‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’: Shut it down.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
“Reunion, Part 3”
September 16, 2020

We pick up the final piece of this reunion where we left off, with Denise finding herself caught lying about saying that she had said mean things about Teddi. After calling the other women “vicious” for pointing out something she said on camera, Denise reminds Teddi that she’s a celebrity’s kid: she should know better than anyone how shitty it was to bring up the Brandi story at that dinner in Rome.

To Denise’s irritation, Rinna points out that Brandi is the one who brought it up when she filmed the segment at Kyle’s house. But Denise protests that Brandi wasn’t at the dinner, before threatening that she “knows things” about Rinna’s family that she wouldn’t want out there.



Andy Cohen points out that Denise’s relationship with Brandi seems to be mischaracterized, and again, Denise insists that Brandi is merely an acquaintance. Denise then reveals that Brandi asked to go with Denise and Aaron to Kyle’s party, but that Aaron refused, because he doesn’t like her, and thinks she’s a trainwreck. (For once he’s not wrong.)

Andy Cohen points out that Brandi was very detailed in her story about what happened with Denise in the hotel room, and Denise is like, “I don’t know, she stopped by the room while I grabbed my stuff, but she did not stay with me.”

Denise again reiterates that she and Aaron do not have an open marriage. Kyle sighs that Denise just has a pattern of dishonesty and it’s hard to have a friendship with that hanging over it.

Denise insists she thought this whole thing had been resolved in Rome, so what happened after that? And Kyle points out that what happened is that Denise stopped showing up. Denise argues that she had a fever, that they saw her sick on Facetime, and Kyle’s like, “yeah, and then you stood up Garcelle …” Denise huffs that she did, but she doesn’t know what that has to do with Kyle.

Sutton decides to interject by saying that she had heard a rumor about Denise and Brandi back in 2018, so someone is clearly lying here. Denise denies even knowing Brandi in 2018, but Rinna insists, for some reason, that she did. I mean, who even knows anymore.

Andy Cohen asks Denise if she thought Brandi fabricated her text messages, and Denise affirms that she thinks they’re fake. Except … here’s the thing. If Brandi were going to fake a bunch of text messages, wouldn’t she draft at least one that would be incriminating and specific? It just seems like a LOT of work to go through to manufacture a year+ worth of text messages to not include one or two that at least alluded to something spicy going on between them, right? Anyway, I don’t know whether Brandi and Denise slept together, but I do think saying that she crafted this entire text relationship is dumb.

Rinna calls Denise’s claim bullshit and Denise warns her to be careful: that if Rinna starts showing off text messages between herself and Brandi, Denise will start sharing messages between herself and Rinna. Rinna protests– hypocritically — that those messages are “private.”

Rinna switches gears to ask Denise if Brandi is being muzzled by her cease and desist, and Andy Cohen joins in, pointing out that Denise’s lawyer threatened production with a cease and desist, too.

Denise tries to claim that her only intention with the cease and desist was to make Brandi “tell the truth,” but Kyle’s like, “Do you know what a cease and desist is? It’s meant to silence someone; it means, ‘DON’T TALK.'”

Denise wonders what they would do in her position, and Kyle’s like, “I’ve had all sorts of horrible things that were hurtful to my kids and family dragged through this show, are you even kidding me? It was awful, but I faced it.”

Andy Cohen points out to Rinna that she seemed to think certain things were off-limits in Amsterdam, but Rinna responds that she confronted Kim on-camera, and then again at the reunion, and that she didn’t run from it.

Garcelle notes that not everyone deals with things the same way, and anyway, why do they even care anymore? But Rinna argues that they’ve been having to deal with it for the past six months. Rinna tries to claim that if something did happen between Denise and Brandi, she would have thought she and Denise were good enough friends that she could have come to Rinna for help in dealing with it …

Rinna and Kyle implore Denise to “just tell the truth,” but Andy Cohen points out that Denise is claiming that the truth is she didn’t sleep with Brandi, so if they don’t believe that, where do they go from here? Kyle keeps repeating that the only way through this is if everyone is open and honest, but Denise claims she has been, but they just won’t accept it, and it’s become hurtful.

And that’s how we (almost) close the Brandi Glanville chapter — well, this Brandi Glanville chapter, God knows she just keeps coming back like herpes.

The next montage that Andy Cohen sets up is “Erika Has a Broadway Show” and it consists of Erika taking the ladies to “Shakers,” her old Jersey go-go club, and then telling Tom Girardi that she has been cast in Chicago and crying. That’s it. That’s the entire montage.

