Your intrepid recapper ventures into treacherous territory this week. “Courtney Loves Herself!” presents a tough episode to tackle. Not only does it introduce a storyline that involves D Magazine, where I am employed, but something actually happens in this episode. Courtney and Tori get into a heated ontological argument in a hotel room about what is “fake” and what is “real.” Let’s make this happen:
The show opens in Courtney’s apartment, where she telephonically informs Tori that she is headed to an interview for a spot on a morning TV talk show. Yes, that would be D: The Broadcast, the show we launched last year in partnership with KTXD. That partnership lasted about six months and ended last August. So. Yeah.
Cut to Courtney in the interview. A man named Stuart Boslow asks the questions from behind his desk. Our marketing director, Jennifer Miller, is present, seated next to Courtney. But she says nothing. Behind Courtney and Jennifer looms a rather impressive metal filing cabinet. Courtney tells Stuart, “I think I’m good at, like, thinking on my feet and thinking quickly [presumably in the seated position, to distinguish that from thinking on her feet], and that wit sometimes kicks into, like, autopilot where I can crack a joke quickly.” At no point does Courtney bother to tell Stuart that she can time travel, which seems to me like a useful skill for a morning TV talk show about current events. If you knew, for instance, that on Friday the Federal Reserve was going to curtail its bond purchases, then on Thursday you would have a huge advantage over other morning talk shows.
Without knowing Courtney’s super power, Stuart puts her through a screen test with Lisa Pineiro. Courtney tells the Bravo camera, “Lisa Pineiro is, like, a legit news anchor.” Or maybe she says, “Lisa Pineiro is like a legit news anchor,” without the commas. There is a huge difference in meaning, depending on how you punctuate that sentence. I rewound and watched it several times in an effort to get her intention, but, like, I couldn’t figure it out. As the screen test progresses, Jennifer and Stuart watch with serious looks on their faces. Jennifer whispers into Stuart’s ear. I imagine she says, “Want to get a sandwich after this?” Then Stuart hires Courtney right there on the set, in front of Lisa Pineiro. I like the way that man operates. Not afraid to make a decision, that Stuart. If you think that Stuart has ever gone shopping and stared at the bottles of olive oil for minutes on end, trying to decide which one to buy, then you are mistaken. When Stuart gets to the olive oil aisle — pow — he grabs a bottle. I can promise you this.
Courtney tells the Bravo camera, “Like, this legitimizes me. This makes me feel important. This makes me feel valued. That’s been the name of the game all along.” It saddens me that Courtney craves this external validation. I want to grab her by the shoulders and shout, “Courtney! You are a not-unattractive 31-year-old woman with a thriving blog about clothes! You don’t need a morning TV talk show to make you feel important! Also, whatever happened with your mother’s cancer?!” The scene ends with a sweeping aerial shot of the D Magazine building, which is confusing, because not only did the screen test happen at the KTXD studios and not in our offices, but no one outside of Dallas has any idea what that white “D” on the red square is a logo for. Thank goodness.
Next we find Courtney driving through the rain, talking on speaker to Tori. It is Tori’s birthday, and she wants to know what Courtney has planned for her. Courtney confesses to the Bravo camera that she has planned nothing, but to Tori she says they are going shopping and she’ll fill her in on the rest of the plans later because it’s a surprise. As she tells this lie to her best friend, Courtney pets and strokes her own hair, which makes it impossible to keep her hands at 10 and 2. Given the inclement driving conditions, I think this is a mistake.
In the following scene, it is no longer raining. Courtney and intern Shannon are fondling the merchandise at Julep. Courtney proclaims four items “cute” before Tori even arrives. Courtney says, “For Tori’s birthday, I’ve decided I want to take her shopping for, like, the most perfect outfit. Because let’s be honest. I mean, like, who doesn’t want to wear something brand-new and adorable picked out by me for their 30th birthday?” Tori, that’s who. When she shows up, she is pissed. Pissed that intern Shannon is horning in on the action. Pissed that they are shopping for clothes instead of drinking beer. She tells the Bravo camera that she doesn’t want to “play dress-up” and that Shannon should be “tweeting or twating or whatever she’s supposed to be doing.” You know what? I think I like Tori.
The next morning, Courtney brings Tori for a big birthday surprise: botox injections! Performing the procedure at a place called Skintastic is Dr. Jeffrey Adelglass, who looks like he has never missed a meal and who got his medical degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara. If Tori was pissed on the shopping excursion, now she’s homicidal. She refuses to even look at Dr. Adelglass, and she asks Courtney, “Did we just meet? Because I’m pretty sure if you knew me, we’d be drinking beer on a patio.” Nonetheless, she gets injected in her forehead, and Courtney gets injected in the corners of her mouth. While Dr. Adelglass’ comely assistant wears a white lab coat, he prefers to do his work in a gray pinstriped suit, jacket and all, like he’s headed to court or something. Perhaps this is the way they do things at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara. “Adelglass! Where is your jacket? Never perform a medical procedure in shirtsleeves! What do you think? This is a farm or something?”
