Bravo wasn’t sure how to handle the suicide of one of the husbands on the show, and I can only imagine the PR sessions with executive producers. “How do we not alienate our core audience by being flip about suicide? And how can we work in product placement?” Someone knew their Degrassi (or was old enough to remember ABC Afterschool Specials.) and hit on opening with A Very Special Introduction.
The show had already wrapped and was in the middle of filling in the “on camera interviews” when Russell Armstrong hung himself in a friend’s home. (Wow, in a friend’s house? Talk about a bad situation becoming worse. In case you’re not picking up on what I’m putting down, suicide is a dick move. It’s selfish and awful and cowardly.) The wives, minus Taylor, understandably, and their spouses gather at Adrienne Maloof’s home to talk through their shock and to all get on the same page.
They all say that they’d not witnessed any signs that would have led them to think a suicide would ever be an option, and how sorry for Taylor, her five year old daughter, and Russell’s preteen sons they all are, and how tragic for them. Lisa, always able to cut to the chase with succinct elegance, says that frankly, because of the information about Russell she knew from Taylor, she was never inclined to get to know him. She’d not known him well enough to be able to recognize any signs, should they have been there at all. Lisa, I felt the same way about him, he was squirrelly and didn’t encourage intimacy.
And let’s not sugar coat the fact that he was a known and admitted abuser. She had hospital records showing broken bones, black eyes, and other physical signs of being beaten by him. However you may feel about Taylor, there’s no excuse for raising a hand to your spouse, period.
Kyle is just devastated on her friend’s behalf. She’s a loving mother and wife, ultimately, and feels deeply the loss that her friend is feeling. She’s good people. I know she’s polarizing to some folks, but I love her and think she’s a great person, if only for that Wella Balsam hair. Her number one worry is that Taylor or the children will think themselves responsible, when everyone should know that the ONLY person responsible for this suicide is Russell. Regardless of financial strain, keeping up appearances, looming divorce, he made a horrible choice that has damaged his children beyond the telling. Suicide is a dick move.
Bravo really wants you to know that this happened after they’d filmed as they put up a bump: “The events depicted in this series were recorded prior to the death of Russell Armstrong.” And hey, it’s a part of life, ugly though it may be. And this is a “reality” program. It doesn’t get realer than this.
The actual show begins with a shot of Rodeo drive and an uh-may-zing Bugatti Veyron parked in front of a shop. In case you wondered what the real wealthy housewives franchise is, it’s this one. New York can’t even come close to the disposable incomes on this series. Good hell. Lisa Vanderpump (I will never get tired of saying that name, nor looking at its owner – she’s flawless, come on) sashays down Rodeo drive in 5 inch pumps with her Pomeranian Giggy in her hands. They toodle into a salon to get her nails done and visit with her daughter, Pandora.
Meanwhile, at their estate, Pandora’s boyfriend Jason has arrived to talk with poorly-aged Simon Cowell, Lisa’s husband. (His actaul name is Ken.) Ken is out walking the puppies, so their house maid sends Jason off to one of the offices to wait for him. It turns out that Jason is there to ask Ken for Pandora’s hand in marriage. How adorable is that? Ken is utterly charmed by Jason and his traditional ways, and I am, too. Lisa should be very happy with this news, seeing as she just wants to see her daughter married off happily and giving her grandbabies.
Kyle and her sex pot of a husband Mauricio are packing up their house. They’ve “outgrown it” with their four children, and I always loved how modest – Beverly Hills-wise – their home was. It actually came off as a home and not a “property.” Her husband is in real estate, so I imagine the new digs will be fabulous. She sees a picture of her mother which leads us to flashbacks to last season’s blow out with her fragile sister, Kim.
It was ugly. Kim is clearly not sober, but what exactly she’s on, is anyone’s guess because no one’s talking. Which is fine, I don’t need details. Kim is a whisper scream with skin stretched over her bird bones, and any help she can get will be fine. Kim tells us via camera interview (with her head tilted back to keep tears from spilling) that she’s not ready to move past that night where her sister accused her of being an alcoholic (and where Kyle said that anything she and her husband had done for Kim in the past was over.) Kim knows they’ll go back to being amazing sisters one day, but for now, she’s still upset. Fair enough.
