Hello, dear RHONY fans. I’m delighted to be back substitute-recapping for you again. (Brian Moylan got tied up on Fire Island and will be back as soon as he remembers his safe word.) I don’t know about you, but I absolutely loved the first installment of the season’s New York reunion. While the actual broadcast eased its way into the meat of things, beginning with Andy kissing Ramona hello in the middle of her curling her hair, here in this recap, I just want to dive right into the drama.
The first area of friction to be broached was the Bethenny/Heather conflict, to which those unversed in Housewife Social Rituals might respond, “What Bethenny/Heather conflict?” seeing how they made peace rather early on in the season. True, there is no actual bone of contention between the two, but that doesn’t mean there’s no tension. I do believe Bethenny got over her initial annoyance with Heather, and I also believe Bethenny still doesn’t give a crap about Heather either way. That drives Heather crazy. Heather is kind of obsessed with Bethenny. Maybe it’s as calculated as it seemed when Bethenny first rejoined the show at the beginning of the season, like Heather knows Bethenny’s ascended to the top of the Real Housewife stratosphere and wants to hitch her wagon to Skinnygirl, Inc. That may have been the origin of the obsession, but I think at some point Heather full-on crossed over to a Single White Female kind of thing.
Some bits of this are rehashed in clips of Heather trying a little too hard to get Bethenny to eat meatballs — somehow weirder than it sounds. But the slickly edited flashback package is totally unnecessary; Heather’s nosy butting-in-skiness boils over right there in the reunion studio (the, we’re assured, “swanky” ballroom of the Edison Hotel, which, red carpet notwithstanding, is the former site of the “Polish Tea Room,” a recently closed Times Square–area diner renowned for its cantankerous waitstaff and competitively priced cabbage soup). Heather can’t stop herself from answering questions for Bethenny, and interrupting Bethenny to offer her own commentary on Bethenny’s story lines and, of course, bringing up old bad blood between Bethenny and LuAnn in an effort to sabotage their relationship, Fatal Attraction–style. Carol actually helps out on the latter, but that’s just about sabotaging LuAnn in general — more on that shortly. I gotta say, I loved it. I always thought Heather was crazy and annoying. I enjoyed watching her eat humble pie, publicly “retiring” her ten-years-too-late poser of a catchphrase, “Holla,” and I was thrilled to see Bethenny calling her out again after months of them making nice. It was better now, though. If Bethenny hadn’t come to a truce with Heather earlier in the season, she would have looked bad. Now that Bethenny has reestablished herself as the relatable protagonist (the Carrie, if you will), she has the wiggle room to be harshly critical of the others again without becoming unlikable (again). And wiggle she should, looking hot in a tight pair of black sequined pants with a fab new shorter hairdo. Wait, am I the one obsessed with her? Maybe so, but my money’s on Heather to boil the bunny. I guess, in the Sex and the City analogy, Heather is like that teenager who used to work for Sam who throws the Hamptons party when they get crabs. Or maybe she’s just the crabs.
Oh yeah, before I forget: Apparently Hillary Clinton is a big fan of Dorinda. Where does one even begin?
Naturally, as was the case all season, there was a sloppy, inconsiderate, half-assed and uncaring intervention for Sonja’s drinking. Have none of these people seen Intervention? There’s actually a process to do this right. You don’t help someone with a problem by casually ribbing them about it every once in a while and then getting bored and dropping the subject. I will give Heather credit here for saying, very rightly, “This is so far beyond my pay grade.” Andy tried to quiet some of the excess noise on this and say to Sonja plainly, “A lot of your friends are worried about you,” but she refused to acknowledge the simple truth of that and continued her frantic defense of, “You guys party, too.”