A fan asks Erika if she ever had customers who wanted more than to watch her dance when she worked at Shakers, and Erika’s like, “Do you know how strip clubs work? Yes, of course. But I never accepted anyone’s proposition.”

Another fan asks Rinna why she said she could never imagine her daughter working in a place like Shakers when both daughters make money by posing half-nude on Instagram, and Rinna is like, “You know what? Fair.”

Andy Cohen tells Erika that he saw her performance on Broadway and that the house was packed. He adds that Janet Jackson and Tom Ford both came to see her, and asks what Tom thought of her performance. Erika reveals that Tom never saw her on Broadway; that he had planned to see her in the last show, but then the show was canceled.

I’m going to just stick a pin in that one for what is coming up next season.

Andy Cohen asks Garcelle why she felt like she needed to call Rinna out for “stealing Erika’s thunder” and Garcelle says that she just felt like every time Chicago came up, Rinna was there taking a little bit away from Erika’s accomplishment. Garcelle wanted to support Erika, but Rinna constantly giving her “tips” felt repetitive.

Rinna points out that she was on the plane to go see Erika, and gosh! Garcelle wasn’t! Garcelle admits that she wasn’t, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t support Erika.

Erika interjects that she never felt like Rinna was stealing her shine, and in fact, she relied on Rinna a great deal through the process. Erika then thanks the women who did come see her on Broadway, and Sutton for chartering the plane to make it happen.

Teddi asks Garcelle and Denise why they couldn’t be bothered to show up, and Denise claims she wasn’t invited until the night before. Andy Cohen says that he heard that the reason she didn’t go was because she was suing Bravo, and Denise huffs again that she didn’t sue ANYONE, she just sent a cease and desist to Brandi. But Andy Cohen points out that she also sent a cease and desist to Bravo, demanding that they cut the footage regarding Brandi. Denise argues that was simply because Brandi wasn’t a cast member.

As for Garcelle, first, she claims she doesn’t like to fly in small planes, then she says that she just couldn’t make it, then she claims that her ex-husband refused to change schedules with her so she had to stay home with her kids. Lady! Just say you didn’t want to go! It’s OK!

Andy Cohen returns to Denise to ask her about shooting protocols on The Bold and the Beautiful during COVID, and she reveals they use dummies and blow-up dolls and spouses for love scenes. Aaron’s first love scene with Denise was scheduled to be the next day. I’ll leave it to you to decide which of those three he is.

This leads into a montage of Aaron being an asshole towards the other women. After, Andy Cohen notes that they had invited Aaron to join the reunion, but he declined. Denise notes that no other husbands were involved, so? But Andy Cohen points out that when Dorit’s Insufferable Husband joined the reunion, he and Erika were able to talk through their issues, and he feels like it helped change their relationship in the long run. Erika admits it didn’t happen overnight, but that talking to P.K. on the reunion did help.

Andy Cohen then asks Denise what she thinks about how Aaron spoke to the women, and Denise shrugs that she didn’t see anything wrong with it.

Denise goes on to claim that Aaron really liked the other women and was trying to “diffuse the situation,” which is an interesting way to put it, but sure. Denise adds that she shouldn’t have left him alone with the women at Sutton’s to go to the bathroom, but Erika stops her right there. She waited for Denise to go to the bathroom to confront Aaron because she knew Denise wouldn’t be able to pull him away. Denise insists that they shouldn’t ask Aaron questions if they don’t want him to get involved, and Erika is like “I wanted him to get involved! I wanted to know why he thought he could speak to us like that!”

Andy Cohen asks Denise why, after she said in Rome that he would apologize, that he hasn’t, and she’s like, “Because he hasn’t seen them because I completely stopped filming when I came back from Italy, duh.”

A fan (well, lots of fans) asked Denise about Aaron threatening to “crush [her] hand” when they were leaving Kyle’s barbecue in a huff, and she claims that she didn’t even hear him say it at the time. When she played it back for him, he claimed to not remember having said it, and that he was afraid of her. Andy Cohen asks why Aaron is afraid of Denise, and she’s like, “IT WAS A JOKE, ANDY COHEN.”


Andy Cohen asks the other women what their thoughts were on this, and they are quietly disapproving. Frankly, I think this was one of the most revealing moments of the entire season, but we’ll get back to that in a minute.

Andy Cohen introduces a “glam montage” and we talk about how much money Kyle spent in Italy (an obscene amount), that one time when everyone wore a pink jacket dress, and how heavy Dorit’s hairpieces are.

The final montage is about Denise and Rinna’s friendship. R.I.P., and notably, Denise pays no attention to it, choosing to play on her phone instead. Andy Cohen begins the conversation by asking Denise how Rinna has changed, and Denise announces, “I need to eat something before I answer this question.” With that, she gets up and walks off camera, all the while Andy Cohen begs her to come back, they’re almost done!

