The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap: Cease and Denise
If you give a Beverly Hills Housewife a cookie…she will squeal about what a sugar addict she is, and then take one delicate bite.
If you give a Beverly Hills Housewife a dollar…she will not say where she got it, but suddenly it will be $10,000, and she will buy a handbag as a title card rolls across the screen, reading: “Kyle’s Chanel Total: $10,000.”
And, of course, if you give a Beverly Hills Housewife an inch…
She will take the whole damn mile, and she’ll make sure she passes a printer on the way so that she can make plenty of copies of the aforementioned inch to pass around at the reunion. (Although I guess at this year’s Beverly Hills reunion, the Housewives could share their Zoom screen to show any text message receipts…what a time to be alive!)
Anyway, over the course of the season, Denise Richards gave her frienemies one too many inches in their relentless quest to expose her personal life that has nothing to do with them. Mainly, she told them that she had no relationship with Brandi when she, in fact, had an ongoing friendly relationship with Brandi. And they have, in return, taken 100 hours of our lives talking about how if Denise is lying about being friends with Brandi, then Brandi must be the great truthteller of our generation, so Denise needs to admit on camera that they had sex, and if she doesn’t, she’s a bad friend.
But tonight, Denise gave Rinna, Kyle, and Teddi one more inch when she had a perfectly reasonable explanation for why she wasn’t attending Dorit’s party at the last minute — she heard Brandi was going to be there directly from Brandi — and instead of sharing that explanation, she just turned her phone off and didn’t tell anyone she wasn’t coming, loosely citing a “family emergency,” which her enemies (who, at this point, I’m starting to suspect includes production) will no doubt hound her relentlessly for at the upcoming reunion.
Speaking of the reunion: in some ways, I’m dreading it because, in the time that’s passed since the end of filming, everyone will have only entrenched themselves more deeply in their opinions. But in every other way, I am absolutely salivating for this reunion just to get anything that resembles a fact. There are so many assumptions being made in this season of RHOBH that you better believe an A-S-S has been made out of (yo)U, M-E, and every single RHOBH editor who had to sift through 100 hours of Lisa Rinna dancing on Instagram in order to decide which dancing clip would best illustrate her latest “sweep it under the rug” metaphor. Don’t worry — she had one with a broom! And to be clear: it was absolutely unwatchable.
But mostly I’m eager for the reunion because at one point in this finale, after Denise has been pushed to her limit, she says: “If I’m going to be put in a corner where I have to present text messages, not only will I present Brandi’s, I will also present Lisa Rinna’s — and I don’t think either one of them wants me to do that.” To which I say: Don’t you dare write a delicious check that you won’t cash, Denise Richards!!!
Though the evolution of time means very little to this finale, the editors use it as a framing device, so I will too. On Thursday, Dorit prepares for a party she’s hosting at her house on Saturday, and she says it’s a great feeling to finally be able to throw this housewarming. “We’ve dealt with a lot of B.S. in the past,” Dorit says as headlines about PK’s financial troubles flash across the screen. “I mean, what do people want? The Real Tax Returns of Beverly Hills?”
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but she makes a great point! Even if I have major questions about Dorit and PK’s finances, and even if I want to scream until my TV shatters every time PK acts like Dorit needs to pass a closet renovation by him when her jobs include a lucrative television contract, and his jobs include managing a singer from the '80s and possibly the worst entrepreneurial venture I have ever heard of (more to come on that)…I still wouldn’t prefer an entire season where the other women make Dorit expose her personal financial history on television because otherwise, she’s not owning it.
I want to see Dorit decorate a single room in every chain restaurant in L.A., and that is simply that.
On Friday, Teddi and Rinna wear baseball caps together, and for once, Teddi is silent in the face of Rinna’s own righteous vindication. Though just a month or so ago, Rinna was crying about needing to go to church because she’d been such a bad friend to Denise, she has since seen that Denise and Brandi have texted each other variations of “hey pretty mama” multiple times over the last year, and is now singing a different tune: “Now I go, ‘Y’know what? Maybe I’ve been a great friend, and you’re being a s---ty friend!’”
