This season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was basically sponsored by the tragic chronicles of Erika Jayne. From the embezzlement allegations against her (estranged) husband Tom Girardi to the scrutiny of her suspiciously well-timed divorce filing and everything in between (rolling cars, snowstorms, cheating, emergency surgeries, burglaries) there was no shortage of content to cover. In the words of Scheana Shay, it most literally was all happening to the untouchable ice queen Erika Jayne.
But a scandal can’t stand on its own. As Meghan King so graciously set the precedent with CancerGate, and the Potomac ladies exercised with Michael Darby, you truly need someone to both recognize the potential of a Bravo God-gifted scenario, and to take a firm stance and ask the hard questions. And in this season of RHOBH, both Lisa Rinna and Sutton Stracke understood the assignment.
Erika may have brought the tangential legal woes, surprise details about her and Tom’s pretty mess-y marriage, and more, but Rinna and Sutton were the vehicles who made that content a conversation about the cast’s stance on the matter(s), rather than a full-blown Erika pity party.
Hear me out.
If it were up to Kyle or Dorit (sans PK), the season most definitely would have steadily chugged along. Shocking news about Erika would drop and they would run to comfort her. They’d patiently listen to her confusing explanations, partially because they didn’t want to cause waves and partially because they couldn’t be bothered to read a 4,000 word article in the LA Times.
Which sure, would still be semi-interesting, because we’d see Erika’s response to the news in real time, and may have even gotten a shady comment or two from Dorit during a confessional. But overall, it’s safe to assume that even though the cast may have *gently* alluded to their suspicions behind closed doors, they likely would have never confronted Erika IRL.
But what we got this season was so much more entertaining than the above. Sutton gave us ruthless investigative journalism, while Rinna presented us an unwavering, court-worthy defense of Erika. Despite their differing positions on the matter—actually, because of their differing positions on the matter—Sutton and Rinna’s strong opinions shifted the storyline beats away from just a regurgitation of the headlines, and made it about the cast’s dynamic in relation to how they felt about snow in Pasadena and rolling cars.
And that’s what makes a strong Housewife and memorable season. The glamorous houses and cute family moments are nice additions, but the real tea is hearing the ladies voice their stance on matters that the viewers and Bravo fandom sure as hell are tweeting about and taking sides on.
Because Rinna and Sutton took the risk of sharing their perspectives, it paved the way for the others, including an initially timid Kyle and fence-sitting Dorit, to throw shade at Erika’s ever-changing stories, discuss what Erika knew/didn’t know, and even speculate about whether Tom was of sound mind.
And because Sutton was on one end of the spectrum, Rinna’s 180-degree POV complimented the stance by showing another side. Even though Rinna is generally getting heat for her actions this season (and last…), we can’t forget that her over-the-top opinions and pot stirring nature are why she’s a good housewife—she’s an exaggerated character with strong opinions, and that gives the viewers something to talk about and the cast something to fight about. Without someone like Rinna (or Sutton) initiating conflict, we’d be watching a season where everyone’s hunky dory… yawn.
And bless Rinna for giving us a B-storyline between Garcelle and herself (ICYMI: Garcelle questioned why Rinna didn’t take that same gumption to defend Denise Richards the season before as she did with Erika). Rinna’s stance—which yes, is not the side most Bravo fans agree with taking—gave Erika a
partner in crime blindly loyal friend, reminiscent of vintage Kyle & LVP.
Rinna and Sutton aside, the closest we got to confrontation was Garcelle saying “that’s not what you said the other night” to Dorit, after Dorit said to Erika that she didn’t want to pry into the legal situation. I hardly can imagine Garcelle stepping up to initiate that dialogue without Sutton, just given Garcelle’s later commentary on how she felt she didn’t fit in. And need I remind you, SUTTON was the one who called the everyone-but-Erika is-my-reputation-affected meeting at Dorit’s house, that so nicely gave Garcelle a Dorit soundbite to reference.
So TYSM, Sutton and Rinna. Even though Erika brought the headlines, you arguably made this the best season of RHOBH since PantyGate.
There’s nothing more painful than watching a Real Housewives trailer or mid-season teaser and realizing it’s packed with groan-inducing storylines. You know the ones—the vow renewals, drinking interventions that are totally cringy, straight-up boring, and so overdone that they’re more tired than me after attempting to run a mile.
So here are some scenes where I wish someone yelled “Bravo, Bravo, f***ing Bravo!”, so that production would have trashed the footage rather than making us suffer through it. These are the Bravo storylines that need to stop.
Their Kid’s Driving Test
Four words, 17 letters: Where’s the value add?
There’s no reasonable explanation for why precious on-air time is used on a storyline that advances zero actual plot. If you really want to announce that your kid is practicing for their driving test, that can be done via a single tweet or Instagram story (that’s right, it doesn’t even deserve a static post).
And besides, watching a 16-year-old learn to drive triggers the trauma I developed from taking my own test, while simultaneously making me jealous AF that they’re learning using their own Mercedes, and not a passed-down 2004 Honda.
What makes it even more boring is that the story is always the same, no matter the franchise and no matter the season. The Housewife/Househusband is nervous for the kid to drive, the kid does something “cute” like hit the curb, the kid takes their test. End of story.
And I’m not against seeing the kids on screen, but in order for me to care, it needs to be something ridiculous, like Luann and Ramona planning Victoria and Avery’s over-the-top sweet sixteens (I’m reminiscing about vintage RHONY, sue me).
