Ben Rimalower here, popping across the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey to fill in for Brian Moylan. He's unavailable for undisclosed reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the record-breaking heat and humidity in New York City. I, on the other hand, am here no matter the weather. Let's crank up the AC and escape to cooler times, back when this episode of RHONY was shot. So what if they're on location in Miami? Still looks cooler than Manhattan right now.
I'm pretty excited to step in for Brian at this climactic moment, the penultimate episode of the season, with so much drama coming to a head. Specifically, the head Luann's fiancé Tom may or may not have been receiving from some woman at the Regency Hotel, as documented photographically (and conveniently) by a friend of Bethenny's. Said woman was not only not Luann, but not even Ramona or Sonja, both of whom have also been involved with Tom.
If that seems like bullying to you, we're on the same page because this week's entire episode feels like a flagrant display of high-school antics. I don't mean this as a criticism — I kept imagining myself in their homeroom and wondering which of the girls I'd be closest to. Bethenny? No, Carole. Maybe Luann? No, Bethenny. OMG Dorinda!
Just like in high school, the drama swirls around the question of who was with whose man. We spend a lot of time continuing last week's hullabaloo over what Luann knew when she began dating Tom. Did she know he had known Ramona and Sonja in the biblical sense, or at least like-liked them and got to maybe second or third base? It seems safe to say that Ramona and Tom dated and Sonja and Tom were friends with benefits for something between one night and ten years.
All that fades from focus, though, once everyone zeroes in on the bigger news: the incriminating photo that made its way onto Bethenny's phone. I gotta say, I like Luann. I enjoy her and I only want good things to happen to her, but it's hard not to feel happy for Ramona about Luann's misfortune. Forgetting even Ramona's own sketchy history with Tom, she just seems so giddy and delighted about Bethenny's big scoop. Is it nice? No. Is it kind? Hell no. But how could something that feels so right for Ramona be wrong? It's like watching a little kid open presents on Christmas morning when you know the toys were made by underpaid laborers halfway around the world.
After getting the news about Luann's fiancé from Bethenny, Ramona goes back to her room nothing short of euphoric. She is downright giddy and cannot contain her joy, speaking her thoughts aloud for the benefit of the camera: "Do I even tell Sonja this? Ay ay ay." The buffoonish moment when she tries the wrong room key and lets out a humble little "nope" as she switches to the other one is pretty adorable, too.
In the race to see just how immature these women can be, the frantic scrambling to save seats during the trip's big dinner is second only to the bitchy squabbling when half of the group is 90 minutes late. And here's the high-school-iest thing of all: Although Ramona's been forbidden to tell Luann what she knows because it's Bethenny's thing, she can't stop herself from asking leading questions, batting her crazy doe eyes as she inquires, "Did you and Bethenny chat? How was it?" Of course, Ramona knows full well that Bethenny and Luann's conversation was awkward. If she's truly on such "pins and needles" about it, why even go there? Why not just make small talk about the nail polish they're going with or whether Dorinda has a drinking problem? It's a good thing Ramona's had so many injectables or I doubt she'd be able to keep as straight a face as she does.
Even more telling is Bethenny. Despite all the shit she gives Ramona about her blabber mouth — and despite all her own hemming and hawing over the burden of the Luann gossip — she asks Lu whether she and Tom are monogamous. It's a question that everyone, including Bethenny, agrees is weird outside the context of Tom's philandering. Again, if you're dreading this, why drop the hint?
Because they are all relishing this! It's the most fun they've had all season. And frankly, it's the most fun I've had watching them. I wasn't bored for a minute this episode. And my feelings of goodwill trickled down. I kept thinking how sweet lil' Sonja is and how just plain gorgeous Jules is — that hair and makeup when they go out to dinner? OMG. And Dorinda? I mean, maybe she is the village idiot, as Bethenny so eloquently barked. I mean, that whole Sandbar routine!
What are we doing?
Where is it?
Is there food?
It reminded me of 2003, when my then-roommate and I first got wireless internet. He was home for the installation, then went out and got drunk. Turns out there was an issue with the modem and I couldn't get online so I called him. He just kept belligerently slurring at me, "Click on the E." I obviously knew how to launch Internet Explorer, but he didn't seem to get that and wouldn't stop braying, "Click on the E. Click on the E." Sandbar.
The point is the strong tide of entertainment carried them all. Even Dorinda's Sandbar tickled me.
And then the synchronicity of Luann and Bethenny calling Tom at the same time (or was that just good editing?) makes me wonder if this is one of the most staged moments in Housewives history. But if that were the case, why invite Romero, the artist who looks like Richard Simmons? If it were fake, wouldn't the planned evening have been planned better?
Whatever is set up, Luann and Bethenny's tears after the beans finally spill ring very true. I highly doubt either one of them has the acting chops to cry so convincingly for alternate camera angles in response to something true, let alone for a made-up scenario. So, I guess, high-school squabbles aside, these Housewives seem very real to me, and this season will go down as one of my all-time favorites. Your thoughts?