Paris Hilton vs. Kathy Hilton Is a Harrowing Watch

Last week, the Kardashians wrapped up the fourth season of their reality show on Hulu, about which I’m surprisingly sad. Thankfully, though, another famous clan of nepo babies is here to satisfy my weird craving for witnessing other families’ mess. Last week, Peacock released Season 2 of Paris Hilton’s latest and surprisingly fascinating reality show, Paris In Love.

While the first season didn’t make a huge splash, the show has earned its first viral moment this time around, thanks to an uncomfortable conversation between Paris and her mother, Kathy Hilton. I’ve never really been a fan of Paris, outside of her eponymous perfume, and I think her resurgence in pop culture is, frankly, undeserved, if not boring and pointless. However, the mother-daughter drama playing out on her latest TV venture has finally given me something about her to grasp onto.

Season 2 of Paris In Love is definitely a pivot in tone from Season 1, which felt a lot lighter and more PR-friendly. Much of it seemed designed to convince the public that Paris was still as relevant and popular as she was in the early aughts and make us fascinated with her life again. The first season also functioned as damage control for Kathy, who received a lot of online criticism following her eldest daughter’s YouTube documentary, This Is Paris. In the film, Paris reveals the physical and sexual abuse she allegedly suffered as a teenager at the controversial Provo Canyon School in Utah, where her parents sent her for her excessive partying. At the end of the doc, she tells her mother about the abuse for the first time, and Kathy bursts into tears.

That said, Kathy was largely on her best behavior in Season 1 of Paris In Love, playing up her persona as a kooky-but-harmless rich lady. At the same time, she became a fan-favorite when she finally joined her half-sister Kyle Richards on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. In Season 2 of Paris In Love, though, Kathy is having a hard time keeping up this lovable facade. In fact, she’s quite terrifying.

The first few episodes of the season is about how Paris can’t communicate with her mother. First, Paris welcomes her first child, Phoenix, via surrogate, to the surprise of her entire family. Then, she releases her latest memoir, filled with even more major life events her mother knew nothing about—including that she was raped and had an abortion. Out of all these surprises, though, it’s the revelations in Paris’ book that truly rattle Kathy; it’s not necessarily because her daughter experienced those things, but that she didn’t tell her about them.

In a clip that made the rounds on social media, Kathy, Paris and her younger sister Nicky, who’s trying to mediate the discussion, sit down to talk about the memoir. Despite all of Kyle’s claims on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills that Kathy has a temper, we really haven’t seen her display much anger. (Although, I never doubted that Kathy could be a monster. She’s a friend of Donald Trump, after all.) When she was going back and forth with Lisa Rinna during last season’s reunion, it felt like we were watching a timid person get into their first real fight. But in this conversation with Paris, it seems like she’s used to shutting people down.

Instead of letting Paris lead the discussion, Kathyb immediately starts criticizing her for not telling her about her pregnancy. She keeps reiterating that she “would’ve been there for her.” But who knows what that conversation would’ve looked like with a staunch Republican who shipped their kid off to disciplinary school? She also tries to pit Nicky against Paris, saying that her younger daughter and “her boys,” Barron and Conrad, would never keep something that serious from her. When Nicky reluctantly agrees—it’s clear that Nicky was the more popular child—Kathy calls Paris “unusual.” She also goes from trying to maintain her composure to fully rolling her eyes.

Kathy then starts defending her choice to send her daughter to Provo, which I’m surprised wasn’t edited out. But this whole conversation is clearly just a moment for Kathy to defend her parenting. Then she says Paris was like a “wild animal” when she was younger and calls her an “alien” compared to the rest of her siblings.

Nicky calls Kathy out for sweeping everything under the rug and not wanting to have difficult conversations. Kathy gives the most shallow rich-lady response, which is that she’s a Pisces and that’s just how she is. In a confessional, she claims she’s “always in denial” and that it “works for [her].” Thanks for the honesty, I guess?

Anyway, this was a truly compelling and devastating scene that not even the writers of Succession could come up with. However, I’m now mad at Kathy for making me feel sympathy for Paris Hilton out of all people. I also have to give credit to Kyle—words I never thought I’d say!—who’s been professing her eldest sister’s narcissistic behavior for years. A stopped clock is right twice a day!

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