A vow renewal is a glorified “look at me!” party that’s undeservingly given a multi-episode buildup. Like seriously, despite how much party planning they do, it somehow always ends up looking like a cookie-cutter ceremony inspired by a 2013 Pinterest board.
So, Housewives, stop trying to make vow renewals work. Viewer entertainment (or lack thereof) aside, renewing vows during a season has a success rate of about 3% (my math sucks, but according to my calculations, it’s only worked for Whitney Rose… so far).
And I get that the Housewives are trying to be respectful to the institution of love during the ceremonies… blah, blah, blah… BUT, I’d prefer a boozy party where the ladies feel open and free to be dramatic (versus at a buttoned-up ceremony). Think more Kyle’s White Party or Heather Dubrow’s Hoedown, and less Vicki/Don re-tie the knot.
The Cast Doing Outdoor Athletic Activities
A good Housewives scene either: is dramatic AF, includes new info, advances the plot, and/or shows the ladies doing something aspirational.
Watching them do outdoor activities like bocce or an adventure course is none of the above. Let’s be honest, if I wanted to watch someone zipline or hula hoop, I’d start viewing my friends’ Instagram stories.
And I get that these outdoor activities are usually filler footage. But honey, there’s so many other options that would be so much more fascinating to watch… like the ladies shopping with the dollar amount spent flashing on the screen, or even ordering at a restaurant. That’s right, I want to sit in my thrift store college hoodie and judge how XXpen$ive it is to be them.
The only exception to this is if it’s RHONY. Because let’s face it, no matter what they’re doing, Sonja and Luann find a way to flirt with the hot instructor—and as a single gal, that’s something I take notes on as I watch.
Finding Long-Lost Family
I’m not saying cast members shouldn’t find their long lost family, I’m just saying I don’t want to see it on my screen. Not only is it an extremely isolating storyline because it pulls the cast member away from the group, it’s also overdone and never really results in anything positive.
It’s the classic “expectation vs. reality” meme. Producers expect that this will pull on viewers’ heartstrings, but what really happens is that we end up watching boring one-on-one convos between the cast member and whatever family member/detective/family-finding-specialist they’re consulting for episodes on end.
And I hate to make this comparison, but it’s like RHONY this season. You tell yourself to keep watching because maybe something good will happen this episode! but you’re disappointed every time. Mainly because it leads to a dead end (Melissa Gorga and her “sister”) or a situation where the long-lost family member clearly doesn’t want to be found (Ashley Darby and her dad).
All which begs the point: what’s the purpose of this?
The only thing more uncomfortable than accidentally watching an episode of Sex/Life with your parents is a Housewives drinking intervention.
There’s something undeniably depressing and hypocritical about a group of drunk women confronting another drunk woman about how much she’s drinking, and speculating that she may have an issue (while being one sip away from slurring their words as they do so).
Besides being extremely cringey, it usually results in the group inevitably feeding fuel to the tabloids to speculate about that person’s drinking/substance abuse habits, which is so not fair, especially if the cast member has kids and businesses that’ll be affected by the rumors.
What happened to the days of lighthearted (but juicy!!) storylines like Adrienne Maloof’s chef Bernie versus Lisa Vanderpump? Bring back more of that, and stop trying to force these overdone plotlines down our throats.
Images: Heidi Gutman, Paul Morigi/Bravo; Myles Aronowitz/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images
There’s nothing that brings the internet together like a good old fashioned scandal. Whether that’s Hilaria “how you say cucumber in English” Baldwin, the O.J. trials, or Tom and Erika Girardi vs. everyone they’ve (allegedly) f*cked over.
As of late 2020, Erika Jayne/Girardi officially transcended the reality TV world into mainstream news and pop culture after she filed for divorce from Tom and the couple was sued for allegedly leveraging their breakup to embezzle money. And even though the Housewives franchises are no stranger to legal scandals (Teresa Guidice, Lynne Curtin, Jen Shah, etc.), Tom’s reputation and the sheer gravitas of the situation has catapulted the story into major news outlets like the LA Times and CNN — but most importantly, it’s being featured on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Up until this season, Erika Jayne was the Kourtney Kardashian of RHOBH: boring AF (Kim said it, not me). And sure, unlike Kourtney, Erika has been interesting to look at, but beyond that she’s been cold, reserved, and truly an enigma wrapped in a riddle and (allegedly stolen) cash.
IMO, getting to feature the divorce/lawsuit this season is the best thing to happen to RHOBH in a looooong time. Over the past few years the franchise has been littered with trivial storylines like PuppyGate that drag out for 10 episodes longer than they should, so bringing in an actual scandal to basically be the eighth cast member this season is bringing much-needed dimension and depth to the show. Otherwise, you just know the entire season was going to be ViolateGate (Sutton vs. Crystal). Yawn.
And I commend Erika on what she’s given us so far in season 11. She’s basically the Faye Resnick we never got — divulging her perspective on the lawsuit, commenting on Tom’s declining health, and sharing her real feelings about her and Tom’s relationship now that she doesn’t have to protect him. Her storyline this season has seriously resurrected the franchise from the brink of irrelevance, lacing it with a hint of true crime-ish elements combined with a more open and off-the-cuff Erika who’s actually pulling her weight within the cast.
And that leads me to my hot take: let’s keep The Pretty Mess on RHOBH as long as she’s still being… well, pretty messy.
