Cable television’s number one network for “housewife” drama, Bravo TV, brought together their most affluent group of “Wives” for another three-part support group session, otherwise known as The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Reunion.
The popular career woman’s version of the “ladies who lunch” reunited to discuss events of the past season with the show’s executive producer Andy Cohen. The well-to-do cast features Lisa Vanderpump, Erika Girardi, Lisa Rinna, Eileen Davidson, Dorit Kemsley, and Kyle Richards.
The reunion stage, set for a stylish showdown, paid homage to the group’s season 7 trip to Hong Kong with an opulent Asian-inspired backdrop. But the scenery paled in comparison to the women whose grandiose pricey designer gowns and shoes underscored their perfectly made-up faces and fastidiously coiffed hair. The glamorous cast turned ugly when contentious topics were discussed, and the women manifested animosity towards each other with glaring scowls. Despite the boost of Botox, the women were able to sneer and grimace, spoiling the best efforts of their “glam squads.”
In his usual role as the inquisitive moderator, Cohen asked probative and ratings-grabbing questions, and the ladies answered with vociferous verbal jabs. Points and counterpoints were made with indignant (jewel-covered) finger-pointing, while criticisms and accusations volleyed from one comfy plush couch to the other. The well-to-do women accented their designer gowns with hubris smirks.
The dominant season 7 storyline was—wait for it—a non-panty wearing “flash” and a subsequent gag gift of women’s underwear. The joke gone awry was aimed at 45-year-old Erika Girardi by 40-year-old Dorit Kemsley, after Girardi allegedly flashed Kemsley’s husband, 50-something Paul Kemsley (“P.K.”).—And Millennials just vomited a little in their mouths.
In Beverly Hills, a 45-year-old flashing a 50-something is not like Grandma Moses flashing ol’ Hugh Hefner. Remember, these are “Beverly Hills ages”: Eighty is the new fifty, forty the new twenty, and twenty is practically preschool age. Girardi, whose stage name is “Erika Jane,” entices her fans with the persona of a sexy kitten. She is a singer and dancer, and she appeared on the 2017 spring season of ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” until being eliminated on week 5 (cast-mate and frienemy Lisa Vanderpump lasted one more week in 2016, leaving week 6). Also, in a display of “It’s who you know, not what you know,” Girardi was cast in some episodes of “The Young and the Restless,” thanks to her good friend Eileen Davidson, who works on the daytime soap. Girardi is married to 77-year-old Thomas Girardi, an affluent and high-powered L.A. attorney.
The “Eureka! I discovered Erika!” joke and preceding comments by P.K. and some of the other women became a source of ire for Girardi. Her frosty demeanor became glacial throughout the season. During the final episodes, Girardi claimed she was angry because she felt humiliated and was concerned about how her husband would react to the storyline. At the start of the reunion, 53-year-old Rinna tried to make light of the situation by cavalierly saying, “I have no underwear on. So, if I flash you, enjoy it!”—And once again, Millennials just vomited in their mouths a little.
P.K. was asked to join the ladies when the topic was discussed, and despite his explanation and cordial apology to Girardi, she could not be appeased. Her contempt for the man sitting across from her, the man she blamed for the entire incident, was evident. Girardi’s animosity towards P.K. manifested in grimacing looks, cutting sarcasm, and expletive rants. Her alleged frigid personality remained ice cold while P.K. was on the stage, and her thoughts about the man came across loud and clear: an abbreviated piece of nothing.
The saying goes, “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” and in this particular incident, two wrongs made for a long, drawn-out reality T.V. drama. The sex kitten by profession and acquiescing lawyer’s wife in her personal life took the risk that she would be exposed when she chose to go au naturel. On-the-other-hand, the husband who got a peek, could’ve decided to turn away and say nothing. Two wrongs, or, if you prefer euphemisms, two “choices,” created the foundation for “granny-pantygate.”
One final word on this issue, I’d like to address the other housewives (Rinna and Davidson) who sanctimoniously claimed that if their husbands were in the same situation as P.K., they would never have looked. Well, ladies, Playboy Magazine made a fortune off husbands like yours.
Loose Lips Sink FriendShips
The proverb goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and those “good intentions” are what purportedly prompted Lisa Rinna to discuss former castmate Kim Richards’ alleged alcohol abuse issues. Another saying, “Loose lips sink ships,” can apply to Rinna, who’s known for both her large lips and running her mouth. She could’ve sunk many ships, but instead, sank her friendship with Richards.
