After two dozen episodes rife with machinations, manipulations and spinning of webs, it's time to wrap up Season 6 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. For this week's feature, I'm breaking down my favorite parts of the season as well as what could and should change come Season 7...
WHY IT WORKED
- The perfection that is Erika Jayne: I'll say it right now. Erika Girardi was the single best new 'Wife the Beverly Hills franchise since the original six Housewives first blasted onto our screens in 2010. Everything from her perfectly manicured nails and glam squad to her jaw-dropping fashion sense and the glitz, glam, boobs and heels of her alter ego Erika Jayne made for fascinating addition to the cast and the Housewives universe. Erika was not only gorgeous and hilariously full of one-liners, she didn't up with any B.S. and refused to back down in any situation. Whether she was standing up for Yolanda Foster or going head-to-head with fellow newbie Kathryn Edwards over her perception that Lisa Vanderpump was spinning a web, I could not get enough of Erika. Even more, based on my first impression I wasn't actually sure I would like the newbie, but thankfully I saw the light and was converted into an Erika Jayne superfan.
- Fresh-squeezed O.J. (Simpson): In perhaps the most serendipitous pop culture moment of all time, the Beverly Hills 'Wives were arguing over their many connections to the O.J. Simpson trial just as The People vs. O.J. Simpson, FX's gripping retelling of the story of the century, was captivating viewers across the country. For a few glorious weeks this winter, I could watch Kathryn Edwards battle it out with the morally corrupt Faye Resnick over being dragged into the scandal by her juicy tell-all (which was published just as the jury was being selected), and then immediately switch over to Connie Britton as Faye herself. I literally could have watched the Housewives battle it out over O.J. Simpson all season long and been completely happy.
- Beverly Hills takes the Hamptons: Personally, I loved every minute of the ladies' trip early in the season to the Hamptons to celebrate the opening of Kyle Richards's pop-up shop and the white party for Lisa Vanderpump's Bella Magazine cover. Not only will I own a house there one day, but from the start of Eileen Davidson and Lisa Vanderpump's feud to the dinner party clash between Erika and RHONY's Bethenny Frankel, it was pretty much everything I could dream of for a Housewives getaway. Plus, after so many years of knowing about their BFF status, it was amazing to see Kyle's decades-long friendship with Bethenny on screen. Two of my all-time favorite Housewives in one of my favorite places in the world? What more could I ask for?
- The unwilling spiral of Lisa Rinna: Oh, Lisa Rinna. When both Brani Glanville and Kim Richards exited the show after the conclusion of Season 5, many wondered who would become the essential bad 'Wife of the cast, but in a way it makes sense that Lisa Rinna took up the mantle. When her opening tagline bragged about how much talking her well-known lips would do, I had an inkling we were in for trouble this season. However, the second she read the definition of the word "Munchausen" off her phone at Villa Rosa, I knew she was done for. All season long, Rinna preached about "owning" her stuff while incessantly gossiping about both Yolanda and Lisa Vanderpump, painting them as the show's master manipulators. All in all, her play worked, earning her the coveted hot seat next to Andy Cohen come reunion time. By season's end, Lisa Rinna had burned bridges with just about everyone in the cast except for Eileen, and the scariest part of the entire madness may be that the longtime actress still thinks she's in the right...She can cry "scapegoat" all she wants, but there's no denying that her own mouth was what got Rinna in a giant heap of trouble this year.
WHAT COULD CHANGE
- A snoozy finale: After SO MUCH went down over the course of the season, it was beyond frustrating to see the finale amount to, well, pretty much a whole lot of nothing. Kyle's gorgeous house in Palm Desert set the stage for what could've been an electrifying event, but all we got was Lisa Rinna apologizing to Yolanda and throwing darts at Kim with the rest of the 'Wives basically refusing to engage. This may sound terrible, but I was almost grateful that Bravo decided to film more when Yolanda and David's divorce became public because otherwise the finale would've been entirely forgettable.
- Please, no more Munchausen: Dear Bravo, for the love of all that is holy, please never force us to hear the word "Munchausen" ever again. I feel confident that I'm speaking for every single fan out there when I say this. I really just can't take it anymore. I have sympathy for what Yolanda is going through, but enough is enough. When the Wives were talking about anything other than Munchausen, I loved the season. When they were obsessing over it, I didn't. While we're on the topic, can this please be the official end of "fake diseases by Bravo?" I'm talking to you, Evolution Media. We've endured a full season of Brooks Ayers faking cancer on RHOC and now another 24 episodes dominated by whether or not Yolanda's Lyme disease was real. The Housewives are over it, the audience is over it, even Andy is probably over it. Please let this be the end.
