From the bitch-slapping shores of New Jersey to the catty streets of New York, it appears no city is safe from the wrath of the housewives. Weezer better watch out, because these tanned, big-lipped beauties have invaded Beverly Hills, California. But in a city known for its drama, “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” features women surprisingly tame and — could it truly be? — likeable.
“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”
Thursday’s at 10 p.m.
The show follows the dramatic lives of six wealthy wives as they attempt to claw to the top of a town that “runs on status.” There’s Lisa Vanderpump-Todd, a posh London native who exudes pure class, despite the suspicious living conditions of her slick and muscular (and supposedly gay) permanent houseguest, Cedric. Married to a plastic surgeon, Adrienne Maloof-Nassif is the dolled-up owner of a casino resort, a basketball team and a record company. Camille Grammer, wife of “Frasier” star Kelsey, is an ex-“Club MTV” dancer and self-proclaimed trophy wife. Around the corner is anti-domestic violence advocate Taylor Armstrong, an all-business blonde with a love for plastic surgery.
Last are Kim and Kyle Richards, former child stars, sisters to Kathy Hilton and aunts to infamous starlet Paris. Frequently referencing their roles in “Little House on the Prairie” and the original “Escape to Witch Mountain,” Kim is a socially isolated single mom (odd, considering the program focuses on wives) whose one role seems to be complaining at intervals more frequent than the commercials framing the program. Kyle is her abrasive but realistic counterpart with a pretty face and a take-no-prisoners attitude.
Unlike past seasons, the stars of “Beverly Hills” are not housewives at all. All demand respect as independent women with successful businesses, even if their stretched lips and frozen eyebrows say otherwise. Vanderpump-Todd and Grammer are merry and cute as they play with puppies and tour their 17-acre homes as if they’d scored a deal with MTV’s “Cribs.” Maloof-Nassif preaches modesty and wisdom as she details her close eye for genuine friends.
However, there’s a strange and saddening similarity among the women: they’re all seemingly estranged from — or at least disgusted by — their husbands. Vanderpump-Todd spends the majority of her time with Cedric, while Armstrong admits her marriage is “80-percent business and 20-percent romance.” Even the cozily adorable Grammers are in the midst of divorce.
Even as their marriages fall apart, the cast proves to be about as down-to-earth as one can be in the “land of make-believe.” But this same reality and likeability translates to boring television. Aside from Armstrong’s wart-like temple injections, Kim’s aversion to social interaction and VanderPump-Todd’s adorably fascinating accent, Kyle is the only wife with a TV-worthy personality. She’s dramatic and clever, but with the smarts and experience to back up her luxurious lifestyle and sassy attitude. If the program fails to heat up as the season continues, Bravo may have to consider planning a one-woman show.
Beneath the glitz and the glamour, “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” features women with brains and heart, supported by a killer pair of heels. The wives may not be made for television, but they’re certainly worthy company for a girls’ night out.