Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Season 7 Episode 3 “Going Commando”
For fucks sake, PantyGate. Are we actually in the 1950s? Am I going to be called a witch for being over 25 with a cat in one hand and no wedding ring on the other? “Hi my name’s Dorit and I’m so blasé about my enslavement to the Patriarchy that now even my soul is plastic!” might as well be the title of this week’s episode. The height of nausea this week was when Dorit and Lisa go shopping for extravagant watches together and Dorit claims correctly that the two are “two peas in a pod.” Yep, Dorit’s the Skipper to Vanderpump’s Beverly Hills Barbie (and I’m talking old-school Barbie, before 2nd wave feminism got to her) and they rule their bright pink Dream House with iron fucking fists. And this week, they dare turn their wrath on our one true Panther Princess, Erika Jayne. Dorit, you are not big enough to come after Kween Erika Jayne like that. Or more accurately, you are not big enough to come after Kween Erika Jayne at all. Lisa Vanderpump, meanwhile, doesn’t even front like she minds enforcing misogynistic double standards, slut shaming and gossiping about other women while casually making “cheeky” blowjob jokes. Because why shouldn’t she, she is the Queen Bee, pink and perfect and therefore impervious to criticism. Just ask Eileen.
The main event of this episode is the inception of what I’m suspecting will be a season-long war known as PantyGate. Erika Jayne showed up to dinner in a short white Mugler dress with no underwear on and a few people saw her vagina, which everyone reacted to as if she’d just pulled a handgun in the restaurant. Lisa Vanderpump, one of the many bitter failed actresses with black cards overrunning LA, is jealous that Erika Jayne got a guest spot on Y&R for her birthday, and probably still jealous that Erika Jayne landed a husband rich enough to buy her a career in entertainment, and so she tries to throw Erika Jayne shade by declaring, much like a third grader, that Eileen asked her to be on Y&R first. Which of course gives her an “in” to discuss her short-lived career as an extra on 90s primetime soaps, apparently. When PK makes an ageist and not even that funny joke at Vanderpump’s expense (damn, is this guy a winner) and Erika Jayne sticks up for her, they do that weird judgy thing “international” assholes like to do where they refer to common decency as “too American” like it’s an insult. Are you fucking kidding me? British people like invented table manners and etiquette and shit like that. Have you people seen The Crown? Erika Jayne, towing her party line, calls Dorit out on being an American herself, and from the look on Dorit’s face you’d think she just called her a school shooter.
Then Lisa Vanderpump *sticks her hand up Erika Jayne’s dress* to prove she’s not wearing any underwear, which I’m pretty sure is not “British humor,” it’s “sexual assault,” but nobody said anything in the moment, so meaty little cocktail frank PK took the opportunity to *peek up Erika’s dress for a full minute like a fucking sex offender.* Dorit, whose fake accent is just a layer on the onion of proof that she can’t handle a woman who’s comfortable in her own skin, gets pissed at Erika Jayne for dangling her evil human anatomy in front of poor helpless PK, because his biological instincts are what hard-wire him to gawk openly at other women, not rape culture or anything. For fucks sake. Get it together, Rose Gold. She makes me facepalm so hard I had to up the dose on my migraine prescription. My favorite was when PK admitted to his wife and the mother of his children “I didn’t mind the view!” and she still blamed Erika Jayne. Um I’m sorry? I believe the proper response to that is “Everything you own in a box to the left,” Rose Gold. Ms. “International” Dorit shows her true colors in this episode; the palette is Puritanical, and holy shit is it an eyesore.
This episode also gives us little peeks at the housewives as parents, which is interesting and depressing all at the same time, kind of like finding out the inspiration behind an Edward Albee play. We find out Lisa Rinna’s two kids have her wrapped around their finger so tight they can tell her to her face they’ve charged a Raya (aka “the celebrity Tinder”) membership to her credit card and still won’t get in trouble (see you on the eventual Celebrity Rehab reboot, girls!), Lisa and Ken “want both her kids to understand what it’s like to struggle,” which is apparently why they practically wiped Princess Pandora Pandy-Bear’s ass with a rose gold-coated hanky at her extravagant wedding the boy she met at an expensive private University, all of which they paid for, but nearly made Max (the adopted son they treat like Harry Potter in the cupboard under the stairs like Harry Potter to Pandy-Bear’s Dudley Dursley), pay for his own teeth. Which doesn’t re-inforce the archaic double standard that men and women train for two different paths in life at all. Eye roll audible. But back to the Raya of it all: I was genuinely speechless. I’ve seen kids who were good at pulling the wool over their parents’ eyes, but damn. You can even tell from the look on Kyle’s face when this all went down that she planned on taking 5'10" Sophia, who looks like she’s 16 going on about 24, to buy something real nice at Intermix the next day, because she maybe never realized how good she had it until that rooftop dinner in Manhattan.
Also, I’m pretty sure “I have a lifestyle where I depend immensely on the nannies” is Real Housewives code for “I’m only a parent when it looks good on Instagram.” Not that it seems to matter: apparently the only words Dorit’s 2-year-old Jagger knows how to say are “mine” and “yes,” which puts him right on track to become another poster boy for white male privilege. I guess I may not be being totally fair; it looks like Dorit puts exactly as much energy into making sure her kids are picture-perfect as the rest of her life. Which should make for great functional, healthy adults with very rich therapists someday.
I’m not sure if Eileen’s changed representation recently or what, but she’s definitely getting the best edit so far this season. Eileen struggles with the recent loss of her mother to dementia and cleaning out and selling her mother’s home, all in a perfectly tailored wardrobe. The thing about Eileen that consistently makes me sad is that she seems to be a bright, fairly empowered woman, but she lets the men in her life treat her kind of shitty, including her like 12-year-old son. The way she caved into the boy’s weird tone-policing when they were, as Eileen put in such perfect daytime soap language, “closing the door on her mother’s physical existence on this planet,” was a sad snippet at how stereotypical cis/het white men are made. He’s a white boy from a rich industry family, Eileen. He has years of people catering their feelings to his experience to look forward to. These peeks into the parenting styles of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are perhaps the most telling excerpts of all, because they show us not just how gender norms are enforced, but how they’re handed down.
I don’t trust any therapist who allows their sessions to be televised, but Eileen’s discovery of the conditioning of shame and how it applies to her own life shows that someone over in that control room has a conscience, because it felt like it was definitely pointed at the show’s largely female viewership. “Stop making things okay for everyone else, and be you” says her therapist in a sequence totally not scripted by a P.A. who actually knows the Bechdel Test inside and out at all. And Eileen realizes that we are conditioned to please, to serve, and that is not an instinctive behavior, but rather a learned one that we can choose to undo. Hopefully some of us watching along at home do too.