The Real Housewives of New York City
Hooray and Huzzah, for the Real Housewives of New York City is good again. Need we strand these fillies on an island that is not Manhattan for magic to happen? Whatever the formula, last night’s crazy-thon was bursting with rewindable moments (Aviva’s Vassar speech), reprehensible butt-ins (Luann interjecting during the Ramonja-versus-Aviva showdown) and otherwise insane, wonderful, horrible, funny, awful things (Sonja getting BF’ed; Carole and Heather seeing it). Basically, my favorite show is back! Hop la.
Last night, we picked up where we left off — with Tomasgate. Luann held onto her Cheshire Grin with the tenacity of a pit bull on his favorite tennis ball, sticking with her “I had Italian friends over last night” tall tale, while the other Cougars shook down Captain Jack for a broken English confession that proved yes, he had partaken in the Countess’s “Take away the ‘O’ and strike the ‘ess’” the night before. Ramona was on poor Tommy Boy like white on rice, sticking out her belly and fishing for juicy morsels while her prey politely deferred her. But all Ramona wanted was to humiliate Luann by catching her in a lie — she didn’t want eyeliner on her sheets. Then, Horny Sonja positioned her tendrils around Tomas’s action zone and zeroed in on the lad as Luann acted indifferent. It was sloppy thirds for Captain Crunch!
The next day, the ladies headed out for a day on a boat, where Ramona got to ogle her fellow Housewives in their swimming suits before demanding the crew create a shady spot for her and her increasingly less adorable cohort, Sonja, so they could eat in the kind of shade that only humans can create for other humans, with towels. The giving tree had nothing on those two beleaguered, towel-wielding gents, and hopefully, one day, it will say in their obituaries that they provided a cool spot for two monsters so they could eat their hummus in the shade. Meanwhile on the boat, Carole and Heather bonded and talked about a book that was neither a magazine nor written by a Housewife or dieting expert, and otherwise acted rationally. Also, Carole didn’t wear a top and she may or may not have looked like Elie Wiesel on the last page of Night, but I don’t want to body-snark, I just want Russ to hide a hoagie in his hair one night so she absorbs some extra calories, and that grease goes to a good cause.
This whole time, drama was approaching. Drama in the form of a statuesque amputee in a salmon blazer with a playlist labeled “Panic Mix” on her iPod. That’s right — Aviva and her trusty security blanket, Reid, were en route to St. Barts, where magic would happen as soon as they were there to observe it. The Heisenberg principle of wonderful Reality television!
Back at the house, Sonja and Ramona skinny-dipped with their omnipresent foam noodles, which, can we can agree, deserve their own union after being repeatedly manhandled suchly. Heather came out at one point and said “Look at your heinies!” Which was cute, and Carole, too, commented on their nudity, as did Luann, in her black cover-up dress, out of which she’s getting her money’s worth. But it wasn’t until Aviva showed up with Reid in tow when Ramonja got the audience they had not-dressed for.
Carole greeted the Dreschers with a warm, hostess-y hug, and Luann and Heather were similarly gracious. Ramona and Sonja lingered in the pool for a while, before reluctantly getting out to say hi to Aviva and Reid.
And we knew Ramonja wasn’t overly delighted to greet them. They had even visited a Sotheby’s office to look into renting a house for less than a week, because that’s not at all unrealistic or contrived.
Reid immediately took one look at the skinny-dipping shenanigans going on in his mist and said “Byeeeeeeeee” and that he’d be working in his room for the rest of his stay. Reid is a smart man, and I respect his instincts around these batty chickens.
After he said that, instead of marinating in some kind of silent, classy relief, Sonja made sure to stumble over to the most recent male-not-currently-BF’ing-her addition to the island, and tell Reid that she was so glad he’d be staying out of their way and not being an albatross around the metaphorical appendage that was the group’s pre-Reid dynamic. And here is when I said “OH NO!” out loud, because telling somebody who arrived minutes ago that you were afraid they’d be hanging around too much is … not a great thing to do. And Ramona, who had been enabling and encouraging Sonja’s mean girlitude this entire season, goaded her on with her very hands-off approach to the melee, going out of her way insofar as putting on her bikini top to lend Aviva and Reid a passing Singer salute. White Trash is as White Trash does.
