This is not so much a recap of an episode as it is a recap of a scene. Everything that happens at Ramona’s dinner party for Carole’s marathon finish (which, as Carole points out, mostly includes a bunch of Ramona’s friends and a cake for Carole) is absolutely perfect. It is the ne plus ultra of Real Housewives events. That something so dynamic and immediately legendary only takes up a fraction of this episode is a testament to how well these leading practitioners of the reality-television arts and sciences are performing on a daily basis.
It is all teed off by the fight that Dorinda and Sonja T. Morgan of the Mink Stole and Matching Western Hat Morgans had at lunch at Luann’s. I feel like we covered it sufficiently last week, but the basics are that Dorinda told Sonja she didn’t have it that bad and she should get over it and then brought up her dead husband. Sonja retorted with, “Oh, we’ve heard that before,” and the whole event quickly descended into chaos. Ramona immediately chastises Sonja and says, “Say you’re sorry. Say you’re sorry because I want her to come to my party.” It is the most Ramona Singer thing ever uttered that has nothing to do with the words “Pinot,” “businesswoman,” or “renewal.”
When everyone shows up, there is something immediately off and it’s not just the residual tension from lunch or the fact that Sonja is less welcome than Stormy Daniels at the White House Easter Egg Roll. It’s the outfits. Let’s start with Bethenny’s boyfriend Dennis, who shows up in a bright Gucci sweater with the world “Love” emblazoned across the back. Dennis, who is a very handsome man, is about 20 years too old for this sweater. It just makes him look like he’s chasing trends and takes away the sexy gravitas that a gentleman of his age naturally carries. I’m with Bethenny, I would have thrown that out faster than Kanye West will block you on Twitter.
Bethenny, for her part, is dressed like a sexy sister wife in a floral printed top that ruffles all the way up to her neck. She couples this with a cropped, white, faux-fur jacket that seems like it is issued to every single Real Housewife the moment they sign their contract. (They are also given Andy Cohen’s cell phone number and a too-long brown faux-fur vest.) Bethenny makes fun of her own outfit, but only in order to make fun of everyone else’s, including Carole’s tattoo-printed body stocking with a black slip dress over it. I don’t think it’s a bad look, necessarily, but certainly not right for the Hamptons and, honestly, not as daring as Carole thinks it is.
Much more daring is Luann’s take on Mrs. Peacock’s outfit from Clue but in magenta. It has a tsunami of feathers protruding both from the neck and the cuffs of this sweater. (Or is it a dress? Both? A swess? A dresser?) Ramona is also dressed in a floral dress with square grommets all around the strangely shaped cutouts. It’s like whatever was born nine months after Dee Dee Ramone came all over someone’s Laura Ashley couch. I don’t know what is going on with all of these women, but their fashion choices are both daring and totally off-kilter, like drinking two Sugar-Free Red Bulls right before attending a midnight mass.
Dennis isn’t the only man at the party. Ramona’s new “friend” Kirk is also there, and he seems like he is playing co-host the entire time. This is possibly because his restaurant provided the food, but I think it is mostly because he really, sincerely likes Ramona — which, to me, is as improbable as people who think puking and hallucinating for 12 hours on ayahuasca is a good time. But Kirk is tall, handsome, fit, well-dressed, slightly greying, and generally amused. He’s like Mario Part 2: The Squeakuel. He is absolutely perfect for her and she should not screw this up.
Speaking of Dennis, he inspires what is my personal favorite moment of the whole dinner. Luann is sitting across the table from him and Bethenny and she starts making small talk about how they met and how long they’ve known each other. Bethenny chimes in, “You know how we met, or at least you think you do.” It flashes back to all of the shit Luann talked two reunions ago about her starting an affair with her former best friend’s husband.
Bethenny reminds Luann of this fact. “This is him,” she says. “This is the guy.” I don’t know if the editors are aware of what a GIF is, but they produced an absolutely perfect one with Luann’s reaction. She raises her hand and flicks it, as if this conversation is a booger on her finger and if she could just get it off, the embarrassment would go away. While doing this, she is nodding and also swallowing hard, trying to figure out what to do. The best part is the whole time her neck is encased in this ridiculous halo of pink feathers.
I honestly don’t think that the Countess was trying to start shit with Dennis at dinner. I just think she was completely ignorant of his identity. Bethenny tells Luann to apologize, which she quickly and insincerely does, Dennis thanks her, and the whole table moves on like nothing ever happened and I will never forget it.
