The Real Housewives of New York City
This episode opened with a moment more tense than every Liam Neeson movie where his family gets kidnapped by aliens or whateverthefuck combined. Ramona and Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Wells Fargo Morgans wake up in Ramona’s Hamptons manse, and their dogs are both sleeping at the end of the bed. “Coco won’t move,” Sonja says of Ramona’s pooch, the oldest living dog on Long Island. “How do you know she’s still alive?” In that moment, dread swept over all of us. This was it. This was the moment that Ramona’s faithful companion, the one person in her life who hasn’t left her, finally turned into a soon-to-be-taxidermed disaster. “No, she’s just in a deep sleep,” Ramona says, refusing to see the light that Coco was obviously walking into. We all held our breath, waiting to see if Coco had breathed her last. Luckily, she had not, and the two were able to get up for another day of Hamptons hijinks.
It’s the morning after the Burning Man Party, and Luann enters Eboni’s room to borrow a nail file and talk about the day before. Eboni mentions that Ramona couldn’t remember Michelle the assistant’s name and referred to her as “the help.” “That’s just part of the package with Ramona,” Luann says. We are then treated to almost 15 years of Ramona not only treating hotel staff like shit and forgetting people’s names, but also treating the hotel staff like shit while forgetting their names. I hope that whoever compiled this, whoever combed through all that old footage, whoever tagged all of these instances knowing they would be needed later, whoever just jotted down the dozens of time this has happened off the top of their heads, I hope that all of these people have very good pensions because they deserve to retire in comfort, and they should retire tomorrow, because their jobs here are done.
Eboni tells Luann that her grandmother was a domestic worker so she really doesn’t like Ramona saying “the help,” and she especially doesn’t like her making other people feel less-than. When she brings this comment up to Ramona at the winery, it goes way better than anyone who has ever seen Ramona Singer on television thought it would. When Eboni tells Ramona that her use of the word triggered her, Ramona is immediately apologetic. Eboni tells Ramona that traditionally the term “the help” was used to devalue people like her grandmother, and Ramona is receptive to that, but then says, “I was calling her ‘the help’ because she was there to help me so I thought, ‘the help.’” Eboni then puts on her educating-the-white-people voice and says, “So you’re using it literally, I get that, but …” and within that ellipsis is all the racial oppression and classism in all of American history, so it really needs about 300 million dots instead of just three.
At the end of the conversation, Ramona says in confessional, “I loved it how Eboni, in a non-condescending way, explained to me why the term was not okay.” This is my worry about having one nonwhite cast member in RHONY, the perception that Eboni is there to educate all of these women and teach them about how they should live in this brave new post-reckoning world of ours, when it is really not her job. The fact that Luann (a person who wore blackface in this century) just dismissed how Ramona treats people as “part of the package” just shows that these women have no interest in changing or changing each other. It’s hard enough to be a Black woman in America, and now Eboni has to take on the thankless job of reforming Ramona Singer? I mean, Stacey Abrams is a superhero who can do just about anything, but even she took one look at Ramona and said, “No. Uh-uh. Nope,” and started writing another romance novel instead.
I know we can’t officially judge Eboni for another few episodes due to the Eileen Davidson Accord, but everything we learned about her this episode I enjoyed, from her being a 17-year-old Hooters waitress (remember when they partied with the owner of Hooters on the way to Scary Island?) to her putting all the lobster rolls in her purse when the women didn’t eat them. “You can call it class, you can call it ass, you can call it whatever you want, but these lobster rolls are going in this Birkin,” she cackled at the women as she got up.
It’s so funny how differently Leah and Eboni deal with Ramona. As smoothly as Eboni handled Ramona at the winery, Leah does just the opposite. When COVID comes up, Leah gets back to asking Ramona whether she really donated her antibody-rich plasma to science, a claim that she made at the reunion that absolutely no one believes. She says she went to some clinic and they took her blood and Leah, who has obviously done a fair amount of late-night Googling, says that it’s not just one visit, they have to do all this stuff to your blood and she would know whether or not she donated it.
