The Real Housewives of New York City
We are back here in an absolute ruin that nothing will fix. There is a narcissistic overlord in charge who insists that the best look is all gilt furniture and gold toilets and won’t listen to anyone’s advice and instead goes with their gut. The nation remains bitterly divided over what should happen and how exactly to repair this shambles. No, I am not talking about the United States of America. I am talking about the townhouse of Sonja Tremont-Morgan of the Dr. Crapper’s Constantly Leaking Water Closet Morgans.
The episode starts, as it so frequently does, checking in on all the ladies around town, and we see Luann washing her dog wearing a Feelin’ Jovani tank top. Luann not only has a fake religious candle with her own face on it, but she also wears her own merch. At least someone finally reframed her at-home confessional so that the enormous glamour-shot photo of her has been moved slightly out of frame.
But we’re not talking about her. We’re talking about my favorite floozy, Sonja Morgan. We see her in the basement of her townhouse, which has been emptied of all the extra bottles of Wesson oil, but she did not remove the issue of Originel [sic] magazine with her face on the cover. There is also a new leak in the basement in one of the toilets that she can’t seem to fix. I think it is still damaged (both physically and psychologically) from the Great Blackberry Flood of 2011.
Sonja’s biggest worry right now is her townhouse. She says that the client wanted to rent it for $5 million for five years, but that is too much of a long-term commitment for her. Now she’s looking for a new renter. That explanation seems fishier than Captain Lee’s undergarments. It’s clear that Sonja is having some money troubles and can’t get anyone to rent out her apartment. When she and her intern, a lacy blouse (in gay parlance, a “blouse” is a feminine top), meet with a contractor, Sonja tells him that she needs to update the look of her place. She wants it to be all chrome and glass, because people don’t want the Louis Cat Doors (as Sonja would probably say) decoration that has infested the place like the mildew smell you know is lurking in some of those velvet curtains.
The problem is that Sonja is asking the contractor how much certain rugs cost, how much certain fixtures cost. She wants to update the house, but on the cheap. I’m sorry, but that is never going to happen. She is not going to be able to afford the type of fixtures that attract a big-money renter with what she has to offer. She’s living in a Sub-Zero world on a “white fridge you got for free on the sidewalk at 53rd Street and Ninth Avenue” budget.
Sonja has a little breakdown later at Ramona’s party when Dorinda asks her what she is upset about. She says not being able to rent the house is stressing her out. Sonja needs to just get rid of that damn house. It’s probably a $5 million property. Just sell it and live off the interest of that money. Between that and her salary from the show, that would give her a very nice living. Maybe not exile-yourself-to-a-spa-for-all-of-quarantine money, but certainly enough for some cute frocks, a few luxury vacations, and the necessary plastic surgery to keep her right and tight until her dying day.
I love Sonja, and she will always be my favorite floozy, but what the hell business does she have talking at Wharton, Penn’s prestigious business school? She’s telling the students about her toaster oven, a business plan without, you know, an actual business. The only thing she’s been able to bring to market is a Nigerian football team, and we’re still not entirely sure it exists. Sonja’s place is not in business — it is in our hearts, where she will remain, lodged like a chicken bone in a windpipe, forever.
Sonja also accompanies Luann to a meeting of the Fortune Society, which helps people who have gotten out of prison thrive after their incarceration. She stands up and sheds what seem to be real tears about her incident in Palm Beach a few weeks ago. I hate when I have to get political about The Real Housewives. I also want to applaud Luann for bringing attention to a very worthy charity. However, she is complaining to a room mostly filled with Black and brown bodies about how she hit a police officer on the head, resisted arrest, told him she wanted him dead, and escaped with probation and mandatory rehab. If any of those other people in that room had behaved the same way, they at best would still be in jail and at worst would be dead. Yes, it’s great that Luann is taking some of the women for a spa day, but I also would have enjoyed a little acknowledgment that, even in her hardship, Luann is still extremely privileged.
I’m sure none of Ramona’s “50 girlfriends” at her birthday party would think that way. As Leah says, she was expecting the party to look like a “MAGA rally.” I wouldn’t quite say that, but it certainly looks like a version of Sondheim’s Follies, but all of the women are the Fox News anchors sexually harassed by Roger Ailes (RIP: Rest in Persistent and everlasting torture). It is, essentially, the world’s first Karen convention.
There are no men allowed at the party, except for all of the planning gays and one other homosexual who arrives early in a black cardigan. That means her ex, Mario, could not attend. I just loved Ramona’s dinner with her daughter, Avery, and Mario. I ship them so hard. I just want them to be together and happy because they are endgame. You know that Ramona wants to smash that some more for her birthday, which is why she is telling Mario that she still loves him at dinner. She asks Mario if he is dating anyone, and he’s like “define dating.” That is because Mario, a 60-something bachelor who puts the Z in zaddy, is doing nothing in Florida but getting laid. Mario is smashing ass and not taking names. “Thanks again, um, Donna?,” he says, fastening the belt on his chinos, taking a stab in the dark after stabbing Donna? in her dark.
