July 30, 2020 at 12:52 AM EDT
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We are halfway through this season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, not a damn thing of significance has happened since Denise Richards slowly raised one eyebrow at the end of the season premiere…and then Brandi Glanville hit the scene for two minutes, and all of a sudden we’re over-the-knee boots deep in a gotdang mess, y'all. It is a mess bedazzled with tiny pearls all along its baby hairs, and the boots are Fendi, sure — but it is a mess nonetheless.

The women have arrived in Rome, and Teddi and Kyle can think of nothing better to do on the way to their vacation than tell Lisa Rinna, Keeper of Pots, Master of Stirs about what Brandi said at Kyle’s house last episode. As a reminder: according to Brandi, Denise has been saying negative things about Teddi, Erika, and Rinna, and when Brandi went to record her podcast on Denise’s film set, they had sex. Rinna appears to have a small orgasm at receiving this news, which she will pretend makes her anxious, but we all know that Rinna is a succubus for social awkwardness. “So, they f---ed,” she hollers, barely masking her glee behind a pair of giant sunglasses.

Teddi says in her testimonial that the reason she told Rinna is that she’s “not in a position to be giving Denise any heads up about anything, but you’re her friends, so here’s this information — do with it what you want.” Which I actually agree with, but it’s also super not what’s happening here. As Denise’s longtime friend, Rinna does not take this information and delicately tell Denise at just the right moment, and even if she intended on doing that, Teddi certainly doesn’t wind up waiting for her to do it.

The jury is still out on whether Denise is the fraud she’s been hinted to be all season long — but the jury is in on Lisa Rinna and Teddi Mellencamp. Rinna is a simply terrible friend, and Teddi (and I really do not say this lightly) will find a way to make herself the victim no matter how many narrative walls she has to scale or lemons she has to suck to make her face look like that for the first 24 hours while she’s on vacation in Italy.

Personally, I did find Brandi’s story about Denise allegedly coercing her into a situation where they would sleep in the same bed and then allegedly misleading her about what their sexual relationship meant…alarming. And when a woman tells a story like that, you believe her until you’re given definitive reason not to. But that part of Brandi’s story is so not what has Teddi bent out of shape. No, she’s hiding behind a curtain of her own hair, rocking back and forth in the Fendi shop, and not sleeping at night because she heard that Denise said negative things about her. The fact that Teddi seems mostly unconcerned with Brandi’s actual story of feeling manipulated, but believes her — a woman she self-admittedly does not know — explicitly regarding Denise bad-mouthing her is mighty telling re: alternative motives.

I mean…you’re allowed to say negative things about your friends to your other friends, right??? You shouldn’t be malicious, but the idea that people simply believe their friends have no flaws and never need to vent about them is juvenile. These are some grown-ass women who are going to need to complain from time to time. Sutton thought it was uncouth that Garcelle asked her where she got her money in the last episode, so she told Garcelle she didn’t like it in this episode, allowing her plenty of room to apologize. And Garcelle responded by being like, Yes, I CAN be a little uncouth, so I’m sorry about that…

That’s some grown-ass women s---!  And the further reveal that Sutton had already heard the rumor about Brandi and Denise months ago, but hadn’t said anything because she didn’t think it was her place to, and certainly not at suppertime is just… <chef’s kiss>

But Teddi isn’t worried about protecting Denise, and she’s definitely not worried about defending Brandi; she’s just worried about herself. So let’s get into it: Garcelle and Denise arrive in Rome later than the rest of the crew, so the other women assume they will go straight to the hotel, but instead, Garcelle and Denise surprise them at dinner. Everyone squeals and stands up for hugs; Teddi looks like she has accidentally swallowed a softball. They actually have a fun little dinner conversation about the worst thing they ever got in trouble for as teenagers, and Kyle details the time Kim caught her losing her virginity and tattled to Big Kathy, prompting a family meeting about Kyle’s deflowering. And yet, that Richards family dinner was probably more comfortable than the Rome dinner we have coming our way…

The next day, Sutton joins the gang as they tour around Rome, visiting the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, while the editors tour us through photos of Dorit living in Italy in her 20s, looking like a completely different person. If you’d told me two years ago that I would one day find it charming when Dorit speaks her exaggerated fluent Italian…well I guess, I would have told you to please use your uncanny psychic skills to warn us about any potential global pandemics headed our way instead of dwelling on my notoriously fickle Housewives allegiances, please and thank you.

The women go back to the hotel to get glammed for dinner, but they probably should have brought umbrellas instead because s--- is about to hit the fan. While everyone else gets mourning veils artfully placed in their hair by men they paid to accompany them to Italy, Teddi slowly gets out of her bed in a robe, saying in her testimonial: “I’m tired, I’ve been on my feet all day, and knowing that I have to go to dinner with Denise when I know she has all these horrible things about us isn’t that appealing.” Now, I will give Teddi that she’s pregnant and was walking around Rome all day in over-the-knee boots. She’s allowed to be tired. But I will simply never get over her taking in every single thing that Brandi told her, and choosing the very worst part about it to be that Denise maybe said something mean about her.

At dinner, Kyle complains about her own personal worst enemy: other people having glam. Sutton doesn’t like the wine she ordered, so she asks for a different glass, which prompts Garcelle to tease, “Sutton’s not happy, and when Sutton’s not happy, baby…” Which then leads to their squashing of the beef over Garcelle’s money comments, and Garcelle ever so innocently asking if anyone else has any other grievances they need to air out before they continue with the trip.

