#RHOBH, Psychology, Reality TV

#RHOBH OPINION: Is Denise Richards “Off-Brand”?

If you’re wondering why I capitalized “opinion,” it is because I’ve dealt with many a livid reality tv fan in my day. So if you are one to get more passionate about “Real Housewives” than you do about politics, please note this disclaimer before reading on: Below are simply some thoughts and my mind is subject to change as I watch the upcoming season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Now that that divulgence is out of the way, I’m about to belatedly weigh in on the announcement about actress Denise Richards joining RHOBH.

I will tune in, of course, because I become captivated by drama and even, more simply (or more “accurately” considering last season’s lack of drama), by the glamorous designer duds and luxury looks of the ladies. To skewer an old tagline of RHONY’s Sonja Morgan: I have a taste for luxury, but luxury doesn’t have a taste for me.

I joke with friends that I cannot even begin to consider between-the-brow-Botox due to how wrinkly my wallet is. (It helps to have the excuse of 4 children and four tuitions to fret about. When I didn’t have that excuse – two years ago when they were in public schools, for instance – it was a tad more humbling.) I make no bones about the fact that I’m not rich with a candor that Bethenny Frankel (RHONY) would be forced to admire. In fact, one Twitter user joked that I’m a “wannabe Housewife” (due to the fact that I’ve written about these ladies) and aside from never wanting to expose my embarrassing faults on TV…EVER (!) and deal with the after-effects of that public mortification, I’m content admitting I don’t have the requisite “aspirational” lifestyle to make the cut.

For me, these curious creatures on our TV screens make for a captivating collective anthropological case. While I have my husband rifling through my bag for car keys, stumbling upon CVS receipts and saying “we can’t afford for you to keep buying these face masks!”, the RHOBH are known for their over the top gifts. Take, for example. the five thousand dollar toilet Erika Jayne Girardi gifted her husband Tom.

I love the fact that I had never heard of most of these women before and I’m seeing how insanely affluent and excessive (AKA “extra”) they are. I love the fact that despite how I watched Kim Richards in the movie Watcher in the Woods as a kid, many of you did not. Being Paris Hilton’s aunts, Kim and Kyle Richards made good “Real Housewives” because despite doing the acting thing, they were only somewhat known, but not terribly famous and known by all. They fell somewhere between C and D list.

Considering the cast of RHONY, on the other hand, I like how Sonja Morgan and Ramona Singer were people the vast majority of us had never heard of until they appeared on our screens. It makes me wonder why they weren’t famous prior to the show just for being ridiculously rich and having bonkers, over-the-top personalities.

So now we have Denise, a pick who is the most well known “actress” of all actresses to ever be selected for a Housewives franchise. I should note here that RHOBH is the only one of the Housewives franchises to have somewhat known actresses in the first place.

We had Eileen Davidson, familiar to soap opera aficionados, but not to countless others who don’t watch soaps (moi). Then many of us had to adjust a bit when we were introduced to Lisa Rinna in her Bravo role. Wait, we thought, this is weird because we know her from Melrose Place and from her flop reality show alongside A-list actor- hubby Harry Hamlin. This “adjustment” wasn’t too huge ultimately because Rinna’s acting roles were few and far between, and she quickly established herself as the “hustler” hilariously down to do anything…with a financial incentive. Famously, that includes a Depends commercial that is in her reel.

Rinna’s reception has always been a mixed baggie…akin to that one with pills she carries. Overall though, she “owned it” baby, being candid about the things that would embarrass most, and having no qualms asking a castmate if she’d done coke in her bathroom.

Love her or hate her, Rinna earned the right to hold her diamond in the opening credits of RHOBH.

Now…we have to get our minds around an even more complicated choice for a Real Housewife, a former movie star (or do we call her a current one?). Denise Richards seems too famous to be a “Real Housewife” when we’re so accustomed to meeting new ladies. Consider how Dorit was a whole lot of brand new to get used to. But perhaps therein lies the problem: Dorit is the puzzle piece in a jigsaw challenge that viewers have been unable to jostle in. It is hard to take her business, her lifestyle and her storylines (or lack thereof) seriously for many. I’m of the mindset that Dorit makes great TV because she’s physically gorgeous and an absolute mental trip. I find her to be obnoxious and my annoyance with her fuels my desire to yell at her from the safe side of the TV screen. It works for me, but it’s not working for countless others who have deemed her “phony”, “showy”, “lacking substance” and “boring”.