It’s clear that either Ramona did not donate her plasma or — and this is an “or” that is so generous it subscribes to every Only Fans on the planet — she thinks she donated but she really did something else. Eventually she gives up fighting Leah, who keeps pressing her to say that she lied about donating plasma, and says, “Whatever you say, Leah.” Then she gets up to go use the bathroom and says she blew it up with diarrhea, as she screams out the door to Luann, and we can’t tell if she really has the shits or she’s trying to take a break from the camera and take off her leopard-print mask indoors for a moment.
I don’t quite understand why Leah cares so much to get this confession out of Ramona. She’s never going to say that she lied after she crowed about it to the press in order to make her superspreader self look better. The more Leah pushes, the more she’s going to retract, like a sea turtle wearing a blonde wig and one too many faux-fur layers for a fall outing.
Ramona’s reaction to all of this is very telling. First she picks on Leah’s outfit, a leopard-print crop top and a pair of cargo shorts that look like they were made out of every animal print pillow from a Pier One liquidation sale. As Sonja says, just look at Ramona: She has just as much print on. Then she tells Luann that what she did wrong was opening her house to Leah again when she always tries to pick a fight with her. Luann doesn’t really care, though, she just wants to know if Ramona’s ass farts have cleared before she goes to pee in that bathroom.
Eboni knows the score and tells Leah that there’s no way that she’s going to get something like that out of someone like Ramona with aggression. But while we’re talking about Leah’s misguided fights: At dinner she says they need a “plan” for how to handle Heather when she arrives. She then pulls up the stories about Heather saying that Luann is inauthentic and does hard drugs, and that she said that Sonja has a new face and she liked the old face better. Leah’s point is that if she talked this kind of shit about the women, what will she say about her, but maybe the women have forgiven her for this? Why is it Leah’s place to adjudicate whether or not they should be mad at someone she admittedly barely knows?
But it’s Sonja, my favorite floozy, who’s the real MVP of dinner, and by MVP I mean “most violently puking,” which is probably what she did on the way home because she was so drunk. She becomes absolutely disruptive at dinner in a way that derails everything around her. It’s almost like being at the table with someone who is passing a kidney stone and everyone feels the tendrils of her pain echoing out over the appetizers and half-drunk glasses of rosé, only she isn’t in pain, she’s just wasted.
Sonja keeps calling her friend William, who is some random gay banker, because, I don’t know, she wants to slur at someone other than the women. After ranting about how much she hates Luann’s boyfriend Garth and how much money she has raised for AIDS and “the LGBT,” she delivers one of the best, Sonja-iest sentences of all time: “We have to protect the poor. The poor are getting poorer and the homeless are getting homeless-LER.” Hey, say what you will about Sonja, but she is not just a drunk, she is a class warrior. She will be the most well-dressed Bolshevik at the revolution, but the revolution is “cancel culture.” (“Why would you want to cancel culture?” a befuddled Ramona asks.) Only Sonja keeps calling it “a cancellation clause” or “cancel consolidation.”
Finally she starts screaming at Ramona about her banking at Wells Fargo because it’s not her family bank, but I think we will have to save the rest of that for next week, because, somewhere in New York, Heather Thompson was packing a Breakfast at Tiffany’s costume in her overnight bag and hoping that her first trip back into the Housewives sphere would go well. There was a knock at the door and a tall man in a chauffeur’s livery handed her an engraved invitation. She turned over the envelope and there was a large dollop of red wax on the back with giant Z in the middle of it. She put her finger into the flap of the envelope to slide it open, but then stopped when the driver gave a pronounced, “Ahem.” He looked Heather square in the eye and said, “Ma’am, it’s best if you not open it unless you’re serious about going through with it.” Heather narrowed her eyes and looked square at the bridge of his nose. He blinked, almost imperceptibly, as the envelope opened with a slight pop.