Bravo TV, Reality TV, Vanderpump Rules

#PumpRules: Interview with Sur Manager Peter Madrigal (plus his Buttered Pop podcast debut)

My colleagues at the Buttered Pop podcast conducted a fantastic interview with Peter Madrigal from Vanderpump Rules, a measured and commanding presence as compared to his raucous cast mates. As the manager of Sur, Madrigal made a resolution to stop dating coworkers after a turbulent romance with Stassi Schroeder and a hookup with Katie Maloney – all of which went down before there was even this godsend of a show. Iconic American writer, novelist, professor and commentator Roxane Gay has admitted to the show being a favorite of hers, and at age 44, I too enjoy this franchise more than the Real Housewives ones.

A few years ago, I predicted I would outgrow what I jokingly called “Vapid Rules.” I even shared that term with Tom Schwartz, Katie Maloney, Stassi Schroeder and Jax Taylor when I interviewed them for a series of articles in the Huffington Post. Stassi took it in stride and tweeted out “#VapidRules AF!” I recently shared my love of Vanderpump Rules with Alex Baskin of Evolution Media (“It’s the best show on TV now!”), who I was introduced to through Reality of Reality podcast host Aliza Rosen. Evolution is the company that produces all the vapid, wild and touching moments that make for the perfect reality TV ingredients. Commentators agree that Vanderpump Rules is the gift that keeps on giving, with sharp turns and surprises to keep viewers entertained and riveted. It is the small screen favorite of many and amasses new viewers seasonally. Evolution Media also produces E!’s Botched, Bravo’s Real Housewives of Orange County, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Sweet Home.

Being in the film production business his self, Peter Madrigal knew early on that it made sense to feature his fellow Survers. He saw the ingredients and the blueprints. He recognized that his coworkers antics and complex, interconnected social lives (particularly, hookups) made for great drama, that the men – or boys – had charm (or smarm) and the women, dynamic personalities.

I spoke with Madrigal this past Tuesday to get more insight about him, a man who seems to be the calmest of his crew, and who viewers don’t necessarily know so well. As the restaurant manager, he tries to “keep things professional,” which may be why some of his scenes don’t make the final cut. However, he is always at Sur when the cameras are rolling and in many ways, as he tells Buttered Pop, the crew has come to rely on him.

Following is our discussion:

I’m so excited to speak with you, Peter. I used to be a Contributor to Huffington Post and interviewed Jax, Stassi, Brittany, Katie and Schwartz. I know your style from listening to several interviews that you did, and I do realize that you WON’T give away things that happened on the show.

However, I wanted to start with how Guillermo Zapata approached you when you worked at Club Monaco and said to come work for him. You had a roommate working there who may have put in a good word and you were hired on the spot when you arrived at Sur. It seemed to me that he was scouting you, so I was wondering if there was any talk of a TV show at that time.

No, not at all. That was 10 years ago. I don’t think at the time Lisa was even on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  I think he just liked my look and wanted to hire me for me.

It seems like Sur is about the ‘right look’ and the headshot. Then again, the allure of the show is watching so much drama go down between beautiful people.  

In some ways it’s about image, but we’re a diverse group of people. It’s not just image but style and presence. There has to be something about you.  Everyone is really bringing something to the table. I have to keep myself in check as the manager, so despite me being there full time, I heard I was only on for one second of the Season 7 premiere last (Monday) night.

I heard you don’t watch the show and have made it a policy not to watch, since the beginning.

I don’t watch! Tell me what happened in the first episode.

Jax stormed in the room, he was angry about James’s rap and you looked like ‘what the hell is going on?!’

Oh, I remember. I was there for the whole thing and it’s about what they want to use. Despite only being on a little here and there, I’m amazed that I have a large following on social media or when people approach me and say they’re a big fan. I think we all have a presence about each of us.

We don’t really see you get into the chaotic drama, so they don’t focus on you as much as the others. Was that a purposeful decision by you because of your interest in film and directorial vision? Did you see yourself as someone who could help production? Or is it because you’re so cool, calm and collected that they don’t focus on you?

It’s a combination of both. I’m pretty cool until you tick me off – which actually happened to me this morning, by the way.

