We regard Bravo's decision to split the Real Housewives reunion into three separate episodes, each one clearly more hysterical than the last, with equal parts respect and horror. On the one hand, it's a genius way to maximize profits. On the other hand, the blackness that Bravo is releasing unto the world rivals the Gulf oil spill. Aside from the fact that everyone's wearing prom dresses, the reunions themselves remind us a little bit of those gacaca courts Rwanda established after the genocide, in which people are publicly accused of and often admit to committing heinous atrocities, but suffer virtually no consequences. There's no judge, just Bravo producer Andy Cohen, who moves the proceedings along only when it's clear things will not be resolved or to re-animate the proceedings with a leading question, and afterward, the accused are simply released back into the community, no matter how unhinged they are.
However, in last night's installment, some of our Housewives came across as more sane than others, and one in particular distinguished herself by coming across as a fairly normal person. That's not to say we'd be comfortable if we ran into her on the street wielding a machete, but it at least enables us to declare a winner of this week's episode.
Let's review the performances:
Even though Ramona didn't say much last night, what she did say was classically Ramona. When Andy asked her how old she was, she said, "I don't know," even though moments before she had referred to herself as being 54. Then she got busted for having had "injectibles" but claiming to have had no face work done at the same time. "Of course! Injectibles isn't plastic surgery," she snaps, turning to Andy Cohen. "What injectibles have you had?" Oh, baby, look at that adorable Sharpei face. Boy hasn't done ANYTHING. Fittingly, it was Andy who had the best reaction later when Ramona started having a hot flash on camera. "I thought the cameras wouldn't see me!" she says, after he blocks her from getting up and leaving the set. "They can see you," Andy says looking at the wall of cameras in front of them and rolling his one wonky eye all the way back into the middle of his head.
"Sometimes I wish that when I wanted to say something I could say it more smoothly," Alex said early on in the episode. And then she did! Though she didn't say much, her performance was notable for her calm, level-headed explanations of why Kelly is cuckoo, LuAnn picks teams, and Jill is a jerk. No hives, even!
Somehow, in her dotage, LuAnn has not only become more pretty, but she's also gained a little bit of a sense of humor about herself. Sure, she doesn't see her own actions on the show for how they are — just as childish and manipulative as everyone else’s (you think you don’t play teams, lady?) — but when she snapped, "Let me finish dear, or I should say: darling," we kind of laughed along with her. She was also the only person to pull back a little bit of the curtain on the real world of the show and point out that all of them call one another to decide who is going on camera with whom. If anyone on the Evil Couch is going to Reach Across the Aisle for the win in these next few episodes, it will probably be LuAnn, but last night simply wasn't enough of a showing.
As Intel Chris said to Intel Jessica this morning, watching Kelly's mind at work is "like watching a blind person try and put together a jigsaw puzzle." It's not even funny, it's just confusing and sad. For one thing, Kelly has no ability to take anything lightly. When Andy cracked, "Did anybody take a Xanax before the show?" Kelly responded quietly: “I don't do drugs." When Alex got a little animated, Kelly snapped: "Cross your legs!" (Hers is the only vagina that can be seen on this show!) After Ramona won't take back that she called Kelly stupid, Ramona idly said she sometimes even calls her daughter stupid. "You shouldn't call your daughter stupid," Kelly says, dead serious. ("I don't," Ramona replied, awesomely. "I was just throwing out an example to make you feel better." And yet, for all her seriousness, she argues like a child (and doesn't mind when everyone agrees that she has the mental agility of a fly). "I'm over it," she said at one point, and Alex agreed. "We all are," Alex said, and then Kelly snapped: "NO, I AM." "I'm not going to fight with you over the facts," she said to the world shortly after, which was too bad, because she and the world seem to be operating with a completely different set of them, and we really would have liked to see them get reconciled.
Jill clearly knew she was going into the reunion as the underdog, and was therefore all apologies to everyone (except, notably, Alex). She was nailed for going to the gossip columns, for telling the other women not to film with Bethenny, and for being a general jerk to everyone. One of our favorite scores was when Alex said that Jill called her ugly, and Jill replied, “I said that you were channeling the devil!” as if that’s not the same thing. Through it all, though, she kept trying(!) to say nice things about people, and to admit to being a “New York bitch.” But so far, it wasn't enough to get her even close to the win.
Probably because she knows she has to set up her show as personably as she can, Bethenny played it cool, tearing up about how happy her life was, and talking about her baby whenever she could. It was almost enough to make us ignore that it was completely crazy that she looks like that twelve days after having a baby. (For once, we had the same expression on our faces when we looked at Bethenny that Jill had at the same moment.) It’s no surprise that reality-vet Bethenny seems to have the best perspective on being on a reality show and what you have to do, which serves her well when Jill tries to pull some crap about solving problems off camera. “What are we all doing here? You chose to put your husband’s cancer diagnosis on the show, you chose to bring your daughter to weight-loss camp on the show Whatever it is, this is the moment you choose to go off camera?” she asks. The hits kept coming from there. Bethenny just went down the list of Jill’s faults, and most of her punches landed. “You can’t use failed memory as an excuse,” she observes. “When your plan didn’t work and people started to turn on you, that’s when you became sympathetic.” Bethenny for the win!