Desperate Housewife: Is Bravo's Kim Richards An Addict?

By Joe Lynch 10/29/11

On the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Kim Richards shows up late, acts wacky, and is accused by other castmates of being an alcoholic or on drugs. Why isn’t Bravo doing anything about it?

Richards hasn't escaped from Witch Mountain—or accusations about addiction. Photo via

Before reclaiming fame as one of the Beverly Hills Housewives, Kim Richards was a 1970s child star, playing the telepathic sister in Disney's Escape to Witch Mountain and even getting an early taste of controversy when she appeared as the little girl in John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 who was graphically gunned down next to an ice cream truck. 

The only acting Richards does these days, however, is acting bizarre as one of the main cast members on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Sharing screen time with the ex-wife of Kelsey Grammer and a cast member whose husband tragically committed suicide this year, the Beverly Hills version of Housewives was making a lot of headlines as the show entered its second season.

And yet, in spite of the saddening swirl of events, the biggest news since the show premiered on September 5th has been about Kim—who, thus far, has been fodder for bloggers with her nonsensical rants about, among other topics, her power being out, her love for certain private airports, and other castmates’ not pretty mouths.

Last season ended with Kyle screaming, "You are an alcoholic—that's right, I said it and everybody knows!" at the culmination of a big fight in a limo. The episode wrapped with a card telling us, "Kim's family checked her into rehab…a week later, she checked herself out."

Networks are simply employers and shouldn't be held accountable for cast members' problems—unless, of course, that person asks for help. 

And since then the issue has been a (pink) elephant in the room. Kim and her sister are speaking again—in fact, they're as tight as ever—but Kim appears to still drink and although the issue pops up often, it remains unresolved. When asked for a comment on the subject, a representative for Bravo declined our request.

Entertainment Weekly TV columnist and Housewives expert Jessica Shaw marvels at Kim's behavior but points out that ultimately there's no way for us to know. "She's denied she has a problem, she's checked herself out of rehab," Shaw says. "Do all signs point to one thing? Sure. But is that necessarily the only reason she acts that way? No." After all, "Kim being Kim, she's loopy with or without the help of alcohol." 

Kim's mercurial behavior clearly threw off newcomer Brandi Glanville—the wife Eddie Cibrian left for LeAnn Rimes—during their first encounter. During a heated argument, Brandi spat out, "At least I don't do crystal meth in the bathroom all night long."

The accusation came out of left field and remained unanswered. Yes, Kim spent an irregular amount of time in the bathroom that night, and she did act bizarrely—but she often does. Kim and her sister denied the accusation and Brandi apologized later under pressure, but the viewer was left totally in the dark, wondering why something like that would be included without any context before or after. 

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Joe Lynch is a freelance journalist and the Senior Editor at Billboard. You can find his writing in Entertainment Weekly, Yahoo TV and New York Magazine's Vulture. He previously wrote about Intervention for The Fix. You can find Joe on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.