The Real Housewives of New York City
Let’s just start this off in a snark-free zone, shall we? What Bethenny is doing in Puerto Rico is God’s work. Even if she’s doing it for the cameras, even if she’s doing it just to burnish her image, even if she’s doing it to raise awareness, she’s still doing the damn thing. The money that she gave those people is real, actual money, and I don’t really care why you’re going and helping those people as long as you’re doing it.
There is no doubt after seeing that footage that the island, two months after Hurricane Maria, was still suffering. Like Bethenny said during the show, hearing that Puerto Rico had no power and being in Puerto Rico with no power are two different things. I was struck by the houses totally washed away, one with an oven still standing in the middle of the wreckage like some semblance of order might come back at any given time.
The thing that moved me the most was when Dorinda, new to this relief effort, met a woman and her little girl and said, “She wants the same thing for her daughter that we want for ours.” Girl, I never like to admit that The Real Housewives sometimes makes me cry, but this time I am not ashamed at all. That very simple notion was like cracking your skull open, putting it through a black hole, and having it come out into a whole new dimension. So, I’m not going to belittle Bethenny, Dorinda, or what they did there. I’m going to even post this link right here for B Strong, where you can go and donate some money for disaster relief. Bethenny has given us enough entertainment over this past decade that we can each part with $20 for all the good work she’s doing.
Now, I don’t mean to break your neck with a rapid transition into the frippery and buffoonery of a normal Housewives episode after all that disaster talk, but isn’t that what the show did? We leave Dorinda and Bethenny in Puerto Rico, there’s a commercial break for Coupon Bungalow or whatever the hell that thing is, and then we’re back to a dinner party where Ramona is drinking $600 wine and thinking nothing of that or the people with their lights off in Puerto Rico. At least she had the decency to ask about Bethenny’s humanitarian work.
The craziest thing about that dinner is that Ramona and Luann were both there, sitting next to each other, and neither of them was a nexus of the various arguments that were breaking out around the table. Bethenny, on her new charity kick, is trying to see the point of view of Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Great Neck Long Island Morgans in her battle with Tinsley. Bethenny tries to explain to the women at dinner that Sonja feels like she gave Tinsley a leg up and a place to stay when she was at her lowest place, and now that Tinsley has turned her life around, she has abandoned Sonja.
That is all true, but it’s a very generous way to see the situation. What that leaves out is the shit Sonja was talking — about who is paying Tinsley’s bills and where her money is coming from. This incites a fight between Tinsley and Sonja, where Tinsley accuses Sonja of lying about the fact that she told Sonja she had no friends. When Carole tries to pipe up for Tinsley, Bethenny shuts her down and then they get in a fight, where Carole uses Bethenny’s classic, “Get off my jock” line and dismisses her with a flick of her rather slender and graceful hand.
What results is a sort of roundelay of miscommunication and veiled acrimony. Carole and Bethenny are shouting at cross purposes to Sonja and Tinsley shouting, and then they’re all shouting about who is shouting and Ramona is just sipping her $1 trillion glass of wine wondering when the fight will turn to her so that she’ll have something to talk about for a change.
The Sonja and Tinsley fight seems to be somewhat resolved. At the book party for Karen “Duff” Duffy (remember her from when the M in MTV still stood for music?), Tinsley takes Sonja aside and they decide to squash it. Tinsley is totally right, if she and Sonja go tit for tat (in this equation, Sonja is definitely the “tit”) their squabble will last indefinitely. If they try to put it behind them and have some fun together again, hopefully they can mend their relationship again. However, if Sonja starts about Tinsley’s money again, Tinz is totally in the right to roast her again.
It’s the rift between Carole and Bethenny that I’m really worried about. Ramona, worried she’s not at the center of it, talks to Carole at the book party and says something along the lines of, “I’m so glad you’ve found your voice now, even though Bethenny thinks you’re a puppet.” Carole is smart enough to know that Bethenny wouldn’t use those words, but at dinner, Bethenny did say that Carole used to take Heather’s side, then took Bethenny’s side, and now is taking Tinsley’s side. When Carole asks Bethenny about it, she denies using that word, but she acknowledges, at least to fans, she totally thinks that Carole is being manipulated.
The other problem is this thing between Bethenny and Adam, where she asked him to go to Houston and take photos for a week and he said he couldn’t do it if he wasn’t going to be paid. I totally understand that. I try to help out friends and charities when I can, but I couldn’t go away for a week to work for free and put off all the work that I would normally get paid for, no matter how much I like Bethenny. She called Adam an “operator” which Carole thinks is a positive and Bethenny thinks is a negative, which is odd because Bethenny has a show with Fredrik Eklund, who is a bigger operator than Lily Tomlin on Laugh-In. All I’m saying is that this gets a big fat “stay tuned” for next week.
We also need to call attention to two other events. The first is that Sonja had Luann and Ramona over to help her paint the chairs on her patio for when the new renters move in. Rather than cleaning them and then painting them, Sonja instructs the women just to paint over the accumulated bird shit on the chairs so that at least they look green. If there was ever a metaphor for Sonja’s life, it’s just painting over the bird shit.
The other thing we can’t neglect was the appearance of Real Housewife Institute Vice-President for Gift Shop Sales Ben Rimalower, who directed Countess Luann in her cabaret show Countess and Friends (which I still have not seen and I am incredibly envious of all of you who have). They have a nice chat about the show Luann wants to do, and he asks her to sing “Happy Birthday” to him. She goes for the Marilyn Monroe, caressing his face, and ending the song by giving him a kiss on the mouth. If Luann is a barking dog, I have never in my life met a tree more wrong than Ben “Bring on the Broadway Twinks and Chorus Boys” Rimalower. Still I love him and I’m sure he did a great job and I know if I were ever to have a cabaret show (“Oh Look, There’s More Cookies: The Brian Moylan Story”) Ben would be the person I would want to direct it.
While Luann was uptown talking to Ben about taking over Broadway, or at least something adjacent to it like a dinner theater or a halal cart, a red-headed woman on the Upper East Side was in her quiet apartment putting the laundry away in the dim of a house that is about to put itself to sleep even though it was only about 8 p.m. Finally she got to the socks, her least favorite, because of all the work they took. She pulled a sock out and searched for its mate, only one in the whole bunch, and folded them together, once, then twice, and put them in the drawer in a little row, like an army of Marie Kondo’s soldiers ready to march in a war for sparking internal joy.
How she hated how mundane this was, but she did it, one sock after another, each finding its match with her help. The she started to marvel at the process, how these socks parted and came together again so many times and, even after a spin in both the washer and drier, they fit together so well. As she folded them in half she remarked how the turns of the heels collapsed into each other, like a finger into a baby’s fist. She wanted that to go on forever, she wanted to be able to fold her husband’s socks until the end of time, and that, finally, is what brought Jill Zarin to tears.