Denise Richards, on the other hand, has not only been in the public eye for her dramatic struggles and moves, but also had a past reality show. She dealt with the death of her mother and helping her father with his own grief. She is known for having married and divorced Charlie Sheen, had an on-again and off-again dysfunctional deal with him subsequently, battled custody with him, and rode his manic roller coaster of drug addiction debacles.

She famously became romantically entangled with the rocker ex (Richie Sambora) of her former friend Heather Locklear, who has recently made news herself for arrests and her own serious substance issues.

The best thing about reality television is that stars now know it’s the arena for candid confessionals. Denise Richards will have to “bring it”, so that’s the major plus of her being newly anointed a Housewife. Also, because she “brought it” on reality tv in the past, I doubt she will hold back on RHOBH.

So while there’s a ton to tune in for, I have to wonder if there’s a better venue for Denise (a follow-up E! reality show perhaps) to answer all the questions fans have about her past, present and future. The Real Housewives seems off-brand for her, but then again, she’s not doing a lot of movie acting these days. Is a Bravo show the next logical step for Hollywood ladies of a certain cohort when the roles have run out? Perhaps it is, and perhaps what I’ve previously considered “off brand” no longer is.

A franchise that once fascinated us with folks who flaunted their fabulosity while we thought “…and you are…?” is adding the marque of familiarity. It is like a new line of $3M Pagani cars that Dorit and Erika must test drive.

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Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHOBH Recap: Latex, Lube & Lateness (Ep. 817)

IT’S EXPENSIVE TO BE ME….AND THERE’S TAX

Having interviewed Erika Jayne Girardi in the past, I can say I found her to be lovely, sweet, kind and gracious. A large contingent of viewers of the current season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, on the other hand, are having major issues with the Erika on our screens.

After blowing up temperamentally at Teddi for the newbie’s “pretend amnesia” comment, many Housewives’ fans expressed their utter disgust and disgruntlement with the “Pretty Mess.” Tonight, Erika will revisit this blowup with Teddi and explain that she was impassioned to argue after being called a “liar.” But her other diva-like behaviors, particularly lateness, may not endear her to the critics who have decided she exhibits the traits of an entitled prima donna.

Here’s the rundown of what transpired this episode:

WE BEGIN WITH SEX NOISES

Alas, no one is having sex at this juncture, but those shady editors honed in on the sounds uttered by Dorit and Rinna as they received their foot massages in the Waldorf Astoria spa in Berlin. This new bramance (I know no one is using this term, but it is like a bromance but between two ladies) between Dorit and Rinna is being celebrated via a  day of pampering. While being catered to, the duo discusses the lack of drama-drama that recently went down between Dorit, Kyle and LVP.

Rinna plays psychotherapist this episode and waxes philosophical about how it goes deeper than what meets the eye. They then discuss respective husbands: Harry Hamlin is a wilderness man whereas PK can’t seem to go to the bathroom without Dorit holding his hand.

CONTINUE TORTURING THE ACCOUNTABILITY COACH

Time for round 2 of a game the ladies seem to like playing called “Torture the Accountability Coach.” Teddi is kept waiting, along with Kyle, for Ms. Erika Jayne’s arrival. The two whittle away forty minutes in the hotel lobby and Kyle even applies a whole coat of nail polish and lets it dry….Seems Erika is a no-show and the 3 ladies are supposed to be at the zoo. At some point, they decide it’s probably best to meet Erika at the zoo where the guide who has been selected for them is ready to start his day. Teddi and Kyle are expecting some grand look from Erika because why else would she be taking half a century to arrive. But then she shows up looking casual and coughing and explains that she’s sick.

Alas, the “casual look” definitely took some time to arrange by her glam squad because upon close inspection, we see she has appliques in her hair and several coats of makeup. Erika will later say that these “lewks” are a great part of the fun of these trips, but they really seem like a lot of hassle to me for not being able to run or turn your head.

