Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
On Monday night, three weeks after Taylor Armstrong's estranged husband, Russell, took his own life, Bravo aired the premiere of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, season 2. Though some of Russell's family and friends questioned the decision to proceed as planned in light of the tragedy, the network decided to run the first episode right on schedule. And while the season has been re-edited to tone down the storyline about the Armstrongs' marital woes, it will remain an element of the show.
That said, going forward with the episode wasn't about "sweeping suicide under the rug," Adrienne Maloof said during an interview on Today. "That's what we didn't want to do. We wanted to bring it to the forefront."
The show kicked off with costars Lisa Vanderpump, Camille Grammer, and Kyle and Kim Richards gathering at Maloof's home for a sincere discussion about Russell's suicide.
Also mentioned was the fact that the couple was in dire financial straits, which was probably a big factor contributing to Russell's depressed mental state. "I think that in the town that we live in, financial status is so important that there's this need to keep up this front of what you have," Richards added. (In this somber moment, viewers might have had to stifle the thought that the Housewives franchise propagates that sort of thinking.)
Following the scene at Maloof's home, a message informed viewers that the show had been filmed prior to Russell's death. The episode went on to pick up where the last season had left off, addressing issues such as the status of Grammer's messy divorce to Kelsey, and how Kim and Kyle were doing after their explosive fight during first season's finale.
In a follow-up interview on Today on Tuesday morning, Ann Curry asked the Housewives about today's scathing Los Angeles Times' review of the episode. The article describes the show's petty in-fighting while a man was clearly losing his grip, and it chided Bravo for not scrapping the whole season.
"It's very difficult in a situation like this," said Richards. "Yes, we shot this six months ago, and I think Bravo has tried to handle this as responsibly and respectfully as possible…But the show is not just about them, it's about six women and their lives. Yes, they are a part of it, but there's also so much going on in the show."
Richards, at least, seems somewhat torn between allegiance to her friend Taylor, and her own desire for the show to go on. But then, it seems Taylor herself is torn. Kyle told Curry that she watched the premiere episode with Taylor. "She thought that they handled it respectfully in light of the situation," Richards said. "And she was pleased with the outcome."
We'll be watching to see how the season unfolds!