The Real Housewives of New York City
I always said about Ramona Jane Singer that she might be a monster, but at least she’s our monster. Well, just like when Big Bird caught Grover in bed with Snuffleupagus, it is time to throw that monster out with the trash. (Wait, then wouldn’t that be Oscar? Ugh, this Sesame Street metaphor no longer tickles my Elmo.) The thing we’ve always known about Ramona is that she tends to make every situation about herself. Sure. Fine. That is what all great practitioners of the reality television arts and sciences do. But no one has taken that egocentricity and turned it into a malignancy like Ramona.
Just take her tour of a $17.9 million two-bedroom apartment with failed Million Dollar Listing show person and sixth Housewife, Michael Lorber. Ramona has been taking a 75-hour course to get her Realtor’s license because she says she’s bored and likes to earn money. She is also in need of a storyline as the second season of Handmaid’s Tale. She is now just three courses away from eligibility. Yes, that means that Ramona is one prix fixe menu away from terrorizing Manhattan’s rich in a whole new way.
This tour is a trial run, and Michael has recruited his friend Jordan, presumably another Sag Harbor homosexual, to come in from Connecticut for an afternoon of being harassed by the world’s worst salesperson in a Chanel suit. The star of the show should be the apartment, but Ramona is making this all about herself. She’s talking about her vertigo when looking out of the windows; she’s talking about how Michael is interrupting her; she is talking about where she would put a baby grand piano in the apartment as if she’s already moving in her furniture. Ramona, this guy has no interest in buying you, and after this performance, which was worse than her tap dancing on new floors in her high heels, he has no interest in buying the apartment either.
Before we get to Ramona’s horrendous performance at the Shabbat dinner — which everyone is mistaking for a Seder, which is a whole different thing — there are some brief interludes with the other characters. Eboni finds out that her DNA has some matches in online registries, so a nice lady named Linda, who is wearing especially fetching denim, is going to try to find the clusters that match with Eboni’s DNA and try to triangulate exactly who her father is.
Next is a date for Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Wind Breaker Gas Displacement Pills Morgans. I had faith in Eboni’s friend Devyn. I really did. Then she set my favorite floozy up with a pair of cracked Ray-Bans. I mean, what is up with this guy? He’s in commercial real estate, which he admits was in the shitter before the pandemic totally wiped it out. He’s sold his house in the South of France. He’s on his fourth back surgery and it’s not even from some sort of exotic accident. Sonja guesses all the usual suspects, skiing, tennis, falling off of Diddy’s yacht because Carmen Electra is trying to spray you with a Champagne bottle and Dennis Rodman is trying to give you a purple nurple. But no. None of those things. He just has a “bad spine.”
Then this Brandon character, who was clearly lying in his profile pictures, doesn’t want to have dessert with Sonja. She talks about how she wants to see him again, and he says they will, but they won’t. This damp Roman Candle that fails to ignite is going to say that Sonja, our Sonja, isn’t good enough for him, a man whose body is the exact shape of a Cadbury Crème Egg in a heat wave. No wonder all of these women are single. There is not one eligible bachelor in Manhattan who hasn’t married his nanny.
On to the dinner held at a home in Summit, New Jersey, because nothing this season happens in Manhattan except for the women climbing aboard various and sun-dried party buses. This “Black Shabbat” as Eboni calls it, or “Black Sabbath” as Sonja calls it, brings together some of her Black friends that she journeyed to Israel with, her Jewish friend Archie, and the Real Housewives of New York City. Mostly what it brought together was Ramona’s voice with everyone else’s exasperated ears.
Leah was exposed to COVID and had to quarantine, so the only Jewish member of the cast (well, once she converts) has to skip. But she insists on Zooming into the proceedings. Okay, fine. It’s one thing if you set her up next to Elijah’s chair and she just watches, but Leah thinks she is going to be an active participant in this dinner. She’s talking to the women insisting that they listen to her and at some points screaming as the action unfolds. Ramona is objectionable at this dinner, but the one thing she is right about is trying to hang up on Leah five minutes into the dinner. A solo teleconferencer has no part at an in-person gathering. That’s just the way G*d intended. (But props to Luann after Leah sings her prayer for saying, “Boom, you can sing,” like Luann knows what a good voice would sound like if it fell out of the sky and offered her a Coke Zero.)
