It seems like such easy and reductive commentary to compare the Real Cafeteria Trays of Shit on Shingle Thursdays to high school. That base analogy doesn’t require any sort of thought or synthesis or framing women fighting outside of silly conventions about teen competition. However, not every episode of the show portrays them, quite literally, fighting over if someone did or did not invite a new girl to their lunch table and whether or not someone showed a text to a bunch of people without permission. The only way this could be more teen girl is if it took a Snapchat of itself wearing a rainbow loom bracelet while downloading an Ariana Grande song and complaining about her parents. Seriously, this is already giving me stress dreams of not doing my geometry homework, and I’m still wide awake and unblinking.
I feel like we got enough Drunk Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Jell-O Shot Morgans last week, so I don’t think we really need to go into her pubic-mons-baring antics in Saratoga all that much, though I do want to mention that, when Sonja came into the house to get the girls to forgive her and it really wasn’t going her way, she only had one strategy left. It was a Hail Mary pass Sonja likes to call “Elvis on the Toilet.” Yes, she cut the cheese, forgot to pass the crackers. Who doesn’t love some potty humor. “Whatever, it’s naaaturaallll,” I can hear Sonja slurring in my mind as she continues to make herself a canapé. God, I love her so.
Okay, now we need to talk about the rest of the episode and, well, I don’t really quite know where to start. I guess with the Miss USA lunch, right? (Sorry, but I’m skipping all the nonsense about Avery going to college because it makes me feel like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.) Countess Crackerjacks invited all the ladies to a charity lunch she was co-hosting with Bonnie Fuller, editorial scourge and the head of Hollywood Life, a website that looks like the pink part of a vagina if it exploded after being reamed all at once with 47 dildos shaped like members of the Kardashian family.
This lunch, which has something to do with cancer (you can never question cancer), has a very special visitor. No, it’s not the one wearing the recycled Sleep No More mask (after all, the lunch was held a the restolounge on the theater experiment’s roof). Yes, Crackerjacks made a big deal about this mystery guest, and it even modeled one of the dresses. It came out clanking like a skeleton in an old cartoon. The sound of gristle and bone was deafening — like two hard dice in a Parcheesi cup — as it sauntered on the paved stones of this urban garden. Finally Crackerjacks took off the mask and it was none other than Kelly Killoren Bensimon, a former cast member who is the only person to use three names who is not an assassin, a serial killer, or a Disney Channel star.
KKB didn’t really do anything except talk about a book she was writing about the Hamptons — she is still scribbling this book on the place mats of the Friendly's on exit 324 of the L.I.E. – and she and Carole laughed. You could hear the whooshing overhead of Jill Zarin circling the scene on her broom, looking down into her crystal ball and trying to influence the events of this lunch and figure out how she could get back in there. How she could get one last fix of that great drug they call fame?
Maybe it was Jill who invited Miss USA, who is less of a beautiful woman than she is a sash that can blink (but she is also very beautiful). Miss USA was the real guest of honor here. We don’t know how she got there, but when Aviva saw her, she texted Heather and made Heather read the text at the table and show it to all the other women. It said something about how Aviva’s father George, a blind ferret that lives off of scabs, and his new wife Cody had a three-way with Miss USA in Aviva’s house. They all tittered and giggled about it while Bonnie Fuller gave a speech about cancer (you can’t ignore cancer, but more people should ignore Bonnie Fuller).
Of course Aviva made her father “swear on my leg” that it was true, but I’m not sure what that means? Was it her real leg, so his pledge is fleshy and true, or did he swear on the fake leg, so that it is hollow and plastic? Hmm? To get to the bottom of it, Ramona, who doesn’t know Miss USA from a speed bump in a Target parking lot, goes up to Miss USA and asks how she knows Aviva and George and starts trying to get a detailed itinerary of Miss USA’s visit to the Hamptons. Miss USA is flustered and confused, and Ramona is as tactless as Lena Dunham going swimsuit shopping. She just seems fake and obvious and awful and is probing someone she has never met before. I think we’re all glad she got to the bottom of it, but you can get to the bottom of something by drilling a delicate hole or you can get to the bottom of something by blowing the cap off a mountain and sorting the rubble out later. We all know which way Ramona will choose every time.
We leave the lunch knowing it’s a lie that George set up. Or maybe it wasn’t George? Later in the park, Carole tells Crackerjacks that she thinks Aviva invited Miss USA to the party so that she could talk about her father’s sex life and appear interesting. Maybe that is true, but Crackerjacks buys the story and confronts Aviva about it at her “art party.”
