The embezzlement accusations versus Erika Jayne have actually made The actual Housewives of Beverly Hills the realest it’s ever before been.

Erika Girardi when said she safety $40,000 a month top top hair and also makeup. Below she is in several of that hair and also makeup. Jerritt Clark/Getty images for Savage X Fenty display Vol. 2 gift by Amazon Prime video
To gain American truth television, you need to watch v the tacit knowledge that the word fact is offered ... Generously. Like, i still watch House Hunters even though i have been notified that the home hunters have currently chosen their houses prior to filming. Ns still enjoy the competition of Top Chef even though producers and the network have actually input on which contestants get eliminated. And I don’t mind the Bachelor contestants space in it much more for growing their Instagram presences 보다 they space at finding true love.

You are watching: Erica from the real housewives of beverly hills

Perhaps that’s why once actual fact intrudes ~ above the human being of this shows, the feels for this reason alien.

Over the previous two months, The actual Housewives the Beverly Hills has actually morphed from a plandid watch at really rich women bickering about petty things — previous tiffs have included being so late to a meetup and the fostering and return the a dog named Lucy Lucy Applejuicey — right into a present centered an ext and much more on one woman’s too-desperate performance to prove her innocence.

The readjust in ton is the result of legal actions taken against Erika Girardi and her husband Tom — chief among them a sue accusing the actual Housewife of making use of a phony divorce come hide millions of dollars the her ex-husband allegedly embezzled native his clients.

Instead of avoiding the cameras as she undergoes her divorce and other legitimate woes, Erika (also known by her phase name, Erika Jayne) filmed multiple illustration this season in i m sorry decisions, hearings, and also news reports break in actual time. Her cast mates — who the show insurance claims are her very best friends — show up to have been consistently blindsided ~ above camera by this events.

While no one on the show says it the end loud, Bravo experts and Housewives watchers alike posit the Erika has sought legitimate counsel regarding what come say top top the display to no do additional damage. Her appearances this season have come to be peculiar, suddenly asking both cast mates and also the audience come forget whatever she’s presented us around her fabulous life over the past six years. It’s most likely why her habits this season resembles a community theater’s enthusiastic renewal of The Glass Menagerie.

It’s reality, bursting v the layers of TV production and legal artifice. And also I cannot avoid watching.

Who is Erika Girardi, the woman also known as Erika Jayne?

Erika Girardi in 2019, also ostensibly in really expensive hair and also makeup. Arturo Holmes/WireImage For valuable purposes, Erika Girardi is one of the Real Housewives the Beverly Hills, a display that’s part of the Real Housewives franchise. Girardi has been ~ above the show because 2015. Prefer all Housewives, however, to gain picked increase by the Bravo network, Girardi has a larger-than-life story that warrants cameras adhering to her around.

Away from Real Housewives, Erika is a part-time popular music star who goes through the surname Erika Jayne. Her songs “Pretty Mess,” “How plenty of F**ks,” “Xxpen$ive,” and their ilk have actually garnered height spots top top Billboard’s run Club and Hot dance charts. A the majority of Erika Jayne’s recent success — she appeared on Broadway as Roxie Hart in Chicago right prior to the pandemic shutdown started in 2020 — coincides with her enormous popularity together a Housewife. Both her sold-out concerts and also her famed $40,000-per-month hair and also makeup team were featured on the show.

Her music career, Erika has actually said in interviews, to be spurred by her marital relationship to the really wealthy and, until recently, very successful lawyer Tom Girardi, whom she wed in 2000. The pair met as soon as the future pop star was functioning as a cocktail waitress; she was 27, he to be 60.

“I was living Tom’s life,” Girardi told people in 2018. “There are only so many material things you can have before it i do not care boring. There are just so numerous dinners, so plenty of things you can buy. I was complacent. I was in a affluent coma and also I wasn’t looking inward.”

Tom Girardi was the psychological lawyer in the 1993 case against Pacific Gas & Electric firm of California, a situation that would go on to inspire the movie Erin Brockovich. (Girardi has actually said he was portrayed in the movie by gibbs Peter Coyote.) Girardi additionally helped family members of the victim of the October 2018 Boeing 737 Lion air crash reach a negotiation with Boeing. He co-founded the law firm Girardi & Keese in 1965.