Kyle just misses having her family together and puts her face in her hand and sobs. Come on, haters, Faux-Demi Moore is good people! She’s demonstrative, but that’s not mean or bullying. The camera cuts back to Kim saying that she’s finding it hard to let it go. Oy. I’m predicting another season of Kim wandering about like a lost four year old, looking for Kyle to make the voices stop.
A helicopter shot of an amazing estate in Malibu means it’s time for Camille. Oh, was she so smugly awful last season. I really thought that Kelsey Grammar had been genius in getting her on the show so all of America could see how conniving and terrible she was, so that when he left her for another woman, he’d have America on his side. Well…he over estimated how quickly people rally to the side of a woman who’s husband is blatantly cheating on her, bitch or no.
However. You could write off some of her behavior to being in a loveless marriage, but she hired people to have her babies, has four nannies for two small children, is friends with a freaking group of weirdos that come off like hired associates, and swans about with an air of superiority. (Let'[s not forget she used to ride the pole. Which, whatever, do what you want to do, but don’t act holier than thou when you used your hot pants peeling prowess to pull in moneyed partners.)
But then she had to go through an ugly patch (all divorce is ugly, but damn, hers was no picnic) and it seems like she’s softened up a touch. Time will tell, but for now, I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. She and paid BFF DD hop onto a golf cart to travel to the other end of the estate (she said five acres last night, but last season it was 17? Sold off some of the land?) to see what Kelsey’s people “shipped” from the Hampton house. She wanders about the stables in her Gucci riding boots as DD sniffs at her feet, ever adoring and supportive.
DD sees some of the furniture there and slobbers out, “This is really nice stuff!” It’s a fucking book shelf that looks like it came from Bassetts, please. She then laughs to Camille, “I like how Kelsey just sent it to you.” Who else should he send it to? What the…?
Camille tells us that she and Kelsey do not speak at all. They only communicate through a mediator. Well, if that keeps things moving peacefully, good for the two of you, but damn, that’s cold. They hunker down and open a box that seems to be nothing but sandals. DD goes on about how nice they all are, while Camille blows it off by saying, “They’re just my Hampton’s summer shoe wardrobe,” as if everyone has a Hampton’s summer shoe wardrobe. (Do multiple colors of Old Navy flip slops count?) DD tells her how nice she is for donating them all and I wonder if it’s a “donation” if DD is going to just take the box home and masturbate over it every night?
Whatever, DD is creepy, guys. Please, Bravo, show more DD and Alison DuBois. It helps me get through my day knowing that kind of crazy is out in the world.
Adrienne tells us how she and her educated Joe Gorga (Paul) are really just two ships that pass in the night, and it’s fine with her if they miss a few nights. Two hours is her limit for husband time, and boy, that sounds healthy. All they do is bicker. Remember how last season they were kind of funny about it? Like they bickered and loved as much as they teased each other? Now it just seems brittle. Especially as they try to get a rise out of each other over everything. He looks like he enjoys it, she looks like she’s waiting for the cameras to shut off so she can stab him in the eyeball.
Adrienne and her bitch of a chef Bernie are planning a dinner menu when Paul comes in and teases her about food choices, asks for other things, acts passive aggressively, and drives Adrienne and Bernie up a wall. He makes suggestions, then says whatever, do what you want. Oy. My guess is Bernie knows Adrienne brings in more money and has thereby aligned himself with her, because if I was Paul and watched this? Bernie would be out on his ass for showing his boss such disrespect. It’s just not smart as an employee, right or wrong.
