The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap: Notes on camp[ing]
With the theme of Monday night’s MET Gala being “Camp,” many wise people on social media noted that the Real Housewives are one of the current world’s most present versions of camp. Sure, the surrealist blinking gown was a showstopper, and I love a bippity boppity boo literal glow-up right on the red carpet, but for those who had more trouble hitting the mark, I can’t imagine why they didn’t just borrow any one of Erika or Dorit’s testimonial looks from this season (or Ramona’s iconic runway walk look, or NeNe’s tiki hut wig, or Gretchen dressed as Marilyn Monroe on a helicopter pad, or Sheree’s entire line of pretend joggers, and so the list goes on). That the entire cast of RHOBH—excluding Teddi and Denise for obvious, cotton knit, racerback-shaped reasons—wasn’t invited to co-host the event is patently absurd.
The main question surrounding Monday night’s MET gala, was of course: what is “camp”? Well, I would love to tell yo—oh no, excuse me. Teddi just interjected that she’d love to tell you because—and you may not know this about her—she’s very direct. And as well all know, being direct, by definition, means sharing every opinion you’ve ever had aloud. So, Teddi is telling me that per her recent research on Susan Sontag, camp is ostentatious, it’s artifice, it’s deliberate excess, it’s humorous; sometimes it’s none of those things; sometimes it’s all of those things but still not camp; mostly, you know camp when you see it.
And let me tell you something: there’s no way they could have done this on purpose, but the RHOBH setting aside their normally campy lives to go literally camping the day after the camp-themed MET Gala is perhaps the campiest thing this already campy cast could have possibly done.
On Monday night, I saw celebrities carrying their own heads; I saw people dressed like light fixtures, and dolls, and wicked stepsisters. And if put to the test, I’m still not sure I could perfectly define “camp.” But I can tell you this: spending $700 for two meals’ worth of food at a fluorescent-lit grocery store? Camp! Four grown women acting like they’ve never heard of a hand job for six hours straight? Camp! Eating cheese whiz and pumpkin pie for breakfast? Camp! Calling the process of driving a tour bus to a fleet of heated yurts with feather pillow shams “camping”? Figuratively—but not at all literally—CAMP!
I really enjoyed this episode, both because of it’s absurdity on the surface, and because of the absurd notion it presented that these women can have fun together if they put themselves in the woods and allow themselves to talk about topics that wouldn’t normally be welcome over spicy margaritas and branzino or whatever (again, it’s mostly pertaining to hand jobs). But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of fretting of Lisa Vanderpump, if that’s what you’re into, but for the first time since Lucy Lucy Apple Juice reared her adorable, divisive head, we see neither hide nor hair of the pink queen—and honestly, thank goodness, because I could not have dealt with the editors cutting from Denise explaining digital penetration to her co-workers over to LVP’s new kitchen cabinets and pretending like that is an actual storyline. Unless it’s Katy Perry dressed as a kitchen cabinet—I’m not interested.
No, this episode is all camping trip all the time, which again, means all the women driving 60 miles outside of L.A. in Teddi’s “RV” which is definitely a tour bus, and then dividing up into $160/night yurts that, frankly, look like the most comfortable spaces I’ve ever seen, and I’d love to covetously follow them on Instagram.
Lisa Rinna packs in a duffel bag that could fit her entire family and one of her swimming-pool-sized coffee mugs in it. As far as we know, there are no coffee mugs inside, but there are wire cutters, a hair dryer, and an industrial sized bottle of lotion, which I assume are all for her hair. Kyle wears bean boots up to her thighs because she’s scared of ticks, and also, every other thing in the world that isn’t some variation of a maroon fedora. And Erika makes it clear that she is totally down for that #camplyfe, but still wears a flawless face of makeup the entire time…
Denise brings a ziplock bag of muffins because she wasn’t sure what the breakfast plan would be, and I have never loved her more.
