So, what have we learned? Who are we now? Did Heather win the season? Did Luann? What’s wrong with Aviva, exactly? Did Sonja get a publicist halfway through the season, around the time she said things like “split the atom” and her hair looked great in her confessionals? And will Carole ever tire of the “book as baby” metaphor?
Last night, on the finale of The Real Housewives of New York City, we were reminded that, to paraphrase Magnolia (the movie, not the bakery), the past will never be done with us. Remember the Toaster Oven Photo Shoot debacle? Nobody does. It happened a million years ago and was stupid. Well, that was the meat of last night’s episode, and possibly the potatoes. Related: Remember when George embarrassed everybody in Miami? Of course you do — the producers brought him back one episode ago for extra Aviva fuel. Fine. Well, that came to roost last night as well. And finally — remember when they introduced three new Housewives on the season premiere? And everybody seemed to get along? Well, that’s how the season ended, in bittersweet black and white, all flash-backily, and sad, like we care about these people getting along in our hearts. WE DO NOT. We want a good show, and therefore — Thank God for Aviva. The two new wives, I’m sorry to say, seem to be a wash; too nice, too normal. — not Bethenny enough.
I’ve gotten a few tweets this week about Aviva, asking me to “Please RT or sign this thing to get her off the show.” Are you cuckoo? Remember what this show was before the Legless (and JACKETLESS) One became, as Ramona put it, “possessed”? It was crap, guys. It was Carole telling Luann not to ask her friend for a free dress and a whole set piece about how Heather spoils her son with toys, and Aviva thinks she shouldn’t do that. Bring a book! All the magazines have Teresa Guidice’s angry eyebrows all over them, and nobody needs that. I’m awarding Aviva MVP of the season, if only because she made change palatable with her loony, catalyst shenanigans. That’s not to say the run didn’t have its boring pockets.
For example, last night we began at Carole’s ping-pong benefit and tournament, which benefited a scholarship or trust for documentary filmmakers, because Carole’s late husband worked for HBO at one point. Carole dressed up as a Pink Lady and Ramona brought Avery. Aviva brought George, who got into it with Mario a little bit, but Mario smiled through the whole affair and generally, nothing really happened. Heather won the ping-pong tournament, and the editors got to pretend they worked for the U.S. Open or understood sports, which was fun. Cut-cut-cut-cut, back and forth, back and forth. Boring, boring, boring. I hate ping-pong. There’s no ball-weight — no satisfaction in the impact of the paddle to the target. Is this a metaphor? I’m too tired to tell. But during the event, we learned that Aviva was pissed at Ramona for forcibly removing her 80-year-old perverted father from her abuse event, and Heather was over Aviva talking about Ramona all the time. Not a lot of information for an interminable-seeming scene, but at least we got a good look at Susan Sarandon’s ping-pong place! It had a jive-talking Asian emcee and everything. Take that, Tim Robbins!
After that, we followed Sonja to a meeting with Heather and her Put-Upon Straight Person graphic-design guy. At the meeting, Heather presented Sonja with a prototype of the box she would, one day, be putting toasters inside to sell. This prototype had the original design Heather and her P-U SP came to Sonja with — the one with Sonja in front of a headless hunk, spearing asparagi. They let Morgan choose between that and a printout of her own dumb idea — her, alone, with a toaster, wearing an apron and a naughty expression. And everybody at home said, “Come on, Sonja — please pick the hunk one so Heather can feel like her time wasn’t wasted.” There was a fake-out moment — Sonja said “I stand well on my own,” or something like it, and then she finally picked the hunk one. So, hooray! I guess. Perhaps she’s been humbled since her divorce settlement screwed her newly over and maybe she just took a hint from somebody behind the camera. Either way, “Let’s bury this matter!” I bellowed. The producers heard me, then did the opposite.
Outside the New York Public Library, Carole — a creator of books — sat, looking like Joan Jett’s baby cousin, and received a call from a sister-in-law about her book. She said she’d turned it into her editor, finally. And — sorry if I’m misunderstanding — but did she indicate that the publisher hadn’t bought it yet? Who knows. The point is: Television. And that she spent four years writing it, and, in the process, gave birth to a giant baby metaphor she decided to throw a shower for. Which foreshadowed the event later in the episode and offended actual parents, I guess. I don’t know what mommy bloggers are thinking on a given Tuesday! It’s one of my best qualities.
