The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap: Denise Richards' last stand
On the 20th episode of the 10th season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I finally got mad — really mad. So mad, that I could hardly even listen to the happy-go-lucky segments about Erika getting her big Broadway break and Dorit wearing a braid so heavy that it most assuredly took one to two years off of her life.
Because listening to Lisa Rinna exclaim that she “doesn’t like bulls---” as she pulls out copies of someone else’s private text messages — all in the name of proving not that Denise has lied about talking s--- or sleeping with Brandi, but as evidence that Denise has perhaps fudged how good of friends she was with Brandi — made me actually scream out loud at my TV. And it’s hard to care about Erika’s murder-board for her testimonial looks after you’ve rage-screamed at an inanimate object, y’know what I mean?
What most fans seem to have long understood that Rinna can’t seem to grasp is that if Denise is lying about having sex with Brandi…then she has good reason to. Denise has been (to quote Kyle) open and honest about her difficult custody battle with her ex-husband Charlie Sheen, and an allegation about unsteadiness at home — like, say, cheating on her husband as Brandi alleged she did — could be used against her. When the stakes are that high, maybe we don’t need Denise to admit that she slept with Brandi just so we can subsequently prove that she once said something mean about Teddi.
With this final reunion installment, it is my opinion that Lisa Rinna has jumped the Housewives shark. Her pathological need to expose the sex life of a woman she’s been friends with for 20 years is some of the darkest stuff I’ve seen on RHOBH — historically an already pretty dark franchise! Rinna admitted in Rome that she had been a bad friend to Denise and should have, at the very least, warned her about what Brandi told Kyle and Teddi. But my assumption is that soon after saying that, she heard how upset fans were about the Denise-takedown, and Rinna is so terrified of being perceived as the bad guy (or mean girl, as it were) again, that she decided that proving once and for all that Denise is a liar was her only path to redemption in this reunion…
But she must have missed something in that fan feedback: we don’t care if Denise is lying!
To quote my good frienemy Sutton (whose early dismissal was very rude, Mr. Andy): LET THE MOUSE GO. You’ve had your fun Rinna, you’ve made yourself look so diabolical that I can only assume wig glue seeped through your skin and rotted the part of your brain that controls the empathy — now let the mouse go. For goodness’ sake, the mouse has 48 pages of dialogue to learn and a mannequin to make out with tomorrow!
In part 3 of the reunion, Andy starts right in, asking Denise what bad things she’s said about Teddi that she referenced in one of her especially wacky testimonials (you know the one — pink eyeshadow up to her brows, Lisa Frank color scheme behind her, the posture of a drunken sailor sitting on a stability ball). Denise insists that she was only referring to Teddi being a s--- stirrer, but now she has something else to add. Denise says that Teddi is the child of a famous father, so she should understand the consequences of bringing up Brandi’s accusations at the dinner table in Rome like she did. Rinna starts screaming, “It wasn’t Teddi, Brandi brought it up on camera.”
Okay…let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that Kyle and Teddi didn’t import Brandi like a particularly stinky cheese to tell this story about Denise. Let’s just say that Brandi let this information slip at a party without any premeditation from any actual cast members…
If the cast members didn’t want it to be a story, it wouldn’t be. It’s just so crazy because Kyle is out here in these Tweets fussing at Camille for calling Teddi’s “accountability” company "suspect," but for some reason, Brandi is allowed to come into Kyle’s home and spread a rumor about Denise that allegedly happened off-camera.
It’s fine to say that if something gets brought up on camera, it’s going to be a storyline — but the Brandi allegations aren’t a storyline because Brandi said them, they’re a storyline because Teddi told everyone about them in Rome, and everyone proceeded to interrogate Denise about them ad nauseam. Andy actually brings up a perfect parallel example to try and help Rinna muster a little empathy, bringing about my only feeling of happiness during this reunion because it’s the same example I’ve used in every RHOBH recap I’ve written for the past two months.
Andy asks Rinna if anything has ever been brought up on camera that she felt was off-limits, saying he’s “thinking of the Amsterdam thing, specifically.” The editors roll the clip of the disastrous Amsterdam dinner where Kim Richards insinuated that there’s a rumor about Harry Hamlin that Rinna wouldn’t want to get out there. In the present, Rinna explains Kim brought up something that was off-limits, she of course dealt with it: “I about went across the table and strangled her! There was no truth to it, but I faced her, and I faced her at the reunion.”
Rinna has the nerve to say all of this while staring at Denise who is at this reunion dealing with it, and also with the full knowledge that we still don’t know what Kim was talking about because no one interrogated her about the rumor for 12 episodes after Kim brought it up. Is Rinna suggesting that if Denise had simply lunged across the table and choked Teddi when she brought up the rumor about Brandi, that the rumor wouldn’t have stuck? Because the continuation of this storyline has very clearly never been about Brandi, and always been about the other women continuing to have followup questions for Denise’s repeated denials.
Later in the episode, Denise asks Rinna what she would have done if the tables were turned, and Rinna says, “I would’ve gotten on the phone with Brandi and said, 'What in the f--- are you doing, stop it you f---er!'" And yet, all episode long, Rinna has been complaining about the cease-and-desist letter that Denise sent Brandi…which is basically a legal document that says: stop it, you f---er.
It makes me feel crazy! Why does Denise being less aggressive than Rinna mean that she’s lying or that she’s not facing the problem? Garcelle finally snaps, asking Rinna, “Why do you caaaare?” An excellent question, Garcelle! Unfortunately, I have to report back to you Lisa Rinna’s response, which I genuinely cannot believe she has the nerve to say—nay—scream, is: “BECAUSE WE’RE F---ING HAVING TO DEAL WITH IT FOR THE LAST SIX F---ING MONTHS!”
