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Real Housewives

Filtering by Tag: real housewives of dallas

RHOD Season 1 Wrap-Up

Glenn Rowley

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

After just 10 episodes and a one-part reunion, Season 1 of The Real Housewives of Dallas is in the rear-view mirror. Bravo has yet to announce whether the Texas ladies will be back for a second season, so for this week's feature I'm breaking down what made the first year in Dallas great and what needs to change if it comes back next year for Season 2.

WHY IT WORKED

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  • The Dallas difference: In order for any city in the Housewives franchise to stand out, it has to add its own unique flavor to the legacy of the cities that have come before it. Texas was certainly new territory for the mostly-coastal Housewives universe, and the new perspective it offered had both positive and negative elements. While the ladies' emphasis on the "Dallas charity world" seemed like overkill to some fans, I personally liked that philanthropy played such a key role in establishing the show's identity. From Mad Hatter's to the Grace Project Conference, the many charity events featured on-camera gave the Housewives ample opportunity to interact and engage while using the limelight to do some good. Plus, who didn't love watching the women argue over petty grievances like their social status and standing in the charity world?
  • Old-school OC vibes: When Andy Cohen announced that we'd be getting two new Housewives franchises this year, he assured us that they reminded him of early seasons in Orange County and New York City. And while the Potomac 'Wives gave off echoes of Manhattan, the ladies of RHOD were brimming over with shades of vintage OC. Dallas reminded me of the flagship series in the franchise because, at its heart, it was all about these women and their families. Whether Tiffany Hendra was trying to persuade her rocker husband and his perfect hair to move to Dallas permanently or Stephanie Hollman was visiting her hometown of Coweta, Oklahoma, family came first for the Dallas Wives...just like it does in the OC. In particular, Brandi Redmond's tumultuous family life was the source of endless fodder for the cameras. From the former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader's marital strife with her checked-out husband Bryan to watching her cope with her brother's PTSD-related suicide attempt and meeting her estranged grandfather for the first time, Brandi let us completely into her world. Talk about shaking all the skeletons out of the family tree...
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  • LeeAnne Locken, carny queen: Whether you love her or love to hate her, there's no doubt that the fiery queen bee of Dallas simply made the show this season. LeeAnne's journey from a childhood spent on the carnival circuit to becoming a self-made socialite through sheer grit and determination of will was Housewives gold in terms of backstory. And if you don't believe me, consider this: over the course of a single season, she managed to feud with literally every other member of the cast - including an epic curbside shoving match with her BFF Tiffany where one of Bravo's cameras became collateral damage and threatening to gut Friend of the Housewives Marie Reyes "carny-style" on the cast trip to Austin. Every show in the franchise needs a breakout star, and while she's nothing like Bethenny Frankel or Teresa Giudice, LeeAnne is the bright pink blush-wearing OG-in-the-making that Dallas never even knew it needed. 

WHAT COULD CHANGE

  • No more poop jokes: While getting a peek into the Dallas charity world was a positively unique thing RHOD added to the franchise, the cast's preoccupation with poop, farts and juvenile humor made the show stand out for all the wrong reasons. When Brandi brought up the first poop joke in the series premiere, I was hoping the immature humor was a fluke, but I was unfortunately very wrong - not a single episode went by without some mention of fecal matter. Even more frustrating was the fact that a number of the season's major plot points revolved around some form of poop. From the scandal of Brandi's poop-themed hat at Mad Hatter's to the humiliation of LeeAnne's poop story from 15 years ago becoming common knowledge on the trip to Austin, we literally couldn't get away from the disgusting subject. Quite frankly, every mention of it was just gross and in poor taste. If the show gets a second season, any and all potty humor or poop talk needs to be banned by production. 
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  • Step up the reunion, please: I was honestly shocked when, after everything that had occurred over the preceding 10 episodes, Bravo chose to make the Season 1 reunion just a single episode. Yes, they claimed it was "supersized" by adding an additional 15 minutes to the hour, I find it hard to believe that after an entire day of filming, Bravo's cameras only got enough footage to justify a one-part reunion. Whether the 'Wives simply didn't engage enough on the couches or it was a choice made by production, the reunion needs to be at least two parts next season. Hear that ladies? Get ready to bring it for Season 2.
  • Cast shake-ups: Tweaking the lineup is an inevitability in the Housewives universe, and in the case of RHOD, it's an exercise the show could benefit from if it gets a chance at a second season. It's no secret that the Texas franchise had significantly lower ratings than any of the other Housewives cities including fellow newbie Potomac (and even its lead-in Southern Charm), so production would be wise to shake things up and perfect the Dallas recipe. In theory, the idea of two sets of BFFs - LeeAnne/Tiffany and Brandi/Stephanie - held significant promise, but didn't pan out quite as explosively as I suspect Bravo was hoping it would. In fact, while Brandi started out the season as the primary foil to LeeAnne's intensity, Cary Deuber ended up being the dark horse who became LeeAnne's only formidable foe by season's end. First and foremost, if the show gets a Season 2, Marie needs to be upgraded to full-time status. And if someone has to be cut loose, my vote would be to lose Brandi. Not only would that solve half of the poop problem mentioned above, but Brandi's admitted on Twitter that she's not even sure she has it in her to do another season. Therefore, my ideal cast for Season 2 would be for LeeAnne, Cary, Tiffany, Stephanie and Marie to return along with a brand new sixth Housewife. If they need a Friend of the Housewives to round out the group, I'd nominate Heidi Dillon, who made a few controversial appearances this season. Any way casting shakes out, the show would benefit from growing in a different direction and upping the overall glamour, wealth and luxury to get on par with the rest of the cities in the franchise. 

OVERALL GRADE

Since I don't have any other seasons of RHOD to rank Season 1 against, I'm going to give it an overall grade of B-. While the Dallas 'Wives gave us some entertaining moments over their first 11 episodes, the show didn't quite live up to fans' expectations or its own potential. There's significant room for improvement if Bravo decides to give the Dallas franchise a Season 2. Until we find out, don't forget that if you associate yourself with garbage, your charity world will go down in flames. Bow at me!

