Well. Not only did Real Housewives of Beverly Hills get real last night, but something happened that I can’t recall ever happening before on Bravo – the network declined to air something super juicy, probably because they’re in the process of getting sued over whatever it was that Brandi said. I can’t even think of anything else to say in summation of how off-the-rails last night’s episode was, so let’s just get straight to the recap.
We started at Kyle’s house, where the family was having one of the classic problems of having a teenager – kids egging the house – OR SO WE THOUGHT. That Mauricio, so tricky! For the second time this season, he tricked everyone with talk of drama on the front lawn in order to surprise someone with a new car. First, it was a Maserati for Kyle, but this time it was a Mercedes for his newly licensed daughter. This one didn’t have a big red bow on it, but the kid didn’t seem to mind. Time will only tell what kind of mess he creates in order to award their gardner with a Porsche next week.
Our next stop was with Brandi and her book agent, who ate some sushi and kibitzed over Brandi’s book cover and title. Brandi doesn’t want her picture on it and she wants the title to be, “It’s a Breakup, Not Cancer: How I Got F—– Over and Got The F— Over It,” which I actually think is an awesome title. The problem, though, is that you can swear like that in a book’s title, and if the thing doesn’t have Brandi’s picture on it, none of the rabid Housewives fans will know it’s hers and buy it when they wander past it at Target. Listen to your agent, lady. He made Chelsea Handler really rich.
Over at SUR, Lisa was talking about some things that seemed to be priming us for her upcoming SUR-centric spinoff. A young, half-drunk waitress had offended an important client at a party the night before, which meant it was time for the sort of dramatic sit-down that Vanderpump Rules will probably be full of. Lisa didn’t fire her, even though she would have been justified – telling a guest that the party sucks really isn’t something you can do in the service industry, even if you’re young and pretty, and the server didn’t seem to have any concept of the fact that she had actually done something quite wrong. But still, we’re trying to gin up the image of Lisa as a den-mother here, so she merely sent her off for the night’s dinner service, not for good.
In further server drama, Brandi called Lisa to make sure that Scheana (not a misspelling) wouldn’t be working for that night’s tasting festivities. If you’ll remember, she was among Brandi’s ex-husband’s many mistresses, and they ran into each other while Scheana was passing a tray of drinks last season. Of course Lisa’s not dumb enough to schedule her, but mostly it was interesting to see some more of Brandi’s house during the phone call. In particular, we saw her bedroom, which was small and full of regular person stuff and not at all looking like it’s been attended to daily by a maid like everyone else’s homes. Brandi: she’s just like us!
Once people started arriving for the party, Kim and Brandi made a funny phone call to Kyle about how they were looking for her, and she was late, and they were just so worried. For some reason, Kim’s self-awareness and humor in that moment made me feel really happy, to the point where if I had been in the room, I probably would have hugged her. Compared to last season, she’s made such a huge turnaround, and Housewives so rarely become better, more functional people as the series wears on.
Once everyone arrived, the group sat down to try SUR’s appetizers, and naturally, that’s when the drama started to come out. First Kim talked a little bit about rehab and how it is to be out (some people in her life still “challenge” her, and they may or may not have been sitting across the table from her), but then conversation turned to Brandi and her issues with Adrienne. From how the scene was cut, it seemed as though producers wanted to emphasize that she went on and on in her griping, some of which we’ve heard before – namely that Adrienne and Paul tried to flip Brandi to their side during their conflict with Lisa and that they pressured her to tweet certain things that would help their public cause. Side note: I really hate when Housewives cast members argue about tweets, whether it’s in a regular episode or during the reunion. It’s tedious, and it will never not be tedious.
The thing about Brandi, though, is that if you let her talk long enough, she’ll talk her foot into her mouth. Or at least that’s what it seemed like she did while airing her grievances about Adrienne in the presence of Lisa, Kim, Kyle and Taylor. The scene was extremely carefully edited to show the run-up to the comment and the reactions from the group (mostly of the “aghast” variety), but not what Brandi actually said. It was intimated that it concerned Adrienne and Paul’s family, so in the moment, I assumed it was either some of the stuff that’s already come out in their divorce (abuse allegations, the split itself, whatever else) or rumored financial issues.
In stark contrast, we then cut to Adrienne and Paul having a cutesy family day at home. Paul was clumsily shredding salad and putting meat on the grill, Adrienne was teasing him about his lack of culinary prowess and his back hair. See, they’re fine, everybody! Nothing to see there! Nothing at all! At least until we get to the point in the season where things hit the fan and everyone starts accusing everyone else of beating the kids and each other and god knows what else. Tabloid accusations were thrown and then retracted or cleared so many times that I’m not even sure what the score is anymore. We certainly didn’t find out last night.