The trio has a great time together – while Teddi bears in mind that an inevitable conversation with Erika is on the horizon – and they all become enamored with the endangered panda they see and pose for photos right outside his glass cage.

LOOK MA, NO PANTS!

“What is happening here?” asks Teddi as she wonders why she never personally got the memo to go pantless or in costume around the city. That’s because Lisa Rinna, a woman in her 50s is now wearing a black pleather trench coat with only a blazer over a teddy underneath. LVP has left Berlin because she will be receiving an award for her Yulin documentary, and the other ladies are waiting for Erika…yet again. They are all scheduled to go on a boat ride. Kyle dials her number and the call goes straight to voicemail. Rinna hopes it’s the “lewk” that is causing the lateness, imagining the glam squad dolling her up.

In LVP’s absence, Kyle sums up the recent drama and we’re fooled momentarily into thinking she wants to bury it all. “I’m going to consider it cleared,” she says to Dorit. Finally, I think to myself, that’s very mature of her….But just wait until later in the episode.

Once the ladies arrive at the boat, they ask the employees there to hold the ride for Erika.

ERIKABOT ARRIVES

When the host of this trip finally arrives, she arrives as Erikabot. She can barely move because she is in a long sleeved red latex top. She – or rather, her glam squad –  applied baby powder underneath in order to get the lube over it. In this case, I assume the lube is the latex, but I am honestly confused. I sit here wearing an H&M t-shirt and a pair of grey scrub pants. High fashion is not my forte in 2018, though I did have my hey day where I cared way too much about what I wore and had some “lewks” of my own. I can put you in touch with people who lived near me on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the late 90s if you want to verify that.

Back to Erika: Her hair is pulled tight in a high pony with faux bangs and at least 4 coats of makeup are shellacked onto her visage. “My nipples are hard as rocks!” she announces as she goes on to offensively talk about how “my gays” held her and nipped and tucked her so she could get into this ridiculous outfit in order to not be able to move. Then Rinna reveals the teddy underneath the blazer that is substituting for a dress. The ladies are having so much fun, as Rinna digs in her testimonial, because is it any wonder? LVP with the stick up her ass is NOT there.

STREET WALKERS

The ladies are driven to some random street and Erikabot leads them down an alleyway that looks sketchy. She’s getting a kick out of Rinna freaking out a bit. She lets them know that she’s leading them to “the new hot spot.” It turns out they’re going to an exclusive invitation-only restaurant that should be a lot swankier than it looks after that sort of hype.

Once seated, Kyle is eager to touch Erika. “I’m not into women” she explains in her testimonials, but something about that latex is turning her on.

DORIT AND THE DETAILS

Dorit says she can’t have the candles be unlit on the table. It’s clear that Dorit is particularly persnickety about the details that low maintenance Teddi would never notice in a million years. Erika decides this dinner is the time to bring up that “pretend amnesia” comment to Teddi. Once again, the critics won’t be happy with Erika’s defense of not wanting to be called a liar. She admits she has a temper and adds in her testimonial that she can be an asshole. At least, here’s a character with an iota of self-awareness, a rarity on reality TV.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Dorit back Teddi up and tell Erika that she can be intimidating, she has a major presence and Erika says that the last thing she wants to be to anyone is scary. Teddi says she almost didn’t go on the trip because of Erika’s outburst and Erika responds that she is glad Teddi went, she had fun with her at the zoo. They seem to put this whole thing to bed (at least for now).

Dorit says she’s eager to get back because she has a fashion show for her beachwear and we soon learn there will be more details for her to sweat.

BACK IN BEVERLY HILLS

Once back in Beverly Hills, PK is giving Dorit an ulcer with his lackadaisical attitude (as opposed to her Type A demeanor) about her upcoming fashion show. She is also freaked out to discover that the runway has been shortened by the coordinator in charge. What started off as “butterflies” in her stomach has now turned into full blown labor cramps sans pregnancy.

Teddi’s family goes out to eat and Teddi decides that the idea of getting a horse should be put on hold. Edwin seizes this opportunity to inquire about getting a Lamborghini.

