Guys, we need to talk about The Hustle. Did Anne Hathaway’s gay brother stumble upon a cache of Andy Cohen dick pics on Grindr or something? What does she have on him to get this sort of commercial onto the show? Yes, we’re all used to seeing the women do ridiculous things in the commercials where they all sit in teacups and go see Alice in Wonderland. But now the call is coming from inside the house. The Hustle made it onto the episode! Dorinda and Sonja Tremont Morgan of the IN THEATERS MAY 10TH Morgans went to a very special screening and talked about how funny the movie was, while standing very deliberately next to a poster of said upcoming cinematic masterpiece.
I have no problem with The Hustle. Just as with The Spy Who Shagged Me, Snatched, and anything in the Bad Moms Cinematic Universe, I will be there opening weekend. But this sets a very dangerous precedent. What is next? Luann shilling for JewelsForQueens.com? Kandi and Porsha sharing their recipes for Grands biscuits over their stoves in Atlanta? LeeAnne Locken sharpening her knives and giving us a 1-900 number to call to order them ourselves? Will the path of capitalism know no end? We only want to see our Real Housewives hawking their own shitty brands, which we only buy as gag gifts for one another. (Did you know Beverly Beach by Dorit makes men’s swim trunks? My man’s next birthday gift is already sorted!)
Then Dorinda and Sonja went so far as to compare the characters to other women on the show. “That Rebel Wilson is just like Ramona, always turning on the fake tears,” cue a montage of a decade of Ramona fake crying. “Oh and Tinsley is just like Anne Hathaway except blonde, a decade older, childless, without an Oscar, and never invited to the Met Ball ever again because now she’s on reality TV.” Yeah. Exactly that.
The other surprise addition this week is my forever spirit animal Jill Zarin looking absolutely gorgeous playing a game of tennis with Countess Crackerjacks. Even with her tennis skirt stuffed with balls in her “tuckis,” Jill Zarin could not look bad. That body, that skin, that smile. She didn’t look this young ten years ago when the series started. I’m not going to say it’s because Ginger, her dog, was holding her back, but Bossy, the new dog, seems to be a much better look for Jill. We don’t learn much about what’s going on with our favorite heroine, other than she’s dating a “nice Jewish boy named Gary,” which is so on the nose that if I put it in some Jill Zarin fan-fiction, none of you would possibly believe it.
This week I am very impressed with one Mx. Bethenny H. Frankel. As she drove away from yet another custody hearing with her ex Jason (somehow I feel like all exes are named Jason?) wiping away one tear, I was impressed that Bethenny continues to live her life in the public eye and let us see all of these moments. She’s awful, she’s stressed, she’s needy, she’s broken, she’s more raw than everything served at a vegan wellness retreat. I’ve talked plenty of shit about her over the years, but she really deserves our respect and admiration. She has given us so much but asks for so little, other than our attention and our money for her SkinnyGirl products.
Remember how we used to make fun of how much SkinnyGirl branding was in every episode and it was still less awful and intrusive than one three-minute spot for The Hustle in the middle of our episode? Anyway, I also really liked Bethenny’s sort of humblebrag about selling her business, which is apparently called BB Endeavors now, and apparently Bethenny also has a LinkedIn? (BB Endeavors is also my handle on Grindr if you’re ever looking for me.) She’s tried to do everything, tried to hold everything in her orbit with an iron grip, for so many years that it’s good to see her letting go. Maybe she can find some balance for her life, for her daughter, for her sanity. Yeah, maybe she shouldn’t be having business meetings right after a facial where her face looks like Anna Chlumsky at the end of My Girl, but whatever. Bethenny’s earned it.