Oh, too bad they’re not filming next season already.

(Laughs) Someone commented that I remind them of Seinfeld because I don’t get pissed off. That could be a detriment in this medium, but it works for who I am and I’m very true to myself. As the current season progresses, I think you are going to see more of me. I know I’m going to be featured heavily, but let’s see what they decide to show. It’s a combination of deliberate choice on my part, but at the same time it is who I am.

It sounds like you have to take a stand about something in Sur and that will be important to the storyline this season.

You’ll just have to watch!

You seem like the most mature of the crew because you’re so responsible. I know that you’re 35 and that’s the same age as some of the other cast members.  You discussed on Buttered Pop how the producers will ask you to lower the music when there’s a conversation they want to catch. It seems like you are always on hand to make sure the conditions are right for filming.

I’m one of the crew’s favorites to work with. I arrive early and very rarely do I arrive late. I’ll often get there before the crew. I want to make sure I’m miked and ready to go. I am very OCD in case you didn’t hear that…so if I’m late, I’m beating myself up. I’ve never been late to work, but was suspended one time about 9 or 10 years ago for missing a shift. I like to be early.

Of course, many fans wanted to know about the time period – oh so long ago that it’s ancient history for you – that you went out with Stassi. I know there was some overlap with when you hooked up with Katie. I’m curious how they became friends after that.  

It’s funny you mention that because the ‘overlap’ in this place is very predominant. In this group, Jax hooked up with Kristen and Stassi and now he’s with Brittany who is best friends with them. Kristen hooked up with Jax and now Jax and Carter are really good friends. Katie and I were hanging out during a period when Stassi and I weren’t exclusive. We were making out and then passed out on the couch together, head to head – it was an L shaped couch. That was it. I can’t remember when I had made out with Stassi – We became exclusive a short time after and Katie felt rejected. I regret how I handled that. I would never put myself in that type of situation again.

You were your own ‘cautionary tale’ pre Jax.

I was my own cautionary tale! I was and I told a bunch of new bartenders who hook up with each other ‘you’ve got to stop or it’s going to be bad around work.’ There was a situation recently and I said ‘you guys have got to be congenial to each other’ because they had ended it. I said ‘I’ve already been here, I know what this is. There are a lot of women that come through here. You don’t have to be hooking up with your coworkers, just be friends with them.’

Once you get to this environment, this is such a promiscuous place with everyone hooking up all the time.  I understand that it happens when you’re around a bunch of beautiful people. Right when I became a manager, after I dated Stassi, I just became this paragon of professionalism. I was the manager, the leader. I wouldn’t date any of my coworkers.

You talk about being a perpetual bachelor now. Some fans and I were curious: how do you date and what are your thoughts on settling down? I’m just a fan of finding happiness in whatever form, so know that I am specifically asking this question because of the show’s current focus on Jax’s proposal, and with your close friends Katie and Tom being married.

That’s the best question I’ve ever been asked. I think about it a lot because I say I want to live to 100 and then say to myself ‘why do I want to do that?’ I do see my mortality. I guess it’s morbid, but it’s the truth. My 30s are passing by quickly. I remember thinking back during season 2, I’m turning 30. Now, I’m 35 which is four years from 40. I saw this joke story on Instagram from my friend Jonathan. He was going through a book that said ‘sex after 50’ and it was all blank pages. If I can’t go out with the girls and have a relationship, who is going to want to hook up with the old guy Peter? I have to make sure I look good. I’m constantly working out. I’m working on my face, trying not to get wrinkles. I’ve seen guys younger than I am that already look 45. I want to look this way until my 60s.

So have you done ‘Brotox’, you know that term some people use for Botox for men?

I did some Botox just recently, it’s on the show. Not sure you’ll see it because again, I don’t know what they’ll include. I do put a lot of lotions on also. I use a lot of vitamin C and vitamin A. I took a 16 hour trip to Vegas to see a business partner and met Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank. I thought he was in his 40s and he’s like ‘no, I’m 61.’ At that point, I was all like ‘I need to look like you in 30 years.’ I’m very determined to keep myself looking like I’m perpetually 30.

