The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap: Don't knock on the door
Perhaps if I started each episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with a preparatory 30-minute sound bath featuring a lovely woman named Jasmine waving flutes over my tummy, and playing the hell out of some rose quartz bowls until I slowly drifted to sleep on a 1000-thread-count yoga mat, I might feel a little less stressed by each new episode of season 11.
As it is, we spent half of this hour learning what is "not cool" under the very specific RHOBH guide to friendship, which may be my own personal definition of hell. For the record, the list is as follows:
- It is not cool to call someone a liar (even when they've lied in a way so blatant that it can be proven by footage from a nationally televised reality show).
- It is not cool to say that someone is coming after you (even when they have very recently come after you).
Luckily, the other half of this episode is spent with the Richards sisters doing a full-on Abbott and Costello routine, and I would like 100 more hours of it please! (I would actually give up my best kidney to add Kim into the mix, as well, although she was there in spirit when Kyle passed Rinna the breadbasket by saying, "Eat a piece of bread, maybe it'll calm you down.") Of course, the Richards sisters should stress me out given that Kyle is pure anxiety, and Kathy is pure chaos, but I love them for the same reason I loved Parenthood: it's just fascinating to watch how sibling dynamics continue to play out into adulthood. People can change and grow and start multi-million-dollar real estate companies with their husbands, and be at the forefront of a genre-defining reality franchise… but they're still going to be a little sister, both highly competent and forever seeking approval from their older sibling
(Unlike Parenthood, I don't run the threat of crying out half my body weight in tears while watching the Richards sisters teeter around a hotel room with Velcro curlers in their bangs, telling one another how late they are while doing absolutely nothing to get out the door faster.)
We've got the much darker side of these adult sibling dynamics right here on our very RHOBH, with this very same family, in the form of Kim and Kyle, of course. But it's different with Kathy. Because almost every time we see Kathy Hilton, she is wearing a giant sunhat indoors, toting around a giant toiletry kit, and carrying on a full-length conversation with a small dog we've never met before. (To reiterate: she is always with a small dog — it is never the same dog.) She is forever asking Kyle to do something for her while simultaneously telling Kyle how she should be doing something else. Kathy doesn't know how to turn on her car or open a bottle of wine, but she does know Kyle shouldn't put onions in lasagna.
And this week, Little Kathy has taken it upon herself to invite all the ladies to San Diego to stay at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar — because you better believe Kathy Hilton is offering a luxury hotel experience, not a big ass VRBO where people have to carry their own bags like commoners. So, when everyone meets at Kyle's house to caravan to Del Mar, Kathy asks Kyle to come out and "look at [her] gas thing"…
Leading Kyle to discover that Kathy has left her entire purse, including her phone and wallet at home. Kyle offers Kathy a precise location they can ask someone to meet them with her purse, but Kathy doesn't have a phone to call anyone, at which point, this exchange occurs:
KYLE: Okay, who do I ask for if I call the house?
KATHY: The lady.
KYLE: Who's the lady?!
KATHY: The lady that works at my house!
In the end, I'm pretty sure they made a woman — excuse me, lady — whose job is most definitely not to stand on the side of a highway with Kathy Hilton's personal belongings…stand on the side of a highway to drop off Kathy Hilton's personal belongings while Kyle screamed through a closed car window, "No, not my car, Mrs. Hilton's car!" Because, in the end, they're both still monsters. But I guess, for now, they're our monsters.
When the ladies finally arrive in Del Mar — sans Garcelle, who is coming after work, and Sutton, who is coming after she returns from the emergency room with the most ironic ankle injury of all time — they sit down to a "pop-up picnic." Said picnic popped up in two hours via the Fairmont Hotel staff because the idea happened to float into Mrs. Hilton's head when she arrived, and as it turns out, The White Lotus is actually a reality show.
When Dorit asks Erika how she's feeling about Sutton's impending arrival, Erika makes it clear to the others one more time that she's closed the door to further communication with Sutton because she won't tolerate being called a liar. Kyle confirms that Sutton did indeed call Erika a liar in reference to Tom's car accident (not to be confused with the time that "Tom's house was broken into and he confronted the burglar and my son, he had to go over and help and then he rolled his car five times on the way home"), and Dorit starts to ask a question about said car accident, mentioning that they now know Tom was actually unconscious for 12 hours after the crash.
"Allegedly, yeah," Erika responds, casually…
And the way Kyle freezes with a forkful of pop-up picnic food halfway to her mouth is absolutely priceless. "What does that mean?!" she bellows in her testimonial. "You're the one that told us this information, so why are you saying allegedly?!"
The way that Erika unloads huge, unbelievable stories to her friends (or, "debatable" stories as Dorit calls them), but balks at them asking for more details, or at some points, throws her hands up in the air and wiggles her eyebrows, like, who could possibly know with this man… well, it's understandable that some people may get the impression Erika is telling them certain things for certain reasons.
Y'know, like Sutton, who arrives back in Del Mar on crutches, telling Garcelle that she'd rather not go knocking on the door that Erika says is permanently closed. "Why am I trying so hard? I know I'm a good persona and a good friend," Sutton says in her testimonial as the RHOBH editors finally roll the unseen clip that was released a few weeks ago wherein Sutton revealed that she offered Erika a loan after she filed for divorce.
