Before we had ever even heard of Lynne Spears, Dina Lohan and Kris Jenner, there was a very original stage Mom – Kathleen Dugan Avanzino Richards Catain Fenton – the mother of Kathy Hilton, Kim Richards and Kyle Richards. Most of their family history has already been documented and dissected in at least one book and innumerable tabloids. Her legacy, that being her three daughters, has piqued our interest and curiosity since the first airing of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, which brought two of those daughters back into the limelight.
Kim and Kyle Richards struggle with that legacy, which, we have been told, was neither pretty nor anywhere close to idyllic. Big Kathy, as she has come to be known, was described by one magazine writer as a Gatsby-like figure, always searching for money, glamor and, like Jay Gatsby, love and acceptance. She taught her daughters how to use their feminine wiles to achieve some of these goals. She also pushed them to become famous.
We are now witnesses to the damage her mothering and their childhoods have wrought. In particular, Kim is a truly lost soul, still trying to live in the world of child star she once was. It is not fun or entertaining to watch. In the first season, Kim gave a rambling talking head interview in which she tried to explain that her niece, Paris, was unaware of the stature her Aunt Kim had once had. Kim referred to herself as an icon. My apologies, Kim, but I had to Google you to figure out how I knew your name. It was more than a little embarrassing but gave us a little snapshot of a woman clearly stuck in her perceived glory days. This season, we now see a woman who is unraveling, due to alcohol, substance abuse or a combination of both. She rarely makes any sense, lies when it suits her purposes, appears to be unable to arrive anywhere on time and informs anyone that she doesn’t care for that they simply don’t exist.
Her sister Kyle has been both the victim and enabler of her sister’s issues. Kyle tries to make sense of what makes no sense, gets angry, cries or simply ignores her sister. Not all of this is their fault or making. Big Kathy let them down. In her own desire to become somebody, she fell down in the mothering department. The lessons that she needed to pass on to her girls just weren’t in her curriculum.
The sister relationship is a funny animal. I have a younger sister, and while we have our differences, we always know that we share a history of love, tears, pain and laughter. I don’t try to mother her or offer unsolicited advice. Our own mother, despite some turbulent times in our household, taught us much by example. She found a job, went back to college, instilled in us a love of books, a solid work ethic and the need for an education. We were sent out into the world with the message that we were supposed to share the contents of our lunch bags and never hit the other children. She showed us that we could be anything we wanted to be, and even allowed us to fail without constantly being our safety net. From that, we learned how to stand on our own two feet. That’s the best lesson – thanks Mom.
That is why I am willing to give these two women a pass on some of their drama. I have found myself tearing up as they try to understand each other. No one gave them the tools they so needed to become adult women. They grew up with a controlling, even domineering, role model and have, themselves, become controlling. We have only seen two seasons of how they interact as sisters as well as with others, and even that has been heavily filtered by Bravo’s less than fair editing. Their problems go back some forty years. Bad behaviors have not been addressed and, from what I have seen, neither of these women has ever been held to task for them. Kim is unable to stay in rehab long enough to truly confront and manage her demons. Even with Bravo’s slanted editing, one can see that Kyle could find some peace and coping skills with her own course of therapy. I truly wish them the best for their futures.
– Note to the Richards sisters – please avoid any appointments with the charming but questionable Dr. Sophy.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta – a quick assessment of relationships
Apollo and Phaedra get my vote as a couple who might just have a real marriage. They sure do love that little boy.
Kroy appears to have a positive influence on Kim. (I could have done without the romantic evening becoming a family project) I’m keeping my fingers crossed for both of them.
Somebody tell me why Cynthia thought Peter was better spouse material than Leon. Peter was downright juvenile with his whining about he never gets to go anywhere or get a day off or go on vacation. Grow up, man.
Nene and Marlo are scary enough as individuals. Together they are just dangerous!