Jill has arranged a house call for her Chihuahua, Ginger, because, she says, Ginger is afraid of going to the vet. But Jill’s got it all wrong. Ginger would love nothing more than to go to the vet. To get out of this overdecorated apartment, with all of the fabrics and the patterns and the mirrors — by God, the mirrors — which force Ginger to regard not just images of red-headed menace Jill and Bobby stretching into infinity but her own regrettably beady-eyed face day after day after day. Just thinking about staying in this apartment for the rest of her short, scrawny life causes Ginger’s innards to seize up in panic and then explode, and suddenly, she realizes she has shat and she is running and the running doesn’t help because, of course, there is nowhere to go, and people are screaming because there is shit everywhere, literally everywhere, bits of it stuck in the upholstery and on the rug and underneath the coffee table and all over the vets. And then it seems to be over, Jill is scrubbing the vets’ shoes and saying something about how at least they weren’t nice shoes like what are they, made of plastic or something? And later the illegal cleaning lady will come in and scrub the rest of the stains out of the carpet. But Ginger knows no matter how much scrubbing she does, there will always be shit particles in the Zarin house. It will always be unclean. And we, the viewers at home, can relate, because we know that we will never be able to fully cleanse ourselves of the experience of watching this show, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.
But as usual, one person emerged from the stinking pit of Real Housewives cleaner than the others. Who won this episode? Let’s review.
It was the moment when Ramona told Avery, “I love your father today more than the day I married him,” as though she thought Avery gave a crap that really clinched it for us: This renewal of vows thing has got to be an overcompensation for something. For a while, we thought maybe it was just a brazen bid to steal screen time, but all this harping on the wellness of her and Mario’s relationship means something must be up. That, or Ramona has set a new record for level of surprise at the fact that everything in her life is running smoothly. The scene with Avery was cute, for a while, until she finally came out and admitted why she wanted her as a maid of honor. “I need you to be my assistant in this event.” Realizing her gaffe, she added deliriously: “You’ve taught me how to love unconditionally.” Nice try, Mom. You lose this episode. (Though you do get points for seeming genuinely thrilled for Bethenny. “She finally got it,” she told the camera later, beaming. “She got the man she really loves!”)
This season we’re really getting the sense that Kelly is the same around her daughters both off-camera and on camera. She’s cute, incompetent, only mildly hazardous to everyone’s health (melted plastic = bad for breakfast!), and the girls clearly don’t take her seriously. Likewise, for all the talking she does about only drinking beer and eating pizza, frankly, that’s all we’ve ever seen her eat or drink on the show. So, Kelly gets a lot of real points on this episode, even though it means she says sort-of-startling things like: “I want to get married. I want more babies.” And even though it means that she does amazing things like ask Sonja if her husband cheated on her, and then get all huffy when Sonja asked her the same thing back. (News flash: Judging from everyone’s reactions in that terrible moment, it’s obvious all their husbands cheated on them.) But the realest moment of them all was when Bethenny said, “You look so pretty.” And Kelly replied, without missing a beat: “I always look pretty.”
What is the deal with Alex not being a presence in these episodes? It’s like she only exists to furrow her brow, listen to Bethenny wail about things, and wear clown costumes. (Seriously, what was that thing she was wearing during the confessional, with the sheer top and the shag carpeting on the sleeves?) Alex’s insanity used to be one of the reasons to watch the show, a fun antidote to the rest of the cast’s wild bitchery. Now she (and even Simon) just exist to play docile, wise peacemakers. They live in a bordello, for Christ’s sake — give us more!
Bethenny is getting into tricky territory now that Jill is making gestures toward thawing out the ice between them (starting by marveling at the massive hunk of ice on Bethenny’s finger!). She can’t play the wronged woman anymore, so she should go back to being funny and fun. “This is apparently the party where we were told to wear squares of toilet paper and make an outfit out of it,” she said at the party, when all the ladies except LuAnn showed up wearing dresses they saw in Seventeen. “I didn’t have a top on, Kelly’s vagina was hanging out. Alex’s ass cheeks. Literally, it was like a yard sale of body parts.” That’s the Bethenny we know and love! The one who waves around glasses of white wine even though she is pregnant.
At some point, a real-estate agent is going to punch LuAnn right smack in the middle of her jeweled chest shield, and in the court of public opinion, it might be ruled a justifiable assault. During her apartment-hunting trip (when she just “happened” to run into an already miked-up Kelly) she looked at a couple of cool places and couldn’t believe how expensive they were. The show told us she looked first on the Lower East Side, but it was actually the corner of Carmine and Varick in the southern West Village. Then, when she was looking on Madison Avenue in the flatiron district (which she still deemed “downtown.” Where did she live before, Spanish Harlem?) she said: “I’m not sure about all of those buildings next door.” And nobody even laughed at the fact that of course there are buildings all around, it’s Manhattan. But really, it was the moment when her mouth said to Bethenny that she was happy for the engagement, but her eyes said “MY WICCAN JEWELS ARE GOING TO POISON YOUR SOUL,” that lost her the episode.
