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The Real Housewives of New York City Recap: Upstate of Mind

The Real Housewives of New York City

Upstate Girls
Season 11 Episode 11
Editor’s Rating *****

The Real Housewives of New York City

Upstate Girls
Season 11 Episode 11
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Bravo

Why does Bethenny Frankel always order for everyone? It seems like, particularly this season, Bethenny always shows up first (promptness is an underrated virtue) and then orders for the entire table. Sometimes, like when she invited Dorinda, Luann, and Barbara to a mafia lunch at an Italian restaurant, it made sense. It was like she was hosting an event so she ordered for everyone. But this episode she’s just meeting Ramona and Tinsley for brunch and orders their cocktails and their omelets.

What is this all about? Did she get orders from the women beforehand so that they could cruise through lunch? Is Bethenny in a hurry to get somewhere and these women are always so late she can’t wait around for them? Does she really need such control over any situation that she wants to tell these women what to put in their mouths?

Not only do I not understand this impulse, I also don’t understand how to feel about it. I have one very close friend who always orders something “for the table” and it drives everyone insane because usually no one wants what he’s ordering and he never asked if anyone did. However, it might be sweet to show up and have someone care enough that they found the best things on the menu and ordered what they think you would want. Or maybe it’s sweet to be out with someone who knows you well enough that she knows just want you want to drink. But in this instance, when Tinsley arrives, Bethenny ordered her vodka and she wanted a white wine. That would slightly irk me, if not downright piss me off. Can someone please tell me what is up with this?

Even if I did have an opinion about it, no one would listen to me, just like no one listens to Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Datco Busing Company Morgans. I’ve always said Sonja’s worst problem isn’t that she’s dumb, it’s that she’s a bad communicator. When she gets in Tinsley’s grill about complaining about not having a man or a baby, she’s totally right, but she’s too inarticulate (or possibly too drunk) to make her case clearly. Days later, she explains to Luann what she meant to say is, “If she wants a baby, go get a baby. If she wants a handbag, get a handbag. If she wants shoes, get shoes.” Okay, maybe that’s not the best example.

What Sonja was clearly trying to say is that Tinsley has been conditioned her entire life to believe that she’s only good for marrying a man and having children. Now that her marriage failed, she hasn’t been able to find another one, and because she has yet to have any children, she believes that she has no value. Sonja wants her to rethink those values and decide that, if she wants a child, she can have a child without a man. If she does make that decision, it better happen quickly because her biological clock isn’t just ticking, it’s like one of those walk signs that count down to zero and beeps every time it goes from 3 … 2 … 1.

Bethenny explains this much more succinctly at brunch, telling Tinsley that she can’t wait to both get into a relationship and have a child. If she wants to get knocked up, she can find the best sperm available and she can find a man who will love both her and the child she created. Bethenny is trying to deprogram years of Dale’s brainwashing with scalpel-like precision. Sonja is trying to do the same thing, but like a half-dead pigeon repeatedly crashing into the window of an A&P.

Tinsley isn’t even sure what she wants, though. She says she knows she wants to be a mother because when she’s mothering her chihuahuas is when she feels that her heart is full. That might be true, and I’m not really going to pooh-pooh that, but Tinsley’s dog, Bambi, doesn’t even live with her. It lives with Dale. Is that Tinsley’s idea of mothering? Just having the kid when she wants it and otherwise foisting it onto her mother? Maybe she should rethink this kid thing after all.

It seems like Tinsley is from the same school of parenting as Luann, where she just gives the kids over to someone else so that she can still have a life. Bethenny keeps explaining that is not the way she does it. She wants to be a part of Bryn’s life as much as she can, and that is why she had to leave Luann’s cabaret performance.

Sonja was right about this, too. When Luann brings this up at lunch in her upstate home, Sonja says not to mention it to Bethenny. She also tells Countess Crackerjacks that she should have come down to say hi to her friends before going onstage just to let them know she appreciates that they came. Logistically this might have been difficult, but her friends did spend more than three hours at that party to support her and she didn’t even acknowledge them. I find it pretty hard to take umbrage with that.

Luann does. She thinks that Bethenny should have stayed “another 15 minutes” to watch the show. But Luann was already 30 minutes late. How did Bethenny know when she would finally get onstage? When Sonja brings all of this up, Luann reacts by saying that Sonja is in her house eating her food so she should be careful. What, to be around Luann one must completely agree with her all the time? That’s insane. She sounds just like Lisa Vanderpump.

But it’s not like Sonja is right about everything. Sonja is also the woman who rides up in a weird luxury bus all by herself. She spent the entire ride talking to her dog, but you know if that dog wasn’t there that she would just be talking to herself. That’s what it must sound like in Sonja’s brain, just a nonstop monologue that only she cares about. Oh, and let us not forget when she was brushing the dog and then used the same brush on her own hair. That is about as gross as people who share ice-cream cones with their canine pals.

But the wrongest of all is when Sonja, Luann, and Barbara K are talking about Barbara’s sexual orientation. She tries to explain that she’s bisexual and that she’s had relationships with women but she mostly likes being with men. Sonja says, “You’re not bisexual. You’re liquid. You’re gender liquid.” Who wants to bet that Sonja TA Morgan actually thinks that there is such a thing as gender liquid? That it’s like the liquid in the womb that turns you into a certain gender. Not only does she mean “gender fluid,” but gender fluid is the wrong term for Barbara. She is sexually fluid. Also Sexually Fluid is the name of my new lube company.

Oh, wait. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the wrongest Sonja thing this episode is when she talks about how all the girls in her school would come in the bathroom and try to beat her up and she would just slam their faces into the hand dryer to save herself. Wait. No. I’m wrong. That is the rightest thing Sonja has ever done. Sonja is a misunderstood badass. She is a survivor. She is my savior and I need a prequel sitcom about this stage in her life right now. Move over Young Sheldon, we need to make room for My So-Called Sonja.

The episode ends with Luann trying to explain to Bethenny that she wishes that Bethenny stayed to see her performance to “celebrate the good things I have going on.” She then tries to defend the comment she made about Bethenny just going home to watch Bryn sleep, which, I’m sorry, is utterly indefensible. Of all the Housewives fights in all the land, this is the easiest one to adjudicate. Luann is wrong, Bethenny is right. Gavel slam. Death penalty for everyone.

It’s uncomfortable to watch because Lu’s position is so indefensible and she tries to be like, “I’m a mom too.” Yeah, but when her kids were 8, she not only had a husband to help her but also, most likely, other help around. I don’t think that anyone who says, “Oh, but my kid,” is necessarily right, but Bethenny is making all sane and reasonable points in this argument and Luann is sitting across from her only thinking about her new Cabaret Collection of statement necklaces and pretending like she cares what Bethenny has to say. All of the women are sitting around just staring down at Luann’s carpet wondering when this will end so that they don’t have to pipe up about how wrong Luann is.

As the argument droned on, the wind off the Hudson started to pick up and howl against Luann’s house. It started like a little gust and picked up louder and stronger, rattling the windows and sending the autumn leaves and some fallen acorns against the grass. It brought up ripples in the river, tickling the stones along its borders and making a fine spray into the chilling twilight night. It shook all the women, rattled them to the core, as if they could blow away, one by one, each a little kite skittering across the clouds to land somewhere, anywhere, out in the Atlantic Ocean without a prayer of ever getting home. And somewhere, far up north, way up in Lake Erie or Canada or some other land that no one ever wants to visit, Jill Zarin stood at the root of the Hudson, blowing as hard as her body could possibly manage, the bluster picking up speed as it careened carelessly toward her targets.

The Real Housewives of New York City Recap: Upstate of Mind