The ‘RHOBH’ Ladies Go to Barcelona, Cry a Lot, and Nearly Die

The “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” might have developed an allergy to conflict on their Spanish vacation, which is high in situational drama and low on feuds.Updated Jan. 31, 2024 9:02PM EST / Published Jan. 31, 2024 9:00PM EST Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/BravoAretha Franklin once famously complimented Taylor Swift’s “great gowns, beautiful gowns” when asked to define the songstress

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The “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” might have developed an allergy to conflict on their Spanish vacation, which is high in situational drama and low on feuds.

Alec Karam

A photo illustration of the cast of RHOBH in Spain.

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Bravo

Aretha Franklin once famously complimented Taylor Swift’s “great gowns, beautiful gowns” when asked to define the songstress in one word. That’s kind of how I feel about a mundane episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

At its worst, the show can be particularly dull, but its inspired locations and general glamor distract it from appearing truly dire. This beautiful, scenic trip to Barcelona exemplifies this wonderfully, as the cast simply flounder around in gorgeous outfits with little to offer.

Tonight’s episode is more character centered, dialing back the drama to focus on Sutton’s ever-fascinating life. I can’t be too critical, as both Sutton and Kyle’s personal arcs have been strong this season, but a character-focused episode—and season—struggles when the other women fail to carry their weight.

We pick up with Crystal’s health crisis, as nurse anesthetist Annemarie looks to help her. Kyle offers to call 9-1-1, blissfully unaware they’re not in L.A. and Angela Bassett won’t be there to save them. Annemarie can’t help but feel the moment is a vindication for her.

“Given Crystal repeatedly insulting and degrading my profession, the irony of what is happening right now is literally shocking,” Annemarie says in her confessional.

Now, I hate to punch down on Annemarie, who even the editors seem to want off the show, but… what did she really do here? As Crystal is loaded onto the ambulance, she reads her blood pressure to Annemarie, and Annemarie says “yep, there you go,” signifying she may have told Crystal it’s a blood pressure issue.

Then, Annemarie offers to go with her to the hospital, but when she finds out producer Gavin is heading with Crystal, she decides to stay behind. So, it’s hard to act like Annemarie resuscitated a dying Crystal, but her self-congratulation is amusing, regardless.

Crystal Kung Minkoff gets in an ambulance.

Crystal Kung Minkoff gets in an ambulance.

Bravo

I do love that she thought taking a victory lap while Crystal suffers a health crisis would be the moment she endears herself to fans. If Annemarie could only channel this delusion more charmingly, we might have a Housewife on our hands.

With Crystal shuttled away, the ladies head to church to light candles.

Here, we get a heartwarming moment between Kyle and Sutton, as the two cry together over their late parents and rekindle their friendship. Sutton is easily Kyle’s best scene partner since her sister Kim, and their fallout has had genuine stakes.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been a better friend,” a teary-eyed Sutton tells Kyle as they embrace, to which Kyle replies, “You have been a good friend. It’s okay.”

While it’s a lovely moment, it’s also sure to be short-lived. Post-season, the two have made clear they aren’t in a good place, but evidently, the power of God and Crystal’s health scare was enough to temporarily mend their broken bond. Regardless, it’s sure to be the most interesting aspect of the reunion—alongside Sutton allegedly fainting at the sight of Kathy Hilton. But take that with a grain of salt, for now.

The ladies head into the city for some shopping and a little lunch, guided by a guitarist named Manolo. At lunch, Annemarie leads a lukewarm toast to Crystal, health and positive vibes, before turning the conversation back to her scuffle with Crystal. Likely exhausted by the B-listers taking over, Garcelle yanks back the mic to discuss her simmering feud with Dorit over her microaggressions.

Taco Tuesday, which was a really tough night, I just felt like I left my body,” Garcelle recalls.

When Dorit reminds Garcelle she called her a Karen, Garcelle says she doesn’t feel Dorit is racist, but she does live a sheltered life. Dorit takes this moment to, again, remind Garcelle she’s Jewish, although this time her approach manages to land well enough. Talking about her own upbringing and the anti-semitism she faced, Dorit’s able to find a moment of connection with Garcelle, and the two put their issues behind them.

It’s a bit of a rehash, and unlikely to put a true pin in their problems, but that’s another issue resolved. The women of RHOBH are allergic to conflict on this trip, just squashing feuds left and right.

