In honor of this inaugural season of Ultimate Girls Trip, Vulture has assembled a cast of all-star Housewives writers to rotate recap duties. This time up, longtime RHOC, RHOBH, and RHONY recapper and president and founder of the Housewives Institute, dame Brian Moylan.
The best thing about Real Housewives: UGH so far is that these women are not just Housewives, they’re also fans. Here is Kyle in the car singing Gia Giudice’s TikTok-famous “Waking up in the morning …” ditty. Here is Cynthia in the other car telling the Countess, “Be cool, don’t be all, like, uncool.” Here are the women asking Cynthia if she and NeNe Leakes are still friends. These are all the things we would do. These are all the ways that we would act if we were actually around these women, and I thank the evil demon that took over the body of Kelly Killoren Bensimon that someone is there being the fan surrogate.
We’ve seen a fair amount of this in the series so far, particularly in the discussion the women have with Teresa and Melissa about just how Melissa got on the show and what happened. Also, I loved Cynthia asking Teresa about when she knew that her marriage to Joe was over. I think because they don’t have years of beef or worry about the other women’s ulterior motives like they would with their own castmates, that they’re able to be more honest and vulnerable with each other.
After a brief interlude at the beginning of the episode where Luann continues to harass Michael, the sexy concierge, this time in French, the women really get into the Housewifery of it all around the dinner table. After Cynthia talks about how she felt betrayed by NeNe and she’s still saddened that they lost their friendship, Teresa changes the subject to her losing her friendship with Jacqueline Laurita, who brought up Teresa’s legal issues. Teresa then pivots to Kyle and asks how they are going to handle Erika Jayne’s ongoing legal battles on their show and if they would ignore them like Teresa wanted her castmates to. “Well, they know what’s going on, so that is going to come up no matter what, so I ask questions that allow her to explain her side.” I love the producers being referred to as an adversarial “they” and Kyle essentially admitting that she is the show’s greatest producer.
That’s what was fascinating for me about this episode. We all tuned in to see the women have drama and explode at each other, but we’re sitting here eating our popcorn as they debate … the makings of a reality television program. This is actually a brilliant strategy because Bravo, Peacock, NBCU, and Andy Cohen’s kid’s college fund can have the women talk about being on the show, talk about how the show is made, and give the fans all of the context they want while still being protective of the individual shows themselves.
Melissa takes the women on a buggy tour that no one wants in helmets that no one wants to smash their weaves, and I’m like, “Please take us back to talking about Housewives.” Oh, they do. Kyle talks about her situation with Lisa Vanderpump and the iconic “good-bye Kyle” line that came along with it. Luann talks about how Bethenny showed her the picture of Tom cheating on her on camera and how she was very upset by that. She says Bethenny always wanted the spotlight on her but at the expense of her friendships. “I don’t care if it’s for the sake of television, good humans don’t do that,” she says, twisting the knife a little bit deeper into the Bethenny voodoo doll that she carries in her beach bag. This is a common theme among the women: how to not let the show take over; how to not let the show become more important than their relationships.
At lunch, Luann says, “Oh, hey. So the producers wrote down some questions for me to ask you about being on the show, and we are going to give the gays everything they want.” This is the best lunch I could have ever been invited to. Some of the answers are what we’d expect: Kyle says that it can ruin relationships that already have fractures; Ramona says that her daughter Avery was the one who wanted to be famous and then resented that she was on the show and not a “normal” mom; Kenya says the haters on social media suck; and Cynthia says that the greatest perk of being on the show is “all the women I’ve met.” Really? Not the two (probably) free weddings you got?
The most revelatory answer comes from the Countess herself, who is asked what is the worst thing to ever happen to her on the show. I mean, she has plenty to choose from: “It’s about Tom,” getting caught cheating with the pirate, the arrest footage, all of those trips to the Berkshires, the Herman Munster shoes she had to look at, the boat ride from hell. Instead, it’s something both more general and more menacing. “It’s keeping your sanity,” she says. “Keeping your head looking in the right direction and not falling victim to the people that are trying to take you down for whatever reason.”