RHOD Ssn 1/Ep 11 - Reunion

Glenn Rowley

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After just 10 short weeks of Southern twang, a disgusting amount of poop jokes and an endless cycle of charity events, it's time for the Season 1 Reunion of The Real Housewives of Dallas! In a surprisingly singular installment, the Southern 'Wives sit down with Andy Cohen to rehash the debut seasons many fights, feuds and personal moments. (Seriously though, I can't believe that Bravo only got enough footage out of the entire day for just one reunion part. It's disappointing.) Read on for my full breakdown of the drama, including an overanalyzing of the seat arrangement and my choice for best dressed on the couches...

On the Couches

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Ok, first thing's first. The all-important reunion seating arrangement. This one was pretty straightforward and easy to call, though I did swap two 'Wives in my prediction. (I'm always close but no cigar...) From the very first episode I pegged LeeAnne Locken and Brandi Redmond as the Housewives who would get the coveted center seats next to Andy Cohen. On the right couch, we have Brandi, Cary Deuber and Stephanie Hollman on the end. (For the record, I mixed up Cary and Stephanie in my guess, thinking that Bravo would keep the two besties together). On the left couch, LeeAnne is seated next to BFF Tiffany Hendra, which...duh. The battle lines between the two cliques were so clearly drawn during the season that any other formation would've been pretty much unthinkable. I'm also going to throw out there that I wouldn't have minded seeing Cary in the hot seat next to Andy one bit, especially considering how her feud with LeeAnne dominated the second half of the season, but I'd be hard-pressed to believe that Bravo would have ever moved Brandi from the hot seat. 

Ranking the Housewives' Looks

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The reunion dress code seems to be solid cocktail dresses with cutouts and all the 'Wives adhere to the theme with just one exception. My pick for best dressed goes to Tiffany, who stuns in a marigold Split Midi dress from Topshop. The yellow frock makes a memorable impression on me for the color alone - I mean, has any Housewife ever rocked MARIGOLD in the history of reunions? I didn't think so. It feels fitting that LeeAnne is in red, though I'm pleasantly surprised at just how refined the burgundy Chiara Boni dress is on her. The elegant three-quarter sleeves and artistic cutout push the look over the edge to me in terms of sophistication and I'm loving it. Cary also chose a Chiara Boni dress for the reunion, hers in a vibrant royal blue. It does look cohesive with LeeAnne's dress, but I have to confess that after a season full of gutsy looks, I'm a little disappointed that Cary didn't go for something just a little edgier. I'm obsessed with her jewel-encrusted Roberto Cavalli heels though! Stephanie looks like a Barbie doll come to life in her bright pink Rolland Mouret dress, but the pairing it with the chunky turquoise jewelry is a miss for me. And then there's Brandi, who clearly missed the solid colored memo by choosing a sparkly gold Herve Leger number. It's my least favorite look of the bunch, trying to be both sexy and frilly at the same time, and is it just me or does the dress look rather ill-fitting on Brandi? Maybe it's the bell-shaped bottom half but either way I am not at all a fan. 

Facing Criticism

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Andy starts things off with a round robin of questions about a number of issues the women were criticized for during the season. Among these complaints were the following:

  • LeeAnne's bright pink blush, which she chose to tone down for once.
  • Stephanie's to-do lists from her husband. Thankfully, she's not getting them since the show has been airing and Travis realized how offensive the habit was to every actual housewife in America.
  • The show's preoccupation with poop jokes, thanks to Brandi and Stephanie's juvenile senses of humor. Both chalk it up to a combination of immaturity and the Hollmans having small boys, but I speak for every fan of the show when I say it needs to stop next year. No one thought it was amusing. Just...disgusting. Not funny. Too much. Also, I just feel the need to point out that I came from a family of all boys too, and we never joked about poop - much less constantly. My mother would've killed us.
  • Apparently Brandi's girls were kicked out of their exclusive private Christian school for their mom's behavior on the show. (Or as she explains it, they "chose to no longer partner with [the Redmonds] for their children's education.] I guess incessantly calling wine "Jesus juice" didn't sit to well with the Christian school, which felt Brandi was making a mockery of the holy sacrament. Oops.
  • Reports in the media that Tiffany worked as a porn star before joining the show. According to Tiff, she had a multi-film contract with Cinemax for a number of racy projects, but none of it could be considered "porn." Just think lots of boobs (by Deubs?)

Carny Kid or Charity Maven?

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In the first package of the day, Andy turns the spotlight on queen bee LeeAnne, whose childhood on the carnival circuit constantly bumped up against her image at the center of the Dallas charity world. When pressed by Andy, Stephanie admits that she was referring to LeeAnne when she said the charity scene had some "egomaniacs" in it when the 'Wives attended Mad Hatter's, and most of the women are quick to agree that LeeAnne's sole passion in life seems to be charity work. However, more than the egomaniac comment, LeeAnne takes issue with Cary's claim that you have to be born into society to be a true Dallas socialite. Not even considering the fact that the American Dream is kind of built on the idea that you can work your way up the ladder and build your own success without a family legacy, in LeeAnne's book anyone can become a power player in society through hard work and making connections, and she's living proof. What happens next is an inexplicable name-dropping contest of all the most elite families in Dallas society. Ok ladies, I know you haven't done this before, but newsflash: we don't know who any of these people are. No one cares which socialite's wedding you were in. Move it along.

The Affair Heard 'Round Dallas

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Next, Cary's husband Mark joins Andy and the ladies to discuss the rumors that plagued the Deubers throughout filming about how their marriage started. In a dandy orange tie with matching socks and pocket square, the good doctor comes in guns blazing, with his sites set particularly on LeeAnne. He accuses the queen bee of spreading false stories that Cary stole him from his second wife and perpetuating the rumor that their marriage began as an affair. However, LeeAnne claims she was simply repeating what she "knew to be true" about the couple and doesn't see it as spreading gossip. Mark shoots back that with over a million people watching the show, LeeAnne's chatter has made all of America think he and Cary had an affair and insists it's simply a slanderous lie.

