Reality Bites: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

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Posh Spice Fan Club - California Chapter.
​There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch all of them, one at a time. This particular episode was called "A Book, a Bachelorette and a Breakdown."

"But reality, what does it mean?" -- Curtis Mayfield

It's a given at this point to say a TV program billed as a "reality show" is anything but. Only slightly less scripted than episodic television, with the principal personae steered and/or manipulated into situations engineered to bring about the highest likelihood of conflict, the only reality in any of these shows comes from the fleeting expressions of horrified bystanders inadvertently caught in the camera eye as the carnage unfolds before them.

It therefore follows that any show billing itself as "Real" anything is, as Orwell might say, "doubleplusungood." So when I encountered something called The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I knew I'd stumbled upon the veritable Higgs boson of reality programming: a fake show about fake human beings in the most artificial region in the known universe.

True story: I almost published this with the title "Real Housewives of Beaverly Hills." Naughty!

After an incoherent pre-credits sequence in which I determined one fembot from Westworld was attempting to violently reconcile its defective mating protocol with another automaton, we were introduced to the major players:

Lisa Vanderpump (no relation) -- British; owns two (American) restaurants; allows husband three conjugal visits a year.

Kyle Richards -- Former child actress; aunt to Paris and Nicky Hilton, which would seem to be punishment enough without having to appear on a freaking reality show.

Kim Richards -- Older sister of Kyle...like, much older; main claim to fame (as far as I'm concerned) is starring opposite James Spader in Tuff Turf, which is actually fucking awesome.

Taylor Armstrong -- Plastic surgery disaster that's earned a modicum of sympathy because her husband, who allegedly beat her, killed himself. That's good ratings.

Adrienne Maloof -- Sorry, did I say Taylor Armstrong's face was a disaster? Jesus Jones, Maloof looks like Amy from Fright Night if she'd grown old in vampire form.

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Maloof in her younger days.

Camille Grammer -- The woman who drove Frasier Crane nuts. She'll be a formidable one.

Just so we're clear, these women are "housewives" in the same sense my occasional changing of a lightbulb makes me a master electrician. They live in houses, and they're (most of them, anyway) married. So technically they qualify.

Onward. Taylor, she of the dead husband, tells Kyle of her drunken rage the other night. Kyle, bosom swelling, sympathizes with Taylor. For her part, Taylor discusses her impending 40th birthday and I'm immediately yanked out of the proceedings. 40? She could qualify for senior citizens' movie ticket discounts. But don't listen to me, kids: Plastic surgery is a valid and proven means of booting self-esteem.

Anyway, Kyle wants Taylor to join her and daughter Pandora (gods) in Vegas for Pandora's bachelorette party. This is the same person who just confessed she was so drunk at the party she doesn't remember anything about her fight with...that other wizened husk. Nothing bad ever comes of getting blackout drunk in Vegas.

Then on to Camille, reminiscing about the freaky party referenced in the flashbacks (Taylor went ballistic on Camille about her suffering, augmented in no small measure by her heroic alcohol intake). It appears there are two excursions heading separately to Vegas: Taylor, Adrienne et al to the Palms, and Lisa's daughter's (Pandora) bachelorette party.

Oh hilarious, Adrienne is married to a plastic surgeon, and they're appearing on a talk show (The Doctors) to talk about diet as the key to a healthy lifestyle. No mention is made of liposuction or butt implants.

I feel like Milhouse watching the Poochie episode of The Simpsons: When are they getting to the fireworks factory Las Vegas?!


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