The Real Housewives of New York City Recap: Bathhouse Betties

The Real Housewives of New York City

If You Can’t Take the Heat Get Out of the Russian Bath House
Season 12 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

The Real Housewives of New York City

If You Can’t Take the Heat Get Out of the Russian Bath House
Season 12 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Bravo

It says a lot about our favorite ladies of New York that they can do so much with so little. Think about how few scenes are actually in this episode. There are two competing lunches, a visit between Leah and her sister, a visit between Dorinda and her “life coach,” a trip to the Russian spa, and then some weird 50th class reunion for an all blonde sorority at Ramona’s house. That’s it. Those are all the occasions they need to wring out a compelling hour of television. My hats off to these women, and by hats, I mean the matching ones that look like tea cozies that they wear at the Russian bath.

So, at the competing lunches, Leah, Luann, and Tinsley and Ramona, Sonja, and Dorinda all talk in their disparate triumvirates about their trip to the orchard. We’re also treated to a little flashback of the bus ride home when Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Barf-B-Gone Air Sickness Bags Morgans tossed her apple cider donuts on the floor of the bus (and possibly Tinsley’s shoes). On a lesser franchise they would be building up to and dining out on this moment for, like, three episodes. In New York, a cast member yakking on a group trip is just a throwaway moment to add a little spice to the mulled wine.

Leah brings up how traumatic the trip was for her, and it made both her and Tinsley come down with a dry cough, a fever, and chest pain. Wait? What? When was this filmed? What month was this? Is it COVID? Are they social distancing? Can they get an antibody test? Something must be done to protect these essential workers! (Seriously, though, it was the fall. It wasn’t COVID.) Leah doesn’t like the way that Dorinda treated Tinsley and neither she nor Tinsley can figure out exactly what Tinsley did to deserve the shellacking. Luann says she knows. She says it’s because Tinsley screeches and is annoying so Dorinda is mean to her. I get it, but that is also not a reason for another adult human to act like that toward someone.

Across town the other women are talking about the same event. It actually isn’t at lunch, it’s at a workout class with Ramona’s trainer, Imperator Furiosa, and I would do whatever that woman told me because she keeps Ramona’s body looking mintier than a Junior Mint flavored Juul pod. After the workout class, they discuss last episode’s fight and Dorinda says that she doesn’t like it when Tinsley plays the victim. That’s her takeaway from the carnage? That’s like taking a killed and plucked chicken that was about to be turned into at least a dozen McNuggets and saying, “You were asking for it.” She has no clue at all how awful she was to Tinsley the day before, she still thinks that she’s in the right. In her confessional, Ramona says, “I don’t see Tinsley as playing the victim, I see Dorinda as victimizing her.” Yes! Precisely, so why won’t Ramona say that to her face?

Maybe because when Ramona brings it up at their group spa day it doesn’t go very well. At their lunch, Leah jokingly says that they should have an intervention for Dorinda, and Luann counters with, “Maybe a spa day instead — haha!” Leah takes it to heart and brings them all to Spa 88, a notorious Russian bathhouse in the financial district. I know it’s notorious because — how can I put this delicately — I used to go to sex parties there in the early to mid-2000s. Once a month there was a gay party there called Bana. All guests had to be in bathing suits and there was an open bar. It started at midnight and around 2 a.m. there would be a performance, like a fire breather or Brazilian carnival dancers. After that, everyone would retire to the steam room, sauna, pool, jacuzzi, or dark room to bang. When Luann walks into the VIP room and says, “There must be some crazy parties that go on in these rooms with the private hot tub” she has no idea that I have been bent over the very pool table just yards away from where they are lunching. There are still eight people in my phone with the last name Bana, so you know it was a good joint.

As soon as I saw the sign, I knew it was the place and was dying that the women would freak out about it. Ramona calls it “rustic,” which is the nicest euphemism for janky I ever heard. The editors also focus on the “Grade Pending” sign in the window. Elyse, a tree that fell in the forest that no one heard, says that is where Wall Street guys take their strippers. She is probably not wrong. But I love that Leah took them there. I love that Leah wants to show them her New York and is unapologetic about it. I also love that she is so authentic, so unapologetically herself, that the women have all accepted her into the fold so quickly. Yes, this is now a Leah stan account.

After Ramona, Sonja, and Luann bare their backsides at hunky Russian dudes beating them with bushes, they retire for lunch and Leah says that the orchard trip must be acknowledged. “I acknowledge it,” Dorinda says, as if this is Robert’s Rules of Order and now that she has acknowledged it, it can disappear. Leah was traumatized by this trip but for the rest of them, well, it was just another day at the office. Ho-hum. Pissed in a corn maze, yelled at each other, Sonja puked on the floor. Just another Wednesday in late October.

