The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap: Judge not, want not
Our first Real Housewives of Beverly Hills priority: get these women through one meal without getting in a fight over makeup and/or ice sculptures. The second RHOBH priority: get these women a pocket dictionary, or at least a thesaurus because their consistent misunderstanding of basic accusatory words is proving detrimental to their ability to eat even a single chicken piccata in peace.
Sure, over on RHONY, there have also been some diction struggles. But at least the New York women are stumbling over actual toughies like "touché" and "schadenfreude." The ones the Beverly Hills Housewives keep fumbling are basic middle-school-drama starter words like "hypocrite," "dishonest," and "judgmental." For the last couple of weeks, it was Kyle calling everyone dishonest whenever they had the nerve to disagree with her, and now it's Rinna and Erika calling Denise judgmental for…not agreeing with something that they did.
And that's the most tedious thing about these arguments: everyone is well within their right to be annoyed…because everyone is being annoying. But they're all choosing to be annoyed with each other for the wrong reasons…which only causes more annoyance! So it's just a vicious cycle of unresolved frustration for both the cast and the viewer, but we don't even have the luxury of getting drunk and permanently tanking the Yelp reviews of a Santa Barbara winery…
I fully recognize that Denise made the initial mistake: inviting all of her friends over for a nighttime dinner party, putting a large, shiny object at the open bar and setting the table with Casamigos centerpieces, and then asking her friends to censor their conversations wasn't a great plan. But tonight, when Denise says she learned her lesson about not having her kids at parties, Rinna and Erika somehow take great offense at being judged. Drawing discretionary lines between what is fine for adults to say, but not fine for children to hear is not judgment though. Because correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Denise ever took issue with anyone at the table having threesomes, or even talking about them; she just didn't want her children to overhear those conversations. And eventually, she owned up to creating an environment where they could have been exposed to something she didn't want them exposed to.
And had everyone just left it alone, the impetus for Denise's own frustrations would have remained on Denise…
But, no! The wheel of annoyance must keep turning, and those offerings to Petticia, the god of pettiness — they must be made. So Rinna starts running her mouth about how absurd it is that Denise could be so bold in talking about her husband's giant penis to her friends, but so protective about her children learning about sex from a bunch of drunken broads at a dinner table. If Rinna's daughters had said they overheard her talking about threesomes when they were the ages of Denise's daughter, they would have all just giggled about it, Rinna tells us. And do you know what we call looking down on someone else's parenting style, and lifting your own up as the one to aspire to: judgmental.
No matter if Denise ultimately reveals herself to be more duplicitous than her bootcut jeans originally suggested, I just… I don't think it's that crazy to speak differently in front of your children than you do in front of your friends. How else would you ever get to complain about your children, which I assume is a very vital part of parenting?
And for the two main people taking offense at Denise being extra protective of her children to be Rinna and Erika — two women who have notoriously nearly committed homicide-by-wine-glass when their family members were so much as mentioned — is simply wild. To say over and over again that they see no reason for Denise to be uncomfortable with her tween and teen daughters hearing them yell about sex, and to question her parenting choice to expose them to every decision she's made in the past, or happy ending she's forced her husband to receive, is so completely — wait, what's that word they like to use so much? Oh, yeah: hypocritical.
And to be clear: that is me judging Rinna and Erika. But we're not friends, and we'll never share an open-air brunch in a Santa Barbara mansion, so I'm full-on allowed to. That's kind of our job as viewers. The job of these women is to do a passable impression of being actual friends with each other, which they are failing with flying colors at right now. Excluding a few small pairings, it seems like there's nothing they would enjoy more than never breaking bread with each other again.