Soon, it was time to retire to the kitchen, where the staffers scattered like high IQ cockroaches so they’d be nowhere to be found, even in the background of the battle shots to come. And then, it was Ramonja versus Aviva — the former in their swim clothes, the latter in her travel blazer, fresh from and perhaps still experiencing the aftershocks of a panic attack and the ensuing meds she likely had to gobble down, without food, to treat it. I will give Aviva the benefit of the doubt by calling her behavior in the confrontation scenes trauma-shaded. Because as despicably as Sonja and Ramona acted, some of the things Aviva said out loud were also straight up Batman-batty.
Here is a script I have transcribed/ paraphrased of the “White Trash Scene,” loosely.
Carole: I’m going to see my boyfriend.
Sonja: Is he in your room?
[Carole and Heather go off together, hugging each other in a way that is uncomfortable to look at. They are wearing bathrobes and are shot from behind.]
Ramona (loudly, obnoxiously, in front of Aviva): WHERE’S MARIO? WHERE’S JACQUES?
Aviva: Mario was going to come.
Ramona (to Aviva): We were talking earlier about how unfair it was that you got to bring your husband to this trip and we didn’t.
Sonja: It was a really bitchy conversation about you. Basically, we said that you can’t be without your man for two days. Anyway, we were glad Reid just came in and then said he’d be in his room.
Aviva: Yes, he has no interest in watching you maniacs get naked and drunk and shout at each other while clutching pool noodles with your respective vulvae.
Ramona: We’re not drunk! Who’s drunk? [An empty bottle of pinot grigio clangs to the floor after escaping through a hole in her bikini bottom.]
Aviva: Well, you should all be thanking my husband, because if it weren’t for Reid, I wouldn’t have been able to come here. And I know you’re all really thrilled I’m here, clearly, because you’ve made a point of making this all about me. So let’s all get in line and take turns blowing my husband for holding my hand on that prop plane earlier because I have panic issues and you know that, and if you valued my company, you’d be singing my husband’s praises like a Goddamn hymn right now.
Ramona: Let’s take things one step at a time. We’re still adjusting to the fact that he’s actually here, which, as we’ve established, we do not like.
Aviva: I’m sorry. Are you saying ANYTHING NEGATIVE about Reid Christ? Did you know he was Jesus’s brother? Because he is. He’s actually better than Jesus because he’s still alive, he makes good money, and he’s related to The Nanny. Anyway, are you saying ANYTHING NEGATIVE about him?
Here’s when the music got ominous and Luann, who had been WATCHING this whole encounter from the other side of the kitchen bar, began chewing her appetizer in slow, deliberate bites. Something dark was about to descend and she had a front row seat — it was like when the shark is about to chew up Robert Shaw and his boat, and you still manage to reach for and eat some popcorn.
Back to the play.
Ramona: Don’t yell at me. I’m a robot who, based on her abusive childhood, is programmed to snap at any being who shows signs of superficial aggression, like voice-raising. And YOU’RE the neurotic one.
Aviva: I’m not yelling. I’m asking you a question. Do you have anything negative to say about Reid being here? Do you, bitch?
Ramona: Yes, basically. We were and are afraid the dynamics would change once your husband showed up to buy and sell stocks in his room.
Sonja: We thought he’d be in a hotel. We’re assholes!
Note: at this point, I will only use the exact words these gorgeous women used against each other.
Aviva: IF ANYBODY DOES NOT COME UPSTAIRS AND THROW HER ARMS AROUND HIM AND SAY THANK YOU FOR BRINGING OUR FRIEND HERE I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT. MY HUSBAND DID AN AMAZING THING.
Ramona: TAKE A XANAX! CALM DOWN!!!!!!!