Part of what make Erika a fan-favorite housewife was just how she unapologetically live the life the a “trophy wife” to a guy 33 years she senior. In her six years on the show, Erika never ever shied away from talking around their period gap, his wealth, the things he’s bought for her, the sex castle have, the money she safety on she career, and also others’ preconceived notions around her being a “gold digger,” or someone that married because that money.

The lawsuit versus Erika and also Tom Girardi, defined

Erika’s unapologetically lavish, vigorously photographed life was among the huge reasons she divorce from Tom in November 2020 was a shock to fans. And it’s why the subsequent lawsuit, filed in December 2020, in i m sorry Tom’s former clients accuse both Girardis the cheating them the end of their settlement money, has become national news.

On December 2, 2020, the class-action certain Edelson pc filed a lawsuit versus Tom and Erika because that allegedly embezzling numerous dollars native the victim of the Lion air crash. The Los Angeles time reported that same month a pattern of Tom’s clients not seeing their settlement money and Tom borrowing against high interest, and also then no paying back his creditors. Follow to the brand-new lawsuit, Tom was making use of that money to fund their way of living and, further, the the divorce was in reality a strategic move to hide Tom’s assets.

“While Erika publicly filed for divorce this month, top top information and belief, the ‘divorce’ is just a sham effort to fraudulently safeguard Tom’s and also Erika’s money native those that seek to collect on debts owed by Tom and also his law firm GK,” the lawsuit states, accusing Tom the funneling money right into Erika’s company.

“This would not it is in the very first attempt through Tom come hide and also divert assets” the sue adds. It describes that Erika’s company, EJ an international (also called in the suit), likely violated the California Uniform Fraudulent transfer Act by accused receiving 10s of millions in “loans” straight from GK. Tom, the notes, is the sole equity shareholder of his regulation firm.

That very same month, a referee froze Tom Girardi’s assets, and any assets owned jointly through the couple, and also referred Tom to the united state attorney’s office for investigation. At the hearing, the LA time reported, 2 attorneys representing Tom stated that Tom — who till recently had reportedly been spending nearly fifty percent a million dollars a year on Erika’s hair and also makeup — walk not have actually $2 million top top hand come pay earlier his clients. In January 2021, a us bankruptcy judge put Tom and his regulation firm into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Tom was diagnosed through Alzheimer’s condition in February, yet the California State Bar tested that diagnosis, stating that it came as Tom to be “enmeshed in mounting legal troubles and also as the is dealing with imminent State Bar discipline.” The diagnosis and also ensuing conservatorship would, the times reported, “impede capacity to prosecute him.”

This previous June, Hulu exit an alphabet News documentary around the Girardis and also their lawsuit referred to as The Housewife and The Hustler. It attributes interviews v the victims connected in the lawsuit and also details how extensive these accusations are.

All this legal battles boil under to a few things through regards to Erika: walk she know about the embezzlement? was she a party to maneuvering money away from victims, as the lawsuit contends? and how lot of Erika’s extravagant lifestyle and also music career to be funded by negotiation money?

This is much from the very first time a real Housewife has been embroiled in legit drama. Teresa Giudice of new Jersey and also her husband Joe were sentenced come jail because that fraud throughout the operation of the present in 2015, when Erika’s fellow actors mate Dorit Kemsley was accused of owing money to her ex-business companion in 2018. (The lawsuit versus Kemsley was ultimately dropped.)

Usually, however, these occasions occur behind closeup of the door doors and are, at most, narrated because that the audience by cast member talk heads. It’s a combination of Bravo’s happy timing and also Erika’s willingness to it is in filmed that so much of this scandal, which occurred during production last fall, has actually played the end on the show this season. (It should be listed that brand-new York’s Luann de Lesseps’s arrest and threatening of one officer was recorded on a police camera and also Salt Lake City’s Jen shah was arrested ~ above fraud charges while filming the upcoming season of the show.)

It’s turn this 11th season that Real Housewives the Beverly Hills into something the resembles a true crime documentary.