Looking like she’s about to throw up, Teddi raises a shaking hand and says, “I need to kind of say something because I’m like awkward and I’m breathing heavy, and all these things.” (All together now: what else is new, Teddi?) She continues: “Denise, somebody told me some terrible things that you said about me…like I’m pathetic, you can’t stand me, and that I’m desperate to fit in with this friend group because I’ve been living in my father’s shadow my whole life.” Denise is shocked. She says over and over again, no matter how much Teddi persists, that she never said that about Teddi, and she never would. “You didn’t say these things to Brandi Glanville?” Teddi asks. “No, I did not!” Denise responds…

And after that, what more could Denise possibly do? Teddi clearly wasn’t asking Denise if she said these things because she thought perhaps she didn’t. For some reason, Teddi is positive that if Brandi said Denise told her these things, it must be true. To which Denise scoffs in her at-home testimonial, neon lights inexplicably glowing from every angle behind her, that telltale eyebrow basically in her hairline at this point: “Brandi Glanville is your source?”

“You didn’t talk to Brandi leading up to [Kyle’s] party…you didn’t spend a lot of time with her, and then stop talking to her, and then talk to her right before the party?” Teddi asks. Denise says no, she hardly ever talks to Brandi. Teddi is simply stumped that Denise is not admitting to every single thing that Brandi told them about her…so then Teddi tells the table every single thing that Brandi told them about Denise, holding off on the big one until she’s really amped the suspense. Rinna tells Denise that if she’s said bad things about her, then she should tell her. “I would tell you!” Denise says. “What’d she say about me?” Erika coos at Teddi, no single part of her body moving except her eyeballs.

“She said that you said Erika is a cold bitch, and you don’t like her,” Kyle says to Denise, not daring to look Erika in the eye. “Is it possible that she made it up,” Dorit finally asks about this woman who half of the table doesn’t know and the other half of the table — up until a few days ago — despised.

“I don’t know why she would be making up stories,” Teddi responds about, again, a woman she has met twice. “She was very specific, and she was very upset.”

That gets everyone’s attention. Why would Brandi have been so upset? “Because of what happened when she came to see you with the podcast,” Teddi hisses at Denise, who seems genuinely baffled by everything unfolding. “Nothing happened…she interviewed me and my cast!” Denise cries out.

“So Brandi’s lying?” Erika asks in a British accent. “Why would she lie though?” Rinna asks about Brandi, a woman that she absolutely has never trusted before, to her friend of 20 years, Denise, who is being bombarded by accusations at a dinner table. Truly, with friends like Rinna, who needs friends like Teddi? Kyle and Teddi keep saying that Brandi “came and said a bunch of stuff,” but they won’t repeat it because it’s “really bad,” and finally Dorit says to stop torturing Denise and just tell her what it is that she’s being accused of. (In her testimonial, Rinna says the reason she’s not going to be the one to tell Denise is “one word: Munchausen,” really thinking she’s doing something beyond citing another time that she threw one of her friends under the bus because of some hearsay.)

“Denise, I’m not gonna torture you any longer, she said you two has sex, okay?” Teddi huffs, as though she is the one being harmed by this information. Denise laughs. “Did you have sex with her?” Garcelle asks. “No,” Denise responds. Teddi tells her that Brandi said she was lead to believe that Denise and Aaron had an understanding in their marriage, but then the next morning, Denise told Brandi not to tell him. “But Aaron was there!” Denise cries, referring to the film shoot that Brandi visited.

Dorit tries to calm Denise down by saying that Kyle and Teddi are just trying to give Denise the opportunity to say what she needs to say. But that’s not what they’re trying to do. Teddi is trying to get Denise to admit to the things that Brandi said about her, and if she doesn’t, Rinna, Kyle, and Teddi simply won’t believe her. It’s a damned if you did, damned if you didn’t situation, and I think the others pick up on that and start trying to stand up for Denise, but even Dorit and Erika have to tell her that she has to stop calling out “Bravo, Bravo” every time she doesn’t want something to air, which she does again here. She just has to sit there and deal with it.

Kyle tells Denise that they don’t care if something happened with Brandi, and Denise lowers her head, and lowers her voice even more, staring into Kyle’s eyes: “I am a very married woman, and I love my husband to death.” Erika says that Denise doesn’t have to explain herself, and Kyle says that’s not entirely correct: “You know, Teddi’s feelings were really hurt.”

And just as I’m about to start screaming about how Teddi’s feelings haven’t stopped being hurt since she joined the cast, and if Teddi’s hurt feelings make another key cast member quit, I’m gonna lose it…

A knight in shining Dolce and Gabbana comes charging across the dinner table. “Wait a minute!” Sutton cries out after having stayed silent for the entire back-and-forth. “Do you care more about what has been said about you, or what’s being said about Denise?” she asks Teddi. That gets Teddi big mad, whipping her head to tell Sutton that Denise’s sex life is none of her business, but it’s already out there so she has to say it, demanding to know why Sutton is asking her about it when she’s already explained it.

“You know what, don’t talk to me like that,” Sutton tells Teddi, and I will be hand-embroidering her an invitation back to season 11 because of it. “I know I’m new, and I don’t understand all of it, but you don’t have to bring that up,” Sutton says, then telling the cameras that she already knew about the Denise/Brandi rumor, and she thinks Teddi is just exposing Denise because she got her feelings hurt.

Teddi whines that she’s “trying to tell Denise, you’ve said these things about me, and I’ve heard them.” Correction, Teddi: You’ve heard Denise said these things, and now you’ve told her. They all agree they’re not going to be able to get closure tonight and call the dinner to a close. But Denise isn’t going to the bar with some of the others because she’s got to call a lawyer now. Rinna tells her she needs to talk to Brandi as they walk out because Bravo isn’t going to cut this conversation.

“If they ever want me to be on this show, they need to cut it,” Denise responds, ascending up the stairs to Housewives infamy. I am truly on the edge of my seat for next week — see you there.

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The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Bravo’s guilty-pleasure franchise meets California luxe
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