Ever since her return following that Skinny Girl bonanza, Bethenny Frankel has been a lot more grating. That is until this episode. There was one moment in particular that reminded me of the Bethenny of old. She was one part funny, one part brash, one part outrageous, and one part shouting over everyone else. Combine those parts in a cocktail shaker with ice and artificially sweetened lime juice, bottle it with a kicky bright-red label, and sell that concoction for $120 million.
The scene I’m talking about is when Bethenny breaks down for Tinsley why none of them were invited to Luann’s upcoming wedding. Once Bethenny spells it out, it makes total sense: Ramona dated Tom and was on a quest to bring him down, Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Covfefe Morgans had slept with him, Bethenny herself had called Luann a whore and so much more, and Carole was dating her niece’s ex-boyfriend. This is not the crew Countess Crackerjacks wants watching her grown daughter serve as her flower girl, now is it?
However, that isn’t even the scene of the night. Here at the Real Housewives Institute, the scenes that we love the most are the ones that play out like some kind of horrible drama. You know, those scenes that are like the love children of Tennessee Williams and Paula Vogel or Edward Albee and Lorraine Hansberry if they weren’t all queer and not at all interested in reproducing (and certainly not with each other). We get one of those scenes when Bethenny breaks down in the hallway with Luann.
It all starts when Luann talks to Tinsley about how to find a man. Actually, no. It starts when Tinsley tells Carole a “hilarious story” about waking up in her ball gown in the bed of an oil baron. Why the editors chose to leave this story out of the action is beyond me and one day I would like Tinsley to tell me this story over rosé in the East End. Anyway, Luann gives Tinsley some stupid advice about trusting her gut to find a man and then Bethenny blurts out that she trusted her gut and it left her with an ex-husband who was abusing her in some torture chamber of regret or something. It is all very vague and awful. Bethenny gets up and leaves the room, not in a blaze, but like she is going to reapply her gloss in the powder room.
While Carole fills everyone in on the fact that her ex Jason has been sending her awful emails and harassing her new boyfriend, Dennis, Bethenny collapses in the other room and cries where no one but the camera and millions of Americans could possibly see her. The oddest bit of information during all of this is that Jason has taken to calling Bethenny “Bernadette,” which is the name of Bethenny’s estranged mother.
But that’s not even the scene. The scene is when Bethenny leaves the room to rejoin the others and she’s clearly been crying. Luann does the humane thing and apologizes if she upset Bethenny because she thought that her divorce was final and she had gotten away from all of the drama that Jason hath wrought. Bethenny has what I can only imagine is an honest reaction and she blurts out everything that all of the other women have been thinking but are too afraid to say. She says that she’s worried about Luann, and when she asks why, Bethenny replies through tears, “Because he’s cheating on you … I don’t think your guy is a good guy.” She says she doesn’t want to upset her, she just wants to make sure she’s not making a mistake.
It is unbelievable and really the last thing I want to say about Luann and Tom. Yes, all of the women danced around the subject earlier, but no one was really ballsy enough to really go there and put their relationship with Luann (and therefore their job on the show) on the line by telling her the honest truth. It was Bethenny who finally went there, and of course Luann stonewalled her.
The only one who really understands her is Tinsley, who was recently arrested for essentially being in a bad relationship. (Thank God that is only a crime in Palm Beach or else I would have committed more crimes than Michael Jackson at a daycare center. ALLEGEDLY!) Tinsley says that when you’re in love you’re blind to everything, including what a jerk you’ve thrown in with. None of them can say anything to Luann to make her change her mind, so it’s better to just shut up. Shockingly enough, Sonja seems to be employing this strategy quite effectively, instead deciding to focus on throwing her makeup in the toilet, farting all around Dorinda’s house, and sashaying around in leather pants like it’s 2002 and she has a free bottle at Bungalow 8.
All that’s left is for everyone else to project themselves onto Luann and her relationship with Tom. Not only is Bethenny taking out her mistakes with Jason on her, Ramona is also reliving her humiliation at the hands of Mario as well. But that seems natural for Ramona. She’s the kind of human who can only see things through the prism of herself. She doesn’t care about Luann so much as she cares about her own emotions. When she says, “It’s not going to get better. It’s not going to get better,” is she talking about Tom cheating or is she talking about sitting by herself and crying into a half-finished pint of Talenti while her dog shits on the floor? It will never be clear.
Everyone was convinced that Ramona was being crazier than usual with her shouting about winning the chocolate Santa Claus and whatnot, but I couldn’t tell the difference. Crazy Ramona is like decaf coffee: You can’t tell the difference from the original and both of them make you want to pass out at 9 p.m. But Bethenny is truly the MVP of this episode, between her two great scenes and her theory about “Trick Guys.” She is totally right about Tom, by the way. He is the kind of guy who couldn’t get laid until he made some money and now he’s getting revenge on all of the women who wouldn’t sleep with him in his college days by screwing women over for the rest of his life.
For as much fun as Bethenny and the rest of the girls have at Dorinda’s house in the Berkshires, everyone is really trashing the joint. Sonja fills it up with her gas, Ramona spills things all over the cushions of the chairs, and Carole, well, she’s trying to suffocate everyone with the skills she learned in Brownies. While I don’t doubt that Carole can build a good fire, trying to kill everyone with excess smoke is not part of that plan. Also, I saw a glimpse of the little blocks of wood she used as fire starters and knew that those wedges were Dorinda’s door stoppers and would not have put them on the grate as kindling. Come on, Carole. Of all the people in that house, you should know better.
Still, we can’t entirely blame her for the accident. She didn’t know what was happening up on Dorinda’s roof. Between all the bickering and crying they didn’t hear the aluminum ladder hit the eaves of Blue Stone Manor. They didn’t hear the little grunts of a small woman trying to climb that ladder in high heels, delicately fitting each rung in the elbow between the heel and the ball of her foot, slowly ascending the frosting surface through the thick drizzle. They didn’t hear the click-click-click of her heels as they traversed the lightly thatched roof or this poor woman almost falling several times owing to the weather conditions and the giant sack she was carrying on her back.
Once she got to the chimney, she put her plan in action, stuffing all of her old sweaters, her daughter’s stirrup pants, Bobby’s less expensive suits that he wouldn’t really miss, anything made of cloth that she could find, and jamming it into those clay pots on the top of the house. She was going to do it, she thought, change the air in that room one way or another, whether she was there or not. She came up with this idea when packing up some clothing for charity but there was no charity better than this, no cause greater than her own revenge. She packed everything in tight and then waited. But for what? If she was successful, what would happen? She wouldn’t see any smoke. She wouldn’t hear any screams. Hopefully it would just be everyone lulling themselves into a stupor and falling asleep. Drifting off as their limbs got heavy and their eyes sank and their dreams became smaller and smaller until they clicked to black, like an old television set finally shutting off. She didn’t want to think about that just yet. Instead, Jill Zarin clung to the chimney of Dorinda’s house and wondered two things as if they were the same thought: How was she going to get down and what would come next?