The Real Housewives of New York City
You knew one day it would come, rising from its primordial slumber in the Pacific to trudge across our great continent. Its enormous body buoys forth from the sea, rivers of salt water pour off its scaly shell. This ancient radioactive monster is coming for us all, and the disaster spells the beginning of the end. Yes, this single-backed beast, this West Coast Godzilla has come to New York, and its name is Brandi Glanville and Yolanda Bananas Foster.
Yes, last night was the first time that Real Housewomen from two different cities of the franchise have appeared onscreen together at the same time. This was far from the Real Housewives all-stars that fans have been clamoring about for some time. When Yolanda and Brandi had lunch with their old friends Carole and Kristen, a Caboodle with only three bobby pins, an eye-shadow wand, and a stretched out hair tie in it, it wasn’t just anticlimactic, it was sort of weird. I’m not sure what it was, but hearing Brandi and Yolanda’s voices next to Carole’s and Kristen’s felt like having a wet noodle pressed against my face. It was so odd. It was sort of like having a housewarming party and your work friends hang out with your college friends and no one is quite sure of who you are and you’re trying to please everyone but there is no way that the groups are going to gel so you’re just stuck there telling crazy stories about how you maybe fucked Elvis at your bachelorette party and everyone just doesn’t know what to make of you anymore.
There is only one good thing that we got out of this intercultural Housewives exchange and that was an excellent story about Kristen, a bowl of entirely lube packets and no condoms. Kristen is obsessed with Elvis, which I think is pretty amazing and interesting and unique. It is honestly the one remarkable thing about her. During her bachelorette weekend in Vegas (Kristen puts the basic in basic bitches), she made everyone go see an Elvis impersonator and wanted to have sex with him and Brandi stopped her from doing the deed. Does everyone realize the irony in this? Having Brandi stop someone from making a bad-sex decision is sort of like Ramona showing up at a benefit for liver disease.
The episode kicked off with Ramona going to Heather’s liver benefit, and no one even made one stray remark about how odd this was. Ramona returned from the splendor of Africa, where she had a religious experience (though, much to Sonja Tremont Morgan’s surprise, it had nothing to do with the Buddha). One afternoon Ramona was rolling through the tall grasses and the scratchy savannahs, bouncing around in the back of a open-topped Jeep in a ball cap, a loose fitting shirt, and a pair of yoga pants. Her arms were folded, and she was looking gruff out into the South African sky as the sun beat down on her. There was so much filth, there was so much solitude, there was so much space. She could barely stand it. All she could think about was the bottle of wine back at base camp and how, in the wild, no one pays nearly enough attention to her.
That’s when she saw it, maybe 20 yards from the jeep, a proud male lion trotting through the brush toward a female who was lying in the shade under a tree, licking her paws. He let out a few guttural rumbles, and the female stood up. They circled around each other, like two cotton balls in the drain and then she stopped. The male got behind her and climbed on top, thrusting himself into her as she let out a sound that wasn’t a yelp and wasn’t a growl, but was both at the same time. Ramona hopped out of her seat in the jeep, leering her goofy open-mouth grin and slapping herself on the thigh. That is when Ramona got it. That is when she understood that thing that we’re all supposed to get from Africa, that great circle of life. We’re supposed to have no worries for the rest of our days, just like these animated animals were telling her. That is her one memory of the trip. That is all she brought back to New York, and gosh darn it if she isn’t going to use it.
Ramona starts right in on Heather about how she needs to make up with Aviva who, up until about two episodes and as may tequila shots ago, was her sworn enemy. Ramona has the tact of a donkey and the memory of one of the flies circling the donkey’s ass. She tells Heather point-blank that they need to make up and Heather bats it away like it’s, well, a donkey’s ass fly.
Next we see this season’s two teams out on their own personal outings. Carole, Heather, and Kristen, an episode of The Good Wife that cuts off 15 minutes too early because the football game went into overtime, are at a photo shoot for Yummers Tummerz and Ramona, Sonja, and Aviva are shopping at the Container Store. Aviva, of course, starts in on how she was viciously attacked by Heather for no reason whatsoever.
Okay, I hate to blame everything wrong with Aviva on the one traumatic thing we know about her, but is her need to be the victim all the time something to do with losing her leg? It’s like she had a limb ripped from her by a machine so she can take no agency whatsoever for every action that occurs in her life after that? Did she possibly provoke Heather and Carole by being an awful person and spreading lies about them? No, she was attacked. Did she make jabs at Carole about using a ghostwriter before Carole asked about her own use of a ghostwriter? No, that’s just haters be spewing venom. That’s why Aviva will never change and this situation will remain intractable for the rest of the season. In the Lifetime movie of her life that plays in Aviva’s head (One Step Toward Peril: The Aviva Drescher Story), she has nothing to gain by taking ownership of anything she does. No, she is hurt, she is injured, she is wronged. Aviva is not living life, she’s letting it live her.