We really like this Sonja character, even though she needs to lay off with all the “WE SHOULD STILL HAVE SEX EVEN THOUGH WE ARE OLD AND OUR INSIDES ARE DRY AND CRINKLY LIKE AN OLD PAPER BAG” routine. She’s a pretty lady, and this makes her seem desperate. But to her credit, she astutely notes that Kelly never remembered her even though she thought they knew one another from St. Barths. Without realizing it, she’s recognized that Kelly doesn’t remember women. She also had a lengthy, surprisingly current, and well-informed monologue about women taking Adderall to lose weight. And for that, she wins.
Oh, Jill, Jill, Jill. In the most frosty way possible, Jill tried to thaw her relationship with Bethenny at the end of the episode, and wound up being completely undone when presented with the same routine she’d presented to Bethenny just two short episodes ago. The editors also did her no favors by editing together a confessional during which she had no hair extensions in, and clips of her at the party with more hair than Serena van der Woodsen. The juxtaposition was unsettling: Without the extra hair, her face looks a little like Kermit the Frog’s. Which isn’t her fault. But lots of other things were, and now it’s time to name them in our uplifting game, Reasons Why Jill Zarin is a Disgusting Person!
There is no hope for her daughter’s self-image: “Look at that body” she says about Ally, looking at a picture of her in a bikini — when she was probably about six. This was the last time we estimate Jill approved of Ally’s weight.
She’s jealous: “I wonder if she pays less because they use less fabric,” she snipes about Kelly’s dress, which was admittedly short, but Kelly’s got the legs to pull it off. Plus, the girl wants to have more babies! She’s not going to get more by making it hard to find the target!
She’s never prepared for anything: “I had no idea [Bethenny and Jason] were coming,” she says about the Gotham magazine party that Kelly, a co-star of the reality-television show she is on about a group of only seven people, is hosting. “I was not prepared for this.” She mustn’t have brought her Fighting With Bethenny cheat sheet!
She doesn’t need a reason to say something nasty: “You know, if you stick your tongue down her mouth she might let you sit at the table,” she says, we think about Sonja, but we’re not sure because she doesn’t know the woman and has no reason to say that.
She is allergic to being nice: When Kelly calls over Jason to congratulate him on getting engaged, Jill goes, “Why did she do this?” Because that’s what normal people do? Be nice? “By the time Jason came over, I was, like, numb,” she adds. “I wanted to go home. I wanted to run under my covers and hide.” What about being nice is so terrifying? It doesn’t give you as many wrinkles as scowling and making nasty faces all the time.
She has no sense of irony: “Stay out of it, Simon,” she says, when he encourages her to come talk to the other women. “You have nothing to do with my relationship with Bethenny.” But LuAnn, her very own flying monkey, does?
She can’t have other people be happy: Upon hearing about Bethenny’s engagement, her immediate reaction is to wonder how she will come off. “Now if I leave without saying anything and not acknowledging it, I look like a piece of shit,” she whined. All together now: too late!
She has no concept of other people’s humanity: She’s like a child who wonders if she is the only person who is actually real in the world. The first thing she starts talking about with Bethenny is whether Bethenny thought Jill walked away from her, not the news of the engagement or even a nice greeting. She starts giving excuses about Bobby not being there. Nobody cares! Bethenny is making very dramatic faces at you and winning by the second! Just try to be nice!
Ginger: For spraying poop not because there was anything wrong with her, but just because she wanted to.
Jason: For generally being reasonable, and for very, very wisely proposing off-camera.
Kelly’s daughter who clearly did not agree to speak on camera and is therefore writing notes: That is cute.
Avery: For so clearly reaching that phase where pre-teens are naturally appalled by their parents, as opposed to before, when it was weird how appalled she was by Ramona, and for ordering something with “prosciutto, ricotta and truffle oil” off-menu.
Jason Saft: LuAnn’s broker was kind of cute! Too bad he’ll be shifted out for yet another one next episode.
Jill’s assistant Darrin: He was told this job would mean cleaning up all of Jill’s shit, but he didn’t take it literally! Zip!
Dr. Cindy Bressler, the veterinarian: Bet you thought making a house call and going on this show would be a bonus, huh, lady?