Kyle goes shopping for just the right dress for Adrienne’s dinner party, and as she sorts through gowns, Taylor comes running in seemingly in the midst of a panic attack. She jams Kyle’s hand onto her bird cage of a chest to feel how fast her heart is beating. Good lord, did Satan grab your heel? No, she just saw Cedric, Lisa Vanderpump’s former boy toy/arm candy. (Gay as glitter on a man’s mustache, there was no hanky-panky.)
Kyle wonders why she’s so freaked out about it? If Cedric bumped into her…? Well, see, Lisa is really scary (she is?) and will accuse Taylor of purposely standing on a corner until Cedric parked his bike next to her, thereby creating drama! Yeah, that sounds reasonable. Kyle seems baffled by Taylor’s reaction, tells her she shouldn’t be scared of Lisa (who is Kyle’s best friend, or was last season) and that Taylor’s impression of Lisa as scary isn’t because Lisa is dripping with money, but maybe because she’s British? That accent must intimidate Taylor and her Oakie twang, but she shouldn’t let it.
Taylor says this is her year to speak up for herself. Foreshadowing.
Adrienne and Paul bicker about her touching his decorative towels at his sink. Really, dude? She touched the stupid ass black and gold tassel towel with a gold scallop embroidered on it? First of all, get rid of those tacky things, what is this, 1989? And secondly, it’s a towel, and third, seriously, lose the gaudy crap. There’s more gold gilt in this place than the Vatican.
They do nothing but bicker and fight the whole time they’re getting ready, she’s mad that he played golf instead of helping her with the dinner party (what, tell servants what trays to use? It’s not like he had anything tangible to do, right?) and he just seems to delight in getting her wound up. This should make for a special event.
The party is set up with the best of the best, and Paul puts on a “biker jacket” on their new puppy, Jackpot. Good lord, quit dressing your pets, people. Paul, satisfied with his handsome dog, moves to open a bottle of Angel champagne, the “most expensive bottle of champagne you can buy. “ This is according to Adrienne, and I’m sorry, but it’s not. Not even close. True, $2200 is a lot of money for a bottle of hooch, but the most expensive champagne (that isn’t a collector’s item, like the 1907 Piper-Heidsieck which is $275,000 per bottle) is Louis Roderer’s Methuselah. That’ll set you back $17,500 a bottle. There’s your “the more you know: rainbow!” moment.
Adrienne doesn’t want Paul to pop the cork at her face, which he clearly isn’t, but she’s just hell bent for leather and wants to fight, period. Everyone shows up in their limos, and Kyle looks great in a royal blue number. Adrienne is also wearing royal blue. Camille shows up looking stunning in a grey dress (I do love her wardrobe, I have to admit) and then Taylor shows up in an eight year old’s nightgown that horribly emphasizes her mosquito-bite boobs and skeletal frame. Kim turns up in a Tammy Wynette homage. Ken and Lisa walk over (they live across the street.) Ken is wearing… lord, who knows. The man wears some odd things. It’s a black jacket with gold staples trimming the lapels. The only accessory that matters, though, is Giggy. (Were they offered a +1 for the dog?)
Bernie makes a face when he sees Lisa (he doesn’t like her for saying something about his food once) and demands the kitchen doors closed, as if she’d deign to step into a kitchen, this is a Vanderpump! Lisa does have on some fabulous Louboutins, though, encrusted with jewels. Again, she walked down her palatial estate’s drive, crossed the street, and continued across Adrienne’s cobbled parkway in those shoes. That takes skill.
Giggy and Jackpot bark at each other because they’re dogs. Ken decides it’s because Jackpot is jealous of Giggy’s “Juicy Couture” track suit. They all greet one another and move into the media room to watch Camille’s stint on Shit My Dad Says. They’re all laughing when they should, enjoying her screen time, and are being supportive friends. It’s nice!
The move on to dinner and Bernie holds Camille’s chair for her, claiming that she’s the only one skinny enough to sit against that wall. It should be noted that Lisa is sitting next to her. Brother, you are skating on thin ice, Beverly Hills is a small town, bub, and Lisa knows everyone.