If I’m getting too far ahead, there are CliffsNotes below to get you up to speed. But if you already have your PhD in the Erika/Tom scandal like me, feel free to skip the summary and get straight into my open letter to Bravo on why they should keep Erika around for season 12.
Erika’s Involvement in the Lawsuit(s)
About a month after Erika filed for divorce, Edelson PC filed a class action lawsuit against Erika and Tom, alleging that the couple embezzled settlement funds meant for victims who lost family in the 2018 Boeing plane crash. The lawsuit also claimed that the “‘divorce’ is simply a sham attempt to fraudulently protect Tom’s and Erika’s money…”.
On the heels of that, Tom’s former business partners filed a separate suit against him, claiming that Tom kept funds over $315,000 that he owed them for his own gain.
And although all this shadiness was allegedly orchestrated by Tom, the scandal is being framed in a way that implies Erika is guilty by association — and not just because of the allegedly opportunistic divorce, but also because her company EJ Global received over $20 million in loans from Tom’s law firm.
That $20 million was probably spent on her glam squad’s room and board during cast trips alone (kidding) (not really), which makes it all the more sad to know it could have been used to pay victim settlements — and all the more infuriating considering it did not belong to Erika in the first place. And that’s a sentiment the judge agrees with, after ruling that specific victims can go after Erika for up to $11 million to replace the amount Tom never paid them.
Why This Sh*t Is Interesting
What punches up the entire storyline is the juxtaposition between the way the media/lawsuits are framing Erika, and how she’s portraying herself on RHOBH.
While the lawsuits suggest that Erika had some part in/knowledge of Tom’s shady dealings, the RHOBH version of Erika is acting as if nothing illegal happened. In fact, she’s enraged that people dare speculate that the divorce timing was suspect, saying during the latest episode, “What’s being said is just, I mean, it’s insane. That my divorce is a sham, but nobody cares about the facts.” She also explicitly said the divorce wasn’t a ploy to hide assets while FaceTiming Kyle and Lisa. THE TEAAAA.
I’m the first to admit that she’s in a sh*tty position, mostly thanks to Tom. But we can’t forget that Erika is a performer by trade with an alter ego that even Danielle Staub couldn’t pull off. We’ve seen her transform from the world’s best poker player to a puss-patting, bodysuit-wearing, loud and bright singer/dancer. All this to say, her time on the stage and those two episodes in The Young and the Restless prove that she has the chops to act the part that her PR recommends.
And as much as I love to analyze what’s strategy and what’s not, at the end of the day I just want good TV. So Erica sharing those tidbits about the lawsuit hit hard, as did the comments about her and Tom’s pre-divorce relationship. For the past five seasons, we’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews of Tom “styrofoam cup” Girardi. Not a peep of indiscretion or disagreement, and not even Kim Richards piped in threatening that she had dirt. But Erika has finally, finally expressed several iotas of emotion and raw stories about their relationship this season, and whether those are her true feelings or a narrative suggested by her PR team (or Mikey), it makes you wonder, what other dirt is she going to spill, now that she’s not protecting Tom?
And we’re going in the right direction. So far this season, Erika has detailed his heartless goodbye, admitted she was pissed he didn’t come see her on Broadway, and even expressed her fear about her public perception post-divorce in the last episode when she said, “I don’t want his actions to absolutely kill what I have created.”
And there are logical reasons why Erika is being more real. For one, she needs that Bravo paycheck more than ever, especially after detailing her fears about the attorney fees in the latest episode. Now that she literally needs this job, it’s in her best interest to involve herself in the storyline and bring some actual juiciness — whether that’s Tom related, post-divorce dating stories, etc.
Another reason to keep her on the show is that despite the accusations, Erika’s still proving it’s expensive to be heeeer-er-er-er by boarding a PJ and sporting a $189k ring. That’s some major BDE when you’re in the middle of an embezzlement lawsuit, and some very Jen Shah-esque energy that makes for ridiculously entertaining TV.
And while Erika’s attorneys briefly dropped her and then took her back (for reasons we can only speculate), her castmates have continued to show their support and allegiance to Erika, both on the show and on social media. From Kyle and Lisa dancing to “XXPEN$IVE” and most of the ladies wishing her a happy birthday publicly, they clearly don’t feel a need to distance themselves at all. Truly women supporting women, in the words of Ramona Singer.
Thanks to Tom, Erika’s part of a truly impactful scandal that I’m 100% sure will be turned into a Hollywood blockbuster. With that being said, capturing Erika’s perspective on the RHOBH is a fresh, deep, real storyline that’s captivating AF. And because court cases take forever and Erika can only say so much right now, Bravo can easily milk this content well into next season as well. Not to mention, Erika will definitely be opening up with some new storylines about post-Tom life in an effort to stay relevant (and liquid… with those big lawyer bills).
To My Dearest and Realest Housewives,
Thank you for being there for me during this turbulent time in our country. Pre-pandemic, I used to love to get together with a large group of my girlfriends. Brunch, after-work drinks, dinners, you name it—I was there. But when the pandemic made hanging out with the girlies unsafe for my immunocompromised self, I turned to you, The Real Housewives, to fill the void of my missing girl squad, and you did not disappoint. Not only did you keep me entertained, but you satiated my need to socialize—quite possibly forever. Thank you for your service.
