Bethenny Frankel is good at many things: delivering a snappy one-liner; using her television appearances for product placement; and hiring the right designers/decorators/stylists to give her a life that I covet from her flannel shirt and construction boots to her green-and-white sideboard. There is one thing, however, that she is awful at: birthday parties. Remember that year Jason Hoppy threw her a birthday party and she spent most of it crying in the bathroom? Or what about last year, when she threw a birthday party and Ramona almost broke a hip dancing on the table, and then Kristen got all bent out of shape that she wasn't invited? What disasters!
This year's party in the Hamptons was the worst yet. Not only that, but the Real Housewives Institute had to update it's official ranking of Best/Worst Housewives Parties of All Time. It now goes:
- Dinner Party From Hell featuring vaping apparition Allison DuBois.
- Taylor Armstrong's birthday party with the "You stole my house" fight in the limo.
- Bethenny's Hampton's birthday party.
Let's first look at the good parts of the party, namely that it was a perfect fall day for sitting around fire pits, enjoying the brisk air, and then curling up on the couch under a blanket to watch the four episodes of The Good Wife you have saved on the DVR. Second, there was a meat shed. I want to make $100 million just so I can put a shed up in my front yard expressly for the purpose of having warm, smoked meat for me and my guests whenever I want it. Who doesn't want a meat shed? (Jules, but that is a different story.) Also, the Skinny Girl signage was at a minimum and the drinks were amply available.
Now we must discuss the bad, which mostly has to do with Dorinda's boyfriend, John, Julia Roberts's wig in Mother's Day. Everyone is still reeling in the aftermath of what happened at Dorinda's bra party, where Bethenny told Dorinda to stop selling John to everyone and then the boyfriend in question showed up and doused everyone in his vile stench, much like one of those YouTube videos of a dermatologist popping giant zits. (Sorry, there is no way in hell I am Googling that to put a link here. Go find one yourself.)
Dorinda brings John, a half-collapsed SpongeBob Squarepants piñata full of belches, to the party even though he wasn't invited and Bethenny would rather see her ex-husband having drinks with the plaintiff of the Skinny Girl lawsuit than see this man at her birthday party. The game plan is for John to show up, immediately apologize to Bethenny, and then fade into the background. That does not happen. He shows up wearing a gourd-colored sweater, looking like a caved-in jack-o-lantern on November 19, and then just bumbles around like a drunk bee that can't find his hive. He obviously doesn't want to be there and is all, "Ugh, we're going right into this hell pit" as soon as they arrived.
Of course, everyone snubs him. Carole doesn't want to talk to him and says he looked "all sweaty and misshapen," which is such an accurate and cutting description that only a writer could come up with it. Ramona says good-bye and gives air kisses to everyone around him, but then ices him out while he stands there like a giant halal-meat kabob at a vegan potluck.
Now, the Real Penitents of Crotch Rot Abbey is mostly a show about people apologizing to each other, seeking apologies that they feel are deserved and rating the apologies once they are given. This show has more "sorrys" than the Parker Brothers warehouse, and John's was one of the all-time worst. It starts out simple enough, but, as Bethenny quickly discerns, he isn't really apologizing for anything. He is just supplicating himself to keep the peace. Bethenny immediately asks him what he was apologizing for and he has no answer. All he can do is lash out with attitude and swagger, all of which backfires.
Bethenny Frankel is an excellent Housewife and she can smell bullshit like Andy Cohen can smell a muscle twink with daddy issues. She knows John was full of it and she calls him out. She was also correct when he showed up with a supposed "smoking gun" about her stealing the name of her company from SkinnyCow, but he didn't have his facts straight. He doesn't have them straight this time, either, and Bethenny slices and dices him like so many julienned carrots in a SlapChop commercial.