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At this point, LeeAnne lays the entire story that she heard out on the table: that Mark and Cary started having an affair when she worked for him but broke it off when he insisted on staying married. Then, seeing Cary marry another man (her second husband, for just a few months) eventually pushed Mark over the edge to leave his second wife for her. Cary is utterly floored, having never heard this complicated and rather messy version of the rumor, and gets so riled up that she walks off the set in tears. Andy has commented before that reunion walkoffs are SO 2009, and I agree, but I'm too distracted by the hilarity of Cary's crying faces to really take in the drama of the much-overused move. Methinks Cary might have had a little too much Botox injected before the reunion, because her face is forced to contort into impossible-looking shapes to make up for the fact that she can't move her forehead. 

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Once Mark has talked Cary off the ledge and she's sufficiently calmed down, she returns to the couch with Andy eager to wrap the topic up in a bow. LeeAnne finally apologizes upon seeing Cary so upset and the two actually make peace with a hug. However, the moment isn't all sunshine and roses when LeeAnne makes an off-hand remark warning Stephanie not to call her an egomaniac or narcissist because of the gesture, and Steph throws back that LeeAnne can't help but be insulting even in the nicest of moments.

The Rocky Marriage of Brandi and Bryan Redmond

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Next in the hot seat is Brandi, whom Andy questions about the marriage troubles she endured throughout filming with her husband Bryan. Brandi claims that she didn't even realize how disconnected they were as a couple until production started on the show and chalks Bryan walking out on their date night as she cried at the table to him not wanting to argue in front of the cameras. However, what angered her husband the most was Brandi's cringe-inducing wild night out at the strip club with Stephanie and Cary. (The Redmonds have an agreement that neither will go to such establishments, which Brandi clearly broke.) The couple's relationship hit an all-time low, however, when the episode actually aired and Bryan saw Brandi wasted and giving the male stripper a veritable lap dance. In the fight that followed, Brandi tearfully recounts that Bryan said he wanted a divorce and that the lapse in judgement took a long time for the couple to get over. Now, though, things are apparently better than ever. Brandi and Bryan are communicating well and establishing respective their needs in the relationship, and even renewed their vows on their wedding anniversary! Too bad Bravo's cameras weren't there to catch that moment...

The Many, Many Feuds of LeeAnne Locken

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At this point, Friend of the Housewives Marie Reyes joins the ladies, wearing a lovely, one-shouldered Chanel dress in navy with an oversized ruffle on the single shoulder, and the tension on the couches is palpable. Immediately, Tiffany calls Marie a "f---ing a--hole" under her breath, requests to sit on the opposite couch and ends up sliding as close as she possibly can over to LeeAnne in order to keep away from her nemesis. However, Andy's main concern is to begin addressing the many conflicts LeeAnne found herself in over the course of the season - with literally every single one of her fellow Housewives. As the package rolls, we see clips from her confrontation with Brandi in the very first episode, the infamous "bow at me" lunch with Cary and Stephanie, her screaming/shoving match with Tiffany after throwing a drink at a cocktail party and her sit-down with Marie upon discovering her scathing betrayal of texts to Tiffany. 

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In discussing the "bow at me" lunch, LeeAnne asserts that she wasn't trying to get Cary and Stephanie to stop being friends with Brandi, just to consider how their reputations were being affected in the wake of the poop scandal at Mad Hatter's. Stephanie shoots back that it sure felt like she was trying to take down Brandi and opines that rather than shine the light on herself, LeeAnne spent the majority of filming trying to discredit each of the other 'Wives. Moving on to the shoving showdown between BFFs at the cocktail party, Tiffany claims she was like a stewing volcano that simply erupted in the moment after spending the better part of a year defending LeeAnne to everyone in Dallas. However, Stephanie stands by her comment that Tiffany and Marie both seem to merely act as LeeAnne puppets and lapdogs - the former being the mouth that says whatever LeeAnne wants and the latter being the a--hole for taking so much constant abuse. 

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Which brings us to Marie's first betrayal - her string of text messages criticizing and psychoanalyzing LeeAnne to the queen bee's other best friend, Tiffany. Tiff maintains that the texts went on for about a year before she finally told LeeAnne about them and accuses Marie of purposely leaving out the message where Tiffany asked her "with respect" to stop texting her and go to LeeAnne instead. Marie defends herself by saying that she was merely worried for LeeAnne as a friend, while still managing to throw in a dig that she apparently wasn't eating or bathing at the time. Yikes. Either way, LeeAnne feels Tiffany did the right thing by showing her the text messages and there's clearly no love lost between her and her former bestie. 

Keep Austin Crazy: Poop Stories & Death Threats

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Finally, it's time to discuss the darkest moment of the season - the ill-fated girls trip to Austin, Texas that resulted in oversharing of a poop story (of course) and LeeAnne threatening to "kill" Marie in a terrifying altercation in the middle of the night. Marie reveals that once the ladies got back from Austin, she actually filed a police report and restraining order against LeeAnne after being threatened again over text. LeeAnne completely owns that she lost all control to her raging temper that night, but continues to point out that she was acting out of absolute humiliation upon finding out Marie had once again betrayed her. (Mind you, Marie still insists that she never repeated the story about LeeAnne pooping her pants, but the kid who told Brandi and Stephanie couldn't have exactly made it up out of the blue...) There doesn't seem to be much hope for a future reconciliation between LeeAnne and Marie, and we may never get to the bottom of who really spilled the poop story that resulted in a girls trip death threat... 

Final Thoughts

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Wrapping up the reunion, Andy points out that quite a bit has changed in the lives of each of the 'Wives since filming wrapped last summer, and asks them to share how they've grown. Stephanie found her voice by standing up to Travis and her marriage is apparently better than ever. Tiffany is all about self-improvement and is just happy that she gets to lay her head next to Aaron Hendra's ripped abs and gorgeous head of hair every night. Cary realized through the show that some people may view her relationship with Mark as weird or different, but still doesn't care what the critics have to say. LeeAnne's in anger management and continues trying to work through her traumatic past. As for Brandi, the former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader views the show as a gift, in ultimately helping her marriage, introducing her to her grandfather and documenting such a difficult year of her life. And with that, the very first - but hopefully not last - reunion in Dallas officially comes to a close.