- Cast shake-ups: The one constant in the Bravo universe is the rotating door of Housewives. Season after season, some women are let go and new 'Wives take their place. It's a pattern as reliable as the sun rising or someone calling Lisa Vanderpump manipulative. Last season I questioned whether Kim Richards was in a healthy-enough state to continue filming, but had no idea that my wish for Brandi Glanville to finally be fired from the show would actually come true. This year, I think the most obvious choice for getting the ax would be newbie Kathryn Edwards. Not that I want this to happen - I love her - but out of all of the women, she's the most easily replaceable. However, I also wonder if either Yolanda or Eileen may take their final bows and exit stage left before Season 7. Yolanda went into this season with a single-minded goal to raise awareness for her Lyme disease, but the idea went sideways on her when it grew into rumors about her personal integrity and started involving her children in the gossip. Her Lyme storyline being dominated by the big, bad M-word was certainly not what she had in mind. As for Eileen, I adore her on the show and hope she comes back, but we all know she's far too sane and cool for all this craziness. As much as she turned into the bad guy this season, we all know Lisa Rinna is never going to walk away from the show until Andy personally pries the contract from her cold, dead hands. Therefore, my ideal cast for next season would be Kyle, Lisa Vanderpump, Lisa Rinna, Eileen, Erika, Kathryn, one newbie and maybe one official Friend of the Housewives.
- Season 2: The sophomore season in Beverly Hills represents quintessential Housewives at both its best and darkest. Taylor Armstrong's tense, crumbling marriage and the allegations of domestic abuse going on behind closed doors dominated the season, and took the darkest turn possible when her husband Russell committed suicide prior to the season premiere. Kim Richards on-camera spiral into addiction and ill-fated relationship with the shady, enabling Ken Blumenfeld also cast a wide shadow on the season and her already strained relationship with sister Kyle. However, this year also gave us the gift of Queen Camille Grammer's awe-inspiring comeback from Season 1 villain to the patron saint of Season 2 as well as the introduction of Brandi Glanville and Dana "$25,000 sunglasses" Wilkey. Iconic moments from the season included the game night showdown between Brandi and the Richards sisters, the Malibu Beach Party from Hell and the clash between Taylor, Camille and Lisa Vanderpump at the latter's ill-fated tea party. The three-part reunion was also particularly epic. Kyle busted out her unforgettable line comparing friendship with LVP to playing chess with Bobby Fischer, the repercussions of which have reverberated all the way to the current day. Kim also missed the reunion taping altogether due to a trip to rehab, and only admitted during the final installment that she was an alcoholic.
- Season 6: Even given my criticism, I really loved this season. It went deep and wide, but without the toxic negativity of Brandi's drama. The Hamptons, Dubai, O.J. Simpson, Erika Jayne, the return of Faye Resnick...shall I go on? Now if only we could do something about Lisa Rinna's penchant for reading things off her phone and using the word "enraged."
- Season 1: While it may seem tame by today's standards, Season 1 was - as Andy Cohen so eloquently stated in the Uncensored special - truly "lightning in a bottle." With Camille Grammer declared as the "Most Hated Housewife in America" by Life & Style at the time, the debut season gave us the iconic Dinner Party from Hell, Kyle Richards' epic "you're such a f***ing liar Camille" line and Alison DuBois' e-cigarette and set the high water mark for what a first season could be in the Housewives universe.
- Season 3: I had some issues with it at the time, but Season 3 has very much grown on me in the intervening years since it aired. While it was frustrating to watch the primary storyline revolve around damning information revealed by Brandi Glanville about Adrienne Maloof that was edited out for legal reasons, (it was eventually revealed that Adrienne used a surrogate for the birth of her twin boys), the season also swirled with intrigue and constantly-shifting alliances. Plus, we'll always have the Housewives' incredible trip to Paris.
- Season 5: This time last year, I felt that Season 5 was possibly the best season of the show yet. But as a counterpoint to Season 3, my enthusiasm has waned significantly and it now finds itself on the bottom half of the list. I loved the addition of Lisa Rinna (at the time) and Eileen Davidson (always), but I realized how hit-or-miss the season really was when a friend asked me for a recommendation on which episodes were absolutely must-see. As I thought about her question, it dawned on me that after Kyle's White Party, the season was sluggish to really get rolling and the drama didn't start until around Episode 8. I eventually told my friend there were quite a few episodes she could skip altogether, and advised her to particularly focused on the back half of the season when things finally got good. That being said, the disastrous poker party at Eileen's house and the drama at Kyle's gay mixer are not to be missed and I loved the cast trip to Yo's homeland of Holland. Plus, the reunion had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, while this season's ultimately came up short.
- Season 4: It's my ardent belief that this is the season Andy Cohen and all the other major players at Bravo would like to pretend never happened. The addition of Carlton Gebbia and Joyce Giraud de Ohoven proved to be a disaster, with the majority of fans abhorring the former while finding the latter gratingly annoying. Plenty of die-hard LVP supporters are still bitter about Brandi Glanville's season-long smear campaign against her former BFF and the trip to Puerto Rico was kind of awful. By the start of Season 5, the show seemed to have hit the proverbial reset button and it's almost like the boring season only exists in our nightmares.
With that, my coverage of Season 6 is officially, truly over. What did you think of the season overall? Do you agree or disagree with my ranking of the seasons? Let me know in the comments!