After the abhorrent behavior of certain members of the cast on last week's episode of Real Housewives of New York City nearly caused us to "spontaneously decompose," as Simon might have put it, we were wary of what continued exposure to this show might do to our souls. But the week progressed, our blood resumed its normal circulation, and this week we found ourselves tuning in once again. We need to understand these atrocities so that we can avoid them in the future, we reasoned. And maybe it won't be so bad. Alas. The description of the episode in our DVR, written in the shell-shocked tone of a person who, having seen too many appalling things, had become tragically inured to them, should have tipped us off about the horror to come. "Bethenny and Ramona argue" it relayed wearily. "LuAnn plans a charity event; Kelly photographs random people." Clearly, we're not the only ones for whom watching Real Housewives has become like watching a Depression-era dance marathon: The dancers have stopped smiling, the blood and callouses are appearing, and none of us can wait for it to be over. And yet we are bound to see it through.
Who won? Let's review the performances.
"Am I not supposed to say how I feel?" Well not really, Ramona, not unless you're a 2-year-old or a freaking mental patient. Sane grown-ups tend to at least make an attempt to be constructive with their criticism, not blurt out, "At least I have friends; you have no friends in your life, right now you have Jason, and you'll probably mess that up, too," out of nowhere. That said, Ramona did somewhat redeem herself by realizing that she had been, uh, a little harsh and — for the first time ever, we think — actually apologizing for it. To be sure, the apology was totally backhanded ("I'm sorry I upset you by saying things that made you more sensitive than usual") and accompanied by rolling of the crazy eyes. And later, when she raised the idea of the meeting between Jill and Bethenny, she said: "Don’t snap at me! Don’t yell at me,” as though Bethenny, and not Ramona herself, is the most prone to lashing out senselessly and out of the blue. But Ramona was not the most evil person in the episode, so we can give her a pass. (And by the way, dear, you can cross the street while talking on a cell phone. Or at least, most people can manage it.)
We've really got to hand it to Bethenny: She gave a bravura performance this episode. It’s not that she’s entirely in the right. She should have known better than agree to Ramona’s crazy confrontation scheme. That was a terrible idea, and she knows Jill well enough to know how poorly she’d handle that situation. Clearly, part of the motivation was to catch Jill off guard and make herself look good on-camera. That said, she did look good. She was impeccably put-together, and she made her points compellingly and with believable tears. “I don’t want to win, because if I win and she loses, we all lose,” she said earlier in the episode, and repeated to Jill. This is Jill’s ultimate undoing: Bethenny doesn’t even need to defend herself — all she needs to do is point out that the only thing Jill wants to do is win. By taking away the one thing she is pretending to be mad about (What was it again? She didn’t send big enough flowers?), Bethenny exposes Jill for what she is. (What is that again? We’ll get to it later.) Bethenny didn’t win the episode, but we had to love her for her bravery, and for leaving the apartment and almost closing the door, but then very clearly sticking around to listen to everyone bitch about her.
Kelly was basically a nonentity in this episode, but we loved when she terrorized people all over the city while "reporting" a story for Gotham. She's a pretty lady walking up to strangers — usually people like that. But something about Kelly gave everyone the creeps. Maybe it was that she was asking children if they were wearing underwear. She used the same brand of insightfulness during the model casting for Brooklyn Fashion Weekend. “I feel bad for them,” she said. “They spend so much time alone.” What does that even mean? No they don’t! Still, we had to love her when Bethenny asked her what she’s wearing, and her only response was: “fragrance.”
At first, we thought that the giant hubcap LuAnn was wearing around her neck to Ramona's house was some kind of talisman, like one of those evil eyes that ward off Satan. But LuAnn's bizarre behavior this episode made us wonder if the medal was not something the Devil Jill was using to control her mind. While flickers of the old countess still remained — like when she said, "I don't think Bethenny and Kelly can be friends. Je quois pas. I don't think so. In French" — it felt like the she had been totally subsumed by Jill. The pair are literally and metaphorically in bed together, operating in their own reality where they are right and everyone else is wrong. And did you notice when she said “I had a really good idea for a fund-raiser” for the consignment shop? And then when she approached them, this was her really good idea: “I think you know that we should have some party or something.” We have a really good idea, LuAnn: Free yourself from Jill's mind control.. She's going to break you down until you are a little sniveling, unrecognizably debased creature. You know her farting dog Ginger? That used to be a person.