Having to deal with it, Rinna??? This rumor that Denise denied and wanted to drop from the moment she heard it? The idea of Denise having sex with Brandi and lying to her about it has driven Rinna completely off the rails. Which brings us to the next most absurd thing she says in this reunion, which is when Andy asks if Rinna could understand that Denise might just be trying to protect her family. To which Rinna responds: “Well, I would think if we’re such good friends, she would come to me and say, ‘Lisa, this happened, please help me,’ and I would have helped her in a second."
Garcelle outright scoffs at that one, saying, “How can she come to you? All you do is attack her every time you see her!” Garcelle always manages to defend Denise better than Denise defends herself with just a few simple sentences, but to Denise’s mild credit, she does at least offer up a few hard facts in this reunion installment. Most importantly, she says that Aaron was with her on location when Brandi came to visit to record her podcast and that she didn’t stay in her hotel room. She only knew what it looked like because she showed up at her door while Denise was gathering her things to leave. But the piece of information that I really wish Denise would have dwelled on a little more, that I’ve been looking for more clarification on all season, is the fact that Sutton apparently heard this rumor about Denise and Brandi two years ago.
Sutton mentions again in this reunion that she didn’t know Denise in 2018, but she heard the rumor “from one person removed from Brandi.” Sutton is about to continue the thought by saying that Brandi has either been lying about this for a very long time or — well, we’ll never know the rest because Denise mumbles that she’d never even met Brandi in 2018, and then Rinna starts screaming (I’m not exaggerating using that verb over and over, she is screaming for this entire episode): "OH YES YOU DID, OH YES YOU DID!"
But whether Denise had met Brandi in 2018 or not, she didn’t record Brandi’s podcast until May 2019, which is when Brandi told Kyle and Teddi that they slept together…so how had Sutton already heard that rumor in 2018? Is that not a lie more inconsistent than Denise seeming like more of a casual friend with Brandi than an acquaintance?
But Rinna’s most unbelievable moment in the episode, the one that actually causes Garcelle to gasp and hang her head in shame, is when Denise tells Andy that she thinks the texts Brandi showed were tampered with, and Lisa Rinna pulls out a stack of photocopied papers, and screams proudly, “I have them right here if you guys want to go through them!” When even the women who are normally on her side about this fall silent, she shrugs, “I don’t like bulls---, so let’s go through it.” As if to say that printing off copies of your friend’s private text messages and offering to read them out loud on national television is not, by definition, bulls---.
Denise tells Rinna she might not want to do that, and Rinna starts taunting, “Is that a threat, Denise?” because she’s soooo tough. (“I think it’s a promise,” Kyle mutters, which is why I can’t ever stop liking Kyle no matter how hypocritical she is.)
Andy asks if Denise is willing to show her texts with Brandi to prove that they don’t match. “Absolutely,” Denise says. “Is Rinna willing to let me show my text messages with her?”
And if I didn’t hear it with my own two ears, I might not have believed what Rinna says next: “But it’s not about me, Denise, and those are private.” WOW! Double WOW! So Rinna is suggesting that one’s text messages that were sent in private should not be shared in a public forum like, oh say, a Real Housewives reunion. At least if Denise shared her texts with Rinna, she would be one-half of those texts, as opposed to having no right to have ever seen them at all.
But Denise doesn’t share the texts because once Rinna gets a taste of her own medicine, she shuts up about those printed-off text messages real fast. Eventually, it’s revealed that the texts Denise is threatening to show are Rinna saying disparaging things about Brandi herself. What a twist! Rinna tells Denise that everyone already knows she doesn’t like Brandi, and Denise smirks: “Have you told her that?”
Rinna tries to act nonchalant, but she looks caught: “Of course Brandi knows I don’t like her! I’ve been nice to Brandi lately because she has come on to try to tell her side of the story.” Rinna will go on to say that she wouldn’t change a thing about this season because she’s “a truthteller,” and defends herself against the idea that she’s been a bad friend…all the while knowing that she’s been nice to someone that she doesn’t like, and done everything she can to help her tell a story that directly causes her friend of over 20 years pain. It’s all…so weird.
Like I said earlier, there’s then a segment about Erika’s Broadway debut, but nothing else is really worth mentioning after watching how sad Denise is by the end when Andy brings up the dissolution of Denise and Rinna’s 20-year friendship. But it does kind of take Denise out on a high note, when she needs to eat something before she can talk about it, walks away from the camera, and then returns with her heels in one hand, and a thick script in the other, and says that she really does need to be getting along now: “I have to go to work tomorrow — I have 48 pages.”
I stan not arguing on an empty stomach, and I absolutely stan making sure your soon-to-be-former co-workers know that their main job is simply your side hustle. Andy asks Denise to sit back down, which she does, only for Rinna to randomly bring up Denise’s other rumored friendship breakdown with Heather Locklear, which Denise says isn’t true, and Rinna knows it.
But you know what they say: With friends like Lisa Rinna, who needs a Housewives check? Not Denise Richards, that’s for sure.
RHOBH has lived many lives and worn many faces (literally), and with a little recalibrating of what it means to be “honest” versus what it means to want to be seen as honest, I think this franchise could make a comeback still. For now, I’ll leave you with the wise words of Dorit, who stands as living proof that things you once found intolerable always stand a chance of becoming the quirky voice of reason drinking Gucci ice cubes out of a Gucci glass, sitting on a towel to protect her ass from getting chaffed by the couture chainmail she’s wearing, and giving the season’s final toast: “May the only pain in your life be cham-pagne!”
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