I admit it. I don’t like Bravo’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHOBH) Taylor Armstrong. I didn’t like her in season one. I found her phony and an instigator. I didn’t like her when she went after Kim Richards and it made me mad when Kyle Richards backed Taylor over her own sister during numerous arguments during the season. (We have since learned the Richards’ sisters relationship is complicated enough without the likes of Taylor Armstrong trying to stir up drama).
Whispers started in season one that Taylor and husband Russell might be a little unsavory in their business practices. There were numerous lawsuits against them. They were apparently far from rich and, in fact, drowning in debt. This wasn’t really a mark against them, however, in the Real Housewives World where once or twice a season a Housewife is forced to declare bankruptcy in order to hold on to some monstrously tacky house and a lifestyle well beyond her means. Taylor stood out from even the more notorious of the Housewives, however, with various people from her past coming forth and basically calling her a grifter. One of the more embarrassing accusations made against Taylor was that she actually adopted the last name “Ford” for a time in order to try and convince people she was an heiress of the Ford Motor Company. (And if you haven’t guessed yet, “Taylor” isn’t her real first name either). Taylor is the type of woman who will say that one of her richest castmates is the godmother of her daughter when the castmate is sitting right next to her shaking her head! She has chutzpah if nothing else and if these were only transgressions, I wouldn’t care to write about her. I have gone on record with saying fame whores and gold diggers and their ilk don’t really bother me. To each his/her own, I say. They usually end up paying a high price for their gain, anyway. Unfortunately, Taylor’s actions have gone way beyond the already low standards set for these “personalities.”
In season one of RHOBH, we witnessed what I would describe as an uncomfortable marriage between Taylor and Russell (mainly uncomfortable for the viewer). Taylor was portrayed as unhappy, emotionally unfulfilled and envious of the seemingly brilliant marriage of her BFF and co-star, Kyle Richards. Russell was distant, awkward in social encounters and a workaholic. There was yet no indication that the man was the monster he is now portrayed by Taylor (and Bravo) to be.
Season 2 of RHOBH was filmed over the spring of 2011. In August of 2011, just weeks away from the premiere, Russell Armstrong hanged himself. (Unless you want to believe conspiracy theories that he was murdered. Andy Cohen of Bravo shamelessly floated this rumor for Taylor’s reaction on
Monday’s RHOBH reunion.) Taylor and Russell were separated at the time of his death. As viewers of the show would later learn, Taylor pulled the plug on the marriage months before his death — shortly after she was disinvited to a group (filmed) vacation to Hawaii with her dear friends and castmates. There is a long back story there, but nobody wanted to chill with Taylor and her “plus one” at that point. Their lawyers were basically telling them to stay away from the toxic couple. Taylor’s timing in ending her marriage is interesting, isn’t it?
Many wondered whether Bravo would scrap the whole season or at least edit out Taylor and Russell completely after the news broke of his death. Bravo (publicly) took some time to think about it and then proclaimed: The Show Must Go On.
Bravo didn’t shy away from continuing with its planned “story” for Taylor this season. Taylor was no longer just emotionally unfulfilled, Russell not just a loser who couldn’t satisfy his wife. Now he was a wife beater and sadist. Throughout the season, Taylor peddled this storyline to the other ladies. With few exceptions, the other Housewives seemed to buy the Taylor is a battered woman storyline. Was it because they really believed her story or because they knew this was the story arc they were all cast to play into? We may never know.
Now that season two has finished broadcasting (with sky high ratings), Taylor is out with a book about her marriage to Russell. Entitled “Hiding from Reality: My Story of Love, Loss and Finding the Courage Within.” She reportedly began working on the book mere days after Russell’s suicide. It’s a book that purports to tell the reality of her marriage to Russell and how she suffered as a victim of domestic violence. She recites horrific accounts of Russell’s physical violence towards her. She claims the book will help other women suffering at the hands of abusers. Many bloggers and now even Diane Diamond at TheDailyBeast.com have pointed out many inconsistencies in the story Taylor is telling. Taylor presents no evidence beyond her word that these events occurred.
There is something unsettling about the fact that this book and several episodes of a highly rated television series aired very serious accusations about a man who is no longer here to defend himself. In case you didn’t know, in addition to a five-year-old daughter Russell had with Taylor, he had two other children — teen sons from two different relationships. I can’t imagine Taylor’s book is doing anything but making their grief at losing their father that much more difficult. It should be noted that both of the mothers of these boys do not support Taylor and contradict her version of events on numerous points.
So why are Taylor Armstrong and her employer, Bravo, going after a dead man? The answer is pretty clear = money. After all, Bravo gets a nice cut of all the books that the Housewives under contract to them publish. Unfortunately, that money is tainted with the blood of a dead man.