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Real Housewives

Filtering by Tag: texas

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 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 9 - Killing Time in Austin

Glenn Rowley

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The Real Housewives of Dallas head to Austin, Texas for their first-ever cast trip, but the weekend getaway takes the darkest turn imaginable when Marie experiences the wrath of LeeAnne over a humiliating betrayal and the women clash over death threats and the definition of the word "kill." Was this the most terrifying vacation in Housewives history? Read on for my full recap of the drama from the lake house turned slaughterhouse...

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Naturally, the prerequisite for any girls trip on Bravo is a good ol' Housewives packing montage. The ladies are headed to the lake house in Austin, Texas that Brandi Redmond and Stephanie Hollman's husbands built together on the shores of Lake Travis. The two besties are anxious to host their cast mates, but the rest of the 'Wives aren't quite sure what to think. LeeAnne Locken and Tiffany Hendra are simply hoping the lake house isn't a dump, while Cary Deuber's husband Mark is making her promise not to start any issues on the trip where they don't exist. Any bets on how long that promise will hold out?

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All the 'Wives arrive bright and early at The Rustic to board the party bus to Austin. Friend of the Housewives Marie Reyes and Cary's friend Courtney Westmoreland Rider, a statuesque, quiet blonde, also scored invites to the weekend getaway. For the first couple of hours, the drive to Austin goes smoothly as the alcohol starts flowing and empanadas get passed around the bus. However, everything starts going downhill when Brandi has to urinate and can't wait until they reach their destination. As Tiffany says, when you've gotta go, you've gotta go, right? Brandi decides that the most logical solution to this conundrum is to pee in a red solo cup in the back of the bus as Cary shields her with a blanket. When LeeAnne finds this disgusting, Brandi and Stephanie joke that peeing in a cup doesn't compare to the story they heard about the queen bee "sh***ing in a bag in the back of a car." (Remember, they got this nasty piece of gossip during Marie's cocktail party way back in Episode 4.) According to the two BFFs, they were told by Taylor Garrett, a reality TV alum from Logo's A:List Dallas, who apparently heard the story from Marie. Oh boy...from the look on LeeAnne's face, this isn't go to go well.

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Arriving at the Hollman/Redmonds' shared lake house, the rest of the women are blown away by how spacious and nice it is - especially when Stephanie and Brandi explain that Travis and Bryan built the house themselves. However, LeeAnne is starting to boil inside about the poop story and confronts Marie about it. Marie denies spilling the secret to anybody - especially Taylor - and even offers to take a polygraph test to prove she's telling the truth. According to LeeAnne, though, only three people were present when the embarrassing story took place 13 years ago: herself, Tiffany and Marie. And she knows it didn't come from Tiffany, so that only leaves Marie as the guilty gossip. However, I can't help but be frustrated that of course the major drama on the cast trip is about poop. Because apparently on RHOD, the women have to reference fecal matter at least once per episode. I honestly can't with the constant poop talk anymore.

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While a private chef cooks dinner for the women, Brandi bonds with Tiffany and LeeAnne over goblets of wine. The former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader thanks Tiffany again for her husband Aaron's song dedication to her veteran brother suffering from PTSD at the charity concert in Episode 7. Opening up that her brother checked back into the hospital the day before, Brandi breaks down in tears and the other 'Wives finally seize an opportunity to be truly vulnerable and bond with her. Just like that, it seems like everyone is finally starting to get along on this girls trip.

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Dinner is served and the Jesus juice starts flowing at maximum capacity. Before we know it, Brandi is three sheets to the wind, drunk as a skunk, wasted out of her mind. Quiet Courtney asks the women whom they would want to have at their perfect dinner party and once the 'Wives debate the merits of feeding either Bono or Mother Teresa, LeeAnne turns the conversation to why she finds it so hard to trust people. Citing her chaotic childhood and being abandoned by her mother, the queen bee explains that she's always had a difficult time letting anyone get close to her - even her BFF Tiffany had to claw tooth and nail to prove she wouldn't abandon her. Cary finds some common ground in this story, piggybacking on to explain that she's surprisingly similar to LeeAnne when it comes to letting people in. Maybe this is why the two have spent the majority of the season butting heads? To lighten the mood, an extremely inebriated Brandi decides to show off her tumbling skills by performing a bikini-clad backwards somersault on the dining room table. Now that is one way to end a Housewives dinner party, y'all.

