The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
“Denise and Desist”
August 26, 2020
Our season finale begins with the typical self-promoting vignettes: Kyle stops by Sutton’s boutique where she will be selling some of her overpriced caftans; Garcelle meets with some women to discuss some movie she’s maybe going to be in? It’s unclear; and Dorit and Her Insufferable Husband meet with a party planner to discuss the housewarming party that will serve as the final event of the season. (Or not.)
After the party planner leaves, Dorit tries to tell Her Insufferable Husband about all the goings-on with Denise, but he interrupts her and talks over her because, you know, he’s insufferable. (But, in his defense, Kyle also got in trouble for talking over Dorit, which suggests that without the benefit of a little editing, Dorit just never shuts the hell up.) Ultimately, Her Insufferable Husband announces that he wants to be kept out of any Denise-related drama, and honestly, we can all agree that’s for the best.
H’oh boy, they’re breaking out the timestamps. I guess shit’s about to go down.
Rinna and Teddi Facetime with Erika in New York, who gloats that she’s not going to be in town for Dorit’s housewarming party the next day, and wishes them luck. They’ll need it.
Rinna and Teddi then compare notes about what they think will happen next. Rinna tells Teddi that she’s texted Denise a few times, told her about Dorit’s party, and said that she’d see her there. Rinna laments that she wants to be a good friend to Denise, but that Denise needs to be a good friend to her, too: Denise made her bed, and now she needs to lie in it. Well! As long as Rinna is going into this party with an open mind, everything should be fine!
Everyone gets dolled up for the party; it’s boring. The only important thing to take away from The Ladies Having Their Makeup Did montage is that Garcelle explains to her stylists that she is taking Boyfriend Michael, and will be escorting Denise, who is nervous to be seeing the other women. Garcelle laughs that they’ll do some shots in the car to take the edge off and that it’s important that Denise knows that she has her back.
At Dorit’s house, she flits around preparing for the party. Rinna is the first Housewife to arrive, and Dorit’s Insufferable Husband shoves a glass of his newest business venture (and the real reason for this whole party), L’Astuce, an alcohol-free champagne, into her hand.
Soon a very pregnant Teddi arrives, and I guess that’s why? Still, I’m with Rinna: champagne without booze: what’s the point?
Kyle, Mauricio, and The Morally Corrupt Faye Resnick show up, and the ladies laugh about Rinna’s wig collection, how each of them has different names so Harry Hamlin can have “girlfriends.” Gross.
Sutton arrives wearing a very dumb dress that looks like a bunch of paper plates have been stapled to it. AND I KNOW PERFECTLY WELL that it is Dolce and Gabbana, but to paraphrase The Countess, even Mr. Dolce and Mr. Gabbana make mistakes.
Meanwhile, Garcelle and Boyfriend Michael arrive at the hotel where Denise is staying at 7:40 p.m., per the timestamps. However, when Garcelle calls Denise to let her know they’ve arrived, she goes straight to voice mail.
But Garcelle isn’t concerned, instead talking to Boyfriend Michael about chicken wings and engagement rings. In a testimonial, however, Garcelle insists that she’s taking it slow with Boyfriend Michael before admitting that after her divorce, she didn’t have sex for SEVEN YEARS.
It’s now 8 p.m., according to the time stamp, and Denise has still not come down to meet Garcelle, and she’s still not answering her phone.
At the housewarming party, Dorit tries to give a speech, only to have her daughter come downstairs, scold her for being too loud, and demand that she whisper whatever it is that she has to say. It’s really not as cute as Dorit seems to think it is.
Dorit then introduces that evening’s entertainment:
a magician an illusionist to do some tricks illusions.
At 8:25 p.m., Garcelle announces that she’s going to give Denise one more chance and calls her only to once again have it go straight to voice mail. With that, Garcelle and Boyfriend Michael officially give up and head to Dorit’s party. Maybe Denise will show up there (she doesn’t).
Over at Dorit’s the illusionist continues to perform.
Everyone is very impressed.
Garcelle arrives without Denise, and everyone is like, “the fuck?” She explains that Denise was a no-show, and that her calls have been going straight to voice mail. Teddi is all, “Yeah, I’m not surprised,” but Rinna is SHOCKED! and she and Dorit, who had just talked to Denise about her intention to come to the party, begin trying to call her themselves. They both are sent straight to voice mail, indicating that either Denise’s phone is turned off or they’ve been blocked. The mystery deepens.
In a testimonial, Garcelle comes off irritated that Denise stood her up. She understands that Denise has her reasons for not wanting to come to the party, but she should have at least given Garcelle the heads up and not wasted her time.
At the party, Garcelle tells the group that Denise was worried that Brandi was going to be there, and Dorit protests that of course Brandi isn’t coming to the party! She’s not friends with Brandi!
As if that would stop Brandi.
