The Real Housewives of New York City
I’m beginning to worry a little bit that I no longer understand what the Real Housewives are talking about. At a contentious Hamptons dinner, Ramona says that Bethenny is being a real “BI.” Say what now? Is Bethenny playing a private detective who swings both ways and lives in Hawaii? “This season on CBS, no man or woman is safe when she’s on the case. Bethenny Frankel: BI.” I think she meant to say that she’s being a real “B” as in “bitch,” but no one says “BI.” That’s like saying someone called you the “D-word.” That’s not really a thing. There is not one D-word, there’s like a ton: dick, dildo, dwarf, dolt, douche, dumb ass, dissembler. Should I go on?
The one that is even worse is when Dorinda is at lunch in the vineyard, looking like it is just two degrees too cold to still be sitting outside, and she tells Ramona and Mrs. D’Agastino Crackerjacks that Sonja “has a hard-on for me and now I’ve got a hard-on for her.” Taken out of context, I would believe that means that Dorinda is physically and sexually attracted to Sonja and Sonja is excited in her gigantic lacy Dior granny knickers for Dorinda. But in context, it seems to mean that Dorinda thinks that Sonja is out to get her and now Dorinda is out to get Sonja. Maybe she means she has, like, a hard-on of hatred toward Dorinda. It’s as if Sonja is engorged and tumescent with disgust and now Dorinda is responding in kind. I mean, I get it, but I also don’t get it.
That is my problem with this entire episode. I understand the two major fights of the episode — Bethenny vs. Ramona and Luann, as well as Sonja vs. Dorinda — but I also don’t understand them at all. Are they really about what we’re fighting about or is the history of being forced together for all of these years finally taking its toll?
The fight between Bethenny and Ramona seems to have started when Ramona ham-fistedly brought up Bethenny’s old Skinemax movie, which was apparently making the rounds on RadarOnline or some other internet birdcage liner that caters in Housewives gossip and ephemera. (I visit them all every day.) Rather than just asking Bethenny how she feels about it now that it’s 20 years old — or how she will, eventually, talk to her daughter about it — Ramona turns into a smarmy concern troll and says something like, “Are people bringing this up to your daughter?” Ugh. “Think about the children!” is the worse thing anyone could ever say about anything. Bryn is only 6. (It seems like just yesterday Bethenny was peeing on a stick with an open door on national television.) This is a really gross way to bring the subject up and frame the debate around false concern for Bethenny’s daughter, like being in a movie with her top off in her 20s is going to ruin her child’s reputation for the rest of her life or something.
Meanwhile, Ramona is talking about how she is hanging out with her daughter and all of her sorority sisters and says, “They think of me more as a friend than they do a mother.” Um, no they don’t. That’s something that girls tell their friends’ mothers when they show a little bit too keen of an interest in going out with them to the club and doing shots of Fireball. It’s something that daughters say as karmic retribution for all the times their mothers lied to them and told them, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”
Anyway, the real cause of the fight is that Ramona and Luann think that Bethenny is rude and only wants to talk about herself, which is correct. So yeah, they’re stupid for attacking her about the “sex tape” that isn’t a sex tape at all, but they’re also fundamentally right. They’re especially right when they call Bethenny “wicked” and a “witch” and she gets up and walks out of dinner. Does Bethenny remember what she said about Luann in the Berkshires? Does she remember calling her a snake all of those years ago at Brooklyn Fashion Weekend or whateverthehell? Bethenny has served it up just as cold to these women for the decade that they’ve been in business together. She can’t be getting all mad now that the narrative doesn’t really suit her tastes.
Maybe my problem isn’t that I don’t understand the argument, it’s just that there’s no side in it. There is no one to really support because they’re all awful and they’re all horrible to each other and, unlike the Housewives of Atlanta and Beverly Hills, they don’t seem to enjoy each other’s company at all. They’re just forcing themselves together for the good of the franchise. They’re choking down their Soylent Green to keep themselves nourished, but the Soylent Green isn’t made out of people, it’s made out of a weary resentment that won’t go away.
