Is Having a Sober Person on Real Housewives a Huge Buzzkill?

Is Having a Sober Person on Real Housewives a Huge Buzzkill?


Is Having a Sober Person on Reality TV a Huge Buzzkill?I’m passionate about recovery and addicted to Bravo TV (as I’ve publicly admitted, no denial here). So when openly sober Eden Sassoon joined the cast of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills this season, my hopes were high. But the comedown has left me feeling disappointed and empty—wanting more. After five episodes, Eden’s sobriety is her only story line and she’s not portraying women in recovery in a particularly flattering light. If I want to see catty sober women picking each other apart, I can just go to certain meetings. I watch reality TV for the escape, dammit! I want my characters to be inspirational on some level (even if it’s just their Chanel bags). So Eden’s got me wondering if having a sober person on reality TV is actually a huge buzzkill.

Best Frienemies

Eden isn’t the first, or only, sober person on Bravo. There are a few not-so-secret water-sippers among the other Real Housewife franchises and spin-offs. But she’s one of the most vocal about her sobriety (and also seemed semi-sane at first) which is why I was so excited about having her on the show. But green smoothie-sipping Eden appears to have been swept away in a tidal wave of rosé and gossip. Instead of infusing an element of serenity into a show full of chaotic Louboutin fiends, she’s managed to come off looking like a meddling, judgmental pain in the ass.

Her first mistake was to get sucked in by Lisa Rinna’s fake lips and intimacy. Rinna’s great on the show because she’s a total two-faced shit-stirrer—she’s a soap opera star for god’s sake. You would think any self-respecting person joining this type of cast would do their homework. If Eden watched even one episode from last season, she would have seen Rinna at work. She’s like that fake best girlfriend you had while partying who would leech off you as long as you had the good dope and were invited to the cool afterparty. She would stroke your ego and borrow your clothes, but when the cops pulled the car over she was the first to hide the drugs in your purse and rat you out. That’s Rinna.

Taking Inventory

Eden’s first big scene of the season with all the women involved Rinna and former Housewife/sometimes guest star Kim Richards (who also has a history of addiction and relapse, but is currently sober) fighting about some old shit. It was perfectly clear that the two women had a history, but Eden still welcomed and believed Rinna’s opinions about Kim’s sobriety (or lack thereof, according to Rinna). Rinna told Eden that Kim was “mostly sober” and called Kim’s sister Kyle Richards (a full-time cast member), Kim’s enabler.

Calling somebody in recovery “mostly sober” is a low blow. It’s the kind of nuanced accusation that those with common sense won’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Eden should have known better than to feed into such a nasty statement about another woman in recovery. Even if it’s true, it’s not something these women should be discussing. It just makes them look like a couple of hateful, judgmental bitches who are rooting for Kim to fail.

What the hell does “mostly sober” mean anyway and how would Rinna know? Is it because she thinks Kim is on medication? There are plenty of reasons why a sober person may take medication and some of them are even valid. The bottom line is that if somebody says they are sober, we should believe them. And using medication in recovery is between you, your doctor and your Higher Power (and probably your sponsor if you do that)—it’s definitely not the business of a casual acquaintance/reality TV hater.

Xanax Smoothie

Frankly, neither Lisa Rinna nor Eden have any room to talk if they think Kim Richards may be taking pills. Eden admitted on camera to taking medication for anxiety even though she doesn’t drink (she used air quotes around the word “drink”—huh?). In the same scene Lisa Rinna casually busted a ziplock bag of full of pills out of her purse and joked about throwing a Xanax in her green smoothie. I’m not saying any of this is wrong because whatever—but these two are definitely in no position to act as the sobriety police.

Speaking of anxiety, Eden seemed a little too concerned with Kim’s casual comment at a party about being nervous about the birth of her first grandchild. Eden jumped all over her, asking if she feels triggered to drink. In her confessional, Eden speculated that if Kim reaches for that first drink, she will surely die. Okay, on some level this is probably true of all addicts and alcoholics, but for real? She’s knee-deep in a semi-stranger’s business when Kim has made it clear she doesn’t want her help. And besides that, why does she keep focusing on addiction-related topics and being so damn serious? These women are flying on private jets, living in mansions and carrying bags that cost more than my car. Can we just enjoy the designer dresses and the fantasy for one fucking episode?

Costume Catfight

If you have ever so much as glanced at my Twitter feed, you know I’m obsessed with the costume party episodes of the Housewives. There’s something about elaborate costumes that almost always triggers a huge fight, and it’s pure heaven. Watching grown women argue sedately while mispronouncing words and holding expensive glasses of wine is pretty much the point of the show. But when they’re sporting crimped hair and fingerless gloves (epic ‘80s party fight on RHOC) or bad wigs and elaborate headbands, like they were at a recent RHOBH Gatsby party, it’s another level of entertainment for me.

The whole “Kyle is an enabler” thing finally came to a head at the Gatsby party and it wasn’t great. First of all, it was Kyle’s party. I don’t care how justified you are, picking a fight with your hostess at a party in a beautiful mansion overlooking the ocean is bad form. So, the truth finally came out that Eden said Kyle is an enabler (even though Lisa Rinna said it first) and Kyle was pissed! Never mind that it’s at least a little bit true, it’s not the right time to discuss it. And mostly, it’s none of Eden’s business. Eden lost her sister to an overdose and her unnatural preoccupation with the Richards sisters is clearly linked to some sort of issue from her own past she needs to work out.

The bottom line is that I go to therapy for my mental health, I got to meetings for recovery and I watch reality TV to escape it all. Can the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills please go back to arguing about something fun like Erika not wearing underwear?


About Author

Becky Sasso is a writer and editor who worked at the world headquarters of an international 12-step organization and has a Master's in communication from Johns Hopkins University. She currently serves as the head of Marketing and Development for The Gentle Barn Foundation and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.