That is a theme and focus on these shows. I’m in the midst of writing a separate piece called Body Image by Bravo.

I don’t want to look like a blow-up doll, but I don’t want to look too weathered. Will I be able to still date when I get to 50? At 40, I should probably start thinking about settling down – even at 36. I’m always looking at that. I think about if I’m going to have kids…and I want to make enough money to raise those kids!. I always thought when I was younger that if I was on a TV show, I could date whoever I wanted to date, but that’s not true. That’s not the way it works. So what if I own my own company? That’s still not the way it works. I don’t know what women want.

You developed a casino app called Casino Scouts, and you have the hair line Myhairo.com. You manage to make time to exercise twice daily and go to Sur pretty much full time. How many days do you actually have to be there? A viewer told me to ask if your shoulders are tired because you’re the only one she sees always working there.

I can’t stop people from giving away their shifts. I’m full time, so that’s typically 4 days a week. I’m full time on the show when we’re filming. I’m at Sur doing 7 hour shifts at a time, so that’s a pretty hefty workload. I have recently brought it down because of my other companies. I’m all about balancing my time and I do that very well. Just today, I decided not to get up at 6 which is my normal time and got up at 7. I got coffee and did my morning routine. I looked at a short film that I had to send to potential funders. At 10 (an hour before this call), I had an appointment, then got on the phone with you. Right after you, I have a 12:00 call. After that I have to hop on the computer and study because I’m going to get my real estate license. Yes, on top of everything. I’m studying for that!

Tomorrow I have a 10:00 appointment and I just got a message about the hair company, so will have to add that to the schedule. I am constantly working.

The viewers and I are curious to know what you think of new people who come to Sur and join the show.  What makes them work within the friend group?

It goes back to what we first started with in this conversation. You have to bring something to the table, have a personality. We’ve tried different people and a lot of people don’t work. Not just the dynamic of the group. ‘Are you charismatic enough?’ I’m not going to toot my own horn, but I have more charisma in my pinky than all of the Summer House crew combined.

I can’t watch it. I think it’s because I have to limit my television time and Vanderpump Rules fills whatever viewing void that Summer House might fill for others. I’m not sure…

I watched a clip when Stassi was introducing these people to the world. These guys got a TV show?! Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwarz have tons of charisma and of course, Jax and James….They are dynamic as are all the women on our show. Someone is going to get left in the back- me in this case – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an impact on the show.

Since you don’t watch the show yourself, are you always aware of the drama going on, or are you constantly surprised by things?

Sometimes I have surprises. During Season 2 I tried to stay out of the drama and having to manage the restaurant is a lot of responsibility.  You don’t want to get caught up or start taking sides or having favorites. That’s a detriment to leadership. For so many years I was called ‘Switzerland,’ But things do change and sometimes, like I think maybe you’ll see this season, I will speak up a lot more – especially  when you start criticizing my leadership.

When I found out that Jax slept with Kristen, I was totally surprised and didn’t want to believe it. I found out from people watching the show. Like you said, I have made it a policy from the beginning not to watch. I do know – and I think this is when I’m seen more on the show – that when I want something done, I step up and make a stand. You’ll see that.

It’s weird that you don’t want to watch it, but maybe it’s like me not wanting to hear my annoying voice on the podcast episodes I do. Who from the cast are you closest to?

Schwartz and I are super close…

You mentioned being friendly with Lala’s fiancé Randall on Buttered Pop.

I am now friendly with Randall! I saw him at the premiere party and it was good to catch up.

One fan wanted to know, with all the ventures you have going on and your position at Sur, where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?

I’ll put it like this: I see myself still cranking away, working hard and doing very well for myself. I am not going to say where I’m going to be. I don’t want to give away my thought process…but I see myself doing well…within the next 2 years actually.

I’ve talked to numerous reality TV people and have seen how the experience can be humbling and also ego inflating. Seeing the negatives has made me realize I could never personally do reality TV! Writing about it can be dramatic or stressful enough! Do you think people have been humbled by this show or that their egos have blown up from it?  

