housewives institute bulletin

RHONJ Comes to a Dramatic End

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo by Bravo

Hello and welcome to the Housewives Institute Bulletin. I am your guide, president, and founder, Dame Brian Moylan. I just want you to know that I did not get into “glam” for this week’s newsletter. Erika Jayne was the first to bring her hair and makeup team on a Housewives trip, and ever since there has been a stylist arms race among the cast: Dorit Kemsley quickly jumped on the bandwagon, and even Teddi Mellencamp got into the game. As long as this phenomenon was confined to RHOBH, which is the most expensive and luxe of the franchise, I didn’t mind so much. But now that Eboni and Leah have their own squads camped out in Ramona’s basement (ahem, lower level), it’s just spreading everywhere. Stop the spread of unnecessary makeup artists! They’re only at Ramona’s house, why do they need a perfect smokey eye? The Institute is hereby passing a bylaw that glam on all trips outside of RHOBH will not be tolerated and will be relentlessly made fun of. That said, let’s gussy up this here newsletter!

Mention It All

Not all the news, but all the news you actually care about.

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo by Bravo

COSTUME CONTESTED: Remember when Kenya Moore dressed as a “warrior princess” on this season of RHOA and wore a Native American headdress to a Halloween party? Even though both Bravo and Kenya apologized for the costume, it’s still been edited out of the episode. Variety reports that the episode on the BravoTV app and on edits out most appearances of the costume, though they include Kenya’s castmates’ negative comments about her wearing it. Now, what do we think they’ll do about Luann’s “Diana Ross” costume from a few seasons back?

MAN OH MANZO: Things are getting really crazy in the ongoing feud between Dina Manzo and her sister Caroline Manzo. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, Dina’s ex-husband and Caroline’s brother-in-law Tommy Manzo was indicted for orchestrating a robbery at Dina’s home and for having Dina’s then-fiancé, now-husband beat up by a mob member and paying him with a free wedding at the Brownstone. Tommy is currently out on bail, but the drama at his pretrial hearing is that his defense attorney said that dozens of people had filed letters testifying to Tommy’s character, including one from, you guessed it, Caroline, who said he is “kindhearted and caring.” This gives a whole new meaning to her family being thick as thieves.

So far, Caroline has yet to say anything publicly about the drama, but Dina has been commenting on Instagram posts critical of her sister. She also took issue with Caroline’s son Albie Manzo talking about the drama on his podcast. “Ohhhh shocking… going to speak about it on his podcast for the downloads,” Dina wrote under his post. “Unfortunately this will just be a ‘storyline’ to profit from. What a shame.” This is how all family feuds happen in the modern era, in Instagram comments.

LACK OF FUNDS: Disgraced Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah is currently awaiting her next hearing in New York (which I hear is the Monday after BravoCon and, if that is true, it is sure to be crashed by rubbernecking fans making it a long weekend). Her cousin Danny Filipe wanted to help out with her legal battle and posted a GoFundMe to raise $2.5 million to help Jen, who’s accused of bilking people (mostly seniors) out of $5 million in a telemarketing scheme, fight the man. After people complained about the page, GoFundMe took it down for violating their terms of service. According to “Page Six,” it was up for only 24 hours. How much did it generate in that time to offset Jen’s legal bills? Only $225.

LUANN’S NEW MANS: On this season of RHONY, we’re so deep into Luann de Lesseps’s boyfriend Garth Wakefield’s taint that we can barely smell his lamb curry. While the two separated before the show even debuted, that hasn’t kept the Artist Formerly Known As the Countess from finding a new dude. According to “Page Six” (honestly what would we do without them?), Luann is dating Radamez Rubio Gaytan. Supposedly she met the chef when she went to Tulum and stayed at the hotel he was running down there. Since then, she’s been spotted smooching with him both in Manhattan and the Hamptons. Luann has denied that she has anyone special in her life, but she was still spotted lunching in the Hamptons over Memorial Day weekend with Radamez and her former castmate Jill Zarin. I’m sorry, but if he’s not serious, you don’t take him home to meet mother.

