five.
But when Kim shows up with Brandi, all hell breaks loose. Brandi arrives wearing a short black fit and flare dress with no back and a mesh panel covering her cleavage. She looks very much like what I think Tonya Harding might have skated in had someone fashionably slutty given her a makeover in 1994. Kyle is stunned Brandi is there and Brandi can’t make her ginormous legs walk the three feet over to the hostess she had recently attempted to assault to say either a hello or squeak out an apology. Kyle finally makes the trek to air-kiss Brandi and later attempts to rectify the situation.
It does not go well.
Kyle tells Brandi that she’s sorry for pushing her arm at the Poker Party, but she was attempting to speak with her sister and Brandi refused to give them a moment alone. And Brandi smiles widely and accepts Kyle’s apology and birds begin to chirp words of happiness in the distance! Oh, wait – I hallucinated for a second after taking someone’s else’s meds. Sorry. Actually, what really transpires is that Brandi churns up the past, telling Kyle she wasn’t around for Kim, and she refuses to accept that she can’t possibly – and probably wouldn’t want to – comprehend all the times over the years that Kyle has been there for her sister.
“Kyle is an attention-seeking whore,” Brandi states TO A CAMERA WHILE WEARING A MICROPHONE. Even worse than that hypocrisy is the fact that she tells Kyle that she came there to apologize when she has done nothing in the way of an apology and couldn’t even find the decency to begin the dialogue; she waited until Kyle came to her.
There is a thing that Kyle said during all of this that’s maybe something that should be examined. She asks what gives Brandi the right to get involved in her family, and in the real world, I’d be with Kyle fully on that issue. But see, this is a version of the real world where all of these women get paid to air their lives to the general public and to interact in one another’s lives, so on some level – while it may be wrong – it’s kind of the nature of the beast for Brandi to involve herself in what has become a storyline.
But the real storyline is The Delusionary Nature of Kim, because she doesn’t once try to stop the fight or defend her sister, even after Brandi threatens to knock Kyle’s teeth out. Instead, Kim actually says that Kyle walked over to Brandi – an uninvited guest – just to start something, and when Kyle makes a very vague reference to the past and having been there for Kim, the sicker sister freaks the fuck out. It’s so clear that Kim is desperate to continue to hide behind all of those secrets of hers, both from the past and the present, and she devotes her miniscule bits of energy to shrouding the fallout and not addressing the actual problem. And simply because Kyle mentionsthe past, Kim turns away from her and begins to cry and is furious with her sister, whereupon Brandi, in all her infinite assholeness, smiles and tells Kim that it is time for them to leave. But before Brandi saunters out of the Bottom and Top mixer, dragging Kim with her, Kyle tells her to leave them alone for a second.
“Nobody wants you,” Kyle almost begs Brandi.
“Nobody wants you either – just ask your husband,” Brandi tosses back, and at that I closed my eyes and sighed with the knowledge that Brandi just did the unthinkable: she made me actively support Kyle.
Fuck you, Glanville. I’ll never forgive you for making me root for a woman I have loathed for four seasons. Kyle had both Faye Resnick and someone she calls a “lady-sitter” at her dumb party, and I still feel badly for her.
Brandi is now dead to me.
In spite of what was just said to her, Kyle can’t just let Kim go; she wants to talk to her, to resolve things, and it was at that moment that I think I got some insight into Kyle. My guess – and I could be wrong, but here’s my theory – is that, for so many years, Kyle was legitimately terrified that Kim was going to die from her disease and even today she is still really scared that Kim will die and what if that happens while she and Kyle are in a bad place? I think that Kyle is a sequin-wearing poster child for how viciously addiction can rip a family to ragged shreds and I applaud her for finally telling her sister, who refuses to accept any responsibly or develop any self-awareness, to go fuck herself.
And Kim, who has no idea what day it is and has the kind of eloquent verbal comebacks like “Same to you!” and “So’s your face!” sits at a booth and looks simultaneously angry and miserable and I hope she calls Brandi at three in the morning every single night for the next year just to ask her if it is a Wednesday.