What did you think of the RHOD reunion? Do you wish it was more than one part? Are you Team LeeAnne, Team Tiffany or Team Marie? How do you feel about where the 'Wives left off? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

RHOD Season 1 Finale - The Full Nelson

Glenn Rowley

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After ten weeks of poop stories, fart jokes and charity events, we've reached the end of our first season with The Real Housewives of Dallas. When Stephanie hosts one last bash that brings all the ladies together, confrontations involving nearly all of the 'Wives leaves the group of Dallas ladies more fractured than ever. Read on for a full recap of the finale...

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Stephanie Hollman and her husband Travis are getting ready to host their annual Bryon Nelson party. Since the iconic Dallas golf tournament is held right in their backyard on the course at the Four Seasons, it's the perfect excuse to invite 400 of their closest friends, clients and fellow 'Wives over for a day-long drinking extravaganza. However, there are two things Stephanie won't put up with at the party: to-do lists from Travis and any drama from the girls. Following the nightmarish trip to Austin, Stephanie wonders if she should disinvite LeeAnne Locken to the party, but decides in the end to include the queen bee on the guest list. After all, it's the finale, right?

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Speaking of LeeAnne, she's still reeling from her behavior on the Austin trip and hits the gym with BFF Tiffany Hendra to talk things out. After the dark confrontation and all the controversy over her supposed death threat to Friend of the Housewives Marie Reyes, LeeAnne is somewhat hesitant to go to the party at all, but Tiffany is able to convince her that bailing would just make things worse between her and the other ladies. Plus, it's common knowledge that Housewives Rule #106 is the following: never skip the season finale filming. (Just head over to Beverly Hills and ask Adrienne Maloof how it worked out for her in Season 3...) LeeAnne's also not looking forward to seeing Cary Deuber after all the tension that's been building between the two for several episodes, but she's willing to bite the bullet and do it if it means a good Byron Nelson party. 

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While Tiffany takes her husband Aaron and his perfect hair house hunting for a second time, Brandi Redmond is out with her husband Bryan and their two girls for a family day. There's no denying that Brandi has been through more than her fair share of personal turmoil this season - including meeting her estranged grandfather for the first time and coping with her brother's PTSD-related suicide attempt. On top of that, her marriage was in a terrible place, leaving her feeling more disconnected from Bryan than ever in the midst of so many struggles. However, after much effort the Redmonds appear to have worked through their marital issues and are the picture of a happy family as they spend the afternoon bowling. Bryan has promised to cut back on his traveling and make more of an effort to connect with Brandi and the girls, so we'll see how this works out...In other good news, Aaron informs Tiffany that he's decided to relocate permanently to Dallas! 

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Meanwhile, LeeAnne is busy plotting her next career move and meets with a public relations agency to discuss jumping into the motivational speaking circuit. After knocking her keynote speech at the Grace Conference out of the park, LeeAnne feels that she's found her calling in life and wants to continue using her story to help inspire and uplift others. The meeting goes well as she discusses writing her memoirs and starting out with some smaller speeches, but the big bucks will come if the PR agency can help LeeAnne become an in-demand household name. Thanks to a little network called Bravo, I think LeeAnne is well on her way to doing that herself, thanks.

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Before we know it, it's already time for the Byron Nelson party and all of the 'Wives show up to the Hollman house wearing their brightest dresses and biggest smiles. However, tension is thick in the air as the women spend the early stages of the party warily circling each other and waiting for someone to make the first move. Eventually, Tiffany and Cary meet in the kitchen and tersely discuss LeeAnne over hor d'oeuveres and carbs. Cary is still disturbed by LeeAnne's "gut you carny-style" outburst in Austin and calls her a bully, but Tiffany defends her best friend and points out that she was the one who was betrayed by Marie. Cary's not buying it though, calling Tiffany LeeAnne's "sidekick and lapdog" and the two walk away from the conversation claiming that they can't be friends since Tiffany's allegiance will always be to LeeAnne.

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Seeing Marie laughing and socializing with the other girls while LeeAnne is being ostracized, Tiffany decides to take matters into her own hands. In an attempt to put the Austin drama to bed once and for all (or at least until the reunion), she pulls Marie aside for a talk with both her and LeeAnne. Rehashing the poop story that sparked the screaming match in Austin, Tiffany rationalizes that there's no way the gossip could have gotten to the other 'Wives without it coming from Marie. After all, when the embarrassing incident happened, the only people present were LeeAnne, Tiffany and Marie. However, the Friend of the Housewives continues to insist that she never repeated the story and the confrontation quickly goes nowhere. My question is still this though: if Marie didn't repeat the story about LeeAnne pooping in her pants, then how in the world did anyone find out?

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The conversation over Marie's betrayal is cut short, however, when Cary decides to interrupt for her own showdown with LeeAnne. To show her just how unintimidated she is, Cary proceeds to tell LeeAnne precisely what she thinks of her - specifically that Cary can't say a single thing without the queen bee trying to turn it around on her. In this conversation, though, LeeAnne seems to be the one who can't get a word in edgewise as Cary throws out that LeeAnne hasn't ever been honest to her face about how she feels. From LeeAnne's perspective, Cary tends to rally Brandi and Stephanie to turn her into the bad guy and accuses the show's voice of reason of orchestrating what's become a "mob mentality" against her. Cary promptly dismisses this claim, shooting back that if LeeAnne plays the victim then she can't be seen as a bully. However, when Cary calls LeeAnne sharing her life story as a way she plays the victim, the carny side of the queen bee comes out just a little as she demands that Cary not demean her lived experience. The fact of the matter is that the two 'Wives simply don't like each other and they're bound to clash at every turn because of their differences. After proclaiming that she doesn't like the "evil" inside of Cary, LeeAnne walks away from the conversation, leaving her fellow 'Wife on the couch to roll her eyes.

