The Real Housewives of New York City
The funny thing about the Real Black Holes of the Andromeda Galaxy is that they’ve been around so long that, here at the Real Housewives Institute, we have historical footage of them. Look, there is Avery hiding in the closet and talking about what a pain her mother is. Over here we see the last time Countess Crackerjacks was in Ramona’s house. Her hairstyle is exactly the same, and the statement necklace has changed, but time has marched on, leaving behind Jill Zarin and making us forget her altercation with Bethenny in the dragon’s lair. Then there’s the reams and reams of tape we have on Kelly Killoren Bensimon, the Lady of Shellac, from the infamous “I’m up here and you’re down here” speech to her meltdown on Scary Island, where she ate a batch of poisoned Gummi Bears and spouted prophesies about Don King and satchels of gold.
We go back so far with these women, which is odd because this show is really only about the squabble of the moment. They’re just really obsessed with who is currently talking to whom, who was or was not in attendance at the latest party, and how drunk has Sonja been getting lately. This is a show that is always about the present, but when that is compared to the past, it sort of puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it? It adds dimensions to the interactions, like the frothy layers of Barbarella’s hair, building forever skyward in an intricate enmeshing of strands.
There was nothing more present than the argument in the Hamptons about which brunch the women were going to go to. First of all, it definitely seems like there are factions in the cast. There are the cool girls — Heather, Carole, Luann, and Kristen — and then there are the crazies — Ramona, Sonja, and Dorinda. Bethenny is just floating above it all, like an Ariel the Little Mermaid kite that got stuck in a tree in Sheep’s Meadow with a screaming child standing beneath it.
Ramona holds a brunch, and the cool girls all go to Bethenny’s first. It wasn’t so much a brunch at Bethenny’s as it was a Skinny Girl–branded marketing event. There were bars and blenders, drinks and douches, supplements and suppositories, everything with that little stick figure emblazoned on it, ready to remind us that, yes, Bethenny has made a whole lot of money. The conversation is very pleasant, and the women are discussing Sonja Tremont Morgan of the South Bend Olive Garden Morgans and her lack of focus when it comes to business matters. Bethenny, with her MBA (which, in her case, stands for “Major Bitch Attitude”), thinks that she can focus Sonja and get her life on track. Good luck. Trying to focus Sonja is not so much like herding cats as it is trying to keep a stampede of cockroaches from skittering for the cabinets when you turn the lights on. Actually, no. It’s like trying to hurry one of those ghosts from Mario World that will only move when Mario isn’t looking at it, and, even then, it just sort of floats aimlessly.
Anyway, the cool girls need to go to Ramona’s brunch. She gets there early with her posse, and they are discussing Ramona’s argument with Bethenny, which still makes little sense to me. Sonja is pushing Ramona about what she did to piss Bethenny off so much, and she’s trying to say that she didn’t do anything. Sonja just won’t believe that and keeps pushing for a real reason, because come on, as flighty as she is, Sonja is not dumb and knows better than anyone how Ramona rolls. Dorinda says that she can’t take the back and forth between these two. Already, lady? If she can’t handle this, she really doesn’t have the constitution for when things get really complicated and the prosthetic legs start flying.
The cool girls show up 90 minutes late to brunch, which is really unacceptable, but there are only so many frittatas one can pretend to eat on any given Sunday, so you have to give them credit for at least trying to be diplomatic and showing up to both brunches. Dorinda and Sonja had to leave as soon as the other crew got there, which, well, whatever. Ramona was left sitting there with her sister Tanya, who was quiet and stoic during all the seat-rearranging and early leaving. She was like one of the faces on Easter Island: calm, majestic, and knowing, keeping everything she’s seen deep inside, letting the wealth of her secrets sink her just a little bit farther into the earth.
I will say this about Dorinda, a baked ziti that has been left in the oven a little bit too long: The more I learn about her, the less I like her. What was up with her at lunch with her boyfriend? First, she hectors him into getting a shrimp salad, and then, when he takes a short business call at lunch, she freaks out and starts yelling at him while he’s on the phone. Yeah, I get it, talking on the phone during a meal is a little bit rude, but this is New York, and people need to attend to their business in the middle of the day. Can’t she take out her own phone, check her Twitter, play a round of Best Fiends, and then pick up the conversation when her man is done with his business call? She sure doesn’t mind spending his money, why not just let him make some while at lunch? Also, screaming about it is only going to ruin the vibe of the whole meal. It’s sort of like letting out a fart in the elevator. It’s going to make you feel better to get it out, but then you have to sit in its stink for the rest of your journey. Don’t even get me started about how she calls over the one black man in the restaurant to ask him to check her coat. Oh, Dorinda, you high heel stuck in a subway grate, you.
I’ve always been a big Bethenny fan, and I still am, but there is something about her this season that is not very likable. It was encapsulated for me at her lunch with Heather and Luann. First of all, Crackerjacks showed up to lunch wearing some sort of fur cape that was covered with fringe that she stole from Stevie Nicks’s dressing room back in ’87, when she was hiding from the law, working as a caterer at an arena somewhere outside of Kalamazoo. This, naturally, was paired with a turquoise necklace, because what goes with a purloined Stevie Nicks cape if not turquoise.