Aviva: I don’t need Xanax. I just need my husband. I don’t need Pinot Grigio. I just need my husband.
[Luann stops grinning for a moment and interjects with the chutzpah of one thousand astronauts]
Luann: Come on, guys. Just yesterday you were saying to me “How are we going to ask Reid to leave.”
At this point, I went “AHHHHHH!!!!!!” out loud in my living room. Luann, you shit-stirrer! It wasn’t enough to go to the horror movie — you HAD to shout at the screen. In that act of audience participation, Luann assumed responsibility for all of Ramona’s rage.
Ramona, even though she was still yelling at Aviva, was no longer angry at her, nor was she gobsmacked by the legless one’s hysteria. All her vitriol was redirected into the vessel that was The Countess by Luann’s singular act of heckling the screen. And Heather even said as much later — Ramona is only able to be angry at one person at a time. The rest, she derides, humors, or pities based on the circumstance. Just because she redirected her rage on Luann in that moment doesn’t mean she respects Aviva — or even her BFF Sonja. She is just only rankle-able by a sturdy and historically juicy enemy, and her triggers are: being disloyal, being roundabout, being discreet, and putting on airs. Ding ding ding! Luann, you’re back in the ring.
So, back at the kitchen counter, Aviva reacted to Luann’s butt-in with a “how dare you” toward Ramonja. And Ramona replied that maybe Aviva was merely still panicking. Aviva said no, she wasn’t nervous, she was just getting pissed, because the way Ramona and Sonja were acting was not the way friends act. Sonja futilely tried to spin the fight into something positive by saying, under Aviva’s sermon and Ramona’s manic, toothy head-shakes and guffaws, “We wanted you to be with us! We wanted to have more time with YOU!” while Aviva went full attack on Ramona.
Aviva called Ramona ungracious, disgusting, and drew a parallel to the incident in which Heather came to her house in the Hamptons and Ramona said she talked too much. She said that she’d heard Ramona was mean — that she had given her the benefit of the doubt and was disappointed. And then, the parting shot. “You know what?” Aviva said to a still-wet Sonja and Ramona. “You’re BOTH white trash, quite frankly.” Boom! The nastiest thing you can say in a comedy of manners and status. And on St. Barts! In a blazer! Marvelous. Top marks, Aviva! You may have just saved this series.
I wish I could end the recap here, but more happened.
The second the White Trash bomb landed on Ramona’s lap, she tried to throw it across the counter to Luann. “You said the dynamic would change, Luann!” “Say something!” Sonja yelled to the Countess. “You were the instigator!” Ramona barked at Luann. It was fucking brilliant. A dog who farted looking around before leaving the room. Ramona got red in the face and managed to ignore the White Trash comment in time to lob all of her hot-cheeked fury in the direction of the person in the room who likely most enjoyed it. “You’re always the instigator, Luann! We were tryin’ to make nice-nice … you were frickin … frickin … ” Ramona sputtered, White Trashily, while Sonja did her impression of the Opposite of Xanax by saying “What part of GIRLS’ VACATION did you not understand?” to Aviva, who was, by then, done.
Aviva went upstairs and told Reid they should check into a hotel, and Reid was like “Uh, okay, whatever.” And Carole came in with a tumbler of something brown, bless her, and asked what was going on. Cool Carole tried to impress upon them her “Skinny Buddha” energy, when Luann peeked in her pumpkin head to suck up all of the dirt going on around her — Countess Dirt Devil!
Meanwhile, Ramona and Sonja were in their bathroom, performing the first-ever two-woman sketch show at the new UCB St. Barts. Unable to absorb the legitimate criticism Aviva had imparted, Sonja resorted to strategizing around how to get back into Aviva’s good graces. “What if I just hug her?” She wondered. “That’s what I used to do with Kelly. You just touch ‘em. That’s what I do with you. I pet you! You still wake up all pissed off.” As Sonja strategized the best way to physically sneak up on Aviva, Ramona fumed over Luann.
