"Over the past two months, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has morphed from a plandid look at very rich women bickering about petty things — previous tiffs have included being late to a meetup and the adoption and return of a dog named Lucy Lucy Applejuicey — into a show centered more and more on one woman’s too-desperate performance to prove her innocence," says Alex Abad-Santos. "The change in tone is the outcome of legal actions taken against Erika Girardi and her husband Tom — chief among them a lawsuit accusing the Real Housewife of using a phony divorce to hide millions of dollars that her ex-husband allegedly embezzled from his clients. Instead of avoiding the cameras as she undergoes her divorce and other legal woes, Erika (also known by her stage name, Erika Jayne) filmed multiple episodes this season in which decisions, hearings, and news reports break in real time. Her cast mates — who the show claims are her very best friends — appear to have been repeatedly blindsided on camera by these events. While no one on the show says it out loud, Bravo experts and Housewives watchers alike posit that Erika has sought legal counsel as to what to say on the show to not do further damage. Her appearances this season have become peculiar, suddenly asking both cast mates and the audience to forget everything she’s shown us about her fabulous life over the past six years. It’s likely why her behavior this season resembles a community theater’s enthusiastic revival of The Glass Menagerie. It’s reality, bursting through the layers of TV production and legal artifice. And I cannot stop watching."
TOPICS: Erika Jayne, Bravo, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Reality TV