On Monday, a producer of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills said that the season premiere would be respectul and responsible in treating the aftermath of Russell Armstrong's suicide.
But Douglas Ross also cautioned in a Today interview: It is important to note that Taylor's [Armstrong] story is told throughout the season.
The second season premiere of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was highly anticipated, premiering just three weeks after Russell Armstrong took his own life on Aug. 15 amid devastating financial and personal problems. (Taylor Armstrong filed for divorce in July.)
The late Armstrong may have been edited out in body, but he was certainly more present than he ever was in season one.
Before the start of the regular show, Bravo aired an interview with the housewives -- sans Taylor Armstrong -- highlighting each of their reactions to the suicide. Not surprisingly, the overall tone was largely unsympathetic, with Lisa Vanderpump saying that she had too much information to want to connect with [Russell], and Kyle Richards musing that life goes on -- after the requisite show of tears for her friend.
People magazine described the special segment as a salon of Victorian gentlewomen trying to allude to a scandal without having to rattle their teacups violently, adding that an actual photo of Russell might have helped.
Following a disclaimer that the show had been recorded prior to Russell Armstrong's death (there was no mention of the supposed re-edit) the women go about their onscreen business as usual: Mawkish and insincere promises to overcome prior bad blood, and lap dogs getting better treatment than husbands and children.
The main event was a dinner party at the home of Adrienne Maloof, where Taylor Armstrong -- with an attempt at good humor -- discusses her time in couples therapy: We're knee-deep into so much psychotherapy, I'm sick of myself.
At this, Ken Vanderpump goes below the belt, saying If I had to go see a therapist to make my marriage better I would feel weak.
This is too much for fragile Taylor, who retreats to the bathroom to cry. But she is somewhat vindicated by being given the best line of the episode, regrettably said Kyle about Ken vs. directly to Ken himself: You're carrying around a dog dressed in clothes!...My husband's in therapy and that's weak?
Life goes on indeed.
Although there were scenes cut from the original edit of the premiere that was sent out as a screener -- most importantly, Taylor's scene in a lingerie shop where she discusses the intimacy problems in her marriage -- with Bravo this unapologetically keeping the Armstrong's domestic issues as a main storyline in the very first episode, it would not be surprising if at some point the show makes good on Ross's insinuation that Russell may not be edited out of the entire season.