I believe that’s what the kids call a reeeeeach. Denise is certainly not telling the truth about everything that happened between her and Brandi. But does trying to protect her family from a sensitive secret coming out on TV via a bunch of women hearing it second hand make her a…bad friend? I just can never wrap my head around why Rinna feels so deserving of knowing this secret about Denise, and further, why she feels that if Denise doesn’t tell her, it is somehow a personal attack? Rinna is so angry in this scene with Teddi, saying that Denise has to “take responsibility” for something Rinna also repeatedly says is none of her business. “You make your bed, you have to sleep in it,” Rinna hisses. “And sometimes that bed is f---ing filled with nails and snakes.”
Rinna — you are the m-effing snakes in the m-effing bed!
Finally, it’s time for Dorit’s party, and if you were worried that PK wouldn’t somehow make a joke of the beautiful event his wife has put together, don’t fret: he is using it to launch his newest business venture: non-alcoholic champagne.
I truly cannot believe the idiocy of this venture, and it’s not because I don’t recognize that people want festive, non-alcoholic drink options for parties and social events. But who on earth is passing up the opportunity to drink sparkling grape juice at any given opportunity? As Rinna says, “Champagne without alcohol is like sex without an orgasm — like, what’s the point, have a water.” I am with Rinna on very few things these days, but I am with her on this. We don’t need PK to make a sparkling beverage that both has calories and doesn’t get you tipsy…we have Dr. Pepper for that.
So, once everyone has told PK that they love his fake champagne from the non-alcoholic region of France, they start eagerly watching the door for Denise’s arrival. Rinna says she’s texted Denise a few times in the last few days (conveniently not mentioning that she recently read a number of her personal text messages) and she said she was definitely coming to the party; Denise told Dorit she was coming to the party; Garcelle is picking Denise up for the party…
So Garcelle waits outside of Denise’s hotel…and she calls…and she waits…and she calls…and she waits…until she finally leaves, and heads to the party without Denise. Garcelle is frustrated when she arrives at the party still with no word from Denise, and deservedly so. Garcelle has stood up for Denise at every turn throughout this whole ordeal, so for Denise to turn her phone off and not even give Garcelle a simple heads up that she’s not coming is not cool.
But Garcelle also says repeatedly this episode that she has Denise’s back no matter what, she just wishes that Denise would do more to make herself seem credible. Because Garcelle knows that Denise not showing up to this party without telling anyone does not make her seem credible. That is, right up until…
Everyone is seated on the party’s Housewives couch, discussing why Denise didn’t show up, and in walks Brandi Glanville, just like Denise thought would happen. Dorit had already assured Garcelle that Brandi wasn’t invited, so when she walks in, Dorit whips her head around, and gasps, “Kyle?!”
Kyle snorts that she didn’t invite Brandi; as if Kim wouldn’t have told Kyle beforehand that she was bringing Brandi to Dorit’s party. Brandi joins in with the group to open arms from Teddi, Kyle, and Rinna, deaths stares from Garcelle, and exclamations from Dorit that she hadn’t been informed Brandi would be Kim’s plus-one. That is the passive aggression I want from my Beverly Hills Housewives!
Brandi tells Dorit that she sent Denise a text telling her she’d be at the party because she thought maybe they could “just sit down and have a conversation without everyone involved because it’s just no one else’s business.” Which is hysterical because Brandi has spent multiple showers and parties making it everyone else’s business, but it’s also tragic, because if Denise had simply sent a text to Dorit and Garcelle that said “I heard Brandi is going to be there, so I’m not coming,” they would have defended her with the strength of the approximately 1,000 giant nutcrackers Dorit has decorated her house with…
But she didn’t. Which gave the producers the perfect opportunity to tell Garcelle after the party that Aaron texted them and said Denise wasn’t coming because they had a “family emergency.” And they actually break the fourth wall to show us the producer telling Garcelle this onscreen, which is wild to me because it makes the producers seem…extremely villain-y. Especially coupled with what happens next…
A title card rolls: “In the following days, Denise sent cease and desist letters to cast and producers.” And then a DailyMail headline: “Denise Richards stops filming RHOBH after her passionate, months-long affair with Brandi Glanville was exposed by castmates on trip to Rome.”
JANUARY 8, 2020
If you can believe it, this is the first time we actually see Denise all episode. She’s on her way to Lisa Rinna’s house after a shoot because they need to talk.
