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Arts and Entertainment

'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Season Two Premiere: A Recap

The cast of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"/Image via Bravo
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After a highly publicized build-up following the suicide of Russell Armstrong, the premiere of the second season of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" went on as scheduled on Monday. As promised by Bravo execs, the episode didn't show Russell, but did rely heavily on Taylor Armstrong's struggle to save the couple's marriage. Before we get to that, though, a recap:

Season two finds some of the ladies changed, and some the same. Camille Grammar, most notably, has been dealing with her divorce from Kelsey for several months. Between shots of her riding across her five-acre estate in a golf cart and unveiling the spoils of her divorce, which include expensive furniture and a horse, Grammar seems legitimately amused when she tells the cameras that a friend told her to expect the worst and she won't be disappointed, and she has, indeed, not been disappointed.

As for the other ladies, we find that Lisa Vanderpump's daughter, Pandora, will be getting engaged soon (everyone loves a wedding!), Kyle Richards is moving (to another house in Beverly Hills, we assume), and Kim Richards is still pissed off about the epic fight she and Kyle had at the end of last season.

Needless to say, it all comes to a head at -- where else? -- a dinner party at Adrienne Maloof's house, whose plotline for the season appears to be that her husband sometimes pisses her off.

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Maloof themes the dinner party ( don't have themed dinner parties?) around the concept of the olive branch, which is convenient because an olive tree, she notes, recently fell in her front yard. Hoping to keep the peace among the ladies, Maloof waves the branch over her guests and delivers a toast.

Despite this extraordinary effort, though, it's not long before Ken Vanderpump unwittingly upsets Taylor. After Taylor admits that she and Russell are in therapy together, Ken states simply that going to marriage therapy would make him feel "weak." As is to be expected, he and Lisa use the "but we're British!" excuse for his offensive remark, Taylor cries in the bathroom, and the drama begins.

Now, to the pressing question: should they, or shouldn't they have gone forward with the season? It's certainly stirred a lot of debate: those in favor of keeping the show on the air say that the network isn't responsible for Russell's death, that he knew what he was signing up for when he agreed to participate on the show. Those opposed say that reality TV has gone too far and needs to be re-examined.

In an interview on the "Today Show," Douglas Ross, the show's executive producer, said that Bravo had taken a long look at the series and made adjustments where they thought it was appropriate. In the same segment, Maloof also suggested that not airing the show would be akin to sweeping suicide under the rug.

And certainly, talking openly about suicide is a very worthwhile endeavor....except that's not what the show did, nor is it what the season is going to do. Russell's suicide was addressed briefly in a hastily filmed, five-minute introduction that featured all the cast members except Taylor. The ladies talked about how tragic his death was, how they didn't see it coming, and how they need to be sure to support Taylor.

And that was as far as they are likely to go in discussing the issue on the series, since a disclaimer then noted that all of the events in the season were filmed prior to Russell's death.

Whether it was right or wrong to air the show, though, the reality is that going forward with it very likely boiled down to a financial decision for Bravo, not a philosophical one. And that said, neither airing the season nor keeping it under wraps will change what's already happened.

What do you think? Should Bravo have aired the second season of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"?