The Housewives go outside to chat, and there Dorit reveals that she received a call from Camille out of the blue. Kyle adds that she “saw” Denise and Camille together (though where and under what circumstances, she does not reveal, probably because she was told by the producers that Denise and Camille had met up and did not actually see them with her own two eyes, BUT I DIGRESS). The women find this strange considering this was just last year:
As the women are contemplating what Denise and Camille might have to say to each other, in walks in Kim Richards with her date, one Brandi Glanville, because of COURSE Brandi Glanville shows up uninvited. Obviously, she showed up uninvited. Dorit is stunned, and Kyle pretends to be stunned, but come the fuck on.
Mauricio is the first to greet Brandi, who notes how many men are at the party, to which Mauricio warns, “yeah, and they’re all married.” Which, honestly, might be the bitchiest comment of the episode, if we’re being real.
Kim shows off her breast reduction to Kyle and Mauricio and demands that they feel them.
Sutton — who DOES have a relationship with Brandi? What the actual fuck? — takes Brandi aside and is the one to tell her that Denise is not at the party. Brandi is visibly disappointed, and Sutton urges Brandi to work this thing out with Denise and maybe, one day, LEARNING HOW TO SHUT THE FUCK UP.
Dorit tells Brandi that it’s a “shock” that Denise didn’t come to the party, and Brandi reveals that she sent Denise a text telling her that she was going to be in attendance. To Brandi’s credit, choosing to not ambush Denise is maybe the classiest thing that she did in this whole mess. But she tries to explain it to Dorit as just wanting to have a conversation with Denise, a conversation that is no one else’s business. And all of that is valid, but if you don’t want to make that conversation anyone else’s business, maybe try to do it off-camera? Just a thought.
The rest of the women join Dorit and Brandi outside, and Garcelle tries to get to the bottom of this mess. Brandi reveals that she has since texted Denise, saying “First you made me a cheater, and now you’re calling me a liar? What the fuck are you doing?”
Garcelle asks Brandi if she really had sex with Denise when she was married, and Brandi insists she did, but Garcelle is not convinced. Still, Garcelle makes it clear in a testimonial that she sure does wish Denise would show up and defend herself.
With that, the women recreate the Trevi Fountain coin toss, but instead of coins, they throw ice cubes? and instead of a fountain, they throw them into the swimming pool?
15 minutes later, as Garcelle is loading up in her car to go home, a producer approaches her and asks her what happened with Denise. Garcelle says she doesn’t know, but that she didn’t respond to her, and it feels kinda shitty. The producer then reveals that they received a text from Aaron saying that they had a “family emergency” and that Denise would not be coming to the party. The producer then shrugs that Garcelle’s the one defending Denise and then she bails on her? Garcelle and the producer agree: this is ridiculous.
Rinna, Dorit, and Garcelle meet up for what they describe as “Christmas cocktails,” but really to talk some shit about Denise, because the producers knew they couldn’t end the season with a party that one of the stars had boycotted.
Dorit reveals that Denise had texted her the morning after the party (also known as “yesterday”) to say “Sorry I missed last night. Talk soon.” The other women are outraged: that’s it? That’s all she had to say? That’s not nearly enough.
Garcelle tells them that Denise reached out to her on Sunday, too, but that she was busy with other people and couldn’t go into depth with her about what happened. Denise did tell her that she didn’t take her calls because she didn’t want Garcelle to “have to lie” for her, meaning that she told the producers that she had a family emergency and she felt bad at the idea of making Garcelle repeat what she knew was a lie.
Garcelle then adds that she and Denise had agreed to meet earlier that very day, but then just as Garcelle arrived at the location, she received a text from Denise saying she wasn’t coming and that they should get together over the holidays.
Rinna is the only one at the table that Denise hasn’t reached out to, and she wonders if Denise is trying to cast her as the bad guy in all of this. Rinna then goes on to explain her theory: that Denise is trying to manipulate the media and control the narrative. Rinna points to the fact that after not showing up to Denise’s party, Aaron posted a photo on Instagram of Denise in a hospital bed after her hernia surgery, and the Daily Mail ran a story about her procedure — a procedure that took place three months ago. She is trying to manipulate people and win sympathy points.
Garcelle finds it hard to believe that Denise would be so calculating, but Rinna points out Denise fought Charlie Sheen in the press for 14 years: she knows a thing or two about being calculating when she’s looking to protect herself.
We then have a title card that explains that “In the following days, Denise sent cease and desist letters to cast and producers.”
January 8, 2020
While filming a testimonial, Kyle calls Rinna to ask her if she’s seen this headline: “Denise Richards stops filming RHOBH after her passionate months-long affair with Brandi Glanville was exposed by castmates on a trip to Rome.” Rinna obviously has, and Kyle sighs that if you get entangled with Brandi Glanville, shit’s going to come out. Rinna agrees and adds that she doubts they’ll see Denise ever again.
