The Real Housewives of New York City
The craziest thing that I noticed about this episode is that two of the places that the women go to were also just featured on Summer House. Bocce, the Union Square restaurant where Tinsley’s mom, Dale, pressures her once again into having a baby, is where Carl and Jules went to finally bond. That crazy bar with the slide and ping-pong tables, Slate, where Luann hosts her fundraiser, is also where Hannah and Luke (aka Huke) went on their first date. Did Bravo get some kind of two-for-one deal for their shows to film in these places? Are these establishments possibly paying for exposure? Is it that they’re just so jacked for attention that they’ll let any and all reality shows film there? I don’t know, but the New Yorks of these worlds are starting to collide in an uncomfortable fashion, like the circles of two Venn Diagrams that are horny for each other.
One place Summer House would never film is Nello’s on the Upper East Side. That’s where Dorinda is meeting Ramona, Singer, and an invisibility spell named Elyse for lunch. On the way she walks by the townhouse she shared with her dead husband Richard, which is a weird visit to the past for Dorinda, specifically because she’s always hectoring Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Using My Former Brother-In-Law’s Butler Morgans for trading on her old marriage.
Oh, my poor Sonja Sonj. My favorite floozy. She’s now on a liquid diet because when she tried to put on her dress at the fashion show she busted the zipper. Hashtag relatable. We’ve all been there. But what is not relatable is pulling out your pomegranate-hued liquids in the middle of the restaurant and making yourself the kind of liquid lunch the characters on Mad Men would abhor. Also not relatable is that sad soup she orders at Nello’s. I love Sonja but this is not a sustainable plan. She only consumes liquids, soups, and teas for three days with the occasional olive to tide her over. How about a lifestyle change? How about cutting back on the alcohol and adding a little bit more exercise to the mix? How about just liposuctioning herself so much that she turns inside out? All viable options.
Even sadder than Sonja’s diet, however, is her visit to Englewood, New Jersey, to visit Gurav, the CEO of Sonja Morgan brands. I’m sure Englewood is lovely, but they don’t even have an Envy by Melissa Gorga boutique. Why would we want to be there? I also hate how Gurav is like, “It’s only 20 minutes from the city.” Anyone who has ever told you that about any part of New Jersey is a liar, and it is actually a capital offense should they be caught perpetrating such falsehoods within the state of New York.
He has these cheese and cracker plates that were on sale at Costco sitting out for Sonja, which she can’t even eat unless he puts them into a blender and demolishes them into a slurry. Don’t think Sonja hasn’t thought about that on day 2.5 of her liquid fast. Sonja is there to go over the books for her company SONJA by Sonja Morgan an International Luxury Lifestyle Branded Entertainment Conglomerate and Nigerian Soccer Team LLC. According to him, Sonja is losing money on this venture. Which, I mean, duh. But also, if Sonja isn’t paying attention to the money and where it’s going, couldn’t he just tell her anything he wants? Much like the lobster tank at your local diner, I don’t really trust this Gurav.
Sonja is confused that the fashion show didn’t lead to increased sales. Of course not. No one had even seen it before its appearance on the show last episode. She needs to wait months to see this investment pay off. Oh, Sonja. Maybe she should just sit in Columbus Circle, collect the rent on her townhouse and her Bravo check, and give up on business altogether.
Now it’s time for everyone to go to Luann’s comedy special at Slate. It’s a benefit for women coming out of prison and also bullying and also a comedy show and maybe a cabaret special and podcast taping? This thing is working harder than Jude Law in 2005. We’re also going to get a performance from Luann’s ex, Jacques. When he first appeared, at that restaurant where he and Luann had a planning meeting, I was so sad as he turned the corner. I was expecting young, vital, handsome Jacques, a Balki Bartokomous impersonator. Instead I got the old lady from the beginning of Titanic. No, Jacques doesn’t really look that bad. But with his grey hair and his absence from the show for so many Tom-addled years, he just old. The march of time is inevitable. That made me think about how old I am. That made me face my own mortality. That made me spiral into a haze of lemon-on-lemon cupcakes and CBD drops before falling into a full-on panic attack. I watch Housewives to avoid my existential dread, not jump into it like Tom Cruise doing a stunt in a Mission: Impossible movie.
I was revived by a very sweet moment on the way to the event. Leah is riding there with Ramona, who seems very concerned that Leah and her mother aren’t speaking after Leah decided she was going to start drinking again. Leah thinks she’s only being judged by her failures, not by her successes, which must be frustrating. She tells Ramona she texted her mother and her mother didn’t respond. Ramona, probably closer in age to Leah’s mother than to Leah, tells her that texts aren’t enough. “People hide behind texts,” which anyone who has dated since 2000 will tell you is definitely true.
