The Real Housewives of New York City
There are no more sides. These women and their arguments can no longer be drawn onto opposite couches facing each other or opposite ends of a battlefield where they lob grenades of verbal mustard gas over a barbed-wire-lined no man’s land. Fans no longer want to sit on one couch or the other as they face off in a never-ending skirmish. There is nowhere we want to sit. There is no one to root for. There are no #teams.
It’s like a boxing match between Hitler and Osama bin Laden: If you root for one of them, you are a monster, and if you root against one of them, you’re still rooting for a monster. The only way that we can win is if they both lose or if they both go away, sucked into the Butthole of Doom that has been seated next to Mr. Andrew J. “Andy” Cohen, the Don King to this whole miserable affair.
Everyone who is right is also wrong. I don’t believe that Carole acts differently around Bethenny than she does around the other women, and I also believe that she lets her personality get subsumed by Bethenny. But is that Carole’s fault? You can’t see any of the stars next to the moon because it is so much brighter, but that doesn’t mean the stars aren’t there or doing their best to get noticed.
Sonja T. Morgan of the No More Tears Shampoo Morgans is absolutely right to be upset that her friends didn’t care about her feelings by not inviting her to the Berkshires. Dorinda is totally right not to invite her because the exploding zeppelin of Bethenny’s anger would have ruined her for life, like an irreversible lobotomy. Sonja is also wrong to get up and threaten to leave the show and pretend like it was the end of the world. It’s not even the biggest overreaction of the week, since we live in a country where Hillary Clinton is pronounced dead because she had walking pneumonia and an NFL player who refuses to stand for the national anthem supposedly threatens the sovereignty of our country.
See what I mean? There is no right choice. There is no safe harbor for the sane in a world where logic, emotion, and good sense don’t operate. There is no moral high ground when the ground has been littered by the rotting compost of a million designer dresses, bottles of off-brand prosecco, and RadarOnline stories that your mother printed out and mailed to you to make sure that you saw that Luann’s fiancé was still cheating on her or some other such nonsense. The Butthole of Doom has swallowed us all. We now live in a parallel universe of dung people.
Which brings us to the mutually assured destruction of Bethenny Frankel and the Former Countess Luann D’Agostino. (Is it funny that she has “duh” in the middle of her last two names?) There is so much right and so much wrong with both of them. Is Bethenny right to tell Luann about the pictures of Tom making out with another woman in public? Yes. Is Luann being absurd by expecting Bethenny to find a better way of telling her about them? Yes. Did Bethenny need to be so condescending, mean, and angry while talking about the whole thing? Absolutely not, and she’s proving Luann’s point.
It can all be summed up in one exchange. After Luann says that Bethenny should have talked to Dorinda about the pictures so Dorinda could tell Luann, Bethenny remarks, “Well, next time I get pictures of my friends fiancé making out with another woman I’ll know exactly what to do.” Luann thinking that Bethenny should go and talk to Dorinda about it because Dorinda knows her best is kind of ridiculous. That’s not the way the world works. You go and talk to people who are closest to you and get their counsel yourself.
But Bethenny has a good point: She talked to Carole and Ramona about it because she was unsure how to handle such an uncommon situation. But couldn’t she point that out to Luann without sarcasm dripping off her words like melting ice cream that gums up the side of your cone making it all soggy and unappealing? To make it worse, she later resorts to that trite aphorism of high-school history teachers everywhere about opinions and assholes. You can’t really blame her, since she was staring into that enormous chocolate Cyclops on the table next to her, but still. If you’re going to be witty, at least be actually witty.
During a flashback to the first part of the reunion (this thing has gone on so long that we need sepia-toned reminders of past accusations) when Luann mentioned that Bethenny was dating a married man and Bethenny responded with her usual venom, it reminded me that they were both despicable throughout this entire reunion. The Countess was gross because of the content of her arguments and Bethenny was toxic because of the delivery of hers.
So, which is worse? It’s like the old debate about nature versus nurture, except both of them lead to offspring that have faces like sea horses, bodies like paralyzed pigs, and personalities like Charles Manson bombing at an amateur stand-up comedy night. It doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong when everything is just awful. It should all be lit on fire so that we can stand around, warming our fingers and hearts next to the blaze.
The worst, however, is when both Sonja and Bethenny threaten to get up and walk out of the reunion. That threat is so empty it makes a Justin Guarini concert look packed to the rafters. It’s like when a teenager threatens to run away from home. You know these women aren’t going anywhere because they’re not only obligated but they have nowhere else to go. They’re never going to willingly give up their place on that couch, not for real. It’s all just a show, a way to try to hold on to some control, like if you’re riding an elephant on your Thai vacation and it starts to stampede and you grab its neck to prolong falling off and getting trampled but it’s an inevitability.
That’s the thing I don’t understand about Bethenny Frankel. She is a smart person. She is very quick and often has funny things to say. How does Bethenny not know that this ends badly? It’s like Pablo Escobar at the start of his career. (Yes, I just watched Narcos and it’s amazing.) How does he not know that his chosen profession, no matter how much he excels at it, ends with incarceration or death?
The stakes aren’t as high for Bethenny, but doesn’t she realize that one day this whole thing will explode in her face like Wile E. Coyote trying to detonate a pyramid of TNT? She was the only one that got the happy ending. She walked away with $120 million dollars and never had to go back on television again, but she can’t stay away. Now fans are flocking away from her and the women refuse to play her game and she’s seemingly ruined the good thing she had going. Well, maybe not ruined, but she at least put a decent-sized bruise in it that will take a while to heal.
That’s the image we’re left with: Bethenny bruised and seemingly like she’s over it, like she’s rethinking her decision to return to this dog-and-pony show. Yes, Andy tries to go around the horn and make all the women say something nice about each other and end it with a group hug like they’ve all been at sleepaway camp together and this is the last night. But Bethenny doesn’t want to join in the hug. Maybe she was reaching for a tissue or her mic was stuck on the couch or something. Who really knows what was going on, but it looked like everyone was standing over her trying to put their squabbles away and she was sitting on the couch choosing not to participate. She’s over it or under it. She’s on all sides of it. She’s upside down and round and round. There are no real sides anymore, just a flat plain of destruction, and when you’re standing in the middle of an empty field that’s when the lightning strikes you the hardest.