The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap: Bottoms up
I simply didn't see this coming. When I entered into season 11 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I was so consumed by the "Erika" of it all that I couldn't have imagined my interests may eventually be stolen by someone whose husband hadn't been accused of swindling the most vulnerable among us. Little did I know that two new queens would be waiting for me, quietly — and sometimes, kickingly — asserting their dominance as RHOBH's new Supremes.
Let's start with Kathy Hilton, a gift unto us all… except perhaps the RHOBH production crew who has surely had to hire an entire new camera team to follow Kathy around during her nighttime prowling. One of the best Housewives scenes in recent memory occurred tonight as Kathy roamed from bed to bed after everyone had already retired for the evening, ultimately settling in with her sister Kyle to eat a plate full of chips, drink a Red Bull because she thought it was a regular soda, and read six newspapers from the hours of 12 to 2 a.m. It is only topped by the subsequent scene the next day, wherein Kathy sleeps so late she misses the morning activity, and when the other women arrive home, it's to find her recovering from accidentally putting eardrops in her eyes instead of eyedrops — because if it ain't teeth, this woman does not understand it.
Kathy Hilton bumbles like Sonja Morgan, pranks like George Clooney, husks like Kathleen Turner, and has the eyesight of Mr. Magoo. And when Garcelle says something pretty rude about her daughter, she simply defers to her younger sister to reply that Paris is shy. Am I a little worried that Kathy's going to glue her own eyes shut, or accidentally drink perfume, or do something so irrevocably "rich woman" in the next few episodes that I can never enjoy her this purely again? Sure. But for now, she is a shot of pure adrenaline at 1:35 in the morning.
And then there's Crystal: a little more complex altogether, but an absolute breath of fresh air to the franchise, no doubt about it. This episode picks up right where the last one left off, with Crystal reacting to Sutton's insistence that they not talk about racial stereotypes because everyone suffers from stereotypes, by saying in a somewhat derisive tone, "Are you one of those people who doesn't 'see color?' Tell me you're that girl."
Now, I ended the last recap by saying that Sutton was giving off the energy of someone who thinks that being called racist is worse than actually experiencing racism, and at the time, I felt maybe I was a little harsh. But that feeling quickly faded when Sutton confirmed both my and Crystal's assumptions immediately.
Sutton starts crying even harder, choking out, "I really don't see color, I don't see race … the word 'racist' to me is like a virus — it's worse than COVID!" So, to be clear, Sutton is crying to an Asian-American woman over being called out for something she actually believes, and saying that being called racist is worse than a pandemic that brought violence and disrespect to Asian and Asian-American people… while also erasing Crystal's own lived experience by suggesting that race is simply something to be seen.
Sutton cries out that to even get into this upsets her, and Kyle says that's how she felt about her conversation with Garcelle, which she's been lying in bed thinking about every night since. But that's not the same thing. Sutton is so furious, so outraged at the idea of having a conversation about race that she's demanding Crystal stop talking about her own life, whereas Kyle listened to Garcelle's point of view, and has been so upset about the pain she unknowingly caused, that it's been keeping her awake at night. That's an appropriate reaction; that's a reaction that might actually create change.
Crystal, for the record, doesn't seem angry or outraged this entire time; she just seems exhausted. She tries to explain to Sutton that seeing all races equally and not seeing race at all are not the same thing, but Sutton just keeps talking over her, so she finally suggests that they just agree to disagree and go to bed. The next morning, Sutton goes to Crystal's room to clear the air before they hit the Lake Tahoe rails, and Crystal is unbelievably gracious, starting off by telling Sutton that she truly believes her claim that she sees everyone equally. Sutton says that she was set off the night before by Crystal saying she was "that girl" that doesn't see color, calling it insulting…
Which is crazy, because I recall her being defensive and aggressive from the moment racial stereotypes were brought into the conversation, but I guess we can start from there!
So, Crystal generously shares with Sutton that it's confusing when someone says they don't see her as Asian because being Asian has shaped so much of her life. In her testimonial, she gets emotional sharing a story about being in the backseat of her dad's car as a child when a man came up to him at a gas station and started screaming at him about "getting out of my country," and remembering how scared her dad was. In turn, Sutton shares a story about a man overhearing her accent in New York and asking if she was racist. Sutton doesn't see how a simple stereotype is not the same thing as fearing for your life, but she does at least hear Crystal when she says, "People see color, and that comment actually holds society back."