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With that, the finale rather abruptly and quietly ends. As the party wraps up and the 'Wives leave, we're treated to the "where are they now?" cards that cap off every finale. Tiffany and Aaron are staying in Dallas permanently even though they lost the house they looked at to a higher bidder. Cary and her husband Mark spent their summer in Switzerland, where she achieved her yogic goal of touching her feet to her head by her 40th birthday. Now the Deubers want homes in both Switzerland and Italy. Stephanie's party was a success and her husband is no longer leaving his infamous to-do lists for her. LeeAnne still isn't engaged to her boyfriend Rich, but she's entered anger management and continued working the motivational speaking circuit. And Brandi and Bryan renewed their vows on their anniversary, but if the marriage doesn't work out she's still planning on marrying Stephanie. In the finale's last moments, the two BFFs jump into the pool and bring the inaugural season in Dallas to an end with a giant splash. 

What did you think of the RHOD finale? Are you on Team Cary or Team LeeAnne? Should Marie have been a full-time Housewife this season or what? And will Brandi and Stephanie end up ditching their husbands for each other? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

RHOD Ssn 1/Ep 8 - Hollman Holiday

Glenn Rowley

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It's time for a birthday on The Real Housewives of Dallas, and while Stephanie plans an epic Gatsby-themed party for her husband's special day, Brandi comes face-to-face with LeeAnne to put their issues to rest while a new feud is brewing between the queen bee and Cary. Read on for my full breakdown of all the Roaring Twenties-style drama...

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Birthdays are major moments in the Housewives universe, and this week all of Dallas is celebrating the birth of Stephanie Hollman's husband. According to Steph, Travis takes his birthday more than a little seriously and every year she manages his sky-high expectations by throwing some sort of over-the-top event. However, Travis's penchant to micromanage every last detail of his birthday has Stephanie feeling more than a little pressure to top all her previous efforts with this year's (on-camera) fete. Even as she explains that she'll be checking out some venues for his party, Travis encourages her to bring his personal assistant along so he can keep an eye on the proceedings. 

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Deep in surgery, Cary Deuber has an entirely different birthday on her mind: her daughter Zuri is turning three. And she has her own husband Mark to manage through the milestone. If there's one thing the surgeon loves, it's buying gifts for the girls in his life, and it's Cary's job to make sure her overeager husband doesn't break the bank for their toddler. She's the one in charge of throwing a small party for Zuri and her precise planning is the only thing keeping the piles of gifts dancing around Mark's head at bay. I've said it in practically every recap so far - I love seeing the dynamic between Mark and Cary, and I especially get a kick out of the fact that the Househusband is so excited for Zuri to wear the Missoni dress he bought her in Italy. 

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Stephanie scopes out the venue for Travis's party with her BFF Brandi Redmond and his assistant Courtney in tow. After tossing a few ideas around with the other women, Stephanie settles on a Gatsby theme for the party. Every Housewife in every city in the franchise loves a good theme, and it's the perfect excuse for the ladies of Dallas to get dressed up in their best 1920s costumes for a swanky Roaring Twenties soiree. Brandi asks who's on the guest list for the party, and Stephanie says it'll just be close friends. And of course all the other women, but she hasn't made a decision about whether or not to invite LeeAnne Locken. Even though Stephanie's technically made up with the Dallas queen bee, she's still wary after all the drama that's gone on between LeeAnne and Brandi for the past seven episodes.

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Speaking of LeeAnne, she's been asked to serve as the keynote speaker for the Grace Conference - an organization dedicated to providing a safe space for women living with HIV. The stigma surrounding the disease is at an all-time high in Dallas, with two women having been murdered in the last few months after coming out as HIV positive. For her keynote speech, LeeAnne is focusing her message on shame and has invited her BFF Tiffany Hendra and Stephanie to come hear her speak. Taking the stage, LeeAnne opens up about the struggles she's battled in her life - from being molested by a friend's father as a preteen to finding herself in an abusive relationship with the only man she's ever been engaged to as a young woman. LeeAnne speaks powerfully and eloquently about her journey to overcome the labels that were placed upon her throughout her life, and invites all the women in attendance to let go of the labels people have given them surrounding their HIV diagnoses. By the end of the speech, she is joined by dozens of women on the stage in a positive, joyful moment as Tiffany and Stephanie tearfully look on. Seeing LeeAnne share her story to make a difference in the lives of so many other women and instill them with hope for the future is so heartwarming and makes me think the queen bee has a bright future ahead of her on the motivational speaking circuit. 

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Later that night, Stephanie fills Brandi in on the events of the Grace Conference. Admitting that she saw a completely different side to LeeAnne during her speech, Steph tells her BFF that she's decided to invite LeeAnne to Travis's birthday party. After hanging up with Brandi, Stephanie addresses Travis's micromanaging head on by having a conversation with him over a couple glasses of wine. In a moment that made me want to stand up and scream "Girl Power!," Stephanie points out to her husband that she's a big girl who's capable of making decisions without him constantly looming over her. Specifically, she wants to make some things about Travis's birthday a surprise and his constant need to be in control is putting a wrench in her efforts. Surprisingly, Travis seems to understand where his wife is actually coming from - is this a first in the Bravoverse or what? - and promises to back off a little. Oh, and bonus points to Steph for shutting down the "hitting like a girl" comments at the dinner table with her boys, too.

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Meanwhile, Cary and Mark throw Zuri's birthday party by dressing the toddler up in Missoni and inviting her friend over for cake and presents. Mark is quick to give Cary a hard time for ordering a vanilla cake when the toddler really wanted chocolate, but there's no way either of them was going to let a three-year-old get chocolate all over a designer dress. Zuri looks adorable in her Italian frock, and it quickly becomes clear that the little girl is equally as opinionated as her no-nonsense mom. In fact, Zuri isn't even enthused about all the presents Mark got her, intent instead on just the first gift she opens. 