Before we can get to the fight, we have to talk about what everyone was wearing to this party. Did the producers not tell anyone what was going on or how they should dress? Kristen shows up wearing some glittery flapper-esque number with her hair all slicked back and finger-waved. Ramona is wearing a white top as an entire dress and looks like she should be wearing roller skates in 1974. Crackerjacks is wearing a statement necklace that used every semiprecious stone mined in one South American village for the past 17 years. Heather is wearing some weird brown sari that is the exact color of a Mumbai gutter (and about as flattering). And Sonja seems to be wearing the dress that her gentleman caller ripped off of her and broke, at least based on the bejeweled shoulder strap on the dress. Did they film this before the facial? Was it a different dress? Who knows. Anyway, it looked like everyone was going to a different party and none of them was somewhere you really wanted to be.
There must be something evil at that yellow wallpaper at Aviva’s house, that glowing yellow that was painted on the walls with troll blood, because it does not make for a happy home. Crackerjacks, forever beholden to decorum, pulls Aviva aside and accuses her of inviting Miss USA to lunch to “stir the pot.” Now, the Housewives are obsessed with stirring the pot. To them it’s an offense akin to genetic cleansing or spilling a glass of red wine on someone at a party. However, it’s just this pot-stirring that keeps them all on the air, so why are they always so pissed about it?
The confrontation quickly goes from pleasant to insane thanks to Aviva’s outsize reaction insisting she didn’t invite Miss USA to lunch. Now, I’m of two minds about this. Everything Aviva does during this fight (and everything she has ever done in her whole life) indicates that she would invite Miss USA and lie about it. That’s just the kind of taxidermy showpiece that she is. However, how do you invite someone to a sit-down lunch and not have anyone know about it? Did she write the place card herself and scurry over to a table with an empty seat and place it there? Philosophically, it makes sense. Logistically, it’s a bit confusing.
Going over the details of who said what and with what force seems kind of moot other than to note that Crackerjacks, not usually the one to get up in your face, really held her own in a classy, forceful way. The best was when Aviva said, “Since when is Luann the police of ladies’ lunches?” Um, since always! Do you even know who she is? Jesus. Money can’t buy you class, Aviva. Also none of the women believe Aviva is telling the truth about this so, even if she’s not lying, the perception is that her pants are ablaze.
Speaking of liars, everyone thinks that Sonja Morgan’s facialist is lying too. Oh, yes, Sonja and Kristen had quite the funny facial. Ms. Morgan invited Kristen over first thing in the morning to get facials from her devoted facialist, Satoko. But when Sonja’s intern Pickles opened the door (without any makeup, which is a mean thing to do to an intern you’re forcing to be on TV), Sonja was not home yet. As Kristen pointed out, this is such a common occurrence that no one was really freaked out. That’s the thing about Sonja. As much as we worry about her existentially, we worry about her as much as she worries about life. You find out she’s not home and you give a little wave of your hand and a sharp “pfft” and don’t think about it again. No matter how messy she gets, Sonja’s epitaph will read, “She always made it home safe.”
Yes, eventually she comes home wearing what is clearly a man’s T-shirt and hat and some sunglasses with her dress tied around her waist. This may or may not have been the dress she wore to Aviva’s, but it’s now ruined thanks to the insatiable libido of her suitor. What I love about Sonja is that she doesn’t even try to hide it; in fact, she delights in it. “We were home by midnight, but we were at it all night,” she boasts to both Pickles and Kristen. Not only does she not care that people know about her tryst, she’s glad they do. As she said, it’s not a walk of shame, it’s a victory lap. Sonja is a floozy and she is proud. That’s why I love Sonja more than the rest: She lives by her own code, and it’s one where the sluts will inherit the earth.
According to Satoko, the facialist, the man Sonja is seeing may or may not be Thomas, the Johnny Depp–looking butt pirate who got it on with both Luann and Sonja last year on vacation. I hope it is. I really want Sonja to keep drilling this guy because, first of all, he’s hot, second of all, he’s hot.
But this is not all that Satoko seems to know. She then let’s us know that Luann really likes short French guys who she can dominate in bed and that she and Jacques have an open relationship. Then she alleges that Sonja slept with Carole’s ex Russ when she was drunk in L.A. The ladies all say, “Oh, our beauty professionals know all our secrets.” Really? I don’t think so. I think the only insight Satoko has is that she knows how to type “Real Housewives of New York gossip” into Google and can read all the results from the attendant website that traffic in baseless rumors about these women (some of which turn out to be rather true).
Naturally, Kristen takes this information to Crackerjacks and Carole. CJ laughs it off, which is the appropriate response. Carole finds out about Russ and Sonja and tries to do the same, but you can see a look pass over her face like a cloud floating over the sun on a beautiful day. She has a flicker of wondering if it’s true, almost like a realization that these are real people, she is a real person, and this is her actual life that people are messing with right now. It is the look of ambivalence, and no facialist can cover it up.