I think I’ve figured out exactly what it is I don’t like about Barbara K: She’s not a good sport. At dinner in the Berkshires, everyone gets a little tipsy and absolutely insane. Ramona, in a failed attempted to seduce a former gay porn star who is now a naked chef, returns to the table wearing a thong, a black silk negligée, high heels, and a pair of Joan Rivers for QVC earrings that she’s had for 20 years. Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Westcott Scissors Morgans is rambling about how she just wants to have fun while humping one of the blow-up Christmas decorations in Dorinda’s garage and farting. Even Bethenny has let her hair down and is documenting it all for her Instagram story.
While all of this is going on, Barbara K goes to bed. She should not be in bed. She should not be leaving early the next morning. She should be downstairs watching Sonja and Ramona scissor on the pool table like they’re trying to remake Madonna’s Sex book. She should be slurring insults with Dorinda until the sun comes up. She should be sneaking cigarettes out on the back porch with Luann and Tinsley when the cameras aren’t looking. But no, she’s asleep.
Later in the episode, at Bethenny’s party, a game of Truth or Dare breaks out. No one wants to ask Barbara to either truth or dare. They just want her to go away. Her only moment to shine is when someone dares Bethenny to make out with her. Sonja has continuously repeated rumors that Barbara goes both ways and, well, she does carry a lot of tool kits. Barbara goes along with this dare, but I assume it’s because she gets what she wants, which is into Bethenny’s pants. But even her lust for Bethenny I find a little bit boring.
What is even more amusing is how annoyed Sonja gets when a woman other than her tries to make out with Bethenny. “When I try to make out with Bethenny, it comes from a place of love and support,” she says wearing an outfit that is adorned with so many rose-shaped objects that she looks like the sigil for House Tyrell. “I’m not trying to get into her pants.” Sonja’s despondent look of failure after Barbara gets to make out with Bethenny is the only GIF I’m ever going to send when I find out that someone went to get Shake Shack without me.
Sonja really seems to be upset, however, because someone is out-lesbianing her. Barbara K has stolen Sonja’s only party trick, and now she doesn’t know what to do. It’s like if someone kept doing the splits in front of Kyle Richards.
The sparkle party at Bethenny’s ends with Dorinda and Barbara getting into a little tiff, where Dorinda tells Barbara to stop stirring the pot. “Don’t be an interloper,” she says repeatedly in that way only Dorinda deep in her cups can. I think this gets at the heart of why all of the women are rejecting Barbara like she’s a dirty kidney transplant: They see her as someone who’s trying to start fights, not there to have fun.
Tinsley is another one who’s not having any fun at the party, because they try to make her call her boyfriend, Scott the Koupon King. As Bethenny says, Tinsley does not seem happy at all. She seems like a dried-out Peep from last Easter that you found in your kid’s sock drawer, except she’s wet with the tears of bitterness. It seems like Scott doesn’t want her in the spotlight and wants her to commit to him on his terms. She says she’s always trying to make it work, like a puzzle, and every day is a different drama. It seems that Scott, who made out with her on a first date in front of the cameras, doesn’t like that she’s on a reality show. Either that or he wants her to just move to Chicago and push out some kids and she’s unwilling. However, it seems clear to everyone that this dude needs to go.
As awful of a time as Barbara and Tinsley have at the party, what’s great about this episode is that everyone else really seems to be having fun. That’s what separates the New York women from a show like Rich Women Doing Things. Even something as simple as going to the florist to get an arrangement for Bethenny’s party turns into a madcap caper. While they’re there, Sonja tells Ramona that she has to stop hitting Reply All to stupid questions on an email that she could easily Google. Apparently when Bethenny said the dress code is “sparkly,” Ramona didn’t know what that meant. It’s insane that Sonja, a woman who absolutely takes pictures with her iPad in public, has to school Ramona on how to use Google and email. They ramble and cajole the woman who works there for so long she can’t help but roll her eyes as soon as they’re out the door.
