I was worried that this whole season was, once again, going to be about Luann’s relationship with Tom. We’d see all of the women harping about how awful it is and it would all be a boring mess because we know that no matter what happens, Luann marries Tom in a midnight ceremony on New Year’s Eve. I thought watching this season would be like waiting for the Y2K bug, hotly anticipating a calamity that was never truly going to occur. I was both right and wrong.
The worst of the ToLu (Luom?) mess is when Ramona brings her middle-aged lady friends out to dinner to talk about Tom and then pretend like she has no idea what gossip they have to share on camera. That is some serious Real Housewives of New Jersey nonsense. We’ve all seen it before: Teresa Giudice goes to dinner with some women who have already told her all of this gossip about Melissa Gorga and then she pretends to be shocked, absolutely shocked, that these women are revealing this information on camera. Sorry, Ramona, you’re not that good of an actress to pull this off. (Neither is Teresa for that matter.)
What we learn from Kathleen and Missy is that Missy was also dating Tom at the same time as Ramona and Luann, and she found out they weren’t exclusive when she walked into a restaurant and saw Tom and Luann sucking face. (I can’t wait for Luann to hear this so she can confront this woman and say, “Listen, Missy!”) Kathleen, who is supposedly also a friend of Luann’s, says, “I admire her for going all in. I think there is something interesting about a woman with that level of strength in her decisions.” That compliment is so backhanded that Kathleen had to contort her body to give it and now her spleen has suffocated her liver and she died of massive organ failure. Good-bye, Kathleen. We’ll all miss your very sound use of fillers.
So, yes, everyone thinks that Luann’s relationship with Tom is a bad idea, but I don’t really care. If Luann wants to make a bad decision, that’s up to her. What does drive me crazy is that her daughter, Victoria, a woman old enough to graduate college and have multiple DUIs, is going to be a flower girl at her mom’s wedding. Sorry, but no one who has been through menopause and bought Activia for its stated purpose should be having a wedding with flower girls and bridesmaids. It’s just, I don’t know, unseemly. Yes, I get it, she didn’t do it the first time around. But I didn’t even like the first guy I slept with. It doesn’t mean I’ve had to like the hundreds since then.
Anyway, what really fascinated me this episode isn’t what Ramona and her clique had to say on camera, but what Carole and Luann’s friend Barbara said when they weren’t on camera at all. We don’t see footage of their conversation, which means the cameraman wasn’t around. It seems like the two of them thought they were having a private moment. But there is no such thing as privacy when you sign your soul away to Andy Cohen. The sound guy caught Carole’s conversation on her mic and made it public. It is damning.
Barbara says that she’s not excited to go to Lu’s wedding and she thinks that Lu is only going through with it because she has something to prove. According to Luann’s (presumptively ex-)friend Barbara, Countess Crackerjacks would rather get married and divorced than back out of her problematic engagement. Barbara also tells Carole that Tom continues to hook up with other women and that she told Luann all about it.
So, yeah, this isn’t just drama for the camera. This is how it really goes down. I’ve said before and I will say again: It’s none of our business if Luann and Tom have some sort of arrangement or open marriage. Having an open marriage is very hip right now. Just ask the New York Times. But she denies this. So either she’s lying or she’s being cheated on and doesn’t care, despite the very real protests of her closest friends who, unlike Luann’s fellow castmates, have absolutely nothing to gain by creating this relationship drama.
Know what? I’m not even mad at Tom. We haven’t seen much of him, but he is very nice to Bethenny, a woman who publicly exposed his behavior on national television without ever having met him. She apologizes for creating any drama and he just waves it off and says, “Where are you spending Christmas?” diverting any other discussion of his malfeasance with small talk. It’s a winning strategy for any cocktail party, especially one filled with so many landmines as this one.
The funny thing about Bethenny meeting Tom is that we finally meet Bethenny’s boyfriend, Dennis, and [dot, dot, dot] he looks exactly like Tom. Is it that every man on the Upper East Side over 40 just looks blandly prosperous and shaves his head, or is Bethenny really just going out there looking for a dude who looks exactly like Tom? Maybe Luann was right in the Berkshires. Maybe Bethenny is copying her. Maybe Dennis is just the Luann’s haircut of season nine.
