The Real Housewives of New York City
I am amazed, absolutely amazed, that there was a naked woman running rampage through Ramona Singer’s back garden and it was not Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Reusable Oil Burning Natural Bamboo Tiki Torch Garden Pathway Lighting Morgans. It was none other than Leah McSweeney, still one episode away from her official judgement as part of the cast but, I will admit, recommending herself nicely for a five-star rating.
This all happens during a very rambunctious evening at Ramona’s Hamptons cottage, Boniva Cliffs. Before that it’s a very usual day in the Hamptons, with various and sundried very handsome helpers coming by the house to amuse and titillate the women. Upon seeing Ramona’s incredibly sexy (in a romance-novel-cover kind of way), long-haired, Italian tennis coach, Dorinda says that Ramona uses the “’80s method” of hiring people based only on if they are attractive, fit, and datable. The ’80s method? I thought this was a forever method? Why would you hire anyone — particularly a sports coach, masseur, bartender, or trainer — to work at your house who isn’t hot? It’s like a bonus. You get the service and someone nice to look at. The only exception is with a nanny. Never hire an attractive nanny. If you don’t know why, just ask Jennifer Garner.
Adriano, the sexy tennis pro, oversees a match between Luann and Ramona where Luann, who has been flirting with him in Italian the entire time, handily defeats Ramona, who is walking around the court kicking rocks and screaming “fiddle faddle.” I think that was actually an order to the maid for her to bring out her favorite snack of caramel popcorn.
After the match, Luann really turns up the wattage on her flirting from a dim candle to a klieg light that you could see from space. She asks Adriano if he’s single and he says yes, that it is hard meeting someone as spiritual as he is in Manhattan. “But you mustn’t have a hard time meeting people,” Luann coos. “No, and it can happen when you least expect it,” he says. “Like today,” Luann purrs suggestively. To which he replies, “Maybe not today.” Ooof. The burn. I could feel it through the television. He dropped Luann like your grandmother’s dentures falling out of her face and onto the dusty nursing home floor.
Luann starts it up again when Sonja’s dog groomers show up at Ramona’s house to cut Marley’s hair. My gaydar might be off, but if two buff, middle-aged gentlemen who look like they’ve had too much face work showed up at my Hamptons manse, I would just assume that they were friends of Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sofia. Luann, on the other hand, does not. She is all up in the blonde one’s face, helping him shampoo Sonja’s dog in the sink. She even weasels her way into a back massage from the dude and moans while he works on her dutifully. He doesn’t seem to be especially into it, and when he rejoins his partner (in business and maybe in life) his partner says, “You’re going to be massaging all night.” I don’t know how to read that, but he surely doesn’t stick around.
The only man in the house Luann doesn’t try to rub herself all over is Jeff, the Rod Stewart impersonator that Ramona invites over to entertain the women after dinner. Speaking of which: Ramona Singer is the worst host on the East End. First of all, she has no staff to help her out, meaning she harps on her guests to pitch in. Even when she has a “party helper” there to facilitate lunch, she’s screaming at Sonja and Luann to aid her at operating the grill. Isn’t the party helper there to, you know, help? Then she tries to drag all of the women to her friend Suzanne’s birthday party in Sag Harbor so that she can attempt to meet a man and talk to the same 20 people she saw at that weird party at that Bond villain’s house last episode. When they all nix that idea, she starts calling up men to invite them over the house to hang out, because a house full of her friends isn’t enough to entertain her.
Poor Jeff. He comes into a group (minus Luann) who have been drinking all day and finds them a mess. Leah is the only one who seems to take a shine to him. When Sonja finds this out she says to Jeff, “She doesn’t like any guys but then she likes you. WHHHHHYYYYYYYYY would you like this guy?” I mean, right to his face! That’s even harsher than what fake Andre Agassi did to Luann.
Things just get crazier after that. Leah, who just started drinking again recently after 20 years of sobriety, decides that she and Tinz are going to tie one on. They’re out in the back, playing champagne pong with a tiny ball and those plastic champagne flutes they use at gallery openings. I cannot believe that in almost 15 years of Real Housewives, we have been glamping, we have been to escape rooms, we have had more white parties and roaring ’20s-themed parties than there are member states in the United Nations, but these are the first women to think up Champagne Pong. Tinsley needs to trademark this shit. She needs to file a patent right now and start selling this as a bachelorette party game. She will make enough money that she can leave the Mortimer name behind.
Inside, Ramona, Luann, Dorinda, and Elyse, a waste of space that has Barbara K. spinning in her grave, are having a conversation about Dorinda’s relationship with John. Ramona thinks that deep down Dorinda has problems with her relationship with John and she’s prodding her to try to get her to recognize it. She also tells Dorinda that John is always hitting on her friends and asking for their phone numbers and they report this back to Ramona. Say what you will about Mx. Singer, but I believe that she is right about all of this.
