Why ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Fans Are Pissed at Kyle Richards (This Time)

While “RHOBH” capped Season 13 last month, the full story on the Bravo star’s failing marriage only began weeks later…on Netflix. And that has fans in a furor.Published Apr. 11, 2024 1:04PM EDT Lester Cohen/Getty Images for Neuro Brands, LLC“Be open and honest!”It’s the phrase Kyle Richards has become infamous for, whether she’s imploring Denise Richards to admit

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While “RHOBH” capped Season 13 last month, the full story on the Bravo star’s failing marriage only began weeks later…on Netflix. And that has fans in a furor.

Alec Karam

A photo of Mauricio Umansky and Kyle Richards at a charity event

Lester Cohen/Getty Images for Neuro Brands, LLC

“Be open and honest!”

It’s the phrase Kyle Richards has become infamous for, whether she’s imploring Denise Richards to admit she cheated on her husband, asking Lisa Vanderpump to admit to leaking to the press, or demanding Sutton Stracke to come clean that she’s having an affair with her horse.

Richards has built a reputation for grilling her castmates, while skating by without revealing her own skeletons. So when Season 13 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills aired, Richards finally had a chance to earn her center diamond with a raw, revealing performance displaying the tumultuous state of her marriage. Except, while Richards’ storyline was no doubt the season’s best, what fans got was just a sneak preview of the main event. Fans had to comb through Netflix’s real estate docuseries, Buying Beverly Hills, to get the full story, like a video game with the best areas hidden behind DLC.

And that pisses people off. Bravo fans aren’t known for being calm, after all, and outrage is par for the course. But this outrage has gone well beyond the norm.

A photo still of Kathy Hilton and Kyle Richards at the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion

Kathy Hilton and Kyle Richards at the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion

Griffin Nagel/Bravo

“Kyle tends to think that a different set of rules apply to her when it comes to reality television and the fourth wall,” Beth Pauley, a longtime fan, told The Daily Beast. “And so she has this, in my opinion, entitlement. I don’t know if it’s because she’s the last OG standing, but she’s really protective of the things that are going on in her personal life, even when the things are all over the headlines.”

“I do just think of Kyle being known as Ms. ‘Open and Honest’—[her quote] ‘Open and honest, like just be open and honest!’ It rings in my head like a loop,” Pauley added.

When you’re on a reality series, you’re expected to film your reality. It’s a simple rule, one that some reality stars abhor, often to the chagrin of the audience. Robyn Dixon (of The Real Housewives of Potomac) got a taste of that last year when she flippantly revealed salacious details about her husband’s possible indiscretion on a Patreon episode of her Reasonably Shady podcast. Immediately, people blew up, demanding she be fired, tried for treason, and murdered in the first degree.

Then there’s Jenna Lyons (of The Real Housewives of New York City) who recently boasted about re-signing her contract with the caveat she won’t talk about anything that actually happens to her, and Ariana Madix, who wants to film a show about sandwiches and girl power rather than sticking to the Vanderpump Rules playbook.

And the truth is, Richards is held to a higher standard as an OG of the platform. In many ways, she is the Beverly Hills Housewife (sorry Vanderpump). While superfans might prefer a niche favorite like Sutton Stracke or Kim Richards, Kyle is the face of the show, which makes the scandal cut all the more deep. After 13 seasons, fans naturally expect more from her than they do a newbie, and the divorce storyline was Richards’ chance to finally step into a new era and reassert herself.

Instead, it was shuttled away to Netflix while loyal Bravo fans got scraps. Over on Buying Beverly Hills, audiences got a front row seat to the Umansky family conversation in Aspen the day Kyle and Mauricio’s separation was public, making the RHOBH finale scene filmed weeks after the fact look like sloppy seconds. To add fuel to the fire, Richards took to the reunion stage to declare her marriage and personal life is “no one’s fucking business,” a claim that fans and haters alike found eye-roll inducing.

“I don’t want to say I hate her guts like I do Teddi [Mellencamp] … but watching Part 3 [of the reunion] was incredibly frustrating for me,” Can S., a fan who got into the franchise at the beginning of the pandemic—and asked that his last name not be used for privacy reasons—said. “I expected more from her. I think Beverly Hills in general, they’re really just scratching the surface, when they could go into these storylines a lot more.”

And Buying Beverly Hills didn’t shy away from some tough conversations, showcasing Mauricio’s confusion over the state of his marriage, while he admits his wife has gotten very close with country singer Morgan Wade. Meanwhile, the Netflix series also routinely tore down the fourth wall, with Kyle and her daughters discussing that she has to film for RHOBH, and talking about the show at hand.

A photo still of Kyle Richards and Mauricio Umansky on Buying Beverly Hills

Kyle Richards and Mauricio Umansky in Buying Beverly Hills

Netflix

Pauley said she was surprised to see Umansky be so candid about Wade, given how cagey Richards herself was during the season. Similarly, Can S. called into question Kyle soft-launching Wade on the show, while Pauley pointed out the duo’s endless pap walks are contradictory to Richards’ plea for privacy.

“It’s almost like she wanted people to speculate about it, but then got mad when people did,” Pauley said. “So for her to say that’s nobody’s business is pure hypocrisy.”

While advocates for Richards have pointed out that Buying Beverly Hills simply got lucky with its filming season coinciding with the separation announcement, some have theorized that the Richards-Umansky family purposely saved the juiciest details for the Netflix series. Pauley admitted that, while she was initially skeptical after a lackluster debut, the additional drama of Buying Beverly Hills Season 2 finally sucked her in. Meanwhile, many fans feel that the show simply feels like additional homework on top of an already packed Bravo schedule.

“Nobody wants to watch Buying Beverly Hills. I’m being completely honest, there are too many real estate shows nowadays,” Asha Hammond, a fan who runs a TikTok analyzing Bravo shows, said. “If that’s where the real tea is, that’s so annoying. Why do I have to watch two separate shows to know what’s going on with Kyle? Why can’t she just be upfront on one?”

Hammond fell off watching Season 13 of RHOBH during the cast trip to Barcelona, frustrated by what she felt was a mundane season. While she’s willing to give next season a chance, she thinks “it’s up to all the other women to put the pressure on her.” Can S. felt similarly, while adding that the onus is now on the producers.

Just look at The Real Housewives of Orange County, produced by the same company as RHOBH (Evolution Media). Stars Vicki Gunvalson, Tamra Judge and Shannon Beador have bared it all—divorces, cheating scandals, cancer scams, familial strain, and more—and Richards’ transparency seems quite sparse, in comparison.

When Gunvalson’s daughter Brianna accused her mom’s boyfriend, Brooks Ayers, of telling her husband to hit her, both Brianna and Brooks faced off at the reunion. Yet Umansky was nowhere to be seen at the RHOBH reunion. Now, to be fair, the last time RHOBH featured a spouse at a reunion was P.K. in Season 7, and it’s certainly nice that Bravo doesn’t force Beverly Hills to have the obligated husband segment. Still, the shocking divorce of a longtime veteran Housewife, whose husband has been a regular fixture since day one, is something that actually does warrant a reunion appearance.

Meanwhile, over on The Real Housewives of Potomac, Mia Thorton’s estranged husband Gordon showed up to the Season 8 reunion to discuss their failed marriage, stir up paternity rumors of her child, and even chatted with her new lover. RHOP Season 8 doesn’t deserve much, if any, praise, but it’s certainly night and day to watch Thornton throw it all out on the table to deliver an interesting story, while Richards provides morsels to a starving audience.

Evolution Media, didn’t respond to a request for comment, while representatives for Bravo declined comment as well, instead pointing to Andy Cohen’s comments on his Sirius XM radio show, RadioAndy.

“I’m seeing online a lot of people saying that I, or Bravo, should be pissed about Mauricio revealing stuff on Netflix on his show, but I would say a lot of what he’s revealing is his story to tell, and what Kyle is revealing on Beverly Hills is her side of the story,” he said during a March 13 broadcast. “So, people think Bravo should be furious, why is he saying this on his show? Well, it’s his show on Netflix.”

Perhaps Bravo is right to be nonchalant, as, despite years of fan complaints, RHOBH has remained one of the network’s highest-rated shows. In delayed viewing, Season 13 rose to the show’s best-ever ratings, and the network’s highest viewership since Season 6 of The Real Housewives of Atlanta in 2013, according to Variety. Maybe this will be the scandal that sinks RHOBH, but that’s unlikely.

“Even if I hate watch, I’ll always watch Beverly Hills,” Hammond admitted. “I’ll watch all of the Housewives franchises, but like, I’m gonna complain and bitch about it.”

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