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By the next morning, everything has taken a shockingly dark turn. Via confessional, several of the 'Wives explain that they were awoken in the middle of the night to the sounds of an enraged LeeAnne arguing with Marie over the poop story. And when they say enraged, they mean screaming-at-the-top-of-her-lungs, roaring-throughout-the-house levels of anger. After stewing about the betrayal all day, LeeAnne finally exploded after cameras went down and the Bravo crew left for the evening - threatening to "slaughter" Marie and "gut [her] carny-style." Meanwhile, the rest of the 'Wives cowered in fear in their rooms, with Brandi and Stephanie apparently sobbing in bed as they clung to each other in pure terror. Thankfully, Cary caught a portion of the terrifying exchange on her phone - in the clip, we hear LeeAnne screaming "s--- like this? You don't want that side of me!" presumably at Marie. Otherwise, the entire frightening ordeal would simply be hearsay without a shred of proof.

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Now, an overwhelmed Marie is cowering in fear at the dining room table as Tiffany tries to convince LeeAnne to approach her and the other women whisper about the previous night's confrontation upstairs. While Marie looks likes she's ready to burst into tears, LeeAnne and Tiffany enter the kitchen to address the tension. Marie refuses to talk to LeeAnne unless the former carny kid is calm, and LeeAnne counters that the only reason she's "agitated" is because she feels so massively betrayed by her friend of nearly 20 years for spreading such a humiliating story about her. Tiffany points out that there's no other way Taylor could've known the anecdote about LeeAnne, yet Marie continues to deny telling the gay gossip anything. Marie is still horrified that LeeAnne threatened her life in during the verbal attack, but a fed up LeeAnne shoots back that what her friend thinks of as "killing" and what she thinks of as "killing" are two different things. The queen bee also argues that when she dramatically said she would "gut" Marie, she merely meant she would cut her out of her life.

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Inevitably, the other women intrude on the conversation, with Cary specifically asking Marie what "kill" means to her when it's directed as a threat. Clearly still afraid, the Friend of the Housewives simply mutters that the word means that LeeAnne was extremely upset. Cary accuses her of dodging the question, but the most she can get out of Marie is an admission that the word was used as a threat to her safety. Stephanie adds that due her previous career as a social worker, she would categorize LeeAnne's attack on Marie as "beyond abusive." Feeling guilty for her verbal outburst, LeeAnne tries to offer a blanket apology to everyone in the room, but none of the other women are letting the threats get swept under the rug. In her confessional, Tiffany defends her bestie, explaining that she can't understand why LeeAnne is being so quickly condemned while Marie gets away with her betrayal by looking like a veritable saint. However, my biggest question is this: if all the other women were so scared for Marie's well-being, WHY DIDN'T ANYONE DO ANYTHING? If you honestly think your friend is in danger, you call 911 or step in and do something, not just hide in bed crying.

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Since there's still an entire day left, the trip must somehow go on in spite of the disturbing drama and the 'Wives attempt to awkwardly move forward with their plans. Pulling LeeAnne aside, Brandi sympathizes with her former nemesis for feeling betrayed and even persuades her not to leave the trip early. Somewhat inexplicably, the ladies divide into two cars (guess who's in which) and head to the Four Seasons for a supposedly relaxing afternoon of spa treatments. While the other girls hit the spa, Marie and LeeAnne stay behind in their room with Tiffany to mediate. Marie remains traumatized by the entire ordeal and breaks down in sobs as she asks why LeeAnne always has to lash out when she's hurting. LeeAnne's still visibly fuming from the discovery that she was betrayed, but as Stephanie, Brandi, Cary and Courtney commiserate over how unhealthy her close friendships seem to be, the queen bee manages to establish a fragile peace with Marie that ends in a tearful hug.