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In a surprising turn of events, Brandi invites LeeAnne to meet for lunch in an effort to put their drama behind them. After hearing about the Grace Conference from Stephanie, Brandi decided to trust her bestie's judgement and try to make peace with her nemesis. The meal starts out a bit awkwardly, but Brandi came to apologize and musters up the courage to say she's sorry for the multiple confrontations she's started with LeeAnne. The queen bee graciously accepts the apology and points out that Brandi somehow managed to push her buttons in a way no one else has been able to in quite a long time. She also cops to not reacting well to any of Brandi's provocations, which the broken glass at the cocktail party would probably agree with if it was still in one piece. (Of course, Brandi is quick to point out that she didn't get an apology in return from LeeAnne, but I suppose that's neither here nor there.) Ultimately, the two 'Wives who have spent the whole season sparring manage to reach a fragile peace treaty, determined to move forward and focus on what's really important in life. Hmm...any bets how long this will last?

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Now that things are (mostly) resolved between the majority of the 'Wives, it's time for Travis's birthday party! The ladies don their fanciest Twenties-inspired costumes, with LeeAnne going full Marilyn Monroe and Cary dusting off the gorgeous dress she wore at her wedding reception. Tiffany notes that an icy chill seems to follow Cary into the room - she's the only one still at odds with LeeAnne after last week's disastrously awkward gothic party - but Tiff and LeeAnne happily bond with Brandi over drinks and...poop stories. Seriously, can we PLEASE go just one episode without any poop talk on this show? Dear Bravo, I, along with every other viewer in the world, am begging you. The lasting legacy of RHOD can not be its constant obsession with poop jokes. Ugh. However, Brandi's feeling extra friendly thanks to the liquid courage, and proceeds to invite both Tiffany and LeeAnne on a girls trip to her and Stephanie's lake house in Austin, Texas. It turns out that LeeAnne, Cary and Friend of the Housewives Marie Reyes all have birthdays coming up, and what better way to celebrate than by taking the season's official cast trip?

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On the other side of the party, Stephanie fills Cary in on the plan for the trip to the lake house. Cary is overjoyed at Stephanie's suggestion that they'll be hiring private chefs for the trip, but is less than enthused to discover that LeeAnne's coming too. She'd love to go to Austin with Stephanie and Brandi, but a vacation with her nemesis LeeAnne feels less like a birthday gift than some twisted form of cruel and unusual punishment. As she says in her confessional, it's an issue of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer...Besides this set-up for the requisite cast trip, Travis's birthday party goes off without an ounce of drama, which is bad for moving the storyline along but good for the 'Wives mental health. Right? For anyone who's as confused as I was, Stephanie clarified to me on Twitter that yes, the Hollmans and Redmonds share a lake house together. That wasn't a typo.

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Travis is already happy, but Stephanie ends the night with one last surprise. Upon returning to their big, ol' mansion after the party, Stephanie fulfills her husband's longstanding, not-so-secret birthday wish by jumping out of a cardboard cake in lingerie and singing an a capella rendition of "Happy Birthday." I personally can't imagine doing something like that in some sexy lingerie on national television, but Travis is visibly thrilled at his wife's surprise. See what happens when you let her plan everything without any micromanaged lists from you, Travis? Seems like he probably, happily, learned his lesson this time.

What did you think of this week's RHOD? Do you think the cease fire between Brandi and LeeAnne will stick? Are you excited to see the 'Wives head to Austin together? Leave your thoughts and opinions below in the comments!

RHOD Ssn 1/Ep 7 - Black and Blues

Glenn Rowley

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This week, The Real Housewives of Dallas was filled with music, rock star hair and one very awkward goth party. While Tiffany's out to make a name for herself in the Dallas charity scene, Cary finds herself in the crosshairs of a major power player in society with ties to LeeAnne. Read on for my breakdown of all the gothic drama...

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The episode kicks off with LeeAnne Locken and Tiffany Hendra meeting Heidi Effin' Dillon, the undisputed queen of the Dallas charity world, for lunch at Toulouse. The blonde arrives draped in Moschino with a giant dollar sign necklace (a la Flavor Flav circa 2006) and immediately proceeds to gift the two 'Wives shirts with #SkanksofDallas emblazoned on them. Talk about a strong first impression. LeeAnne set up the meeting to introduce Tiffany to her charity mentor and let her bestie pick Heidi's brain for ideas about the upcoming charity concert she's planning. Ms. Effin' Dillon also happens to be putting together a dinner party at her house - the theme of which is gothic state fair. She invites LeeAnne and Tiffany, and the two suggest the rest of the 'Wives be added to the guest list. Heidi's anxious to meet some more of the up-and-coming women of Dallas, but she's wary of Cary Deuber. According to gossip around Dallas, plenty of society women locked down their husbands by getting on their knees under the desk and Heidi claims she's head that Cary fits in that category. The shade is real, honey.

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Speaking of Cary, she's busy performing back-to-back surgeries with Mark. After updating the practice's website with the new pictures from her photoshoot last week, the Deubers are busier than ever. So busy, in fact, that Cary doesn't even realize it's their sixth anniversary until the couple is elbow-deep in surgery. The Housewife's personal theory when it comes to commemorating these milestones is something along the line of "we got married already, let's move on." However, Mark manages to squeeze out a sweet kiss with her while their face masks are on in the OR.

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Meanwhile, Brandi Redmond's received more troubling news on the family front. Her younger brother, Michael, recently returned from serving in the military in Afghanistan. Coming home with a severe case of PTSD, Michael had been struggling with depression and has been checked into the hospital after attempting to commit suicide via overdose. Brandi is obviously heartbroken by this news and runs straight to BFF Stephanie Hollman's house in shock. Brandi opens up to her bestie about how helpless she feels, unable to do anything for her brother while her mom rushes to the hospital. It's telling and more than a little concerning that the redhead turns to Stephanie for support instead of her husband, but her fellow 'Wife offers some of the best advice I've ever heard by telling Brandi that she doesn't need to understand someone's pain to support and love them through it. Preach, Steph!