Paul moves to open another bottle of champagne, which clearly is WRONG as Adrienne starts giving him shit, and doing the “don’t pop it into my face!” thing. Has this happened in their past or something? What gives, Maloof? She then calls everyone’s attention for a toast and then bitches at her husband for being rude. True, he does correct her grammar at one point, but that doesn’t give license to turn into the Bickersons. Also, way to get everyone’s attention and then use it to bitch at your husband.
Everyone is uncomfortable. Lisa finally says in her charming, British way, “You two, what are you doing? Stop it!” They finally shut up and Adrienne gives a weird toast about how the only reason she loved the house they’re in is because of this olive tree, which fell down this week, so everyone has an olive branch in their napkin so everyone can get along.
Paul asks if Ken and Lisa ever bicker, and Lisa says no, because Ken always gives in. Ha. Kyle says the same about her and Mauricio. Lisa gives sage advice, though, “At the end of the day, what’s worth fighting over?” They’ve got 29 years and counting, so something is working. Paul asks Taylor how she and Russell are doing, and Taylor tells everyone they’re in therapy, and she’s getting a lot out of it.
Camille thinks it’s great that she’s finding her own voice, and is pleased that Russell was willing to try, and Kyle and Kim second that. Lisa laughs and says that Ken would never go to therapy, to which he vigorously agrees. He says that Americans are just different, he only wants to do what it takes to make his wife happy and would want to sort it out for himself. Now, I can get behind this, if it’s a little tacky to mention at the dinner table in present company. He loses my sympathy, however, when he presses on saying that he would feel weak if he had to go to therapy.
Well… this isn’t the time for that, Simon Cowell. Taylor leaves the table and Kyle waits a few beats and goes after her under the guise of needing to powder her nose. Taylor rips into Ken about the “I’d feel weak” line. “You’re carrying a dog wearing clothes. Weak?” Ahahaha. That was a good one.
But she just looks so skeletal and thin and plastic and bizarre, and she’s manufactured this relationship with her husband – she was very upfront in Season 1 about wanting a specific life and having a business arrangement with Russell – I find it hard to really sympathize with her about her husband not loving her. You didn’t marry him for love. If you want love, go get it.
Lisa also tries to use the powder room, but the other women shut up and it’s very awkward and Lisa leaves to go back to the table, her feelings hurt. She thinks Taylor is manipulative and dragging her friend Kyle into her sordid affairs. True, she is, but you can tell that Taylor and Kyle genuinely like each other, too.
Ken asks Kyle if he did something wrong earlier, and Kyle goes on the defensive for her friend, telling Ken that he offended Taylor. Ken is instantly upset with her using the word “offended” because that’s a big word. Are you kidding me, dog dresser? Lisa says that her husband was entitled to his opinion, and that’s the British mindset: stiff upper lip, pull yourself together, shit on Americans and make out with your dogs.
Meanwhile, Ken lets Giggy (who is in his lap AT THE TABLE) drink from his $550 water glass. And then he takes a big swig of water afterward. NO. No no no we do not drink or eat after animals, I am sorry, they lick their assholes. I have a dog, I have cats, I would not let them eat alongside me. Sorry. Everyone tries to look everywhere but at aged Simon Cowell double dipping from his crystal goblet.
Taylor comes back to the room and uses her words. Ken says he wasn’t attacking her at all, he was giving his opinion of himself. She tells him that she’s just really fragile right now and that was poor timing on his part. Agreed. Lisa and Ken make excuses to leave just as dessert is brought in, and no one seems too upset to see them leave (except for Lisa.) Camille grins in her seat, so happy that for once at a dinner party with this group, she has not been the source of drama.
But this dinner party totally could have used some Alison DuBois with her electronic cigarette.
Coming up this season! Adrienne washes a chicken with hand soap, ski trips and sailing trips, Taylor flipping out and climbing into a suitcase in the closet (whoa) and a new housewife is introduced, Brandi Cirpiani, who looks like a mega bitch and shit stirrer. Looks like you’re off the hook this season, Camille!