Listen, before I discovered your life-changing franchise, I actually missed going to brunch with my gal pals, but now thanks to Ramona and LuAnn, I know that brunch is code for blackmail and should be avoided at all costs. The same goes for cocktail parties and all vacations. I never want to see my friends again.
Watching you fight with each other incessantly didn’t make me feel less alone, but it did make me appreciate my loneliness. Sure, I might have been completely by myself, but at least no one was yelling at me or calling me a “prostitution whore” in front of Andy Cohen. Once I found you, I no longer cared that I couldn’t experience my own life in present day New York. Turns out, watching you wreak havoc in the before times was all I’d ever needed. I fell in love with you immediately, ya habibi.
Unable to see my own friends because my rare immune disorder made even outdoor hangs risky for me, there was something so healing about watching your friendships unravel right in front of my eyes. After going months without seeing a single friend, there’s something very cathartic about watching Ramona Singer berate Bethenny Frankel on the Brooklyn Bridge in a moment that was so peak 2008 that I didn’t even have anxiety about them not wearing masks. Ditto for when Kelly Bensimon told Bethenny, “I am up here and you are down here” when they met for cocktails in Manhattan. So this is what I’m missing? This is what female friendship looks like?? Thank God I’m quarantined with my brother then! He would never scream “Jovani” at me during my cabaret (mostly because he doesn’t know what either of those things are, but still). I love being a guy’s girl, it’s so fun and interesting and I don’t miss my girlfriends at all!
I used to think it was a red flag when a woman said “I’m not friends with other girls. They’re just way too much drama.” But now? I’ve seen the light. Girls really ARE too much drama. I mean, you throw a ravioli in someone’s face ONE TIME and suddenly you stop getting invited places? Grow up, drama queens. It wasn’t even my fault that I upstaged that charity event for a sick baby by bringing twenty Hell’s Angels as my plus-ones. I said I was sorry, what else do they want me to do? Actually donate to the cause? Whatever, I guess it’s true what they say, money really can’t buy you class.
So when my healthy, non-high-risk friends all got covid tests and safely rented a cabin in the Catskills together last summer, I was relieved not to be invited! I’ve seen season 6 of RHONY, okay? I saw how they treated Aviva, and I was not about to let my medical pump suffer the same fate as her prosthetic leg. Besides, I don’t even care that I wasn’t invited, I’m having way more fun watching my brother watch the Michael Jordan docuseries anyway! Have fun in the Bezerkshires, bitches! I don’t need your Scary Island energy in my life, I’ve got the back of my brother’s head to keep me company.
Now that I’m fully vaxxed and the pandemic is seemingly coming to a close, I’ve transitioned into a different state of fear. No longer am I afraid of Covid, now I’m scared of something much more insidious…women. Go to dinner with my friends??? Why? So they can accuse me of having a drinking problem? I don’t think so. Support my best friend’s charity event? What, and get ambushed with questions about my husband’s financial problems?? I don’t care that I “don’t have a husband,” you bitches have had it out for me since I threw those tiki torches in the Hamptons. Get over it already! They were barely on fire and what Ramona did to the Fish Room is way worse. So what, I “ruined your engagement party” because I said your fiancé was cheating on you, are you really still mad about that? And no, I do not want to attend your son’s christening, ok? It’s hard to have FOMO for a party that’s going to end in handcuffs.
Why would I ever choose to venture back out into a world of conflict when I could stay at home and finish bingeing RHONJ? Those ladies would never judge me for flipping a table and unlike some people in my life, they don’t mind a little hair pulling. Plus I’m pretty sure Joe is about to go to prison and I wouldn’t miss that for all the maskless parties in the world (that I’m totally invited to). Screw your brunches, I’d rather hang out with my real friends, The Housewives.
With Love From Your Biggest Anti-Socialite Fan,
After 13 long years, we finally got our first Black Housewife on The Real Housewives of New York, Eboni K. Williams. I was so excited because I finally got to see a Black woman on one of my favorite shows ever. However, I quickly noticed that the fan reaction to Eboni being cast wasn’t necessarily about her and what she could bring to RHONY. Rather, people were excited that someone would call out the ignorance on the show. I had the same sentiment when Tiffany Moon was casted on The Real Housewives of Dallas and when Garcelle Beauvais was announced as a cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Adding diversity isn’t going to automatically solve the ignorance within your shows, nor is it the responsibility of women of color to solve the issues for you.
Let’s be honest, Eboni, Garcelle, and Tiffany weren’t hired because they were close friends with the women on their respective shows. Bravo noticed that there was a severe diversity issue within the franchises. I mean, it’s not like people of color don’t exist in these cities, although many of the white women in these franchises have friend groups that are, for the most part, very, very, white. So, when you throw in a person of color, it’s bound to change the dynamic a bit. However, casting a woman of color for the sole purpose of diversity doesn’t do any justice for these shows, especially when their white castmates aren’t aware of their internalized ignorance.
Let’s take Garcelle Beauvais for example. Beauvais, an actress and talk show host, is the first Black woman ever to be cast on RHOBH, and many people, including myself, were very excited. RHOBH is known as the Housewives franchise that represents opulence, glamour, and women simply existing in luxury. It’s not often that you get to see a Black woman simply exist without stereotypes being pushed upon her. Beauvais seemed to feel disconnected with the ladies, though, and later stated that it was possibly because the ladies did not want to feel the wrath of Black social media had they come for her. (Also, yes, I know she missed some events, but Kyle Richards and Lisa Rinna have also missed events, and one complained then.)