And around the corner, Aviva barked her side of the story at Luann, Carole, and oh! It’s Heather! Heather said something about how the week had been awkward for her with Ramona, and I wasn’t sure if she was saying that Aviva should suck it up and stay? And then Aviva went on about how low-class and uneducated it was for Ramona and Sonja to act the way they did, a statement it took Pumpkin Head her reserve of Native American strength not to cackle at in recognition. Aviva got a little psycho-grandiose at this point, saying she should have arrived to a party instead of a poolside snub, and that was yet another instance of a time on this show when a person just needed some substantial food and a soak in a tub, maybe chased with a frying pan over the head. I’m not a doctor, I just know what works.
Meanwhile, Luann walked on stage in the middle of the Ramona and Sonja show and Ramona got in Luann’s face, yelling that she started the whole thing while a poor staffer paid to blow dry Ramona’s hair scurried behind her with a round brush. “You’re nuts,” Luann said, then disappeared. And when Aviva came downstairs alone, Sonja tried her “hugging technique” on her, and it didn’t work. There was also some weird modeling of a purple tent dress? I know the former technique — the hugging, or the compression, at least — was developed by Temple Grandin in order to calm cows. But I don’t know about the Grimace outfit. One cannot question the innovations of modern minds like Ms. Morgan’s.
Aviva told her she was still mad and Sonja suggested that maybe she hadn’t listened. And then, Aviva unleashed my favorite notable quotable of the night. Here is what she said, in full. “I went to law school, and I went to Vassar, and I speak several languages. I hear and I understand everything.” Everything? EVERYTHING? I didn’t realize Vassar was now an Ivy League. “I’ve had enough of your Vassar-bashing, young lady!” Oh no. I’m quoting The Simpsons now. I need to wrap up this recap and go about my day.
BUT STILL, THERE WAS DRAMA! Carole saw that the Sonja-Aviva summit was going horribly, Sonja spoke with her hands, Aviva shut down, Sonja threatened to go to a hotel, Aviva emphasized her panic disorder, and nobody was getting anywhere.
Then, Ramona showed up, contrite. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN THE BATHROOM AND THIS MOMENT, except that the person paid to blow dry her hair was obviously pissed at Ramona, considering the state of her bangs.
Ramona had a speech ready to go, and told Aviva that she was sorry … that she felt the way she did (the ol’ non-apology, emotionally delivered). That she would do whatever she had to in order for Aviva to feel comfortable, that she felt terrible, and, finally, that she admired her and was willing to love her. It was so ersatz and bizarre, and Ramona explained her technique later, in her confessional. “If I do something that’s not wrong, I don’t say I’m sorry … unless Aviva is acting like a crazy lunatic, then I’ll say I’m sorry just to calm her the fuck down.” Great. The underlying philosophy of all non-apologies! Whatever.
So, by now, Ramona had her shit together, Carole missed her date with Russ, and Sonja was still a mess. Again — whatever. Sonja, you see, didn’t want to apologize to Reid, so she lashed out into the mirror. “I HAVE TURNED A CORNER!” she monologue’d. “I DON’T NEED ANY NEW FRIENDS!” Oh boy. Put down the curling iron, bring out the frying pan.
Finally (THANK GOD FINALLY! I don’t get paid by the word!), the ladies had dinner at an establishment a mite classer than Le Ti, in that the forks weren’t actually stiffened rat tails and the tables weren’t made out of soldered-together toilet lids. Ramona gifted Heather some booze, which fueled Heather’s aforementioned observation that Singer is unable to be mad at more than one person at a time, and everybody wore sequins. Ramona still seethed at Luann, and Reid, because he is a ROCKET SCIENTIST, stayed home. Sonja said “I was in tears earlier!” to Carole, which is like a pirate telling somebody they thought about gold that day.
Next week: More drama! More mishuggas! More Aviva versus Ramona and Sonja madness! And hopefully I’ll be able to write something under three thousand words. I ain’t Dickens! Until then, my White Trash consorts!