TWO WEEKS LATER
Except! Denise is not quite done yet. On her way home from work, she calls Aaron to tell him that she’s headed over to Rinna’s house to talk. Aaron warns her that it’s not a great idea, but Denise goes through with it anyway.
Denise arrives at Rinna’s house, and as they sit together, they tell each other that they miss the other. Rinna asks what they can do to move past this, and Denise’s first question is whether or not Rinna knew Brandi was going to go to Dorit’s party. Rinna insists she had no idea and asks Denise if she knew. Denise tells her she did, and that’s why she didn’t show up: she didn’t want to give Brandi her Jerry Springer moment.
Which is fair! This is genuinely the most adult response to Brandi’s obvious provocation! BUT WHY NOT JUST TELL PEOPLE THAT? If I had been Denise, I would have texted everyone that Brandi just told me that she was coming to the party and that I had decided to not attend, have a great time. And any reasonable person who wasn’t scheming with Brandi to create a scene would have understood this position. In fact, if anything, being honest in this situation would have served to expose people: if someone continued to pressure Denise to attend the party knowing full well that Brandi intended to crash it, it would indicate pretty strongly that they were only invested in the drama, not in Denise. Instead, Denise stood up Garcelle, ghosted the host of the party, and lied to the producers. It’s not a great look.
Rinna protests that by claiming she had a “family emergency” she made them worry about her, especially since she didn’t respond to anyone until the next day. Rinna points out that Denise flat-out lied, before adding that whatever is going on is not her business.
Denise insists that there’s “nothing going on” and wonders why Rinna doesn’t believe her. Rinna tells Denise flat out that she doesn’t know what to believe anymore. She tells Denise about Brandi showing her text message exchanges and adds that it’s clear that Denise and Brandi had some sort of relationship.
In a testimonial, Denise claims that there is an app that can revise text messages, so whatever Brandi has? Who cares. She adds that if she is backed into a corner where she has to present text messages, she will offer not only messages exchanged with Brandi, but with Rinna, too, and she’s pretty sure Rinna won’t like that.
With Rinna, Denise insists that she’s seen Brandi Glanville four times in her life, she’s just an acquaintance. Rinna asks if Denise has talked to Brandi, but Denise seems confused by the question: why would she do that? Rinna is like, “So you don’t engage at all? Do you think that’s how it goes away?” Denise assures her that she’s dealing with it in other ways, ways that she doesn’t want to get into right now. “Oh, like a cease and desist? How you sent demands to take the footage out?” Rinna asks.
Denise seems genuinely shocked that Rinna knows this, and asks how Rinna found this out. But Rinna’s not talking, instead noting smugly how angry Denise is:
Denise accuses Rinna of “playing dirty” and argues that what is being said about her is slanderous. Rinna would lawyer up, too, if something slanderous was being said about her, Denise insists. But Rinna counters that she would show up and deal with people.
Denise wonders again how they can resolve things and move on, and Rinna explains that people care about honesty. Denise talks about how she’s had to explain to her children that people are saying untrue things about her and that they have to hold their heads up high and just move past it. Rinna agrees and adds that this is a conversation Denise is going to have to have with her kids their entire lives. Denise huffs that this isn’t a conversation that she wants to have with her kids, and Rinna is like, yeah, that’s called being a celebrity parent.
Rinna notes in a testimonial that neither of them is changing their points of view on this, and that they’ve found themselves at a dead end in their friendship. And in person, she tells Denise that she’s there for her always — if Denise wants her.
And that’s how we end that.
Sometime later, Sutton, Kyle, Teddi, and Rinna board a private plane that Sutton has arranged for them to fly to New York to see Erika on Broadway. Dorit is meeting them there, and Garcelle and Denise couldn’t be fucked.
Upon arriving, they meet Erika in Times Square where they admire the giant poster for Chicago with her face on it.
“What great thing is next?” Erika asks in a testimonial.
Yeah, about that.
And with that, we go straight into our character wrap-ups:
“Erika earned rave reviews for her performance on Broadway …
But the show was shut down after two months due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
So she returned home to L.A. to be with Tom.”
“Garcelle realized she wasn’t too sweet on Chocolate Michael.
She’s on the hunt for someone spicier.”
“On February 25, Teddi gave birth to baby girl Dove.
But she still finds time to burn off the baby weight.”
“Kyle’s fashion line is being sold online.
Her loungewear is selling through the roof during quarantine.”
“The Bold and the Beautiful was one of the first shows to restart production.
Because of health protocols, Aaron has been a stand-in for Denise’s love scenes.”
“With Harry home from the east coast, Lisa returned to her one true passion …
… dancing on Instagram.”
“Although her Capri Room is closed due to COVID-19, Dorit’s kitchen is open for Phoenix’s new cooking show.”
Alright. Onto the reunion, and allllll my hot takes. See you over there, chickens.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs on Bravo.