The Real Housewives of New York City
There’s one moment in this episode that I will never forget. No, it’s not Tinsley shouting in the middle of a corn maze. It’s not Sonja Tremont-Morgan of the Corn-Silk Backside Wipes Morgans pissing in the middle of said corn maze. It’s not even Dorinda holding up an enormous novelty wine glass and saying, “Ladies, let’s all just have one glass of wine today.” It’s when Ramona is talking about Tinsley and her recent breakup with her boyfriend, “Brian.” Of course we all know that the guy’s name is Bruce, and the editors provide us with a sound effect that would indicate an error on any quiz show and then an asterisk at the bottom of the screen saying “*Bruce.”
The shade. The read. The complete savagery. But, also, the humanity. Of course our Ramona hasn’t sufficiently listened to Tinsley to know the name of the man she’s dating. Either that, or she did listen and just doesn’t care enough to remember. Or maybe the Pinot has finally soaked through her amygdala and is slowly eroding her memory centers. It could be any of those, and it could also be (d): all of the above. Whatever it is, it’s genius. I wish that CNN would start doing this on newscasts when politicians try to spread disinformation. I wish I could do this to my partner in real life. Like he’s telling a story, “So, we were at the MoMA” … “Ehhhh: the Met.”
This is actually a great episode wrapped around a very uncomfortable and frustrating center. It starts off with Ramona’s Error Buzzer and then we are gifted with Tinsley’s trip to see Martin, the boxing trainer that Leah introduced her to. Martin only calls her Tinsdale, which is not her name but it should be, because it is an amalgam of her name and her mother’s, which is basically Tinsley’s personality. When Tinsley gets in the ring to spar with Martin, she’s kind of half-heartedly chasing him around the ring and trying to tap him on his legs and his knees. He’s stalking all over her, terrorizing her. He is all of her problems, all of her insecurities, and he is relentless. Tinz is powerless against him, yipping and dodging, running around as if she can only continue to avoid him, she can continue the illusion that everything is fine.
“Take it like the doormat you are,” Martin says while charging her. “That’s why you’re unhappy.”
“I’m not unhappy,” she yelps unconvincingly.
“Then why are you crying?” She tries to swerve, but here is Martin. He is her divorce. He is her inability to find a mate. He is the frozen embryos she’s crying over while trying on wedding dresses. He is her mother’s and society’s expectations, and all she has to do is stand and fight. Stand and deliver one punch, or take one punch. Take some sort of action. But she can’t. She ducks under the bottom rope and says, “I’m done. I quit.”
Martin is the therapy that Tinsley needs. He is the person who can prod her into action, to become the person she wants to be but is afraid of. “You know what you want. You know what you like. Do whatever the fuck you want,” Martin tells her. “Do I know?” she asks. “Yes, you do,” Martin tells her assuredly. I wish this would fix her. I wish this was a rom-com where he gets a pretty, rich lady out of a rut, and she steps in and gets her rich friends to save his boxing gym from financial ruin, and they both live happily ever after. (Netflix, I will happily write this script for you.) But it’s not, and they won’t. Well, Martin might. He seems very well adjusted. Tinz, on the other hand … well, she has a lot to get through.
That thing she has to get through, mostly, is Dorinda. After a brief interlude during which Luann visits Leah’s very nice, very normal two-bedroom apartment and calls it “humble,” the ladies all pile on a bus and head upstate to an apple orchard called Weed Orchards. [Insert Beavis and Butt-Head laugh] Weed. Things are already a little tense because everyone learned in “Page Six” that Dorinda and John broke up. As soon as they all sit down to lunch, Elyse, a lingering smell of maple syrup that threatens all of New York, says, “So, Dorinda, what’s up with John?”
Dorinda launches into this whole confused spiel about how she’s a different person than when she and John met, and that he’s “always welcome at her dinner table,” and it’s just time to move on, blah blah blah. She also says this is the first time she’s been alone by choice, and she has been able to mourn Richard because of that. Further down the table, Tinsley starts mumbling that Dorinda has different rules for different people. She’s upset because she accuses Tinsley of not sharing all of her life with “the group,” by which she means on the show, and that the rest of them do. However, they found out about the breakup in the press, not from Dorinda herself, which is what she accused Tinsley of doing with her ex, Skott the Koupon King.
Tinsley is not wrong about Dorinda’s double standard. This is a perfect example of it. She also does the same thing to Sonja, accusing her of not being a Morgan and saying it’s time for her to move on. Yes, Sonja’s divorce and Dorinda prematurely losing her husband are very different things, but Dorinda seems to be dwelling on the loss of Richard in the same way Sonja is trapped in her divorce. Like Leah says, she has learned more about Richard than she did about John, and that is telling. I always like to say that Real Housewives of New York City isn’t a reality show, it’s a ghost story, because all of these women are haunted.
When Tinsley starts her mumblings, Dorinda launches into a never-ending tirade that I really don’t want to recap blow by degrading blow. She tells Tinsley, among other things, that her chewing gum lasts longer than Tinsley’s relationships, that Tinsley is stupid, and that Tinsley is a bitch. But it’s not just what she says; it’s the insistence, it’s the relentlessness, it’s the literal finger-pointing. When Tinsley tries to defend herself, Dorinda won’t let her speak and keeps saying sarcastically, “I’m scared. I’m scared.” Then she makes fun of Tinsley acting like a child and says she needs a nap. It just won’t stop. It’s like being waterboarded with words and, honestly, it made me want to take a sleeping pill and pass out right there in my clothes. (Ha! Who am I fooling? I haven’t worn big-girl clothes in two months.)
