It is so rare that we get real moments of heartbreak here at the Real Housewives Institute, but the passing of Bobby Zarin, one of our original Househusbands, is one of those moments. Bobby always seemed like a genuinely sweet and honest man, and the scant flashbacks we saw of him this episode definitely accentuated that. It also accentuated how little he said while on camera, but when you spend so much time standing next to Jill Zarin, it’s rare that anyone gets a word in edgewise.
Bobby really was one of the good ones. He never got caught sleeping with another woman in their Hamptons home, divorced her after her first season on the show, got caught with a massive Ashley Madison account, went to prison, swindled people out of money, got convicted of fraud, or any of the other awful things that we’ve seen dudes do to their wives on these shows. Mostly what he did was support Jill, provide for her, and bask in the sunshine of her smile. With his perpetual sunglasses and suits, you could say that he looked like a horn player in a third-rate jazz band that plays at steak houses in Long Island, but Bobby was a great guy and even though we barely saw him on our screens during the past seven years, he will be missed.
At the start of the episode, we see Ramona, Dorinda, and, most shockingly of all, Bethenny going to attend the funeral and support Jill, whom they all knew would be absolutely devastated by her husband’s passing. I love Luann’s line about not being there, “I didn’t expect to get arrested and not be able to be there for Jill.” I mean, that sentence has more drama than the entire past two seasons of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
I was impressed by how relatively tastefully the funeral was handled. It was obviously big news to these women so it had to be addressed, and I think that having cameras outside to see people both coming in and going out was a good way to cover it without it being too invasive. The biggest moment was the one at the end where Bethenny stayed behind to comfort Jill. There are a lot of ways that we could interpret this. We could say that it was Bethenny trying to make his passing all about her. We could say it was Jill trying to sell her grief for camera time. We could say that Bethenny just stuck around to make a TV moment, but I’m going to choose not to be cynical about the whole thing.
The reason I’m not is because Bethenny went back to Jill’s for Bobby’s shiva and the cameras were not there. Yes, we heard about it and about the touching moment when Jill finally got to meet Bethenny’s daughter, but we didn’t see it, which I think is a step in the right direction for both Jill and Bethenny. That moment at the funeral did seem genuine, when Jill told Bethenny that Bobby loved her (something she’s been saying since Scary Island) and then crying that she’s all alone now. Then Bethenny lightened things up by joking what an awful funeral it was because there were no gift bags. The whole thing reeked of old friends who didn’t know how to handle this moment well and I, for one, was truly moved.
The rest of the episode, well, it was light in comparison, but when you start off the episode with many of the women going to a funeral, where do you go from there? It’s fitting that a quarter of the episode was just a bunch of silly gags surrounding a workout class. ConBody on the Lower East Side is a gym run by people who have served time in prison and has a whole theme around mug shots and being in the clink. Given what was going on with the rest of the cast, it was a good time for them all to make some jokes about Luann’s situation.
That situation is that she is in rehab after her arrest. I believe that she really wants to clean up her life, but whether or not that includes sobriety for the long haul seems questionable to me. Who am I to judge anyone’s path, but Luann seems like she was in rehab to make her sentencing a little bit easier as opposed to someone like Kim Richards who was in rehab because otherwise she wouldn’t have survived. I don’t know if Luann is an alcoholic so much as she is a drunk whose problems pushed her consumption a little bit too far. However, we got the phrase, “I’ve been traveling, I’ve been to prison, I just want to be somewhere close to home,” and I already have a T-shirt, an iPhone case, and a cross-stitch sampler with that emblazoned on it, so thank you so much for that Countess Crackerjacks.
The worst part of the entire episode, maybe the worst part of this entire season so far, was everything about Tinsley’s visit with her mother Dale. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dale and would watch her visit every year, but this was just the worst of the worst. First we have Tinz freaking out when Dale tells her that she told Scott, Tinsley’s boyfriend, that Tinz can’t wait that long to have a baby. God, calm down. It’s not like she didn’t tell him anything he couldn’t have learned by picking up an issue of Cosmo or, you know, taking an intro-level biology class. What Tinsley should really be worried about is all of the pressure her mother is putting on her to get knocked up. Letting your daughter know her reproductive choices is one thing, putting baby booties in her Christmas stocking so she “doesn’t forget the timeline” is like having a stick of dynamite rigged to your biological clock, like something Wile E. Coyote would set on the train tracks to destroy his archnemesis.
This mother-daughter pair going wedding dress shopping was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen on reality television. Please tell me that women don’t really just go shopping for wedding dresses for fun. This had to be a set-up, because the first thing Tinz tells the gay who runs Wedding Dress Barn is, “Well, I’m not really getting married.” That’s like a 13-year-old walking into a car dealership and expecting someone there to be excited about telling them how much horse power is in the new Honda CR-V when they’re still years away from a license.
Tinsley tries on some dresses, even though she has no intention of getting married or actually buying one, and everyone is in love with the first dress she tries on. It has a huge bow on it and a bodice that is at once too long and too short all at the same time. It was like the mullet of wedding dresses. I don’t know how the designer managed to create a wedding dress that somehow looks informal, but that is just what is going on here. What’s even worse is that we’re seeing the names of the styles and how much they cost. This is clearly an ad. It was so blatant, I was expecting Tinsley to say, “All of these dresses are making my skin so dry, do you have any Nivea handy?” Why is Tinsley the one who always has to shill for these things? Does she make extra?
While Tinsley is still in a wedding dress, she and her mother FaceTime her fertility doctor so that they can see her eggs and cry about them. Are these two drunk? That is the kind of thing you only cry about three-quarters of the way through a bottle of rosé. Also, how is Tinsley behind on her bill for her egg storage? It’s not a unit at Manhattan Mini Storage. It’s not like they’re going to auction those off to a bunch of people with an A&E show. God, this whole thing was just horribly disgraceful.
While Tinsley was pretending to be a bride, there was a red-headed woman across town throwing away the last bagels that someone brought over for the shiva. There was food. There was always food, but she didn’t want to eat. She didn’t think she would ever eat again — or sleep or breathe or get up from her chair or be able to walk even a step without her chest feeling like it had a huge iron pot resting on top of it.
She didn’t know what to do now that the house was clean, that the food was gone. Was this the time when she was supposed to curl up into bed and cry until the sun went down or came up. What time was it? She didn’t know. She didn’t even know if it was night or day anymore. She knew nothing. She thought for a moment about the funeral, about how Bobby finally did the last thing she asked him to do, how he finally brought Bethenny back to her.
She thought about the cameras, about how she totally forgot about them when they were filming the show but then, when she was off the show, how the cameras were all that mattered. She didn’t notice them at Bobby’s funeral. She didn’t notice anything except those inches from her face, those surrounding her, those ferrying her into a car and into her house and into her pajamas and into bed. She didn’t notice the cameras. The cameras meant nothing. They mean nothing. Everything means nothing. Jill Zarin thought about the cameras and for the first time they didn’t matter and, somehow, that felt like the biggest trap of all.