This has to be the lamest “To Be Continued” in Real Housewives history. Usually when an episode ends like this, the women are going to be stuck on a boat ride from hell, Brandi Glanville is going to slap someone, or Nene Leakes is about to rend a crew member limb from limb. Last week, Bethenny and Luann started a fight in Luann’s upstate home, and when it continues this week, what happens? They quickly make up and get over it. That’s what happens every episode. Don’t fool us into a TBC. We know what a TBC looks like and, ladies and gentlemen, this is a violation of the Terms of Service we all signed when we decided to become devotees of this show.
The conversation we come back to, which revolves around Bethenny leaving Luann’s Halloween performance and Luann making some comments about Bethenny in the Berkshires a few weeks ago, is startling for one reason: Luann’s bald-faced narcissism. Everyone enters periods where they need to act selfishly for a while, and these times definitely include the beginning stages of recovery, but what’s staggering is Luann’s inability to think of anyone who wasn’t born in Connecticut with an extraneous capital letter in the middle of her name which she later removes and also wears a lot of statement necklaces on TV. That Luann looks like a narcissist next to these women, a group of the biggest egoists on this plane of existence, is confounding.
First Luann tells all the ladies, “I was disappointed there was no one there to see my performances,” and they quickly all chime in to say that they were there. Bethenny is the only person who left. Luann was so blinded by the slight she can’t even remember the good things about that night. Even Barbara gets in on the action and tells Luann that she needs to think about other people. Luann says she feels that they’re ganging up on her, which they should be doing because she is entirely wrong. She didn’t quit the show because of it (cough, LVP, cough) — she just kept on doing what she was doing.
The best part is when Bethenny gets Luann to apologize and she offers the ultimate Real Housewives apology: “I’m sorry you weren’t there to see my show.” It’s not even a, “Sorry I hurt your feelings.” It is, “Sorry you missed basking in the greatness that is me.” Bethenny sort of confronts this when they step away and talk in Luann’s bedroom and Luann tells Bethenny that she needs to be able to trust in their friendship. Again, this is not about Luann being wronged. She was not wronged by anyone. This is about all of the other people in that room telling Luann that she has wronged them and her hearing, somehow, that she’s still a victim.
Of course Luann’s takeaway from all of this isn’t that she should start considering other people’s feelings. It’s that Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Aquanet Morgans is a pot-stirrer. Sonja maybe overhears this but she is in the bathroom, so she just yells back, “What? I can’t hear you. I’m straight-ironing my hair. God, I look good. Who ever looked this good? Not even when I partied with Madonna and John John did I look this good.” Then she emerges wearing two tumbleweeds from the background of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon on her head and thinks that she’s going to get compliments at dinner.
The dinner — at the Rhinebeck Arms or some stupid place I can’t be bothered to look at my notes to find out the real name of — is a somewhat strange affair. First Ramona starts rhapsodizing about how Rhinebeck is gorgeous, but Luann’s city of Kingston is a dump that doesn’t even have a Chuck E. Cheese’s. Then all of the women are mad that they weren’t invited to Ramona’s birthday lunch, and then Ramona tells them that there is another party for her “fun friends” and asks if they want to be invited to that. Wait, she’s having two parties? Who has two birthday parties? I love birthday party more than tops love PrEP and I only have one. And the women weren’t invited to either? Then a fight breaks out because no one wants to go see the cabaret show that Luann is going to drag them all to.
It gets really weird when Ramona starts talking about her family. We find out that she used to go to this very restaurant with her family as a kid because she grew up in and around Rhinebeck. She even walked the streets of this town. That’s how she earned her fortune, as an upstate call girl. As Bethenny says, Ramona usually only brings up her past to excuse her bad behavior, like when she was hiking in the Berkshires with Heather Thompson and said she couldn’t go on because it reminded her too much of her abusive father so she had to get on a private jet and fly to the Hamptons instead.
Here we see her talking about her entire messed-up family and the impact it had. We hear her talking about her father abusing her mother, even in death, by not having her funeral reception at her favorite restaurant. (I mean, not to be cruel, but it’s not like she was even there to miss it.) We hear about her brother who she doesn’t talk to because he cremated her father to save money on a funeral. Then Bethenny and Ramona start comparing notes about their awful childhoods. Bethenny has opened up about this stuff before and she wears her injuries very much on the surface. Bethenny has always resembled a Hummel figurine of a guilty child shabbily glued back together after someone knocked it from the shelf. Ramona always seemed like she had it together a lot more. But don’t let that deceive you. So much of what makes Ramona Singer the champion of the reality television arts and sciences that she started in that house in Rhinebeck.
You can see it there, for a minute, while she sits in the Terrapin with Bethenny and Dorinda, the shades moving past the windows like unlit cars cruising by rainy windows. The past starts to swirl around her, gaining force and fogging up her mind, dragging her back, cell by cell, into some sort of black hole. Bethenny’s family wasn’t even there, but those shades are always with her, too, leaping out at her like strangers whose names she knows, always at the worst time. The two of them just sit there with Dorinda, holding her ex-husband’s soul in a red balloon, as they sigh into their vodka sodas and wonder how they can reinvent the future.
Meanwhile, across town, Luann, Sonja, Tinsley, and Barbara are listening to hilarious Cuban novelty singer Margarita Pracatan do a little show for a dozen gays in the attic of a bar in Kingston, New York, a shantytown constructed to house meth addicts (according to Ramona). The juxtaposition between these two events is cruel, especially when Barbara starts making googly-moogly eyes at the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Samwise Gamgee who now lives in Woodstock and is probably going to open a vegan hobbit bakery.
Margarita’s Cuban version of “Money Can’t Buy You Class” should be my new ringtone. In fact, Margarita should have been performing it on the red carpet of the Met Ball, because that is what camp is really about and all the other stars totally missed the mark. It’s a crazy dance party, and even Tinsley gets up and shakes her bony little ass a little bit in that room. Sonja, of course, got the closest to Margarita and started trying to steal the microphone for herself. She wanted to tell everyone her hair secrets, and her heir secrets, but since she is no longer married to an heir, she had to really stick with the hair.
As Margarita was launching into her version of “Chic C’Est La Vie,” Sonja got even closer, smelling her perfume and the odor of stale Diet Coke on her breath. “Hey wait,” Sonja slurred to no one in particular but also to everyone in the room. “I know you.” Margarita started the opening chords of the song, just looking down at the keyboard, but Sonja wouldn’t relent. “I know you!” she said, poking again at Margarita’s sequined sheath.
“Yes, you do!” she said, peeling off her face and hair which was clearly a Mission: Impossible mask and revealing an exuberant 50(?)-something redhead. “My name is Jill Zarin!” she said in a nasal twang. “And my next song is called ‘Girl Code.’”