‘RHOBH’ Returns With Erika Jayne Annihilating Denise Richards

The perfect cure for a “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” finale hangover? A nice, mundane episode of “RHOBH,” with a splash of Richards family drama and new juicy feud.Published Jan. 03, 2024 9:00PM EST Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/BravoIt’s January and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills have returned from their holiday hiatus. Well, not

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The perfect cure for a “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” finale hangover? A nice, mundane episode of “RHOBH,” with a splash of Richards family drama and new juicy feud.

Alec Karam

A photo illustration of Erika Jayne and Denise Richards.

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Bravo

It’s January and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills have returned from their holiday hiatus. Well, not all of them, as Annemarie has gone missing, unmentioned and unseen throughout the entire episode. Oh well.

Unfortunately, while Annemarie was left in 2023, the awful, Selling Sunset-inspired background music RHOBH now uses has remained.

It needs to be said right here and now: there is no place for lyrical music, ever. I do not want to hear anything but a gorgeous score of choral music on an episode of Real Housewives. Take a page out of the haunted church music looming within Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, Bravo, and elevate your shows. These background songs are tacky, classless, and just antithetical to the franchise. I can’t withstand one more.

But here we are at Taco Tuesday. Last we saw, Dorit relit the flames of Denise and Erika’s feud, and Erika had delivered a brutal blow: “Who’s more profitable [on OnlyFans], you or Sami?”

Unfortunately for Denise, it only gets worse. The feud escalates with Denise poorly recalling the basis of her Season 10 feud with Erika, while Erika verbally annihilates Denise at every corner. Even Denise’s ally Sutton notes she has “some ’splainin to do.”

“Well, apparently Lent is over,” a giggly Kyle notes in her confessional, referencing Erika’s pledge to give up fighting for the 40 days—and surely grateful the heat was on Denise.

Poor Denise apparently hadn’t realized yet that Erika actually makes good TV now. She’s not the same lifeless character from Seasons 6 to 10, the woman whose contract got renewed by the sheer luck that her life would implode five years later. But Erika is a vicious woman with a trans-Atlantic accent now, and thank God.

While Denise makes her best attempt to launch Erika back into the hot seat over her ex-husband’s legal dealings, it’s simply too late. Denise is dead, dusted, buried and gone.

“You had your chance a week ago, you failed. You failed again tonight, and that’s it. Conversation over. Bye,” Erika says, decreeing Denise to a life in the Bravo vault.

Here lies Denise Richards, a woman of many talents—and one I’m forever grateful for due to her role in Drop Dead Gorgeous—but whose Housewives stint has, once again, ended in disgrace.

With Taco Tuesday behind us, Erika and Dorit meet to discuss the fallout. In particular, Erika wants to know what led to the tension between Dorit and Garcelle, but Dorit’s ever oblivious. Meanwhile, on a FaceTime with Sutton, Garcelle lays out that she’s still shaken up over Dorit’s microaggression.

“I feel like she lives in a bubble,” Sutton, who famously said she doesn’t see color, says, probably thrilled she’s escaped her own racism scandals relatively unscathed.

The cast of RHOBH and Denise Richards.

Bravo

Sutton really does make me laugh, as she surely is just as ignorant as Dorit, but she’s got just the right Housewife skills to skewer her anyway.

And her solo plot continues this week, with Alessandra, the elusive matchmaker, making her long-awaited return. Okay, so it’s not a long-awaited return for anyone but me, but this is my recap, and Alessandra is my favorite Housewives extra of the past year. Well, she might be stumped by RHOSLC’s hair stylist villainess Tenesha, but she is proudly in the top two!

The two rehash Sutton’s date with Sal from the previous episode, tension simmering between the matchmaker and the woman who can’t meet her match. It’s a testament to both Sutton and Alessandra that this storyline isn’t a snooze, but the women’s opposing energies just provides a really nice tension to an otherwise filler-y scene.

Meanwhile at Kyle’s house, Kim is back for the fourth episode in a row, a real treat for the Kim fans out there. It is funny that we seem to be operating on only two out of three Richards ladies per season, but I much prefer Kim to Kathy, so I’ll celebrate that.

And the conversation of the day revolves around Kathy, as Kim urges Kyle to restore her relationship with her estranged sister. Kyle shares that Kathy’s post-reunion behavior made it hard for her to move on, and she isn’t sure she wants to be close with her again.

The melodrama escalates into tears, the Richards sisters embracing each other as they discuss their late mother. Kyle’s character is always at her strongest when Kim is around, and the two just make wonderful scene partners. I’m ever entranced by their upbringing and the lore behind Big Kathy, and this scene really exposes further the intrigue of the family dynamic.

We follow this with a Crystal solo scene, one of her first this season despite us being 10 episodes in. Over dinner with her husband Rob, Crystal discusses Taco Tuesday and her frustration with the group’s desire for her to speak up.

“I think that you have a lot of very strong opinions, and I think that you just need to share that with them,” Rob implores her, hoping to save his wife’s job.

Unfortunately, it falls on deaf ears. Toeing the line of accusing the women of using Ozempic, Crystal shares that the skinnier bodies surrounding her are triggering her, distracting her from speaking up.

It’s so frustrating watching what could be a slam dunk in the hands of a good cast member be fumbled at every turn. Crystal, go out and accuse Erika of using Ozempic! Do it, be messy. Please, try to make good TV. What happened to the Crystal who called Sutton an “inappropriate, awkward person” without stuttering?

Speaking of Sutton, we have now gone two episodes in a row watching her go on a date. Seeing Sutton interact with the outside world is always a fun time, as she’s such a cartoonish character it almost seems impossible she could just be your uncle’s girlfriend. Like, imagine she walks into your family Christmas with a kitty sweater on and eating her pre-chewed food.

But Sutton just might have beaten the “can’t get a second date” allegations, as she and her date Steve really do hit it off. Alessandra knows best, after all.

Their conversation is absolutely wild, but it does seem to work for them.

“I think I saw you play tennis, right?” Steve asks.

“I do. Do you listen to podcasts?” Sutton responds.

“I like true crime, like I like to listen to true crime,” he says.

“Yes! I like the murder mystery ones,” Sutton says.

“I played a dead guy,” Steve says bluntly.

I won’t transcribe this whole conversation, but I would kill to see the unedited footage of this date. These two robots might just be a perfect match. Sutton, DM me and tell me what songs were on his 300 song karaoke list, and let me know if Believe by Cher was there! Thanks.

After that cute little date, we arrive at a more tense restaurant outing. Garcelle and Dorit sit down to hash things out, accompanied by a chillingly silent background music, really emphasizing the awkwardness between the two.

Having become fast friends in Garcelle’s debut season, the two have since had a rocky relationship. And with Dorit accusing Garcelle of attacking her, the implosion is real.

“The word ‘attack’ just hit me in the wrong place,” Garcelle shares. “There’s certain words, when you point them at me, it has a completely different impact.”

“Do you believe I said that with bad intention?” Dorit asks, and Garcelle replies matter-of-factly, “Yeah.”

The two continue to make their points, Dorit taking a plane, train, and a taxi to explain that she’s not racist nor ignorant, but a secret third thing. Upset by the “dangerous accusation,” Dorit says she’s confused by the disarray between them, given they are both of marginalized communities, Dorit being Jewish.

“What does that have to do with anything?” a bewildered Garcelle says, while Dorit argues the two should find connection.

This scene feels very Ramona and Bethenny-coded, the two speaking different languages and unable to find a single piece of common ground. It’s an especially interesting dynamic, as Dorit clearly wants to toe the line, but is unable to keep from sticking her foot in her mouth. She’s simply no match for Garcelle in this verbal spar.

Next week, we have the return of Annemarie, once again making weird medical claims about Sutton’s esophagus. I’m going to need an explanation from Bravo on how this woman snagged a diamond when she has appeared in less than half of the episodes and is a dud every time she’s on screen. However, given she activates Crystal later on, I look forward to that. May their combined flop be so powerful it makes them both stars. We can dream, can’t we?

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