In A Dark RHONY Season, Dennis Shields Was Bethenny Frankel's Saving Grace

Photo: Courtesy of Heidi Gutman/Bravo.
The Friday afternoon news cycle was rocked by tragedy when the New York Post reported that Real Housewives Of New York star Bethenny Frankel’s on-again, off-again boyfriend Dennis Shields had died earlier in the day. The late 51-year-old businessman and Frankel began dating in 2016 before technically splitting in 2017. Despite the “breakup” the pair continued to see each other and refused to define the relationship for the inquiring minds surrounding them.
Although Frankel has yet to respond to the businessman’s death, this past season of RHONY — which also qualifies as the Skinnygirl mogul’s darkest Bravo run yet — reminds us of just how important Shields was in her life. Yes, even though he was a little-seen entity who made the most waves this season for wearing a delightful Gucci sweater. For proof of the pair’s unquestionably important relationship, look no further than Frankel’s very nightmarish trip to Colombia with the rest of the New York cast.
The broad strokes of the hellish vacation are storied at this point: Frankel and former best friend Carole Radziwill had multiple cold war interactions and a few true dinner arguments. The repeated evidence of the icy relationship continuously pushed Frankel to tears. Frankel was also in a panic over the fact that her order of protection against ex-husband Jason Hoppy, who was accused of stalking his Bravolebrity ex, was about to expire. Also, there was the entire boat ride from hell fiasco.
Amid all of this eye-catching drama, it’s easy to forget Shields is the one who served as Frankel’s rock when these many emotional catastrophes turned into a full-blown internal crisis. But, he was.
“I’m crying nonstop, I’m like a crazy person. I had a breakdown last night, I don’t know what’s going on. I have no relationship with Carole whatsoever,” Frankel panics over the phone in “Guess Who's Arguing at Dinner?” Everything is so chaotic, Shields nearly “gets Frankel a plane,” as Frankel puts it, to come home. Shields was all ready to do so until his ex-ish girlfriend decides it’s not worth creating even more social friction by leaving.
This soul-baring display is all the more meaningful when you remember Frankel’s entire on-camera persona is defined by her instance she is strong enough to handle her entire life solo. As she said while talking about her new apartment in this week’s RHONY episode, “I may live here forever alone. And I’m okay with that.”
Yet, in her absolute darkest, loneliest moment, Frankel turned to Shields.
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