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That night, the women get dressed up and head to Bob's Steak and Chops for a group dinner to celebrate Cary, LeeAnne and Marie's upcoming birthdays. However, by this point LeeAnne has shut down and gone into complete survival mode - barely speaking as she picks her way through a salad. A frustrated Cary calls her out on not wanting to be there and it opens up a whole new can of worms regarding the season-long tensions between the two women over who's judging whom. In an effort to defend her best friend, Tiffany (who's rocking an awesome half-bun topknot), speaks to the fact that LeeAnne is constantly being judged and attacked by the other women for putting herself out there. Stephanie fires back that nearly everyone in the cast has been attacked by LeeAnne by this point, but Tiffany urges the other girls to try putting themselves in LeeAnne's shoes for a minute. Fed up with Tiffany constantly making excuses for her bestie, Brandi accuses both her and Marie of enabling LeeAnne's behavior and storms off to the bathroom. 

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Of course, Stephanie is quick to follow after her BFF, but not before calling Tiffany out for giving LeeAnne positive reinforcement to lash out at people like she did to Marie. Further, Stephanie throws out that if the trio of women are going to simultaneously attack and protect each other, she doesn't need it in her house. With Brandi in tears in the bathroom, LeeAnne gone silent and Cary fed up with the entire mess, dinner ends with an awkward parting of ways as the group of Housewives seems more fractured than ever before. All I want to know, though, is how in the world did everyone get back to Dallas in one piece?

What did you think of this nightmarish girls trip to Austin? Were LeeAnne's threats to Marie unforgivable or does she have the right to feel betrayed? Was Tiffany right or wrong to defend her best friend? Should the other women done more to protect Marie? Leave your thoughts and opinion 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 4 - Mouth of the South

Glenn Rowley

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Well, that escalated quickly. Only four episodes into the inaugural season of The Real Housewives of Dallas and a full-out war has erupted between 'Wives, complete with wine-throwing, name-calling and a major walk-out. Read on for my full recap of the drama between LeeAnne and the other Housewives...

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We start this week off with another morning at Brandi Redmond's house. Amid the chaos of pets running around and getting the girls ready for school, Brandi informs her husband Bryan that Stephanie Hollman has invited her and the kids on a road trip to Coweta, Oklahoma to visit Stephanie's family. Ever attentive, Bryan sleepily nods along to his wife's plans, simply grateful that he'll get a day without having the girls drop a bunny on his face to get his attention. Once the kids get out of school, Stephanie and her boys show up at Brandi's house to pack up the van. After watching Brandi chase her nameless dog down the street and wishing for muzzles (for the four kids) and Xanax (for themselves), the two 'Wives are all packed up and ready to drive four hours to Oklahoma. Party time!

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Meanwhile, LeeAnne Locken is busy contributing to the Dallas charity world. In her confessional, the queen bee explains that her days begin and end with charity - whether she's running host committees, attending board meetings or connecting donors with organizations, this is LeeAnne's bread and butter. Today she's meeting with Heidi Dillon, who according to her is the actual queen of the Dallas charity scene. LeeAnne's goal is to convince Heidi to serve as this year's honorary chair for an event benefitting women who are HIV+. If she can get Heidi Dillon on board to get her wealthy friends to write the checks, LeeAnne can do all the rest of the work. Heidi agrees to be the honorary chair and tells LeeAnne to pop the champagne. I mean, who can say no when LeeAnne asks you to help give people a hand up in life?