A combination of both. From my experience, I have become more humble. I’m still astonished. I put pants on one leg at a time each morning and people still want to take pictures with me. People call me a ‘legend’ and I haven’t done anything yet! By the same token, there’s some arrogance in the sense that I’ve had to put people in their place.

About a year ago, I met someone at a magazine shoot and she said ‘you don’t know who I am?!’ I was like ‘please tell me who you are’ and she couldn’t believe it. ‘I’m this model who has done this and this…’ It came across as so pompous, so I said ‘that’s awesome. How many followers do you have on Instagram? I’m one of the cast members on a hit show on Bravo, don’t start talking arrogantly.’

My dad would run into you and have no idea who you are. My husband would run the other way because he thinks Bravo is my huge time suck when I could be doing other things, like reading before bed. So, it’s funny to me that people have egos. You have a huge fan base, but stay grounded!!

I had to bring my ego out just a little bit because I had to put someone in their place for stupidity. I try to stay as humble as possible.

You can see Peter Madrigal on Vanderpump Rules, which airs weekly on Monday nights at 9 PM EST on Bravo.

 

 

 

Standard
Psychology, Reality TV, Vanderpump Rules

#PumpRules: Preconceived Notions, Premature Judgements…or Prejudice?

Season 7 of Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules premieres next month and fans have expressed some opinions on one of the cast mates, who is slated to become more of a central character this time around. The show’s first transgender personality, Billie Lee, had minimal, yet significant story-lines during Season 6. She fascinated and inspired viewers with her candor about her courageous journey with a triumphant outcome, albeit one still filled with challenges.

During the off season while the show was not airing (but filming), some drama transpired in the complicated world of social media. Billie Lee claimed to have been excluded from a party thrown by a cast mate, while the others chimed in to say she had been invited. Others contradicted that by saying the party was for a specific set of restaurant workers. Billie used her platform and past experience to communicate that this current conundrum reflected the type of cliqueness and exclusion she had and still experienced as a trans women. Cast mates chimed in on Instagram to say she was overreacting and viewers came to the defense of the somewhat snobbish Vanderpump Rules queen bee Stassi Schroeder, who deemed Billie Lee to be an overreactive drama queen.

A lot of venom was spewed in that vortex known as the “interwebs.” Facebook groups, Twitter pages and Instagram posts began to pop up that were less than pro Billie Lee. They praised her journey and the fact that she was a trans spokeswoman but, without actually seeing the footage from season 7, deemed her to be a diva with personality issues.

Whether Billie Lee was discriminated against or not is something viewers will have to determine individually when the season airs. But one thing that we should all keep in mind is that she has an understandable reason to be extra sensitive. Stassi Schroeder makes for great television and has learned a lot during her time on the show, but she has made the news in the past and rubbed cast mates the wrong way for criticizing aspects of the #MeToo movement. She also impulsively made quips that were the opposite of “woke.” To her credit however, Stassi has acknowledged that she wants to do better. She has admitted to her faults and to the fact that she is constantly learning and evolving. We have come to see her as continually taking two steps forward, then two steps back and then a step forward again.

Given this context and the fact that Billie Lee has been through a trying ordeal – living most of her life feeling she was in the wrong body and having faced backlash and bias – we have extra information to truly consider once the season airs. Maybe fans will understand Billie Lee, and perhaps others will hate her due to her personality…with it having nothing to do with anything other than personality. Still, I think we need to try to abolish the memories of the social media drama between seasons. We (you and me, all of us) should keep in mind that Billie Lee had been through one hell of a ride before she was cast on the show. She didn’t get to the highs without incurring the unimaginable lows.

Before beginning Season 7 on Monday December 3rd (at 9PM), it might be insightful to read more about Billie Lee’s past, the ordeals she has been through, the trials and tribulations she faces daily and generally, what it is like for her to live as a trans woman in 2018: Billie Lee’s Website.

(Pictured: Lisa Vanderpump with Billie Lee, Photo Credit: Bustle.com)

Standard
#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.

Standard
Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHOBH Recap: Runways, Recourse & Regurgitation (Season 8 Finale)

In a season of aspirational living rather than actual events, the tiresomely affluent ladies of Beverly Hills presented us with a finale to regurgitate all the mini “dramas.”

