Spoilers for the latest episode of RHOBH are ahead. Watching the Real Housewives franchise, it can sometimes be hard to keep track of when the episodes were filmed, since that tends to be months before they’re released. That’s not the case with season 11 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. This season we have a built-in timeline thanks to the legal/divorce drama involving Erika Girardi and her estranged husband, Tom Girardi.
Thanks to mentions of the date on-screen, plus plenty of real world information that can be easily lined up with the scenes we’re shown each week, it’s clear when everything went down — just look at the episode that told us Erika filed for divorce on Election Day. And now, the preview at the end of the August 4 episode has dropped another bombshell when it comes to Erika’s situation: the release of an article that shocks all of her cast mates.
The preview only shows the headline and does not say where the article was published, but it’s a story that made waves outside of the show, too.
The article about Erika and Tom was published in December 2020.
On December 17, 2020 the Los Angeles Times published an article titled “The legal titan and the ‘Real Housewife’: The rise and fall of Tom Girardi and Erika Jayne”. The lengthy story details everything that was known up to that point about Tom’s legal woes and delves into his career, including as one of the lawyers involved in the Erin Brockovich case. But, further than that, the article also explores Erika’s backstory, her marriage to Tom, her music career, and her lavish lifestyle.
While Tom’s situation had been covered in the news up until this point — as had Girardi’s divorce filing — the Los Angeles Times article really pieced the whole story together and made it much more intriguing. As we’ve seen on RHOBH already, the cast members have read news stories about Tom as they’ve come out. When the LA Times story breaks, you can see that there’s a bigger reaction from them. Now, it’s not just about Tom; it’s about Erika, the show, and her entire lifestyle.
After the LA Times piece, there were more articles about Erika.
Part of why Erika’s situation is captivating is because — whether it’s fair or not — people are always interested in a classic fall from grace story. While the legal issues are centred around Tom, Erika’s side of things is about a woman who flaunted her wealth — including saying she spent $40,000 per month on clothes, makeup, and hair and releasing a song called “XXpen$ive” — now having to figure out what comes next in her life. On top of that, she’s doing it while filming a reality show.
RHOBH focuses on Erika's net worth, too.
This season, RHOBH has featured scenes of Erika talking about her massive closet and numerous close-up shots of her expensive shoes and accessories. While the show has always been wealth porn, in the past, we wouldn’t have gotten such pointed references to Erika’s assets. It’s all part of the story.
And the show does affect the real world, just as the real world is shown on the series. An investigator recently told Us Weekly that RHOBH may be used as evidence in his case. “There’s a lot of inconsistent statements and admissions made by the non-scripted actors that we’re putting together to use in court," they claimed.
And then there’s the Hulu documentary about Erika and Tom.
In June, Hulu and ABC News released The Housewife and the Hustler, an hour-long documentary about the Girardis. The title speaks to the scandalousness of it all, and the inclusion of former Real Housewives cast members Danielle Staub and Dana Wilkey, who barely know Erika, played up the entertainment factor. The documentary got Bravo fans talking, but also made the story more accessible to those who don’t follow the series.
So what will happen to Erika now?
In the time period that was shown on RHOBH so far, the cast has been worried about Erika’s wellbeing while checking in on the news about Tom. After this week’s episode, with the release of the LA Times article, there’s a shift. The article makes the focus on Erika much more prominent and the preview even shows Sutton Stracke saying she doesn’t feel comfortable being around Erika any longer. Just as the dynamic shifted in the real world back in December as Erika’s role in the situation grew larger, the dynamic is shifting on the show and bringing plenty more drama with it.