Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bravo
You've got to hand it to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Mondays, 9 p.m. ET) They make such effortless work of infuriating one another, Bravo producers simply have to switch on the cameras to fill episodes with petty drama.
By the end of Monday's season 3 premiere, it was clear that the opening episode couldn't contain all the dysfunction. The ladies -- Lisa Vanderpump, Adrienne Maloof, Taylor Armstrong, Brandi Glanville, sisters Kim and Kyle Richards and new addition Yolanda H. Foster -- offer up so many squabbling conflicts among them, you hardly notice Camille Grammer's absence. (She hinted to Today's The Clicker that she'd have a smaller role this season, and she only appears at the tail end of the premiere, in the coming attractions for the season ahead.) And we haven't even met the season's second newbie, real-estate agent Marisa Zanuck yet.
Yes, apparently there wasn't enough room in the episode for all of the Housewives' messy problems, what with Kim fresh out of rehab and still sparring with her sister, and Lisa throwing a Villa Blanca anniversary party but (intentionally) failing to invite Adrienne. (Remember when Adrienne accused Lisa of selling stories to the tabloids, and Lisa was astonished at the very idea of such a low-class move?) Plus, producers had to make plenty of room for Brandi to behave like her usual, extremely unlikable self.
As usual, watching these tabloid targets months after filming is a little weird. We see Adrienne and her husband, Paul Nassif, sharing a light-hearted lunch, all the while knowing that this couple is about to engage in a spectacularly nasty divorce. Taylor appears to be single and getting used to life without Russell (who committed suicide shortly after last season). But those who follow the lives of the Housewives know that she's now involved with attorney John Bluher.
The main drama of the first episode centered on battle lines drawn between several pairs of women. We are re-introduced to Brandi when she drops in on Lisa's new palace, where she makes jokes about Lisa's old age and brazenly coos over Lisa's husband, Ken. Spliced in are interview spots with Lisa, who talks about giving the divisive Brandi a fair shake. Hmmm...we'll see how long this new friendship will last! During their talk, we learn that Lisa has not invited Adrienne to her upcoming party.
This segues nicely into Adrienne's lunch with her husband, and a phone call from Taylor informing her about the party from which she has been snubbed. She refuses to believe that Lisa would commit such an atrocious act. "What friends do is not hold a grudge and move on," she tells her husband.
Next, viewers are reminded that Kim and Kyle have a third sister, Kathy Hilton (mother of Paris), when Kim and her 16-year-old daughter Kimberly do some prom dress shopping at Kathy's house. Then Kyle drops by. Since season 2 chronicled Kim and Kyle's long and scream-filled journey to estrangement, this meeting is a big moment. And it doesn't go well. Both are tense, and clearly there's much healing still to be done.
"Now that she’s sober, I kind of wonder, like, why do I still feel tension?" Kyle asks the camera at one point. Later, the pressure comes to a head at Lisa's ironically themed "angel" party. Kyle tells Kim that she has invited Kim's nemesis, Brandi, to another party, for her daughter Portia's 4th birthday. Then she recoils in rage when Kim admits she might skip it. In case you haven't noticed, party invites are a major source of tension with this crew.
In the midst of the angelic shindig, Lisa receives a very large plant from Adrienne, wishing her luck in her endeavors. The card does not allude to the obvious -- she knows she's been snubbed -- but Kyle makes sure to state it plainly, just in case anyone missed it. Awk-ward!
Yolanda, who's a friend of Lisa's and the wife of music mogul David Foster, is a former model who's instantly irritating. And guess what? Yolanda jumps right into the backbiting fray! She takes an off-the-cuff joke from Brandi about sleeping with half of Beverly Hills, and turns it into a piece of gossip to bond over with the other ladies.
Based on the previews from the season ahead, this is all going to get much worse. Or better, depending on your perspective. Kim will get a nose job and possibly have a relapse. Suzanne Somers will visit with the ladies and declare, "I've never felt this sexual." (All righty then!) Lisa's husband will land in the hospital. Adrienne's house will go up in smoke. And at future parties, Yolanda will cross swords with Taylor, Camille and Adrienne. And Brandi will cry. A lot. Good times!