The Beverly Hills Problem

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…

Casting stasis:

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.

 

6 thoughts on “The Beverly Hills Problem

  1. It’s really bizarre and kind of infuriating that they can’t just up and fire half this cast. If you’ve got the balls to fire Sheree and Kenya (granted Kenya kinda forced them to fire her lol but still) surely you can knock off a few BH bores to save a franchise that eeeverybody knows is floundering.

  2. As much as I appreciate what she brought for the first 4/5 seasons, I think LVP really needs to go. It was interesting and fun at first watching her effortlessly take down her enemies (her absolute embarrassment of Adrienne is legendary imo), but she has become so obvious with her tactics that it’s just boring. No one currently on the cast will even bother trying to go toe to toe with her anymore because it’s completely futile given the clear favouritism shown by Bravo.

    I think what would be best for BH would be to fire LVP, Erika, and maybe Teddi depending on her S9 performance, and replace them with Camille and a few others that are for sure going to cause drama, because as long as it stays this way, nothing will change.

  3. Beverly Hills is the worst franchise running by a mile. Even Andy seemed over it during the last reunion and I figured a shakeup was imminent, but alas. Denise intrigues me as a Housewife, but I don’t know if I have the motivation to sit through another season of 2-3 more of LVP’s dogs dying, Kyle producing ANOTHER goddamn tv show I won’t watch about her childhood, Teddi doing bikram yoga with her mute husband, and Dorit somehow rehashing stemware-gate during a Teddi argument.

    Rinna, Dorit, and Erika all have obvious potential for major blowups but it’s wasted on the rest of the cast being so staid and judgemental. This show more than any other needs a total cast overhaul but Vanderpump’s Rule strictly prohibits any entertainment that could potentially show her in a bad light

  4. Who’s ready for the inevitable season 9 trailer where they showcase gorgeous locations, the girls being glamorous or fun and “more drama than ever before” (I still cackle @ that title). It’s ridiculous that RHOChesire is now more consistent than RHOBH. How the mighty have fallen.

    I like Denise, she has fire but I doubt she’ll bring that for the cameras to see. Part of me hopes she’ll snap ala Rinna in Amsterdam but I highly doubt it. There are soooo many issues with RHOBH that it’s too boring to even want to type it out personally so… yikes.

  5. Sometimes it is a case of simple chemistry. This cast does not gel nor do they like each other. They are trying to sell us on relationships that do not exist.

    The show has been a popularity contest from the beginning. When Andy told Camille that she was the most hated HW in RH history, Camille was completely devastated — and the camera cut to Kyle, gloating and triumphant. When the audience turned on Kyle for her S2 takedown of LVP, Kyle did not like the backlash and made it her mission to make the audience feel sorry for her. The cast is obsessed with being the likable fan fave at all costs. They take potshots from the safety of their VTs. But when it comes to bringing their real beef out into the open, they are fearfully afraid of the audience turning on them. So they strategize.

    As a result, in true Hollywood form, they all seem to be acting out some hastily contrived script. The authenticity is gone. None of it feels remotely real. I don’t believe what they say. And production appears unable to get them to put their real lives or feelings on the table, because most of these women are rich and have power/connections behind the scenes.

    The show used to be about the haves and have-nots of Beverly Hills. I really liked that dynamic between the richies and the social climbers. Taylor and her ratchet friend Dana/Pam should never have been fired imo.

    I also liked that beneath the sunshine and gloss, there were these dark Hollywood secrets waiting to come to light. Kim’s addictions, you stole my goddamn house!, Big Kathy’s scarring influence over her ‘girls,’ Russell’s controlling abuse and defrauding his clients, Adrienne’s surrogacy lie… Toxic though they may have been, these were real and they put the show on the map. The dark secrets were like another character. Since S5, a decision has been made to focus exclusively on glitz and wealth. The show has become very surface as a result. I don’t care if I ever see Erika’s glam squad do her makeup again! Also, so much of these shows of wealth are smoke and mirrors. Erika is about to be dumped by her wealthy husband any day now. LVP is mortgaged to the hilt and needs to sell off Villa Blanca and SUR asap and focus on VPR as her biggest cash-cow. Dorit and PK are living hand-to-mouth in a rented McMansion with the creditors knocking on the door. Once again, I do not believe anything these women are trying to sell me about their ‘aspirational lifestyles.’ The show is completely hollow.

    1. Oh, and if I could revamp the show? I would fire most, if not all, of them. LVP needs to go — she has VPR to keep her busy. I might keep Kyle (even though I can’t stand her fake ass) and bring on Faye Resnick and Kathy Hilton. Kathy Hilton HAS to be a part of this show since she hates Kyle with a seething passion.

      Since Kris Jenner is pals with this crew, she might be persuaded to make a few walk-ons.

      Erika and Rinna need to participate or get off the pot. Camille and Taylor (and Prison Pam) might be worthy additions again. Dorit gives me a migraine, so she can exit stage left.

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