I mean, the biggest conflict of the episode comes as Sutton sets a three-minute timer for Dorit and Kyle’s shopping trip. Great gowns, beautiful gowns—and antique fans!

Back at the villa, Crystal has resurrected, and she’s ready to put her issues with Annemarie in the rear-view. You know what that means: The women are now feudless. I repeat: There are no feuds left on this trip. No fits, no fights, no feuds. No fun, either, but that’s neither here nor there.

Before a paella-making dinner class, we’re treated to a drop of Kyle marriage content, as she and Mauricio attempt a FaceTime with a flimsy connection (a double entendré fully intended by the editors, we can assume).

Although Crystal is joining Kyle in the “Sober Susies” club tonight, Erika gets a head start on her drinking. The women slink into the courtyard to meet Sutton’s friends Trevor and some of his Barcelonian peers. Upon meeting Erika, Trevor remarks, “Erika I’m afraid you’re going to, like, topple over.” Someone’s trying to stir the pot, at least. Thank you, Trevor!

We’re also re-introduced to chef Storm and… his dad? The paella class is a family affair, it seems, and Garcelle shifts her interests onto the DILF-y chef Servais. Sutton, too, shares an interest, although she fears she won’t stand a chance.

“I mean, Garcelle will probably win,” she says in her confessional. “Her bosoms are bigger than mine.”

This is RHOBH, though, so it only amounts to mild flirting. Put Luann de Lesseps within 10 miles of this villa, and it’ll be a much different story.

Before the women take a seat, Erika lauds Annemarie for “letting her profession ride over her personal s**t.” At this point, I’m thinking Annemarie must’ve given Crystal life-saving CPR off-camera, but the only footage shown to support Erika’s claims is a quick hug between Annemarie and Crystal. Even Crystal says “Annemarie was amazing today,” so clearly we must’ve missed something.

At dinner, Sutton shares more about her life working for Merce Cunningham in New York City. While she and Trevor—who also worked for Merce—reminisce, Erika cuts in to remind us that Sutton transported the late choreographer’s ashes in a Ziploc-like vessel. We spend maybe 20 seconds on reaction shots, before Sutton shares that the ashes of Big Kathy, Kyle’s mom, are in her guest bathroom. That sounds about right.

Next, we go around the table and learn about the guests. All of them are worldly, with genuinely fascinating achievements. One designed the gorgeous roof of the Santa Caterina Market in Barcelona, while another of Trevor’s friends helped urban plan downtown Beirut, Lebanon, following the country’s civil war ended in the 1990s. But, do any of them know Sutton has to have her food chewed up like a baby bird’s due to her small esophagus?

Erika does her best to keep up with the Joneses, sharing in her confessional that she planned to pepper these “erudites” with a sea of questions. But, after saying she heard Beirut is like Los Angeles, she asks if there’s still a civil war there. Erika, you just won Sutton’s game and proved you’re a great listener, so surely you and I both heard this woman refer to the war in past tense. We can’t all be Lebanese like Amira (and me!), but we can all employ active listening.

After dinner, Sutton receives a nice pep talk from Trevor, and it really is heartfelt. Before this season, we were missing many of Sutton’s layers, and it’s nice to truly pull back the curtain and understand who she is beyond the kooky cat lady. If only we had the privilege of getting such depth out of the rest of the cast, then this drama-free outing would be sensational.

The next morning, Sutton breaks down in tears while her make-up artist frantically dabs her eyes with a tissue. Preparing to release Merce’s ashes, old feelings of her father’s death and her divorce came to the surface, Sutton tells Kyle. Realizing she has to let all three go, Sutton loses control of her emotions.

“It’s symbolic of a big part of my life,” Sutton says. “I was so angry for so long about the divorce. It just consumes you.”

We end on this somber note, but it’s one that packs a punch. As far as character studies go, this episode was a nice look into Sutton, and Kyle by extension. Though, as far as Real Housewives episodes go, it wasn’t much to write home about. It’s nice, regardless, to add depth to these women, something that helps us actually care.

After all, it’s hard to find any interest in Annemarie’s arc because she was plopped into the group with little to no explanation, and has suffered from a one-dimensional edit. The episode may be low-stakes, but at least it’s narratively meaningful.

Next week, the woman don red outfits for some dancing and hopefully some drama, when Garcelle asks Erika if she trusts the group. And I’ll bet anything that the phrase “lady in red” will be said at least once.

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