Ramona counsels her to take flowers to her mother and have a conversation in person. Ramona says that her mother is just scared — scared because she loves Leah so much. Man, I don’t think we should be in the habit of accepting advice from Ramona Singer, but she is totally right and it was sweet to see her be nurturing and maternal to one of the new women rather than the attention-sucking soul feeder that she usually is.
Once everyone arrives at the anti-bullying event, Jacques asks the women if they’ve ever been a bully to anyone. This is by far the best part of the episode, where we get to see a montage of Ramona being awful to everyone from Bethenny Frankel on the Brooklyn Bridge to a random cab driver in season one, just bullying her way through her existence. Then Dorinda says she has never been a bully, but she was the one who stood up to the bullies on the playground. And cue the footage! of Dorinda just screaming in everyone’s faces, including hectoring Tinsley just a few weeks ago. I do believe that Dorinda stood up for the bullied kids, but I bet she did it by bullying the bullies.
The big event at Lu’s big event is her inevitable return to drinking. She says she’s thirsty and wants some water, she picks up Ramona’s glass and Ramon shouts, “That’s all vodka,” but Lu, who at the beginning of the episode said she wanted to stay sober, takes a sip with a menacing shrug. And then another one for good measure. Dorinda says, “Let the curse be lifted! We’re done.” Dorinda thinks that Luann isn’t an alcoholic but that Tom just drove her to drink. She is being supportive of her return to drinking. So is Sonja. “The last thing I want is Luann drinking again,” she says, laying down a pregnant pause, “…Without me!”
Essentially Luann is hanging out with her drinking buddies again and they’re getting her back into old, destructive habits. The only one to speak up is the silent by deadly Elyse, who says, “Aren’t you in AA?” She tries to support Luann’s decision not to drink and offer support and Dorinda shouts, “Tend your own garden.” Well, then shouldn’t Dorinda stop trying to influence Luann in the other direction?
The show, of course, is a total bust — no one is laughing at the comedy, there is no energy in the room, which seems like a corporate office set up for some sort of team building exercise that no one wants to attend. The one highlight is that Luann says that she never “fucked the Pirate,” but that Sonja did. But Sonja is in the audience saying, “Yes she did! She did! She told me she did!” Sorry, but I choose to believe Sonja. Ramona sneaks off to the ladies’ room in the middle and drags Sonja along with her. I thought for sure the two were going to Irish exit the event and walk down the street to Almond, where Ramona knows the owners because they are gays in the Hamptons.
Everyone congeals downstairs after the event and Dorinda and Tinsley are back at each other’s throats. They have to have a reconciliation lunch and Dorinda invited Leah to join, to serve as something of a mediator and Tinz whisperer. Tinz thinks this is an awful idea, if they have an issue they should just squash it between the two of them. But this is why couples therapy is so much better than just shouting at each other drunkenly on a random sidewalk. (I have been in both situations.) There needs to be a third person there or you just keep re-adjudicating the same fights in perpetuity without moving forward. Invite Leah, even though she thinks Dorinda is intimidating. “Am I scary?” Ramona blurts bug-eyed into the conversation, wanting so desperately to be. “Not really,” Leah dismisses with a shrug. Gold. I like this Leah. Keep her around.
Meanwhile, across town, a redhead settles in front of her laptop, mussing with her hair, trying to pump it up before the Zoom meeting with her old coworkers. They’re all over the country right now, some in the Hamptons, some in the Berkshires, and one in a spa in California that she surely can’t afford to stay at for three months. Her daughter showed her how to do this over FaceTime yesterday, but she’s still a little fuzzy. How does she join this room? When does she put in the password? She scoops up her chihuahua and sits him in her lap, letting his jittery warmth comfort her.
This is the first time she’ll see a group of people in weeks. She’s hoping for connection. She’s hoping it will be like a dinner party, where you can talk to each other in bursts and side conversations, through the screen. She hopes it will be a little burble of delight to get her through these long, tedious, ever-warming days. But it won’t be. It will be like a stilted group therapy meeting, each person taking their time with nothing to say but the most pat of updates, with their airing of familiar frustrations about this life in lockdown. But still, Jill Zarin doesn’t know that yet. “Join meeting with audio.” Yes, she thinks, and presses enter on her computer with a flourish, as if testing a nuclear bomb.