Eventually, after some discussion with Dorinda, Bethenny wants everything to be square between her and John, the foreskin of a melted marshmallow, so she goes over and shouts at him that they're fine now, but she's only doing it because she loves Dorinda. They both say fine, but you can hear the hatred in their voices. Until now, I have never heard anyone say, "Happy Birthday" and make it sound like, "Fuck you."
At the very same party, Carole is trying to avoid Countess Crackerjacks, which is really the most adult way to handle an awkward situation. Oh wait, I forgot that Luann brought a hula hoop to the party. Who brings a hula hoop to a party? It's one thing if you got mad hula-hoop skillz and you want to show them off, but Luann hula-hooping looks exactly like Luann trying to ride a camel.
Crackerjacks finally confronts Carole and says that they should just start fresh and Carole is pissed because starting fresh means her ignoring all the shit that Luann said about her and her boyfriend, Adam. I'm totally on Carole's side with this one. Luann acted like a jackass and doesn't want to apologize for it, so it's perfectly acceptable for Carole to civilly withhold her friendship when they have to see each other. I'm going to pretend that #ImWithHer is really about Carole because I'd rather see that on my Facebook feed three dozen times a day than all of these political articles that everyone is posting. Can't we just go back to those blissful few months when everyone was just sharing Which Iconic Madonna Outfit Are You quizzes?
Anyway, the awful birthday party is followed up the next day by an awful brunch at Jules's house. Now, I know I can't criticize Jules until next episode (according to the rules of the Eileen Davidson Accord), but I can criticize her house. First of all, who wants an indoor pool to be the focal point of their entire house? Well, Jules's husband, Pizza Box, does. (Other things Pizza Box wants: to be considered handsome, more bagels, to be taller than Ramona Singer.) Apparently, he likes humidity and the smell of chlorine pervading every single room. Going to an indoor pool is like sitting in the penis pocket of F. Lee Bailey's briefs on the hottest day of the O.J. Simpson trial. No, thank you.
Also, don't invite people over for brunch when there is construction happening at your house at that very minute. Sure, it's okay to have friends over when your place is a bit of a mess, but can't you send the workers away for a few minutes when you serve your schmear while wearing a nameplate necklace (strategically worn so that viewers at home will know who you are)? Yes, Bethenny acts a bit rude by telling them to get their house together so it won't take seven years to finish, but also, get your house together, man!
The brunch is horrendously awkward because Bethenny wants nothing to do with John, and Carole wants nothing to do with Luann, who showed up late (as usual) with a man who looked like he played a doctor for 30 years on your aunt's favorite soap opera. Carole and Bethenny make a beeline for the door, mostly because they now know that John is deathly allergic to bees.
As they cackled on the way to their Mercedes, there was some rustling in the woods, not unlike the wind moving through the crackling husks of the last summer leaves. Something was moving with intent in those woods, something that had a purpose. She crouched down low to the ground, holding a box in her hand that had one glowing red button and a long antenna that jutted out. She was waiting for the exact moment for the car to hit its mark, the leaf-covered gully where she placed the device. It had to be timed perfectly.
But as the car slowly lurched down the dirt road, she heard it coming through the windows, those peals of inimitable laughter — two women on the same wavelength enjoying each other's company. It reminded her of all those times: the cocktails by her pool in the Hamptons, the front rows of fashions shows where they clutched each other's arms not for support but for camaraderie, those long nights lying on the couch talking about how they could fix Bethenny's future. It all came back to her like a draft slamming a door shut. That's when she realized that she missed it. The car was too far down the road and she didn't have a backup plan. A cloud streaked itself over the sun so slowly that she thought she could hear its colliding water molecules grinding above her, and she realized that her chance would come again. She would get another some day, but it was not going to be this day. As the dried leaves raked across her moccasins, she pushed the antenna down on her detonator and put it back in her pocket. Jill Zarin would just have to wait. Another day. Another day.
A previous version of this recap mixed up Taylor Armstrong's birthday party with Kyle Richards's first White Party.