I really felt bad for Tinsley that no one would let her talk. Even when Luann goes off to console her, she keeps talking over her. No wonder Tinsley keeps screeching like a raccoon stuck in a chimney. Like Leah said, “I feel bad for Dorinda burying her husband, but I don’t understand what that has to do with Tinsley.” Ramona thinks it’s that Tinsley has someone taking care of her like Dorinda had with Richard, and she misses it and resents Tinsley for it. That is very insightful, and I do not like it when Ramona Singer makes sense, because it makes me think that up is down, left is right, and Old Navy will not immediately disintegrate in the wash.
The Housewives throw around the word “bully” so much it’s meaningless, like the designer label of whatever visor Dorit Kemsley might be wearing on any given day. But I have never seen an instance in which it fit like this one. Dorinda is just being cruel and not letting up. She is attacking Tinsley for seemingly no reason and at every chance she gets. Worst of all, none of the women are stepping in to stop her. No one is saying, “Dorinda, that’s enough,” or even trying to intervene to let Tinsley talk. (I feel like that was Bethenny’s job, and no one has picked up the slack.) That says something about the ferocity of Dorinda’s anger, how it’s all-consuming, like a tornado that is going to drop a house on her but the house never comes. Ramona does mention her anger in a confessional, and how it’s happening more often, but no one does anything to mitigate it while it’s taking place.
Leah finally gets Tinz to calm down by forcing her to climb a tree, which may or may not be against the rules, but I love Leah’s punk-rock attitude. She doesn’t even care, and she’s just going to get Tinz to do it to be fun. A goat in the petting zoo calms Dorinda, maybe because its name is Xanax and it rubbed itself all over her tongue. The women, by then well toasty, are escorted to the corn maze, where they manage to make complete fools of themselves.
The last ten minutes of the program are completely welcome buffoonery. My highlights, as usual, were Sonja Morgan related. Not only does she wipe herself with a corn husk, but after shucking said corn she just plops it in her handbag. I can just see her waking up in the morning, rifling through her bag, finding it and saying, “Corn? When did I have corn?” There is also her encounter with the owner of the farm, whom she openly flirts with. First, she says, “Are these weed plants?” When told they are eggplants (which Sonja should know, since it’s her favorite emoji), she says she thought it would be weed because of the name of the farm. The she asks, point-blank, “Hey, mister checker-shirt guy. You’re my type. How much do you make on an apple orchard?,” as if doing a credit check before her lawyers draw up the prenup. The man’s amused reaction: “Let me just take you to the corn maze.”
Back in the barn after the maze, Sonja continues to be a-maze-ing (I am deeply ashamed of myself for that corn-y joke) and talks about how all of the cheese on her cheese plate makes “her pussy wet.” As Luann once again flirts with the comely male staff — this one tells her how ugly naked men are — she asks Sonja when she last had sex. “I got pounded last night,” she slurs, ripping off a hunk of bread. Luann says she hates getting dick pics, but Leah says she loves it because Leah is a human with eyes, and who doesn’t love a dick pic? Like Marianne in Normal People, I will look at my dick picks every day until I die. Leah also wants to make sure the guy doesn’t have a “micropenis.” She says this while holding an apple-cider doughnut. This is literally what my idea of Heaven is like: a never-ending plate of baked goods and unending dick talk on a fall afternoon walk.
Tinsley says sex shouldn’t be about the penis size, it should be about love and intimacy, which is exactly what a person who has never been properly reamed by a fat hog would say. “Never touch a small dick!” Sonja says, embroidering the sampler as it comes out of her mouth. “And you would do anything to a dick if it would get you a bracelet!” I mean, mic drop. It’s over. Thank you, Sonja. Retire forever.
As the cornstalks crackle in the crisp autumn air, disintegrating on their own weight, we fast-forward as the long winter settles into spring. The trees are flowering, their blooms blowing all over Park Avenue in pink and white swarms on the empty sidewalks of the Upper East Side. Upstairs, on the 23rd floor, a redhead is still in bed. It is 3 p.m. This is when she would usually be playing tennis with her friend Jackie. Then off for a quick drink at the Regency before a party or a dinner reservation or some other social function. Something to mark the days as distinct. This is Thursday. This is the day I go to the hairdresser. This is the night I ran into Buddy and Shanon, and she told me about Joyce’s divorce.
There’s no more of that. There is nothing. There is just the blur of the mundane. It’s just another day of lying in bed, alone, scrolling through Netflix looking for something not too heavy it sprains her brain but just deep enough to distract her. Then preparing her own meals, the bleakness of the news, which she forces herself to watch as if it’s going to lift this pall over the island. Then more TV in bed, it clicking every few hours that, yes, she is still watching Money Heist, the reminder almost an affront to her productivity. She knows what lies ahead, and it’s the same. It’s all the same. In bed, she hears the wind whipping through the abandoned canyons of New York, the cars covered in dust, nothing moving, like the start of a zombie movie. She thought the end of the world would be an exciting struggle, like staying underwater a little too long in the pool. Instead, Jill Zarin thought, The end of the world is here, and it’s just boring.