It would be foolish of me to say that last night was about anyone other than Jill Zarin.
It’s true that Bravo did air part two of the Real Housewives of New York City reunion last night. And it was fine. There was talk of Tomas and toasters and Luann’s alibi and whether Sonja took it in the backside. But all I can remember this morning in the cold, clear light of this sunny, breezy fall day is the special episode of Watch What Happens: Live featuring Andy Cohen and former RHONYC villain Jill Zarin at her most paranoid, embittered, narcissistic, and delusional.
I ate it up. It was great TV and not for any of the reasons that Jill would have claimed. She had her producer hat on for plenty of the chat with Andy. “I was great TV! I fought with Bethenny because I knew it was great TV! The producers made sure the ladies were all getting pedicures when I got to Crazy Island because it was great TV to have me greeted by a pedicure firing squad (my new band name)!” Nope! Jill Zarin makes great TV because Jill Zarin, to paraphrase my marvelous predecessors, Chris Rovzar and Jessica Pressler, is a disgusting, horrible person who is horrible for the Jews. She perpetuates every stereotype about my people being self-centered, shifty monsters and even creates some new stigmas in turn! Jill Zarin’s driving force is a unique fondue of hurt feelings drenched in entitlement and narcissistic paranoia (having Bethenny be the first solo guest on WWHL was Andy sending her a message! Also microwaves are talking to her.) and delusional grandiosity (when people see her on the street they ask how her sister’s radio show is doing???? Heather was a substitute for Jill because she was the “voice of reason” on the show?????).
Zarin, with gentle prodding from Cohen, confused an initial lack of audience interest in the RHONYC reboot as a “boycott” of the season because of her omission and went on to compare herself to George — the old man who nobody cared about when he was asked to leave that party. There was so much going on in that half-hour, it hurts me to say this, just because she wants us to, but Jill Zarin should be back on RHONYC. I’m going on the record: Put her back in, coach! She’s unrepentant, rested, and raring to go! Not to mention more myopic, mistaken, and me-focused than ever before. She even thought that she and Bethenny had a chance at doing a show together? Like NeNe and Kim were going to record “Tardy for the Party” as a duet, right? Jill laughed through her own accusation that Andy liked Giggy the dog more than Ginger the dog as though she knew it was a silly thing to say and think, but you know that shit KEEPS HER UP AT NIGHT. Oh, she’s such a disgusting monster. And yet, I cannot keep thinking about that bit of performance art that followed the reunion. I hear they are using it in criminology classes to teach students about malignant narcissism! I hear James Franco and Marina Abramovic are reenacting it at MoMA this very minute! Oh, was it epic.
And yes, there is a very fine line on this show between the character you love to hate and the character you hate and want gone. A lot of you have called for Aviva’s series execution — I’d argue that she saved what would have been an otherwise-drab overhaul of the franchise. Cohen told Zarin that the last RHONYC reunion she participated in before her demise was “too toxic.” It was! But it was also so juicy and dissectable, it warranted a part three. I wouldn’t know what to ask these new girls in a third installation of this pecking party. Zarin is a hateful beast with zero self-awareness, but her psychological profile is so fascinating and infuriating, her interactions — and the false impressions she takes away from them — are absolutely addictive and entertaining. Is it worth it to deal with her? That’s Bravo’s job to decide. And please, don’t be shy about weighing in below about whether Andy should ignore Jill from here on out — giving her attention is like picking up a toy on the floor that a colicky baby threw — or mix up the new cast by firing somebody of your choosing. Just keep in mind that Aviva could use an ally who keeps tabs on EVERYTHING …
Anyway, last night’s reunion. Yes. That too. Okay. First at hand was Tomas-gate. Luann clearly made out with that guy and may or may not have let him fuck her. Come on, we’re all adults. But all the Countess would cop to was that she WAS indeed partying with her “Italian friends” before she asked Tomas for a ride home, after which nothing happened. By the way, if you want to dress up as Luann’s “Italian friends” for Halloween, all you have to do is get a couple of sheets and poke eye-holes into each one. Maybe garnish each costume with a festive “Pizza Man” mustache just to drive the point home that they are from the country shaped like a boot.