Beauvais’ disconnect with Kyle Richards especially was a point of contention. Things got extremely heated between the two when Richards accused Beauvais of not paying a $5,000 donation. Beauvais was rightfully upset, especially since Richards waited until the reunion to bring this up. This was problematic because there is a common stereotype that Black people do not pay their bills on time or do not have as much money as they “flaunt. For Richards to bring up the donation not being paid in a public forum feeds into that stereotype. Does this make Kyle a racist? No. Did she subconsciously feed into a microaggression? Yes. But more than anything else, it shows me that the women, especially Kyle, did not get to know Garcelle on a personal level. Had Kyle done that, regardless of the tension between the two, she probably would have reached out to Garcelle directly to eradicate the issue at hand. Now, because she did not, the conversation about her microaggression had to be had.
Eboni K. Williams, an attorney and notable news anchor, joined RHONY as its first Black cast member. Eboni is brilliant, fashion-forward, and has a remarkable personal story. Yet, I felt like the only thing people wanted to talk about when she was announced to be on the show was her dynamic with Ramona Singer. Singer, who is known to be rather standoffish, came into controversy this past summer due to her COVID and All Lives Matter comments. While Singer did apologize, some people felt as though she was not reprimanded enough publicly. While Singer’s comments were reprehensible, it is not the responsibility of Williams to educate her. Williams has been asked constantly about her dynamic with Singer, rather than her whole dynamic with the cast itself. While the topic of race has come up this season, and personally, I think all of the women (so far) have done a great job of listening and wanting to learn. However, I do think there is something that needs to be pointed out. RHONY, for 12 years, centered around white women, so if Eboni makes a criticism or observation about her dynamic with white women—such as confronting Ramona about her comments on “the help” or sparring with Luann over supposedly implying the other ladies don’t have an education—it’s not so much a dig, more so her perspective as the only Black woman in a group with only white women. This might come as a culture shock to some of the women on the show and viewers; however, as a Black person who is sadly used to being the only Black person in a room, expressing our dismay or observations isn’t meant to start an issue, but to authentically express our feelings.
Dr. Tiffany Moon, an anesthesiologist and entrepreneur, is the first Asian woman cast on RHOD. Tiffany’s case is a bit different from Garcelle’s and Eboni’s. Dr. Moon was cast after the controversy surrounding cast member Brandi Redmond. Redmond came under fire after a racist video of hers resurfaced of her imitating and mocking Asian women. Suddenly, when Dr. Moon was cast, there was this unspoken pressure for her to speak to Redmond about this video. Why is that Tiffany’s responsibility? Why is it that the other cast members, with the exception of D’andra Simmons, coddled Redmond instead of publicly reprimanding her for her actions? It’s apparent to me that while Dr. Moon might have been someone the producers of the show were thinking of casting already, but it wasn’t until Redmond’s video that the actual casting took place.
Let’s make this clear. No matter how many conversations Tiffany has with Brandi, Brandi’s actions are still out there. Dr. Moon cannot be the “fix” for Redmond’s blatant racism. As a viewer, I felt terrible for Tiffany, especially with the constant microaggressions and racist remarks thrown in her face by castmate Kameron Westcott. Westcott compared Moon’s native food to dog food, a rather racist stereotype. Westcott also called Moon ignorant and implied that Moon was ignorant to her own race, and even as of recently, in a now-deleted tweet, Westcott compared a clown emoji that Moon used to “white-face”. It would be an understatement to say that Westcott has internalized racism towards Asian people. This is what happens when you cast people of color for the sake of meeting your diversity quota.
It is not the responsibility of people of color to educate white people on racism. To assume that casting Black, Brown, and Asian people on your shows is the ultimate fix to the racism issues within your cast is incredibly ignorant. Especially because this creates an awkward atmosphere between people of color and white people who obviously have different experiences. To leave the POC that you’ve casted out to dry, and unconsciously force them to educate white people, is not okay. This is a call for Bravo to use its resources to educate its talent on racial biases and stereotypes, especially being a network that celebrates inclusivity. Do not cast people of color just for the sake of casting them; it’s redundant and offensive.
Images: Sophy Holland, Jonathan Zizzo, John Tsiavis / Bravo; KamWestcott / Twitter
They say all press is good press, and at this point, that’s got to be Kelly Dodd’s mantra. The RHOC star ends up in hot water so frequently these days that she basically lives in a hot tub. One would think her drama would be relegated to our TV screens, but Kelly seems determined to end up on our smaller screens, in the form of Apple News alerts and angry tweets. Kelly started off bad, jet-setting across the country when the pandemic was first in its deadliest throes, and has only gotten worse, mocking the BLM movement and repeatedly making light of COVID. Somehow, she’s managed to hold onto her RHOC spot (for now), but her general trash persona has cost her sponcon, friendships, and fans. But where will it end?
It all began back in April 2020 with Kelly’s insensitive AF comment about how “the coronavirus was God’s way of thinning the herd”. Although she issued an apology after the ordeal, it clearly meant nothing as she was posting videos of herself dining at Newport Beach with friends just last month. Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize the pandemic didn’t apply to celebrities. Kelly’s socials were littered with a mask-less crowd enjoying food and drinks at a local bar. Kelly tried to defend herself in a since-deleted probable lie, stating “everyone was vaccinated” therefore there is “nothing to spread” and the “sheeple are mad”. Sure, Jan. A source close to the Housewife says she was not, in fact, vaccinated—which tracks because I’m pretty sure the Venn diagram of people who say “sheeple” non-ironically and antivaxxers is a circle.