Speaking of Bethenny, I agree with Avery Singer and I don’t understand her mother’s fight with Bethenny at all. I will say that Avery Singer is an exceptional young adult and I agreed with every single thing that came out of her mouth. She tells her mother to just get over it, she tells her that the way she talked to Bethenny was a “side attack” and very insulting, and, most importantly, she tells her mother that she was not young enough to pull off those shades and she should just give them to Avery. Can we get a Real Housewives: The Next Generation show starring Avery, Dorinda’s daughter Hannah, Luann’s daughter Victoria, and Jill Zarin’s daughter Ally? I would watch the hell out of that show. Maybe they can all marry a Manzo or something.
Now that I’ve brought up children, we need to talk about Tinsley’s new date, Chad. Growing up gay in Connecticut, I developed a liking for all the prep school boys I could never have. Chad falls very squarely into that camp and I would do absolutely unspeakable things to him. I do not blame Tinsley for attempting to do the same. Chad is, for sure, the sexiest Morgan Stanley intern in his class and might go on to a very big career in banking and wearing boat shoes to every single social event he goes to in the Hamptons until the day he dies. Contrary to what Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Morgan Stanley Interns Morgans says to Tinsley, she could marry him. She would be getting in early on this investment. Chad is the Bed-Stuy brownstone of boyfriends.
On the other hand, Sonja is right: There is no way that Chad is getting serious about Tinsley. He moved to New York three months ago, he’s 23, and he’s just in this for a bit of fun. I mean, he didn’t go to Beautique, the ultimate cougar’s den, looking for a wife. No, he went because his PornHub search parameters are “MILF,” “blonde,” “embarrassment,” “cucks,” “Cersei Lannister,” and “money shot on a Birkin.” The Tinz is just a little something to fulfill his ultimate UES fantasy.
As Sonja says, there is nothing wrong with blowing off some steam with a boy, but I question how good Tinsley is at that. We do know that she is objectively bad at kissing. Watching her kiss him is like watching a mother bird feed a baby bird a meal of half-masticated worms, or like watching the first kiss from Virgin Diaries. And she sure doesn’t mind making out in public. She does it at Beautique and she also does it at the bowling alley. It’s because he’s young and he doesn’t know any better that kissing in public is as gauche as wearing your prep school blazer on the first day of work at an investment bank.
But make out they do, grinding their bodies into the pleather of the banquette as everyone stares at them, wondering why this old-looking RA is sucking face with one of her charges. Eventually she moves her hand down to the tented crotch of his jeans, unused to someone so easily or visibly aroused. No pills, no nothing. Just young vigor and desire. But some over-the-pants action is all either of them are going to get since she’s staying at Sonja’s house and Chad has four roommates and is currently sleeping on a beanbag chair in the living room of their two-bedroom apartment they’re all sharing for the semester.
He’s a gentleman though and walks her downstairs and makes sure she gets in the right Uber. (Tinsley is notorious in Manhattan for taking other people’s Ubers.) As he walked along University Place staring at the weird slurry that was congealing in the cracks of the curb and wondering why they don’t have anything like this in Western Massachusetts, a car pulled up, splashing him a little bit with the water he was so terribly afraid of. He turned and saw a woman he knew in the back seat. “You’re done here. Don’t call her back. Don’t see her again.”
“Why?” he asked, confused that only two weeks ago this woman paid him a handsome sum and bought him a new suit just to flirt with Tinsley at a bar she dropped him off in front of. “I think I like her. I think we could really make something of this.”
“No, you can’t,” she said, shoving a manila envelope at him. He started to walk away and the driver edged along with him. “Seriously,” she said when they both stopped again. “Take this. This isn’t about my plans or about anything. You don’t want this. You really don’t. Go meet a girl your own age who works in a gallery or in publishing and knock her up and move to the country and be very rich and plain. That’s going to be a lot better for you, Brad.”
“It’s Chad,” he corrected her.
“Exactly my point, Brad. This life isn’t for you. We’re all using you. Not just women but everyone here, they’re trying to profit off of your youth and your inability to know what’s best for yourself and the ambition that fuels you. You’re like the Energizer bunny and everyone just wants to leach a little bit of your power.” She threw the envelope toward him and it fluttered in the air a little bit before landing on the pavement with a thwack. “Take it, Brad. You’re done here.”
The car pulled away and he picked up the half-soggy envelope and tucked it in the back pocket of his American Eagle jeans, which were slouching below the band of the Tommy Hilfiger boxer briefs his mom bought for him on sale at Marshalls. He put his hand in his pocket but couldn’t stare down at the gutter anymore. He looked up into the sky, into the dull glimmer of the city around, searching in the navy sky for a moon but realizing that something, maybe everything, was blocking it from view.