Luann’s theory about her dastardly doings that night in St. Barts had to do with the erroneous premise that Tomas had never seen the house before. Which Carole pointed out was a lie. According to the Countess, Tomas drove Luann home and naturally wanted to see the inside of this mysterious vacation bungalow. Of course, that tour began with Heather’s room. They woke her up and asked her if she wanted a cocktail, then took elsewhere (never go with a pirate to a second location). And we will never know what Luann did or didn’t do with him that night. She says “nothing,” I’m with Carole — the closest approximation to a stand-in for me and the questions I’d want to ask — when she suggested that the two at least made out a little bit. But ultimately, the best Carole got Luann to agree to was that she’d lied about not bringing him home and that her cover-up was, Watergately, her boondoggle.
Luann’s excuse for telling her friend Cat not to let on that Tomas was there the night before had to do with her fear that Ramona would make a mountain out of a “Mo Hill.” I remember Mo Hill! She took over for Mo Gaffney one time in her two-woman stage show with Kathy Najimy. Also, Luann always talks to Cat in French, so get off the scent of her cheating trail! Or don’t. Look — Luann isn’t married, she was on vacation, I don’t think he actually put it in her, but maybe he did. We’re only dwelling because it’s funny to catch Luann in a lie. Her whole thing is giving the impression that she’s perfect, so to watch her stammer and panic is priceless. That said, whatever happened between her and Tomas is really between her and Jacques.
But Andy inevitably asked Ramona to toss in her two dirty pennies in regards to the Luann Incident. Slouching into her leather bodice, Titanic pendant, and the Financial Museum couch, Ramona said Luann “loved her men.” Then, those two went at it, and Luann almost cried before asking whether Ramona wanted blood. I don’t know if Luann has dirt on Ramona doing dirty deeds outside of her Mario-iagge (sorry), but at least Ramona’s prodding got Luann to that elusive emotional place. “I’m sorry I did it because I hurt Jacques” is the closest she will ever come to an onscreen confession of wrongdoing. Go on, girl! I ain’t judging. He’s not your husband, and if you want to "Dance Like a Pirate," just make sure you have a dental dam, female condom, regular condom, and twelve assorted other inpenetratable sheaths in place before you even brush against that goatee.
A side note: I heard a rumor from a friend that Tomas is a gigolo. Does this make sense to you as much as it resonates with me? It makes that “Money Can Buy You Ass” comment a lot more simpatico with the proceedings, right?
Next up was the Sonja affair. Sonja wouldn’t cop to letting Tomas BF her nor admit to sexually harassing the staff. There was talk about what a girls’ trip actually means, and Sonja had a moment of clarity in which she explained to Aviva how if a group of men went to Vegas and smoked cigars in their boxers, it would have been uncool if one had brought his wife. Therefore, Reid wasn’t unwelcome — just inappropriate.
Andy asked whether Ramona and Sonja were gay for each other, and they denied it. Carole stepped in and said she too sleeps in the same bed with her girlfriends, and then Andy gave Sonja a T-shirt. Are you guys still awake?
After that came a clip package in which Aviva’s horny dad, George, was shown in all his onscreen personae, from disgusting to ridiculous. There was chatter about whether it was offensive for Aviva to have set him up with Sonja instead of Carole and whether George had indeed poked Sonja in the back with his old man erection at that thing once. Aviva dropped the first reference to her mom in the hour, but her loop-around to that Freudian subject would soon prove more fruitful. Nobody got anymore T-shirts.
Then, Andy introduced the Toaster Act of the show, and Sonja exhibited an appalling amount of negligent oblivion toward Heather’s hard work to further her brand. Sonja actually brought out some amateur-looking fan art from random weirdos who had sent her logos in line with what she was thinking before approaching Heather and which she liked better than the professional-looking design that Heather had come up with. Luann and Andy tried getting through to Sonja, but it was for naught. What she was doing was ditzy and inexcusable. Heather told Sonja she couldn’t get out of her own way, and Sonja didn’t hear or understand any of that very astute and reasonable observation. It was depressing and a lesson to all professionals about never doing freebie favors for ditzy dilettantes. Oy, Sonja. Take that sexy J and put it in your garden with the pirate.
Sonja’s downward spiral was the subject of the next clip package, but after it rolled, Sonja refused to acknowledge that she wasn’t doing so great. She spoke around the particulars of her financial situation, which, as I look back on the trajectory of her behavior on this show, really did cause her to become undone. Bankruptcy shook her foundation — she never used to be this much of a mess. A crumb tray of a woman. And she doesn’t seem to own any justifiable anger at her ex — who skis in blue jeans, apparently. Aviva, still on her apology tour, droned that no, she didn’t really believe Sonja was like Anna Nicole Smith. She may have been lying. Furthermore, Sonja’s dog is dead. I pray for Sonja.