But that doesn’t quite explain the fight between Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Marie Eiffel Market Morgans and Dorinda. This one I can’t really quite make out because it seems that Sonja is just mad that she wasn’t invited to the Berkshires. Somehow, this one small snub seems to have grown in her mind as Dorinda trying to “excise her from the group.” Sonja isn’t worried about not being included; Sonja is worried about getting fired. Everyone thinks that Sonja needs to let it go and she does need to get over it. She really, really does. She says she has and I think that she thinks she has, but she hasn’t.
This is all uncovered by Dorinda’s Housewife private investigator, who has compiled a dossier of Sonja’s bad behavior as thick as Sonja’s rosters of international clients and yacht holdings. This investigator of Dorinda’s, who is apparently a “friend” and employee of her late husband’s, has unearthed all sorts of things, including Sonja talking shit about Dorinda on Facebook, Sonja telling people that Dorinda is a liar on Twitter, and a photo of Sonja getting humped by a stripper. I don’t know, but this Bitch Investigator (BI! I finally get it!) really just seems like a meddler with Google access and too much time on his or her hands.
As for Sonja talking shit about Dorinda behind her back, that is what is going to get her in trouble. Sonja says she likes to avoid conflict, but that’s not going to happen when she plays nice in public and dirty in private. Dorinda, on the other hand, is not at all afraid of confrontation and is totally going to railroad my precious Sonja. Not that Sonja is in the right here, by no means, but this is not a fight of equals. Sonja didn’t bring a knife to a gunfight; she brought her “Argentina luggage” to a nuclear war.
Still, that picture of Sonja with a mostly naked man on top of her is not going to be damaging evidence. What do we expect from our favorite floozy? It’s not like that will ruin her global fashion and lifestyle brand — being humped by a stripper at an engagement party is Sonja’s global fashion and lifestyle brand. If anything, showing that picture around town is helping Sonja prosper.
The strangest moment of the episode for me personally was when Sonja and Tinsley showed up at “Sonja’s friend’s house” in Sag Harbor because I have also spent a few weekends at that house. It’s owned by two friends of mine and is literally right around the corner from the Countess’s house. As Tinz says, it is an incredibly chic and wonderfully appointed home and I once posed entirely naked with my nether regions covered by a very jaunty pillow with a Scottish terrier embroidered on it in one of those beds. It was my Grindr picture for a period of time.
Like so many New Yorkers who travel the charity circuit, I knew my friends had met and hung out with Sonja on several occasions, but I had no clue they were close enough to lend her the house for one fall weekend. I had to call up Mike and Noel (their names have been changed to protect them from the wrath of their neighbor Luann) and find out just how Sonja ended up staying at their house.
“It was the weirdest thing,” Mike told me. “We were at a fundraiser for the Trevor Project at Kevin Fitzsimmons’s house. Do you know Kevin? He used to date Justin Klimt? They were all in that share on Fire Island in that giant house on the ocean. You know the one: the house with the margarita machine in the kitchen and the urinal in the bathroom. Anyway, you totally know Kevin. So, we’re at Kevin’s house and we’re hanging around by the pool, examining each other’s polo shirts and sweating in our loafers when this woman comes up to us. She’s wearing a big floppy hat and giant sunglasses and a leopard-print caftan. She’s all like air kisses and ‘The gays love me, I’m so much fun, have you had any of the frosé, try the frosé.’
“Then, out of the blue, she starts asking us about our house. How big is it? Is it decorated nice? Will we be using it all this fall, blah, blah, blah. So I show her some pictures on my phone and she loves it and says that she needs to have a friend of hers out sometime this fall and she’ll pay us $20,000 for the first weekend in November. Something about making sure she’d be able to attend a dinner party and how she needed to be there for things to go down. So of course we were like, ‘Bitch, get out your checkbook. And make out $10,000 to us and $10,000 to the Trevor Project and we’ll see your caftan ass in November.’”
“Oh my God,” I told him. “That’s amazing. Do you know who this woman was?”
“Girl, duh!” Mike said, and I could hear him over the phone rolling his eyes at me as he took a sip of his merlot and carefully placed his wine glass back down on his polished concrete countertop. “Who do you think?”