The Real Housewives of New York City
There is something that I always suspected, but was just proven to me by this episode: Ramona drank the Death Becomes Her serum. How else does she look that flawless and have a body that good at her age? She’s like Meryl Streep on the poster but, you know, without her neck twisted all the way around. Also, I think she gave some of that serum to her dog, Coco, who is literally the oldest living canine in New York. How is Coco still alive? That pooch has outlasted at least two of Luann’s marriages and will probably live to see a third (and pee on the pew as she sits next to Ramona).
For this episode … EEEEEEEEEEkkkkkKKKKEEEKKKKKKKKKKKK. Oh my god, it scared me. Leah’s bow. When Eboni opens the door of her very spacious and luxurious TriBeCa apartment it’s just there. Taunting me. Haunting me. Staring at me from the shoulder of an otherwise pedestrian black hoodie. Now it’s staring at me, like the Eye of Sauron or the Butthole of Doom that sat next to Andy Cohen at one of the reunion specials. I guess this is the right episode for the reign of this bow, since it covers Leah’s Burning Man-themed dinner in the Hamptons.
Before we can even get there, before we can even get packed, Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Tympanum Mini Healing Drums Morgans has to visit with her “healer,” Aleta St. James, which is totally a made-up name of a made-up person. She arrives at the townhouse and is let in by Zoe, one of the new class of interns. When Sonja heard that more women should be studying STEM in college, she thought they said STAM and that is why she has revived the Trump University of intern programs. But even better than Zoe is JP, Aleta’s assistant, who follows her up the stairs carrying a huge red suitcase of voodoo dolls, smudge sticks, and unmatched pairs of Crocs. JP is wearing a trench coat and staring at the proceedings with the heavy-lidded eyes of someone who is clearly plotting his employer’s untimely demise.
When Aleta asks Sonja what is troubling her, it is what is always troubling her: the demise of her marriage, not to a banker, but to the bank. Man, if this woman can’t coax out of Sonja the regret of a six-year marriage that broke up 12 years ago with finger cymbals, a hand drum, some wind chimes, and a crystal dildo while Sonja’s dog Marley sits on her head and licks up her evil thoughts, then I don’t know what hope we have left for Sonja.
When everyone arrives at Ramona’s Hamptons abode, which is decorated in a palette of grays and lilacs that interior designers refer to as the Megyn Kelly Aesthetic, everyone gets a good room and no one is sleeping on the much-derided lower level. Leah and Eboni arrive first and they meet Michelle, the “hospitality director” that Ramona hired for while the women are at her house. She is there to “put things in bowls,” clean up the tiki torches scattered around the yard, and pull the dildos out of the chicken salad. Ramona, however, keeps calling her Diane and when Eboni corrects her, she says, “I always get the help confused.”
This is, of course, horrendous behavior, especially these days when employees are demanding things like decent pay, frequent enough breaks that they don’t have to pee in bottles, and, you know, basics like their employer actually learning and using their names. But Ramona does get the help confused. Just ask every single employee of a hotel that she has roped into unpacking and then repacking her luggage on a cast trip. This is a trait of Ramona’s just like her bulging eyes and the fact that she takes pictures of artworks in a museum with her iPad blocking the view of the painting to everyone behind her. (I have never seen her do this, but I can just feel it in my grundle that she does.) I’m not saying this to excuse what Ramona does or say that she doesn’t need to change, but this is not a new characteristic of hers.
As I always say, Ramona is a monster, but she is our monster, so I find it very hard to hate her. There are a bunch of things about her that baffle me, though. Like, why does she want her pool at 95 degrees? That’s not just bath water, that is Jacuzzi water. That is so hot it will boil your drawers and probably give you a yeast infection. I will forgive her, though, for taking Sonja with her to try to fix the pool heater. Sonja thinks the only way to correct it is just by randomly drumming on the all the parts. “Nothing works when you hit it anymore,” says Sonja Morgan, the human equivalent of blowing into a Nintendo cartridge when it malfunctions.
Then it’s time for everyone to get dressed for the Burning Man party. Leah, naturally, wins with her outfit, a Mugler-inspired metal breastplate as well as fishnets and chaps on both her arms and her legs. I never saw upper-body chaps before, but our Leah, she likes to invent things (like that time she single handedly invented streetwear). Eboni also does a great job, wearing a black tube top, leather pants, and a killer metal-studded leather jacket over her shoulders. Ramona is actually, surprisingly, on theme, with magenta and purple flowers and braids in her hair and a mesh body stocking over some crystal pasties. It’s an outfit so slutty that it even makes Leah scream.
Pulling up the rear of the costume parade is Luann, not in blackface but wearing nude leggings, a bikini top, a macrame coverall, and about three statement necklaces at once. What do you call three statements strung together? A press release? Finally we have Sonja. Oh, my favorite floozy. She has no idea what Burning Man is and it shows. She’s wearing a lace nightie, black panties, and a fur collar. To top it all off, she’s wearing this oddly shaped hat that looks like it is made out of 10 scarecrow penises sewn together with dried seaweed. She looks almost exactly like Madame Razz from She-Ra.
When they get out back, Ramona has kitted out her garden with a bartender, a pizza oven, laser lights, a tent that looks like a rite from Midsommar will be performed in it, and a dinner table covered in flowers and surrounded by little tuffets so they can sit on the dew-dappled lawn. This is what happens when there are COVID restrictions and Ramona gets, like, the season’s entire event budget to splurge on a venue literally in her own backyard. Not only did she get to hire a stilt walker and an acrobat, but she got another healer of her own. Her name is DEVI and she is dressed all in red with an impossible haircut. She looks like a character out of a Star Wars cartoon. If I were to choose a healer out of her or Aleta, Devi would definitely be the one getting the phone call. She gives the girls a sound bath both with a gonging bowl and with her voice. The women all want to heal, even Ramona, who isn’t sure exactly what she is going to heal from. But they all want something. Leah wants strength as her grandmother is about to pass, and Eboni wants the same thing. Sonja wants to be more vulnerable. Ramona wants to be a better friend.
Luann wants something even realer, though. She wants all the spirits present to guide her, to guide them. The bowl gongs and the voice bellows, the women scream, and the steam from the over-heated pool rises in eddies in the night, swirling around with the sound, forming a cyclone, a funnel for the energy that all of the women are drawing in. The cloud continues to swirl, faster and faster, like it’s an energy twister, like it’s about to suck them up through the heavens. As the wind from the current starts to blow their hair astray, as little pulses of electricity ripple throughout the widening gyre, they all look up into the light as if they can see what they really want, as if they can see salvation, but they just see a face, a certain redhead staring down at them from the great afterlife, knowing the secrets of the world and exactly where each of these women is headed.