Ladies of London
Ah, my daaaahlings, it feels like we’ve only just begun. Sadly, season three must come to a close, but at least it’s ending in appropriate Ladies of London fashion: lavishly, dramatically, and entirely centered around Caroline Stanbury.
Stanbury isn’t my favorite member of this cast, but even I can admit that she is essential. She brought these women together … and she will tear them apart before this show ever goes on without her. After watching her opening montage, I understand why Caroline goes so nuts when things don’t go her way. Aside from the other women she’s contractually obligated to befriend, Caroline Stanbury’s life is perfect. When we catch up with her in the finale, she’s just roused herself from bed at 1:30 in the afternoon, inside the luxury penthouse where she’s residing since her family moved to Dubai.
In said penthouse she has two butlers at her disposal, for whom she has these instructions: a green juice on ice as soon as butler-ly possible, replace all the pristine fresh flowers with new pristine fresh flowers, and organize her mountain of designer shoes by color. She can’t do those things because she has to throw herself upon a chaise lounge, phone her assistant, and instruct the assistant to order her some extra hair for the sides of her head, as well as organize “a leaving party for my friends,” which she describes as “a good-bye and fuck you, basically.” Add a heavy pour of awe and envy, and those are my exact same sentiments for you, dear queen bee.
Appropriately, the finale is full of transitions. Julie is sending her shockingly mature daughter and/or BFF Emma off on a European tour, then university in the fall. Marissa and Matt have mutually agreed to move their family from London to Los Angeles. Sophie and her ex-husband are finally explaining their split to their little boys, and it seems oh-so-devastating. In happier news, Caroline Fleming gets word that the cookbook she’s been workshopping all season is officially being picked up by a British publisher. She, of course, receives this news by hugging the life out of her book editor, staring directly into her eyes while opening and closing her mouth (unclear if there is food in there, but probably), and repeatedly screaming in her face in excitement. I don’t think I have to tell you that she’s wearing incredible red leather pants through it all.
On exactly the same level of achievement and importance, Juliet just hit 100,000 followers on her Instagram page, which she feels is “a stamp of legitimacy as a blogger.” Now, Juliet does have a pretty solid Instagram (if you can stomach all the high-neck-ruffle numbers), but this segment is what secondhand-embarrassment nightmares are made of. In her testimonial, she says, “I’ve always had a sense of business” as the editors flash to her barely managing to juggle three balloons that spell out 1-0-0 for her photo shoot. The Ladies of London editors deserve the EGOT for the shade they cast upon fair Juliet each episode. (And that Grammy is well within their reach — see the final talking points below for details.)
Of course, the finale can’t be all iced green juice, timely good-byes, and exciting new life chapters. For if you air it on Bravo, the drama will come. Alas, the final bits of conflict center around Sophie and her habit of repeating the nasty things that Caroline Stanbury tells her, causing friction between Caroline and whomever Caroline was going on about. She’s done this with Julie and with Adela, and spreading that gossip was just fine until Sophie mended fences with her sister-in-law then refused to ever speak or hear ill of her again.
You can understand where all sides are coming from here, but Sophie’s insistence that she didn’t tell Adela the exact details of what Caroline texted her, and therefore didn’t cause the row between them, is just absurd. She said that Caroline texted awful things about Adela, which might as well be the same thing. Adela put together the pieces and confronted Caroline about it, and then Sophie tried to stick up for Caroline, the same person she had originally thrown under the bus. Now Adela is mad at Sophie, so Sophie is mad at Adela for being mad at her and yells at Adela on speaker phone when Julie tries to get to the bottom of things. Everyone is just so pretty and posh, why can’t they all just get along?!
But they will. Because that’s the difference between the Ladies of London and the Real Housewives of Not-London. Those Brits really can move past the bullshit.
As Caroline prepares for the good-bye party she’s throwing for herself, we finally learn what will become of her full-time makeup artist and paid best friend, Luke. He shan’t be going to Dubai with her, but as someone pointed out in the comments last week, he’s been getting work from other Housewives like Dorinda, so he’ll be juuuust fine. Also, he’s sends Caroline out in the look Caroline Stanbury was born to wear: evil stepmother meets glamorous witch.
Adela wears a skintight midi-dress that laces entirely up both sides. Juliet is in something I don’t want to talk about. And Julie is in a whimsical floral number that inspires Luke to tell her that he and Caroline were just talking about how far her fashion has come in the last few years. Caroline is sure that Julie’s elevating style represents how she’s been trying to morph into Caroline all along: “If she could skin me and wear me alive, I think she would.” Which, first of all, there’s no one who gets off more on the idea of being Single White Female inspiration than Caroline Stanbury, and second, I’ve never thought that Julie wanted to be queen bee, she just wants everyone to like her. Plus, Caroline would never be caught dead in that dress, so what is she even talking about?
As soon as Sophie and Adela arrive, things immediately get tense. They’re certain that they’ve got to right things before they can proceed with dinner, to which I scream, “NO YOU DON’T!” but that’s because I’m a passive American, I guess. Sophie and Adela simply step aside and speak calmly about how they’ve each hurt each other recently; Sophie apologizes for yelling at Adela on the phone, Adela accepts, and says they can just forget about all the rest. All is forgiven, and it’s time for an uncomfortably formal meal, perfectly fitting of the guest of honor.
That guest of honor, of course, is Caroline Stanbury, but Juliet seems to be unaware. Though Juliet has been going on and on about how she’s so sad that Caroline is leaving, and how much she’s meant to her, she just can’t help but put a damper on her last supper. First, she gives a super weird toast about how everyone is going to tell Caroline that things will be fine when she moves to Dubai, but that’s not true. Eventually she gets around to toasting to new beginnings, and everyone starts talking about all that they’ve been going through. Sophie says she’s learned a lesson on when to say things and when not to say things, and that apparently triggers “the poisonous dwarf in polyester [to start] attacking all of us.” Make Adela a series regular already, won’t you, Andy?
Juliet barks at Sophie, “With this group of people, I’ve never seen loyalty last a fleeting a second!” Uggggh. Then we have to listen to everyone talk about loyalty, what it means, and if it’s synonymous with friendship, but mostly we have to listen to Juliet make one last yappy attempt to permanently hitch her wagon to Caroline Stanbury. Caroline looks silently on from her perch at the head of the table, reveling in the chaos she’ll leave behind in her wake.
But in the end, everyone is fine. Sophie blows on Juliet’s face to calm her down — not a euphemism — and the dinner ends in toasts and laughs. There’s a montage of everyone reporting in around New Year: Marissa and family are happy in California in the nautical stripe and Nantucket red shorts she’s always been meant to wear; Sophie snuggles with her precious sons; Caroline Fleming talks to the camera while frantically bustling around her kitchen; Juliet says, “I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like who I’ve become … and if you have a problem with it, there’s the door,” bless her ironic, foreshadowing heart; Jules continues her royal hustle at Mapperton; and Caroline escorts us through her insane Dubai mansion.
All is as it should be. As my parting gift to you, yes, it is finally time to address the incredible generic Brit-pop that scores our weekly trips through the lives of London’s most elite reality TV stars. As far as I can tell, they’re all original tracks, and I know this is a controversial opinion, but I consider them to collectively make up the album of the year. (I know it’s only February — I said what I said.) Personally, my favorite has to be last week’s diddy containing these lyrics, and these lyrics alone: “God save the queen / God save the queen / and guess what!”
Sound off in the comments with your own favorites, and thank you so much for watching along with me this season. God save Bravo, and God save the Ladies of London.