The best part of the episode, however, is when everyone goes to the circus for Tinsley’s big debut as the guest ringleader at the Big Apple Circus, which, shockingly, gets less attention than The Hustle. After hyping this appearance for what seems like the entire season, Tinsley just comes down in a spinning ring wearing a white dress, sparkly tights, and a bow on her head, which is too big for Brandi Redmond but not big enough for Kameron Westcott. She says, “Welcome to the Big Apple Circus” and then sits her ass in the front row next to Dorinda, Sonja, Ramona, and her mother Dale, in town just for the circus, where they all slam plastic glasses of white wine like this is the last meeting of their book club before the apocalypse.
The reason that I will always love this show is for silly scenes like this, where these women just do absolutely ridiculous things. Sonja, already half-drunk, basically kidnaps a small child named Alfie who’s sitting behind her and lets him sit on her lap, even though his father warns her that he “may shit himself.” Sonja says, “I’m always dealing with poodle shit, dog shit, my own shit. Shit away!” It’s just insanity when Sonja has a baby in one hand, a glass of white wine in another, and a bunch of Arabian horses close enough that she could hit them with a toss of one or the other.
Dorinda is still absolutely pissed that Tinsley got this job over her and insists that she would have been great it at the whole time. Then one of the clowns (and for a change I mean actual clowns, not figurative ones) brings Sonja up onstage, and suddenly she’s doing somersaults, her wig is coming undone, she’s spitting water at the guy — it’s insane. She gets more stage time than Tinsley, and she doesn’t even get announced. Dorinda is now even more pissed because she got zero role at the circus and she just gets to sit there and scoff.
When the theater goes dark, Ramona decides to take this moment to get up because she booked a date for that evening. Ramona will never not book a date. Ramona will have a colonoscopy at 7 p.m. and rip that camera right out of her hole because she has a dinner to get to on the UES at 8. She doesn’t care at all. This is why I love this show, this whole thing. This unpredictable, indescribable scene that would only happen on this ridiculous show with these ridiculous women that fill my heart up with such giddy glee and judgment. I mean, they probably shouldn’t have #MeToo-ed that trapeze artist by grabbing his ass, but I will forgive them and still love them and post their bail if they need it.
The real emotional center of the episode happens after everyone is gone, when Tinsley and Dale are sitting on the side of the ring, Tinsley still with her enormous bow in her hair, discussing how unhappy she is. I’m usually ready to rag on Dale. As great as she is, she’s always pressuring Tinsley to get married and have kids and be the sort of proper wife and mother that she raised her daughters to be. This homie don’t play that. But at lunch earlier in the episode, Dale is very clear that she just wants Tinsley to be happy and she’s much better without Skott the Koupon King, who, Dale says, won’t get rid of Tinsley, but won’t keep her either.
Now, after drinking Ramona’s body weight in white wine, Dale is just telling Tinsley to get over it, that she just needs to brighten up and focus on the positive in her life. Tinsley is having none of it. It’s like when you tell someone to not be nervous and it just makes her anxiety flare up. Tinsley starts by saying she doesn’t think she did a good enough job for Dale, which, well, Dale is a little bit like Prince’s mother, never satisfied. But even as Dale refutes this, Tinsley goes deeper. She sinks into a web of negative thinking about her father, about Skott, about her place in this life and in this world.
She says that she’s in a pretty dress with a big bow and sparkly tights. This is everything that little girl Tinsley was told to want, but now she has it and she’s not enough. She’s miserable. She tells Dale that she’s “fucking miserable” and all Dale can say is, “Don’t curse.” But they have each other. Tinsley knows that she wants more, but will she ever have it? Yes, Dale says. Absolutely yes. But I don’t know guys. If there were ever a prequel to Grey Gardens, it was this, two women — one delusionally sad, the other delusionally happy — crying at the circus grappling onto each other for security but only dragging the other one down deeper into the eddy of her own psychosis.
And as they looked up, like in the closing scene of The Rink, they saw a vague red-headed figure, back once again, sawing through the rope holding up Tinsley’s floating ring, trying to get it to the exact Murder, She Wrote thickness so that it would snap. Little did Jill Zarin know that being on the show meant she missed the circus entirely.