For example, as Kyle prepares for Dorit to come to her house earlier than the rest of the group, she tells the camera, "When I first invited everyone to Santa Barbara, things were not as tense in the group as they are now," and then the editors flash a clip of her extending the invitation with the chyron: THREE DAYS AGO. It's perfection. Kyle has wept at no less than three dinner tables since then, and now it's time to have a relaxing vacation with her co-workers. She and Dorit reiterate the exact conversation they had at Erika's house, this time without Kyle crying, but still with Dorit trying to get Kyle to admit that she is closer with Teddi than everyone else, and Kyle resisting doing so by exclaiming that lots of girls get facials, and manicures, and therapy together. Nothing is resolved, but they decide to have fun together anyway.
And fun — they have! I mean, sort of…for like a solid 45 minutes. Everyone except for Garcelle (who is extremely working the PTO system by having a whole ass career as a working actress and producer) and Denise (who is coming after filming The Bold and the Beautiful) loads into a fancy van to head to Santa Barbara. Once there, they go to a wine tasting at Tipsy Tasting Room where everyone seems to get titular-ly tipsy after one sip of wine. During conversation, they come to realize that Denise has mentioned to both Erika and Teddi that her daughters and their friends overheard the other women talking about threesomes at her dinner party.
Rinna says that Denise took her husband to get a happy ending, so she can't be offended by her children hearing about threesomes, which is kind of like saying that a vegetarian has heard of hamburgers, so they can't be mad when someone sneaks pork into their soup. You know…nonsense. Dorit, who mostly minds her business this episode (probably distracted by the Buca di Beppo visions of pink checkered tablecloths dancing in her head) says that she might also be jarred if her 14-year-old asked her about threesomes…
"They already know, if they haven't had one already," Erika husks about — and I cannot reiterate this enough — Denise's children.
There simply has to be something else going on behind the scenes for these women to be trying so hard to paint Denise as hypocritical or falsely moralizing, that they can't even keep her kid's names out of their mouth. Especially when kids are almost Bravo-versally regarded as off-limits.
Conveniently, this is when Denise arrives, carrying a bottle of tequila into a winery. Soon, they head back to the house for dinner, where the ladies casually bring up Denise's acting credits, including Wild Things. And Rinna every-so-casually pulls out her biggest, most durable spoon: "So what's it like to shoot a three-way?" she asks in that particularly "Were people doing coke in your bathroom?" tone…
Listen, I don’t like when Rinna does this, but you have to respect the fearlessness with which she stirs those pots. Not knowing that Rinna is laying track for a trainwreck, Denise answers that it's a little awkward but the actors take care of each other. She says that she struggled with the decisions to do such and explicit role, but her mom was the one who told her if it was something she felt would be good for her career, she should just do it. "How will you feel when your girls see it?" Rinna asks, and again, you can only cringe and stand in awe.
Denise replies that she hopes they never do, and Rinna scoffs in her testimonial: "Come on, it's a movie, your kids are going to watch it…they know."
To which, I again say: keep other people's kids outcha damn mouth, Rinna. This is the woman who basically disowned Sutton as a friend for quietly having anxiety at her daughter's clothing launch a few weeks ago, and now she thinks it's okay to insist to Denise that not only have her daughters already seen her simulating sex in a movie, but that she needs to be more open about it with them. Rinna brings up the truly harrowing scene from two seasons ago when her daughters told her they had read Rinna's book where she gives explicit instructions on how to give a blow job. "In the moment, I was like, 'Oh god,'" Rinna says, "but y'know what — I taught them how to do it right!"
Kyle takes this moment of horrified silence to apologize to Denise for…well it's unclear precisely which "the other night" she's apologizing for, but she says that it started off with Dorit and became this whole big thing and she "really felt bad." Denise does not let her off the hook. She says that she was really taken aback by Kyle coming at her about being disingenuous, and she wants to say for the record that she had the ice sculpture at her party because they thought it would be fun for her youngest daughter, and Eloise was the one who picked out the diamond shape.