We then closed back in on Aviva, the season’s MVP and the bad seed of drama. Here came a montage of Ramona-Aviva moments, starring the latter getting angrier and angrier at her snow-globe-eyed enemy. Ramona, drunk with the video proof that she was right, asked Aviva if she saw how she had ragged on her repeatedly. Aviva said no, and Ramona said, “Holy moly.” Aviva said that Ramona was wrong to kick out George from her benefit and said, sensibly, that Ramona should be careful labeling things “verbal abuse.” I’m on Aviva’s side with this one, even though there’s no reason she should have sent George in the first place.
There was some more apology talk, which was exhausting. Aviva wants an apology from Ramona the way she wanted a welcome from the house. Streamers, balloons, clowns, a cartwheeling elephant. But when Sonja claimed that she and Ramona had come home by midnight every night of their trip and the New Girls couch screamed bullshit, Aviva finally got into the root of her neurosis. And the commenters on this beautiful blog have been miles ahead of her admission! You guys are all brilliant geniuses. Aviva spoke apologetically about her mother’s fatal alcoholism and how living through that had contributed to her judgment of Ramona and Aviva’s drunken antics on St. Barts. I’m not joking when I say Drescher’s on the Apology Tour. She’s also on autopilot, bleating default words of responsibility for her actions and “profuse” regret around her snarky remarks, her hysterical behavior, her mistaken damnation of class and race, and beyond. Bitch either wants to come back to the show a hero, not a villain, or is trying to do her own PR for the sake of her personal affairs — like her divorce. Either way, it’s no fun to be hated, and it can’t be easy to watch the tide of ill will try to drown you, while cameras roll. I think Aviva’s smart enough to take actions toward her reinvention, and I hope to see her on the show next year.
That said! Here is what I hope happens going forward.
I think they should keep Heather. She is indeed, as Jill Zarin posited with a faulty premise, the voice of reason. The show’s new Bethenny. I’m not crazy about her personally, but she won the season. Congrats. Holla. Etc.
Carole is terrific. I really like her a lot. I think she’s smart, funny, cool (obviously), and has seen George Clooney naked. I think this show is a bad fit for her. She’s too above the fray. She’s not emotionally volatile enough to engage in the drama and not Luann-pretentious enough to be a laughing stock. I would let her go and wish her well.
Luann is my favorite of any of the Real Housewives. I’ve said this before, and I stand by it. She’s an eighties-soap-opera star, and I enjoy watching her pretend to be continental and call people “darling.” She should win RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars. Her bone structure is exquisite. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if she were on the chopping block. She stayed out of all the drama and, with the exception of the Tomas incident, didn’t add much to the proceedings. I love her and don’t want to see her leave, but she better do some singing in season six or start some shit with a fellow cast member if she’s going to be an asset to the show.
Aviva. Ugh. I feel like I’ve spent more time talking and thinking about Aviva Drescher than I have regarding my own family. Keep her on. She’s interesting and insane. And more self-aware than Jill Zarin, though, so was Hitler.
Sonja is a quintessential New York Real Housewife. Blousy, aspirational, starving for men, booze, and fun. She’s equal parts sad and sassy. We’ll call her arc the lateral spiral. Whatever gets her back in front of the cameras next season. It’s also nice to have somebody THAT single on the show. And by single, I mean … well, you know what I mean. Onward, Sonja!
And finally, Ramona. I leave this season more certain than I ever have been that they cannot and could not do this show without Ramona Singer. She’s its star. When Jill Zarin crowed her B.S. about how she never got a chance to say good-bye after Cohen fired her, I screamed at the TV, “What do you think this is, Cheers?” And yet, if it is Cheers, Ramona is its Ted Danson. She’ll be wiping down the bar alone while the lights go out, alone in her bipolar, filterless, obnoxious confidence that if they were to trash all the cast members and start this show from the ground up, they’d need to call it something else entirely. Go ahead and tell me I’m wrong, but she’s the craziest person on this series and the most essential to its interlocking parts. Love her or hate her — if you watch this show, you need her. Bottoms up, friends. Pinot all around.
Thank you all so much for taking this journey with me in your sidecar. I read your comments each week and have enjoyed watching this show so much more knowing we’re doing it together.
I will be back on November 6thto recap the new season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for this site. Please join me.
D.J. Soft Batch