But she needn’t have worried. The women stop at a Von’s grocery store (at which point, one of these pod people exclaims, “I love going to the market!” They roam through the racks, suddenly free from the burdens of intermittent fasting and green juice, reaching their little paws out to grab Entenmann’s mini donuts and cooing over turkey chili simmering on a hot food bar. They buy $700 worth of food, everything they’ve wanted to eat for the last year, and only 1/100th of which they’ll get to consume in the one night they’re camping.
Somewhere, Denise has consumed an entire bag of muffins now feeling reassured that breakfast is covered, and also, enough non-perishables to survive the apocalypse, should it come while they’re camping…
Which, again, is not really camping, as much as it is sleeping away from one’s home in a place that is not a luxury resort but that does include massages overlooking a gorgeous sunset. While the other women insist that they are all pit masters and drop upwards of 30 pounds of raw hamburger meet between the grates of a grill, Denise goes to get a massage. When she returns, the burgers have been prepared, the sun has set, and the conversation has turned to “happy ending” massages. Denise offers up that when she met Aaron, he was the only guy she’d ever been with who hadn’t had a happy ending massage, so naturally, she went on the hunt to find him one. She talks about finding Aaron a happy ending massage as if she were establishing a missed rite of passage like getting him a pair of nice cufflinks or introducing him to good whiskey.
The other women are naturally a little flummoxed that Denise wanted to find and pay for Aaron to get a hand job from a stranger, but our girl does not let up on the normalcy of all this: “I don’t have a fetish! He was just the only person I knew that had never had one.” The only person?! That might lead you to ask if Denise has had a happy ending massage. Yes! But unlike Aaron’s, hers was not sought out, but just…an unexpectedly happy ending to what she originally assumed was a normal massage.
Wow! You give these women a little peace and quiet, and things really get unregulated. But the moment Denise walks away to get more drinks with Dorit, Camille (who offered up her own story about prostate massage) immediately brings the conversation back to petty drama as usual, asking Kyle how things are going with Dorit after PK was so rude to her a few weeks ago. And Kyle really must be as forgiving as she says she is because she tells Camille everything is good now following the apology text PK sent her that morning which basically amounted to telling her he had already apologized to her and that it’s annoying she won’t get over it. I must admit though, that I get a weird thrill from the glimpses we get at how these people text, which for PK, means writing seven nasty sentences without a single period, and for Kyle means putting two spaces at the beginning of each of her sentences.
Dorit walks back up just as Rinna and Teddi are discussing how PK said those hurtful things to Kyle about her argument with LVP because somewhere in his mind, he meant them. Dorit is frustrated that they’re talking about it again, and Kyle assures her that they were just saying how the situation is in the past, but Teddi has a different idea. What if they didn’t stop talking about. “I think this situation put everyone in an uncomfortable way, so even if it’s not malicious, you’re deliberately trying to cover your own tracks, and the backpedal didn’t go well.”
This frustrates Camille who has been regularly expressing in her testimonials that she thinks Teddi is a know-it-all. Every time Teddi jumps in to express her opinion, Camille’s lips purse up tighter and tighter, until she finally pops telling Teddi that she’s “very bright” and “insightful for her age,” but she is always insinuating herself where she doesn’t belong. Teddi doesn’t like that at all, and they bicker for a bit about who is being more condescending to whom until Lisa Rinna finally says that all this tension was created by someone who isn’t even there. Camille, of all people, agrees: “The original hurt stems from Lisa Vanderpump, and it’s becoming this toxic wave that’s taking over.”
Okay, well if we are going to just nip all arguments in the bud by blaming them on Lisa Vanderpump before anyone even flips a picnic table or starts crying, whichever comes first, this is going to be a problem. But I guess that’s just a question we’ll have to save for next week when LVP returns to the screen to debut her kitchen as played by Katy Perry, and one last-ditch effort from Camille to get her to join in on a group trip as played by her wedding. Sound off in the comments with your favorite camp moment from this camping episode, but fair warning, there is only one right answer and it starts with “cheese” and ends with “whiz.”
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Bravo’s guilty-pleasure franchise meets California luxe