Dorit learned – at her beachwear runway show -that the Beverly Hills Lifestyle feature isn’t coming to fruition. This is recourse for her constant kvetching that the photos stunk. But to learn this news at one’s big event is emblematic of being on high and getting a severe humbling. Add to that Kyle’s attack on Dorit at the same event, Dorit’s Event! as Dorit reminds Kyle. This is the second time Dorit feels slighted in this manner. However, who can blame Kyle for thinking it’s pretty crappy of Dorit to rewrite Herstory by giving Kyle a villainous role in #PantyGate?

On that note, I must say I felt a kinship with Kyle who refuses (consistently — because I noticed it last episode too) to say the grotesque P word. She refers to the garment as underwear. We have something in common. As I suggested, this retired argument should be labeled #GrannyPants at this point (Sigh).

While Dorit has the models prance around looking lovely in her Beverly Beach suits, real people with an actual iota of flesh on bone deem them impractical. This is why Erika remarks from the first row: “These would look great on Lisa Rinna” and under her breath “And only Rinna.”

I’ll pause here to say: Thank God Dorit is on this reality show. Why? Because without RHOBH, Dorit would not have met LVP, a matriarchal figure who perpetually has put Dorit in her place this season. Without LVP, can you imagine how much BIGGER Dorit’s expansive ego would be. There’s still work to be done here…

Now, about LVP’s ego….hmm.

Kyle storms out of the event after feeling that Erika hasn’t backed up her gripes about the “underwear” drama with Dorit. In a testimonial, Teddi remarks that Erika’s silent stoicism is equally irksome to her earlier temperamental outbursts.

Mauricio is seen gabbing with Edwin about implementing a top-notch security system for the new mansion. This was cobbled together by editors who scoured the cutting room floor looking for inconsequential footage they never dreamed would become useful. Fast forward a few months and Kyle and Mauricio’s home is burgled with sentimental items stolen.

Other things that have happened since filming wrapped:

Erika’s book is number 9 on the New York Times bestsellers list even though the Pretty Mess remains pretty buttoned up about her past. That’s the most common review I’ve gotten about the memoir.

Kyle’s American Woman is a show you can watch now, I think. However, if you’re the diehard Clueless fan that I am, you’ll want to preserve memories of Alicia Silverstone in her most iconic days.

Dorit is still truly, madly deeply in love with PK and…of course, vis versa. Neither of them will ever let you forget it. Viewers are wondering if we’d have heard more about Beverly Beach if she’d kept the original name, Navah.

LVP requested that editors sneak in a subliminal message to Pandora in the credits. She’d really like to have some grandchildren. For now, plans to adopt more dogs are on hold…even canines that look like her husband Ken.

Lisa Rinna has been wracking her brain like mad (as we saw during the scene with Jonathan Antin and Lisa’s husband Harry Hamlin), wondering how detrimental her good behavior has been to her future on this franchise.

Teddi has been reassuring Rinna: “Look, Meghan McCain didn’t call YOU boring, you’re good.” Despite that, Teddi was the only accountable, measured voice of reason this season and she’ll be getting another….

Mark my words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHOBH: God Gives Dorit What She Can Handle (& Us? A Lack of Storylines), Ep 815

Are you there, God? It’s me Shira. And no, that wasn’t a dig at YOU my Lord, but addressed to the god/s at NCB Universal who left the most salacious storylines of this season on the cutting room floor. (To give them the benefit of the doubt, let’s go with that.)

The good news about this latest episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, titled “Dames, Dogs and Danke,” is that after we see Porsha Umansky packing while wearing her “The Agency” T, Kyle chiding her for keeping those green Christmas pants with red bulbs sewn in, and Dorit sashaying into a showroom for her beachwear line sporting ANOTHER fanny pack, the ladies change it up and are in Berlin.