We go from the botox session to a spa. Who knows what day it is? Courtney is not present, just the three besties, Tori, Katie, and Thais. As the ladies’ feet soak, Tori bitches about Courtney. “Courtney’s not even Courtney anymore,” she says, after dropping the bomb that Courtney took her for botox injections for her birthday. “Everything is ‘Oh, this is fab. This is gorge.’ I’m like, ‘Would you talk English?’” Katie and Thais look serious. (The latter, by the way, just started following me on Twitter. Hi, Thais! I totally agree with you, girl. Tori should say something to Courtney about how self-centered she has become.)
Insert transition montage of aerial shots of Dallas. Bravo does these well. They make me want to live in Dallas.
Which brings us to the big fight. To celebrate Tori’s birthday, Courtney has invited her to come watch Courtney’s photo shoot for her blog. A photographer named Casey Curry has secured a hotel room at the Anatole to shoot Courtney. You know he’s good because he’s from Los Angeles. Courtney says the shoot will “elevate my blog to another level.” Reaching this other level requires Courtney to wear a tiara and drink champagne while sitting naked in a hotel bathtub filled with red balloons. No sideboob for those wondering. Casey, from behind his Canon, says, “Great, love it,” in an emotionless monotone that makes me wonder if he really thinks it is great and loves it. Courtney thinks the shoot is “so glamorous.” She drinks champagne out of the bottle in a way that makes me wonder if she really knows what glamorous means.
Then Tori arrives. If she was pissed on the shopping excursion and homicidal at the botox session, she is now in a genocidal murder-hate frenzy. Courtney is between shots and has donned cutoff jean shorts and a T-shirt, but she is still wearing the tiara and she’s drinking champagne out of an old fashioned glass — again. I’m here to tell you that Dr. Adelglass would not approve. That is not the way they drink champagne at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara. Courtney asks Tori, “Why are you pissed off? It’s your birthday.” And it is on! The besties totally get into a fight that, near as I tell, is legit. Courtney calls Tori selfish and explains that while, yes, she is drinking champagne out of an old fashioned glass and sitting naked in a hotel bathtub filled with balloons, this is work. It might not look like work. But it is. “Fashion is always going to be part of my life,” Courtney says. To which Tori says, “This is not fashion. You have on a tiara and red lipstick.” To which Courtney says, “What do you want me to go hang out and drink beers with you at a sports bar because that’s what you like to do and not wear any makeup?” Then she pets herself.
Let me take a break in the action to explain a couple of things. First, when your friend has a birthday, I think you are supposed to do what she wants to do. If your friend wants to drink beers and not wear makeup, you should go drink beers and not wear makeup. I don’t think that’s asking too much. If your friend wants to smoke bath salts and eat the face off a homeless person, no one will blame you if you decline and choose instead to wear a tiara and drink champagne while you sit naked in a hotel bathtub filled balloons. Otherwise, go along with the friend’s wishes.
Second, the reason I say that the fight is legit near as I can tell is because, remember, the girls are loaded up with botox. While they shout at each other, they are wearing the unwrinkled, serene expressions of ladies lounging on the white sand beaches of San Tropez. Thanks, Dr. Adelglass! Still, I think they are, indeed, angry.
The argument grows more heated. The girls talk over each other, and I have a hard time transcribing their words. Tori says that everything Courtney is doing is fake. I do make that out clearly. And that leads Courtney to take this show in a direction I could not have predicted. She says, “This is like a fantasy shoot!” Or “This is, like, a fantasy shoot!” Hard for me to tell. Moving on. She says, “Of course it’s fake! It’s not real! It’s fake because bubbles — you wouldn’t take a bath in balloons! It is fake because there is not water in there, and I’m wearing high heels in a bathtub!”
I never expected Courtney to raise such a deep issue. What is real? It’s a question philosophers have wrestled with for hundreds of years and even physicists have come to appreciate. Does this so-called reality — the bathtub, the balloons, the tiara — even exist independently of our beliefs and perceptions? Or is this world and everything in it just a construct, something Courtney has conjured, along with her blog? She starts to sound like a subjective realist, putting her squarely in George Berkeley’s camp. How can Tori be pissed if everything — including the blog post you are currently reading and even Tori herself — is fake and doesn’t exist? Of course you wouldn’t take a bath in balloons. It’s fake because bubbles. And there is not water in there.
But these ontological issues fly right over Tori’s head. So Courtney pets herself some more and tells her that it is time for her to leave. Tori fires a parting shot about her birthday: “Do me a favor and don’t come. Because you’re an asshole.” For some reason, Bravo bleeps part of the word.
I am left with one thought. Even though the beers and the patio on which she yearns to drink them might be nothing more than a figment of her imagination or even a hologram projected on our cosmological horizon, Tori deserves her birthday wish.