Last week we talked about the whole fake/real conundrum in the Real Housewives of New York City, and it was continued through this week. Namely, in the incredibly false setup to the girls’ trip to Morocco. It’s not just that they all hate each other and therefore such a trip would never happen in real life. It’s that it’s obviously a junket setup by the Moroccan tourism industry, à la Sex and the City 2. Which is completely fine, actually, but don’t go around pretending you dreamed it up yourself, LuAnn. “You know, Sonja, I don’t think you realize — Morocco is very Westernized, very sophisticated,” she says, reading from whatever script the ministry of tourism has prepared for her. “It’s like going to Paris.” Boy, we watched the clips from the next three episodes, and wherever they are going, it’s not the city of love.
Anyway, on to who won the episode! (It might surprise you. [Just kidding, nothing about this show surprises you anymore.])
Okay, first of all, let’s get LuAnn over with. The woman we’ve been hearing Alex McCord call a “thug in a cocktail dress” in promos all season long is LuAnn? I at first thought for sure it’d be Jill or Ramona, but LuAnn has been acting pretty thuggy lately. She’ll just go up to women and berate them, like when she yelled at Ramona for “cheapening” her Pinot Grigio party by fighting with Jill, or telling Ramona right off the bat that nobody likes her at Jill’s bullying party (a nice touch). She was basically an insufferable snob throughout the whole episode, which I guess is her way of dominating people. (“I know who David Meister was before you?” What? “Do you think I would EVER look like you in a dress?”) The sort of sweet moment she has with Kelly in the car — in which she truly appeared to choke up for a second — was ruined by the rest of it. But what really caused her to lose the episode was that idiotic necklace she wore at the tea shop. It looked like Studio 54 when the drugs ran out.
I guess Jill did sort of okay this episode. She kind of cutely admitted that her hair is “mousy brown with a tint of gray.” But then when Cindy said something sort of personal right after her in the drum circle — “I’m not as tough as I look” — she went right back to Old Jill and made fun of her for it. Later in the episode, she told Alex: “I’m not a bitch, I’m not gonna be like, ‘I’m not inviting you’ because that’s not who I am.” That's funny, because that's actually exactly who Jill is, but we give her credit for doing a fund-raiser on bullying, for stuffing her own gift bags (albeit with crappy swag from her and the other housewives’ product lines), and for being sweet about her stepdaughter. She was even right to call out Ramona for busting open her own case of wine that was supposed to be for charity, but saying “keep her on a leash” was a bit much. All in all, Jill pushed the Ramona-as-alcoholic plotline too far — everyone was drinking at that event — but not nearly as far as the producers. Or, frankly, Ramona herself.
Have you ever noticed that in the intro of the show, all of the ladies have their husbands or kids in the background, and Sonja has her dog? Somehow it would be sad with anyone else, but for her it’s funny. “In truffle season? Everybody will be there,” Sonja says of Italy, which is such a Sonja thing to say: snobby, strange, and, in the end, meaningless. The same can be said for that ridiculous, vadge-flashing photo shoot.
Cindy was sort of a nonentity this week. She seemed cutely excited by the idea of a Moroccan getaway (those baby nurses have been keeping her up lately), and she did a nice thing by planning that Canyon Ranch trip and getting the girls gifts. And even though she snuck booze into booze-free Canyon Ranch and coined the awesome phrase “vagina monocle,” it just wasn’t enough for the win.
Alex also didn’t do much this week, although she did make some pretty priceless faces. Like in the plastic surgeon’s office when Ramona is clutching at her neck, that was genius. Or when she broke into hives while just having a normal conversation with Jill. She was sort of funny about them shaving her face and was a good sport about showing up on-camera with a HUGE zit. Still, not enough.
Ramona’s foes on the show have done it: They’ve turned her into the megavillain. It was no small trick, because she’s not a schemer and she’s not a backstabber. But she is a frontstabber, and that’s pretty rough, too. In this episode, there were some moments of dumb, likable Ramona, like when she initially said “no” to Morocco. “It’s a third-world country,” she said. “I love my family, and I don’t want to not come back.” And she made some correct observations. “I just find it strange that LuAnn is so pious when she always takes sides,” she says, making a very valid point, which she follows with, “Jill’s the one who escalated it, she made it a screaming match, not me.” Yeah, that latter part is not true. Ramona is so crazy defensive and misremembers things, and in that way she’s very much the Jill of this season. She’s constantly on the attack, when she’s not pimping her skin products or wine, and all in all it just makes her look terrible. (Although whoever is doing her blowouts, three snaps up, in a circle!)
Which leaves Kelly. I don’t necessarily think she won this episode by being completely sane, or even particularly nice. But she played her hand very well. First of all, she had some good lines, like when she looked at Sonja in a gown sitting on a table, and deadpanned: “That says toaster oven all over it.” Sometimes she’ll come out with statements that make you wonder if she does, in fact, have a brain somewhere hidden in that hair. But then she says something like “I tried to be very subtle about my criticism,” which was absolutely not the case. Maybe she just doesn’t know the meaning of some words? She certainly knows the meaning of the word vagina, even if she’s afraid of saying it and has never seen one other than her own and Sonja’s. (God bless LuAnn for calling her out on this. She appeared in Playboy! Are we to believe she opened directly to the pages she was on and didn’t see any others?)
Anyway, she cleverly opened up a bit at the spa, which got her sympathy points from everyone (even though in an otherwise sort of sweet conversation, she managed to mention how everyone thinks she’s pretty). “You think it’s going to be this feeding frenzy, but it’s really the sharks, the bottom-feeders, and the minnows,” she said. “Everyone I thought was going to be a nice guy literally slapped me in the face with their hand or an arrest.” Now, this admission of victimhood was actually weirdly real and serious for this show, which is mostly about women metaphorically beating up on one another. The absence of men on the show — and in many of the women’s lives — makes you forget that they’re pretending to live in a girl-only vacuum. Maybe if there were a handful of real outside characters someone else could be the enemy and they could stick up for one another?
But this is Bravo! And on Bravo, people do things that are totally contrary to their own interest. Like go to Morocco with a bunch of harpies who are sure to turn on them. Kelly clearly was contractually obligated to go, but was wise to hold back, because now everyone’s promised her that they will stick up for her. In the end of the episode, too, we see her exhibit some spine with Ramona, dominating her like an alpha dog when the woman won’t shut up. Maybe this will go okay for her after all?
Tripping Makeup Artist David Evangelista: Sonja does look good for the photo shoot, even if a toaster oven cookbook is not exactly aligned with her snooty “Martha Stewart meets Robin Leach” personal brand.
Canyon Ranch: I want to go to there. With booze.
Dr. Sharon Geise: Her own plastic surgery looks pretty decent.
Ally Zarin: She looks good! Love her.
Jill’s stepdaughter Jennifer: Where did SHE come from? She’s like the Other Osbourne. Well done, young lady.
Bruno, the Proprietor at Le Charlot: For having to humor LuAnn’s ridiculous French.
Alice’s Tea Cup: That place is literally NEVER empty, and yet, as is the tradition of Real Housewives, there is no one in the restaurant when they go.
The Drum Circle Leader: The cameras happened to catch him heaving a deep sigh as the ladies sat down, and then stayed on him as the girls talked over him for the next couple of minutes.