BYE-BYE BRYANT: On her new podcast with bestie Robyn Dixon, Reasonably Shady, Gizelle Bryant revealed that she and her ex-husband, cheating megapastor Jamal Bryant, are no longer rekindling their romance. Praise Jesus, Hallelujah, Amen, Mazel Tov, Allahu Akbar, Namaste, and Leave Britney Alone.

I CAN’T EVEN: After only a month (in air quotes so big they dwarf Lala Kent’s boobs) with him, Porsha Williams revealed on DISH Nation that she got her fiancé Simon Guobadia’s middle name tattooed on her neck. Congratulations to absolutely no one involved in this situation.

MONEY CAN BUY YOU CLASS: So, who do you think is the priciest Real Housewife on Cameo? It’s Lisa Vanderpump of course, at $275. Which Real Housewife do you think owns the most expensive house? The New York Post figured out the ten most expensive Housewives houses and says it’s Heather Dubrow’s $21 million dollar Newport Beach monstrosity. However, it seems like they left out Real Housewives of Miami star Lea Black’s house on the celebrity-soaked Star Island, which is currently on the market for $34 million. Most of us can’t really afford that, but maybe we can stay at the Lake Tahoe mansion the cast of RHOBH is staying at during the trip that’s currently airing. The 17-room mansion is on Airbnb for only $8,000 a night.

THE NEW TOASTER OVEN: We all know that Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Nigerian Football Team Morgans has a hard time getting a business off the ground. But now you can buy Sonja Morgan’s Box. No, it’s not what you think.

ERIKA’S ABCs: As we wait to see how the legal drama with Erika Jayne and her husband Tom Girardi plays out on RHOBH (looks like we’ll see starting in next week’s episode), ABC News is debuting its new special The Housewife and the Hustler on Hulu on June 14. From the short trailer, it looks like the only people interviewed are Juicy Scoop podcast host Heather McDonald and Dana “$25,000 Sunglasses” Wilkie. Still, you know I’ll be watching.

SPEAKING OF TRAILERS: If you haven’t watched the one for the upcoming season of Real Housewives of Potomac, run don’t walk.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion Recap: Rumor Monster

Teresa Giudice’s stupidity should get a tax break for being a renewable energy source.

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo by Bravo

I was prepared to be totally pissed at Bravo for the switcheroo they pulled on us for the Real Housewives of New Jersey reunion. Part one ended with Jennifer alleging that Margaret started the rumor that Jackie’s husband Evan “does stuff” when he goes to the gym. The second part of this abbreviated recap picks up right where it left off, but Andy just says, “We’ll talk about that later.” We don’t even get to hear what Jennifer meant.

The whole reunion, all anyone wanted to talk about was the rumor Teresa spread, the analogy Jackie made, and the fallout that spread across the season like Jen’s puke running across the floor of Bill’s Ferrari as he drove to her monstrous mansion that abuts the interstate. But every time it came up, Andy cordoned it, he shunted it until later, he moved it along so that they could run their little package of clips about how it all went down. Exhausting. It was the best thing that happened all season, and we couldn’t just talk about it organically as it came up?

Eventually when we do hear Jen explain her theory about Marge spreading the rumor, it comes in the form of an interlude from Danielle Staub, the vajazzled Blair Witch of Jersey. Andy mentions that Danielle thinks Marge started the rumor, but Dolores adds that Danielle blames Margaret for everything: her divorce, her getting kicked off the show, the faking of the moon landing, that Pop Corners were discontinued, and Katy Perry’s flop era. Jennifer says that she doesn’t know that Margaret started it, as her early comments would lead us to believe, that she just pieced all of these bread crumbs together to make the right arm of a gingerbread man that no one wanted to finish.

Jennifer says that Teresa said someone in the group started the rumor. She also heard that it started in Tenafly, Margaret’s hometown and not the name of a shitty place for brunch in the Meatpacking District where people pay $30 for Bloody Marys and dance on banquettes before 2 p.m. Because of these two facts, Jen thinks Marge started the rumor, and she told Teresa who told Joe who told Melissa who told Jackie who told Jen who told Dolores’s spray-tan artist who told Teresa again when she did spray tans for all five Giudice women, and that is when Teresa brought it up at the party. It wasn’t exactly that, but it was something like that, and it was dumb.

I would be pissed at Andy and Bravo in general for this bait and switch with Jennifer except that Andy was harder on Teresa about this than just about any subject that has ever come up at a reunion. He was more relentless with her this season than he was way back when she threw him into his chair like she was playing a game of Pass the Twink on Barry Diller’s yacht. Andy tells her that she seemed to be taking a lot of glee in spreading the rumor and also presses her on the fact that she did spread the rumor. He reminds her that she didn’t just “comment” on it, that she said, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” which means when she said she never gave the rumor any credence, she was lying. When Teresa says that if she knew Jackie was going to make an analogy, she might not have gotten so mad, Andy points out, “Usually when you make an analogy, you don’t say ‘I’m about to make an analogy.’” Exactly. Jackie used a tone so mocking when talking about Gia and cocaine that any sane, logical person would know that she was joking. Gia apparently got some comments from her sorority, but are those girls as dumb as her mother? Really? Jackie shouldn’t have to apologize for saying something that only stupid people would think is true.

Teresa Giudice’s stupidity should get a tax break for being a renewable energy source. She talks about how she was upset with Jackie for saying at dinner that Teresa gained her confidence in jail. Jackie says she made that comment because Teresa was attacking her for hours before. Teresa says, “Maybe you shouldn’t throw stones.” Um, Teresa, if you don’t want people to talk about your time in jail, maybe you shouldn’t throw stones. Her blatant hypocrisy is staggering.

Later, when a fan mentions that Jackie is the only person unafraid to stand up to Ms. Giudice, Teresa says, “She doesn’t stand up to me, or she would have squashed it one, two, three.” Um, what? So if she had “squashed it,” meaning just settled their beef even though she was upset, that is standing up to Teresa? No, it’s the opposite. If she squashed it, she would be backing down. Her standing up to Teresa is actually not squashing it. This is why arguing with Teresa, unlike every other Housewife, is no fun. She can’t even tell the difference between TMI and PDA. How is she going to have a cogent argument?

That said, it’s not like I’m really Team Jackie, either. At one point she says that Teresa tried to ruin her because she saw how happy Jackie and Evan were together and she was jealous. No. That is not it. No one ever wants to ruin you because you are “too happy” or they are “just jealous.” There are a million other reasons Teresa would have done that: to make herself look better, to give herself a story line, to get the drama on the show going, or, most likely, because she really doesn’t like Jackie.

At least Jackie is intelligent and perceptive enough at the end to say, “I don’t know where we could go from here because I feel like she doesn’t like me and I’ll always be in the line of fire.” Yes! That is it. Teresa just doesn’t like her. Why can’t she admit it? We need this in our Housewives. Think of Porsha and Kenya. Think of Gizelle and Karen. Think of NeNe and Kim. Some people just aren’t going to get along ever, and that’s fine. But this show is so centered on Teresa that Jackie doesn’t stand a chance, so she has to accept Teresa’s half-assed offer to go golfing with her and Evan and pretend like she cares, when I wish we could just focus on their never-ending feud.

It continues to gall me that Bravo thinks it’s okay to center a show on this woman. When they’re talking about Margaret revealing her history with workplace sexual harassment, Teresa says that a boss would never put their hands on her, she just wouldn’t let them; she’s blaming the victims for things they couldn’t control. I found this to be so staggeringly inappropriate and gross, and there was nothing any of the women could have said to change her mind. Well, maybe Jennifer could have helped her shame promiscuous women a bit more, but other than that, she’s very happy in her warped worldview.

