The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap: Two truths and an oof
Here I was thinking we may get through episode 2 of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with the season 11 Housewives simply having a few productive conversations, and palling around about Kathy Hilton's love of bespoke dental work for the entire hour. But the moment Sutton started screeching "all stereotypes matter," I had to pause the episode and take a lap around the block because I knew it in my Housewives Historian bones: we were in for a season-defining terrible conversation. (And given that Sutton had been roaming around clutching a gallon of BYO-Ocean-Spray all evening, she probably could have used a lap before having this conversation herself.)
But before we get to all that, this is the second episode recap of RHOBH's new season where we objectively and concretely rank the Housewives' new taglines. Which happens to be almost a complete inversion of how I subjectively received their personalities in this episode. So, let's get into it:
CRYSTAL: "Hollywood is full of pretenders — and I slay them all."
This is so broad, I just don't get it! Admittedly, it's hard to come in as a new Housewife and have a quippy tagline that an audience of strangers can immediately understand… but unless we find out that Crystal descends from a long line of Buffys, I do not know what she's getting at with this "slayer" terminology here. Lisa Barlow and the tequila company she never shuts up about simply raised the bar when she husked, "When you take cheap shots, always expect a hangover."
KYLE: "This town is a game of chess, but no one's taking the queen down."
How much do you want to bet Kyle thought of this tagline while binging The Queen's Gambit, slipped it into her "IN THIS TOWN" tagline generator — and, voila! But Kyle is always going to Kyle, so we simply have to let her.
RINNA: "My lips are legendary, and they will never gloss over the truth."
In between selling dusters, managing her daughters' modeling careers, and drinking giant mugs of tea, Rinna just doesn't have time to think outside of the box. If it ain't broke, don't fix it — and if it shrinks past its legendary size, inject it.
ERIKA: "The strongest substance on Earth isn't diamonds — it's me."
Let's face it, this is a great line. But I'm averaging in the fact that every single thing Erika says or does right now puts me on edge, especially when it's so hard to know exactly WHEN she's saying or doing it on the timeline that we're all privy to via… the United States legal system. (Also, diamonds are actually the hardest substance on earth, which renders this tagline in what I would call a more accurate way.)
DORIT: "Dress like there's no tomorrow — and then tomorrow, do it again!"
This line is so quintessentially Housewives; I can't help but love it. Plus, coupled with Dorit's brand new (lack of) accent, it gives me some sense of safety that she could finally anchor this franchise.
GARCELLE: "If you want a starring role in my life, you better drop the act."
Sure, this is a somewhat standard Hollywood pun… but it's also a threat, and I like a little bite in my taglines.
SUTTON: "Anyone who doubts my exquisite manners can kiss my exquisite derriere."
Sutton flips my feelings about her more frequently than almost any other Housewife, but as far as taglines go, I will always reserve respect for someone who just goes for it. Now, it doesn't always land; sometimes you get, "Call me a bad server because I always spill the tea," which was hilarious, but terrible. But Sutton somehow nails the inflection on "derriere" to make this line go down as smooth as the glass of sweet tea she's trying to emulate at all times.
Now, let's get into it: The editors play Erika Jayne's "XXpen$ive" chorus ("it's expensive to be meeee-ay-ay-ay-ay") as the cameras fly through racks of clothes at her downtown loft office, which is either the shadiest shade to ever shade… or throwing her a bone by paying for the music rights. Only time will tell. For now, all eyes are on Garcelle as she continues to take lunch appointments with women who owe her apologies. And ultimately, she's much more receptive to Kyle's apology for last season than she was to Lisa Rinna's, perhaps because Kyle listens to Garcelle's feelings without telling Garcelle that she simply has to move on because sometimes she "acts like a c---" and everyone knows it!
Kyle does open by saying that she just wants to move on from the tension that developed between them last season, which Garcelle says she can do if they can quickly address that one sticky topic where Kyle accused Garcelle of not paying the $5,000 she promised to Children's Hospital of L.A. The editors roll the flashback of Kyle doing that very thing at the virtual reunion last season, after which Kyle clarifies to Garcelle: "I'm not in charge of handling the money; that's someone else." Garcelle says that ultimately whoever was in charge had been sending correspondence to an address she hadn't lived at in years. Then she asks the question from the season preview that probably made more than a few audience member's ears ring with fear: "Would you have said it to one of the white women?"
The way Kyle's jaw drops suggests that she's about to raise every "I don't have a racist bone in my body" defense available to her…
But to her credit, she comes around to listening to Garcelle rather than defending herself fairly quickly. Garcelle explains that she knows Kyle probably didn't do it intentionally, but as a Black woman, the public accusation Kyle made still affects her differently than it would one of the white Housewives because, "There's stereotypes that people think we don't pay for our rent, or we don't tip." Kyle gasps that she would never even think about that, but that's exactly the point: Kyle didn't consider Garcelle's reality as a Black woman, and the types of stereotypes a Black woman already has to contend with when she threw out that accusation about not paying without even confirming that Garcelle had all the information she needed to make her donation in the first place.
Garcelle tells Kyle that all of the additional baggage behind that specific accusation is why it hurt her so much. Kyle says that she totally understands and apologizes, thanking Garcelle for sharing her point of view with her. And honestly, it all seems pretty genuine. And it must have seemed that way to Garcelle, too, because soon they're ordering Branzinos and joking about the reason that Garcelle's hot trainer is making her walk funny — which is really the kind of relationship I'd like to see these two have.