"Obviously, I wouldn't know any of that," Kyle says, continuing this hall-of-fame apology. "But that's the thing I get back to," Denise says: "We don't know what goes on behind closed doors and in all of our lives all the time…and a lot of it isn't even any of our business, and I felt like it was such a judgmental thing to say." Why — oh, why — couldn’t Denise just leave it at that?
She continues: "Y'know, I had you all at my house, and I had my kids there and their friends, and honestly, I've never talked about a threesome in front of my children before." Sutton, who seems extremely skittish about getting in the middle of anything these days, says that maybe if it's an adult party, don't invite the kids; Denise informs her that it's her home, so she assumed she could have her children there, and Sutton backs right down. Erika, however, says that she thinks that's a little naïve: "I mean, yes, it was disrespectful, but I don’t think it's anything they haven't heard."
Somehow, the editors — always so quick on the flashback draw — choose not to deploy the clip from just last week where Erika jumped down Sutton's throat the moment she raised her voice, saying, This is my HOME, where are your MANNERS? But I guess Erika is the only person who gets to have an at-home persona and a bad-girl persona…
And really, that's what's so frustrating: you'd think Erika would be the one person to most understand altering your behavior for two very different circumstances. I think Denise acting more buttoned-up in front of her children is much more commonly understood than Erika acting more buttoned-up in front of her husband — something that she certainly expects her friends to adhere to, as well.
But everyone seems to be pinning Denise into this corner, saying that she claims to be so laidback, but now she's acting like a prude. When, in my opinion, Denise has been pretty forthcoming about being a protective parent because of how much is out there that could potentially be harmful to the daughters she shares with Charlie Sheen. Denise tells the women that she knows her daughters may already know about threesomes, she just doesn’t want them to hear about them from their mom and her friends. She says she wouldn't have even brought it up after the dinner if her daughter hadn't mentioned that she and her friends overheard the conversation.
The other women want to know exactly what Denise's daughter said, but she says she doesn't want to talk about her children anymore, which I think is fair, especially considering she says it without breaking any of the glasses or wielding any cutlery.
But since that ends the dinner on an awkward note, the next morning, after the women have been served a gorgeous breakfast, Rinna thinks it appropriate to dish up yet another side of clearing-the-air. "If anyone has a problem with anyone right now, let's just quit pussyfooting around and get it out there," she instructs everyone trying to enjoy their yogurt parfaits. And y'all…
I just don't know if I can do it again. They rehash exactly the same arguments they've been having all episode, and for the last four weeks. Dorit tells Kyle it was hurtful when she said that she and Erika aren't really close friends; Erika tells Kyle it was hurtful that she said she doesn’t have any friends; Kyle informs them that everyone says hurtful things when they're feeling attacked. So, that…remains super unresolved. Rinna tells Denise that she shut them down last night; Denise replies that they had already talked about her kids at length, and now she knows that "moving forward, they won't be within earshot of this group." That seems like a reasonable solution to the women not wanting to censor themselves to me…
But Rinna tells the camera about Denise's child: "I know Sami, and I find it hard to imagine that Sami went to her and was like, 'I'm really concerned about this.'" Oh yes, Rinna, well, by all means, Denise should let her kid dictate what she should and should not be concerned about as a mother!
Erika tells Denise, "You can't talk about the size of your husband's penis" — to which I say, oh can't she? — "and getting a happy ending, and then we're the bad moms." WHEN DID DENISE CALL ANYONE A BAD MOM?! I feel like I'm losing my mind! And Sutton looks like she's been through actual combat at this point! For some reason, Rinna and Erika have gotten it in their heads that Denise "inferred" that they're bad moms when they're the ones endlessly questioning Denise's parenting both to her face and in their testimonials. By the time Rinna says, "Do you talk about the hookers in front of your kids that Charlie brings around?" I am just counting down the days until the reunion when this fiasco might possibly get sorted into something that makes any sense…
But something tells me — specifically, the flash-forward that started the season, and the preview that ends this episode — we'll have much bigger fish to fry by then.