Later that day, Sutton and Crystal even bond over losing their fathers early in their lives to tragic circumstances. Still, it's not nearly enough bonding to withstand what's coming next: the prankster lifestyle of Kathy Hilton.
The gals head to dinner inside a restaurant, but they're still forced to sit far apart, so the whole thing is rather disjointed. On one side of the table is Sutton, asking Erika if she feels like, as Southern women, they're always having to prove they're not racist, to which Erika simply responds, "No." (Recapper note: Hi, that's a "no" from this Southern woman, as well. I find that not being racist is a good defense, and trying your hardest to listen, educate yourself, and make the necessary changes when someone suggests that you're doing or saying something offensive is a pretty solid second line!)
And on the other side of the table is Kathy Hilton, asking the waiter for an extra martini, handing it to Dorit, and asking her to chug it with her. To the cameras, she says, "We're on a girls' trip, we are going to have fun, and anyone that isn't — can watch us have fun!" Please never change, Kathy. (And please, please, please never let me find out that you've hunted humans for sport.)
In a sea of flawless decisions, one of the best the RHOBH editors have ever made is not clueing us in until after the fact that the original Kathy and Dorit chugs, plus the preceding chugs from Rinna and Erika, are all part of a classic Kathy prank. Before ordering the second martini, she texted Dorit to tell her that they were filled with water, and they should trick the other women into thinking they were chugging them. Next, Dorit texted Rinna and Erika to tell them the same, therefore pranking Kathy into thinking they had actually been fooled into chugging vodka. And the whole time, prior to the editors' eventual rewind, I was having a grand old time learning that in the lives of rich women, chugging is called "bottoms up," and shots are simply dirty martinis.
Unfortunately, Sutton doesn't have as much fun with not being clued in on the prank. After being accused of having beliefs that she actually has by Crystal the night before, teased about her $2,000 bear slippers, and being called unworldly by Dorit — "a child of the world," herself — Sutton's hackles are raised at this dinner. As she watches multiple people gesture to their phone in front of her, rather than figuring out that it has something to do with the "bottoms-upsing" like Crystal does, she assumes that everyone is texting about her. In the car, on the way back from dinner, Garcelle and Crystal try to explain the prank to Sutton without letting Kathy in on the fact that Erika and Rinna were actually drinking water too, which involves Crystal kicking Sutton to get her to quiet down. Which then causes Sutton to complain about Crystal kicking her in her confessional.
Everyone comes out of the car with Sutton looking traumatized by trying to calm her insecurities, so Garcelle just outright asks the others if they were texting about Sutton at the dinner table, which sends Sutton into hysterics. And… it's hard not to feel a little bit bad for Sutton in these moments, which I recall from last season as well. When you're that insecure, the last thing you want is for other people to talk about how insecure you are…
But also, if you want that kind of empathy from others, it's important that you give it in return… you know, like acknowledging that racial stereotypes are harmful and allowing people to talk about them. And I think Crystal nails it on the head regarding where this dinner and that terrible conversation from the night before overlap when she says: "If something isn't about Sutton, or she's not included, she thinks that somehow she's the victim of something." So, by the time Sutton is screaming, "YOU KICKED ME," as everyone continues to try to explain the prank to her, Crystal has had it.
"Dude, you're so uptight!" she exclaims at Sutton, letting every ounce of the Valley in her come out. "It's a f---ing joke about water vodka, dude; this is so crazy!" Sutton says that she's never had a friend try to get her not to tell another friend something like Crystal did in the car with Kathy, to which Crystal says: "Okay, well this is the first time — you are a ridiculous human being, I'm sorry, it's exhausting." Is it a little harsh? Sure. Is it a completely understandable reaction given how much time Crystal has spent tip-toeing around Sutton's fragility this weekend? Also, sure.
Everyone finally disperses, and the editors end the episode with a horror movie trailer wherein Crystal is in her room talking s--- about Sutton to a friend on the phone as Sutton slowly approaches down the hallway to give Crystal back her coat. Kathy, for the record, is still unsure how Sutton managed to kick Crystal all the way from the other end of the dinner table because it's very possible that Kathy's martinis were never water. Bottoms up!
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