Unfortunately for Sonja, that led her to bring up the good old days at Studio 54 with her BFFs Madonna and John John Kennedy, which tripped a wire in Carole’s advanced missile defense system and started Girl War III. Carole was very offended that Sonja would say John John was a partier. He was not a partier and he’s not here to defend himself, and no one who knew him called him John John. Oh, right, Radziwill, Carole Radziwill. That’s a Kennedy thing. Maybe you all remembered this already? I think I fell asleep for a couple of seasons while Bethenny was gone, so I had to look it up. Yes, Carole’s late husband Anthony Radziwill was the son of Polish Prince Something Somebody Radziwill and Lee Bouvier Radziwill, Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s sister, so that makes Carole’s late husband first cousins with John John. I tried Googling around a bit, and I guess they were close, so maybe Carole does have the right to be pissed at Sonja. On the other hand, it’s not like Sonja said anything bad about John John. And also, it’s Sonja. No one believes her about much of anything. As a matter of fact, if your goal is to convince the world that John F. Kennedy Jr. was not at all a partier, the best plan of action is probably to have Sonja tell everyone he was.
Sonja was basically the Ramona of the episode — so infuriating, but you kinda can’t hate her. Ramona herself was pretty silent, almost as quiet as Kristen (Taekman, not Johnston … how fitting that I should have to specify!). When the subject of Sonja rudely shutting everyone out in the rain came up, I was about to start judging her, too, but then she said "foyer" with the French pronunciation and just looked so pleased with herself in that little updo and I couldn’t help but smile. Even better, in the midst of the Great Battle Royale between the Princess and the Countess, when an accusation of sleeping with Alastair the houseboy was lobbed at LuAnn, Sonja jumped right into the fray, piping in, “Everybody who did Alastair, raise your hand.” Maybe she does drink too much, but she’s a good-time girl!
So, finally, on to the aforementioned Battle Royale. Carole is in a relationship with LuAnn’s niece’s ex-boyfriend. That’s reality. Maybe it was wrong of Carole to pursue something with LuAnn’s niece’s ex, maybe that’s a violation of the Girl Code, and maybe LuAnn had a right to be angry. Maybe Carole should have been more sensitive and apologetic about that. But that’s in the past. Carole and Adam’s relationship continues in the present. I think that kind of trumps its questionable origins. Maybe not? Maybe LuAnn’s niece was really hurt? But if that’s the truth, as LuAnn now claims, it seems a little convenient in LuAnn’s case against Carole. At best, LuAnn has been conflating the issues. Was she mad about Carole breaking the Girl Code, or was it, as she often remarked, that you don’t sleep with the help (Adam was working as LuAnn’s chef when he met Carole)? Or was it, as LuAnn also often remarked, that Adam is too young for Carole?
LuAnn may have had a real grievance, but she couldn’t resist going for catty sound bites against Carole, and now it’s backfired because those issues don’t hold legitimate weight, and it diminishes LuAnn’s potentially valid point. Another unfortunate consequence of things getting so ugly between the two of them is that it makes it hard to say who they are in the more peaceful Sex and the City firmament. Maybe Carole is Miranda and LuAnn is Samantha — or, no, that’s not right, because Sam would own her promiscuity. Maybe Carole is Charlotte and LuAnn is Miranda, which leaves Sam still open for, oh, I don’t know, I mean, we are all all the signs of the Zodiac, don’t you think? Anyway, it’s turned into such a nasty volley of mutual slut-shaming. Why's it gotta be that way?
I suspect this is one of those rumored Real Housewife fiascos where there’s a real fight between two ladies behind the scenes and the b.s. on camera is just a stand-in for what’s actually going on, with diverted anger and hurt fueling fights not about the real issue on the surface. Remember, the reunion is shot months after the season’s production has ended. What else has gone down? At the reunion, before they’d even all said hello, Carole was rolling her eyes just because LuAnn mentioned she’d been singing a lot. It’s not like LuAnn was even bragging. She does sing a lot. Maybe she sings poorly, maybe nobody likes it, but you can’t deny that she’s singing. No, no, no. There is something else going on there. Maybe we’ll find out more next week? Or the week after? Or maybe it’ll be like Caroline Manzo’s offense at Teresa Giudice calling her as Italian as the Olive Garden … fiction.