I had prepared to write this post just after the season ended in lieu of a reunion ranking. After the painful slog that was season 8 my desire to spill another drop of electronic ink on Beverly Hills was non-existent. Now months later, I am once again disappointed and infuriated by this show as casting information emerges with season 9 filming. Let’s all take a deep breath and brace ourselves for more of the same.
Season 8 of Beverly Hills was universally panned. Everyone was bored. Even Lisa Rinna admitted it was boring as shit. Aside from the few plebs who watch BH to take in the rich lifestyles they will never ever have (a truly pitiable way to exist, IMO) everyone was dissatisfied with Beverly Hill’s continued decline in quality. RHOBH was amazing seasons 1-3, and I’ll even admit to liking 4 quite a bit more than most do. For the past four seasons, however, it has been plagued by a lack of on-screen drama. Join me as I break down the plethora issues this franchise is dealing with.
Keeping up appearances:
It’s par for the course with most Housewife debut seasons that the women are at their realest. They haven’t had to deal with the court of public opinion yet and aren’t working the cameras as much, nor faking storylines. The first three seasons featured very real, gritty drama from the Richards family rollercoaster, the tragic Taylor Armstrong story, Camille’s superstar villain run, Brandi’s epic rise, and even LVP dealing with con-artist leech Cedric. From season 5 onwards though, the desire to maintain their public images became top priority. Most women on the show are trying to hawk a product or business and they became hesitant to become notorious for sloppy behavior or scandalous secrets.
From the gossipy whispers swirling around about Kim’s sobriety in S5, to Munchausen-gate which consumed S6 whole a shift became clear. No longer were people willing to put their neck out on camera. Instead things were plotted out behind the scenes and viewers were left to connect the sometimes very vague dots. Perhaps an incredibly strategic soul might enjoy figuring out the off-screen chess game playing out, but I believe that this show is the best when it documents long-term character arcs. Now anyone who has read anything on this site knows that the blame lies most directly at the feet of Lisa Vanderpump. Her scheming was beautifully outed in the highlight of season 4 during the Puerto Rico trip. She always used other people to carry out her dirty work, but now it had to be done even more surreptitiously, such so that the viewer can’t enjoy any of it. Kyle Richards is also firmly at-fault. Likely embarrassed from having her family’s dirty laundry aired out so often, she has retreated into a shell of the former season 2 mean girl she once was. Now she’s just a walking billboard for Mauricio’s real estate agency and her TV shows, unwilling to get into the mix.
Lifestyle porn over substance:
Beverly Hills above all other franchises has attracted a large subsect of viewers who enjoy seeing how the other half lives, even though Bravo and HGTV are already littered with shows for them. RHOBH admittedly does have some of the most legitimately wealthy housewives (LVP, Kyle, Erika, Adrienne, Yolanda, Camille, Carlton off the top of my head) but if I have learned anything from this show it is that money cannot buy you taste (or class). The best Real Housewives across all franchises are often the poorest, the housewives attempting to prop up their falsified image of wealth. They have nothing to lose, other than the remaining dregs of dignity they may possess. Just look back on the cast of RHOBH: Brandi, Kim, Taylor, Dorit. All “poor” by housewives standards, but they brought the drama every single time. Lifestyle porn enthusiasts can watch Million Dollar Listing and subscribe to Beverly Hills Lifestyle, leave my trashy reality television alone.
Lack of loose cannons:
Most housewives casts are built like a formula. You have the HBIC, their nemesis, a few betas for their alliance, and a few outsiders. What really makes for a great cast though is a great snake. A great loose cannon. Someone who doesn’t give a fuck about the status quo and just cannot keep their mouth shut. Obvious examples of this on BH would be Brandi and Kim. I know many viewers grew weary of Brandi especially, and I definitely understand the criticism, but you can’t help but notice the show took its sharpest downturn upon their departure at the end of S5. Beverly Hills is full of prissy snobs trying to keep up appearances constantly. It’s high time they brought in some outsiders who don’t give two fucks about their placement in BH society and are happily there for their Bravo paycheque. Which leads into my next point…
The cast has been phoning it in for years now, aside from Lisa Rinna (who did all the heavy lifting for several years minus S8) and Dorit. Kyle doesn’t have a storyline in the absence of Kim. LVP is so far removed from the rest of the cast she is only filmed in her restaurants or dog rescue. Erika was once promising, but the interesting dual personality contrast between Girardi/Jayne has been forgotten as she sinks further into her Jayne persona. Beverly Hills is the second highest rated franchise, and much like Atlanta, the ratings haven’t taken the dip needed to jolt production into really shaking things up. Teddi, a total dud who prolonged the endless Dorit/Erika fights last season, is back for her second season. They are unwilling to cut LVP or Kyle as they have too much clout, even though they are the primary perpetrators of this boring, everything is perfect in Beverly hills facade. Denise Richards is allegedly joining the cast (no confirmation yet if she’s a full diamond holder) but this cast needs a wrecking ball taken to it and I’m not sure she’s up for the task. After S8 ended with a painful flop, rumours were abound that a major shake-up was due with only 2-4 housewives returning. Clearly that is not something we should look forward to.
What are your thoughts on Beverly Hills? Do you still stubbornly hold out hope for a return to its former greatness? Or will you continue to watch and bemoan its downward trajectory masochistically like I do? Sounds off in the comments.