And speaking of "love to see it," I just really enjoyed everything that was happening at Crystal's house as we continue to get to know her. I also would have taken almost any line from this scene as her alternate season 11 tagline, from "Scheduling is a passion of mine" to her 5-year-old daughter screeching, "No, I don't want green juice, I want SPRITE!" Same, girl. Also, this line about her very cute brother, the procurer of the household green juice: "My brother lives in China, but he's been staying with us for months because of COVID — actually, he's a pop star in China, but here, he's my manny." I'm obsessed with Crystal's home life…
And I hope she doesn't quit the show immediately given her first experience on an RHOBH group trip.
Everything starts off fine, with a quick flight to Lake Tahoe, where Lisa Rinna has booked a stately "Airbnb Luxe" that comes with its own chef and a bear-warning for the ground level rooms, but no bag service — it's still an Airbnb, no matter how luxe. For some reason, Kyle wants to cook dinner for everyone, which involves her asking the actual staffed chef a million questions, and then burning the salmon to a crisp when she gets distracted by Dorit's proposed game of "Two Truths and a Lie."
Crystal kicks the game off with a poker face, saying, "I've been arrested, I worked at an escort agency, I've been propositioned to become a madame." And she's never been arrested, y'all! She worked the phones at an escort agency as her first job out of high school, which Erika says makes Crystal "her kind of girl." But I can't help but think Erika is feeling a little competitive when she comes in with, "I wore a wire and was a witness in a government case, I'm adopted, and I used to work for the mafia." Erika was adopted by her stepfather, so that's one of her truths, but then she smirks that she's already said too much, and can neither confirm nor deny her remaining truth and lie… which is so lame! Not my kind of girl!!!
Surely everyone's kind of girl is Kathy, who mistakes the game for a LinkedIn profile, telling the women, "I worked as a dental assistant, I worked as a hairdresser cutting children's hair, and I worked as a receptionist at the Waldorf" — three truths that she's already told them all that day. This woman is kind of like Sonja Morgan meets Candice Bergen, and at this moment in the season, I simply cannot get enough.
After we've learned everyone's pre-rich-woman jobs, Garcelle goes to Rinna's room for a quick chat to inform her that everything is not fine after their conversation last week, as Rinna seems to be telling everyone. Garcelle said that she'd keep an open mind, but she still doesn't know how she can trust Rinna after the way she treated Denise. And Rinna basically says: I cannot promise that I won't betray you, or give up your secrets, so sure, keep your guard up if that's what your heart is telling you to do, but I haven't changed and I never will.
I am obsessed with the way Garcelle won't let up off Rinna's neck, but I'm also kind of interested in the way Rinna is finally just being like, Yeah, I'm not trustworthy — some people aren't!
However, I'm much less charmed by what ends up going down with the after-hours crew of Kyle, Sutton, and Crystal at the bar downstairs. Sutton brings up the now-squashed tension between Kyle and Garcelle, so Crystal naturally asks for more details. When Kyle explains that she publicly accused Garcelle of not paying for a donation she pledged to Children's Hospital, Crystal's jaw drops, and then she asks Kyle if she regrets doing that. Kyle says she hadn't regretted it until just recently when Garcelle explained how deeply the accusation hit her because there's a stigma against Black people not paying bills, which she hadn't considered before.
Kyle and Sutton have a very typical back-and-forth where Sutton says of course she knows that's not where Kyle was coming from, and Kyle says obviously because "you know me, I would never mean something like that." And Crystal listens patiently before adding her point-of-view as a non-white person who has also experienced being confronted with painful stereotypes that make you unable to see anything else…
Or sorry, Crystal tries to add her point of view, but the second she references being a non-white person who has experienced the pain of stereotypes, Sutton starts screeching, "Y'all, there are stereotypes about every — I am sorry, I am not doing this, I am gonna tell you right now." At which point, Crystal finally whips her head around and says, "You're not doing what?" Oooooh, for every cringe-worthy moment that comes next, at least that one is delicious.
Sutton says that she isn't going to talk about racial stereotypes, so Crystal cuts her off and says, "Well, it's easy for you not to." Which seemed like the right response to me!!! But Crystal momentarily dials it back a bit, saying that she wants to rephrase because everyone deals with stereotypes, but Sutton can't even hear her because she's whining, "Because why? Because I'm a southern white girl? Do you want to talk about when I see dumbass rednecks on the TV, and that's supposed to be me?"
Crystal says she'd love to talk about that, but Sutton is already saying, "I also have a stereotype, but I don't want to bring it up because we are educated, we are traveled —" and Crystal finally just says, "That's insane." I may have subbed in "disgusting," but I have to agree. Sutton is pretty clearly trying to say that because they're educated and traveled, they don't deserve to be stereotyped, and so they shouldn't have to talk about it. She doesn't see how racial stereotypes could be painful to Garcelle or Crystal because when Sutton is harmed by stereotypes against southerners, it is minimal. Not to mention, she just called her fellow southerners "dumbass rednecks."
The "it's worse to be called racist than it is to experience racism" is absolutely steaming off of Sutton in this moment. Or as Crystal would phrase it: "So, are you one of those people that you say you don't see color."
Reader, my jaw dropped. Crystal's question is astute; it is blunt; it is immediate. For me, it may just be love at second sight. Slay away, girl. (See you back here next week for the inevitable tears!)