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The next day, LeeAnne attends the Paws Cause charity event with her BFF Tiffany Hendra and Friend of the Housewives Marie Reyes to benefit the SPCA of Texas. After taking pictures for the press and joking that all three women arrived wearing the same shade of pink, Tiffany pulls LeeAnne away from the dogs and puppies to get the details about how her brunch went with Stephanie and Cary Deuber. LeeAnne describes the meeting as confrontational and laments that she couldn't get through to either of the other women about how their reputations could be marred by associating with Brandi and her potty humor. Marie's worried about how the tension between LeeAnne and the other 'Wives could affect her upcoming cocktail party, but I'm willing to bet she had no idea how crazy it could actually get.

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Stephanie and Brandi arrive in Coweta and the latter is blown away by her BFF's country upbringing. Stephanie's entire family shows up at her parents house for a good old-fashioned family dinner. Stephanie's experience growing up in Coweta was basically a picture off of a small town, All-American post card. Her parents were devout Pentecostals and she grew up going to church twice on Sundays and once on Wednesdays, her mom was a Sunday School teacher and she spent her teenage years trying as hard as she could to be perfect. Coming from a completely different family dynamic from the picturesque Hayes clan, Brandi is a little overwhelmed by all the love and bonding going on at the table. In fact, she admits in her confessional that it even feels a little bit awkward to her. Growing up she and her brother would often eat dinner in front of the TV with minimal conversation, which is basically the complete opposite of Stephanie's close-knit family who is offering a prayer before dinner.

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Back in Dallas, Cary has invited Tiffany to join her for some hot yoga in an effort to build their budding friendship. It turns out that Cary is a serious contortionist when it comes to the yoga studio. Seriously, while Tiffany struggles to keep up, Cary's busy twisting and turning her body into a human pretzel. (For the record, in a yoga situation I'm neither Cary nor Tiffany; I'm definitely more like the little old Asian lady behind them.) After yoga, the two 'Wives hit the juice bar and the conversation turns almost immediately to LeeAnne. Tiffany is constantly having to defend her BFF to the other 'Wives and tries to give Cary some perspective on how LeeAnne works. She tries to explain that LeeAnne puts up walls to protect herself because of how much she's been hurt in the past, but Cary simply finds the queen bee to be annoying and abrasive. Yes, lots of people in Dallas society know who LeeAnne is, but Cary opines that maybe that's just because of how loud she is. LeeAnne may be well-connected to important people in the charity world, but Cary reminds Tiffany that her BFF isn't a tried-and-true Dallas socialite. Either way, Tiffany wants to continue building a friendship with Cary as her own person, not just as LeeAnne Locken's best friend.

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Getting back from Coweta, the topic of family is heavy on Brandi's mind. After last week's revelation from her mom that her estranged grandpa wants to meet her, Brandi decides to finally give him a call. Once her step-grandmother answers the phone and hands it to her grandfather, Brandi emotionally breaks down in tears as she has her first conversation with this man whom she's never met. Over the course of the quick chat, Brandi learns that her grandpa played in the NFL in his younger days with both the LA Rams and the Denver Broncos. Finally, she tells her grandpa that she would like to meet him and invites him to fly out to Texas for a visit. As I said in my live-tweet, I don't think we've ever seen a storyline on the Housewives franchise quite like this one between Brandi and her grandfather...

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The night of Marie's happy hour arrives and all of the 'Wives are ready for a fun girls night out. However, Stephanie and Brandi are also wary of running into LeeAnne for the first time since Mad Hatter's. Yet, Stephanie claims she's in a good place after her visit to Coweta and isn't looking for any drama at the cocktail party. However, just because they don't want drama doesn't mean it isn't lurking close to the surface. As Brandi arrives with Stephanie, Tiffany is quick to pull the redhead aside to let her know she wants to be friendly despite Brandi's tension with LeeAnne, as her BFF eyes the conversation from across the room. From the perspective of a fan and an analyst, I completely understand what Tiffany is doing in this episode. In order for a Housewives show to really work, the cast has to be cohesive and consistently interact with each other. So far this season, the 'Wives have been separated into two distinct camps, with Brandi, Stephanie and Cary on one side and LeeAnne and Tiffany on the other. By making an effort to build a relationship with Cary and reaching out to Brandi, Tiffany is attempting to cross into the opposite camp and make the show work. Will it blow up in her face? We're about to find out much sooner than you think. But for now, bravo Tiffany, thank you for making some moves.

