The Real Housewives of New York City
An ancient system of beliefs handed down from one generation to the next. A set of rules and principles to guide personal life and social interactions. An ethical philosophy developed over centuries of trial and error, evolving into a sophisticated design for living. The Bible? The Koran? The Tao Te Ching? No, friends, I’m speaking of something that has until now only existed in an oral tradition, causing great battles to be fought, wars waged over different ideologies claiming to represent the true Word. Now all that is over. The once-unspoken credo has been given voice, not only in language but set to music. On Watch What Happens Live after this week’s episode of The Real Housewives of New York, Countess LuAnn debuted her new single, “Girl Code (Don’t Be So Uncool),” and changed everything.
Thanks to the Lady De Lesseps, who previously preached to us that “Money Can’t Buy You Class” and “Chic C’est La Vie,” we now have a documentation of the values that govern our interactions. And not a moment too soon. As the New York Housewives left snow-covered Manhattan for tropical Turks and Caicos, there was a lot of tension brewing, and so much of it could have been avoided if the Countess’s single had dropped earlier.
The episode began where last week left off, at the launch party for LuAnn’s new fashion line at the Warwick Hotel. (Only this week we get to see blown-up foam-core boards promoting her cover story in Resident magazine. I know this because I Googled it. All you can see on TV is “R-E-[LuAnn’s hair]-N-T” magazine.) Ramona had bombarded Kristen as soon as she walked in to berate her for bombarding Bethenny as soon as she walked in the week before (a clear double violation of the Girl Code). This is part of Ramona’s new commitment to aligning herself with Bethenny. She is certainly willing to sacrifice any friendship she might have with Kristen, and would probably throw any one of her castmates under the bus if it brings her closer to the Skinnygirl. To be fair, the newly single Ramona is more open to what other people have to say in general. It’s just that she seems to value Bethenny’s opinions head and shoulders above the rest. After an offended Kristen storms off, Dorinda, Heather, and LuAnn call Ramona out on her hypocritical tirade, and Ramona, in her own thick-eaded way, listens. As Dorinda describes ol’ Crazy Eyes, “her intentions are amazing, her applications sometimes shit.”
Astute though that may be, even Ramona’s intentions seem pretty selfish when the gang arrives at Bella Vita, their beach house for the next three episodes. It looks palatial to me, but Ramona runs nervously ahead of the pack, bounding from room to room — Supermarket Sweep style — frantically trying to secure the best for herself and Sonja (Girl Code Violation No. 3). Bethenny says even her 4-year-old is better behaved. Carole is annoyed, too, although amused that all the rooms are exactly the same. Dorinda says they’ve got 50,000 square feet of personality in a 10,000-square-foot house. (Dorinda is clearly the Sophia in the Golden Girls analogy of The Real Housewives of New York, if you figure Bethenny is Dorothy, LuAnn and Carole are Blanche, and “Ramonja” is Rose … Heather’s probably Stan or something, but let’s not get bogged down.)
Back to Ramona’s bad behavior: Even as she’s apologizing to her beloved Bethenny, she continues with the entitled attitude, barking orders at the houseboy she’s got unpacking her luggage. Or is he a butler? Driver? The maid’s husband? Sonja says Ramona will recruit anyone. Regardless, she doesn’t say “please” or “thank you.” Frowny face. Still, I can’t really complain. It all gives Bethenny and Luann something to talk about by the pool and gives us the chance to enjoy both of their Ramona impressions.
Just as LuAnn says, they are all on “the Ramona-coaster.” Even Kristen, on the business end of Hurricane Singer back in New York, is smothered in kisses and compliments in Turks and Caicos when Ramona approves of something she said. That’s the thing: Everybody gets it from Ramona (except Bethenny not as much, because she’s an OG Housewife and she’s a star; a fallen star, maybe, but still more a star than any other New York Housewife, and Ramona respects that). They’re all on the Ramona-coaster together, and for a few magical moments after sunset, with candles glowing everywhere, the ladies congregate around the pool, enjoying cocktails, enjoying each other. They laugh at Ramona in her itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow non-polka-dot bikini and the cheap hooker heels she purloined from Carole.
But then it turns dark. Dinner is served al fresco, but Bethenny and Sonja stay inside.
Now, if I were Bethenny, I might prefer to sit and chat alone with Sonja, too. I might tease her about forgetting her boyfriend’s name, or get her to say things like “homina, homina, homina” about the hot houseboys. Maybe I could get her to admit that her Swami priest is just another New York Yiddish yoga teacher. Maybe I could make her tell me where she got her crazy psychedelic map-of-Manhattan suitcase (“the cheap one with the wheels that get broken when you slam it down”). That’s not what they talk about, though. Sonja is rambling on and on about how she was unfairly accused of hitting on somebody’s husband (Girl Code Violation, obviously), and Bethenny is trying to talk some sense into her. Bethenny has been holding back with Sonja all season. They’ve started to get into it before, like in the Berkshires, but each time, Sonja has been obstinate and defensive (and drunk) and Bethenny has felt there was another level of communication eluding them — if she could just reach Sonja on that deeper plane, she could really make an impact.
But Bethenny’s wrong. Even now, when Bethenny thinks they got somewhere, Sonja tells us Bethenny’s just venting. You can’t solve somebody else’s problems. What’s clear as day to you can be very complicated for the other person. Even if you’re right about every single thing they’re messing up in their lives, people have to get to those realizations on their own, and usually one at a time. That’s the best any of us can hope for.
What we want from our friends (and sister-wives) is support and company, maybe a laugh or two. It’s like the song says: “I’m just doing me. You broke the girl code. So don’t be so uncool. I gotta let you go.”
Of course, that’s hard to do as a Housewife. Act too cool, and you might just find yourself completely cut out of an episode. You’ve got to get on camera, get where the action is. So they try to insert themselves. Everybody wants a piece of Bethenny because she’s the biggest. Sonja is good TV. Ramona knows what part she’s playing. Luann’s lyrics are wise, but then she goes and tries to butt in on the Bethenny-Sonja moment. Not cool at all. And they tell her so in no uncertain terms. But at least now we have the song. Last week, Ramona had never even heard of “bros before hos.”