Erika Girardi Calls Out Critics, Says Lawyers Advised She Quit ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ in First Reunion Episode
SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched Part 1 of the reunion of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
At the end of the finale of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” last week, during the traditional end-of-episode montage when each woman sums up how the season was for them, Erika Girardi delivered a monologue that was both typical of her pugnacious Season 11 performance and revealing. “I’m in the middle of a nasty fight,” she said over footage of the cast toasting during a party thrown by Crystal Kung Minkoff for Chinese New Year. “This is far from over. And I’m tired of explaining myself. I showed up every day, and I’ve been honest and I’ve faced down every fucking question to the best of my ability. And I will never apologize for that.”
Wednesday night, Bravo aired the first of what will be four reunion episodes for this explosive and highly rated season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” And Erika certainly did show up, and counter to what she said in the finale, she actually did express remorse — using carefully lawyered language — for what the alleged victims of her estranged husband, Tom Girardi, have been through. Tom — a famous attorney, who is now in disgrace — has been accused of stealing millions of dollars of settlement money from his clients. At age 82, Tom is now in a conservatorship, he’s been barred from practicing law, he’s in involuntary bankruptcy and he now lives in an assisted living facility. (For clarity, Variety will use the Girardis’ first names.)
Fans of the show have been looking forward to the reunion since the season began, with the fervor some may have as the Super Bowl approaches. Because of her legal predicaments, Erika hasn’t done any interviews, nor has she appeared on Andy Cohen’s late-night talk show “Watch What Happens Live.” So Cohen, the reunion’s host and the executive producer of “The Real Housewives,” begins by questioning Erika immediately — after all, her storyline has been at the center of the show this season.
After greeting the rest of the cast, Cohen turns to Erika, and asks her what’s new. “A lot. A lot is new,” she says, giving Cohen the side eye. He then asks her how she slept. “Very well,” she answers, with a combative air. “Was I supposed to sleep any other way?”
Adjusting her vibe, she continues: “I’m looking forward to closing this chapter, and moving on.”
But there are things she can’t talk about: “I’m happy to say everything that I can say. Please understand that there are some things that I cannot answer. But I will do my best to give every part of the story that I can.”
It’s when Cohen asks about watching the show back that Erika addresses what for some “Real Housewives” fans has been the most frustrating part of her stance this season — that she has painted herself as Tom’s victim, much more so than those from whom he appears to have stolen.
“You know, there’s a lot of talk about me being cold,” Erika says. “And a lot of talk about me not having empathy and sympathy. The truth is, I do. But I’m in an almost impossible situation. And anyone that has been wronged, I want them to be made whole.”
The victims, Cohen asks?
“Yeah, I’m talking about the alleged victims of all of Tom’s alleged misdoings,” Erika says, in a statement that was obviously — and understandably — approved by her lawyers. “And it’s important that people hear that from me.”
Yet she can’t make that moment last, as Erika critics will certainly notice. After a clip of the disastrous dinner party at Kathy Hilton’s house, when Erika attacked Sutton Stracke for accusing her of lying, Cohen asks her if she understands why viewers might think she’s not sympathetic to the victims.
“Yes!” Erika says. “But they’re also looking at it through their own eyes. And they don’t know what I know. And they did not live what I have lived through.”
Cohen asks what it was like to watch the show back, and how she felt toward the women. “Disappointment. Anger. Sadness. And then some hope and some love and some support.”
Stracke had been open during the season that she talked to a lawyer about appearing on the show with Erika — Cohen asks whether anyone else did.
New cast member Kung Minkoff says yes, she did (and adds she talks to her lawyer a lot.) Kyle Richards says she talked to Faye Resnick’s lawyer husband “to break down the LA Times article — because it was so long!”
(A hilarious theme repeated throughout the season is that no one but Stracke and Minkoff seem to have been able to read and digest the first investigative bombshell into Tom and Erika Girardi, which ran last December in the Los Angeles Times, written by Matt Hamilton and Harriet Ryan. The article was published while the women were on a trip to the desert, and its ripple effects — as well as many discussions about its length — were felt for the rest of the season.)
Cohen then asks Erika whether her lawyers wanted her to quit the show. “They did,” she says. “And then I said no. Because I have nothing to hide. And they said, ‘You know, this shit can get flipped around on you.”
Used against you, Cohen asks?
“Everything can be parsed, twisted, turned — and yes, possibly used against you,” she says. “Whether it is true or not, it almost doesn’t even matter at this point.”
After saying she did consider quitting, but wanted to “honor her commitment,” Cohen says: “This is now your main job.”
“Yeah, unfortunately it is,” Erika says. “That is more now of a consideration. Back then while we were shooting the show, I was literally trying to survive. So now that we’re here, yes, that has come more into consideration.’”
Cohen points out that some viewers have come after Erika on social media, demanding she be fired.
“Why should I be fired?” she asks rhetorically. “Why are you presuming that I’ve done something? Why aren’t we letting the legal process play out? You’ve heard one side — and a lot of bullshit on that side. Give me a chance to defend myself. Watch me. I’m ready for the challenge. Watch me do it.”
At this point, the reunion pivots to other matters, such as Garcelle Beauvais’ fights with both Dorit Kemsley and Lisa Rinna. Toward the end, Cohen turns back to Erika to ask about her marriage to Tom. He asks about some eyebrow-raising moments from the past, when Erika and Tom were still together, such as when she said that he hadn’t read her book, nor did he come see her in “Chicago” in winter 2020.
“Look,” Erika says, gesturing toward Richards and Kathy Hilton on the other couch. “Kyle’s gonna defend Mauricio, she’s gonna defend Rick — you know what I’m saying? This is what we do as women.”
Cohen then presses her on what she revealed in Season 11 about Tom’s profligate cheating.
“The cheating is a part of it,” Erika says. “There’s so much more there. And I said to Tom, ‘If you are in love with someone else, divorce me. And go be with her.’”
Tom, Erika says, said nothing to that. “Were you faithful to him?” Cohen asks.
And that’s the cliffhanger on which the episode ends. Still to come on the three remaining reunion episodes will be Cohen really going in: At one point, as we know from the preview, he says, “I’m going to put you on a skewer, and fire up the barbecue.”
Things do appear to get heated between Erika and Cohen, after he brings up the “$20 million he put into your account,” presses her on the narrative about Tom’s cognitive decline, and pointedly says that those from whom Tom allegedly stole are “air crash victims.” Erika says to Cohen, “Here you are, looking at me, rolling your eyes.”
She also appears to go speechless when Cohen says, “Did you ask him if he did it?”
At one point in the preview clip, Erika turns to the women to say in frustration: “Can someone please back me the fuck up on what I’m saying?”
To be continued times a million. Especially since indeed, the rumors are true: Variety can confirm that production on Season 12 of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” will begin soon, rather than taking the months-long lag between seasons. Most of the cast will return, if not all of them.
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