The next kerfuffle happens thanks to Sonja and Dorinda. Sonja is down at her end of the table talking about dating her friend Rocco, who we’ve seen for a few seasons. Dorinda pipes up and says she’s not dating Rocco. It seems like Dorinda is just looking for a fight, and she is verging on Brandi Glanville territory here. (Be careful to not say her name three times or else she will appear.) What I mean is that she has the moral imperative in this argument about Sonja comparing a divorce to her husband’s death, but her aggressive way of pursuing that argument is losing any moral high ground.
Even though Ramona tries to get Dorinda to calm down and count to ten, Dorinda starts harping on the idea that Sonja is not dating Rocco. Does she have insider information? Is there something she knows that she’s not telling us? It seems to me like Sonja really is dating him, though she’s probably exaggerating this relationship as is Sonja’s wont. Sonja has never met a molehill she did not climb to the top of and proclaim to be Everest. Dorinda rounds out her remarks with, “Liar, liar, ho on fire,” which she probably already printed up on T-shirts, tote bags, and mouse pads.
Sonja says that she does not lie. Tinsley, a mouse someone gave anabolic steroids as part of a science experiment, takes that opportunity to chime in and say, “Oh yeah? You do lie!” Then Tinsley fights with Sonja about whether or not she paid for the gift card she gave Sonja during last year’s finale. Sonja admits to her face she doesn’t think she did, but, just like Dorinda, offers no proof.
“Well, then let me just write you a check for staying at your house,” Tinsley says, and pulls out an actual check. I do not know what happened, but someone woke Tinsley up, taught her how to be on a reality-television program, and then set her off on the world. Did she watch one of those Masterclass videos they’re always advertising on Facebook, but this one was taught by Kenya Moore, Omarosa, and Richard Hatch? To prove that she’s taken some lessons, she gets up and shouts, “Close your mouth and close your legs!”
As a self-identified slut, I don’t like that both Tinsley and Dorinda went to the same place with Sonja. Mx. Morgan is a more sex-positive type. She likes to have a good time with a variety of men and everyone knows it. She is not ashamed of it. She doesn’t steal guys from her friends. She is what we call in the biz an ethical slut. But whenever she’s wronged someone, they all go to this place to point out how promiscuous she is. I’m not saying Sonja is perfect, but bringing up her sexual activity during an argument that is about her being a liar seems not only mean-spirited, but also missing the point. (Missing the point is also what Sonja calls it when a guy puts it in the second hole by mistake.)
The only thing that is more perfect than Tinsley throwing the check at Sonja repeatedly is Bethenny picking it up and lighting it on fire. As someone says, it is the perfect punch line to the entire incident. Someone then puts the burning husk of paper on one of Ramona’s solid gold chargers that was taken right out of a bad restaurant in the ‘80s (either the era or the ten blocks of the Upper East Side that inspired it). Ramona, of course, is only concerned about her flatware during this entire fight.
The other thing that is very telling about Ramona is how she keeps telling Sonja to apologize to make the fight go away. That is Ramona’s guiding philosophy, but it is also why Ramona is often on the outs with these women. They know her schtick: She says and does whatever she wants, blindly apologizes for it, and then continues mangling everyone’s feelings until they look like a MacBook power cord after three years of being packed in the bottom of a purse every day. No matter how many times people tell Ramona that she’s the apologizer, she refuses to listen.
That’s why I think Sonja is getting a bad rap this season. Yes, she doesn’t listen to the women about her delusions and living in the past, but Ramona doesn’t take any criticism either, nor does Bethenny nor Luann. As Bethenny points out, Sonja is always talking about her old life, but Dorinda is also always talking about her dead husband in a way that even Carole, another woman who lost a husband prematurely, does not. Not to equate those experiences, but Sonja seems to be the scapegoat for a lot of bad behavior that nearly everyone is engaged in. I don’t think she’s right, but just as Bethenny said that she doesn’t think Sonja can access what is making her so unhappy, I don’t think that the women can really pinpoint what about her makes them so unhappy as well.
The funny thing is, after everything that happens at dinner, the only person who Sonja is mad at is Ramona because she says her friend didn’t defend her. She sends Ramona a text that takes up an entire iPhone screen. That, right there, should be a medically diagnosable ailment. So we end the episode at brunch the next day, with Sonja huddled by herself and smirking, waiting for it all to be over and for someone, anyone to understand her. That thought went out of her head on the wind, like the smoke from a burning check, brushing across the Hamptons until it finally wound up in Jill Zarin’s kitchen. She heard the whisper, like a can of Diet Coke being opened, and decided to ignore the call for one more day.