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Next, Tiffany and LeeAnne go shopping for something to wear to the upcoming charity concert. As they search for the best looks that scream "rock and roll," Tiffany brings up the fact that the concert will be the first time all five 'Wives will be in the same room since Marie Reyes's disastrous cocktail party. Filling LeeAnne in on everything that Brandi's going through with her family, Tiffany counsels her bestie to take it easy at the event and make things as copacetic as possible with the rest of the women. LeeAnne admits that she feels she needs to apologize to Stephanie for making her cry at the cocktail party and vows to make things right before the charity concert. 

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After a scene of the Deubers properly celebrating their anniversary by Mark gifting Cary with a new Roberto Cavalli dress, Brandi meets Bryan for lunch in an attempt to put their argument from last week behind them. (You remember, the one where he walked of the restaurant when she tried to talk about their issues?) This time, Bryan comes to the meal contrite and apologetic about how he treated Brandi during their date. However, even when Bryan is trying to apologize and admitting he doesn't actually give Brandi enough attention, he still seems incredibly uncomfortable in front of the camera. Both Brandi and her husband agree that they need to do a better job connecting with each other and want to move forward in their relationship in a more positive, healthy direction.

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Stephanie is shocked to get LeeAnne's invitation for lunch, but warily agrees to sit down with the queen bee and hear her out. After apologizing for her behavior at the cocktail party, LeeAnne proceeds to do most of the talking and opens up a bit about how her rough childhood on the carnival circuit affected the way she handles conflict. She then offers her costar an olive branch in the form of an invitation to come see her speak at the opening session of the upcoming Grace Conference to benefit women living with HIV. At the table, Stephanie kindly agrees that the two can move on from their blow-up, but her confessional tells a different story. In her interview, Stephanie calls LeeAnne the "most self-obsessed, narcissistic person [she's] ever met" and claims the apology is more for LeeAnne than it is for her. Hmm...it doesn't look like these two will be truly making up any time soon.

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After a glorious segment in which Aaron Hendra's perfect hair gets the moment in the spotlight it so clearly deserves, the day of Tiffany's charity concert arrives. The 'Wives all converge on the House of Blues in Dallas in their best rocker chic, but Tiff clearly takes the cake with her enormous faux-hawk. The night turns out to be one full of positivity as Aaron makes a great first impression with his music on the people of Dallas and the Hendras raise a bunch of money to bring solar lamps to East Africa. In the concert's most touching moment, Aaron dedicates a song to Brandi's brother in the hospital, reminding him over the mic that his life has more worth than he can imagine. Naturally, both Brandi dissolve into tears and by the end of the night I'm a bit baffled to realize that we just made it through an whole charity event on RHOD with minimal drama. 

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The following weekend, Heidi Dillon throws her gothic state fair party and all of the 'Wives dawn their best and blackest goth attire for the evening - I'm obsessed with the chain overlay on LeeAnne's outfit and Brandi kills it with her dead rose girl look. However, the party is almost immediately filled with the most awkward of tension as Cary arrives to a chilly welcome from both the hostess and LeeAnne. As the women snicker and throw side eye over Cary's reputation as an apparent home wrecker, she opts instead to spend her time talking to Heidi's adorable labradoodle named Ralph. (Cary, if you're reading this, you are ALL of us at a party!) However, Cary also manages to offend Heidi by turning her nose up at the homemade Frito chili pie that's being served as the party's meal. 

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Feeling slightly, Heidi and her goth makeup attempt to embarrass Cary in front of the other guests by asking her to "demonstrate" a blowjob on a corn dog. What? Cary declines by joking that she only demonstrates on the real thing and Mark doesn't happen to be at the party, and it becomes increasingly clear that some major underlying tensions exist between the 'Wife and the blonde grande dame of Dallas. Then, it comes to light: LeeAnne explains in her confessional that Heidi is still good friend's with Mark Deuber's ex-wife, which would explain why she's branded Cary as a homewrecking pariah who doesn't belong in Dallas society. When you're friends with the ex-wife, you'll never give the new 'Wife a chance (that is, unless your name is Heather Dubrow...) Once an uncomfortable silence descends on the group of women, Cary decides to make a quick exit, regretting that she showed up to the party at all...

What did you think of this week's episode of RHOD? Was LeeAnne's apology to Stephanie sincere? Are you Team Cary or Team Heidi when it comes to the gothic party mess? And do you think Aaron's hair is as perfect as I do? Leave your thoughts and opinions below in the comments!

RHOD Ssn 1/Ep 6 - Locken Loaded

Glenn Rowley

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This week, The Real Housewives of Dallas get even more real as one 'Wife copes with a major betrayal by a long-time friend and another works to save her floundering marriage. Read on for my full breakdown of all the Texas-sized drama from this week's episode...

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Stephanie Hollman is putting aside the drama this week and has hired an interior designer to help redecorate her oldest son's room. Of course, her husband Travis is also gung-ho about giving his input - his mom was an interior decorator so he thinks the talent got passed down in his blood. However, Stephanie is more than a little wary of letting her husband bulldoze over her with his opinions, and the project gives us a little more insight into the dynamic of the couple's marriage. In her confessional, Stephanie explains that not only does Travis have the world's worst taste when it comes to design (exhibit A: the samurai statues out front she's nicknamed Gayle and Oprah), but the fact that he insists on being in control of every little detail doesn't give her very much creative freedom. When Travis starts question her decision to do carpet on carpet, I'm starting to see that those lists of chores from the premiere are actually the least of Stephanie's worries.

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Meanwhile, Brandi Redmond heads over to Friend of the Housewives Marie Reyes's house to give another dance lesson to her daughter Sophia. Brandi's still upset with her husband Bryan for showing up drunk and late to the BBQ for her estranged grandfather last week, but goes to Marie's to take her mind off the struggles in her marriage. Plus, Marie's been one of LeeAnne Locken's BFFs for almost 20 years so she's hoping to get some dirt on her nemesis. After going through a toned down, PG-rated routine with Sophia, Brandi sits down with Marie and immediately brings up the blow-up between herself and LeeAnne at last week's cocktail party. The former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader starts off the conversation by calling LeeAnne "batsh-- crazy" and Marie is shockingly quick to jump on the bandwagon and start bashing her friend. Even though she's known the queen bee for two decades, Marie agrees with everything Brandi says about her and pipes in that LeeAnne could benefit from therapy. This about-face seems to come out of the blue on Marie's part, but we'll soon discover that it's been going on longer than anyone could have guessed.

