Oh, gosh, boys and girls, it’s that time again. Once more we must stare into Andy Cohen’s Evil Butt Hole of Doom at The Real Bra-Stuffers of Insomnia Cookies reunion special. It’s going to be exactly like every other single reunion, just sitting around in a bunch of dresses taking time to explain to Andy just what Rosebud means to them. (And I assure you, it means something else entirely to Andy.)
Before I progress further, I wanted to extend my sincere gratitude to Ben Rimalower, the Real Housewives Institute’s Assistant Vice-President of Intern Fondling, for filling in for me while I was away on assignment for two weeks. (I was on the Italian island of Panarea learning the proper pronunciation of Giudice, which apparently is three silent dry heaves followed by slapping yourself in the forehead.) Some speculated that I timed my sabbatical so that I wouldn’t have to talk about the reunion specials, which are my least favorite episodes to write about every season and, well, that speculation is not incorrect.
I’m very glad that I was abroad for the first installment, which included a performance from the Divorcée D’Agostino that was so contrived it made Mariah Carey’s Glitter look like something from the recent boom of excellent Romanian cinema. Seriously, that thing was so bad that they needed to post a warning about the reunion being filmed before the episode, like some sort of chalk outline of a corpse whose murderer was already caught because of the pre-crime unit from Minority Report.
We all knew this was coming and apparently the marriage was hanging on by a thread, so the gall of Crackerjacks to go on pretending like she and Tom were having this great romance is not only a sham, but honestly, it’s a dereliction of duty. Actually, it’s a dereliction of doody, because the whole thing really stinks. (Sorry about that, I’m still jet-lagged.) So, yeah, I’m glad I missed most of that, but the smug contrivance of her continuing the narrative about her wedded bliss still gave the undersides of my eyelids herpes.
Speaking of eyelid herpes, let’s engage in my favorite reunion recap activity and go around the horn and talk about everyone’s outfits, shall we? Let’s start with Tinsley Mortimer, who is wearing a quinceañera dress with a severe case of shingles. It is also the color of the typography on the cover of every porn video released between 1997 and 2004. Trust me on this. Next to her is Carole Radziwill, who is wearing a glass of Merlot with two octopus tendrils coming out of it. Like the middle part of a battery, it is neither a plus nor a minus.
At the end of their couch is Bethenny Frankel, whose hair and makeup team win the Erika Jayne Glam Squad Award for doing the absolute best work. Their prize: two business-class tickets to do Bethenny’s hair and makeup on the next cast trip. Seriously, Bethenny looks amazing from the neck up. Everything else, I have no clue what is going on. It’s like she’s wearing a Valentino-red dress made for Brienne of Tarth, but she just draped it around her tiny frame. And what is with that bow around the neck? It’s like trying to give head to a guy whose Viagra hasn’t kicked in yet.
Across from her is Ramona Singer, who has clearly sold her soul to the devil to look that good at 60. Every episode my boyfriend says, “Damn, we need to find out who her doctor is,” and every episode I say, “It’s Dr. Giese! We’ve met her like a dozen times!” and then I drown myself in a bowl of peanut M&Ms for knowing the name of Ramona Singer’s dermatologist. Anyway, her gold dress is just off somehow. It’s like she is dressed as Amber Waves from Boogie Nights to go to an off-campus pimps-and-hoes party that she forced Avery to take her to.
Then there are Dorinda Medley and Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Disposable Eclipse Glasses Morgans, both in outfits that are extremely on brand. Sonja’s is too revealing and a little too bright and one of her breasts is trying to escape like it’s on the series finale of Hogan’s Heroes. (Tell your mom that joke. She’ll love it.) Dorinda is wearing a cocktail-length floral-print number that I find to be cute and like every other dress that Dorinda wears. Maybe not suitable for this occasion, but name me one occasion that it is not suitable for? Okay, you’re right. She should not wear it to the funeral we’re having for Tom and Luann’s marriage next weekend at Beautique.
Finally, there is Countess D’Agostino Crackerjacks. Apparently she is not wearing her actual wedding dress, but she is essentially wearing the same exact dress that she got married in, which is either delusional or aspirational or a combination of both. (Isn’t delusional and aspirational what fuels all of our interest in these shows?) I just can’t even with this. It’s making me pronounce Giudice to myself repeatedly.
As for the content of the reunion itself, it did some really strange things to me. It made me really like Tinsley. When she was talking about her drinking problems, her abusive relationship, and her struggle with reclaiming her life, I felt like she was funny, odd, relatable, and quite watchable in a way that she never was during her contrived fights with Sonja about whether or not she was a good house guest. I have a feeling that we’re going to see her back for another season and I hope that we get more of this Tinsley back for the second go-round.
Carole reliving Hillary Clinton’s loss was not something I wanted to sit through, but I appreciated her transparency about her and Adam’s relationship, especially considering there have been numerous media reports that they’ve broken up since she unfollowed him on Instagram or something. It sounds like they’re still together but not exclusive, which, I mean, good for them! Whatever makes them happy, whether it’s living together, living apart, having sex orgies with Democratic donors, or posting pictures of Carole’s boobs on Instagram for her birthday. I’m happy if they’re happy.
What I didn’t love was learning that Ramona, Sonja, and Luann all voted for Trump and are too chickenshit to even own up to it on television. By not saying who they voted for, they really were just saying who they voted for and that they lack the conviction to stand behind their decisions. That is just grosser than black licorice covered in John Mahdessian’s pubic scabs.
Speaking of Sonja, a big SMIFFEE to all of this, but I was totally bored by her this reunion. I don’t care about her and Frenchie or her and Rocco. Sonja’s stories this season were all totally boring. What I love about Sonja is that she is just there for a fun time, to do ridiculous things, to contort her face like it’s a mound of Silly Putty left in a half-finished bottle of peach schnapps, and generally make me laugh. I would trade all of her dramz with Tinz just for her trying to drink margaritas straight from the pitcher. But all of this nonsense about Frenchie being an actor she cast and Rocco just being a friend who was on the show to give her something to do? Who cares! It’s not beyond her. It’s not beyond any of them! But to call her out for it just seems a little bit ludicrous.
The oddest thing that this reunion did was that it continued a trend of making me like Bethenny again. First she did the things that we always loved about her. She called out Luann for being “pretentious as fuck” for calling Tom’s one-bedroom apartment the “penthouse.” Then she told Sonja to give Rocco the “old one-two” and see whether or not he’s worth marrying. That is the Bethenny we always liked having around, the one who called it like she saw it and was a bit clever doing it.
Then she deepened my affection by finally talking about her struggles with her ex-husband and how hard it had been on her and why we didn’t see more of that on the show. Bethenny, despite being a reality-TV star for the past decade who lives a radically transparent life, is rarely vulnerable, especially these days. Gone is the Bethenny who cried on the street after a fight on the phone with Jill Zarin. She’s seemed so shrewish and jagged the past couple of seasons that I couldn’t stand watching her. We never really got to the heart of what makes Jason so angry at her — other than Carole’s conjecture that he’s “obsessed” with her — but we did get to see the toll that it’s taking. It made my heart warm a little bit for her, seeing the underdog we’d lost.
Then she told Ramona that she didn’t want to hear anything from her and that she will leave a party or a conversation when it’s not going the way she likes and the door closed once again. They all say she can dish it and she can’t take it, and it remains obviously true once again. You can’t be the underdog and the alpha dog at the same time, but God bless her for trying.