I guess tequila shots are the only shots Kelly’s interested in.
It’s no surprise that shortly after that incident, Kelly was let go from her venture with Positive Beverage, a sparkling water company that she invested in and promoted heavily on RHOC. I mean let’s be real, Kelly isn’t the poster child for positivity at this point. The company released a statement saying, “it has been clear over the past few months that Kelly’s controversial views and opinions have distracted from our primary objective”. Kelly seemingly brushed it off in a Twitter post stating her well wishes to the company and is excited for her next venture into the beauty space. Let’s hope whatever beauty products she comes up with work on the inside.
I’m glad I could help put Positive Beverage on the map and wish them well. I’m also really excited about my next venture in the beauty industry, which is my real passion. Stay tuned!
— Kelly Dodd (@RHOC_KellyDodd) January 31, 2021
To add fuel to the fire, Bravo is reportedly not impressed with her outrageous behavior on the show and social media. Rumors have been swirling that Kelly will be fired from RHOC, and even Kelly herself is embracing the potential outcome. Over the weekend, Kelly’s IG bio was updated to “Proud veteran cast member of #RHOC”. Moreover, a source told E! that Kelly is “expecting to be fired from the show”. Regardless, she stands by her opinions and “feels the show is favoring the other ladies whilst being pushed out”.
You would think that after her sponsors started dropping like flies, Kelly would at least try to make some friends in the industry. One friend she won’t have: Perez Hilton, who called her “so unlikeable” after she randomly attacked his appearance after he called her out on her B.S. The uncalled for comments are no surprise, as even her castmates couldn’t deal with Kelly’s toxicity. She was labeled as a racist and homophobe by Braunwyn Windham-Burke, and Tamra Judge also called for Kelly to be fired from RHOC after her racist remarks. Even Heather Dubrow stated she would only consider returning to RHOC if Dodd wasn’t part of the show. Without the support of many current and former RHOC ladies, Kelly has her work cut out for her if she wants to stay—which it seems like she doesn’t.
K*lly D*dd when someone else is having a nice moment on the reunion #RHOC pic.twitter.com/RFwrXwGQAA
— bravo by betches (@bravobybetches) January 28, 2021
To top it all off, Kelly started a feud with the one person you don’t want to piss off, at least if you’re a Bravolebrity: Andy Cohen. After mentioning he’s receiving copious amounts of messages about how she’s perceived as “uneducated, misinformed and behaving like a moron”, Kelly fired back, claiming Andy is viewed as “un-American” by the public because he doesn’t like Donald Trump. Uhm, last we checked, the majority of Americans didn’t like Trump, either. Besides, anyone who watches Bravo knows Andy Cohen is the boss, and you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
After nine months of Kelly’s problematic behavior, and no public response from Bravo, to say fans are pissed is putting it lightly. They’ve labeled Kelly as “vile, narcissistic, and disgusting”, pressing the network to hold her accountable, and even boycotting RHOC’s recent season. And it doesn’t stop there. On top of boycotting the show, there have also been calls to boycott Uve Beauty in light of their new collaboration with the Bravo star. So far, the company hasn’t commented, but money talks, and maybe the brand will listen.
To sum this f*ckery all up, it’s been an almost unbelievably problematic year in the life of Kelly Dodd. While most Bravo stars are problematic in some regard, Kelly really goes above and beyond to be awful in just about every respect. And with no fans, no sponcon, no friends, and hopefully, no role on a national TV show, it seems like Kelly will fade into obscurity where she belongs.
Images: Tommy Garcia/Bravo; rhoc_kellydodd, bravobybetches / Twitter
It started off so promising: a diverse cast, a glittering snowy paradise, a peek into Mormonism, a pastor who f*cked her grandfather. The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City had all the makings of what should have been a captivating first season, but 12 episodes later and I can’t seem to get myself to care much. What happened, and where do we go from here?
Maybe I expected too much from a first season of a Real Housewives show. Even my beloved Potomac had a clunky debut, initially pitched as an etiquette show and then later refashioned into a Real Housewives franchise. The drama that season was petty and low-stakes: Gizelle sitting in the middle of the table at Karen’s party, Ashley having the audacity to dance in public. It took five seasons (and a whole lot of pent-up animosity) for them to get to the explosive season that just concluded.
There were definitely some growing pains on RHOP as Gizelle, Karen, and Robyn—women who had known each other for years—got to know Ashley, and later, Candiace. Remember when Ashley was just some perky 26-year-old who took bourbon shots, much to Karen and Gizelle’s horror? This whole season of Real Housewives of Salt Lake City feels like that: a group of women who don’t know each other well and don’t have an affinity to one another just trying to fake it for the cameras. Heather and Whitney and, until she kept going after them, Jen are really friends, you can tell; so are Lisa and Meredith (though whether they are friends out of a genuine fondness or plain narcissism because they are the same exact person remains to be seen for me). But for a show that opened with a voiceover saying “our friendships define us”, the friendship of the group as a whole feels pretty weak.
