The Real Housewives of New York City
This entire season I had no idea what to do with Barbara K. She was being introduced to us like she was a new cast member, but she didn’t have a tagline or an apple in the introduction. As Ramona is quick to point out, she is not a new cast member. How exactly are we supposed to judge her? As one of the ladies? As a “friend of”? Does she get the customary five-episode grace period afforded by the Eileen Davidson Accord? Does she not? I don’t know.
Well, we are now six episodes into the season so now we can say whatever the hell we want and I will say that I don’t particularly care for Barbara. There’s something about her demeanor that seems equal parts ditzy and smug, which is a dangerous combination. When she is trying to steal Dorinda’s seat at the head of the table in her own house we have to assume that she is kidding, but she’s actually maybe serious? Like a fart at a concert, I don’t know where it came from and I don’t think I want to stay around to find out.
She is a not-ready-for–prime-time player. Just like Ramona and Dorinda picking on her clothes, her shoes, and her general demeanor, I don’t know that I really want her on my reality television program. She has been needlessly thrust upon us like Hawaiian pizza or another season of Blue Bloods.
As Bethenny points out when Barbara tries to blame the “room drama” on Sonja, Barbara has been so indoctrinated by Luann that she is basically a cartoon character that looked at a watch going back and forth three times and now will do anything Lu tells her. That’s what really annoyed me when she shows up and is pissed that she has to sleep in the fish room. First of all, be a little bit grateful that you were even invited. Second of all, if your belly button is hanging out and you are not at the beach or in yoga class then you have no place passing judgment on other people’s taste. Third of all, as we discussed last week, the shark room is the best room so double-you tee eff is wrong with you?
Dorinda is having none of it either and even goes so far as to call Barbara a “negative cunt.” I don’t know that she’s negative so much as she’s throwing the natural balance of things all out of whack because she’s so closely aligned with the Countess. If they were a duo on Survivor one of them would clearly get voted off, because having two people in such lockstep is a liability to everyone else. Luann shouldn’t get two votes. Luann should hardly get one vote.
The thing that interests me the most is what clearly happened with this season: Barbara was brought on to be a full cast member but everyone hated her so much (except Luann) that they all determined that they were going to quit if she was allowed to be in the cast full-time. They mutinied on Barbara’s ass and now it is out in the cold because there is also a weird hole in the back of her sweater on purpose and no one told her to close that shit up because it’s dumb.
I don’t want to spend too much time talking about Barbara because there are so many other great things this episode, like Patrick, the hot gay yoga teacher who can put me into downward dog and make me moan any damn time he wants. That’s why all the women in that room are making noises like they’re eating the last plate of truffle fries in the known universe. They’re hot for Patrick.
For my money, Patrick is way sexier than the Bare Naked Chef, or BNC as he’s known in the biz. BNC is hot, don’t get me wrong, but he’s hot in a very specific overlap of the Venn diagram of muscular, hairy, and tattooed that has made more than a couple of gay porn careers. It’s so expected. He’s what gay men are marketed to believe is the physical ideal when so many of us are not that and so many of us want something other than that. Some of us want 32-year-old twink yoga instructors who will make dirty jokes with old women on national television and who we don’t have to worry about getting butt hair in our soup. (P.S., I would eat soup full of BNC’s butt hairs.)
The real star of the show this week, though, is Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Guggenheim Bible Morgans. Such a mysterious thing happens to her when she visits Ventfort Hall, a Morgan family “cottage” built in the Berkshires in 1893 that, much like everything in Sonja’s orbit, has seen better days. She says out loud that it reminds her of her townhouse on the Upper East Side, with its vacuum-dented baseboards and hardwood floors that are so maligned they had to be covered up with threadbare rugs.
It’s like some sort of specter of remorse has possessed her body as she floats around this dilapidated museum like Nicole Kidman’s skirt in The Others. No, maybe it’s more like The Haunting of Hill House, but during the day and not four episodes too long. Sonja just buffets from one room to the next, thinking about all the summers, all of the rotted sunflowers that have bloomed and died in the vases of this house. About all the soap bubbles that burst in all the bubble baths, all the maids who met their husbands and moved away from the house to leave all their mistress adrift, all the children who left home and never wanted to return to a house that wasn’t designed to their more modern standards.
Everything is a reminder but, even worse, everything is a memory, even if it isn’t one of her own. “I have little boxes just like these,” she tells Dorinda, sounding just like Little Edie Beale. “They just fall apart. They’re so hard to keep.” That is when they knew that their friend had left them and she had been replaced with the librarian who stalks the opening scenes of Ghostbusters, turning from a glowing ghoul to a ravenous wraith with the snap of her fingers.
That is what Sonja becomes when they get back to Dorinda’s and she starts drinking in earnest, maybe to forget about what happened at Ventfort Hall. Sonja is my favorite floozy and watching her mug around the house all wasted is one of my favorite things in the entire universe. I’m sure if I was there she would probably annoy me, but from the comfort of my sofa, I just love watching her slur her overt flirtations with Bethenny across the dinner table. The best is when she holds Ramona’s dog Coco hostage and, for some reason, lifts the dog over her bosom like a rejected design for a Lady Gaga costume.
“Put the dog down, Sonja,” first Luann and then Bethenny tell her. They say it in the exact same tone they would have if she had just pulled a gun on a crowd of people in a rural mansion in a murder mystery movie. Either that or if she intended to kill the dog and they were trying to dissuade her from doing it. Sonja would never hurt a dog. Intentionally. Sonja would drunkenly trip over someone’s dog like it was Dick Van Dyke’s ottoman, but she would never Michael Vick such an adorable creature.
This episode, like most of the season so far, has really been about the women just being their own crazy selves while in each other’s company. There has been little of an overarching structure other than the fight between Luann and Dorinda, which they seem to really put to bed this episode. Dorinda sits Luann down and apologizes for the things she said and did to hurt Luann and says that she takes responsibility, and that she got stuck in a cycle of hurt where she couldn’t make it better.
Luann accepts her apology, because it finally sounds like one she really means. “That’s the best kind of communication there is,” Luann says. Of course she thinks that. Luann loves communication where someone else takes all of the responsibility, validates her own feelings, and lets her off the hook for any malfeasance that might have occurred on her part. It’s the perfect communication.
As the sun set on another evening in the Berkshires, cooling down everything at Blue Stone Manor except the heated pool with a fountain that shoots over the middle of it like it’s in the gardens of Versailles, Aviva Drescher stood out on the patio trying to figure out what her next move would be. She thought she heard a stirring in the woods, or maybe it was some snapped twigs in the cornfield out back. She started to see all of these lights, like swarms of fireflies slowly bobbling toward the house as if on some sort of pilgrimage.
They got closer and closer to her as she realized they weren’t colonies of insects, but spirits. Women in all sorts of old attire carrying lanterns, coming up out of the ground, their energy converging on the house like something had happened there, something was currently happening there, and all of those things were connected, the past and the future were in congress in a way that none of us could ever fully understand. Just then, a redhead put her hand on Aviva’s shoulder, turning her around and startling her, though she dare not make a sound. “Let’s go,” Jill Zarin told her. “It’s not safe for us here anymore.”