The 'Housewives' Reach Critical Mass

It's really gotten time they put Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to bed.

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It's a bit trite to say this about one of Bravo's dogs-off-a-leash programs at this point in television's ignoble history, but good grief can we please put the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to bed? After last night's episode? It's just too much. Everyone's all worked up, people are saying things they don't mean or understand, everyone just needs to cool down, sit quietly for a moment, maybe drink some warm milk or something, and go to bed.

Not that this exhausting season hasn't been entertaining. Of course it has! With the ace additions of Brandi Glandi and Dana's $25,000 sunglasses it's been a hoot. Well, partly a hoot. That stuff has been funny, and there have been moments of pure black excitement over the strange developments with strange Kim Richards, but of course there's also been all the business with Taylor and her soon-to-be-late husband Russell. Stuff about spousal abuse, while the specter of a suicide looms large over the proceedings. And that's a bit much, don't you think? Like, it's been 14 episodes already.

Used to be these shows were only about 12 episodes a season, but now, sheesh, now they drag them out to something like 18. It's exhausting! And the ladies look exhausted too. They're swimming in the middle of the book and have no idea where they are, what shore they're heading to and which one they came from. Context has become so vague, points of reference so blurry, this far out to sea. What we roughly know is that Brandi Glandi had a wine party (to distinguish this party as a wine party was funny, because aren't all of their parties essentially wine parties?) on some storm-blasted spit of rock in Malibu and all the women (minus Dana, curiously) were in attendance and tensions were running high. Because of the fight/discussion Camille and Maloof had with Taylor last week about Russell's physical abuse -- that awful, uncomfortable scene of self-righteous bellowing and meek lady cowering.

At the wine party, Taylor didn't want to talk to anybody, Camille's always intrusive friends wanted to get Taylor to talk to Camille, Brandi Glandi just wanted everyone to have a fun, sexy, elegant time, and Kyle Richards, the ol' creaky cut-up, just wanted to make everyone laugh, all a mechanically desperate way to be the center of attention. (The actor is strong in that one.) And it was just so tiring to watch, everyone hopped up on Diet Coke and exercise pills, glugging down their wine, all knowing this couldn't possibly end well. And then it did, eventually, devolve into Taylor stretched across a table, screaming and clawing at one of Camille's friends, the friend shouting back, Camille looking faux-bewildered, and poor Brandi Glandi weeping softly in a corner because she just wanted to fit in and now her windswept wine party was a shrieking disaster. (She'll soon realize, of course, that in Housewives terms, this party was a wild success.)

And funny things happened, for sure. Like the mother of reality stain Brody Jenner (yes of The Hills and also the Kardashians) speaking philosophically about how the big ocean "will be here long after we're gone" and saying "we're an evolved species, we shouldn't fight like this." That stuff was fresh, and original, and funny, as was a satisfying running gag in the episode about Cheetos, but all the Taylor yelling and subsequent back-of-a-limo breakdowning (these women have cried in limos more than many people have been in regular cars), complete with lighting the filter of a cigarette on fire, was just... no. They cannot sustain that, should not sustain it, any longer. It's done, we're done. The brick wall's been hit, we've cut too far and reached bone, it's just all gotten too grim. There is nothing fun or frivolous about this disagreement, nothing shallow or ultimately inane. This is an abused woman defending a husband who will later hang himself. That's what last night's episode of a Bravo reality show was about.

No more! Let's be done. But, sigh, next week isn't even the finale.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.