I love seeing Kenya in this atmosphere, talking about the show and the toll it’s had on her. During the car ride, she says that the consensus on the show is that she always has to be the villain. Normally I would be like, “Um, well, Kenya. Do you remember when you showed up with a marching band to shade a castmate? Do you remember the Cookie Lady?” But then we see her here, in this group of new women, and she’s a much kinder, gentler Kenya than the one we see mixing it up on RHOA. Yes, I think the women we see on TV are exactly as they are in real life, but I think we also see how the context and the reality television arts and sciences can nudge a personality in one direction or another.
This brings us to her breakdown over Marc Daly, who Cynthia says is “not a bad person,” and, well, everything I’ve seen points to him being not that great. Ugh, really? This guy, who texts her, “I’m sorry for any pain that I caused you?” Um, no, how about not creating the pain? That’s kind of like saying the Grinch saved Christmas. Yeah, it’s only after he shoved all the Who-Hash up the chimbly and ransacked the town in the first place. He doesn’t get applause for giving it back.
Cynthia has to snatch it together because there is a long night of partying Jersey-style ahead of them. Melissa bought matching satin PJs (in Bravo blue, natch) for the whole gang, but why did some of them get shorts and some pants? Is Melissa telling some of the ladies they have ugly legs? Luann comes down in her PJs with the blouse open and a bikini top underneath and, of course, a statement necklace to tie it all together. All she’s missing is a woven cowboy hat and a Corona and she could be season four Tamra Barney in Puerto Vallarta.
Luann is all dolled up because she and Michael have a very intense flirtatious dynamic. Like Luann, I am also a flirt. (It must be something in the central Connecticut water we grew up drinking.) A compliment here, a touch on the arm there, a little smile and wink. They can all go a long way. Michael proposes a game where the women have to take shots off of a Twister mat, and most of them can get low enough to do it. However, he tells Luann that he is going to lie down and put the shot glass in his mouth and she has to take that shot. (For her, the shot is alcohol-free rosé.)
Luann, her shirt still open, lowers herself down onto Michael, puts the shot glass between her lips, flips her head back like she’s Ariel coming out of the sea, and drops her pelvis right onto Michael’s crotch. They are two thin layers of fabric away from fucking at this point. He knows that this is going to air on television, right? He knows that his wife is going to see this, right? He knows that this was his idea and if he ends up divorced he can’t blame Luann, right? Several of the women there say that what he did would not fly in their relationships. I don’t know what the ladies are like in the Cakes and Turquoise, but, yeah, that is not something someone should be doing with a single woman. Now, if Michael wanted to do that with me. Well, my DMs are open, and I’m sure the wife won’t mind.
Things get a lot raunchier when the girls play prosecco pong, where the teams not only have to drink but also answer sex questions. Ramona “I Don’t Kiss and Tell But Sent Titty Shots Naked From the Jacuzzi Even Though I Walked Out of the Season One Reunion Because of Alex McCord’s Boudoir Shots” Singer says that she had sex on the beach once, an idea that always seems romantic until you remember … sand. She also tells us that she used to have “cannoli night” with her ex Mario, where she would put cannoli cream on his D and then lick it off. If I ever got stuck on a desert island and I could only bring two foods they would be cannoli cream and Mario Singer’s D. Ugh, but think about all that beach sex. Okay, maybe just the cannoli cream.
The story of the night goes to Kyle Richards, who says that she once had sex with her husband at a black-tie event with a table full of ten people by hiking up her dress and sitting on her husband’s joint. Note to self: Attend all black-tie events that Kyle Richards may attend. Like Melissa Gorga, however, I am skeptical of the logistics of this. I have seen people using this move to bone in a club where everyone is on molly and no one really cares, but at a black-tie event? How did he get it out? How did they get all the zippers out of the way of all of that precious, precious genital skin? Did he get off or was this just, like, a little ride? There is so much I want to know. But as we learn more about the logistics and the mental toll of what it is like to be a Real Housewife, I guess some things will have to remain a mystery.