Then, Aviva visited Heather at her office, moments after Sonja had left. Which we knew because Heather was wearing the same blouse she was before. SCANDALOUSLY. During this scene, Heather explained to Aviva what she wanted her to wear for her charity fashion show. Behind them was an assortment of girdles and compression tanks—Yummie Tummie stuff, all. Heather was invested in making the whole line look elegant, and Aviva was invested in being neurotic about the opportunity to model in the show. She had concerns about baring her fake leg, she wanted to wear tights, she wanted to wear her hair down. It was a push and pull, and Heather, who is reasonable, handled it well, which was to say “No” to Aviva, while smiling the whole time and giving good reasons as to why she denied her. None of the other models are wearing tights. Your leg looks great. You will be great. You have amazing breasts that are somehow too big for your otherwise thin frame. Here is a tuxedo jacket to wear over the teddy I’m giving you. Don’t take it off right before you go on stage. Standard foreshadowing stuff.
Everybody showed up at Heather’s fashion show at the Copacabana, Sonja in a silly headband and Ramona in another one of those unflattering tank sequin dresses. After some more fussiness backstage, during which Aviva expressed a distaste for the tuxedo jacket Heather asked her to wear, the show kicked off. And from the front row, Ramonja squawked the whole time: About how the wine glasses were dirty, about how this place was really something, huh, and finally, about whether Heather had ever had the forethought to ask her photographer, who had the misfortune to be next to Ramona and Sonja for the duration of the show, for shots of the toaster and Sonja alone. And, of course, he hadn’t. Which brewed anew a Ramonian contempt for Heather.
And meanwhile, the moment before she modeled Heather’s high-waisted panty girdle (as seen on Lady Gaga?), Aviva predictably — and, as Heather pointed out, obnoxiously — slipped off her tuxedo jacket backstage to traipse down the runway bare-armed. Oof. Yikes. Eek. Heather’s confessional hit all the right notes — she called Aviva’s move completely pigheaded, but agreed to let it go, because it was an important charity event, and she saw the forest for the trees. Great. A normal person on this show! We really needed one or two more of these woven into the franchise, for sure. I AM BEING SARCASTIC HERE!
After the show, Heather was beaming about a job well done and didn’t even seek out Aviva to yell at her for taking off her jacket, because she is a classy and reasonable individual. And that’s when she ran into Ramonja. The two blondes were drinking, yes, but they were in two-headed-monster mode, for sure. Heather passed them in the hallway just as Sonja and Ramona harped on the Toaster Oven photographer’s audacity not to take singles of Sonja alone, and the toaster alone, in the course of the photo shoot Heather had planned for free. And of course, the two ladies brought it up the instant they saw Heather, post-fashion show. “Were there photos taken of just me?” “If not, why not?” And Heather was pissed. How inappropriate, how narcissistic. How poorly timed. How ungrateful. How about you make sure you know what show you’re on, Heather? Ramona stood by and grinned like a jackal, as Sonja and Heather got into it. And when Heather asked Ramona why Sonja wanted those photos taken but never told her, Ramona pointed the finger at the second head she shared with her fellow beast. T’wasn’t her. Okay, fine. After a pull-quote or two — “Get your ungrateful ass out of here,” etc. — the Toaster Wars wound down its most recent battle. And if you don’t believe that Ramona thrives amidst the chaos and ill will around her, I refer you to Exhibit Her Face during this scene. Bitch gets off on being in the eye of a shitstorm. Don’t say otherwise! Mud-slinging backstage at a charity fashion show, as long as she’s not the dirt’s target, is Ramona’s Christmas.
Finally, we were at Carole’s Baby Book Shower, where a host of random men sang her sexual and creative praises, while her fellow cast members swarmed in pockets around the perimeter of the celebration. Oh, and Ramona was wearing another one of those terrible tank dresses. Girl to the No! Are you and Mario shopping in the prom section of Jimmy Jazz? How else do you justify the polka dots on the inside of his collar in this scene?