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As the cocktail party continues, LeeAnne and Brandi circle the room, effectively avoiding each other. However, when Brandi and Stephanie meet Marie's friend Taylor Garrett, the A-List: Dallas alum is quick to bash LeeAnne and dish some damning gossip about the queen bee. Naturally, Brandi and Stephanie are quick to eat this story about LeeAnne getting so wasted she pooped her pants up, but to me it's clear that this Taylor kid is a wee bit desperate for camera time and that as hard as we try, the Dallas 'Wives simply can't move away from the disgusting potty humor. Either way, Brandi is sure this singular gay man at the party is destined to be her new BFF (sorry, Stephanie?) After all, nothing will bond people faster on reality TV than a shared mutual enemy. Brandi and Stephanie are quick to relay the gossip to Cary and then question Tiffany about it. Once again defending her bestie to the other women, Tiffany finds her back up against both a literal and proverbial wall. With both Cary and Stephanie behind her, Brandi relentlessly continues to bash LeeAnne to Tiffany, point blank calling her a "bitch" and accusing her of trying to turn Stephanie and Cary against her at brunch. 

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In an effort to play peacemaker, Tiffany goes straight to LeeAnne and brings her by hand over to the other women to mediate the conversation. However, Brandi starts the discussion off on the wrong note by sarcastically apologizing to LeeAnne for not respecting her as an elder and being a proper "Little Miss Manners," and snidely questions whether she should refer to LeeAnne as "Miss LeeAnne Locken." Brandi then proceeds to call LeeAnne out on her brunch with Stephanie and Cary. LeeAnne insists that asking her fellow 'Wives to meet wasn't done out of malicious intent, but Brandi counters that the queen bee is "full of sh**."  The argument then turns to the confrontation between the two during the premiere over Brandi's unflattering imitations of LeeAnne. Brandi claims she was coming from a good place when she attempted to apologize, while in the same breath insisting that she still thinks LeeAnne "needs help." 

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LeeAnne takes this dig in stride, pointing out that Brandi is over a decade younger than she is and doesn't know hardly anything about what she's gone through in life. However, the younger 'Wife is quick to accuse LeeAnne of blasting her life story all over the Dallas tabloids for everyone to know about. Wait. Dallas has its own tabloids? At this point, LeeAnne is visibly upset and invites Tiffany to put a stop to this insanity, but when Tiff insists she's trying to mediate, LeeAnne walks away and - with the rest of the 'Wives looking on in horror - throws her champagne down on the ground. As the glass shatters and wine gets on Cary's dress, Stephanie calls a departing LeeAnne's move "classy," which prompts the queen bee to turn back around and confront the blonde. According to LeeAnne, the thing that's classy is that Stephanie continues to stand up for Brandi, whom she terms a "little piece of sh** trash who can't keep her mouth shut," and she warns that Stephanie's position in the charity world will go "down the toilet" because of her association with the former Cowboys cheerleader. 

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With that, LeeAnne storms out of the party and only as she's angrily muttering about how much she doesn't care about "those three little bitches" do I realize just how fabulous her patterned jumpsuit is. She leaves the rest of the women standing around horrified and not knowing quite how to react. Inexplicably, Stephanie breaks down in tears because of the confrontation and vows that she's done with LeeAnne, claiming she can't be around so much craziness any longer. I'm not quite sure why Stephanie's the one who's crying when her bestie was the one who picked the fight with the first place, but the episode ends with an ominous "To Be Continued..." placard below Stephanie's teary face.

What did you think of this week's episode? Are you on Team LeeAnne or Team Brandi/Stephanie? Next week, the drama continues to spiral out of control...

