The Real Housewives of New York City
You know that feeling you get when you’re watching your favorite team lose or listening to someone on Fox News or doing anything at all with your health insurance? It’s a feeling in the legs, both light and heavy at the same time. It’s a tingling, like a barely contained twitch. It’s as if the only thing keeping your legs from running around the room while kicking and destroying everything below waist level is one little shred of human decency that you’re not willing to sacrifice at the gross injustice you are watching. That’s the feeling I get whenever Aviva Drescher’s face is on my television screen.
As the vice-president of operations of the Real Housewives Institute, I have watched every single iteration of every single franchise in the wifestory of wifekind. I have hated many a Housewife. I hated Lauri Peterson with her Chilean mine of a nose. I hated Kenya Moore with her brand of shrewd insanity. I hated Teresa Giudice, a lace-front wig given life by a magic charge card that she has no intention of paying. But none, not a single one of them, have I hated like I hate Aviva Drescher.
My problem with Aviva, and it was demonstrated on this part of the reunion, is that she stands for absolutely nothing. It’s like biting into a Snickers bar only to find out that it’s a hollow candy shell that has tricked you all along. It makes sense that Aviva was trained as a lawyer because she argues like one. She just finds whichever pieces of evidence are convenient for her and delivers them like they are truth. She does not believe them. She does not believe that saying that Carole was 50 was a compliment. She knew it was an insult when she delivered it. The same thing happened when she compared Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Guess Jeans Morgans to Anna Nicole Smith. That was nothing but mean-spirited and meant to telegraph that she was a drunk gold-digger.
This is not necessarily behavior that is unique to Aviva, but what I find to be especially loathsome about her is that there is there is no philosophy or guiding principle behind what she does. She is just doing it to win in some vague way. She is doing it so that she will look good (question mark) and be right and be on a reality show. That is her only drive, and it is crass and craven.
There were two truly telling parts of the reunion last night that had nothing to do with Aviva’s leg (which I will only discuss to say that it was totally planned and rehearsed, and no matter what she says, she scripted the m—er f—er out of it).
The first was when she attacked Heather for talking like she’s “from prison” or “from the ghetto.” What Heather was really doing was swearing. Heather has a bit of swag that might come off like she’s trying to be hip-hop, but it’s really hip-hop in the way that it has been appropriated by white people for the better part of the last decade. She’s not trying to be “street,” she’s trying to be modern; and that modernity, for better or worse, contains more than a smidgen of black culture. Heather is not trying to fool anyone into thinking she’s from Compton (though Copiague is no Lindenhurst or Massapequa Park). What Aviva is really accusing her of is swearing and pretending like she’s over it. But then, when discussing the leg toss, she says she felt, “Well, F word this S word.” Now, does that mean Aviva thinks she’s street? How does she accuse someone of something in one breath and then do it the next? Because she is awful.
The second thing was when Ramona asked her a very appropriate and very insightful question. Ramona asked her how Aviva can be so nice and so vile at the same time. Basically, what Ramona was saying was that Aviva was nice to Ramona and then turned on her. Then she was nice to Carole and Heather and turned on them. If she has done this twice, what can we see in the pattern of how she treats people? Well, all Aviva heard was the word vile, and then she said, “The conversation ended when you called me a name.” This is after she has spent the last three hours calling people all sorts of names or somehow impugning their character in different ways, but then when someone calls her a name, oh, the conversation is off.
The only reason she ended it is because this conversation would entail her to have some sort of insight into herself and how she thinks and acts towards other people. I would hate to say that Aviva is incapable of doing that, because I would hate to think that any human is incapable of looking at herself and her behaviors and accounting for them. I just think that Aviva has no interest in doing it. There is no good explanation for why she behaves like she does. She has no real reason, and if she had actually answered Ramona’s question, the answer would have been found lacking. Instead of saying all that, she just deflects the question on a point of order.
Strangely, the only winners in this final part of the reunion were Heather, who should be given an award for her extremely precise use of “m—er f—er,” and, strangely enough, Ramona Singer. Next to Aviva, Ramona was the villain of the second part of this triptych, but she redeemed herself here. First, she had her insightful question to Aviva. Then, at the end, she said what she had learned from this season. “I need to understand people for who they are and not for how I would act.” Whoa, that is a breakthrough for Ramona. Did she come up with that on the spot? If so, her powers of perception are far better than I have ever given her credit for. At least she’s realized this. There may never be a plan for implementation, but she’s improving!