So, after Carole’s agent and editor made sure the room knew that she was very sexy, drama ensued in the form of Heather confronting Sonja about the Toaster Photo Shoot and Sonja having no idea what Heather was talking about. And finally, we were treated to “Aviva versus Ramona round THE END.” Also, this whole time, Luann was like, “I’m invisible! I’m Switzerland! Neutrality and timepieces abound!” And Jacques had some kind of “Nicolas Cage given a swirlie in a toilet with pomade inside of it instead of water” look going on. The oilier the hair, the closer to France?
But the issue in question was whether or not Ramona was out of line asking security to remove George from her benefit. And she was. That guy didn’t attack her. Come on. He should have left on his own accord, he shouldn’t have asked Ramona to apologize, and Aviva shouldn’t have sent him in the first place. But to compare what he did to Ramona’s arm to abuse and to ask security to remove him was an overstep. That said, Aviva is insane. Completely coconuts and pineapples. My friend Jesse came to me over the weekend with a new theory about her particular madness.
Remember how Jill would keep score? Like, if she did you a favor, you owed her one or two? Aviva is like that, times one thousand. When Heather said “the word is entitlement” to Sonja, she could have been talking about the whole cast — especially Aviva. Because Aviva extended the kindness of inviting Ramona to Miami when Ramona didn't give her the royal welcome in St. Barth's, Aviva was consumed with resentment, hostility, and a general sense of unfairness — and entitlement! She wasn't repaid accordingly, in her deduction. And so, the wheels began to spin. I also think Aviva manipulates others by giving them access to her home and her family members (LIKE GEORGE) that nobody asked for. Then, she uses her loved ones as pawns in her victim spiel.
I think you commenters are both marvelously astute AND the finest armchair shrinks in the biz when you connect Aviva’s judginess around booze to her alcoholic mother, and her own addiction to her neuroses as a means of clinging to her late parent. I also think Aviva has an addictive attachment to her own sense of feeling wronged — by people, by life, by that piece of farm equipment, by new friends who don’t indulge her every whim or demanded exception. She’s a damaged loon and a wonderful addition to the cast of this show. So ends my diagnosis! Oh, and naming Aviva MVP is the closest thing to my saying who won this season, because frankly, I think it was a wash. Nobody ended up smelling like a rose. Can I give the season win to Glitzy the Pig? Maybe after the reunion I’ll reconsider. In the meantime, congrats Glitzy!
So, what have we learned? Who are these women? Who are we, now that we’ve spent a season keeping their company? Are we worse? Better? Smarter? Dumber? More callous? More VILE?
I, myself, am sad. I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s a rainy day — maybe because I stopped exercising on a regular basis (You get all sweaty!), and I’m off sugar (I get Aviva-crazy). But I have a feeling it’s because I’m parting ways with these ladies after a journey during which I didn’t form any real attachments. Luann was slippery — not just from goatee juice — Ramona was predictably erratic and borderline, Sonja was sad, Heather was normal, Carole was normal, and Aviva was battier than a cave in Texas and angrier than a sex rash. So, what now?
Well, I guess the answer is, we absorb ourselves in the chaos of the day-to-day. The nihilism of the city during the encroaching season. I don’t mean to end on a dark note — just a truthful one. The days are getting shorter. “Darkness” becomes a synonym for “sadness” in New York during the transitional months. The chill of the wind pinches your face harder than George ever tweaked Ramona’s arm, or that “Patrician” looking Aviva dopplegänger’s nips, in flagrante delicto.
And in the pit of that cold, gothic darkness, to whom do we cling, now that we know loyalty is as fleeting a trend as cake pops? Maybe the answer is that we cling to ourselves. We become stronger and more self-sufficient day by day. We lose our security blankets — that painting of our ex-husband, those gigantic headphones for the plane — and learn to walk on our own two feet, whether or not one is prosthetic. We establish true honesty with ourselves — total self-reliance. We do a fearless self-inventory of our flaws in hopes of strengthening, improving, and one day, making amends. And as we do the work? As we look inward and meditate and go to spin class and renew and cut our hair then grow it back and look toward the present and the future. And while we do all that? Heather calls us all narcissists. And she’s not wrong. She’s not wrong.
I will be back next week to recap the reunion and its ensuing sequels. In the meantime, please comment on the finale and the span of the entire season in the comments below, and continue to keep up with me by listening to my weekly podcast, How Was Your Week, here.
Until then, my friends. Thank you for your company.