I ask myself questions when I watch Kelly flit and flounce through New York City. Questions like: how does she make it through the day? How many hours does she lie in the sun versus have self-tanner applied by small Vietnamese hands? Also, what combination of drugs is she on right now?
Prior to becoming a Real Housewife, Kelly wore many hats. She was a model. An equestrian. A mom. And most important, the wife of a French fashion photographer named Gilles. Can’t you just see him, with his stubble and his Gallousies, the loft, and the music, and the photoshoot that led to the sex that led to the marriage that led to the divorce?
Maybe Kelly was normal before the show. Vapid yes, but able to be successful on her own because she was a model, and models are rich and get to have houses in the Hamptons and be horsewomen when they aren’t modeling. However, and to misquote Bob Dylan, she was so much younger then, and she’s older than that now.
|Now Even Older Than This|
Kelly joined the show in the second season and had some fantastic scenes where she would go to a party in the Hamptons in a tiny dress and cowboy boots and talk about “covering” the party for a magazine. The way she spoke with people – and I say “speak” with a lot of respect for sentences and phrases and the way words form to make them -- it was like your worst nightmare of what a party in the Hamptons would be. Just the fakest, most pathetic, stilted conversations, and of course the cameras don’t help.
What is so apparent watching these shows is this way people talk to each other and interact as if they are modeling themselves after an archetype of all the reality show people who have come before. So everyone kisses on both cheeks because that’s what you do. You say, “congratulations on your charity event, it is really fabulous.” And then you say something mean about them and later get in a fight, in order to ensure more camera time.
What is interesting about Kelly is she often gets confused with how the whole thing works. With regularity, she’ll say or do something and pretend it did not happen. And will argue emphatically that she did not say or do it, though it was recorded by cameras and played over and over. She also invents wonderfully inane phrases to sprinkle into her arguments. Which is great when Kelly is dealing with someone like Bethenney, whose sparring with Kelly was akin to Dada performance art. Bethenney, so much smarter, sharper and calmer, such a better arguer, it was almost sad to watch. But it led to phraseology like ”Satchels of Gold,” which Kelly muttered under her breath like a mantra during one argument, or the time she said to Bethenney, “I’m up here (motioning with her hand above her head) and you’re down here. We’re not the same.” I’ll miss Bethenney most for these interactions --Real Housewives at its most surreal and delish.
But then this past season things started to take a darker turn, when Kelly had some kind of psychotic breakdown. The women went down to the Caribbean with Ramona as part of her “Bachelorette Weekend” for the renewing of vows situation I mentioned earlier. (As if it’s not enough to put people through your wedding weekend the first time around, Ramona did it again in her 50’s – complete with a freaking bachelorette party. Though the digs were pretty schnazz – yacht for half the week and mansion for the other). Anyway, the ladies all on this boat and things were tense. Bethenney was pregnant and her jaw was large. Ramona was nattering about renewal. Alex was being kind of normal and the other ladies were talking about pedicures or whatever. Jill and LuAnn had decided not to come because they are both tools, and Jill was fighting with Bethenney, but was supposedly BFF with Kells. Rumor had it (on the internets) that Kelly was doing meth or snorting cocaine, and she was definitely spiraling. Kelly started speaking in tongues and freaking out on everyone and it got pretty weird. She left the Caribbean without being filmed doing it, and everyone on the show seemed like they realized a line had been crossed and got a bit After School Special-ish. And for like two seconds people were talking about the responsibility of the producers and the toll reality television takes on participants and how serious it all is.
Until everyone crawled back for more, including Miss Kelly. Hard to know what to make of that.
* Sheer Elegance is profiling the seven Real Housewives of NYC protagonists all week long, leading up to the Season 4 premiere on April 7.
See the Jill Zarin profile here.
See the Ramona Singer profile here.
See the LuAnn de Lesseps profile here.
See the Alex McCord profile here.