Or what about when Ramona meets Sonja and Luann for blowouts and she brings her dog, Coco? “She only has about a year left to live, so I want to spend as much time with her as I can,” she says. That is hilariously insane. Who does that? Ramona Singer, and that is why she makes the big reality-TV bucks. I also love that Coco is exactly like Carole Radziwill and only has one good summer left.
We also need to give props to Bethenny’s hairdresser. Before her dinner, Bethenny is getting her hair done, her makeup done, and a vitamin IV (something the rich women did just yesterday!) all at the same time. Her ex-boyfriend Russ shows up because he staffed the event with hot male bartenders. Russ is freaking gorgeous (yes, his Instagram is full of shirtless pictures), and after he leaves the room, the hairdresser says, “Damn, I didn’t think he was going to be that fine.” Me neither! The same goes for all of his staff, whom Bethenny says are going to get laid that night even if they didn’t want to. Strangely, Sapphic Sonja is on her best behavior.
Ramona is on fire the night of the dinner. First she shows up and says she wants vodka in a wine glass with lots of ice and some soda water. Ramona, your drink order is just a vodka-soda in a wineglass? Why does she gotta think she’s fancy? Why does she have to make it a lot harder than it really is? Why does she have to Reply All “What is sparkly?” I don’t know. For the same reason she doesn’t know how to play Truth or Dare. When Bethenny says she wants a dare, Ramona says, “Do you think you’ll ever fall in love again.” Ramona looks good and all, but is she starting to have senior moments?
The whole mood of this episode can be summed up in the moment when Dorinda is dared into calling her boyfriend, John, to have phone sex with him, and she basically just tells him that she wants to eat cookies on the couch next to him and be really close. All of the women are in the background rubbing their breasts and sticking their asses out like they’re doing a community-theater version of “Hey Big Spender.” I loved every single second of it.
The only thing that doesn’t fit into the theme of fun is Tinsley’s weird lunch with Luann. Tinsley invites her to the café of one of those awful skinny hotels in the E. 30s to basically tell her that she is triggered by Luann’s sobriety. See, Tinsley’s father was an alcoholic who died after falling down a flight of stairs drunk. Now that Luann is sober, it’s bringing out a lot of Tinsley’s anger at her father and she’s transferring it to Luann.
This is weird for a number of reasons. Tinsley spent a drunken weekend in the Berkshires with Sonja, Dorinda, and Bethenny, three of the most unruly drunks on the planet, and didn’t have a problem. Wouldn’t she be more upset by people acting like drunk fools than by the one person is who is trying to put drinking behind her? Isn’t Luann doing what Tinsley wished her father could do? Maybe that’s what she feels toward Luann: resentment. How did this reality star figure it out when her father couldn’t?
The whole thing is very strange. The only thing stranger is when Bethenny and Dorinda go for a walk in the Berkshires and Bethenny tells her she found a note at the hotel where she was staying in Boston. Bethenny headed to Beantown the day before to see a man she had been dating. While she was waiting for the hotel elevator, she looked at the pad of hotel stationery sitting on the table by the elevator. There was a note reading, “You look spectacular. You’re amazing as always. D.”
Bethenny thinks this is a Ouija-board note written by her dead fiancé Dennis giving her his blessing to be out with another dude. She thinks that there are signs after someone close to you dies and this is one of those signs. This just makes it clear that this show is haunted. The Berkshires are haunted. All of the pumpkins lined up along Dorinda’s driveway aren’t full of orange goop and flat white seeds, but rather the spirits of everyone who has passed before them. The wind whistles across Aviva’s Drescher’s hollow leg, and the wraith of Jill Zarin pops up when you walk through a doorway, like one of those screeching ghosts you can buy at Party City. The energy is swirling all around them, the departed, the former, those who have slipped away. Even the leaf that blows across Bethenny’s sneaker as they go hiking is moved by an invisible hand, something searching for a home, a cold chill that’s just looking for a bone into which it can settle.