IF IT AIN’T BROKE, WHY FIX IT? BECAUSE YOU’RE RICH

We go to Kyle who is essentially asking herself “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Kyle is moving to a new home but she loves her current home, so why is she moving? We see a flashback of memorable scenes in that home. The answer to “why fix it?” is: Because she’s rich. This is what rich people do, upgrade.

In the final scene, Kyle is visiting LVP who is fresh off receiving a reward for the Yulin documentary. It is in this scene where we learn that Kyle is not over the arguments with Dorit, particularly that part where Dorit was claiming Kyle’s responsible for panty-gate. I had just finished commending Kyle on dropping that one and not getting into it. I was entirely busy being way too impressed, but here we go again…Kyle’s not over it which means it will be brought up, despite Kyle stating earlier “I’m going to consider it cleared.”

Whatever that was, it clearly didn’t last. Panty-gate has gotten so old it needs to be renamed “Granny Underpants-Gate.”

NEXT TIME ON RHOBH:

Kyle hosts a showing of American Women in her new house.

Camille shows off her engagement Sparkler.

Dorit has her fashion show and finally learns there will be no Beverly Hills Lifestyle spread.

Kyle gets mad.

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Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHOBH recap: “Do You Really Want To Make Me Cry?” (Ep. 813)

This week’s episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills began in reverse. We are at dinner and we see Teddi storming out upset and in tears with LVP trailing behind her. Just like a newly inducted sorority member, Teddi is experiencing the rough initiation and inevitable hazing she was wholly unprepared for. As with previous seasons, the unconscious root of the major problem is Queen Bee LVP. The competition to be her prized pet is a fierce one. Her latest “broken bird” is “Teddi Bear”, the object of her much doting focus. So, there is fallout because that much- coveted spot once belonged to Dorit Kemsley.

We rewind to see what led up to this disastrous dinner where Teddi has stormed out upset with Erika and Lisa has run after her.

In the time leading up to this, there have been several mini events. The first of these is Eileen Davidson meeting with Erika and Lisa Rinna. Eileen has been hard at work as a soap opera star and she has also wisely come to the realization that drama and the act of clashing with characters is best left in the scripted realm. With this newfound solace, the former Real Housewife allows herself a generous guffaw when her old cast mates, Erika and Rinna, relate they’re getting along fantastically with Dorit.

“I’m sorry, I can’t help but laugh,” Eileen titters. It’s more amusing than Jesse Van Patten popping out of a hamper or a suitcase to entertain himself as his mother films all day. I will miss those Jesse scenes, but Eileen is doing alright without this extra show. Erika makes the offhanded remark that she’s waiting for the other shoe to drop. Eileen says it will be a boot.

Later, Teddi meets Rinna for manicures and pedicures and Rinna relates how nice it is that she just met up with Dorit, how they are getting along terrifically, and how this is something she never would’ve envisioned last year. Teddi the Accountability Coach, who is always concerned about being on time and has made “time” a major storyline, (in a vapid season greatly lacking in storylines) decides to bring up something that transpired 3 long months before.

Now what one should be aware of is that three months in Housewives terms is the equivalent of 3 years. You can be friends with someone in May and totally despise them by August. Things turn on a dime and a woman seriously has to keep up.

Anyway…Teddi says she feels compelled to tell Rinna that Dorit and PK were talking smack about her when she and Edwin dined at their house. Rinna is very measured and reasonable about this in response. She says she knows they’ve said worse things and she’s already aware that PK once called her “schizophrenic” which he reiterated at the dinner.

The reality of the situation is that Teddi knows Rinna will see all that was said when it airs on RHOBH. I believe that was her main motivation in telling Rinna what occurred 3 months prior. Keeping that in mind, I guess I cannot entirely blame her. Initially though, I was questioning why she brought it up and felt she should know better with this clawing crew. Teddi has said in press interviews that she never actually watched the show before she came to be a star on it. If that is to be believed, it’s another plausible explanation.

In this episode we also see Dorit meet with Erika, and Kyle and Mauricio discuss the possibility of moving to a new house. When Erika and Dorit meet at the Girardi home, we discover that Erika has prepared a tasty spread that the ladies then proceed to pretend to eat. They seem to be clicking and bonding…because now there is a new Housewife to throw under the bus and gossip about, Teddi Mellencamp.