Eventually, Denise returns with a script and an attitude, explaining that she doesn’t have any more time for this: she has to go to work tomorrow and she’s got 48 pages to get through. Rinna sasses that if she’s so unhappy, Denise should leave the show (oh, just wait, honey), but Denise insists she wasn’t unhappy — at first.

Andy Cohen notes that when Denise came on the show, she said Rinna was someone she could trust and go to for advice: how does she feel now?

Denise replies that she thinks Rinna is “different” on the show and that she’s turned on her. Rinna counters that she didn’t turn on her, Denise hasn’t been honest with her. Denise insists she’s an open book and that Rinna, of all people, knows that about her. Rinna points out all the times Denise ran away, and the editors help her out with a small montage of Denise getting up and storming out of scenes.

A fan tells Rinna that Denise was right to be upset at Rinna calling her a hypocrite in front of everyone. Why didn’t she pull her aside to talk to her instead? Rinna reminds the fan that they are FILMING A TV SHOW, MAYA FROM SPOKANE. And anyway, Denise had talked about hookers on the show a bunch of times … Denise interrupts to correct the record: she mentioned a hooker ONCE and it was about her welcoming her to Thanksgiving dinner. Her mother would have invited the hooker, too.

Denise gathers her things again, as Kyle points out that while there are all these questions about why people didn’t pull people aside: they’re traveling together, these things are going to come out. ALSO, THEY’RE FILMING A TV SHOW. THAT’S THE ENTIRE POINT. Meanwhile, Andy Cohen urges Denise to put her things down and finish the segment.

Andy Cohen asks Rinna what her turning point with Denise was, and she admits it was when she saw the year’s worth of text messages with Brandi — she just could not reconcile the two different stories.

Denise sternly tells Rinna that “whatever happens moving forward, remember those words.” Rinna wonders if Denise is threatening her, again, and Denise notes that Rinna has told her a lot of “stuff” about Brandi and she needs to remember that. Rinna counters that she doesn’t like Brandi, and Brandi knows that! But she’s been nice to her lately so that she would come tell her side of the story.

Denise demands to know what Rinna would have done if Brandi were making these allegations against her, and Rinna, again, insists she would have called her and confronted her. “Even if you weren’t friends with her and barely know her?” Denise counters. YES! OF COURSE! Rinna insists.

Andy Cohen asks Rinna if she had to do it over again, would she have given Denise a heads-up about Brandi, and Rinna replies that if she had to do it over again, she wouldn’t have had Denise come on the show.

Andy Cohen asks about what’s happened between them since the final episode, and Rinna admits they really haven’t spoken or texted in about six months. She then says that she “goes back to when Denise was friends with Heather Locklear …” but Denise interrupts her to insist that she wasn’t friends with Heather, Heather was friends with her ex-husband. Rinna replies that Denise is calling her a bad friend … so …

Meanwhile, Andy Cohen is all of us, saying, “WAIT, WHAT ABOUT HEATHER LOCKLEAR?”

Literally his face:

But Denise and Rinna keep sniping each other, Denise calling it a low blow, while Andy Cohen and America are like “TELL US ABOUT HEATHER LOCKLEAR!” Rinna instructs all of us to “Google it.”

And so I did!

And the long and short of it is that Denise had a relationship with Richie Sambora, Heather Locklear’s then-husband when Heather and Richie’s relationship was in its death throes. Not a great look, but listen, these things happen.

Andy Cohen notes that Dorit had been a defender of Denise, and Dorit agrees, adding that she’s developed a “great friendship” with both Denise and Rinna, and she hates to see these two women lose a 20-year friendship. She hopes they can both take a few breaths and have a conversation and find their way past it.

Denise looks like she’s about to burst into tears as Andy Cohen tells her that he thinks back to Rinna texting him that she thought the time was right to bring Denise on the show, that she’d be a great addition. “So what’s changed?” Denise asks, but Rinna doesn’t have an answer.

Finally, Andy Cohen dismisses Sutton and then asks the women for their final thoughts on the season:

“Denise, as you leave here today, what’s going through your mind?”

Denise replies that she came here to resolve things with the women, but that she recognizes that some of the other women don’t want to do that. That said, she does want to remain friends … with some people.

“Garcelle, what surprised you the most being the newbie on the block?”

Garcelle answers that she was shocked to learn that it really wasn’t scripted. She adds that she came in with an open heart and it’s tough when it doesn’t turn out, but that she hopes to get to a better place with the women.

“Teddi, was it easier or harder getting through all this while pregnant?”

Teddi responds that she felt like a narrator — because she wasn’t drinking, she remembered every detail. In that way, it was harder, but good things came.

“Erika, what’s one takeaway from this season?”

Erika notes that it was a great year for her with a lifetime achievement under her belt. (Enjoy it while you can, momma.) She adds that she hates when there is discord, but that if there are two people who are willing, you can always have a friendship.

“Rinna, what is one thing that you would change about this season?”

Rinna insists that she wouldn’t change anything: she’s a truth-teller and if she feels she needs to say something, she says it.

“Kyle, ten years, ten reunions. How does this group move forward?”


“Dorit, you were in the middle of a lot of drama last season. Any advice or thoughts?”

Dorit, wise sage that she is, notes that she’s had “big issues” with women in this group, but that as long as both parties want to move on, you can get past anything.

With that, Andy Cohen asks Dorit to lead them in a champagne toast, and Denise downs that booze before being all “DEUCES,” and getting to work on her The Bold and the Beautiful script, because FUCK THESE REALITY BITCHES.

Alright. So, while I was watching these final episodes (two years later but whatever), I would sometimes poke around on Twitter to see what people were saying about … well, everything … back when it actually aired. Based on the responses — and I might get myself in trouble here — I was genuinely surprised at all of the support for Denise Richards. The Twitter consensus seemed to clearly be that the other women were jealous bullies who ganged up on Denise, spread nasty (possibly true) rumors about her and that she comported herself with remarkable grace under pressure. 

Now, I’m not saying that Kyle and Teddi didn’t clearly orchestrate the entire Brandi reveal — it was an obvious set-up. But for me, it didn’t negate all of Denise’s bullshit pearl-clutching, her constant running away from filming situations in an attempt to control the story, the behavior of her aggressive husband, and the fact that she repeatedly lied about her relationship with Brandi — whatever that relationship was — and her constant demands that everyone else go along with her lies.

I generally agree with Rinna’s theory here: Denise filmed the first season maybe not realizing or believing that the reality show that she was filming would use the more outrageous things that she said on camera. And when they did — when they OBVIOUSLY did — she realized that her kids, her husband, and everyone she knew would see her talking about her somewhat unconventional sex life. She came back this season determined to shut that talk down and try to rehabilitate her image. For whatever reason: to not embarrass her children, to maintain her image as the “good one” in the fallout of her divorce from Sheen, to placate her husband — whatever.

Now, I want to make clear that Denise is not a villain. I particularly take issue with the women claiming that their problem with Denise shutting down the sex talk was that she was “trying to make them look bad,” when that obviously had nothing to do with her concerns. She was very simply trying to defend herself and protect her kids — who have been through more than anyone not related to Charlie Sheen can possibly imagine.

The problem, though, is that she signed up for a reality show and then tried to control the narrative. If you’re not prepared for your dirty laundry to be aired, you shouldn’t sign up for a show that is going to follow you around with cameras for six months. Literally no one is forcing you to do that. Once things start coming out — and they are going to come out — you are not some innocent victim whose privacy has been violated.

And then there’s the Aaron piece. I can’t stop thinking about his threat to crush her hand, which in itself is horrifying. But you couple that with the way he repeatedly attempted to intimidate the other women, to shut down what they were saying, to control them … 

So, as I said, I don’t know if Brandi and Denise slept together, and frankly, it’s not any of our business what two grown adults do in their private lives. And I understand why people are not inclined to believe Brandi: she’s a shit-stirrer who is desperate to worm her way both back onto the show and back into relevance. But the thing that stuck with me, that made me believe her story is the Aaron angle: that Denise was worried scared that Aaron would find out. If we had not had all of these other instances of Aaron being aggressive, overbearing, and controlling, it might not make sense. But the way that Brandi focused on Denise’s fear of Aaron finding out about them … it fits a pattern. A disturbing one.

And so while I do think Denise is a liar, and I remain baffled at the fan love for her (especially considering how she tried repeatedly to control the show either through leaving events or shouting “BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO” to break the fourth wall), I do worry that she is in an unhealthy relationship and that it is what drove her try to control the way the show portrayed her. It’s not like we haven’t seen other abusive relationships on this show before and can’t recognize the tell-tale signs. They’re all right there. And so I’m sympathetic to Denise — especially as she navigates other issues in her personal life — I just don’t think going on a reality show is the healthiest or best way to deal with whatever demons she might be wrestling with.

Alright. On to season 11: also known as “So What Skeletons are in Erika’s Closet?”

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The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs on Bravo.

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