It’s unhealthy, but I have been staring at the newest cast picture of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast for like, two whole hours now, trying to answer a baffling question: How did eight people, seemingly on the brink of nuclear war, pose for this singular, totally ridiculous looking photograph? While Season 11 is currently filming, and a premiere date has not been set, I have plenty of time to get to the bottom of whether or not this picture has been seriously fudged with. I smell a blur and dodge tool!
The lead-up to Season 11 has been unquestionably dramatic. In it, newcomer Crystal Kung Minkoff, the first Asian-American woman to star as a lead on the franchise, joins recent additions Garcelle Beauvais and Sutton Stracke, just as Teddi Mellencamp and Denise Richards exit the show. Mellencamp flees amidst accusations of a toxic and unhealthy workout program, while Richards excuses herself from the waves of homophobia emanating from Lisa Rinna, for no apparent reason.
The mood between the cast has also been particularly tense this go-round, as seen in terse social media exchanges. On International Women’s Day, Erika Jayne wrote: “Heard it’s International Women’s Day... some in this pic I love and trust more than others. No shade, just truth.”
Erika Jayne has undergone a public trial, after her and soon to be ex-husband Tom Girardi were accused of participating in a wide ranging fraud that re-appropriated settlement funds to pay off debts, presumably accrued from the wannabe pop star lifestyle. More recently, Girardi’s lawyers have claimed in court he suffers from dementia, and is medically unfit to appear. On social media, Jayne has been mum about the allegations leveled against her and her marriage, but cast mates around her promise that she will delve into her divorce and marital strife in the upcoming seasons—including host and executive producer Andy Cohen, who’s always had a soft spot for Jayne.
On talk shows in the press tour leading up to Season 11, Beauvais has teased that the latest entry in the franchise will be more dramatic than ever. She accused Lisa Rinna of stirring the pot on Watch What Happens Live!, while rumors in the tabloids claim Sutton Stracke has assumed the role of divorce court inquisitor, putting her at odds with the alliance between Jayne, Kyle Richards, and Rinna.
So, its not particularly surprising that my first thought when seeing the latest cast photo of the gang would be: “Oh, this is totally fucking photoshopped.”
Let’s get into it.
My first big swing into the oddity emanating from this photograph is that the photographer maybe swapped an anamorphic lens for a mid-range indoor shot, giving the proportions a squished and warped look; widening the field of view at the expense of drastically flattened depth of field. It doesn’t help that the ISO isn’t very high, muddying the colors up a bit.
But that can’t be all there is to this photo. I mean, Dorit’s head is like twice the size of Rinna’s, who looks like an elf that’s been photoshopped between two completely separate pictures of the cast. Something obviously isn’t right here!
So let’s move on to the next big issue with the photograph: To my decade-of-Photoshop trained eye, it seems like the editor here has hidden the transition using newcomer Kathy Hilton, mom of Paris Hilton. Rinna appears as if a cardboard cut-out, flat and flapping in the wind, behind the rather dynamic texture on Cathy’s features. It might also just be the dress she’s in.
Then there’s Garcelle, who seems to be the most obviously photoshopped in. The resolution on her entire person is like, ten million times worse than her counterparts on the other side of the photograph, who both look infinitely sharper and more detailed. It can’t be that the photographer pulled focus incorrectly, as Erika is perfectly defined, as is Rinna, who is BEHIND Garcelle as far as depth is concerned. Same with Kathy and sister Kyle.
What’s going on here?
This also brings me to an exceedingly strange quality I’ve been fixated on. It’s clear to me they have heavily backlit the stage behind the women, which one can surmise by the reflections and sharpness of detail. Standard three-point lighting basics and all that. But then, they are blown to smithereens from the front, either with a high key light, a soft-box, and a strobe flash combo, or the entire power of the sun. Who can say. But this is the strange bit: The lighting BEHIND them is what casts the shadow, not the lighting from the front, which is unarguably brighter.
Sorry for the feet pic ladies, but those shadows are traveling towards the camera, not running away from it! Also, is Rinna even casting a shadow? It would make sense she wouldn’t, with her whole vampiric heritage and what not.
Really, this could have been a beautiful photograph. Besides Cathy, who looks like a lost Conde Nast editor picking up the mail at her Hamptons vacation house in a trendy frock, the women all look excellent—especially Dorit and Sutton and Crystal. Crystal, mostly, who finally delivers some glamour on a show that claims to be about glamour!
So is this photoshopped or not? My best guess is Rinna, Erika, and Garcelle were swapped in from an alternate shot, but the proportions got miffed in the process. That, or I’m beginning to lose what’s left of my Real Housewives addled mind. Why can’t it be a bit of both?