Ramona starts as soon as they arrive, telling Archie, the evening’s host, that her napkins are ugly and that they’re way too big. Once Archie tells Ramona that she made them herself, she continues to make fun of them, trying to fashion one into a blouse. I don’t remember Sonja getting this much heat when she tried to pretend that JP Morgan’s bedclothes were napkins a few seasons back. Then Ramona tries to explain to Archie how the Challah bread (no relation to Heather “Holla” Thompson) is just like the Ukrainian bread she grew up with, as if Ramona knows more about what is about to unfold than the woman who planned it all out.
The real trouble starts when Archie explains that she’s worried about the relationship between Jews and the Black community. Ramona pipes in that Italians have a lot in common with the Jews as well because they both love tradition. She learned this by watching Fiddler on the Roof in Nolita. Eboni tries to explain that there is something different when two groups of oppressed people unite in their struggles because they’re all fighting against white supremacy. Ramona says she cares about that too. Everyone cares about it. Eboni counters with the point that she is the only one who has suffered a price.
Ramona just can’t take this. She then tells us that she was shunned by the Jewish kids when she went to college because she was a Christian. I mean, OK. Sure. Maybe that happened. Maaaaaay-be that is true. But there is more to this story. Why was she around so many Jews, and why were they all against her? Is it because she kept saying offensive things like she is doing at this event? Does it have something to do with the Jewish man she was engaged to that she dumped because he didn’t thank her suitably for changing religions? I am going to need a deposition from one of these Jewish kids before I can pass judgment.
As Archie is trying to tell Ramona that must have been painful, but they’ll address her pain in a minute, Leah is shouting through the phone at her about how it’s not about white people right now, and Eboni is, once again, trying to figure out how to keep her new co-workers from shattering everything she holds dear. Ramona says, “No one is going to listen to me,” and gets up and walks away, which is a classic Ramona strategy. Everyone is angry that she left when she returns to the table and she says, “I went to pee. God. I can’t pee now!” Now she’s just deflecting and dissembling. She’s throwing out bad behavior like it is so many ninja stars, hoping that one will blind, bloody, or maim everyone in attendance so she doesn’t have to sit with her own bad views.
The way she defends herself, the “all lives matter” of it all, seems like Fox News talking points. But Ramona isn’t that calculated; she isn’t that coached. I was trying to figure out where this animus is coming from when Eboni elucidated it perfectly. She says that Ramona can’t sit with being uncomfortable about racial or religious oppression. She can’t just listen and examine her part in other people’s struggles. She needs this to be about her, too. She needs to see her part in any narrative because, as both a white person and a narcissist, this is what she is used to.
Ramona is now done talking about how she used to cry at night wanting to be Jewish and is now just marauding around the party with garden variety rudeness. She’s fixating everyone on how she hasn’t eaten all day and how she lost the three pounds she gained over Thanksgiving as if anyone at the table cares about her weight struggles. The editors, the real mensches in every situation, give us a montage of Ramona eating all sorts of things on the bus ride over to debunk her claim that she hasn’t eaten all day and must eat now.
She then takes over the dinner, going into the kitchen and telling them she needs to eat immediately as if this is not a cultural dinner where there is a planned menu that she should graciously be a part of. She tells them that she doesn’t want what they have in the kitchen, because they aren’t healthy snacks. She demands chicken. She must have chicken now, and she will burn this whole house down if it means that she doesn’t have to listen to how Black people and Jews might possibly have it worse than she does. She circles around the kitchen, she circles around the table, like a goblin doing a jig, demanding, deflecting, denigrating, destroying. She is a monster, alright, and I don’t know why someone won’t give her a stake through the heart already.