Alex and Simon get a lot of flack for being bad parents, but this episode we got to see they really do have a lovely nurturing side. Their presence helped defuse the fight between Ramona and Bethenny in Brooklyn, and not just because Simon's tight jeans would bring a smile to anyone's face. They asked about the fight and were good, selfless listeners, a quality that Alex also exhibited when Bethenny was having her meltdown. She even had some wise things to say, like, “You’re telling me you’re not sad and you’re crying.” And unlike Ramona, who arranged the on-camera meeting between Bethenny and Jill and then hid in the background, smirking, while they fought, Alex made a genuine effort to reach into the dark depths of Jill's empty husk of a body and fumble around for a heart. She didn't even freak out when there wasn't one in there. "My soul is clean," she declared. We're still not sure about ours, but for this, Silex wins the episode.
It's time for our favorite game again! Let's play Reasons Why Jill Zarin Is a Disgusting Person! Let's start with the shallow and move to the more profound.
Her vanity is her most obvious quality: She has a blowout and is wearing makeup in bed, where she is also wearing a sexy teddy for the cameras that she admits she doesn't normally wear. And then she blames her fart on the dog, which is the lowest of the low.
She Physically Distresses People: Alex appeared to actually break into hives when confronted with Jill's hypocrisy and callousness.
She Makes Her Friends Sleep in the Dungeon: Jill’s guest room has no windows. LuAnn nicely calls it “European” and “perfect for sleeping” because everything’s “all blacked out.” We wouldn’t have been so nice.
She Doesn’t Even Recognize That She’s a Hypocrite: “I don’t like hypocrites,” she said, which actually made us laugh our way out of our hangover for a minute. This goes back to last week’s point that in her mind, she’s wearing Teflon all over her body. She thinks nothing sticks to her. But really, she’s more like a bowl of Raisin Bran you left in the sink where all the crud ends up sticking to it so hard you need like a sandblaster to get it off.
She Makes Up Reasons to Be Mad at People: “It’s hard to win with you,” Bethenny quite rightly observes, reminding her former friend that “you don’t always have to wait for people to fail.” And in this episode we had an excellent example of this. “If you’re lying to me about something I do know about, what are you lying to me about that I don’t know about?” she asks, explaining why she is peeved that Kelly forgave Bethenny and the two became friends again. First of all, Kelly wasn’t lying to Jill, she changed her feelings about Bethenny because she’s on a television show with her and they have to be around one another a lot. Yet, somehow, for Jill, who had absolutely nothing to do with the situation, “it hurt [her] feelings.” You know why it hurt your feelings, lady? Because you’re a territorial, lady-eating kraken.
She Takes Things She’s Done Wrong and Blames them on Other People:
Jill says to Alex: “You were mad at me,” but “I’m over it.” Um She was mad at Jill because Jill was nasty about her kids. She’s the one who needs to get over it, not Jill. (And by the way, someone should tell Jill that there is film in those cameras. As much as she denied being mean about the kids, it was on television.)
She Ignores Information That Doesn’t Fit Into the Plotline She Sees for Herself: Particularly galling was the way she blew off what Alex was trying to tell her about Bethenny’s dad.
She Is a Drama Queen: Perhaps this goes without saying, but we lost our minds when she went off on how she’s not going to invest in a friendship with Bethenny “at the cost of me and my health and my family” Your health? You’re the one that gives people hives! And the whole way she behaves during the fight with Bethenny, the whole "THIS IS TOO MUCH FOR ME," schtick, is just too much. Holy Christ, woman. You're a 40-year-old woman in an Upper East Side penthouse, not a Haitian refugee.
She Thinks She’s Wise. But She’s a Buffoon: “Relationships is all we have left in this world,” she lectures Alex, whose skull cavity appears to be filling up with vomit at the moment. “That’s it, doesn’t matter about money. Money, are you kidding me?” Hey, Jill, remember when you were bragging about the diamond card you got from Saks? Like, ten minutes ago?
She Is a Coward: We covered this last week, but the way Jill couldn’t handle an actual confrontation (as opposed to incessant backstabbing) is such proof of this. Very early on she revealed why she was so nervous — she’d made a list of grievances and forgot to bring it. What?? We haven’t thought of doing that since we got in a fight with the mean girls in Mrs. Powers’s class in the fifth grade.
She Can’t Accept Responsibility: “I’m not accepting it,” she said at the end of the fight with Bethenny. It didn’t even seem like she realized how much she’d revealed in that moment.
She Literally Does Not Understand Forgiveness: "For Kelly to just forgive [Bethenny] like that," she admits, "I mean, I don't understand that."
The model everyone turned lesbionic for: Hot!
The model Intel Chris stayed gay for: Hotter!
Kelly's legs: Holy cow.
Day Gay Derek: For hiding like an ostrich from the drama with Ramona and Bethenny unfolding right in front of him.
Real Estate Jacky Teplitzky: For not slapping LuAnn for demanding all that stuff in a pied-à-terre.
Gotham magazine: One should never see this kind of "journalism" at work.