This is Brandi Glanville. Brandi is the “hot” housewife, the youngest by a good margin, probably the poorest (if we don’t count Taylor and her tragically byzantine financial ruin), and not even technically a wife — her marriage to actor Eddie Cibrian ended over three years ago when he cheated on her with LeAnn Rimes, whom he met on the set of a Lifetime Original Movie. Brandi’s defining characteristics are that she has no cellulite and she speaks her mind, which usually involves either bleeped-out sexually charged comments or seemingly involuntary snipes at the other housewives. She suffers from what might be called Reality TV Tourette’s. Brandi is a ray of sunshine on this television show, but that doesn’t mean she can’t occasionally, in her words, “cry and drink and take Lexapro.”
Let’s rewind. One of Brandi’s earliest-fired shots was when she accused Kim Richards of “doing crystal meth all night in the bathroom, bitch,” a keenly observed hypothesis gloriously devoid of tact, but a mere hypothesis nonetheless, as Kim’s subsequent rehab stint was officially for alcoholism. This did not go over well, neither with Kim nor with her sister Kyle, who had been looking for a legitimate reason to dislike Brandi anyway. (Brandi later suggested to Kyle that the accusation had helped get Kim’s substance abuse issues in the open, another well-reasoned hypothesis delivered with the subtlety of a linebacker, which was roundly rejected.)
This week we learned that Kim has organized a trip to Ojai for the ladies, which seems to be kind of out of left field, but everyone is charitably and/or patronizingly going along with it, telling us they want to “support Kim,” as if she were a special-needs child and the trip was her science fair project. Kim and Brandi have been inching toward a reconciliation in the wake of Kim’s sobriety, and Kim took a major step by allowing Brandi to come along. They still aren’t really speaking, but lack of a seating chart for their first dinner in Ojai leads the two women to take seats across from each other. Kim, in a particularly ponderous and spiritual mood here in the mountains, believes that the universe wanted this to happen, even if she did not.
And then, with little to no talking-head contextualization or self-aggrandizing buildup, Brandi begins to do something she’s never done before: talk to Kim like a rational adult.
“Your girls are always around,” says Brandi, who apparently has friends with children who are friends with Kim’s children. She is careful not to touch her rosé even as the other women have already toasted. “They are so sweet, and they love you so much. They’ve given me a hard time a few times, I’m not gonna lie.”
Kim nods warily, not sure where this is going. “Oh yeah, I’m sure,” she says. “They don’t like you.” She lets out a nervous laugh.
Brandi smiles sheepishly. “Of course.” She knows she probably deserves that. “But, um, they’re really good girls.”
Kim can feel the tears coming already. It’s true, isn’t it? Her girls are really good. A lump catches in her throat. “Thank you. Thank you so much,” she whispers.
The wine is flowing and the rest of the women are abuzz with chatter, but nobody seems to notice that something really special is happening at this end of the dinner table. Brandi leans forward, face dead serious. “There are times when I will sit by myself, and go into a deep, dark hole, and be alone in the dark because nobody’s calling and saying, ‘Let’s do something,'” she confesses, her ever-present California upspeak belying her sincerity. As long as I can power through the sadness but come out sounding happy, I cannot be defeated, she tells herself. “But it’s because everyone’s married with kids!”
“I know, I get it,” Kim says. It’s uncanny, as if Brandi were reading Kim’s journal back to her.
“I know you do.”
“My kids go, and the house is empty,” Kim continues, trying to articulate her loneliness without actually calling it back to haunt her. “And my house has always been filled with all my kids.” Brandi nods. “And as soon as they go, and the house is empty, what do you do?”
“I cry,” Brandi says without missing a beat.
“Me too,” Kim says just as quickly.
“And I drink.”
Kim nods sadly. “I did, too.”
“And I take Lexapro.”
Brandi continues. “I’ve been in the darkest of dark places, and I’ve done some shit that I really had to do some soul-searching about. So I don’t want you to think I’m judging you — I want you to know that I’ve been there.”
Kim holds up a hand as the tears begin to well up. Kim’s go-to method of shutting down an emotionally uncomfortable situation is the classic “talk to the hand” — she had it all ready to go as soon as she sat down across from Brandi tonight, but now, even though her hand is up, her walls are down. The only thing she really wants to shut down now are her tears — she can’t cry here, in front of all these successful, socially adept women who took time out of their busy lives to participate in her special, relaxing vacation.
“I know I’ve apologized to you a few times. I know I have no filter, and I say things that I probably shouldn’t say — ”
“That was really uncalled for,” Kim admits, recalling that ghoulish night at Pam’s through a benzodiazepene haze as the first tear falls. “But I know you didn’t mean — ”
“Uh-oh, somebody’s crying!”
Adrienne Maloof, brandishing a glass of Pinot and a mocking grin, cranes her neck to gawk at Kim. The rest of the conversation at the table grinds to a halt. Kim sinks into her chair, red-faced and teary and mortified.
Brandi stares at her plate, dumbstruck. After all this progress, which was nothing short of an emotional breakthrough, the spell is broken. She meets eyes with Kim and feels as though she might cry herself, but then she told herself she’d never cry on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. So responds to Adrienne the only other reasonable way she can think of: