“Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills” Dyke Drama, “Explained”

Nearly five years ago, I did a tweet thread of screencaps from the iconic reality television program The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills that looked like they could be screencaps from the demonic scripted television program The L Word. (I spend too many hours and too much brain space contemplating the homoerotics of the Real Housewives universe, but that’s an essay/manifesto for another day.) Now, in season ten of the Bravo series, there is finally FINALLY some real-life, non-subtextual, in-your-face, convoluted, messy DYKE DRAMA.

This is your primer to RHOBH season ten AKA “Feud: Brandi and Denise.” I will try to break down the “facts” of this storyline, but keep in mind that “facts” and “truth” and “reality” are broad concepts here. Much like Riverdale, The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills is where logic and certainty go to die. Also, everyone is mean!

For context, some basic details:

Who: Brandi Glanville and Denise Richards.

Brandi is a former cast member of Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills, and longtime viewers will recall some of her greatest hits such as “at least I don’t do crystal meth in the bathroom all night, BITCH” and the time she threw wine at sweet Eileen Davidson’s face because she somehow forgot that soap operas are not real life. For those of you just now joining us, Brandi Glanville is absolutely an agent of chaos. She first appeared on the show in season two and then was brought into the main cast in season three, where she remained until season five, but she has popped in from time to time in subsequent seasons. If you’re wondering how many seasons of this show there are and will be, the answer is infinite. Brandi is also known for previously being married to Eddie Cibrian, who cheated on her prolifically including with a server from Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills’s spinoff series Vanderpump Rules and LEANN RIMES, who he is now married to. Normally I don’t care about the trash men who are tangentially a part of the Real Housewives universe, but these details will become relevant later.

Denise Richards is, well, Denise Fucking Richards. Longtime film actress and star of Drop Dead Gorgeous, Wild Things, etc. She has also been a longtime player in celeb tabloid drama due to her marriage to and divorce from Charlie Sheen. Now, she’s married to a man named Aaron Phypers, who she met at his “business” which is a healing center that specializes in “frequency medicine.” I dunno, the dude has major chemtrails conspiracy vibes.

What: Brandi is alleging that Denise had an affair with her, which Denise is vehemently denying.

Before season ten even began, Daily Mail (which along with Page Six is essentially the paper of record when it comes to the Bravo universe) reported that Denise Richards would be quitting the show following allegations of a months-long affair with Brandi Glanville. Denise’s co-stars confront her about this mid-season on a cursed trip to Rome

When: 2019ish?

The timeline is a little confusing, especially since Brandi and Denise’s narratives are not lining up. But if the affair occurred, it was sometime well before the current season filmed.

Okay, now let’s dig deeper.

Then, season ten begins with a fairly middling premiere UNTIL THE LAST FOUR MINUTES, which teases that Brandi will be coming onto the show, she will share details about the affair, Denise will deny it, and then Denise will eventually do some tell-all when all’s said and done at the end of the season.

Then, we had to wade through many weeks of other storylines, waiting for the big drop. On July 22, the episode “Kiss and Tell All” finally delivered the goods. In it, Brandi “coincidentally” drops in on cast members Kyle Richards and Teddi Mellencamp in Kyle’s home and tells them that Denise Richards is not who they think she is. Brandi prefaces things by saying that she herself is bisexual and that everybody knows that, which prompts inadvertently hilarious reactions from Kyle and Teddi who are like…we did not know that. Technically, Brandi has never said she’s bisexual on the show before, but we’ve all Known. Kyle and Teddi are just the extra oblivious brand of heteros.

Like, very oblivious. Because then Brandi proceeds to tell them that she and Denise made out in a bathroom shortly after meeting and then later “hooked up” after Brandi interviewed Denise on her podcast, and Teddi asks if she means KISSED and Brandi is like…no, everything.

Here’s where some of Brandi’s history comes into play, because she claims that she only hooked up with Denise because Denise had assured her she has an open marriage with Aaron that allows her to hook up with women. But after they slept together, Brandi says that Denise was all of a sudden like jk you can’t tell Aaron or anyone for that matter because if you do, Aaron will KILL ME. Brandi tells Kyle and Teddi that this hurt her because she hates cheating and cheaters so much because of her ex-husband’s affairs that she never would have gotten with Denise if she’d known it wasn’t above board.

What’s prompting Brandi to talk about all this now, a year later? Well, she says that Denise essentially started threatening her. She tells Kyle and Teddi that Denise has been bad-mouthing all the cast members to her, perhaps as a way to bond with Brandi and keep her close so she won’t reveal the cheating. Brandi also says that Denise contacted her shortly before a party at Kyle’s house that they were both going to be at and that was going to be filmed and essentially said that she would NEVER reveal Brandi’s secrets so she HOPES that her DEAR FRIEND would NEVER reveal HER secrets. Brandi takes this as a threat, which is supposedly the tipping point that made her come and tell Kyle and Teddi the truth.

She happens to tell Kyle and Teddi this RIGHT before the whole main cast—including Denise—are set to go on a cute lil trip to Rome together, which is where the next episode begins. Cute lil trip turns into a trip from hell when Teddi decides to confront Denise at dinner, starting off by confronting her about the supposed mean things she said about Teddi to Brandi. Teddi also doesn’t seem entirely sure if she should bring up the affair, but the information is already out there since Brandi already talked about it on camera in the episode before. Before Teddi even brings up the allegations, Denise says they aren’t true which is, hmmm, not a great start for Denise.

Denise proceeds to basically Mariah-Carey-I-Don’t-Know-Her.gif about Brandi. She attempts to establish that they have no real relationship at all, and the details shift a little from episode to episode, going from no friendship to a little bit of a friendship to an ended friendship. The women all say it’s none of their business who Denise sleeps with while, of course, making it extremely their business who Denise sleeps with, but they are saying that their main concern is that Denise is LYING, and LYING is what gets you into a lot of trouble with the Wives. Lying—especially bad lying—also makes for very good reality television, as Ziwe beautifully articulates in this Team Denise soliloquy:

Denise is maintaining that nothing happened between her and Brandi because, as she says herself during the confrontation dinner, she’s “a very married woman.” After being confronted, Denise also bizarrely tries to pull a trick to get the crew to put the cameras down by shouting “BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO.” If you’re unfamiliar with the rules of reality television, you’re never really supposed to break the fourth wall. But Denise seems to think that by deliberately breaking it, the footage won’t air, a trick she has tried to use at least twice now. But the trick doesn’t work. It all airs anyway, and then Denise enters major damage control mode.

In the penultimate episode of the season, which aired on August 19, Denise last-minute announces that she can’t come to Teddi’s surprise baby shower being inexplicably thrown at a Buca Di Beppo (okay, the reason it’s being thrown at a Buca Di Beppo is because cast member Dorit Kemsley designed? a? special? dining? room? for? a? Buca Di Beppo?). Denise says she’s sick. Meanwhile, Brandi Glanville is absolutely coming to this baby shower. Brandi strolls in very late, and Teddi literally asks her non-Real Housewives friends to LEAVE her baby shower so that they can get into some shit. With the Normals gone, they do indeed get into some shit.

The cast seems pretty split down the middle on who to believe: Denise or Brandi. Denise at this point is maintaining that Brandi is just lying about everything and in Rome she even tries to say that Brandi has made false rumors about sleeping with OTHER Wives. It’s such a blatant deflection!!!!!!! I’m not technically an expert in lies, cheating, emotional manipulation, but Denise sounds a lot like someone who got caught cheating and is spinning a web of cover-ups. You know, in my opinion.

Because of Brandi’s history of being an agent of chaos on the show, some of the women are indeed skeptical. But Kyle, who has had some Serious Drama with Brandi in the past, insists that Brandi may be a lot of things but she isn’t a liar. At Buca Di Beppo, Brandi starts passing around her phone to the other women so they can see her texts with Denise, and while there’s nothing as clear-cut as sexting or direct references to an affair, it’s very easy to see that Denise’s claims that they had no friendship at all are an over-correction. They use terms of endearment for each other, even say “I love you,” which cast member Lisa Rinna says is out-of-character for Denise.

Brandi at one point becomes so frustrated by people not believing her that she blurts out “I SUCKED ON HER *BEEEEEEP*” which prompts a jaw-drop from Kyle. People seem divided on whether she said “tit,” “titty,” or “clit.” I lean toward the latter, because the scene immediately cuts to a flashback to Brandi offering to eat her pussy. In any case, Brandi wants to firmly establish that there was certainly more than an acquaintanceship and probably more than a friendship.

It’s all very messy, to put it lightly. New cast member Garcelle is firmly in support of Denise, and I think I’d listen to anything Garcelle says, because she is absolutely the least chaotic part of the cast at the moment. Meanwhile, Kyle and Teddi have both been a little too ready to essentially out Denise, even if they keep claiming that it’s not the gay sex that they care about but rather the LIES. Also, there doesn’t seem to be enough concern for Denise’s safety in all this. Aaron is caught on camera earlier in the season mumbling that he wants to crush her hand out of frustration as they’re leaving a party after an argument, and it’s scary! Even if Denise IS lying through her teeth and trying to gaslight Brandi—which is possible!—I still don’t think Kyle and Teddi are being super thoughtful in their approach, especially if Aaron is a genuine threat.

For those reasons, Team Brandi (Kyle, Teddi, Erika Jayne, and sorta Lisa Rinna but she might be on the fence) are kind of coming off as bullies. Kyle and Teddi are also not bringing much to the table this season, so it feels like they’re just jumping on other people’s drama with little repercussions for their kinda fucked-up actions. But I also understand Brandi’s frustrations, especially if Denise really did lie to her about her marital situation. And Denise’s story is porous af to the point where I’m almost like does she WANT to get caught in a lie? But at the same time, it almost makes it so that I WANT to believe her? Listen, I’m very susceptible to lies, even (especially?!) bad ones.

The season finale and reunion episodes (filmed remotely in the Wives’ homes due to COVID-19) are still to come. Brandi won’t be present at the official reunion, but she’s apparently doing a one-on-one with Andy Cohen about the alleged affair. But I don’t think we’ll be getting Brandi and Denise in conversation with each other at all.

Here’s the tl;dr Ira Madison III:

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 868 articles for us.


  1. I have never seen an episode of a Real Housewives and I have no idea who these people are, but I live for messy bisexual drama and so this recap was such a treat to read. Please keep us abreast of any further developments.

  2. I knew this had to be a Kayla article when I seen it mentioned on the AS Facebook. I’m Team Brandi for obvious reasons.

  3. I’m always interested in queer drama in my neighborhood. I just went on a quick wiki rabbit hole seeing if Kyle & Denis are related, they aren’t; but, Kyle is the aunt of the Hilton sisters. It also seems like Charlie piece of crap Sheen is claiming to have pics of Denis in bed with other women in a google news headline.

    • Yes Kyle comes from a Hollywood fam and her sister Kim used to be on the show too (and is best friends with Brandi Glanville now despite being nemeses when they were on the show together) and Kyle’s other sister is Kathy, Paris and Nicky’s mom. And Denise’s last name is a coincidence.

  4. From this helpful summary I get a “later seasons Jenny Schecter” vibe from most of these women.

  5. Ziwe is right! #TeamDenise

    Ultimately, nothing matters…but the fact that you could write “At Buca Di Beppo…” in this article…iconic.

  6. I will never watch this show, yet I will never hesitate to click through for your coverage of it. Thank you for this valuable community service.

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