The premiere of ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ was a masterpiece
Am I proud of the fact that the The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills The season premiere is the greatest entertainment I’ve ever seen in my entire life?
Of course not. Citizen Kane is horrified. Who is even Steven Spielberg? There was a show called Thread? The pilot of To break found shaken.
And do I appreciate that I counted the days until Erika Jayne had to atone for her excruciating and angry self-victimization in a carefully orchestrated way that was part damage control and entertainment value on reality TV? Again, no. But I’ll never pretend I’m not a stale Chicken McNugget of a human. (You know what I’m talking about, the one that stayed in the box overnight and still took a bite while waiting for the coffee to brew the next morning.) And neither should you.
This is our dry McNugget from TV. That is to say, we do not like that we like it. But it’s still just as good.
If you watched real housewives over the past 16 years (as we won’t admit, but we have also been), this is the episode the series has built on. That’s because it’s one the franchise — which has seen table flips, underwear sniffles, and prosthetic legs used as projectiles — could never have orchestrated.
We’re at the point where the women on these shows have studied the show as the modern Shakespearean text that it is and behave accordingly. Yet, being the most ostentatious and predictable franchise, beverly hills somehow emerged as the most unpredictable.
God bless my lord and savior Andy Cohen, but even he couldn’t have puppeted a season premiere in which a woman who was reviled for her lack of empathy over the alleged misappropriation of millions of orphans and widows by her husband in order to finance her wardrobe and a musical career encompassing the song “XXPEN $IVE” is the episode of second billing because another cast member was robbed at gunpoint during filming.
For some, this preceding paragraph sums up the decline of civilization. For me, it’s cinema.
It is, we admit, a tortured existential experience to watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
The accusations against Erika Jayne and her ex-husband are so dark, and her bitterness about it so nasty, that we shouldn’t want to activate it by confirming the truth that this is actually great television. And after news broke last year that Dorit Kemsley had been robbed while in her own home and begged the criminals that if they were going to kill her, at least spare her children, the impetus was to think, “That’s awful, but that’s also the new season is already filming?!” It’s not a proud moment.
But a decade and a half of that has made us monsters. And monsters eat well.
“A decade and a half of this has made us monsters. And monsters eat well.”
If you watched the previous season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, you know the way Erika Jayne handled the real-time drama of the headline ending of her marriage amid investigations into millions of dollars stolen from real orphans was gripping and absurd. It was baffling that she agreed to be on camera during all of this, and even more mind-blowing that she behaved as defensively as she did.
You also know that the behavior of his castmates and friends was just as wild.
My favorite thing as a seasoned reality TV fan is watching actors try to calibrate in real time how to behave and react to things in order to look as “good” as possible to the audience – only to see how widely they are broadcast. miscalculated their allegiances and actions.
That was certainly the case last season, when the entire cast except for Sutton Stracke refused to ask Erika any real questions, then failed to defend or support Sutton when she wavered on this member (very appropriate) by itself. Erika was mean to her for asking completely normal questions in light of the headlines, and the rest of the cast tragically left Sutton hanging out to dry, like her bizarre puffy seam on a clothing line.
After such a failure to read the play, it’s fun to watch the actors gauge how they should try to make up for it. Kyle Richards, for example, fully admits to being wrong. And Garcelle Beauvais is still the best housewife in the confessional who tells exactly the right thing without ever telling the group.
The series’ editors and producers have also taken notice, as they appear to be framing the season around a Sutton vs. Erika rivalry.
Erika is apparently spiraling and not admitting the seriousness of the situation, let alone her public image. We’re given inspirational content: “When you order Taco Bell and you can’t remember, but the wrappers are in the kitchen, that’s a problem…” And also wacky content: “Bravo can do their due diligence, I don’t really know,” Erika replies when asked about the details of her case.
But Sutton’s gratuitous accusations have now been turned into villain status. It’s not just with Erika. Lisa Rinna carefully positions her as an adversary by weaponizing my least favorite Housewives crutch: talking about what’s being said “in the press.” In this case, it’s even more meta: what is said on Watch what’s happening live.
As boring as it sounds, this is all good TV because we’re tuning in to see exactly this: how these women are not just reacting to the Erika Jayne scandal, but how they first stood out in their first reactions to the Erika Jayne scandal. They’re fun mirrors lining a rabbit hole of consciousness on camera, which is exactly what real housewives is about.
Given the potential for juiciness in this story, it’s unexpected that there’s anything else so dramatic that every time a cast member talks about this controversy, it seems trivial. Which brings us to Dorit.
It’s a weird position where you don’t know exactly why any rational human being would allow themselves to be filmed within 24 hours of intruders bursting into their room with a gun and threatening the lives of their children. But what Dorit is going through is undeniably amazing television.
There’s an argument to be made that as a public figure filming a reality show, theft would be an unavoidable topic of conversation, so why not just open it all up to the cameras? Nonetheless, the raw emotion – shadowed by a heavily produced dinner at Kyle Richards – provides images so touching it’s almost uncomfortable to watch, in a way that reality TV rarely is anymore.
There’s a neat set-up of Dorit and her children who have just returned from a trip while her husband, PK, is still back in England. There is security camera footage of burglars entering his home. Dorit, quite painfully, recounts exactly what they told her by pointing a gun to her head and stealing her jewelry and handbags. At one point, she even takes to the ground to physically recreate the ordeal for her friends.
Was it absolutely crazy that PK agreed to see his wife for the first time after she was nearly murdered while trying to save their children’s lives at Kyle Richards, with Kyle in her pajamas because she was so traumatized? Yes. Uh. But being a reality TV fan means not thinking about those things. Not thinking about why a person would want cameras for a moment like this or the emotions that may or may not be real around them.
It was a heavy and moving episode of RHOBH. That’s why we are, as always, grateful to Lisa Rinna. Everyone is sobbing over what Dorit has been through. Afterwards, Lisa asks whether or not she should still have Harry Hamlin’s birthday party that she had planned for the next day. Priorities.