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Next is a fun scene of Cary Deuber and her husband Mark going shopping together. Like many viewers, I'm a little bit obsessed with the dynamic between Cary and her plastic surgeon husband, who has most definitely become the most lovable Househusband we've seen in the franchise in years. Mark is planning a photoshoot to update the website for the couple's practice, and figures it's a perfect excuse to buy Cary some new dresses for the occasion. It is for work, after all...My favorite thing about Mark is how much of a fashionista he is inside. (Cary even jokingly refers to him as her "wife.) As the couple walks into a store, Mark can immediately identify a Chanel dress on the rack, and has the magic ability to pick out dresses that will look amazing on Cary sight unseen. As Cary reminds us in her confessional, when it comes to fashion, Mark is always right. 

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The next day, Brandi drops by Stephanie's house for a chat with her BFF. After bursting into a fit of the giggles over the giant grey and blue decorative balls in Chance's new room, Brandi starts venting about Bryan's behavior at the BBQ. Stephanie takes the moment to apologize for Travis's part in Bryan showing up late and drunk - if she would have known earlier that their husbands were together, she would have made sure Travis got Bryan there on time. However, Brandi points out that the situation was neither Stephanie's nor Travis's fault. It was all on Bryan. There's clearly a lack of communication going on in the Redmond marriage, and Stephanie advises her BFF to go on a date night to talk things out with Bryan. Brandi agrees that this could be a good idea, but admits in her confessional that she's nervous about how her husband will handle the confrontation. 

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It turns out that Marie has been texting Tiffany Hendra incessantly since the cocktail party, psychoanalyzing LeeAnne and talking badly about her. Naturally, Tiffany goes straight to LeeAnne with this information and the two BFFs head over to Marie's house to confront her together. Tiffany's even printed out copies of all the texts as reunion-style evidence of everything Marie has been saying to her about LeeAnne - from claiming that LeeAnne thinks she's "an expert on everything" and always sees herself as the most important person in the room to asserting that her supposed best friend is "spiritually and emotionally about 14" years old. Ouch. Naturally, LeeAnne is blindsided and hurt by finding out that Marie has been spreading negative opinions about her to Tiffany, and wants to confront Marie head-on about the nasty texts. Tiffany starts out the conversation by saying that it should be clear by now that she doesn't like engaging whenever Marie texts her, seeing that she rarely replies and refuses to feed into all the bashing. When she pulls out the printed messages, it's clear that Marie is in shock - her deer-in-the-headlights expression can only say one thing: "oh sh--."

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LeeAnne demands to know why Marie would possibly think it's a good idea to talk about her behind her back to Tiffany, and points out that if the brunette had anything to say, she should've gone LeeAnne herself. Tiffany saw the texts as coming out of nowhere, and questions what Marie's motivation was for sending them, but the Friend of the 'Wives insists that she was merely concerned for LeeAnne's welfare and state of mind. Connecting the dots, however, LeeAnne calls attention to the fact that nearly everything Brandi has had to say about her is also in Marie's texts; there has to be a connection. Yet even as the flashback plays to earlier in the episode where she and Brandi were bashing LeeAnne, a wide-eyed Marie swears Brandi's never said a bad word about the queen bee. In her confessional, Marie defends herself by insisting that LeeAnne's behavior at the cocktail party was indefensible, but LeeAnne angrily explains that she left the party because she felt pushed to her limit with Brandi's attacks and was "pissed as hell!" Clearly caught in a lie, Marie asks how the women can move forward from this, but LeeAnne is so hurt and upset by Marie's betrayal that it seems this friendship may be unsalvageable.

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Having bought all the required wardrobe, Cary and Mark use her friend Courtney's high-rise apartment for their photoshoot. As the star of the shoot, Cary admits she doesn't exactly feel comfortable modeling, but Mark is sure that having her in the photos will help the practice stay on-brand. As Mark snaps all the pictures, Cary explains in her interview that photography is basically just one form of foreplay for her husband, and he eventually convinces her to even go topless for a few shots! The practice's tagline of "Boobs by Deubs" has literally never been more true than it is in this moment. At the end of the day, the new pictures turn out exactly how Mark wanted them and Cary looks incredible, even if she thinks her butt needs to be retouched.

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Over at the Hollman mansion, Stephanie reveals Chance's new room to the boys and Travis. Chance is overjoyed by the room's Dallas Cowboys theme, and is particularly excited about the cubby hole he can lock his little brother in. More importantly to Stephanie, though, is that Travis approves of all the work she put into the room, and he gives her an enthusiastic two thumbs up on the project. Having gotten her husband's stamp of approval, Stephanie feels relieved and empowered, but also admits in her confessional that the amount of pressure Travis subliminally puts her under is completely unnecessary for her to successfully take care of the boys and run their household. Thankfully, she has Gayle and Oprah the samurai statues to dress up in random costumes when the pressure from Travis gets to be a little too much.

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Finally, the episode ends with Brandi and Bryan's date night to Texas de Brazil. After making small talk about his latest business trip, Brandi broaches the subject of how alone she feels when he's not home and tries to tactfully explain that she feels Bryan doesn't give her enough attention. Bryan is taken aback by this revelation - this clearly isn't the date night he was expecting - and as Brandi expresses more and more of her feelings, he gets more and more defensive. Bryan claims that he gives Brandi all the attention in the world yet it's still never enough, and goes as far as to openly mock her when she starts crying. Brandi tearfully asks if she did something wrong, to which Bryan responds with a curt "yes." When she asks him to tell her what she did, Bryan declares that he's done with the conversation, gets up and walks out of the restaurant, leaving a tearful Brandi alone at the table as she watches her marriage crumble before her eyes.

What did you think of this week's episode of RHOD? Are you Team LeeAnne & Tiffany or Team Marie? Do you think there's any hope for Brandi and Bryan's marriage? How much do you love the relationship between Cary and Mark? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!