SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched Part 2 of the reunion of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
Last Wednesday, the first part of the reunion for Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” ended on a cliffhanger. Had Erika Girardi been faithful to her now-estranged husband, Tom, who she says had cheated on her with abandon throughout their marriage?
We get the answer immediately in Part 2. “Up until I filed for divorce, yeah,” Erika tells Andy Cohen, the host of the reunion, and the executive producer of the “Real Housewives” franchise.
For the first 21 minutes of the reunion’s second part, Cohen, whose catastrophic financial and legal issues have been the focus of the show’s 11th season, asks Erika a myriad of questions, alternating between his own and ones from viewers: questions about Tom’s infidelity, why she stayed with him so long, why she lied about her marriage being happy and her regrets. (For clarity, Variety will use the Girardis’ first names.)
Cohen took Erika through her paces on all those issues and more, but the two biggest revelations during his questioning were that Erika claims she handed over her money from the show to Tom, who kept it with his now-bankrupt law firm’s finances — and that Tom’s life is over, so Erika needs to save herself.
That Tom controlled Erika’s money, she says, arises after Cohen asks Erika why she didn’t leave sooner, pointing out that she’s on a “hit TV show.”
“Andy — hold on,” Erika says. “I was not in control of my finances.” If she left, she added, Tom would have cut her off financially.
“I know what you make on this show. It ain’t bad,” Cohen says.
“I gave every paycheck to my husband,” Erika responds. Several of the other women gasp at this revelation.
Cohen presses her: Did Erika stay because she felt “held captive”?
Erika, during a long pause, grimaces. “I’ll say this. I was 27 when I went in. He was 60. The power balance is way out of wack. I trusted this man. All my finances were kept down at the firm. And everything was kept there.”
Cohen says, “Then that sounds like you did stay for the —”
“Hold on,” Erika interrupts him. “You’re characterizing it as ‘for the money.’ I’m telling you I could not leave because I had no access to the money.”
Cohen follows up, repeatedly asking Erika why she didn’t leave Tom until he was broke. Erika would have been entitled to half of Tom’s assets, back when he had them. “Clearly, I’m entitled to half of the debt,” Erika says sarcastically. “Because everybody is suing me for it.”
There are two areas of inquiry Erika tells Cohen she can’t talk about. She declines to answer when she first sought legal help to extricate herself from her marriage, and she won’t give details how she managed to lease a car, rent a house and move out — all without Tom knowing she was leaving.
“Not able to answer that question,” Erika says about the logistics. “But it was well within legal bounds. I did nothing wrong, but I’m not going to answer that question.”
Eventually, Cohen’s questioning leads him to ask Erika about some key matters — about whether, as he puts it, Tom “ripped off all these people.” Implicating Tom doesn’t benefit Erika in any way, but neither does defending him. We see her doing a dance in which she admits, “It does not look good.” But she maintains, as she has said about herself, that “only one side of the story’s been told.”
She says several times that she hopes Tom hasn’t done what multiple lawsuits accuse him of doing — stealing millions of dollars in settlement money to fund his and Erika’s opulent lives.
Erika claims that it’s a common thing for wives not to know what their husbands are doing with their finances — that women DM her all the time with similar stories. “And that’s also hard for people to understand,” she adds.
Cohen responds that it’s “more difficult for people to understand when it’s allegedly about other people’s money.”
Which is when Erika effectively buries Tom. Almost literally, so we will present it to you as a monologue.
“Exactly,” she says. “And that’s what the bankruptcy trustee is getting down to. They’ve got to sort out what money was supposed to go where. And at this point, quite honestly, I have to worry about myself. Whatever Tom Girardi did or did not do, that’s on him. I know that a lot of his decision-making is pointing this way now,” as she gestures toward herself.
“His life is over. He’s in his eighties. He’s in a memory care facility. His career is over and done.”
“I just turned 50,” she continues. “I cannot allow all of this to destroy me, and take me to a place that I cannot recover. I have to survive this. So that’s why I’m feisty.”
Overcome by a wave of self-pity, Erika has a tear in her eye: “Sorry, give me that tissue. That’s why.”
The rest of the episode turns to other matters, such as how long-winded Dorit Kemsley can be, and a tear-jerking segment about the once-rocky (now reconciled) relationship between Kyle Richards and Kathy Hilton.
Still coming up on the remaining two reunion episodes is Erika snapping at Cohen, Sutton Stracke and Crystal Kung Minkoff.