One interesting thing before we get to Germany (that blasted country where my luggage got lost once when I went on biz and I can never forgive them. Considering that I’m Jewish, I think I’m being very generous giving that as my reason for disliking the land. Oh yes, I went there!): Dorit makes a comment about how God only gives you what you can handle (a very Jewish expression, by the way) because – get this – she’s soooooooo busy and HOWDOESSHEEVERGETITALLDONE?!!!! This is a familiar refrain to women worldwide, but it seems that Dorit gets it all done with a ton of nannies and other types of help. I also never got the sense that this work on Beverly Beach is full time, but correct me if I’m wrong here.

Realizing she is also filming a reality TV show, there may in fact be an overwhelming load to juggle.  Including PK. He shares an endearing scene with Dorit at the screening of Lisa Vanderpump’s touching film about her work saving Yulin dogs and bringing awareness to that cause. It’s pretty scandalous (all things considered when you assess the current season of RHOBH overall) that Dorit mixes sour gummies in with popcorn! It’s rather preposterous actually. She and PK share some banter over this and we’re supposed to believe that stick skinny Dorit normally pigs out in this manner at the movie theater….Just as Rinna indulged in Erika’s cookies while she and Dorit were visiting and admiring Erika Jayne’s avatar for the Kardashian game.

Also notable: Prior to the tear inducing film screening, Dorit calls LVP while she’s getting her makeup done. Their conversation goes something like this:

Dorit: I’m so sorry about the death of your other dog Pikachu so soon after Pink Dog’s demise.

LVP: Thank you, Dorit, but I really cannot talk about it now or I’ll be too emotional at the event tonight.

Dorit: But it’s just so devastating after the loss of your last dog. It’s so soon. I know you don’t want to talk about it, but it’s just so horrible.

LVP: Thank you Dorit, but I REALLY don’t want to talk about it now.

Dorit: Oh, but it’s so absolutely tragically awful. You must be having such a hard time and you know that the other ladies are going to bring it up tonight. I’m so sorry Lisa for the loss of Pikachu. You just have no idea how sorry I am.

LVP (gritting her teeth): Do you EVER shut up, Dorit? I told you I don’t want to discuss it.

(Rinse and repeat.)

Makeup Artist: Rolls his eyes and smirks

Well, let’s skip ahead to Berlin where an entire hotel staff greets the women including the hotel chain’s PR and Marketing head. They’ve been briefed by production and Bravo that this is a very important show that will give them incredible representation, especially since so many people travel to Berlin (…not the Jews).

Erika is given the Presidential Suite because this is her trip…and well, because she’s Erika Jayne. The ladies are all given luxurious suites but they pale in comparison to the divine queen EJ’s. However, my entire house in New Jersey pales in comparison to these suites so I am one to talk.

Dorit got really sick on the airplane ride over, but when the German doctor visits, he is able to give her the quickest explanation for her baffling ailments and he looks at her as if to say “Stupid American!” She mixed Zithromax with Tamaflu, which one must not mix together….and had a Bloody Mary on top of that, according to LVP.

When the Housewives go out to dinner, sans the resting and recuperating Dorit, Erika is late because she’s discussing “lewks” with Mikey and dons a jacket that could be Chanel but is, no doubt, more expensive. Then she calls the hotel to arrange for a dinner the following night. It will be in her lavish suite with the group. While Dorit and Teddi have been able to put their differences aside and embrace following another apology for the apology for the earlier apology…LVP gets out of hand. First she tells Rinna that she’s been too subdued lately. I interpreted this as a warning from LVP to Rinna: “You’re not bringing enough of your characteristic shit- stirring to remain relevant on this show!” or, as Rinna sees it “You’re not doing my dirty work anymore!” In either case, it’s enough to be perceived as the show matriarch chiding a cast member of lesser standing. Rinna, do NOT fall for it. We are all enjoying you this season! And not that much else….

For me, Rinna has been a breath of fresh comedy this season. She is like an outside observer finally assessing the craziness of these batty ladies on our TV screens and hers.

LVP then gets mad at Kyle for forgetting who her grandmother Nanny Kay is. “How can you not remember Nanny Kay? I mention her all the bloody time!” exclaims LVP as we see a flashback scene of her discussing her gradnmother. “I thought you were referencing a character in a musical,” says Kyle. “No, that’s Mary Poppins!” LVP says exasperatedly. (I am completely paraphrasing this entire conversation obviously.) Kyle is caught completely off guard, but that’s what she gets for not keeping up. With LVP, it is best for everyone else to look at this situation like they are competing on Big Brother. It is essential to commit everything to memory or you’ll be accused of treason and disloyalty.