At that point, the second party of the episode beckoned. Mauricio had just opened a new real estate brokerage, and he was having the gang over to view one of the properties and swill some cocktails and maybe sell a condo to Camille. She was polite but hesitant, mostly because I think she won enough houses in the divorce to keep her entertained for the moment.
While that was going on, Lisa was at the hospital, attending to Ken while he was getting ready to go in for hip replacement surgery. It was the result of an old polo injury, which is perhaps the most Lisa-and-Ken reason to have surgery ever, and Lisa and Ken were having very divergent reactions to the impending operation. Ken didn’t care, Lisa continued to mother everyone, the sky was blue. I can’t blame Lisa for her concern, though – a hip replacement certainly sounds serious. Everything went fine, though, because of course it did.
Back at the party, more people were arriving, and Brandi was expressing naive confidence that no one had tattled to Adrienne about what she said. Little did she know, Kim was tattling as she spoke. Once again, we didn’t get to hear what the whole bombshell was, but we did see the fallout – Adrienne and Paul decided to leave, but not before Paul started yelling about what a bitch Brandi was and what he wanted to do to her so that the whole party could hear. Adrienne, at one time or another, had alleged abuse in their divorce proceedings, and I couldn’t wrap my head around how Paul could be an abuser – he always seemed so goofy and gentle before. In that moment, it all seemed plausible. I’m not sure what the status of those allegations currently is (like I said, I’ve lost count), but they were the first thing that came to mind when Paul started flying off the handle. Even Taylor admitted that that sort of behavior in a man makes her super nervous.
The whole thing quickly dissolved into profanities and shrieks of, “YOU LIE,” “NO, YOU LIE,” which gave me some time to think about what everyone’s reactions told us about the veracity of whatever claims were made and why exactly Bravo wouldn’t broadcast them. Let’s answer the second question first – for Bravo not to air something that is so clearly juicy and headline-worthy, Adrienne would have to have threatened them with an enormous lawsuit. Bravo has no conscience, so it has to be a legal issue that’s stopping them. That, or they want to draw us out and tell us what it was two episodes from now. Also a decent possibility.
If it’s a potential lawsuit, though, then Bravo has to believe that Adrienne and Paul would have some sort of actionable defamation claim if they broadcasted Brandi’s claims, which means that it’s likely something that’s not already widely speculated about, and it may very well be false. In order for a defamation claim to stick, there has to be some sort of negligence toward the truth, and that negligence needs to be even greater when the defamation involves a public figure like a reality show cast member.
For the network to keep what Brandi said quiet despite the fact that it’s the center of a major storyline could mean a few things. It could indicate real concern on the network’s part that whatever Brandi said is actually defamatory and actionable. It could mean that the accusation will be revealed later, at which point we’ll realize this was all a ploy to keep us watching. Or, it could indicate that there’s ongoing litigation over what was said; if that were the case, Bravo’s lawyers would probably stop the network from airing the statements, even if they believe the suit to be frivolous. I’ve seen some chatter that it’s the third option, but nothing totally solid.
And then, of course, there were Brandi’s, Adrienne’s and Paul’s reactions to the allegations becoming public, which (at least to me) seemed to indicate that Brandi was dropping truth bombs, however inappropriate or poorly planned. Brandi stayed relatively (emphasis on “relatively”) calm while Adrienne and Paul yelled at her, even when Paul, a grown man, got in her face. On the other hand, Adrienne and Paul completely panicked from the moment Kim told them what had been said. That’s not generally the reaction you expect from people who’ve just found out that someone is telling ridiculous, easily disproven lies about them; it was much more in line with how people act when something had become public knowledge that they had been desperately trying to keep hidden. Even in the next week’s previews, Brandi looks calm and sure of her position and Adrienne looks like she’s about to come unraveled. My gut instinct is that Brandi has truth on her side, even if she doesn’t have propriety there to keep it company.
I still like Brandi quite a bit, but of course, I also think airing Adrienne’s dirty laundry (rumored to be related to the birth of her kids) was in poor taste and totally unnecessary. Adrienne’s been doing a fine job making an ass out of herself for the past few episodes, and Brandi would have been much better served by sitting back in the cut and letting her implode on her own. On top of that, Brandi’s mean-girl attempt wasn’t very well planned; if you’re going to spread rumors, you have to do it in such a way that they’re not so obviously traceable back to you. And definitely don’t do it at a dinner party where a camera crew and a bunch of your enemy’s friends are listening in.