How us watch Real Housewives and just how the real Housewives intend to be watched

Understanding how world watch Real Housewives the Beverly Hills or any kind of iteration the Housewives is key: pan are completely aware the the fiction involved. It’s also why this lawsuit has really turn this season into something different.

Regular viewers know that the females on Bravo’s mirrors aren’t specifically friends as lot as they are contracted players on a television present whose premise is the they are friends. The actors members more than likely wouldn’t walk on lavish vacations through their co-stars under common circumstances. The phone call calls between the ladies are always on FaceTime or speakerphone therefore they deserve to be recorded. The lunch days they go on room predetermined and also cleared front of time.

“We’ve all accepted these things as component of the deal,” Gibson Johns, host and producer that the pop culture interview podcast We must Talk, called me. Johns commonly hosts Housewives ~ above his podcast.

Johns described to me that while there are aspects of the present that no “real” and also that the display creates scenarios (vacations, coffees, parties, dinners, etc.) because that these women to interact, exactly how the ladies act in those contrived cases is what fans want. Fans love melodrama, catchphrases, and fights. And, granted, actors members on the display are aware that the in their finest interest come calibrate their reactions to deliver the best television.

What makes this season so different is that the very serious lawsuit, Johns says, has impacted how Erika, that is may be under legit guidance not to implicate herself while top top television, presents herself on the show. The is in her best interest not simply to show up not guilty however to actively come across as chaste as possible.

The nine episode this season has Erika and also cast girlfriend Kyle Richards conference for a chat, i beg your pardon culminates v Erika talking about her divorce and a rough connection that the cameras complying with Erika for 6 years ostensibly did not capture. Erika also explains that world have rotate on her because of the divorce.

With Kyle watching, Erika starts crying, tears the not-waterproof mascara streaming down her face. The a moment that’s been scrutinized by viewers and also even previous Housewives for being overtly faked — even more so than what’s typically tolerated top top the show.

“The viewing experience now has an extra level that deciphering,” Johns said me, explaining the society commentary that follows every episode. “Like, what elements of this room really real? What elements of this room being placed on? What aspects of this are a PR human in one ear and a lawyer in the other?”

Essentially, the Real Housewives the Beverly Hills now has a true crime aspect to it. Fans pore end every solitary moment Erika shows up in for any type of clues around Tom’s lawsuit and how much she go or didn’t know about his alleged embezzling. Every illustration feels favor a piece in the “did she or didn’t she” puzzle, and also each one feels choose it’ll bring fans closer to the truth.

This mystery — and the other Housewives’ reactions to its unfolding — makes for good television.

“Like once the Housewives nothing know exactly how to react to something it is happening, and also it feeling like totally off manuscript from what they’re offered to. As soon as it’s just it’s one unhinged person moment — to me the is what renders a great season,” said Carey O’Donnell, a TV writer and also co-host the the Sexy distinctive Podcast.

O’Donnell mentioned that the show has been good for other reasons this season, too, bolstering its actors with newcomers prefer Crystal Kung Minkoff, Kathy Hilton, and also Sutton Stracke.

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But what O’Donnell loves is watching these newbies and established cast members adapt and also react in actual time come the unpredictability of Erika’s news and her actions. O’Donnell claims watching Erika “feels like sci-fi” this season and that in some moments she channeling vintage actresses (think: Whatever taken place to infant Jane) and also slipping in and out the accents in peculiar ways.

“You’re the town hall a group of performers who room in top top this ruse the we’re also in on, and we know everything they’re act is a small fake. Yet now this other performer the they believed was on the same web page is acting in a performance that they didn’t recognize about,” O’Donnell said me. “You practically feel prefer they’re looking turn off camera and are asking, like, what pages that the manuscript is this on?”

I’m not certain if there is a manuscript for how to act once your coworker is accused of being an accomplice to embezzlement, stealing settlement money from her ex-husband’s airplane crash victim clients. What we’re seeing, because that the an initial time in a while, is the Real Housewives that Beverly Hills exhilaration in an extremely real, very unrehearsed ways. It just took a really real lawsuit to make it happen.

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