During a previous season, there was an incident between Richards and Rinna, wherein Rinna claimed she was trying to “help” Richards by bringing up her odd behavior and questioning whether she was sober. Things got to a boiling point between the two women during a dinner with the rest of the ladies when Richards, who was trying to defend herself, made a flippant comment to Rinna, “Let’s talk about your husband!” That sentence got the rubber-band ball rolling with its implication that Rinna’s husband, actor Harry Hamlin, had done something nefarious. The statement heard ’round the Housewife world, ignited an on and off-camera feud between the two women.
In season seven, Richards was no longer a cast member but made several guest appearances. For her part, Rinna continued her “good intentions” by telling guest castmate Eden Sassoon, daughter of late celebrity hair stylist Vidal Sassoon, that Richards was an addict close to death. When those words came back to haunt her, Rinna tried to blame Sassoon, and extended an olive branch to Richards (a soon-to-be grandmother at the time) by giving her a stuffed bunny for her grandchild, apologizing, and suggesting the two start over again.
Harry’s “Hare” brained Idea
At the reunion, Rinna’s “sorry but not really sorry” actions made some of the women question her sincerity. Richards made an appearance, and Cohen asked a fan question, “Lilly, from Springdale, Arkansas wants to know what you did with the bunny Lisa Rinna gave (you) for your grandson.” Richards appeared surprised and said, “Oh! Well, Lisa, hold on.” Then in a show of moxie, she turned around, retrieved the stuffed hare from behind the couch and returned it to a stunned Rinna. Richards said she’d never gave it to her grandson because it didn’t feel like it had good energy. For Rinna, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The camera zoomed in on Rinna’s Kewpie-doll face, and right on cue, a few tears ran down her cheeks. She resembled a sad, wounded child, and at that moment she became the most sympathetic character. “It was Harry’s idea,” Rinna glumly said, “Harry was the one that said that he thought this would be a really good idea to bring this bunny to Kim. That it would be a really nice moment to have with you. I said, ‘I don’t know; it doesn’t feel quite right.’” Well . . . I guess now we know “what Harry did”!
Richards wasn’t buying the “poor me” act, and said, “Maybe it’s good that you feel bad for a minute because you hurt me!” Rinna got up, and in a dramatic scene of “I just can’t take this anymore,” walked off the stage. Her good friend and fellow castmate Eileen Davidson followed her to her dressing room. It took only a few words from Davidson (who said returning the bunny was a cold calculated move), to restore Rinna to her normal self and back on her high horse.
As Rinna walked back to the stage, Richards (who was prompted to go talk to Rinna by her sister Kyle, and told to take the bunny by host Cohen) met her at the studio entrance and said, “Can I talk to you?” to which Rinna replied with a quick and cold, “No! That was the most humiliating thing that’s ever happened to me . . .” —Really? THAT’S the most humiliating thing? Rinna’s appeared in adult diaper commercials, for Pete’s sake.
Rinna returned to the stage and proceeded to berate Richards more, saying, “Kim, you just want to be on the show, and I’m your meal ticket.” Kyle Richards, Kim’s sister, took offense at the statement, telling Rinna it wasn’t true, and that she’d looked dumb for saying it.
Kyle had been accused of being an enabler to her sister by Rinna during the season, and at the reunion, a clip was played of a 2010 argument between the sisters while in the back of a limousine with Kim’s one-time blind date, Martin (forget Baby Jane, what ever happened to Martin?), where Kyle said she and her husband had helped Kim every month. Kyle denied the enabler label and said helping her sister was different than encouraging her to drink.
As the segment wound down, Davidson joined in on Rinna’s rant towards (Kim) Richards. Davidson was curt and dismissive, telling Richards, “Just because you’re the loudest and most obnoxious does not mean you’re right.” When Richards attempted to say something to defend herself, Davidson cut her off midway through the sentence and both she and Rinna mocked, repeatedly saying, “bye, bye!”
The term “old bag” has a different meaning to men and women. To a man, the words mean a woman past her prime; to a woman, it’s an old purse. In Beverly Hills, most men and women wouldn’t be caught dead with an old bag. Women will barter with their husbands for the latest Birkin bag. Prancing around town with an old bag is a major faux pas, but, If you’re Lisa Rinna, carrying around an old Ziplock bag (filled with multicolored medication tablets and capsules in various shapes and sizes) is always en vogue.
