Last night was, finally finally finally, the season finale of this most ugly and unpleasant season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Yeah, the suicide season.
For those not in the know: Just before this season, the show's second, began, news broke that Russell Armstrong, the husband of cast member Taylor, had killed himself. So that was a terrible way to start the season, especially considering that he'd done so amid a whole frenzy of rumors that he was beating his wife. Just really bad, awful stuff that doesn't have a place on what should be a mostly airy, only sometimes serious show. Even more grimly, most of the season was filmed before Russell committed suicide, meaning the knowledge of it hovered over everything like a grim specter as we watched Taylor weep and moan all about her crumbling marriage. This went on for twenty episodes.
Plus Kim Richards, one half of the show's bickering former child star sister duo, was falling down a well of substance issues — pills? booze? both? — all while starting what seemed like an inevitably doomed romantic relationship. And she didn't get better! The season ended with a little coda saying that she'd gone to rehab and that was it for an update. And it seems she won't be at the reunion. So this was not a long season of someone getting better, it was a season of someone getting worse and worse, despite the halfhearted pleas from her TV friends to get herself together. Doesn't that sound like fun???
No, of course it doesn't. Which is why we're so happy this season has ended. It's not exactly Bravo's fault that they ordered such a long season and then all this happened, of course they had no way of knowing, they probably expected mostly just the lighter surface fighting of the first season with maybe another crazy dinner party thrown in, but they certainly could have been a bit more discerning or something about editing the season in light of Russell's suicide and Kim's descent into pill-addled madness. Obviously this season, this entire long and arduous slog, was still entertaining in parts — there were crazy fights and crazy dinner parties and ridiculous $25,000 sunglasses and, in the end, a lavish wedding — but, for us, such a pall was cast over the season that all the other routinely silly stuff was impossible to enjoy.
In one season Real Housewives of Beverly Hills went from Bravo's most enjoyable iteration of its vast Housewives franchise to absolutely the worst. Not in terms of quality necessarily, but certainly in terms of experience. That little sickly, acid feeling you usually get at the end of each episode of Housewives (or something similar)? That didn't really go away, for the whole season. It lingered and stung and made us feel queasy — gross for having watched in the first place, gross for still watching, and really put off by a network that would continue to hammer away at all this bleak stuff with the same bright marketing as everything else. Same cool-perky voiceover guy, same cheery blue graphics, same tuneless, dopey music. So little effort was made to address the fact that we were watching the lead-up to a guy's suicide and the dismantling of a woman's sanity, coming up next after an all new Tabatha and Brad's Matchmaking Challenge!
We're not saying they should cancel the show altogether, but we wish they'd canceled this season. Obviously that would have been basically impossible, financially and even narratively, but it still feels like what they should have done. Ah well. It's over now, thank god. Well, of course there are the reunion episodes, but once that's over, we're free of all this sad, unpleasant muck. Until next season, anyway.