Last night when fortifying myself for the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion, I realized it had a lot in common with that other great reality show of this year: the Republican Debates. Yes, there will be a million of them, everyone in attendance is ridiculous, nothing will get decided, and there will be a lot of yelling across the room.
It's impossible to recap these reunions anyway because nothing actually happens. It's just a bunch of accusations across couches with Andy Cohen trying to keep his wonky eye in check as his head pivots back and forth like a drowsy dowager at a tennis match. There's nothing to really say about that, nothing at all. So, instead, I'm going to treat this just like I would a Republican debate, where there are clear winners and losers based on their arguments, stance on issues, and the likelihood that I would actually vote for one of them. Here is my ranking of the candidates based on their performance last night.
1. Camille Grammer: Camille was really the Mitt Romney of the bunch. She did what she did all season: she looked amazing, stayed above the fray, but weighed in and made her opinion known when it counted. She told Lisa she thought her jab about "Maloof's hoofs" was mean, she told Lisa she also heard the rumor about her selling stories to RadarOnline, and she stood up to Taylor when she tried to whitewash over what happened with Russell, but still maintained her sympathy. An excellent showing by St. Camille. She came off as the sane one who you would actually be friends with. A total 180 from last season.
2. Lisa Vanderpump: At the beginning of the season, it looked like Lisa was going to get the "bitch edit," but that never really materialized. It came out in full force last night when Kyle, Adrienne, and Taylor all piled up on Lisa. Camille corrected her a few times, but her remarks were so slight and honest that they seemed more like Camille expressing her point of view rather than a calculated attack. What the women don't understand is that the public just loves loves loves Lisa, and when you come after her, especially for such petty reasons, they're the ones who look like assholes. Kyle's whole argument about Lisa being manipulative and her being scared if Lisa is angry with her seems without merit. Everything Adrienne said made it seem like she can't take a joke. First of all she brought up the dumbest fight on the history of the Housewives franchise (and that is saying something) about Pandora having her bachelorette at a competing Vegas hotel. Then she showed that she couldn't take a joke by bringing up the Maloof hoof crack about her shoe line. It was a fucking joke, Adrienne. God. People normally love you, but you need to unclench. There were more accusations, but we're going to get to those later. Lisa handled herself immaculately. She answered every charge and believably deflected each accusation. She stuck to her issues and showed the class and tact that she's known for. She also expressed outrage where it was demanded. There's something to be said for grace under pressure.
3. Taylor Armstrong: Yes, she seemed incredibly rehearsed and she was in the toughest position of all the Housewives going in, but Taylor handled herself with aplomb. My favorite moment was when Lisa was talking about an abusive text that Russell sent her and she stopped herself from describing what it said. Taylor said, "It's OK, it's all out now." She has nothing to hide and she's giving everyone permission to dole out the details. She did the smart thing and let Lisa get into the nitty gritty. She talked about the difficulty of being in an abusive relationship, but never got into the dirty details which, considering she still has to mother the man's child, is sort of commendable. She also let Adrienne say that the show saved her live, without having to say it herself. It's like she addressed the situation at hand, but let the other ladies say all the outrageous things, to keep the spotlight off her. Not the best strategy, but an effective one.
4. Kyle Richards: Kyle kind of kept her mouth shut which, as we learned from Levi Johnston, is sometimes the smartest thing you can do. When she did open it, though, it was to passive aggressively say that Lisa is so smart that she's scary, which wasn't really a backhanded compliment as much as it was an underhanded insult. And who is afraid of Lisa Vanderpump? That's just silly. Kyle is going to need to speak up more if she wants to really engage the audience at home.
5. Brandi Glanville: She's ranked down low mostly because she only showed up at the very very end of the debate. The lack of airtime was deadly. Brandi, however, is there to fight. Like Michele Bachmann she is crazy, has her boxing gloves on, and will shriek her head off until people listen to her. She also has great hair. Look for her to really come out sharpening her knives in the next debate.