RHOD Ssn 1/Ep 2 - Mad as a Hatter

Glenn Rowley

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It's week two on The Real Housewives of Dallas, and while some of the ladies are representing the city in a cosmopolitan light on par with the rest of the franchise, others are taking potty humor to a whole new level. Don't know what I mean? Read on and find out!

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The episode kicks off with BFFs Brandi Redmond and Stephanie Hollman going to Friend of the Housewives Marie Reyes' house. During last week's no-tie dinner, Brandi found out that Marie's daughter is interested in dance and offered to give the eight-year-old a free lesson from a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. In between teaching her a few age-appropriate moves and how to dance on beat, Brandi also takes the time to apologize to Marie for causing a scene during the aforementioned dinner by engaging in an argument with queen bee LeeAnne Locken. A wide-eyed Marie diplomatically defends LeeAnne, claiming that who she is one-on-one is very different from her public persona on display at charity events throughout Dallas. The show's resident Friend of the Housewives also reassures Brandi that LeeAnne is actually really funny, and swears that eventually the pair will likely bond over their respective senses of humor. Hmm...I'm not so sure about that.

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We also get more of an introduction into the life of Cary Deuber this week, whom we see tattooing a nipple onto a breast reconstruction patient in the episode's opening moments. He may be a plastic surgeon-meets-Mr. Mom these days, but Cary claims that when she met her husband Mark, he was a "total fixer-upper" who was 80 pounds heavier with a bad haircut. We also meet the couple's two-year-old daughter Zuri, who apparently speaks English, Spanish, French and Swiss-German. First of all, I didn't even know Swiss-German was a language and secondly, this list of accomplishments still pales in comparison to the accolades garnered by Dana "$25,000 Sunglasses" Wilkey's son during Season 2 of RHOBH. Never forget, people. 

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The next event coming up in the charity season is the Mad Hatter's Tea and Luncheon to raise funds for the Dallas Arboretum, which is just a fancy word for a botanical garden. According to LeeAnne, it's the biggest and most important event of the social season, with women spending thousands of dollars on custom hats to stand out among the who's who of Dallas society. Last year, LeeAnne's giant five-foot-tall and four-foot-wide hat took home the prize for "Most Botanical" and she gunning for a follow-up victory by taking her BFF and fellow Housewife Tiffany Hendra to Binzario Couture where her hat for this year's event is being designed. The theme of this year's Mad Hatter's is "Springtime in Paris," and while other ladies who lunch are dropping small fortunes on their hats, LeeAnne gets hers for free simply because the designers know how much publicity their creation will get in the pages of every magazine. 

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Meanwhile, Brandi and Stephanie are opting for a much more DIY approach, with the former's three- and six-year olds even lending a hand to help create their hats. Brandi is going for a very specific theme with her hat: Dog Poop in the Park. Yes, the idea childish and more than a little vulgar, but Brandi wants to poke fun at how seriously some of the other women in Dallas take their charity events. Specifically, she can't wait to see the look of horror on LeeAnne's face when she sees the fecal-inspired creation. Speaking of the queen bee, Stephanie presses her bestie on how she's feeling about their feud and asks if she's planning on apologizing. Brandi doesn't see the need to offer any sort of apology because she doesn't think she did anything wrong by attacking LeeAnne at the no-tie dinner. Stephanie decides to come clean about something: she actually sent LeeAnne an apology already over email, claiming that she didn't want her to feel ganged up on. Shocked, Brandi insists she isn't mad Stephanie sent the email but pointedly tells her not to get in the middle of the fight anymore. From Brandi's perspective, LeeAnne is turning the entire confrontation around to make it seem like she's the one who attacked her. Which...she was. I just had to say it.

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Next, we get some insight into Tiffany and LeeAnne's long friendship. As they BBQ with LeeAnne's boyfriend Rich and Tiff's husband Aaron, the latter explains in her confessional that the BFFs first met on a modeling job 25 years ago. According to Tiffany, her first impression of LeeAnne was not good. In fact, she went as far as to say she hated her! However, on their next modeling job together, Tiffany saw a different side to the Mouth of the South, and they became the best of friends from there on out - going from partner-in-crime party girls all the way to becoming Housewives together. I love these two together and I am honestly living for these old modeling shots of them. More please! Also more of Aaron's perfect hair please, but less of his bovine artificial insemination stories...