However, like a turd someone left floating in the bowl, it must be more than acknowledged, it must be discussed. Ramona, very carefully and gently, tells Dorinda that when someone says something she disagrees with, she hits below the belt and goes way too far. (Wait, is this the same fight that is currently happening with Kyle Richards on RHOBH?) Dorinda responds by saying, “You do the same thing so you should know it very well.” To quote Leah, “ZING!” But also not zing. Ramona will lash out at people, sure. Ramona will say horrible things to people (both the Brooklyn Bridge and “You don’t support women” come to mind), but she never cuts as deep as Dorinda does.

Dorinda says that Ramona shouldn’t have brought up that John might be texting other women at her house in the Hamptons, but she did that to get Dorinda out of a bad relationship. It was a foul, but it was in the service of the greater good. Ramona brings up when Dorinda made a joke about Luann’s mugshot in Cartagena two years ago, which is a great example. She also could have brought up when she called Sonja a slut in front of Candace Bushnell. Like colonialism, history is riddled with her cruelty.

The biggest criticism Dorinda has, however, is that Ramona didn’t bring this up with her personally but took it to the group. This comes up again at Ramona’s party and Fox News anchor look-alike contest. As Ramona’s muggle friends and the cast are standing around talking in a circle, Dorinda says that Ramona has schadenfreude, a word she just learned that was the topic of a song in the Best Musical Tony winner of 2004. As Ramona points out, Dorinda is now bringing her grievances up in front of everyone rather than saying something between the two of them.

What is hard to take with Dorinda is that her rage always needs to be focused on one of her coworkers in order to take the heat off her. It was Sonja in the “Clip! Clip!” days. Then at the beginning of last season it was Luann. Then it was Tinsley. Now it’s Ramona. If Leah sticks around long enough, it’s definitely going to be her. Shit, there’s probably even an intern or two of Sonja’s who isn’t safe from the focus of her hoovering wrath.

Things start to get heated and Ramona says, “I’m sorry that Richard died tomorrow,” which I think means that the next day is the anniversary of Dorinda’s late husband’s death. While it’s a legit explanation, Ramona should not have resorted to that. Dorinda responds, “Sorry that so many men have come and gone from your life and you still can’t move forward.” It’s like all of the sudden Scottie beamed us up to a planet called Belowthebeltovia. This is some seriously dark and petty bullshit and I would burn down the world’s tallest residential building before I would let someone get away with it.

Dorinda storms out with Sonja hot on her tail because the day before Ramona told her in the locker room she “needs to lose 10 pounds because you’re beautiful,” which is the kind of assholey thing Ramona says when she’s actually trying to be nice. The fight then goes out in the hallway where none of Ramona’s neighbor’s react because they have been living next to a spite demon for a while now and they know that if they don’t want the future generations of their family to be cursed they should just cower behind their doors until it passes.

Finally, the women end up back in Ramona’s house, crying and hugging, like a ball of cotton candy left in the morning dew. They’re all sorry. They’re all apologetic. They’ve been through too much to treat each other like this. All of the other women stand agog, their canape napkins drooping into their champagne glasses, wondering what, exactly just transpired, but it’s just another day at the office. Another Monday evening in early November.

In mid-May a redhead finally leaves her house for the first time to go to the D’Agostino down the street from her high-rise, and she laughs as it makes her think about her old friend Tom, who tells the women he meets at the Gramercy that he is, technically speaking, a count. Just like Count Chocula, she thinks, chuckling to herself. As usual, there is a line outfront of the supermarket with lines spray-painted on the sidewalk that she hopes, a year from now, will be morbid reminders of these last few months.

Cases are dropping, deaths are dropping, at least in New York, and everything is getting better, except her allergies, which make her eyes itch like she’s been watching Hallmark movies for the better part of a morning, which she definitely has. After months of doorstep delivery, she’s at the store again. Feel the moist spring air on her face, feel the breeze all over her head, it’s like diving into her pool in the Hamptons on a dark night naked, everything surrounding her flesh in one big swell. But it’s great to be around people, outside of her own company. She needs this. She needs to be out among the masses, to be recognized, to be asked for a selfie. She needs to tell someone to follow her on Instagram, to look for her on Cameo. As she gets to the front of the line, she hears that familiar refrain. “Excuse me,” a woman’s voice says. Jill Zarin turns toward it, ready to be asked if she is her, ready to be known. “Yes?” she says expectantly? “Ma’am, you need to wear a mask if you want to come into the store.

Real Housewives of New York City Recap: Bathhouse Betties