6. Adrienne Maloof: Adrienne is already the Queen of the Maloofs, a strange race of people that live under a mountain, so she doesn't need to run for anything. That's the only way I can account for all the errors she made last night—she's just not used to campaigning. First of all, that purple dress! It was really made for standing up, and with that one sleeve, she just looked like a limp ombré sail, waiting for some wind to fill her up. She was blowing plenty of hot air herself. First there was the drama with the Maloof hoof, then she was talking about how Real Housewives saved Taylor's life (come on, that may be true, but you sound like such an idiot for saying a reality show saved her life when it very well might have ended her late husband's life). Then she was defending her cook Bernie over the silly things he said about Lisa and then, well, there was all of that stupid RadarOnline nonsense with Lisa. See the clip above.
Adrienne made the worst Housewives Reunion mistake of them all: she brought up some other shit. The thing that Housewives don't understand is that people only watch the show, and that is all we want to hear you talk about. We don't want you to bring up some stupid joke Lisa made about your dog on Twitter (again, it was a joke) because only 14-year-old girls argue about things that were said on Twitter. Then she tried to allude to Lisa selling a story and smiled smugly like she caught her in some trap. Adrienne, we do not care a lick about Lisa and RadarOnline. There are plenty of people watching who don't even know what the hell that is or what story Lisa might have sold. Also, if the reporter from Radar is telling you that Lisa sells stories, why do you believe him? You take his word (and Bernie's) over the word of a woman who is supposed to be your friend? That's just cold.
If you have an accusation to make against Lisa, just make it. Don't be all coy. You're on television. If you're not going to state your case with specifics, then don't talk about it in front of a national audience. Don't bring up shit that happened off the show. We don't care about it, and we don't want to hear about it. Also, Lisa defended herself too well and when she said that she was offended, Adrienne should have been more sincere in her apology. Adrienne lost major points last night.
7. Kim Richards: Kim wasn't at the reunion last night. No, our little Blanched DuBois was relying on the kindness of strangers somewhere at a rehab facility while her sister Stella defended her honor on national television. She sat there in her room and she know what date it was. She knew what it meant. She knew where she was supposed to be. There had been a few frantic phone calls—with Kyle, with producers, with Andy himself—and they all said they wanted her to be better, but she knew where they wanted her. She knew they wanted her on set, her dress selected, her hair done, her face crystallized with makeup, a hard candy shell that would rupture with tears the first time she saw her face on television. She wasn't strong enough. She couldn't do it alone and face all the footage, face all the gags they would pull on her and the highlight reels.
She almost wanted to go, just to see what they did. Who knows if they would still do it without her. They probably were, she thought, as she lay in the room, the light simmering through the blinds and the blanket pulled up over her head. She just sighed over and over again, nervous about going, nervous about not going, just panicked and afraid, but not knowing what to do. Then Jillian from group knocked on her door. "Hey Kim. I think they're getting lunch ready. Kim?......Kim? Are you OK?" "Not really," she croaked, not even pulling down the covers.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"I don't think you'll understand."
"Kim, we've all been through it. We can all help. You don't even know the shit I went through."
"Well, I'm supposed to be at this reunion."
"Like a family reunion?"
"No, for my TV show. I know they're going to talk about me, and I'm not there, and I don't know what they're going to say. My sister is going to be there, and we're still in a fight and they're going to show all the footage of me picking trash out of the back of limos and lying about being late and rolling around on the floor of the bathroom and carting around this rock that I thought was my boyfriend, and I can't go. But I can't not go. I can't do anything. I'm totally worthless."
"Yeah, that's uh...I don't know what to say to that. But you can't let it beat you, Kim. You have more power than that. You did those things, and now you're going to have to answer for them, right? There's no more hiding."
"Does that mean I should go?"
"Well, what do you think you should do?"
Kim felt her breath beating against the blanket and back against her face. Her head was feeling warm and pained, like she had been under there too long, inhaling her own fumes, stewing in her own misery. "I don't know," she said so loudly it startled Jillian. "I don't know."