Even Andy tells her that she’s wrong and that it’s not a sign of weakness that happened. Here is Teresa, a woman who we have never seen in a real workplace, talking about how she would handle herself if she were harassed professionally. She is absolutely lacking not just in intelligence but in sophistication, empathy, logic, reasoning, and a post–Me Too, post-BLM sense of what the world is like. But as much as he held her feet to the fire earlier, Andy decides what the show really needs is to be recentered on Teresa. And so he brings out her boyfriend, humanizes her more, gives her a pineapple, and wants us all to take a sip. No thanks, guys. I think I’m full.

Recap Highlights

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo by Bravo

Real Housewives of New York City, Season 13, Episode 4
Sonja says she hates to feel like chopped liver, and she doesn’t want things to just be about her; her dog, Marley; and “you and Lu” — and by that, she means the show. Sonja wants more than this box she’s put in, this place where she has to perform as the worst part of herself just to be able to keep the townhouse running. She wants a real relationship with a man, and she is afraid that she’s never going to find it stuck on the same Grey Gardens treadmill of reality television. At the end of this conversation, Ramona can see Sonja is acting out because she’s hurting, and there is actually a genuinely touching moment in which she hugs her and wishes all the pain would go away. Maybe instead of a hug, she could cover some therapy bills?

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Season 11, Episode 2
Seriously though, I did love both of these conversations, if only because they illustrated how to have the different conversations surrounding race, implicit bias, and diversity that keep popping up like Andy Cohen’s chubbies when he was asked to judge the Fire Island Swimsuit Competition brought to you by Andrew Christian and Jungle Juice. The first conversation is between Kyle and Garcelle at a lovely restaurant in the Valley, so it’s not really Beverly Hills. Kyle doesn’t know why she and Garcelle have a problem and just wants to move past it and have a hug and start over. Garcelle loves this idea, but she has to bring up why Kyle said at the reunion that Garcelle never paid the donation she pledged at her charity fundraiser turned stealth pilot for Kris Jenner to join the Bravo family. Kyle says she raised the point because things were bad between her and Garcelle, who then asked, “Would you have asked that of one of the white women?” Kyle is taken aback by the question because, yes, if one of her show enemies who was white didn’t pay, she would have raised that concern.

Real Housewives of New York City, Season 13, Episode 5
Ramona leaves the room because she’s uncomfortable and heads up her Dynasty staircase to the upper level and says, “What ever happened to class and elegance? Where did it all go?” I don’t know, Ramona. Maybe it went to Colombia where you literally shit on the floor and then smeared it around with an espadrille. I totally get why Leah is upset with Ramona and her hypocrisy. She doesn’t want anyone to say “vagina,” but she is also the first person to leave a party at her own house so that she can go to another party to try to get laid. Ramona won’t talk about any of her sexual experiences, but she’s also the same person who goes into orgiastic undulations to try to connect to the guitar player that comes over Luann’s house who looks like Danny Trejo’s distant cousin.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Season 11, Episode 3
When I initially judged Sutton, I decided that she is not for this world — by which I mean professional reality television — and I think that still holds true. She’s more fragile than a million porcelain figures of the Christ child, more fragile than Donald Trump’s ego, more fragile than the Gaza cease-fire. When thinking about Sutton, you cannot ask, “If you prick her, does she not bleed?”; you ask, “If you lightly blow on her, will she not crumble like a statue of Dua Lipa made out of Wheat Chex?”

Fashion Highlight of the Week

Photo: Bravo

Dorit Kemsley has worn some very fashion-forward things in her time on RHOBH, but never has she gotten into a time machine, gone into the future, and come back with an accessory like the sunglasses she wore on the show’s most recent episode. For some reason, these remind me of Earth Girls Are Easy.

Dean’s List for Best Vulture Comment of the Week

Highlighting the best comment of the week for our lovely Institute members. This one is from this week’s RHONY.

Whinery: Please give us more Eboni breaking the fourth wall, Zach Morris “rewind-the-tape” moments. It’s like she’s grounded in actual reality, trapped in a reality show, speaking to us as we watch her try to logic her way out and it was so satisfying.

Quote of the Week

“I feel like if a guy doesn’t eat your ass, he’s not a real man.” —Leah McSweeney

RHONJ Comes to a Dramatic End