The Real Housewives of New York City
Hello! As you may have noticed from the byline above, I am not Julie Klausner. So let’s just throw this “I’m sorry” on the pile. You’ll have her back next Tuesday, I promise. In the meantime, I’ll do the best I can.
Before we begin with tonight’s festivities, I feel I ought to tell you that I’ve been on a bit of a self-imposed Real Housewives of All Franchises diet of late. Not from actually watching them — I mean, I’m not, like, turning into a vegan or anything — but from the kind of intricate, deeply emotional play-by-play analysis that, over time, had begun to make me dangerously paranoid about my own friendships and prone to doing things like calling up my sister and screaming: “You never have my back! You’re an alcoholic! WITCH MOUNTAIN SHOULD HAVE BEEN MINE MINE MINE!”
So I could be tempting fate. This recap could send me spiraling off the wagon: the innocent glass of wedding Champagne offered to a degenerate alcoholic, the fateful first tab of prednisone tentatively swallowed by a nervous Broadway hopeful (sorry, force of habit; however, I did share an elevator with Andy Cohen today. He was texting furiously on a hot pink iPhone, which is basically the West Village equivalent of sprinkling holy water around the site of an exorcism, so I am choosing to believe this entire endeavor is blessed). Onwards and upwards!
This episode was all about laying the groundwork for the inevitable grand showcase showdown between Ramona and Heather, who are fast becoming mortal enemies, owing to some early refusal of Heather’s to allow Ramona to make the death of Heather’s father and the near-fatal illness of Heather’s infant son all about Ramona, as well as Heather’s failure to honor her contractual obligation to invite a woman she despises and who clearly despises her in turn on a “fun” “girls’ trip” to London.
And here, too, I am forced to confess something I have been struggling with now for years: I absolutely cannot stand Ramona. Yes, I understand that she’s “wacky” and “blunt” and “good television” and all the other terms we are forced to use now that the DSM-V is phasing out the personality disorder spectrum, but to me, there is nothing more intolerable than someone who says incredibly cruel things and then claims that because she said them to your face, they are actually constructive, even kind. Please, please, please, people of Vulture, if you are going to talk shit about me, do it behind my back! I invite you to do it behind my back (or anonymously, in the comments, if you prefer). Polite lies are virtually the only thing that holds the fragile veneer of society together. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it didn’t crumble in one either, but believe me, when it did, it all started with someone telling someone else she looked fat in a stretch-satin cocktail dress.
To their credit, the new housewives seem to realize that if Ramona’s nihilism is not held in check, then it’s only a matter of time before she starts throwing ferrets into bathtubs and chopping off toes. Poor one-legged Aviva doesn’t have any of those to spare, and Cool Carole, made fearless by widowhood and her own innate specialness, is able to perform acts of astounding physical courage like taking the actual public subway to the Occupy Wall Street protest, where she has her actual physical arm skin handled/decorated by a man I am not sure has a valid cosmetology license, so they are understandably cautious about Ramona’s lunchtime efforts to recruit them to the anti-Heatherista faction. They allow only that yes, Heather is perhaps a bit of a nervous talker, and no, they (probably) would e-mail personally to confirm what essentially are work drinks with Ramona, essentially a work colleague, rather than have their assistants do it. And so would Angelina Jolie, if Angelina Jolie had any girlfriends over the age of 9. (Speaking of Occupy Wall Street, which of these ladies do you think are Republicans? I’m thinking Ramona, maybe Sonja, but only because, like, Donald Rumsfeld groped her once in the First Ladies’ Exhibit at the Smithsonian and now she gets excited whenever she sees a Dolly Madison snack cake. The Countess, for obvious reasons, doesn’t believe in representative democracy.)
And also, speaking of Luann, she tried to draw Sonja out about all the things that piss Sonja off about Ramona, but Sonja is more interested in seductively eating oysters while encouraging “Lou” to butch it up, and being adorable with her helper Millsaps, called by her surname as this is the proper form of address for a ladies’ maid, and whose job it is to take care of Sonja and boss her and see that she eats cooked food at regular hours and to make sure that she doesn’t take dog medicine instead of human pills. Every generation gets the Edie Beale it deserves. Meanwhile, Ramona and Heather go out for drinks (Ramona Pinot for Ramona; conspicuously NOT Ramona Pinot for Heather) in matching tennis whites and their mutual hatred is solidified. Holla!
Here’s where we are regarding the London trip heading into the final stretch. Carole, Sonja, and Luann are in. Aviva is out, being too plagued by her various crippling (pardon the pun) phobias of heights, enclosed spaces, tentacled headwear, and gold-digging nymphomaniacs (hi, Sonja!) preying on her poor undefended husband. Ramona has not yet been and will not be invited. She tries to “subtly” broach the subject with Heather, giving her best rabid puppy-dog eyes as she talks about how important it is to include everyone so as not to unduly hurt the feelings of others. (The feelings of others being historically very, very important to Ramona.) Heather, who with each episode is proving herself not to be a total fucking idiot, doesn’t take the bait, so Ramona takes her rage implosion out on Sonja for not refusing in solidarity to go on the only nice trip her broke ass has probably had all year to a country where Prince Harry is running around single.
Sonja’s not having it, and I can’t help but feel for Ramona here. It can’t be easy to juggle being the unhinged confrontational asshole and the desperately insecure, vindictive, score-keeping maniac. She’s trying to be Ramona Singer and Jill Zarin to us this year, and it can’t be easy. But if anyone can do it, it’s Ramona. I just can’t wait to read her cover story about it in The Atlantic.
P.S. Like Adrien Brody in the latter scenes of The Pianist, Aviva subsists on one hard-boiled egg per day. Discuss.