There are the warring factions—Lisa and Meredith vs. Heather and Whitney, and everybody vs. Jen—but these independent groups feel loosely held together by virtue of being cast on the same show. Do Lisa and Meredith really care if they remain cool with Heather and Whitney? I don’t get the sense that they do, and still, this remains a conflict for multiple episodes. Plus, rather than sitting there and, as they say in other franchises, working on getting to a good place, many of the women literally walk away from fights: Jen at the prohibition party, Jen at the brunch, Meredith in Vegas, etc. Perhaps this is just a side-effect of all that Mormon conditioning, but 12 hours of television later and it just feels like none of these women really GAF whether or not they talk to their castmates after the cameras stop rolling. If there are no friendships to hold the group together, who really cares if they argue? It’s like watching two strangers get into an argument on the subway, only I don’t have to avert my eyes.
In particular, Lisa and Meredith act too above everything to engage with the rest of the cast. They seem like they would be perfectly content to never branch out of their twosome, except to go on double dates with their husbands. That’s very mature, but unfortunately maturity does not make for good reality TV.
Meredith, in fact, doesn’t really seem to want to be on TV at all. She leaves the room in Vegas when Jen’s behavior starts escalating (at least Lisa follows Jen to try to calm her down/remain on camera). She literally says “I’m not engaging.” Is it because, as she says, she won’t have someone tell her who she can or can’t be friends with, or because she doesn’t want the cameras to catch her cracking?
She also shuts down discussion of her marriage, the one plot point that, I’m sorry, makes her interesting. For all the talk about her marriage problems, they’re basically resolved in two episodes: in episode 7, the worst of it, Seth misses the Park City fashion show; by episode 9, they’re happily back together. From the previous, it seems she will finally talk about it in the finale, but that’s after many episodes of downplaying.
The two cast members who actually do have genuine emotions towards each other are Jen and Mary, and the emotion they palpably feel for one another is hatred. It starts in the very first episode, with “Hospital Smell-Gate” (a feud I still don’t get because it’s a fact. If you just left a hospital, you will likely smell like a hospital. Actually, same with F*cked Her Grandfather-Gate—also a fact). In any case, Mary and Jen’s dislike of one another is so real that they flat-out can’t be in the same room, which is a real shame. In episode 5, during Mary’s attempted brunch reconciliation, she and Jen immediately start arguing. Mary exposes herself when she tells Jen, “I don’t want to talk to you. Ever.” Heather tries to correct her by telling Mary, “you do, you want to talk to her,” but the truth is clear: these women won’t spend time together, good TV or not. Predictably, Jen leaves the brunch early. I’m sorry, but we simply cannot have a show where the only two people who have genuine conflict and bridge the gap between the separate friend groups will not interact with one another. It’s admittedly weird when the two people who are holding this group together, Jen and Mary, are also the most divisive ones. But that could also make for great TV, if utilized correctly.
Speaking of Jen, she seems to have two moods: crying or screaming. At first it was interesting to watch her fly off the handle, at least because nobody else was doing it. Now, it’s gotten predictable, and a little concerning. On top of that, nobody on the cast is capable of holding her accountable or getting a genuine apology (save Lisa at the aforementioned brunch in episode 5), and they all seem tired of trying. Even the hypnotist, despite repeatedly chastising Jen on her improper apology etiquette, can’t elicit a no-strings-attached “I’m sorry” from her. Jen also doesn’t seem to understand how reality TV works, because she won’t forgive and forget. She takes it as a personal affront that Meredith and Lisa forgave Whitney after her apology, saying “I’m not ok with her lying and us throwing everything under the rug,” refusing to realize that apologizing and then sweeping issues under the rug is literally how these shows go on. (Paradoxically, that is a point in her favor that their friendship is real—she is genuinely hurt, and not just for TV.)
The problem is, though, this is The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, not Everybody Hates Jen. Someone else needs to share the weight, and in order to do that, we need some stakes between everybody else. To her credit, Whitney did try to hold her own by bringing up the rumor of MereLisa saying they’re afraid of Jen to Jen at her husband’s birthday. It was objectively a bad time to bring it up, but Whitney seems to know that this is reality TV, and the worst occasion to bring up an issue in the real world is the single best time to do so to maximize impact. (That or she truly lacks tact, but I’m going with the former guess.) However, while noble, this is a short-term solution, because all Whitney would need to do to fix it is give a simple Ramona Singer-esque apology and admit it was the wrong place, wrong time.
What made RHOSLC so interesting from the beginning was how different it was from other Real Housewives cities, but in order to get back on track, we are going to need to follow the playbook from those other cities, at least for a few pages. The good news is that a solution is both easy and imminent: get these ladies in the same room again! At the reunion, which Mary will attend in its entirety, there can be no storming out or leaving the table when confrontation gets too direct. There can be no FaceTime games of telephone. Like it or not (and I don’t think Meredith or Jen will like it), but they will have to hash it out. And isn’t that what we’re all here for, dammit?
Images: Fred Hayes/Bravo
If you’re a long-time viewer of Below Deck Med, then you’re no stranger to drama going down on a yacht. Over the past five seasons, we’ve seen firings, demotions, blowout fights, and too many crew hookups to count. But in the most recent episodes of season five, some particularly troubling events have transpired, and we need to talk about what the f*ck is happening on this boat.
On last Monday’s episode, we saw chef Kiko get fired after serving the grossest looking nachos I’ve ever seen to the charter guests. We all loved Kiko, but ultimately, he just wasn’t really up to the job. Unfortunately for chief stew Hannah, Kiko was her only true ally on the boat, and in the aftermath of his firing, she experienced a panic attack in the middle of the night. We saw her tell Malia that she needed a Valium, to which Malia responded, “isn’t that a prescription?” Malia also downplayed the attack, calling it a “freak out”, but the show moved right past this, Hannah started feeling better, and it seemed like the worst was over.