So I was quite frustrated that Sutton couldn't just stick to her silence-guns once dinner rolled around. But the RHOBH dinner table simply is not a place for sipping wine and sniffing bread (as Kathy would have it). So, when Kathy brings up that she's a little anxious because there's obviously still some lingering tension in the group, Sutton can't help but cop to the awkwardness between herself and Erika, when I think there's nothing she could do to annoy Erika more than just pretend like it doesn't bother her at all…
But, of course, it does bother her! She tells Erika that she won't apologize for calling the Sutton Summit because all she was doing was asking questions, and Erika hurt her feelings when she was so "scary" at Kathy's dinner. Staring straight ahead — with her professionally done '60s-inspired eye makeup, I believe the only person at the table who employed a glam squad for this seven-person dinner — Erika simply bites back, "Don't call me a liar." She goes on to tell Sutton that she doesn't care that Sutton thinks she's scary, and she doesn't care how Sutton feels, so there's no real point in having this conversation.
On that point, I would tend to agree with Erika — but if you're going to refuse to speak to one of your co-workers, there also may be no real point in continuing to receive the Bravo paycheck, no?
When Dorit jumps into the conversation, sure that she can put a lid on the whole thing, Garcelle stops her, saying that everyone has been coming after Sutton, insisting that she tell the truth. Dorit levels Garcelle with a stare: "You've been in this group long enough now — you should know and understand that it's in an attempt to help her." To which Garcelle and I have nearly identical responses in our testimonial and notes, respectively: "Sutton, do you feel helped? Erika, do you feel helped? It's a no."
But actually hearing Dorit say this out loud is so clarifying. Kyle, Rinna, and now Dorit have come under the impression that forcing people to be completely transparent and straightforward about things they'd rather not discuss is the only way to make the show interesting in a way that isn't at their expense. But they still don't seem to have calculated that self-righteously forcing people to be honest about things is almost always at their expense when it comes to the fans' perception.
Dorit says Garcelle has been in this group long enough that she surely understands how this works — but Dorit can't seem to look at the bigger picture and tell that between Garcelle, Sutton, Crystal, and hell, maybe even Kathy, things may finally be changing around here.
All of this brings up the former tension between Garcelle and Dorit, which Garcelle thought they'd gotten past, but clearly, they haven't. Dorit once more starts beating her "I prefer that my friends be upfront and honest, that's how you create real friendship" drum — and it's just so crAaaaAAAzyyyy that Garcelle would feel like she doesn't fit into this group when half of them are repeatedly telling her that the way she operates is simply not welcome in this group. Rinna then picks up her mantle asking Garcelle if she likes the women at this table ("absolutely — some more the others" hahaha), because if so, she needs to make more of an effort to be a friend. Rinna then gives the example that she threw Garcelle a birthday Bolognese party, but Garcelle didn't even know when Kyle's birthday was…
As you'll recall, Lisa later told Garcelle that she didn't thank her enough for her unsolicited birthday party, nor Harry's unsolicited pasta sauce. And, once again, it's so crrraAaAAzyyyy that Garcelle would not feel accepted by this group that makes no attempt to understand her, but expects her to appreciate their completely bizarre views on friendship.
Finally, after Rinna calls her shady, Garcelle breaks down. When Dorit originally confronted Garcelle, and no one stuck up for her, it made her feel like she was on an island by herself. She says it's not all about race, but she is the only Black woman in this group, and she wonders if they've ever considered how that might be odd for her. "I have, but I don't verbalize it," Kyle whispers. "If you don't verbalize it, how am I supposed to know?!" Garcelle exclaims. "Just because I'm strong doesn't mean that I don't have feelings and I'm not fragile, and I'm not trying to fit in."
Garcelle always says the quiet parts out loud — in a good way. She wasn't friends with these women when she joined the cast, and though she has tried to be friends with them, she's also not willing to just fall in line… even though it's a line that they seem to all follow so easily. The other women insist that Garcelle does fit in with them, but she says it doesn't feel that way to her. She says she has spent her entire life having to prove herself in rooms where she didn't fit in. "Have you guys ever walked into a room and felt like you're the only one that's different?" she asks the table emotionally. "Yeah," Kathy husks out, as I cover my eyes for what might come. But Garcelle has the perfect response to force these women to understand how she feels: "Try it your whole life."
After her emotional display, Rinna and Kathy ooh and ahh over Garcelle's vulnerability, and Garcelle even says that opening up made her feel more connected to the group. But I do wish that Garcelle could have been vulnerable with the other women because she felt comfortable enough to do so, rather than because she felt frustrated and backed into a corner. Mostly, I know that Rinna is giving herself credit for getting Garcelle to be honest, and there's almost nothing that could infuriate me more.
The episode ends with Erika worrying to Rinna and Kyle about the next morning's news that Tom may be put in a facility for people experiencing dementia. As a human, I understand her concern for a man she's been in a relationship with for 20 years, and wouldn't simply stop caring about. As an L.A. Times exposé reader — what can I say? There's as much nuance to this ever-developing story as there is to the Big Kathy's branch of the Richards family tree. See you back here next week for wine tasting and gossip: truly two of my favorite things.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Bravo’s guilty-pleasure franchise meets California luxe