As Erika notes, the implication from LVP is: What sort of a friend are you who doesn’t LISTEN to me when I’m talking?!

EJ’s expression also says it all, followed by a characteristic eye roll.

Tune in next week for more Berlin.

 

 

 

 

Standard
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHOBH recap: The Punishment Fits the Whine (And That Glass isn’t for THAT Wine!), Ep. 812

This week’s episode of “The Real Filler Scenes of Beverly Hills” was actually titled “Gag gift.” However, I decided to opt for something different above. What I wrote is a tribute to Dorit’s complaints about LVP’s treatment of her. Dorit believes in an excess of everything except moderation, as her tagline states, so it’s unsurprising that she ends up overdoing it in her efforts to get back in LVP’s good graces. But first we begin with Camille Grammer. Yes, again. Camille is not technically a “Housewife” this season because she again has been billed as a “friend of.” However, this is the second episode in a row to start with a scene featuring the formerly “most hated Housewife” and now beloved cast member. She might as well get to hold a diamond next to the other ladies.

We learn that Camille hasn’t been feeling too stellar about her body post cancer. She underwent a hysterectomy, has experienced other physical changes due to the treatment and although she looks enviably terrific, she just isn’t feeling it.

So Lisa Rinna takes Camille to a lingerie boutique and the two prance around in provocative and very uncomfortable looking garments only designed to entice before being tossed across the bedroom. Camille ends up spending over $1300, excited to show the loot to her new beau. These women do not have an ounce of cellulite and nothing jiggles. It’s very disconcerting to say the least, but I truly am happy and teary watching Camille who has not only survived cancer, but seems to have survived (or bypassed) the metabolic struggle that strikes women over the age of 44. She looks beautiful and it feels well-deserved.

We go to the restaurant Fig & Olive where Kyle is meeting up with Erika. Kyle has just gotten some positive press for the show she’s developed, Glass Houses, and Erika compliments her on the achievement. She fills Kyle in on her husband Tom’s condition following his car accident. He’s undergoing Physical Therapy and getting out there to do some legal speaking opportunities. They then segue as they always do so well to a completely unrelated subject, LVP’s upcoming birthday. Should they get her a pet flamingo? She could use something of that ilk for her ever-expanding house-zoo it seems.

And just like that, it’s “’Bubba??’…’Yes, Bubba’” time as we make our way over to La Casa Kemsley. The house may or may not actually belong to the couple. There we see that Dorit and PK have inanely stolen Tom Schwartz (of Vanderpump Rules) and Katie Maloney’s sole term of endearment for one another. And it turns out that while Dorit was away, PK decided to play….with her swimsuit business that is. He decided that the Hebrew name “Navah” was a crap one for the line. So it is now called “Beverly Beach.” There’s actually no such place as Beverly Beach, but in PK’s fantasies it’s their romantic getaway destination and therefore a proper (read the word “proper” in an English accent) name for a swimsuit company. PK has also concluded that the line should be more affordable to all and not so exclusive.

Should we expect to see a “Beverly Beach” line for Target? Well, I’m calling it right now. Keep an eye and ear out for an announcement in a few short months.

This was quite the Joe Gorga maneuver on PK’s part. If you watch Real Housewives of New Jersey, then you know that Joe bought a pizzeria without first consulting Melissa and filling her in on all the details…Including the fact that he wanted her to be working there! Well, in this case PK was just supposed to be a substitute and not entirely change his wife’s business, but now….”Name Change” (as the ole Danielle Staub quote famously goes). Dorit rolls her eyes and this is not the way she wanted it to go, but she is rolling with it (she ended up keeping the name PK chose) and prepping herself mentally for LVP’s birthday party. That quickly becomes the topic of this couple’s conversation. Dorit is trying to figure out how she’ll be able to kiss up to the RHOBH matriarch. LVP hasn’t been entirely pleased with Dorit and she can certainly hold a grudge. We see that from the snarky LVP barbs aimed at Dorit that are up ahead.

