James Parker on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

An awkward dinner party scene displays the best and worst of the reality franchise.

"Gossip keeps the matrix humming," writes James Parker in the April issue of The Atlantic. "On a recent episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Brandi ... uttered something so ghastly, so Munch’s-Scream scandalizing, about fellow Real Housewife Adrienne that we weren’t even allowed to hear it (the sound dropped out for a second), only to observe the violence of its effects in housewife world: gasps and widening eyes, a threatened lawsuit, and Adrienne’s snouty plastic-surgeon husband getting in Brandi’s face and calling her a 'piece of shit.'"

In this clip, featuring Brandi and her Beverly Hills frenemies, Parker shows how the TV franchise uses music, camera work, and highly ritualized gestures to make the most of every gossip-worthy moment. 


Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she edits digital features.

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