She’s been part of the cast for nine years, but last week, Lisa Vanderpump was not on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
And it was fine! It was better than fine! It was a fun episode that took place entirely on a “camping” trip, and featured antics such as spending $700 on groceries and talking at length about happy ending massages.
I would say the success of this episode is bad news for Lisa and her fans, but I honestly don’t think Lisa cares too much about being on this show anymore, and as a fan of hers, I don’t either. Still, it's easy to see why the prospect of her leaving is hard for some fans.
For years, I have enjoyed watching Lisa’s “British humor,” the way she walked the line of acting above the petty drama while still being very much part of the petty drama, and the over-the-top-ness of her home life at Villa Rosa. Plus, Lisa's friendship with Kyle has been one of the cornerstones of the show. They’ve had their ups and downs, but it always felt like they were navigating the ridiculousness together. Things on the show could get rough, but they could end up drunk in the back of a car and laugh at it. That relationship helped keep things grounded, in a way Housewives shows sometimes need.
Lisa has been a major presence on this show; a distinct character who could always be depended on to rile her co-stars and start up drama. It’s understandable why it could seem hard to go if she leaves, but the camping episode proved that the show would go on without her (just like every other series in this franchise when a Housewife leaves, by the way).
For the record, Lisa hasn't left (she will be back in future episodes in scenes separate from the other Housewives), but this episode felt like a necessary palette cleanser after episodes upon episodes of Lisa drama. The biggest conflict of the camping trip — if we can even really call it a conflict — found the women agreeing that their problem traced back to her. As Camille put it, “The original hurt stems from Lisa Vanderpump, and it’s becoming this toxic wave that’s taking over.” The group is united against Lisa, even singing "Kumbaya" at the end of the episode, and that feels almost ominous; like the calm before the storm — a storm that many fans speculate could lead to a LVP-less future. While Vanderpump continually denies any definitive severing of ties, it's hard to watch this season without at least musing on the possibility.
And I don’t doubt that the camping episode was the show’s way of testing the uncharted waters of an RHOBH world without Vanderpump. The Real Housewives franchise has a history of throwing up trial runs and seeing where they land, after all. It’s how Friend of the Housewives Brandi Glanville became a full-time cast member after some explosive first appearances, while Dana “These Sunglasses Are $25K” Wilkey didn’t. It’s also how we got Vanderpump Rules, which RHOBH basically birthed out of itself by giving viewers a chance to escape the high class drama of a RHOBH party by instead following the behind-the-scenes drama among LVP's restaurant staff. (And I wouldn't be surprised if it's exactly how we get a Vanderpump Dogs spinoff.)
The fact that Camille was heavily featured in recent episodes seems pointed, too. As an original Housewife herself, perhaps Camille could take LVP’s place as de facto matriarch of the group. She’s certainly been making herself known in recent episodes, especially with her comments about Teddi being an “entitled millennial." Plus, we're on our way to watching her take center stage on the series by featuring her wedding.
Of course, whether LVP stays or goes will probably have to do with how the reunion shakes out. As things stand now, Lisa isn’t talking to any of the other Housewives, and you can’t be part of the show if you don’t film with anyone else. So, unless things change, she could be saying “goodbye, Kyle” for good.
And if she does, she’ll be just fine. Seriously, truly fine.
She has Vanderpump Rules, where she runs the show (something she clearly loves to do), plus, there are whispers of the potential for two different spinoffs set at Vanderpump Dogs and her new Vanderpump Cocktail Garden in Las Vegas. There will be plenty of exposure opportunities for Vanderpump and her cohorts.
This season, in particular, has brought out some very aggressive LVP fans, who've threatened on social media to stop watching the show if she’s not on it and other much, much worse things. But, for LVP fans like myself, it's clear that the show will go on whether or not Lisa is there, and as the camping trip showed, it’ll be OK — and maybe even better, for everyone involved.