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At the Redmond house, the poop jokes just keep coming as Brandi preps for a birthday tea party to celebrate her mom's birthday with her two girls. While they're baking and frosting a chocolate cake, Brandi continuously makes jokes about how much it looks like poop, and not even the girls think it's funny. It turns out that Brandi has a bit of a complicated family history. Not only does it seem her husband Bryan is rarely around - focusing instead on his goal of becoming a multi-millionaire by the time he's 40 - but Brandi's mom gave birth to her brother Scooter and her at only 15 and 16, respectively. During her birthday toast, Brandi tearfully thanks her mom for everything she did to provide her with a childhood growing up. It's heartwarming to see and finally gives us a peek at the vulnerable Brandi that's been hiding under all the potty humor for two episodes.

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Having recently relocated to Dallas, the Hendras are ready to settle down roots and buy a house. Scratch that - Tiffany is the one dead set on becoming a homeowner, Aaron's not so sure. They look at a house that feels very LA, and would have plenty of creative space for Aaron's studio as well as room for Tiffany to work on her lifestyle blog and YouTube channel, Sanctuary of Style. However, financially, a house this size would be a bit of a stretch on their savings thanks to all the trips to Fred Segal and partying Tiff did in California. Plus, Aaron is hesitant to put down permanent roots in Dallas - he's trying hard to like the city but ultimately he moved for Tiffany to be closer to family and friends. Whether or not the opportunities he needs for his music career present in Dallas remains to be seen...

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Finally, all the 'Wives get glammed up for Mad Hatter's and are ready to party for a purpose. LeeAnne is giving legit Paris vibes in pearls and all-white Chanel with her gorgeous hand-beaded fascinator, while Tiffany stuns in her wide-brimmed pink hat and off-the-shoulder striped ensemble and Marie looks like she walked straight out of the Moulin Rouge. Both Stephanie and Cary arrive in more toned-down outfits, but looking equally chic in 1920's inspired cloche hats. And then there's Brandi...whose gigantic hat is a combination of moss, grass, string, plastic toys and...dog poop. 

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Almost immediately, Brandi's hat becomes the talk of the event, for both good and ill. Plenty of people compliment her without realizing what the hat is actually made of, which makes the joke even funnier to Stephanie. However, gossip quickly circulates in hushed tones that Brandi's hat has dog poop on it, which inevitably reaches the ears of Tiffany and LeeAnne. Tiffany calls the move "so not appropriate" for Mad Hatter's while LeeAnne sees Brandi's fecal-inspired hat as a giant bitch slap to all the other ladies at the event. However, when Brandi and Stephanie approach LeeAnne to say hello, she refuses to give her real opinion, claiming in her interview that Brandi just wanted to get a reaction out of her.

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As the women sit down for the luncheon, Brandi finally gives her head a break by taking off the hat and the hidden piece of poop falls off. Thinking it would be a funny prank to light the mood, she conspires with Cary and Stephanie to put the fecal matter on an empty chair at another table, which incidentally happens to be LeeAnne's. Under the guise of coming to talk to Marie and Tiffany, Cary successfully plants the piece of poop on the chair. However, LeeAnne sees the offending object before she sits down, and promptly decides to go inform her friend who is a major power player in the charity scene about Brandi's attempted prank. In the episode's closing moments, LeeAnne leaves Brandi and the rest of us with an ominous warning via confessional: cross the wrong people in Dallas society and you will get crossed off the list. Don't mess with the Mouth of the South, y'all!

Whose side are you on in the growing feud between Brandi and LeeAnne? Did you find Brandi's "Dog Poop in the Park" hat inappropriate or funny? Are you as tired as I am of all the non-stop potty humor so far this season? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments and stay tuned for next week's recap!