'RHOBH's Crystal Kung Minkoff Explains the '14 Friends' Drama, Reflects on Sharing Struggles on TV (Exclusive)
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There's an unwritten -- but widely known -- rule in the world of The Real Housewives: the second season is always the hardest for new cast members, and Crystal Kung Minkoff is experiencing that firsthand on season 12 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
"Yeah, I did [feel that]," Crystal confesses to ET, speaking at a viewing party for RHOBH thrown by her pal/co-star, Kathy Hilton, and Menolabs at Kathy's home on Wednesday night. "And it's so funny because, it actually looks harder, too! I didn't know at the time, really-- I mean, I felt it, but I was like, 'Oh, this is just part of [the process]...' and then when you're watch, you're like, ugh."
Basically, by watching back the first half of the season (so far), Crystal's feelings from filming have been validated. The women seemed to gang up on her a few times in the first 11 episodes, arguing with the mom of two over word choice and gossiping about how she somehow lost "14 friends" because of her controlling and manipulative behavior. Crystal says the 14 friends story has been twisted and blown out of proportion, revealing she's actually the person who told her co-stars about that drama in the first place.
"I'm the one that told the story to them!" she exclaims, confirming some fan speculation that the falling out with that group was about Crystal joining Housewives.
"It was actually about the show," she shares. "That's why it doesn't go on [air], because it's breaking fourth wall, but I was like, 'You guys! You guys told me this would have happened when you guys would have got the show...'"
The group of 14, which Crystal says is really more like three, apparently had some jealously over the fact that Crystal landed a spot on Housewives; it's unclear if those women were also in the running to snag diamonds.
"People... sometimes people don't want you to sort of walk out of the bubble they're used to, and that started with starting my coconut water company and then getting into Costco, and each interaction I experience this," Crystal muses, "and so when this was happening with the show, I shared this with a couple girls, and they were like, 'Oh, blah, blah, blah...' and that's not fair. It is what it is, and that's fine and you know, it's a part of the show."
"When I saw it, my friends were like, 'I can't believe you told them!'" she admits. "I'm just, like, an open book. I can't spend my life worrying if someone’s going to say something, because it's the truth and I'm just going to say it."
So far, it seems the audience is still enjoying seeing Crystal speak her truth. The same can't necessarily be said for season 12 newbie Diana Jenkins, who's proved to be a controversial addition to the cast as she feuds with fan-favorite Sutton Stracke.
"Here's the thing with Diana: it's because the people that I talk to in real life, like my friends, love her on the show. The audience online seems to not like her," Crystal reflects. "I think she's just a black-and-white person and she's just less forgiving, you know? Where I wear my heart on my shoulder, on like my sleeve. I think once she feels sort of wronged, it's hard for her to see otherwise, and everyone has different personalities, and the audience doesn't like that."
"I get why people are hard on her, but that's just who she is," she continues, "and I appreciate that she won't adjust. Like, that I think people don't appreciate in her. Whereas other people move their personalities around to fit, she won’t and like, what else do you want? Do you want real, or do you want someone that's gonna [be fake], right?"
Crystal says she "impressed" by how Diana's handled the online criticism, because it hasn't seemed to faze her in the least. "She doesn't adjust, and I think that that's what people ask for and so it's like, take it or leave it," she says. "But that's her."
Viewers saw a more sensitive side to Diana on Wednesday's episode, as she comforted Crystal when she broke down in tears while discussing her eating disorder struggles. Kyle Richards brought up the topic, prodding Crystal a bit on the subject after Crystal made an Instagram post about her relationship with food.
"I was a little surprised," Crystal admits of the conversation, getting teary-eyed even talking about it. "I'm the one that posted about how I was feeling-- I guess I always think the show is the show and outside of the show is my life, like, 'Oh they brought it up again...'"
Crystal spoke with ET just after the episode finished airing on the east coast. She says her DMs were flooded with responses from viewers about the emotional conversation.
"Today's a little emotional, like seeing clips of it," she says. "[My husband, Rob Minkoff] actually watched it yesterday, it was so cute, and halfway through he came over, walked down the hallway with his arms up and I was like, 'What are you doing?' and he's like, 'I'm giving you a hug...' and I'm like, 'Why?' and he's like, 'I'm in the middle of watching the episode...' he's really sweet and he's like, 'I'm so sorry.'"
"It's great for her that she's able to talk about it, and be open about it, 'cause that actually helps her deal with it," Rob tells ET, "and I think for me, I don't think it's different if someone had a problem with alcohol, and they were in recovery, and they'd say, 'I'm a recovered...' or, 'I'm a recovering alcoholic...' rather."
"It's always with you, you're always aware of it," he continues, "you try to keep it in check as much as possible. The good news is, Crystal isn't always in the middle of that horrible, emotional place. Sometimes it comes up, but she always works to keep it in check."
"I hope that [my talking about it] sheds light on what people go through," Crystal says. "Not just eating disorders, but sort of any mental health stuff."
The episode ended on a funky note in regard to Crystal's eating; as she attempted to open up to Erika Jayne about her complicated feelings toward food, Erika suggested Crystal use laxatives to clear her system, rather than purge. The singer also shooed Crystal away from a plate of chicken tenders, seemingly an ill-themed crack at her disordered eating.
"I do think that people respond to kind of uncomfortable situations differently," Crystal muses, saying viewers will need to tune in to see how she handles Erika at that party, which continues airing next week.
"Some people are more empathetic, some people are awkward, some people can be judgmental," she rattles off, "I've gotten so many different kinds of responses to my eating disorder that I tend to kinda just walk away from the situation because it's mine and I can't let anyone affect that and that's how I protect myself."
"You can't fight someone on it," she adds. "I mean, you can, I guess. Like, I got a couple of messages like, 'Why didn't you scream at Erika with Jax?'"
Crystal's referencing an awkward moment from a few episodes back, in which a tipsy Erika told castmate Garcelle Beauvais' teenaged son to "get the f**k out of here" when he approached the table she was seated at to grab some flowers to take home.
"I'm like, he doesn't need to experience another adult screaming," Crystal explains. "That's not what I'm trying to show another child, and so if someone’s feeling-- I'm not going to scream at someone doing that to me. Maybe I'll have a discussion later, but in that moment it's about protection and self-preservation, for Jax -- for him and for me -- and I just have to walk away and then I can deal with them later."
Crystal's mature approach to engaging has left some viewers wondering if she can "bring it" the way some of her... more vocal co-stars do; those viewers include former Housewife Camille Grammer, who's labeled Crystal "boring" on Twitter.
"Yawn. ... Call me boring, I don't care," Crystal casually responds. "There's people that like to comment about things like this, I don't know. Like, it's not my style, I'm a very busy person. So maybe she should get busier. Get a job, I don't know."
While she's likely not to face off with Camille anytime soon, Crystal will have to hash out some issues with Garcelle at the reunion taping later this year. The ladies started off filming season 12 in a good place, went through some ups and downs, ended in a good place... only for things to sort of unravel as the episodes started to air. Garcelle's accused Crystal of lying, and alleged she attempted to set up Sutton for a dramatic confrontation last year.
"We're good," Crystal says of their current friendship status. "She texted me recently -- very recently -- said some nice things. ... She knows I didn’t [do what she accused me of doing to Sutton]. She knows that."
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.
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