The Real Housewives of New York City Premiere Recap: Suddenly Last Summer

The Real Housewives of New York City

Divided, They Summer
Season 11 Episode 1
Editor’s Rating 2 stars

The Real Housewives of New York City

Divided, They Summer
Season 11 Episode 1
Editor’s Rating 2 stars
Photo: Bravo

Let’s get one thing clear right out of the gate: This season is not last season. Season ten of Real Blackface Monsters of Halloween Alley was one of the all-time greats and we knew it before the first episode even aired. We had Luann’s arrest, the boat ride from hell, and the dissolution of Carole and Bethenny’s friendship to look forward to, and the season did not disappoint. When I am old and dead and my soul goes back home to be with my personal lord and savior Andrew Cohen, I will remember that season with fondness and feel special that I got to be alive at such a joyous time.

This season is not that season. Yes, it starts with news rather than the footage of the women. Based on several news reports, we hear about Luann going back to rehab and getting sued by her children. We also hear about Bethenny’s on-again, off-again boyfriend Dennis Shields, who died of a drug overdose in Trump Tower, of all places. But these events aren’t previews of what we’re going to see this season. It’s more of a description of what mental state the women are in. I don’t know if this is going to be a good season or a bad season, but I do know that I will watch these women do just about anything because they all make me laugh like nothing else.

Of course the biggest comedian is Sonja Tremont Morgan of Free Conference Call Dot Com Morgans. Her tagline this season is, “People call me over the top, but lately I prefer to be a bottom.” This is more bananas than three truckloads of yellow Laffy Taffy. Does Sonja mean that she isn’t on the top anymore; now she’s on the bottom of the social ladder? Why would she like that? Why would a woman who still uses her sister-in-law’s butler want to be on the bottom socially? She doesn’t.

Does that mean that the heiress formerly known as STAM enjoys being on the bottom like in a gay sex way? Like she enjoys being the passive participant in anal sex? I don’t doubt that to be true because this is our favorite floozy that we’re talking about and we know that she at least let that pirate in St. Barth’s go looking for the buried treasure in her booty. But isn’t the bottom Sonja’s default role? I also don’t doubt that Sonja knows her way around a strap-on, but I don’t think she has the particular anatomy to classify herself as a top? I have no idea what any of this means and which gay at one of her Wednesday night parties convinced her this was a good idea.

All I know is that I absolutely loved it when she had to duct tape a towel to the window of her new apartment on Columbus Circle because she was having a guy over and she didn’t want the people dining at Robert NYC, the restaurant on the top of the neighboring Museum of the Arts and Design, to see her getting it on. Oh, and what about her interview look, where she has a Barbara Eden bouffant with one tendril slipping down her neck looking like the lock that busted its way out of the hair asylum? I love her. Can I just watch her for the rest of the season?

The rest of the women aren’t nearly as winning. Luann is back on her righteous sobriety and apparently reconciled with her children, at least judging by the fact that her daughter Victoria is going to sing “Girl Code” with her at a cabaret show. Most of the episode we see her sitting around with Bethenny and her friend Barbara K. in the Hamptons bitching about Dorinda and Ramona and how awful they are to her.

(A little aside about Barbara K. I’m not quite sure what to do with her. The Eileen Davidson Accord requires that I give her five episodes before I can judge a new Housewife, but as Ramona will cattily remind us, she is not officially a Housewife. They didn’t “give her an apple.” So, should we judge her now? Should we give her like 2.5 episodes? I don’t know. You tell me.)

Ramona and Luann will never truly get along. They are the Cristal and Alexis of this show and honestly they are both much better when they’re at odds. Currently Luann is mad that Ramona made up a lie about her getting thrown out of some party for being drunk on the reunion. You know the last reunion, the one that Luann had to skip because she was on her way to rehab. Yeah, that reunion. While Ramona might have been factually wrong, spiritually she was mostly right.

This Luann and Dorinda spat is new and weird, though. Dorinda is pissed about something that is like a slippery blueberry: As soon as I try to put my finger on it, it skitters away to the other side of the plate. I guess she’s mad at Luann telling her to cool it at that dinner in Colombia at the end of last season. Has she been holding a grudge all of these months over that?

Dorinda being Dorinda, she is now going full scorched-earth on her former bestie Luann. She goes so far as to arrive at Ramona’s house in the Hamptons bearing a gift for the ages: a commemorative tote bag from Luann’s wedding to Tom. First of all, she should sell that on eBay, because I would personally bid a minimum of $1,000 for one of those bags. Second of all, this gesture displays one of my favorite emotions: pruel. That is when something is both so petty and so cruel at the same time that it is absolutely wonderful. More of this please.

Shockingly, Ramona is on Luann’s side in this battle. She tells Dorinda that Luann is in a bad place and she’s trying to get better and to give her a little bit of room. I think this is good advice. Let the woman get over her arrest, lawsuit, and sobriety a little and then scream at her so loud it flays the skin right off her face. That seems like the humane thing to do.

Ramona, however, is really just interested in finding love with Boris, her 50-year-old Russian swimming instructor who fills out a pair of skin-tight multicolored trunks a little bit better than he should. Ramona flirts with absolutely everyone. Ramona flirts with her two realtors wearing bow ties that couldn’t look gayer if they were fellating each other at a Robyn concert. The thing is Ramona is so bad at flirting. She has less game than the Sunday after the Super Bowl. When she’s trying to mack the swim instructor she says she should be good at the breast stroke because she has no breasts. Then she points out just how flexible she is. She’s like an S&L (as Don Jr. calls it) sketch of a horny old housewife. It’s both kind of comforting and amazing.

The only thing I can say about Tinsley is that Scott the Koupon King sent her a Bentley in the mail and she doesn’t know how to drive it. That, right there, is Tinsley’s whole life in one sentence.

That leaves us with Bethenny. She has always been a bit of an emotional rag-doll of a person, with her various neuroses held together by the flimsiest of threads. Now, with the death of Dennis, it seems like the stuffing is finally coming out at the seams. She has to leave a photo shoot to just cry in the bathroom for a minute. When Lu and Barbara K. come over, she tells them that she just had a text message about Dennis and that’s why she’s crying. “But I’m fine,” she says, but she keeps crying; “But I’m fine,” she says again, but she keeps crying like a GIF that will never stop playing.

I’m going to give Bethenny a wide berth because she is dealing with grief as well as her ongoing custody battle with her ex-husband, so she’s really been going through it for like the past five years. And now, at least according to the trailer at the end of the episode, Jill Zarin is back in her life. Who knows what that could possibly mean.

Speaking of which, as Bethenny, Luann, and Barbara ate lobster tails and now mushy black-and-white cookies on Bethenny’s lanai, there was a faint rustling in the deep purple hydrangeas just off of the patio. It was a sound so quiet that even an owl wouldn’t have heard it or even a child with the most acute hearing in the world with his hand cupped around his ear. It was the sound of a bee landing on a stamen, or a bit of dandelion fluff landing on a freshly mowed lawn. It was the sound of someone creeping in the bushes to get closer to hear. Soon that noise was joined with a distinct hum, like a breeze blowing over something hollow. As soon as the noise started a blonde placed both of her hands around a plastic leg to stop it. Aviva Drescher was too close to getting back on the show to have her cover blown now.

RHONY Premiere Recap: Suddenly Last Summer