The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills season premiere recap: The Lisa Rinna apology tour
Kyle has a new(er) nose, Sutton has a new landlord, Garcelle has to find six new ways to embody "go girl, give us nothing" in order to respond to Rinna's six new(er) ways to pretend like nothing she said last season was recorded on film, and Dorit has debuted a new, slightly less British accent…
So, all that can only mean one thing: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is back baby, and with it, a team of editors who will gladly freeze-frame a 2019 Watch What Happens Live clip to prove that 0 percent of the Bravo-watching population thinks that PK is the hottest househusband, and a little later, linger on him wearing a windbreaker next to Mauricio dressed as a retired boyband member (a compliment) just to cement any future WWHL polls.
For this, and much, much more — we give our thanks.
Among the "much, much more" is the fact that, in order to watch this premiere, I selected an RHOBH thumbnail image featuring a nondescript blonde woman that I assumed was Teddi, only to suddenly remember… Teddi is no longer with us! No, now that Teddi has returned to convincing women that leaves of Romaine lettuce are delicious tacos (the equivalent of what she was also up to on this franchise, come to think of it) full-time, we're left with an opening for fresh Beverly Hills blood. In the premiere, we meet Crystal Kung Minkoff: a woman tall enough, beautiful enough, and married-to-the-director-of-The-Lion-King enough to probably dominate the entire franchise in one season flat. Which is good, because we know Kyle is always looking for a new Supreme.
Of course, Kyle finding her new bestie could be complicated by the fact that, in season 13, Bravo has finally landed The Other Sister: Kathy Hilton.
Sure, it's in a "Friend of the Housewives" role, but honestly, I don't know if we could handle full-time Kathy. Toward the end of the episode, she tells a story so haunting, I briefly thought I'd switched over to HBO Max. "I've always liked to play games," Kathy starts off before detailing how she used to gather all the other neighborhood children and convince them to let her, uh, do dental work on them. "And the kids would be like, 'No, no, I don't want to do that,' and I'd be like, 'If you want to come back here and play, you're gonna do this.' So, I was a character."
Yes, "character" is one word for that. A few more words for that are: "Don't tell mama."
But who am I kidding, spending all this time talking about new cast members and haunting imagery when the specter of Erika Girardi's life as we once knew it is looming larger than anything else throughout this premiere? Every time we hear Erika talk about her husband — which is often — or flash around a sign of her extreme wealth — which is even more often — we know that she's talking about a marriage that will soon crumble, and wealth that will soon come under the legal and moral-microscope…
And then, we're left to wonder: does she know it too?
That is the question, isn't it? What did Erika know, and when did she know it? Or to quote the premiere-opening season preview: "WHAT IS TRUE? WHAT IS THE LIE? AND WHO IS BEING PLAYED?"
Which is kind of silly because we all know who's being played, and it's none of these women and their constant pleas for owning it. It's anyone who was allegedly swindled out of their settlements by Erika's husband, now having to watch her organize her "overflow closet" or don a diamond necklace for a COVID barbecue with her gal pals. I don't know WHAT IS THE LIE, but I know what's wrong — and it's gotta be that. I also know that is going to be tough to watch for the entire season, made only tolerable by the potential to get some real-time answers in the case of Everyone vs. the Girardis.
But for now, we only get the editors zooming the camera through the dim and empty halls of Erika's house as she talks about how dark quarantine was for her, lingering just long enough on Tom's face covering Best Lawyers magazine to let you know whose side they seem to be on.
As for other enemies and alliances, Garcelle and Sutton are still the unlikeliest of duos. Sutton is now renting Kyle's old house, technically making her Sutton's landlord (the friends-and-family price is $20,000/month), and we're told that Dorit and Kyle have been podding together most of quarantine. Yet, Rinna is the first person to show up at Kyle's house, and later, they show up together at Crystal's house by way of a Kathy connection. Crystal is Asian American, hails from the Valley, and surely a welcome addition to the Beverly Hills cast make-up. I really enjoyed hearing how she delayed her daughter's birthtime by 40 minutes so she could be born at 8 a.m., a lucky number in Chinese culture. I don't know how she did it, but I enjoyed hearing about it.