When Leah gets to Ramona’s party, she’s already having complicated feelings about Ramona, because her feelings about her mother are complicated and she really conflates the two. Leah recounts that she wants a better relationship with her mom while she and her sister, Sarah, are sitting in the hot tub at Spa 88, the Fidi sauna that Leah already took the women to, because apparently this place is funding Leah’s daughter’s college education. As I told you last time, I used to go to underground gay sex parties at that place. I was once sitting in that very hot tub making out with a very handsome and moderately successful novelist when something wet and sticky slapped against my ankle and stuck there. Ew, ew, a million ews, I thought to myself, reaching my hand down and fully expecting to peel a used condom off my leg. Instead, it was two $100 bills! Everyone at the party had to wear a swimsuit, so guys would put cash in their Speedos and then, when taking their junk out in the hot tub, their money would come out and swirl around in that heady brew of pheromones and back sweat. I had to break from that novelist and furiously pan around for money in that water like I was some kind of gay Scrooge McDuck during the Gold Rush.
ANYWAY! Leah is telling Sarah about how she wants to improve her relationship with their mom when Sarah tells Leah that their mom said she doesn’t even like either of them. Then their mom, Bunny, told Sarah that she thinks Leah’s face is looking too fake, even though all Leah says she’s done is Botox and some lip injections. Leah then starts raging about how she’ll get whatever she wants done to her body, and goes from wanting to be close to her mother to scorning her again, in the space of time that it took me to find two wet, spunk-logged bills in the Spa 88 hot tub.
So Leah arrives at Ramona’s party and is wearing a gorgeous Norma Kamali dress that is sheer, but it isn’t revealing anything because there is a bodysuit sewn into the dress. When she goes to talk to Ramona, she is totally ignoring Leah because she is greeting all of her “50 girlfriends,” which the editors are doing the vicious job of numbering for us. (Also, bonus points for the one they labeled “Sonja Insists More of Her Friend than Ramona’s.”) This is getting Leah more than a little annoyed, but she is going with the spirit of the party and trying not to give Ramona a hard time on her birthday.
Sonja is not giving her the same consideration. Sonja is getting more and more wasted and is becoming more and more annoyed that Ramona thinks that all of these women are her friends when Sonja is the one who introduced Ramona to them in the first place. I don’t think that we can really claim ownership over human beings. Stuffed animals, yes, and with the amount of work some of the women in that room have had done, they could qualify as taxidermy. Still, Sonja won’t give it up, and by the time Ramona comes over to show off the new Chanel purse her pals bought for her, Sonja slurs, “That purse is ugly as shit, just … EXCHANGE IT!” I can’t get mad at Sonja, even while she’s being vile.
As the night wears on in that overly lit party room at Scarpetta — where the stage says, inexplicably, “Everyone Visits Ramona’s Living Room,” like it’s a T-shirt for a bar called Ramona’s Living Room in a Michigan college town — things go from bad to worse. Sonja is trying to dance, but she’s really rubbing her ass against the bar. She looks like one of those toys where there’s a little marionette doll, and you put your finger in the bottom, and it collapses and then it rises up again. She looks like that, all limp limbs and imminent destruction.
It gets even worse for Leah, who hikes up her skirt and starts grinding on Luann like she’s giving her a lap dance and holding an enormous rose to her head like it’s a hat. Leah has obviously spent enough time around drag queens to know that any enormous decoration should really be turned into spontaneous millinery. Ramona does not like it one bit and tells her to stop, because, I don’t know, Leah has a run in her stocking? Ramona says it’s embarrassing her, but why would you have a party with only women if you can’t get a little down and dirty and have some fun without dudes ogling all over them?
Then, like a truly drunken drag queen, Sonja gets up on a mirrored platter on an ottoman and starts stomping around on it and wearing the flower on her head like she’s doing a lip sync to “La Cucaracha” in her mind. Ramona loses her shit and goes to the producers and asks them to “shut it down.” She screams, “I’ll quit the show if you don’t make it stop right now.” So many things. First of all, Ramona has been at this long enough to know that she wasn’t going to have a Housewives party without there being any drama. Secondly, is she really putting so much into this 63rd-birthday party that she will quit the show if production doesn’t intervene? Thirdly, how many times do you think Ramona has threatened to quit, and she still hasn’t? Did this trick ever work?
When this footage played on the Upper East Side screen of a certain redhead, she remembered slowly lowering herself down the stairs to that party, past the licorice phone booth, past the inevitable step and repeat, past the women with hair dyed blonde and, in one instance, pink. She thinks about how she didn’t want to be there, she thinks about joking with the producers about how it should say “Ramona’s friend No. 51” under her name, or maybe it should say, “Ramona’s got 99 friends but this bitch ain’t one.” But she was there, at that tacky event with those awful people, and she just hated it. But as she watches it now, what wouldn’t she give for a party? What wouldn’t she give to be in that room full of women who look like the headshot on a realtor’s business cards? What wouldn’t she give for the only passable tuna tartare at Scarpetta downtown. Oh, what Jill Zarin wouldn’t give to stoop to Ramona’s level, to visit her living room, to be the run in her stocking for even one night.