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December 08, 2011  | by: Dania McDermott
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

It’s been one hell of a ride in the 90210 this season. With viewer interest heightened by the suicide of Taylor’s briefly estranged husband, Russell Armstrong, season 2 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is expectedly focused on their troubled marriage.

The preamble to the suicide of an allegedly abusive husband certainly isn’t the safest of plots. If Bravo were to peruse the comment section of any Housewives web post, they’d face vehement dissention among fans: One sect argues that the focus is insensitive and tasteless  –  particularly where abuse survivors and Russell’s family are involved — while the other applauds the network for having the balls to air any of it.

But even if the network had pussyfoot, avoiding the pervasive sense of discomfort shared by Taylor, Russell and anyone around them – including viewers — season 2 would still hold up.

Having given editors license to “demonize” her in season 1, Kelsey Grammer’s ex-wife Camille has predictably returned and is wisely  laying comparatively low this time around. She still can’t keep the actor’s name out of her mouth, but now that it’s prefaced by “My ex” and followed by some randomly bitter statement, it’s a lot less annoying. And so is Camille.

New Girl In the Hills: Brandi Faces Richards Sisters

New Girl In the Hills: Brandi Faces Richards Sisters

With Kyle Richards’ angry outburst about older sister, Kim, being an alcoholic serving as the lasting final words of season 1, the feuding siblings have resumed some sense of normalcy in their relationship. Of course, “normal” should be taken with a grain: Kim’s still blatantly blitzed, though we know now that booze ain’t the only culprit; and Kyle still feels the need to parent her older sister who, despite being in clear need of help, isn’t going to change simply ‘cause her baby sister says so.

And what better way for fallen kinfolk to bond than to tag-team a newcomer?

Former model and unofficial cast member, Brandi Glanville has had a taste of both sisters’ cattiness on more than one occasion. True to avoidant form, Kim resolves that she just won’t speak to her — but Kyle’s vacillation between “giving Brandi a chance” and openly criticizing her nipply attire (while a guest in her home) just make the once unflappable housewife seem insecure. The number of times that she’s insisted on busting out the splits doesn’t help matters.

A Very Photoshopped Lisa Vandercamp

A Very Photoshopped Lisa Vandercamp

One housewife who clearly doesn’t need that sort of validation is Lisa. Taylor and Kyle may share the belief that her ego is inflated this season, but Lisa’s just as full of herself as she was when we were first introduced. And given Taylor’s history of low self esteem coupled with the recent cracks in Kyle’s armor, we must also take criticisms of Lisa with a grain (albeit a smaller one this time).

The eldest of the wives, she’s still as pink and sparkly as she wants to be. Never a fan of Taylor’s flair for the dramatic, she easily reads as “harsh” and “insensitive” during their interactions, but so would a baby deer. Besides, routine emotional breakdowns just aren’t Lisa’s idea of a good time.

Adrienne & Paul

Adrienne & Paul

Over in Plasticland, the Maloof-Nassif union that once seemed the best curmudgeonly match may be headed for rough roads. It’s definitely not on par with the Armstrong conflict (Adrienne’s kickboxing skills would totally pwn Paul’s surgeon hands), but there does seem to be a lingering agitation between them that their mild bickering no longer fully absolves.

Still, they’re no Taylor and Russell – the quietly dysfunctional couple that made us wonder season 1, and wonder still season 2.

Because, in a profoundly sick way, the death of Russell Armstrong was an unexpected and troublesome cherry atop what was already a highly anticipated season. Whether or not it’s morally sound to air is irrelevant – it’s reality.

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