Outside, Leah strips down to her nude thong and dives into the pool. She cajoles Tinz to join her, initially in her bra and panties and then stripping off her bra, which is the Upper East Side equivalent of filming a sex tape with the sibling of a former R&B singer. Sonja just needed to see some nudity to want to join in, and goes whole hog because, naturally, she already wasn’t wearing panties under her caftan. Then Leah decides that she hates the tiki torches in Ramona’s backyard and starts throwing them around the garden, pulling each of them out of the ground and flinging their separate parts to the wind. Leah screams that she hates what the tiki torches represent, surely referring to the tiki torches used by white nationalists at rallies. “These represent bad things,” she says. Tinz replies, “No, they represent, like, a fun party.” Leah then snarls, “No, you don’t read the news enough.” As Sonja would say, that’s a touché.
When the women get out of the pool and go inside, Leah is still on a hot streak. She storms in on Sonja peeing with the door open and the two are almost making out while screaming in each other’s faces. Dorinda decides that Leah needs to be wearing something other than a sheer hot pink top that exposes her boobs and takes her into the powder room to put some clothes on her. “Why does your vagina have wings?” she asks, referring to the tattoos (twat-toos?) that Leah has right on her pelvis. “Because it FLIES!” Leah shouts in a tone that I will absolutely never forget.
When Sonja restarts the argument with Elyse about being a trophy wife, Leah decides to tell both Sonja and Tinsley that they should give up their famous last names. They are more than the legacies they inherited, she screams. They are their own people, she yells into a blonde abyss. Sonja jokes about how she “didn’t marry the banker, she married the bank” but that is in the past. She needs to wake up and let it go, something that most of us have been telling our beloved Sonj for the better part of a decade. I do love that Leah is, as Tinsley put it, a one woman “Occupy Hamptons.”
While this is the worst that we see of the evening, things certainly went downhill afterwards. But what makes it even worse is that Ramona, the world’s worst host, decided to leave her house full of drunk people to go to a birthday party in Sag Harbor in the hopes of snagging a stag to enter her harbor. In the morning, when she wakes up, she’s pissed about the condition of her house. There are dishes and broken glasses everywhere. There are empty platters on the counter, which makes it clear that drunk people were eating from them with their fingers well into the night. As Leah points out, “There is a vibrator in the chicken.” Please, someone bored at home, make that line into a sampler and send it to me for my birthday, which is coming up in three weeks.
Then Leah says, “Yeah, it’s even worse outside.” That’s when Ramona gets really pissed because the tiki torches are scattered everywhere and there are broken glasses on the patio by the pool, which is especially bad because that means someone is going to get a foot full of glass sometime in the near future. There is also a champagne bottle in the pool which, well, if that doesn’t recommend itself that a good time was had I don’t know what will.
Because, and I can not say this enough, she is a horrible host, Ramona thinks she shouldn’t have to do any cleaning at all. Leah, being one smart cookie who is used to leaving a mess, immediately makes the kitchen immaculate while Ramona is upstairs moaning to Sonja about the state of the House. Dorinda brings up the very real fact that Ramona has come to her house and totally trashed it and didn’t clean up so she should expect the same. Also, Ramona left! If she had stayed she could have kept the mess from happening in real time. Either that or she could have herded some drunken cats to help her load up the dishwasher before they went to bed. Ramona was definitely an accessory in the destruction of her own house.
As this debate is roiling downstairs, everyone asks, “Where’s Tinz?” Cut to her passed out upstairs with a plate of half-eaten pasta perilously perched on a white duvet. It’s a perfect sitcom button to this whole episode, which had numerous actual LOL moments. See, these women don’t need to do anything or go anywhere, to have fun. Like a good frozen piña colada mix, just add alcohol, stir, and enjoy.
Meanwhile back in Manhattan, a single figure looks out of an Upper East Side high rise, peering down on a city in lockdown as snow flurries scatter the skies at the end of April. She looks at her red hair reflected in the window, the grey roots starting to show, the ends badly in need of a trim, and she thinks about what she’ll do today. Will she get in an SUV and try to sabotage the socially distant reunion special that’s filming today? Will she figure out how to get tests to Bravolebrities so that they can get back to filming? Will she hijack a Chinese satellite so that she can eavesdrop on the Zoom happy hours that the women are having without her? She will do none of that. She will bake another banana bread, she will watch five more episodes of Ozark on Netflix (there’s something about that Wendy Byrde she just loves), and maybe she’ll call Ali to ask what she’s watching and bitch a little bit about the government response. But mostly she’ll just stare out the window, thinking about the past summer, thinking about the past year, thinking about everything that’s happened over decades. Jill Zarin, just like the rest of us, has nothing to do right now except time travel through an unseasonal dusting of snow. And she’s almost happy about the comedown.