And finally, these two soap stars (one current, one former) get to do what they do best. Their eyes are glistening; their stares are dagger-like; their silences, unbelievably long; their lines, not totally memorized, but dramatic nonetheless. And their greetings? Absolutely shudder-inducing considering how much they currently hate each other. They just keep saying each other’s names: “Denise.” “Lisa.” “Hi, Denise.” “Hi, Lisa.” “I’ve missed you, Denise.” "I’ve missed you too, Lisa.”
Who needs a second season of Haunting of Hill House when we have this stuff of nightmares?!
They finally sit down, and Rinna asks what they can do to move forward. “Did you know that Brandi was going to be there?” Denise asks. Rinna says she didn’t know Brandi would be at Dorit’s party and ask if Denise knew. Denise says she did, and that’s why she didn’t show up. And to me, that should end the conversation because it’s a perfectly valid reason for Denise to have not shown up. But for Rinna, it gives her that extra inch she’s been looking for…
“So there wasn’t a family emergency,” she asks, just barely containing the silent “gotcha.” Denise confirms that there wasn’t, and Rinna coos that they were all worried about her. Denise tries to say that she texted Dorit and Garcelle the next day, but Rinna cuts her off: “The reality is you said family emergency — you lied!”
Well, technically Rinna, the reality is that Denise’s husband told the producers there was a family emergency, and then the producers told Garcelle, and Garcelle told you, and now you’re saying that you have directly been lied to. But hey, what are tiny, minute details (other than the thing you’ve been hanging your entire takedown on all season)?!
Denise asks Rinna why she doesn’t believe her, and Rinna tells her that she “witnessed” something that really confused her. And by witnessed, she does of course mean that she asked Brandi explicitly to see her text message history with Denise when Brandi was invited to Teddi’s baby shower.
“You have had a very long relationship with Brandi Glanville because you have a very long text message chain with her, Denise,” Rinna says like she has just presented DNA evidence to prove that Denise and Brandi braid each other’s hair every night. Denise exclaims that she’s hung out with Brandi four times in her life: “She was an acquaintance, that’s it!”
Rinna scoffs a scoff for every time Denise Richards has allegedly hung out with Brandi Glanville.
Finally, Rinna pulls out her greatest ammunition, asking if Denise’s plan is just to not engage with it until it goes away. Denise says that “it’s being dealt with.”
“So you sent a cease and desist?” Rinna asks, followed by one of the longest pauses in Housewives history from Denise. “You wanted the footage taken out,” Rinna smirks. And I hope she was prepared to be buried with that smirk on her face because it is an absolute miracle Denise’s returning glare didn’t kill Rinna dead on the spot. “Who told you that?” she hisses at Rinna.
Rinna smirks some more. “Who told you that?” Denise asks again.
And to me…it seems pretty obvious…that the producers told Rinna that. And I just don’t understand how Rinna sees herself as the good guy, the avenger for truth in this situation when she’s being fed information, and then has the nerve to smirk back, “Oooh, you’re so angry, Denise.”
Denise says that Rinna is playing dirty, and asks if something slanderous was being said about her, wouldn’t she send a cease and desist too? And who knows — maybe Denise could test that hypothetical out in earnest by teaming up with Kim Richards next season to expose whatever secret about Rinna’s husband nearly got Kim shanked at a dining table in Amsterdam. Stranger things have happened, after all…like Kim and Rinna teaming up as besties this season after nearly getting into a physical altercation that time in Amsterdam (not to mention the bunny).
Denise and Rinna weirdly leave this conversation basically saying that they don’t trust each other, but they’ll be there for one another if the other one ever…wants them to be there? Judging by the reunion, that is not going to be anyone’s desire any time soon.
It seems that the only filming Denise actually walked out on was the gang going to see Erika’s show in New York, and then it’s time for the life updates to roll. Teddi had her baby, Erika’s show got shut down due to COVID, Garcelle took her sons to a Black Lives Matter protest which is never something I thought I’d see on RHOBH in a million years, and I am thankful, at least, for that contribution to this season. But most tragically of all…
Dorit’s Buca di Beppo room is currently lying dormant, waiting for the country to reopen. Thinking of all those lemons, all alone in the Capri Room…it’s enough to make me weep. I’ll just have to distract myself with an hour of straight screaming next week at the RHOBH Zoom Reunion — see you there!
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The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills