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Where Does Denise Richards' Alleged Tryst Rank Among RHOBH's Most Jaw-Dropping Accusations?

From drug use, to Munchausen's syndrome, to poor little doggies, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills have a long history pointing fingers at each other.
  • Sorry, Dorit: the puppy is out of the bag. (Bravo)
    Sorry, Dorit: the puppy is out of the bag. (Bravo)

    With all due respect to Erika Girardi's stint on Broadway, Dorit Kemsley's interior design triumphs at Bucca di Beppo, and Teddi Mellencamp's pregnancy, there's really been only one storyline worth talking about this season on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills: the ladies versus Denise Richards. In retrospect, that in and of itself was pretty predictable. Denise was the audience darling in her RHOBH debut last year, a season where the bulk of the other women (Erika, Dorit, Teddi, Lisa Rinna, Kyle Richards) caught heat from fans for bullying Lisa Vanderpump off the show. The Housewives franchise is littered with seasons where the women gang up on the fan favorite, and this season has been no different, with Denise at the center of nearly every argument.

    But that all hit a new level a few weeks ago when former cast member Brandi Glanville stopped by to level an accusation behind Denise's back: not only was Denise talking trash about all the other women, but Brandi and Denise had had sex, with Denise threatening Brandi not to tell anyone. This has been the perfect Housewives scandal — a mixture of plausible intrigue with obvious behind-the-scenes machinations, leaving viewers to endlessly wonder just what the full story really is.

    Of course the ladies of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are no strangers to this kind of drama. Over the years, there have been countless accusations (and denials). Where does this alleged tryst rank? Let's work this out the only way we know how... in list form:

    10. Eden Sassoon Accuses Lisa Rinna of Being a Pill-Popper

    Eden Sassoon only lasted one season on RHOBH, and probably for good reason. She was a mess, but not a coherent mess, and it made it way too hard to know how to react to her as a viewer. Ultimately, Eden's greatest legacy is being an iconic reaction shot amid the great Lisa Rinna/Kim Richards bunny-gifting moment at the Season 7 reunion. But she also mixed it up with Rinna after a most benign setup: a smoothie date, whereupon Rinna produced a ziploc bag full of all kinds of pills and supplements and placebos and whatever else keeps Lisa Rinna running at the 10.5 level upon which she operates. Eden, however, began to spread stories about the pill bag to anyone who would listen, pushing the angle that Rinna was on uppers, downers, and candy corn. Ultimately, Eden was never taken seriously enough for the accusations to stick, but the image of Rinna with the pill bag lingers.

    9. Kim Richards Accuses Harry Hamlin of… Something

    If we're ranking the best fights in RHOBH history, then the Amsterdam wine-bar melée between Kim Richards and — at various intervals — her sister Kyle, Eileen Davidson, and Lisa Rinna, would rank right at the top. The specific accusation that Kim leveled at Rinna that sparked the whole thing ranks a bit lower because of its vague nature. Still, it's hard to deny the effectiveness. In order to deflect from all the talk spurred by Rinna about Kim's imperfect record of sobriety, Kim outright threatened Lisa that she better stop talking or else Kim would bring up "the husband," i.e. Rinna's famous hubby Harry Hamlin. From the way Lisa's demeanor changed on a dime, you could infer that there was some fire amid all that smoke. But whether it's because Kim didn't know anything specifically about Hamlin's alleged misdeeds or Rinna successfully scared the crap out of her by smashing a wine glass on the table, Kim never fully delivered.

    8. Brandi Glanville Accuses Lisa Vanderpump of Bringing Gossip Magazines to Palm Springs

    The show would end up getting several seasons' worth of drama out of the various blow-ups between queen bee Lisa Vanderpump and certified disaster Brandi Glanville, but it's important to remember that they were once incredibly close. The first major crack in that alliance occurred in Season 4, when the group took a trip to Palm Springs amid a flurry of tabloid rumors about Kyle Richards's marriage and whether her husband Mauricio had been unfaithful. Lisa spent most of the season ribbing Kyle about the gossip, either trying to get her friend to participate in some gallows humor or trying to get some jabs in, depending on your interpretation. Later in the season, Brandi attempted to patch things up with Kyle by giving her some dirt: that Lisa had encouraged Brandi to bring the telltale gossip magazines to Palm Springs as a joke at Kyle's expense. Knowing Lisa's M.O. of getting third parties to embarrass the other women on her behalf, this is almost certainly true. But it put Brandi on Lisa's bad side basically forever.

    7. Brandi Glanville Accuses Kim Richards of Doing Crystal Meth on Game Night

    Speaking of Brandi, her very first splash occurred in Season 2, when she was invited to Game Night at Dana(/Pam)'s semi-unfinished mansion. Brandi, her foot in a cast and on crutches, was feeling bullied by the Richards sisters, so she fought back with what she'd observed about Kim's behavior, alleging that Kim had been ducking into the bathroom to do crystal meth all night. Kim and Kyle turned on Brandi like a couple wild banshees, kicking off a multi-season arc for the three of them that saw their loyalties shift wildly.

    6. Lisa Rinna Accuses Dorit Kemsley of Doing Coke in Her Bathroom

    Lisa Rinna's commitment to unvarnished honesty and "owning it" has become her calling on this show. This likely reached its pinnacle on her final night on the Season 7 Hong Kong vacation, when after an incredibly tense dinner that included Erika exploding on Eileen for a perceived (imaginary) slight against her cop son, Lisa decided to change the subject. Calling back to a dinner party earlier in the season at which Lisa was at one point left at the table nearly all alone, she began to allude vaguely to… something, until she was asked to just come out with it. And she did, asking Dorit, "Were people doing coke in the bathroom at your party?" It appears to be an unwritten rule on the Housewives shows that it's off limits to talk about non-alcohol substance abuse, which has been reflected in the huge dust-ups that happen when such accusations are made. The reactions from Kyle, Lisa Vanderpump, and Dorit feel like Rinna has crossed a line here, and, despite Dorit's denial, you have to figure Rinna dealt a low blow because she knew she had the goods.

    5. Brandi Glanville Accuses Adrienne Maloof of Having a Surrogate

    If you're getting the sense that Brandi ends up at the center of a lot of these accusations, you're not wrong. The resident bomb-thrower of Beverly Hills actually managed to burn the bridge that brought her onto the show in the first place. In Season 3, Brandi's first as a regular cast member, she and Adrienne experienced a fallout, and Brandi in turn began telling anyone who would listen that she had dirt on Adrienne. This dirt (which was never revealed on camera until years later on Watch What Happens Live) ended up being that Adrienne had had her twins via surrogacy, which she had not yet revealed to her kids. It was a deeply personal secret, and Brandi certainly didn't look good spilling it, but Adrienne was the one who ended up leaving the show at season's end (ducking out of even appearing on the reunion), while Brandi stayed to be messy for many more years.

    4. Teddi Mellencamp Accuses Lisa Vanderpump of Setting Dorit Kemsley Up to Look Like a Dog Abuser

    This is probably the most annoying entry on this list, but given the fact that the accusation ended up dominating the entirety of Season 9 and led to the exit of the show's queen bee, Lisa Vanderpump, it's earned its high placement. This is actually two accusations in one: the first was that in between seasons, Dorit adopted a dog, Lucy Lucy Apple Juice, from Vanderpump Dogs, only to quickly give the dog away for murky reasons. The dog later ended up in a kill shelter, and eventually got back to Vanderpump Dogs. Lisa, in her trademark way, tried to drag her good friend Dorit through the mud via the gossip press as payback. And then, when the season started filming, she set up an encounter at Vanderpump Dogs where fellow Housewife Teddi Mellencamp (far from Dorit's biggest fan) would recognize Lucy Lucy Apple Juice, giving the Vanderpump Dogs staff occasion to bring up Dorit's bad behavior on camera. A classic Vanderpump gotcha! Only this time, Teddi had an attack of conscience and fessed up to the group about the setup. By this time, Lisa's penchant for playing puppet master had begun to wear on the group, and they all turned harshly on Lisa, ultimately leading her to quit filming and leave the show.

    3. Brandi Glanville Accuses Denise Richards of Having an Affair

    And so here we are. Brandi is back again with another allegation that seems to have a basis in fact but is also drowning in ulterior motives and the increasing likelihood that it's not an accident that Brandi keeps ending up at the center of these. What might push this to the top of the accusations chart is that it might actually drive Denise from the show. It's already seemingly damaged the long real-life friendship between Denise and Lisa Rinna, who refuses to let Denise get away without owning up to everything she's done. And it's very likely we haven't heard the last of it either, so put this ranking in pencil.

    2. Lisa Rinna Accuses Yolanda Hadid of Having Munchausen's Syndrome

    Other accusations have dominated a single season of Housewives, but this one set things in motion that were felt for many seasons. Yolanda Hadid (née Foster, née Hadid) had announced publicly that she was suffering from Lyme disease, and her subsequent social media feeds were peppered with updates on a health journey that seemed increasingly harrowing. What tripped up a lot of her fellow housewives is that these drug regimens and injections and IV lines were mixed in with carefree videos of Yolanda windsurfing and living it up. Sensing a rat, or at least a chance to cast shade on another Housewife, Lisa Vanderpump, Kyle Richards, and Lisa Rinna had been speaking privately, and perhaps only in jest, about Yolanda having Munchausen's syndrome, a behavior where the patient fakes their own illness and makes themselves sick for sympathy or clout. Rinna, being the new girl, was the one who verbalized this when the Bravo cameras were rolling, and boy did she ever get in hot water with Yolanda for it. Rinna ultimately said it was Lisa and Kyle who urged her to make the accusation, which drove a wedge between Vanderpump and Rinna and also Vanderpump and Kyle, a rift that lingered until Lisa Vanderpump left the show.

    1. Kim Richards Accuses Kyle Richards of Stealing Her Goddamn House

    The epic Season 1 limo fight between the sisters Richards is at once a harrowing story of long-simmering family resentments and long-covered-up substance abuse. It is not a happy tale. And yet, undeniably, Kim hoarsely screaming "YOU STOLE MY HOUSE!" at Kyle across a limo remains the dishiest, most compulsively watchable accusation in Housewives history. Who even knows what disagreement led to the fight (honestly, it might have been an argument involving Taylor Armstrong), but as with many simmering sibling resentments, it almost doesn't matter what brand of match lights the powderkeg. Kim's behavior was embarrassing Kyle, and she was letting Kim have it, until Kim couldn't take it anymore. She unleashed a tirade on Kyle that included the charge that Kyle and Mauricio had, against Kim's wishes, sold the house that their mother had left to them when she died. In retaliation, Kyle fired back another secret that had been buried at least from Bravo's cameras: that Kim was an alcoholic. Suddenly, Kim and Kyle's co-dependent relationship had been laid bare and the Richards family's dirty laundry was aired out for all to see. All with Adrienne Maloof sitting helplessly in the middle.

    New episodes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills air on Bravo Wednesday nights at 9:00 PM ET.

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    Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Adrienne Maloof, Brandi Glanville, Denise Richards, Dorit Kemsley, Kim Richards, Kyle Richards, Lisa Rinna, Lisa Vanderpump, Yolanda Hadid, Reality TV