Something I enjoyed a little less was how much pride Crystal seemed to take in being younger than the other women, given that we all know youth is a fickle and depreciating currency, especially on the Housewives… but hey, maybe she can tweak that personality feature, just like Kyle's doctor gave a lil extra tweak to her nose after she "broke it" "filming the movie Halloween." Leading me to wonder what Kyle's going to blame all of her future face-altering decisions on (RIP: bangs) after this movie finally premieres. For the record, everyone looks fantastic, lit to the absolute gills by the soap-opera-iest lighting yet.
Our only real negative run-in during the premiere belongs to Rinna and Garcelle, the latter of whom I thank the Bravo gods we got to hold onto despite her many #jobsssss, now including her dream role as a host on The Real.
As you'll recall, Garcelle stuck by Denise Richards' side last season when all of the other women suddenly decided that Brandi Glanville would be invited to all their parties, and they should be privy to the ins and outs of Denise's sex life because of… honesty, I think?? Rinna was at the forefront of demanding answers from Denise, and singsong-ing, "gaaaaslighting, gaaaaslighting" to her during the reunions, so Garcelle is feeling rightfully hesitant about resuming their friendship as usual. But as is Rinna's way, she spends one season wilding out on someone, and then the next season apologizing for it, saying she genuinely has no idea where any of her behavior was coming from. RHONY's Ramona may have the record in apology-tour-sprinting, but Lisa Rinna's apology tours are all about endurance.
In Garcelle, however, Rinna may have finally met her match. Because none of her usual tricks are working! She's agreeing with everything Garcells says, and telling Garcelle how much self-reflection she's done, and insisting that her intention was never to hurt anyone… but it's only getting nods and eyebrow raises out of Garcelle, who says in her confessional: "I think Rinna is trying to own it really quickly so I don't come for her." Ding, ding, ding!
It's as if a wizard has cursed Rinna with some sort of daily word limit because she just keeps saying things like, "Hurt people hurt people, and I was hurt, and I hurt," and calling herself the c-word. Garcelle says she doesn't like that word, but after Rinna has called herself that for the 100th time, Garcelle simply demures: "I'm not gonna disagree." In the end, she tells Rinna that she can keep an open mind, but she plans to tread lightly because now she'll always be wondering if Rinna might do to her what she did to Denise…
Needless to say, at the dinner party Dorit hosts, Rinna tells everyone who will listen that she and Garcelle are doing great, and they've got a fresh start, and a huge weight has been lifted off her shoulders.
On the way to said party, new invitees Crystal and Kathy wonder why they were asked to get dressed up for a casual dinner with friends, only to arrive and discover that the other women haven't simply put on the nicest midi-dress in their closet; they have robbed a fleet of ballerinas, a school of drag queens, and a block of hipster bar bathrooms, in order to don all the tulle, sequins, and tropical print in the land. "I feel a bit… underdressed," Crystal deadpans in her testimonial.
The women ooh-and-aah over pigs in a blanket, Rinna announces a group trip to Lake Tahoe (that's when Kathy asks if she should bring her dental supplies, not kidding), and then Rinna encourages everyone to share their highest and lowest moments of COVID. Most of the highs include extra time with their children, and for lows, Erika shares how dark and filled with dread she was feeling early on in quarantine. So, she started seeing a psychiatrist and got on an anti-depressant, which feels like a win…
Except that this is when the editors start sending the cameras through her empty mansion and foreshadowing that things are about to get much, much worse. Or as Erika says herself: "There's so much these women don't know about my personal life — because everyone has problems, and the bigger your life is, the bigger your problems are." Which is, of course, not true — but it is what the people with big lives think. And isn't that just the thesis for this entire franchise, hidden right here in season 11 of RHOBH?
See you back here next week for more Rich Ladies Telling Us Their Problems Are Bigger Than Ours While Wearing Necklaces That Could Buy Them a Car If Those Problems Ever Get Too Big!
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Bravo’s guilty-pleasure franchise meets California luxe