Eventually Ramona puts Heather on speaker and basically forces Heather and Aviva to agree to “reconciliation drinks.” This interaction (or “Hashtag Collision,” as Bravo would like us to call it) was by far the best part of the episode. First of all, Aviva is so full of shit. She sits down and asks that Heather not resort to yelling, swearing, or name-calling and then accuses Heather of “verbally raping” her, of making her “take it up the butt,” and being Carole’s lover. I don’t know, this all sounds pretty name-call-y (and not to mention vaguely homophobic) to me. Who is the hypocrite? One hint: Her name sounds like that of a mid-range Kia sedan.
Heather, on the other hand, keeps it real. Now, all the Real Housewives claim that they “keep it real,” but I really think only Heather actually does. She just boils it down to the very core elements and gets it right out there. “I think the things you said are vile,” she tells Aviva. “I just don’t like you very much.” “Do you even give a shit about me?” Most of the other Housewives dance around these topics and get each other to make these nice lies (like when Aviva says she does give a shit about Heather), but they’re all just phonies. Not my Heather. When someone takes a big smear of shit, calls it Nutella, and tells Heather to eat it, she will not. She says, “No, I am not eating your shit, m-er f-er.”
When Aviva asks, “Do you know what hurt me? Do you know? You don’t have any idea? Do you want me to tell you? Should I say it? I have something that hurt me that I want you to know what it is and you should know but you don’t so do you want me to tell you or not or maybe tomorrow?” Heather accuses her of being dramatic. Aviva takes such umbrage with her “name-calling” that she never even bothers to tell us why she’s hurt. The only thing Aviva likes more than being a victim is Robert’s Rules of Order. Can I get a nomination on kicking Aviva very sharply in the shin? Here! Second? Aye!
Eventually somehow the two reach not a truce, but a ceasefire and Heather tells Aviva about her tenth anniversary party, which is the next day, and says she needs to think about inviting her. Eventually she emails Aviva and says she thinks it’s too early to have her at an intimate party celebrating her happiness. Aviva runs to Romana and they decide that if Heather can’t really let bygones be water under the bridge, then they’re not going to the party either, even though it’s later that day. So none of them show up.
The problem with Heather — and it’s not really a problem — is that she is a real person and behaves like a real, actual human person would. She made up with Aviva and doesn’t want to turn around and invite Aviva to her party, which is the very next day because she wants her tenth anniversary party to be about love and joy and telling her husband that there is no way that she’s going to have a three-way. She does not want it to be about stupid Housewives drama. This was the same as when she didn’t invite Ramona, whom she didn’t like and barely knew at the time, to her London trip. These are very sane, reasonable reactions to the events that were occurring.
The problem is that she is not dealing with sane, reasonable people. She is dealing with soul-sucking shriek banshees who wail and moan at the will o’ the wisp. They do not care that her party is the next day and based on whatever skewed set of reality-TV rules they have made up in their little minds, inviting someone you are feuding with to your party the next day is not only acceptable, it is compulsory. Of course Heather’s rival coven says, “Oh, well, if she didn’t invite you to the party after you made up yesterday, that must mean she didn’t really forgive you for the months and months of treating her like shit. She is a bad person.” What world is this? (And, just so that she doesn’t escape unscathed, in what world does Heather shift her blame from Aviva to Ramona without any provocation? Yes, Ramona stirred the pot, but isn’t that what Bravo is paying her to do?)
But the night ended happily. Heather’s husband, Jonathan, may be my favorite of all the Hosuehusbands. He’s always there when you want him to be and never inserting himself into anything where he doesn’t belong. He’s kind and handsome and generous and available. He lets his wife be the star and isn’t threatened to hang in the back rolling his eyes with the cater waiters and waiting for Heather to tell him that it’s time to leave. Jonathan is the best. To prove it, he buys Heather tins and tins of caviar, her favorite food, and gives it to her at their rooftop dance party.
Everyone cuts a rug and shakes a leg and Jonathan walks over to Heather and slips his arms onto her shoulders and she leans in tight and they kiss for just slightly longer than what is generally considered tasteful and it makes your heart breathe a heavy, post-yoga sigh. And the warmth of their love and the din of the crowd beams forth into the New York sky, pregnant with a summer sunset. Those vibes travel all over the town, even all the way up to the Upper West Side. Aviva, sitting alone in her townhouse with the lights off, swears she can hear it. She cracks her knuckles, one by one, and thinks about what is going to happen to her next.