Last year when all of the women went up to Dorinda’s house in the Berkshires to celebrate her birthday, the result was one of the most unsettling and momentous episodes in Housewives history. This year, it’s inevitably underwhelming. It’s kind of like the Rock’s penis: No matter how great it is, when compared to the gargantuan size of its owner, it’s going to pale in comparison. The whole thing can be pretty much summed up in the objective correlative of Dorinda’s birthday cake, which is dropped off by her mother. She tries to open it and finds out that it has “I Made It Nice!” written on the top in frosting, but has disastrously sloped to one side. There it is, just like this whole trip, referencing last year but already destroyed by it.
Why is it so much worse? For the better part of a year, the Housewives have been more or less spinning their wheels. It’s like the 13 seasons of Real Housewives of Orange County where HRH Victoria Gunvalson was defending Brooks for having faked cancer — one huge event that takes over everything else but also completely exhausts us. This time around, it’s all about Tom. I have very little left to say about Luann’s marriage to Tom, but it is remarkable that three different women with three different sources all say the same thing. There are things you learn about in science class without as much data to back them up. I mean, Sir Isaac Newton is the only person to vouch for gravity, but we have three Housewives who will testify that Tom is a disgusting cheater and another one who dated him but is smart enough to keep her trap shut because it won’t do any good. (This is only the fourth smart decision Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Santa Planet Morgans has made in her entire life.)
This is my final word on Tom, hopefully forever. Tom is clearly a cheater, which we know from various and sundry reports, including one from a friend of Luann’s who was so worried about it that she sued Bravo to keep it off the air. Based on that evidence, I can discern that Luann both knows and does not care. She either doesn’t care because she thinks that being married to Tom is worth it, even if he does some philandering here and there, or she doesn’t care because she has an open relationship she isn’t telling us about. Either way, we all know that she knows and she is still with him, so why keep telling her? It isn’t going to change anything. It’s like pointing out to Dorinda that she says the word texts — as in more than one text message — so that it sounds like “tex-es.” It’s too late to fix it now, so it’s best to just accept it as a fact of life.
The most interesting reaction, I think, is Bethenny’s, because she keeps talking about “what’s going on with her ex” and how Luann’s relationship is even worse in comparison. I actually find this a bit infuriating because it fits Bethenny’s pattern of not fully dedicating herself to the show. This is the third episode in a row where she’s brought Jason up, but won’t elucidate exactly what is going on. I would assume that it has something to do with his stalking charges, but we have no idea. Bethenny either needs to talk to us about it or not mention it at all. I don’t like this in-between, like she won’t go to Ramona’s party, but she’ll comment on it while lurking outside. That’s my job! I don’t go to her job and swat the Skinny Girl–branded lunch meat out of her mouth.
Also, I’m as sick of this side-door pilot to the Bethenny and Fredrik’s real-estate show that I don’t want to watch. If we want to watch that show, we will watch it on Bravo in the fall, not now when they’re joking around about selling a $5.25 million condo while most of us are just trying to scrape our rent together. This is like The Agency T-shirt of this franchise. I never asked for it and I never want to see it again.
As always, Sonja Tremont Morgan is the MVP of the entire episode. I will never not delight in watching her. When she’s trying to light a fire with Ramona and Tinsley and they’re crumpling up newspaper for kindling and she opens up one sheet and goes, “Oh, look. There’s a sale!” you just know for a minute Sonja actually seriously considered attending that sale. She wondered if she could call the driver, jaunt out to Dollar Tree, get seven more jugs of Wesson oil to keep in her basement, and make it back by the fish course without anyone missing her. That is why I love Sonja.
The other best moment is when Dorinda decorates her Christmas tree. Now, Dorinda loves Christmas more than sex educators love talk about dental dams, so she is very particular about her tree and keeps shouting, “I have a method!” (The only other time I’ve heard someone say that was in a brothel in Rio and if you want to hear the rest of the story, you’re going to have to email me.) Anyway, Sonja says, and I quote, “Can’t she just have the lady throw the stuff on and then she plugs it in? Isn’t that gratifying enough? And then say, ‘Oh, isn’t that pretty?’ and then have a glass of wine?”
Okay, we need to break this quote down. First of all, Sonja says, “the lady,” like all of the help is female and completely faceless and nameless. Then she equates having someone make something beautiful for you with the feeling of satisfaction that comes from making something beautiful on your own. Trust me, it’s not the same, but for Sonja it is. She has predicated her entire adult life on being happy to just “plug it in” and be gratified. (That was not a vibrator joke, but if you interpret it as one neither Sonja nor I would mind.) Finally, she says that she should celebrate paying someone to do something as an accomplishment worthy of alcohol. “Wow, they really got this stain out at the dry cleaners. Here’s to you!”
Sonja’s thing about her assistant Connor and not letting him sign for Tinsley’s hats is really idiotic, though. I get it, she is paying Tyler so Tinsley abusing his time is like taking money away from her. Ideologically, this is a sound argument. However, just let him sign for the damn hats. It’s not that bad, Sonj. Seriously. Tinsley is still traumatized by the double shock of having to hang out with the ashes of her dead father in a JW Marriott in midtown and also spending the night in the room in Dorinda’s house with a life-size shark mounted on the wall. This woman needs a little peace and quiet. (That said, if I were ever lucky enough to be invited to Dorinda’s house for the weekend, the Shark Room is the only one I would want to sleep in.)
Tinsley was a little scared of that shark on the wall, though, with its gnawing maw facing the head of her bed. She thought of ways she could ignore it while she unpacked her cupcake-printed pajama onesie and all of the other comfy clothes that she brought for a weekend in the country. As she was shuttling things from her bag to the empty bureau, she noticed a shape moving outside of the window. She went over and looked out the second-floor window across the wide expanse of lawn that looked like an establishing shot for the finale of a horror movie. The dimming early-evening sky was business-suit gray and the half-dried grass looked like nature’s version of static, and in the midst of it all a solitary figure was wiggling around while standing up, like an engorged tick trying to get deeper under the skin.
No, Tinsley thought, as she looked at this woman closer. She wasn’t trying to get in, she was trying to get out. She was bent over with both arms trying to pull her right leg out from the ground, soggy with last week’s melted snowfall. Her heel was dug into the turf and she was trying to extricate it, to get closer to the side windows of the house. Tinsley started to panic, because she had worked for this woman before and was afraid she was going to draw her into another one of her plans or maybe expose her. Then she relaxed, thinking that she was so far away. And from her vantage point, where she looked like she was peering at an evil oasis across the never-ending dunes of the Sahara, she did seem far away. But she wasn’t really. Like the shark on the wall, the menace was right there with her the whole time as Jill Zarin finally pulled her heel out of the muck and landed, with a soft squish, wriggling on her side.