But the only one who got any real emotion out of me — well, other than anger — is Heather. Heather has a son who suffers from all sorts of medical problems, and that is just sad. It is sad and heartbreaking and real and awful, and I would do anything to wave my magic fairy wand and make it not happen anymore. But, as all the women pointed out, Heather handles it with such strength and grace that she is unbelievable. And here these women are, fighting over their wet hair and what awful things the facialist said and whether or not they got invited to a party. Meanwhile, Heather has a son who could lose his hearing. Do they not see the contrast? Do they not see that one of these is a real concern and the other one is a ball gown missing a bead?
As far as the season goes, Heather didn’t really have an exciting one, but she got in some tussles and stood her ground and that was plenty entertaining. Heather continues to be the most genuine person on the show, a thankless act if there ever was one. Countess Crackerjacks also had a good season, kicking back into her new role, not giving too much of a m—r f—er, and putting up her dukes when she needed to. These two were the winners.
Carole gets a draw. She was finally at the center of the drama and defended herself nicely against Hashtag BookGate, but I’m worried this makes her a real Real Housewife now. I liked her so much more when she was above it all. I don’t want to see her get her pink satin dress with a built-in cape dirty with all the mudslinging. Kristen is also a draw since she did improve drastically, but, well, Josh. Ramona is in the same category. She’s just bopping along, like a pair of eyes floating around after Pac-Man devoured her with his power pellet. She’s just being her same old self, being blithely awful and getting away with it.
I wouldn’t say Sonja was a loser this season, because she is still my favorite floozy and provides fun and laughs like no one else. I’d rather watch Sonja be boring than watch any of these other ladies be exciting. But I think we wrap the season with everyone thinking she’s delusional, which isn’t good. I know Sonja T. Morgan will set it all right.
But Aviva is the real loser, a dried-up snakeskin sitting in the grass unable to move and unable to strike, but still seeped in plenty of venom. She is reprehensible, pathological, and another really bad adjective that I will fill in someday but I’m still to filled with rage to think of now. She wasn’t a villain, because a villain has a plan or at least a want. She was just a black cloud of malevolence, a swarm of locusts willing to pick apart every morsel of decency. No one wants her around any more. That’s the thing about awful people: They eventually find a way to ruin things for themselves.
After all of the women did their shots with Andy and they all snaked their microphones out of their borrowed dresses and picked up their too-large purses, everyone left the Hammerstein Ballroom and saw a line of black SUVs backing up West 34th Street toward the Hudson. Andy walked them all out; it was the least he could do after this grueling day. He put them each in a car and gave them cheek kisses, telling them that he would see them all soon and nodding politely to their demands and requests, his manic smile perma-plastered on his face.
Finally, the last Escalade pulled away and it was one of those sorts of hot New York evenings when the hum of the city is intense and it feels like everyone is going to some tiki bar that you’ve never heard of but is definitely the coolest place in town at the moment. Andy decided to walk home the 30-plus blocks to the West Village. It was that kind of night, and he had some phone calls to make.
He started down Eighth Avenue, past that long stretch of stairs in front of that old post office where tourists, weary commuters, and the few dregs left in Manhattan congregate. There was a psychic set up on one corner, her little table covered in a white lace tablecloth, a crystal ball, some candles, and a set of Tarot cards. “Want a reading?” she said to Andy, holding out her craggy hand. He tried to pretend like he was looking at his phone, but he was just avoiding contact.
As he walked by, a huge gust of wind came in from somewhere, maybe the river, drunk with the reflections of sunset hues, maybe New Jersey, with its deep marshes and huge chemical reactions stored in drums, or maybe Oz. The table rose up and blew over, sending the candles crashing, the crystal ball rolling wobbily toward the gutter, and the cards scattered, like a handful of seeds being tossed into a field or a group of birds all hunting the same small prey. Andy stopped to look at the commotion, and one card fluttered and landed at his feet. He could see a drawing, but little else. Just as it came, it blew away again, before he could tell what card it was, before he could see what the future holds.