PurseBloggers, Bravo producers would probably tell you that last night’s episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was about family, if you were to ask them. Which you wouldn’t, because Bravo producers aren’t actually human. They’re sorta like the smoke monster from Lost, and we’ll forever be on their island.
Anyway, that was a digression. Last night’s episode wasn’t about family, it was about competition, and don’t you forget it. Taylor had a giant birthday party “for her daughter” that her daughter actually seemed to hate, while Kyle had a birthday party that included a llama (or was it an alpaca?) and a bounce house and parents who weren’t allowed to get drunk to forget about their annoying kids. Who do you think won?
We began the episode with Taylor, whose daughter Kennedy was about to turn four. Because Taylor couldn’t think of anything else to spend her money on that day, she decided it would be a spectacular idea to buy her kid a piece of Barbie-themed diamond jewelry to present to her at her birthday party. She felt that it would be timeless. Really, she used that word. Without the slightest shred of irony. Taylor clearly doesn’t do irony.
Far be it from me to tell someone she can’t buy her kid something special, but I can barely think of a better way to waste money than to buy silly doll-themed diamond jewelry for a preschooler. Taylor might as well wipe her butt with $50 bills. And she might, who knows? Regardless, someone needs to point her in the direction of a Cartier boutique, because if you’re going to buy a kid jewelry, at least buy her jewelry that will still make sense when she’s old enough to enjoy it.
Over at Lisa’s house, her kids had come home to visit and Lisa did the stereotypical mom thing and casually pressured them to get married and have grandkids for her while fixing dinner. She actually appeared to be cooking for her kids herself, and she insisted that she loves to do that. I’m not sure, but I sort of believe Lisa. When they sat down to eat, her 18-year-old son Max was the only child not present. He’s adopted and seems to be a bit of a black sheep in their high-achieving family, so they had sent him to complete his last year of high school in Iowa with his godparents to remove him from the potentially negative Hollywood environment. Lisa said that he was skipping class and smoking pot, which seems like a fairly innocuous thing to do as a teenager, but it clearly made her very, very nervous.
At Adrienne’s house, the focus was also on her family. She has three small kids and her only help is a part-time nanny, a housekeeper and a chef, which is kind of impressive, considering that she works and and so does her husband and they’re almost offensively wealthy. She could hire an army of nannies, if she saw fit. By contrast, Camille has four nannies for two kids, plus a house manager and dog walker and eyebrow plucker and hand washer and whoever else. And she doesn’t work, I don’t care what she says about being involved in Kelsey’s company. She complained in one of her interviews that she always seems to have 30% more to do than any of the other housewives, and it finally occurred to me that Camille is That Girl.
Don’t we all have that friend who, no matter how much we have our your plates, she just has to have more on hers? If your shoes pinch your feet, hers are actually making her bleed. If you have to stay late at work, she’s already had a 14 hour day. If you oversleep your alarm, she was actually confined to her house all day by a marauding pack of flesh-eating zombies. Coincidentally, these are also the women most likely to complain about just how competitive all their girlfriends are. That’s Camille.
Speaking of Camille, she was headed to Hawaii with her two kids, two nannies, her house manager and a girlfriend of hers, who was to be the only person with whom Camille interacted for the duration of the vacation. In order to plan the trip, Camille sat down with her house manager to discuss preparations, which included a discussion of which hot tubs would be heated and which she would leave…fallow. Is there a word for that? A non-heated hot tub? A cold tub? A very small pool? Wait, the pool is heated too. Scratch that. I’m clearly not qualified to be this rich.
Back at Taylor’s house, she had decided on a theme for her daughter’s birthday party – a Mad Hatter tea. That’s actually a pretty cute theme for a little girl, but don’t get it twisted, this party wasn’t actually for the kids. Taylor had reserved the Houdini estate for the event, and she was going to invite 25 of her daughter’s closest friends. And 35 adults. And maybe they’d all get little Barbie necklaces as favors! For the catering, a standard high tea service would be served. Because kids just love scones. And champagne. And chandeliers. Right? Those are such kid-centric things. I know that when I was four, I loved nothing more than a nice scone.
In Kyle’s neck of the woods, a competing party was being planned for her little daughter. Instead of petit fours and hot tea, Kyle was going to feed the kids onion rings and hot dogs and the parents wouldn’t be allowed to get drunk. They’d actually have to hang out with their kids! And! AND! A bounce house! And a train! Kyle said she thinks that Beverly Hills birthday parties for kids have gotten out of control, and the producers did a masterful job of splicing footage of her party in with scenes from Taylor’s to demonstrate just how different the two were. They may have both been expensive (Kyle’s rung up at $12,000, Taylors was more like $55,000), but only one of them was actually a child’s birthday party.
