Well, it’s the first episode of the fourth season of the Real Housewives of New York City, and we only have one new housewife. But everyone’s trying to reintroduce themselves — in fact, almost all of them have new taglines in the opening credits. Ones that are self-deprecating, even! “Good or bad, I am who I am,” says Jill. “And I own it.” Alex pipes in, “I’ve always had opinions, but now people know it.” (She’s also always had a taste for Champagne, but now people know she can chug it.) Crazy Kelly is “living the American Dream one mistake at a time,” she trills. Ramona says, “If people can’t handle the truth it’s really not my problem.” And LuAnn is finally happy after years of eating crow: “I thought I had it good before,” she says. “But I’m just getting started.” And so are we! Started deciding who wins each episode of RHONY, that is.
“Last year was a humbling experience for me,” says Jill. “Have I grown and learned from it? Yes I have.” And she appears, at first, to be telling the truth. Whether she’s burying herself in the deep folds of a royal-blue prom dress or hiding behind the glittery shield of a sequined cocktail dress, she at least puts on a show of being approachable and friendly. “I am who I am,” she screams at Kelly, to prove there’s a New Jill. “I AM NICE.” Why this change? She’s licking her wounds over
the loathsome way she came across last season the loss of her friendship with Bethenny, which “took years off [her] life.” There are still some signs of the old Jill, about whom we used to play a rather cruel weekly game last year. For example, the gag-reflex face she makes when Alex suggests walking across the Brooklyn Bridge in a wedding dress is Vintage Mean Jill. As is the way she questions Cindy, on-camera, about her IVF after just meeting her. But Alex’s poor behavior ends up making Jill look like the sane one, and she generally looks pretty — so we have high hopes for our redheaded Kermie this year.
Whoa, what happened to Alex? Oh, wait. Self-worth, that’s what happened. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, she’s been so downtrodden for the past three seasons, it’s nice to see her get some positive reinforcement. It’s heartening, if confusing, that she has a modeling contract, for example. And that she’s finally learned what “no makeup makeup” is. But then she goes on and on about her own beauty. “Maybe it’s arrogant, but when I look in the mirror, I like what I see,” she says. “I had a very good-looking mother and father. I got lucky in the gene pool.” Okay. Those are things you say in your inside-your-head voice. Still, her ego wasn’t what lost her the episode. It was the way she immediately overplayed her hand with Jill, attacking over some trivial scheduling detail, at someone else’s wedding. It’s bad enough you brought reality-TV cameras with you to this event, ladies. But scene-making, too? This isn’t the Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Oh, Ramona, Ramona, Ramona. You went through such highs and lows this episode. You debuted your Pinot Grigio, and you looked as young and pretty as ever. But then you demonstrated your personal monstrosity over and over, torturing potential employees and co-stars alike. For the future, here’s a little list of things you should not do when interviewing job applicants:
• Ask them what their greatest weakness is, and then dismiss them mid-interview when they give you an honest answer.
• Tell people that their previous jobs, which they are clearly trying to get out of, are “boring.”
• Critique outfits. This may actually be illegal. “It’s very, I don’t know, Midwest looking,” she told one candidate. “I’d go with completely nude stockings.”
• Tell applicants they have bad skin. If this isn’t illegal, it should be. Especially, you should not give people skin-care products to take home.
Ramona officially lost the episode when she stopped everyone — and the camera crew — right outside of the church to talk shit about someone who was walking right behind her. It would be one thing if this appeared to be on purpose. But it didn’t!
LuAnn was basically a nonentity in this episode. But we want to see more of her and her cute boyfriend. Go, LuAnn! (Although, seriously, quit it with the whole talking-to-service-people-in-French thing. Someone’s gonna punch you in the turquoise.)
Similarly, Sonja wasn’t around enough. But we also like her man candy! Nice work, ladies.
“I live in the West Village,” says Cindy, immediately endearing herself to us by not living uptown or in Brooklyn. “Downtown is definitely more edgy, and rock and roll,” she continues, immediately losing us again. Listen, it’s hard for us to really learn about these new ladies when they first arrive, because Bravo is constantly undercutting them with editing. Like when Cindy says, “I don’t need a man.” The cameras immediately cut to her totally cute trainer, and we’re supposed to assume that they are maybe boning. The cameras also catch her as she’s putting on blush at the exact moment when LuAnn and Kelly arrive at her party, such that she has to hide it in one hand while hugging the ladies with the other. But we’ll learn about you soon enough, Cindy! You can’t hide behind those shaggy bangs forever.
In her first four seconds on-camera, Kelly manages to squeak out a “HIEEEEE.” And with that, we assume we’re going to get classic Kelly for the rest of the episode. But, as is her occasional wont, she spends much of the time dropping pearls of wisdom. “Every situation we’re in, it’s like you get Ramona’d. It’s a verb now,” she says to Jill, coining the first new word of the night. (The second, “Jillousy,” coined by Ramona, is even better.) “I’m not crazy,” she says later, laying it out straight. “Am I put in precarious circumstances a lot with these women? Yeah. Do I navigate in those circumstances well? Nope.” Did you see how many fifty-cent words were in those sentences? Four! (It’s Kelly. We count repetitions.) She also sagely observed that Alex just wants Jill “to acknowledge her,” which is really true. Also, this was maybe the best line of the night, and it appeared seemingly at random: “Being a model is defined by being photogenic, period,” she said, not necessarily about Alex. “It doesn’t mean that you’re pretty.” And with that, Kelly does the unthinkable — she wins the first episode of the season.
Cory Bautista, New York Model Management: For saying “The market needs” a woman like Alex."
Simon: For wearing “partially red-leather” pants, in a reference to his once completely red-leather ones.
Carol Press: The lady who tells off Ramona at the wedding almost pulls it off. But in the end, it wasn’t worth signing the release, girlfriend.
Jennifer, the bride: Girl, who convinced you that having reality-TV cameras at your wedding would make you look prettier?
Peter Tunney: For being described as “a major A-List artist” by Jill Zarin, which puts him about in the exact right place. (You know, the place where an artist takes a pictures of three ladies at a party and describes it as “Andy Warhol style.”)
Bobby Zarin: Looking skinny, Broseph!
Howie: Cindy’s maybe-gay brother, who is kind of hunky and clearly going to get a date out of this.
Drive495: Cindy’s workout montage is a great ad for this gym. Or at least that trainer.
Brian, Sonja’s friend: Hello hunka hunka.
Tunisia: For not punching Ramona in the eyes when she says, “That’s a beautiful name, it almost sounds like a country!”
St. Andrew’s Dune Church in Southampton: Double adorable!