Every once in awhile, a Housewife will surprise the audience, but Rinna managed to surprise everyone, including her cast-mates when she pulled out her plastic bag filled with colorful pills while having smoothies with Eden Sassoon and Dorit Kemsley. And, if that wasn’t enough, she confessed to both ladies that she’d even put a Xanax in a smoothie in the past. The three laughed, but the joke wasn’t so funny later after Rinna discovered that Kemsley told the other women about their conversation and her bag of pills. And, like a good game of telephone, by the time the information reached Rinna, she’d heard that she had been portrayed as a pill-popping drug addict (untrue).
At the reunion, Lisa used the misinformation to do what she does best—deflect. She lashed out at Kemsley and moved the conversation away from her own wrongdoing. Even after a clip was played showing what Kemsley said, and she did not say Rinna was a drug addict, Rinna and friends (Davidson and Girardi) continued to claim Kemsley was wrong to even talk about the pill bag and smoothie. Also, Rinna changed her story at the reunion, claiming she’d never put a Xanax in a smoothie.
In addition to deflecting, Rinna played the victim saying, “I take it on the chin for everyone. . . . I just speak my truth.” Girardi chimed in about the ladies all talking negatively about each other saying, “Why do we keep doing it?” —Ratings, perhaps?
How Much is That Doggy in the Window—Priceless
Cohen turned his attention to Lisa Vanderpump in the final minutes of the reunion and spoke with her about her work in trying to stop the torture and killing of helpless pups during the Yulin dog meat festivals in China. When asked if there’d been any acknowledgment from China, Vanderpump answered, “We’ve drawn attention to it, and I think that the only way you can advocate change is to shout it from the rooftop.”
Vanderpump also discussed her charitable work here at home, with “Vanderpump Dogs,” a dog rescue center, saying they’d had ten adopted in the first four days of being open. The saying goes, “every dog has its day,” and I hope every dog at the rescue center will have its day and find a loving home. To adopt a pup or learn more about the center, call (323) 852-3647.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Somewhat Famous
If ever there were a group of unrelatable Housewives, it would have to be the Beverly Hills bunch. The pampered women with the cash cows live in sizable homes or mansions; drive expensive cars; employ personal chefs, “glam squads,” drivers, nannies, and other hired help; they take extravagant vacations several times a year; some have private jets; and all appear to have carte blanche with enormous chunks of disposable income. So what do they have to be upset about? Well, for these affluent females, jokes about underwear (or lack thereof), a bag of pills and a Xanax smoothie gossip, and the return of a stuffed bunny. That’s what they’re angry at—go figure.
The chattering classes parading around as the cream of society can fill a room with their hot air, but their fans inhale it all—like patrons in a vapor lounge. So, whether the ladies are being disingenuous, giving each other the cold shoulder, or struggling with a case of foot-and-mouth disease, their loyal fans will be with them every step of the way, making them somewhat famous in addition to rich.
Oh, and the good thing about the Season 7 Reunion is now we know what Harry did! And, all’s right with the world.
Season Seven Cast Taglines
Lisa Vanderpump:“The crown is heavy, darling. So, just leave it where it belongs”
Erika Girardi:“I may be two people, but I’m not two-face”
Lisa Rinna: “My advice to you, don’t hustle the hustler”
Eileen Davidson: “I speak no evil, but I see and hear everything”
Dorit Kemsley: “When you’ve traveled the world you can speak in any accent you want”
Kyle Richards: “I’m an expert on luxury, and I can always spot a fake”
About the Author
Deb Wax describes herself as a “procrastinating perfectionist who is also introspective.” She is an avid photographer, ’70s music junkie, and writer. Deb has written for several online publications, and her writings cover a hodgepodge of topics from the hot-button issues and cracker-barrel philosophy of today’s coffee culture to the Gordian Knot on the secular view of faith and religion. Deb previously wrote for Squidoo as the “70s Disco Queen Contributor,” before the website closed its Internet doors.
Deb recently completed the 2016 Dogwood 52-Week Photography Challenge and is currently participating in the advanced challenge. She is a photo contributor on Shutterstock, and you can find a number of her photos, including her challenge pictures, on her blog: Introspective Pics @ https://introspectivepics.wordpress.com
Deb has been married for over twenty-five years and describes her existence as “a Darby and June life.”
You can follow Deb on Twitter, Google +, Flickr, Instagram, and Shutterstock @DebW07