Anyway, Heather is trying to explain to Bethenny her problem with Ramona, and Bethenny just sort of cuts her off and tells her that she doesn’t care and would rather talk about something else. However, Bethenny just got done telling us, in some detail, what her problem with Ramona is. It seems that Bethenny only wants to do what Bethenny wants to do and talk about what Bethenny wants to talk about. She’s been in enough situations lately where she sets the agenda and gets to make the rules, and she’s bringing this to the Housewives. Sorry, she’s not the boss here. She might be the richest, but she is on equal footing with all of these ladies, and to treat them otherwise isn’t necessarily demeaning to them, it’s demeaning to her.
The best lunch of an episode that had more lunches than Andy Cohen’s iPhone has contacts whose last name is “Grindr” was the one at Ramona’s house. First of all, Crackerjacks wore her best statement necklace of the episode, a blue beaded number that looked like Jana of the Jungle was going to rip it off her neck, throw it in the air, and use it to save a leopard that is caught in a poacher’s net. I’m enjoying this new Ramona, who seems much more calm and centered, like she actually learned something from all this Mario mess. It took this public degradation to see what is important in life and how to relinquish a little bit of control. She does seem honestly intent on reforming herself and rebuilding her relationships. Sure, she goes and behaves like an idiot sometimes (she can’t change that much), but at least she’s trying.
Now I guess, we have to talk about Boutique, which is not so much a “singles bar” like you would hear about in a rerun of Three’s Company on TVLand as it is a pilot for 30 Rock’s fictional show MILF Island. Crackerjacks shows up with Kelly Bensimon, whom she ran into at a cocktail party at Omar’s. (Parenthetical on Omar’s: It is the worst. This is some sort of private club downtown, and it is just horrible. The maître d’ at the door is this snooty French guy whom I would like to spit-roast on a baguette, smear with Nutella, and feed to a group of starving schoolchildren. The service is horrible, the food is bad, the seating is cramped, and the crowd is a bunch of pretentious people who pretend like they’re all jewelry designers though none of them actually have real jobs. God, I hate Omar’s.)
I was hoping that Kelly being on the show was going to turn out to be a bigger deal, but it was sort of a non-event (much like Bethenny’s “get off my jock” comment earlier in the episode). Bethenny shows up, sees Kelly, has a flashback to Scary Island, when Kelly terrorized her while being strung out on a potent cocktail of Ambien, stupidity, and watermelon Sour Patch Kids, and then got over it after the Countess told her to just put the whole thing behind her. That was it. Bethenny said hi, and Kelly brayed her toothy bray and sunk into the banquette like a pile of winter coats no one cares enough to check.
We did get to see a lot of Sonja and her new 24-year-old boy-toy, Eric, a German model who looks like someone cast a spell on one of the cards in Dream Date and brought it to life. Either that, or he’s one of the extras from the prom scene in Teen Witch. Carole, who was also at Boutique, says that Sonja isn’t discerning when it comes to men. I beg to differ. On the show, we have seen Sonja hit on all sorts of men, but we have never seen Sonja hit on an ugly man. Sonja is discerning, and she has very good taste when it comes to companions. What Sonja doesn’t have is a type. I always say about myself that I’m far too slutty to have a type, and I think the same is true of Sonja. There is so much male beauty in the world, don’t we all want to taste the rainbow?
I love that most of the cast is actually single, of a certain age, and on the prowl. I don’t think we’ve ever had a show like this before, a bunch of divorced and widowed women in their mumble-mumble-age years who are trying to meet some men and have the fairy-tale life they’ve always dreamed of. Either that, or they just want someone to bang and then bring them a bacon, egg, and cheese from the bodega down the street in the morning before going off to teach their SoulCycle class. It was so funny to watch Ramona hit on all those guys and let loose instead of just opening up her rage hole and fuming at whoever slighted her this week. (Also note that Ramona looks damn good, and she could do a lot better than the guys she was pulling at Boutique.)
Like all fun nights with the girls, this one had to come to an end. They collected their final numbers and punched in their Ubers and all went home to their own lonely apartments. Kelly Bensimon walked out of the club, her high-heeled boots skittering pebbles on the sidewalk as she made her way to the curb and hailed a cab. “Hey there. I’m going to Mott and Broome,” she told the driver as she settled into the seat and took her phone out of her purse. She found the number she wanted in her contacts and waited for an answer on the other end. “It worked just as we planned. Yeah, she was there, and I slipped it into her purse. Now all we have to do is wait. Okay. Okay. Great. I’ll talk to you soon.” Kelly hung up and settled in for the ride downtown, while just a few blocks away, Jill Zarin was standing in her kitchen, and she hung up her phone as well. A huge smile spread over her face as she emptied the rest of the Diet Coke can into her glass. She toasted the glass out toward the window flecked with the evening lights of the city, as if she were cheers-ing Manhattan itself.