Off in her “spiritual refuge,” Camille was making that annoying tilted-head smirky face that she makes whenever she talks about one of her many, many homes. As far as I can tell from the footage of her “family” vacation, she spent a lot of time ignoring her kids and talking about how “empowering” her two months away from Kelsey has been. She also complained that she has lost her sense of self in her marriage, which would normally be a point of sympathy, wouldn’t it? But not with this woman. Camille, honey, listen. Perhaps you’d have more of a sense of self if you’d stop talking about your husband every time you have half an opportunity. Don’t even get me started on the hottub time with that creepy, fat old man who kept telling Camille she was hot. Perhaps it’s for the best that her kids don’t spend much time around her.
In Beverly Hills, actual sympathetic things were going on. Lisa’s kids had managed to secretly fly in her son Max to visit, and she got teary and excited and motherly when he popped up at a restaurant for dinner. He wants to be a musician, she’s not so sure that it’s a good idea although she wants to be supportive. He brought with him an electric guitar that he had made by hand, and although I’m not sure exactly why he brought it, making something like that is clearly quite an accomplishment.
Later, Lisa took a tour of her son’s prospective music school with her family in Los Angeles. She grilled the tour guide about the school’s policies on drugs, housing and security and generally acted like any normal mom would act when trying to screen a future school for her child. Her son, for his part, was wearing a Joy Division shirt that appealed to the angsty 17-year-old still living inside of me and did a little extemporaneous guitar playing that sounded pretty promising. I would watch a show with just Lisa’s family, given the opportunity. (Please Bravo, give me the opportunity.) Forget all the other housewives.
And that brings us to Kim, whom I had actually forgotten. Since we last spoke about her, she had found a new house for her family and moved in, and none of them could figure out how to use the oven. And…that was it. Which is good, because that’s precisely how much Kim I want in my Beverly Hills episodes.
At the house of her far more interesting sister, it was time for the big part, which also meant it was time for the even bigger party at Taylor’s house. Instead of fielding deliveries and making her kids PB&J sandwiches like Kyle, Taylor had her best gay over to make sure she was perfectly primped straighten her silly hat before she had to appear in front of her photographer. Taylor’s daughter, to her credit, did not seem at all interested by the entire party setup, which seemed to include lots of ultrabreakable patterned china and crystal, presumably for the adults. Where were the kids going to sit? They weren’t going to use goblets, were they? Those questions were never entirely answered.
While Taylor took more pictures with her friends and the caterers and whoever else happened to wander by to help her get up onto the table, the nanny took her not-at-all-interested child over to some sort of side-yard to play on a swing and generally ignore the whole five-figure foofaraw. As if the first scene of the episode wasn’t enough to convince you that Taylor’s party is actually for Taylor, her little photoshoot should probably have erased any doubt. I know her husband is a dick and whatever, but if you’re going to be on TV, it’s always nice if you’re self-aware enough to not act out your marital frustrations for the cameras under the guise of your daughter’s birthday.
At Kyle’s party, on the other hand, they had something that kids actually like – a petting zoo! It had little piggies and an alpaca and ducklings and hopefully some baby goats, because baby goats are adorable, trust me. Lisa and Adrienne both agreed that Taylor’s party was probably more for Taylor than her kid, and Lisa would know since she actually attended them both. It appeared as though no one was asked to show up at Kyle’s house in any kind of elaborate outfit and the photographer was actually taking pictures of the kids with their parents instead of documenting the hostess’s every move. Mauricio sang “Happy Birthday” in Spanish, two women dressed as princesses brought out the cake, it was all very sane.
Back at Taylor’s house, a live band played the party’s theme song (yes, you read that correctly) instead of “Happy Birthday” and Kennedy looked like she was going to cry, as she did for most of the event. Taylor seemed surprised that Russell bothered to attend the party at all. He did come, though, and he brought a present. Which was good, since the kid didn’t care about the diamond Barbie necklace from earlier in the episode even a tiny bit. Four-year-olds don’t understand diamonds. Big surprise.
Kennedy seemed far more interested in the present from dad, which was a PUPPY. A tiny, white, fluffy little thing that Taylor had told Russell not to buy. I’m not really sure why Taylor wouldn’t have the time to watch after a dog, since she had time to plan an ultra elaborate theme party for a four year old, but Russell probably shouldn’t have bought it anyway. Although at least his gift seemed based on what his daughter might actually enjoy, unlike Taylor’s.
I know that Taylor’s birthday party was designed to give me righteous middle-class rage, and it did for a little bit, but the feeling didn’t last. When you combine this information about Taylor with the little fit that we saw from her husband last week, I kind of feel bad for her. Sure, she has a lot of money, but other than her daughter, that seems like perhaps all she has. In that context, it’s not so surprising that most of the party was designed to try to make her happy while simultaneously providing her daughter with the required birthday celebration. Other than planning the party, what else have we seen Taylor do that might fulfill her? She had face injections and a meeting with her stylist. That’s it.
Or maybe she’s just obnoxiously wealthy and self-involved. I don’t know, I’m kind of 50/50 on the issue. Make your case either way in the comments!