But in this week’s episode, the Valium resurfaced in a way that left the viewers with way more questions than answers. After Kiko’s departure, Malia’s boyfriend Tom came in at the last minute as the new chef. Because of this, Malia asked the rest of the crew to change cabins so that couples could be together: her and Tom, and Jess and Rob (not even gonna get into that bizarre relationship). These room switches left Hannah and Bugsy to room together, and neither was too keen on the idea. Hannah and Bugsy are known enemies from a few seasons ago, because Bugsy routinely outperforms Hannah even though she is a second stew and Hannah is Chief Stew. I mean, what’s she supposed to do, Bugsy just has such a knack for table decor!
Hannah and Bugsy discussed the possibility of rooming together, decided it’s a bad idea for them professionally, and Hannah was left to tell Malia. Malia responded by telling Hannah that it is boat protocol for couples to room together, and that it’s perfectly reasonable for everyone to switch rooms so that she can be with her BF. (It should be said that in the post-episode Watch What Happens Live!, Malia admitted that this is more of an unwritten rule.) Hannah promptly turned off her radio and took a smoke break. After going to Captain Sandy about the disagreement, Malia got her way, and Sandy announced on the radio that Tom and Malia would be rooming together. Not great the captain had to get involved, but it seemed like this drama was over.
Or so we thought! At the end of the episode, an unnamed crewmember sent a photo of Hannah’s Valium pills, a CBD pen, and a lighter to Captain Sandy, with the shady text attached: “I’m sorry, but I have to report this.” It didn’t take a rocket scientist to guess that Malia was the one who reported Hannah, and this has been confirmed through many social media posts.
I like Malia’s arranging skills. So that’s prescribed Valium, CBD (which is legal in Spain), a lighter (not sure what this has to do with anything) and my passport holder… And for anyone who’s interested the prescription is on the other side of the box as shown… #belowdeckmed pic.twitter.com/9ZpMjVUWVu
— Hannah Ferrier (@hannahferrier_) August 11, 2020
Hannah has made it clear that she had a valid prescription for the Valium, but apparently that’s not the issue here. I’m no expert on maritime law, but according to Malia’s Instagram post attempting to explain the situation, the issue is that Hannah didn’t inform the captain and/or the charter company about her medication and its potential side-effects. Malia even posted a picture of the charter contract that the whole crew signs, highlighting the rules about medication.
View this post on Instagram
If you want to hate me- hate me, but know the FACTS. Here’s the policy straight from the contract. I never said you CANT have medications – you just have to follow proper procedures that are in place to protect ALL crew members. The Captain of the vessel has the right to know who might be taking what & when! They are operating a vessel at sea with everyone’s lives in their hands! You’ve already heard four crew members working on the same boat come forward about their struggles & need for medication- it is ESSENTIAL that as crew we are responsible in how we go about medicating. It’s a pretty straightforward policy set in place to protect us NOT to exclude anyone. As for illegal drugs- it doesn’t matter if they might be legal in whatever country we are in… we operate under the Flag State the boat is registered to which is zero tolerance. I apologize if I didn’t go about reporting or handling the situation to the best of my ability but it was also a HUGE learning curve for me. Please understand this is my career and I take the rules very seriously. If a crew member has an issue with their contract or the laws put into place to protect them- then they should address that before signing onboard. Also consider the sequence of events you witness on tv is the condensed version so the timeline might seem a bit dramatic! I’m not out to get anyone— I’m here to do my job. To all my crew- I’m happy everyone is sharing their stories and I hope this information helps you understand your contract as crew- you aren’t alone in your struggles which is precisely why we have these policies in place! ❤️⚓️ @bravotv @belowdeckbravo @captainsandrayawn #belowdeckmed #belowdeck #safetyfirst #responsibility
The thing is, I don’t think anyone thinks Malia is lying about maritime law or the rules of yachting. But if Hannah taking Valium was such a grievous breach of protocol, why did Malia wait two full days after Hannah’s panic attack before bringing it up? Especially given their issues in the meantime, it’s hard not to see it as a petty move to get Hannah fired. If Malia truly felt like she needed to say something about Hannah’s medication, she could’ve brought it up directly to Hannah. Obviously Malia doesn’t love Hannah, but it would have been way more considerate to give Hannah the opportunity to handle the situation herself, rather than running to Captain Sandy and blindsiding her.
Additionally, the discussion of Hannah’s prescription anxiety medication as if she’s doing molly on board is really gross. It would literally never occur to me to refer to Valium as “drugs” or “narcotics,” and the use of this terminology by Malia and Sandy feels calculated to minimize Hannah’s mental health struggles and maximize reality TV drama. Anxiety is a serious and legitimate health concern, and regardless of what rules were broken, saying that “Hannah has drugs on board” is a flippant way of addressing the situation.
Judging from the preview for next week’s episode, it looks like Hannah’s firing is imminent, and maybe Captain Sandy had no choice. But the way the situation was handled has been beyond frustrating to watch, and it’s angering that, in 2020, we still can’t deal with mental health in a constructive way. I love Below Deck Med, but I can’t wait for this bullsh*t to be over.
Additional reporting by Dylan Hafer.
Images: Bravo; hannahferrier_ / Twitter; maliakpwhite / Instagram