The Real Housewives of New York City
This season on our least favorite show, Poor Women Doing Nothing, the poor women do nothing. They do not spend an inordinate amount of time in one of the women’s homes in a summer town during the off-season. They do not go on a trip that is so boring that not even inviting all of the Gyllenhaals in the world would make it exciting. They did absolutely nothing on trips to New Jersey, Philadelphia, other parts of New York, and even Salem — the witchy burg and birthplace of Carlton Gebbia — and they go to all of these places in an assemblage of high-end buses that have stripper poles, are decked out in leather upholstery, and serve crudité (which Ramona Singer calls “crude ite”). But mostly, the poor women do, well, nothing. Nothing happened. All season. Seventeen episodes and I didn’t get one drama boner. Not even a drama chubby. I was just drama flaccid even after I took two Cialis and a hit of poppers, like I was Harry Dubin leaving the bathroom at the Gramercy to hit on a Housewife, any Housewife.
This was a very fitting end to a very boring season because nothing happened in this episode either. It was really just the end of one party at Boniva Cliffs, Ramona’s Hampton’s house, and then another party. In between, they went to a Greek restaurant, smashed some plates, and Bershan showed up with her big hats, chunky heels, and baritone drawl. That’s it. Two parties, no fighting, nothing too insane, and next thing you know, we’re getting the little end caps for each woman as the season bleeds out, its corpse sputtering on a gurney trying to make at least its death throes seem exciting.
I was a little intrigued at the Galentine’s party where they are all talking about their worst sexual experience. Ramona says she cheated on her high-school boyfriend when she got to college, and the guy had a dick that was half the size of her thumb and came in two pumps. Huh. I didn’t realize I went to college with Ramona. All of the women’s stories are an iteration of guys with small endowments, guys who can’t last that long, or guys that weren’t into them. Thank god straight guys don’t watch this show, or else their scared little turtle dingles wouldn’t ever come out of their shells again, just dangling just on the outside of their bodies, scared they weren’t big enough or good enough for all the women out there.
Then Ramona gives all of the women pasties so that they can show off their tits, and they all bump boobs together and shimmy with their red feather boas and (adjective, adjective) their (nouns) while they (verb) and (adjective) (adjective) (adverb) (proper noun) (name of someone you went to high school with) (adjective) (queen from Drag Race) (adjective) (noun). No, this is not a Mad Lib, this is me trying to pad out my recap so that there is enough to meet my word requirements so that Vulture will give me the $7.50 and a tube of fruit Mentos that I get paid to write these.
The next day they go to the Greek restaurant, and Sonja says that she wants to get rid of her house forever, and, sister, the market is at an all-time high. If you’re ever going to sell it, now is the time. The rest of the women break plates, and they want, I don’t know, to fuck the haters and live in the moment and all of this stupid abstract stuff. I couldn’t tell because each time a plate hit the ground, one of the dudes from the restaurant throws up a handful of napkins like they are a bunch of gays doing “Defying Gravity” at Musical Mondays.
Now on for the final party of the season. Well, maybe not. What sort of Frankenfish is the episode they’re airing next week? They gave us a preview and it seems like an “unseen moments” kind of show. Girl, what else can they wring out of this season? If these were the most exciting bits, what did they save for this clip show? Is it just a bunch of Ambien ground into a fine dust, and if you watch the whole thing you’ll wake up in 40 years to find out that Andy Cohen has taken over the planet with his twink army and they’re trying to suck us through a black hole to Chromatica?
The last party is an idea that the Countess has, and, I will say, it was quite an inspired one. It is an “identity swap” party, and a pair of women who have had a fight during the season have to swap identities and dress as the person. Leah and Ramona flip, as do Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Soggy Sippers Paper Straw Morgans and Bershan, and the final pair to switch is Eboni and Luann herself. Um, wait. I was going to say, “Who the hell had Luann dress as a black woman again?” after her fiasco dressing as Diana Ross three seasons ago. Then I realized, wait, Luann gave herself this assignment. She walks right into this willingly and, well, at least there wasn’t any black face this time.
In fact, she does a great Eboni K. Williams impression by saying, “Here’s the thing,” repeatedly which, she is right, is how Eboni starts just about every single sentence. Eboni’s Luann is also solid but how hard is it? Quite difficult, according to Leah who says, “Being Luann is hard. You have to perform, you have to sing, you have to be obsessed with yourself.” I feel like it is a bit harder for Sonja and Bershan, people who have met maybe three times in their lives. They are game, though.
The ones who really knock it out of the park, though, are Leah and Ramona. Leah even wore the clear Hannibal Lecter mask that Ramona keeps sporting that I hate more than ranch dressing hates your bejeweled sweatshirts. (If it didn’t hate them, why would it keep plopping on them like your jobless adult son plopping on your basement couch?) Ramona wears animal print, some neon accessories, long hair and says, “Hooooooot Coooooooooock” with so many Os you think she just opened a can of Spaghetti-Os and dumped it on her head. (The English call that “gunge.” Do not Google it.)
The identity swap reminded me of this drag party we go to every Labor Day weekend in Fire Island. Everyone spends weeks coming up with their costume, has a blast getting into drag, loves walking into the party past the adoring fans and all of the jealous queens at the party in lesser outfits. But then once you’re there, you’re like, “This is boring and my feet hurt.” After the reveal, there is really nothing left to the proceedings other than getting so wasted you almost fall into the Harbor or stealing some unsuspecting passerby’s standard poodle for an impromptu photoshoot.
This dinner goes on way too long, except I do love when Leah and Ramona have to answer questions about each other. Leah taps into how proud Ramona is of her success, how she really came from nothing, and how the wilderness of her upbringing has forged the unrepentant narcissist we have been glaring at for more than a decade. Ramona grasps that Leah doesn’t want to be contained, she wants to shock and live her truth, even if that means making some women uncomfortable.
This whole exercise is really like a giant role play exercise in being empathetic and, by the end, it seems like all beefs are quashed, everyone is getting along, and all is happy in the Hamptons. They dance on tables, they kick their heels off and put on fuzzy slippers so they don’t destroy Ramona’s furniture that’s so expensive and bland it’s nearly rendered invisible. They wear down the conflict-free night like that, each retiring to their rooms and sleeping the weighty sleep of the nervously content.
A redhead watches all of this happening from the back patio. She thinks of all the interventions she could have done. How she could have tapped Ramona’s house, how she could have bribed the servers to poison the food, how she could have wrapped the whole place in a fumigation tent, kidnapped the women, and taken them to the bunker underneath a volcano that is her headquarters.
But she does none of that. She returns to the black Suburban that was idling for her half a mile down the road. “Darren, it’s finally happened,” she says to her driver, who does not respond, but makes eye contact with her through the rearview mirror. “All of these years I’ve been plotting. I’ve spent so much time, money, and energy on my greatest plot. I was going to destroy these women, the ones that forsook me, the ones I placed on television and then kicked me out. No murderous fate was too bad for them. But I also wanted to destroy the show, the thing that I made, that I created from the stupid Manhattan Moms to the Housewives you see before you today.”
She takes a deep breath and stares out the window as Darren pulls away from the curb. “But it’s clear to me that it’s done. It’s over. The show has ruined itself and all I had to do, all I ever had to do, was sit back and wait for the inevitable. It’s like nothing I did, well, like it didn’t matter.” With a sigh, she rolls down her window with the zap of a finger and lets the cold night air tickle her neck with pinpricks, blowing her hair almost in her face. Jill Zarin has no idea where she is going, but she knows that you will never see her again.