As she explains to Erika, Dorit feels that Teddi has to discuss everything and go around in circles while Teddi says this is exactly what Dorit is doing. They each are not a fan of the other’s talking. Erika points out that Dorit seems competitive for LVP’s love and attention, which Dorit totally cops to. Erika’s eye-roll in her testimonial says it all.

In the meantime, Kyle and Mauricio have been making all of these renovations to their home and you would think that the end result would be to live there…Well, you would be wrong. They’re considering moving into a whole new palace worth over $8M. Their youngest daughter Porscha says she would love to move so she can reorder her room. Think about it: if your room is currently a mess and you want it neat and organized, moving to a new place is an easy way out…

if you’re rich.

Later on, Mauricio takes Kyle to see the house they’re considering buying. He lets her know that they have to move quickly on this because there have been other offers.

We also get to see a meeting that Dorit and PK have with executives in charge of Dorit’s swimwear line. It turns out that Boy George is an investor which has viewers taking to social media to express their bewilderment. I’ve also seen him tweet a lot in defense and support of Dorit. I never thought an 80s music icon would be so connected to this franchise.

Back at La Casa Kemsley, Dorit gets a call from Teddi asking if she’d like to ride with her to where the ladies will be having drinks. Teddi has something she wants to discuss with Dorit. The latter assents and we see her sigh and roll her eyes heavenward. “We have to talk about the conversation about the conversation about the conversation” Dorit groans to the cameras. It’s a statement that sums up the season impeccably thus far.

The ladies all meet up and Camille is there too, now a regular part of this group when they are all together. Camille also seems to be an advocate for Teddi who is about to bear the brunt of her costars’ agitations.

It seems that Erika and Rinna have coordinated their outfits too, unless black sequins are really in fashion and this can be deemed a coincidence. I, for one, never got the memo.

Kyle informs LVP that she and Mauricio bought that $8M house. LVP is happy for her but sad she hasn’t gotten to see it first. Kyle also explains that she’s only there for a bit because she’s off to see Hamilton with Porscha. Teddi will later be wishing she was invited to attend the showing of Hamilton. Rinna then mentions that her mom is coming into town and she would like to take everybody out to lunch with her.

Kyle excuses herself before the shit hits the fan and Camille checks with Dorit to see if she’s still upset about the passive aggressive ball gag gift. No, says Dorit, but if there’s a problem why don’t we nip it in the bud when it happens…rather than weeks to months later?! This brings Dorit to the conversation that she and Teddi just had on their ride over.

The drama then erupts because Teddi wasn’t planning on having this harping session with Dorit in front of the ladies. She had hoped it was limited to the car and then over, but Teddi is so ill prepared for these ladies and this show! We flash back to that car ride and Teddi comes clean about her conversation with Rinna about the conversation that took place at Dorit and PK’s lambasting Rinna. It truly is “conversations about conversations about conversations.” As I said…

This leads to a discussion of how Teddi thinks her hands are clean but that she keeps stirring up trouble by repeating what the other ladies have said. Erika is on Dorit’s side and then Teddi reminds Erika of an earlier conversation (about LVP) where Erika backed Teddi. Erika has forgotten about that conversation and Teddi refers to it as “amnesia.” At this remark, Erika explodes at Teddi, stating that she simply forgot and is not a liar. But we really see Erika’s temper at its apex and how she can overreact. For viewers, this immediately conjures up an image of her reacting to Eileen last season when the subject of her son, the police officer, was brought up. It is time for this group to disband, but Teddi is visibly shaken by Erika’s volatile and extreme outburst. She just wants to get away as fast as humanly possible.

As utterly ludicrous as Dorit can be, we see that she has more compassion than Erika at the end of this dinner as she tries to console Teddi before LVP takes over. Erika tells Dorit to let Teddi go, that she’ll be fine. In her testimonial, Erika calls Teddi a “cry baby” and let’s us know – despite Rinna’s thoughts to the contrary – that she will NOT be apologizing. Don’t count on it.

Next week: Lunch with Lois and the loss of a Vanderpump pup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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