At Camille’s house, she is getting ready to host the ladies. Fragrances will be sold to benefit the Foundation for Women’s cancer. While the event begins with the noble cause of raising funds for charity, it quickly devolves into cattiness and minor chaos. Dorit expresses her displeasure with Teddi for relaying the events of arguments to Kyle who then passed the details along to LVP. It’s interesting to see how Dorit is now confiding in and venting to her former nemesis Erika Jayne. The two have forged some type of bond, while Erika certainly sleeps with one eye open these days.

Teddi now has to endure all of Dorit’s excessive harping as Lisa, always on the hunt for pretty young things to protectively take under her wing, sticks up for Teddi. Dorit actually straddles LVP on a couch begging for her undying friendship and professing her love to epic proportions. She needs to make everything right RIGHT NOW and LVP sees how terribly juvenile this is. Does Dorit realize she is not a cast member on Vanderpump Rules? All of Dorit’s asinine antics seem like overkill to LVP. She desperately plots her escape from this party, but still has to see Dorit soon at her birthday celebration.

It is at that event  (planned by “she she she” fat-shaming Kevin Lee) where LVP has some serious shenanigans in store for her younger friend – or should we say “frenemy” now?

While Dorit was able to dish it out all last season to Erika during the insufferably lengthy “Pantygate” debacle, she is unable to take it. First Lisa hands her champagne in an atrocious green cup and we know how particular Dorit is about her drinking glasses, but then Camille hands her a gift from the lingerie shop, a ball gag device of some sort (pardon me for my unfamiliarity. It can be argued that I need to spice it up in my own bedroom).

The gift is a clear dig at Dorit for her “strap on” comment about Camille at an earlier dinner.  Camille makes that known to both Dorit and PK. Erika has a good laugh in her testimonial about how Dorit should really be able to take this entirely as a joke because of what she subjected Erika to last season, even gifting Erika a pair panties (I positively loathe the word “panties,” for the record.)

As LVP is opening all her gifts, it’s clear that Teddi’s furry pink bare back pad for horse riding is the favorite. I was actually quite impressed by how clever this pick was! It’s also clear that Teddi – who Lisa refers to as “Teddi Bear”- is the new favorite. Dorit doesn’t seem too thrilled about this in light of Lisa’s ongoing digs sent her way.  Even PK seems a bit jealous when he says to Teddi: “You’re ‘Teddi Bear’ now but can be ‘Teddi Bitch’ in a nanosecond.” In all fairness, that IS how Housewives works and Teddi’s clever and quick response shows that she knows it too. I do believe PK is acting petty on his wife’s behalf.

The birthday lunch is awkward overall and Dorit decides she has had enough celebrating for one evening. It is high time for her to vamoose.

In the final scene, Lisa enters a photo shoot for her jewelry line that will appear in Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine. She assess the model sprawled on a couch and expresses how impressed she is. That’s when we discover that Dorit’s prior shoot with the same magazine was all for naught. Dorit was not pleased with how her pictures turned out and she made a stink, so the editor decided to put the kibosh on the project.

I couldn’t help but feel a smidgen of sympathy (just that minute amount before you rush to judgement) for Dorit here. I’ve had pictures of myself that I wasn’t pleased with. What do you do if you greatly dislike and feel self-conscious about your own photos? For me, it entailed years of begging my mother to take those childhood photos off the walls of my parents’ home. I hope she didn’t view me as a “diva” the way people regard Dorit. But readers, she did remove those atrocious photos and replaced them with more flattering ones.

 NEXT UP…

It will be interesting to see if LVP warms up to Dorit and goes easier on her in next week’s episode, or if she continues to take jabs and the tension and madness escalates. I heard before this season began airing that Erika and Teddi were not getting along at all and it seems from the previews that we’ll be getting insight into that “story-line” as well. My only hope is that the story-lines are a bit more fine tuned so that they seem authentic and not like filler scenes. The only thing we can do is tune in and see…

…which is how Bravo gets you hooked on vapid reality television!

Standard