Image Credit: Heidi Gutman/BravoWhen at last we reconvened, Jill was back in her banquette, apologizing for her teary escape from our collective wrath. Her hair was refluffed, her spray tan resheened. Okay, viewers, let her have it. Oh dear, it was hard not to feel for the old gal watching the second segment of this reunion special. She’s trying so hard to reclaim her place in our hearts. She told Bethenny that she is a beautiful, talented girl who deserves boffo ratings for her spin-off show and then practically begged her former friend to share with viewers at home how she reached out—”I texted you and said if you need me I will get on a plane to California, didn’t I?”—after her Dad died. I do believe that Jill wants Bethenny to forgive her, but ideally she wants it done on camera so fans will similarly let their grudges go. “This is not so much about your relationship with Bethenny,” said Alex, in her shrewd albeit cold take on Jill’s mea culpa. “I think you cared about how bad you looked.”
Andy really stuck it to Jill, via Bravo fans’ disdainful character reviews. In one breath, Jill was called a hypocrite, a drama queen, a coward, childish (I think that one was from me actually), a high schooler, a score keeper, and a person who cannot accept responsibility for her own actions. Okay, okay, check, check, check and check! But look at the woman’s ridiculous 5-inch teal shoes. Look at her trying not to cry. Yes, she called Ramona and Alex and ridiculously tried to strategize a way to leave Bethenny in the dark so they could hog up all the air time. Yes she saved that icy voice mail message from Bethenny for two months so she could play it when the cameras started rolling. Yes she chose to throw news of Bobby’s cancer diagnosis down on the table when she had her hand around Bethenny’s corded neck. But hey, remember when she brought latkes and fell down on the ice in that silly skating dress?
To add insult to injury, Jill was crammed in her velvet booth next to Kelly, who is about the least helpful ally of all time. Jill has no idea how she ended up being on the same “team” as this woman. (And FYI: LuAnn does not want to be involved. She’s still trying to live down that “our car is ready” bit so she spoke all of 11 words the whole hour.) It’s painfully obvious that Jill thinks Kelly is whack, and yet she must pretend to have affection for the crazy lady at her side. When Andy demanded why Jill held on to the message, Kelly jumped to Jill’s defense. “Maybe she wanted to hear her voice?” Kelly offered. Uh, right, thanks Kelly. You’re an excellent wing man. Now go back to angrily bobbing your foot in the air while silently rehearsing your systematic bullying, berating, bantering, vile behavior speech.
In the end it was Bethenny who saved Jill from yet another viewer question about why she sucked so bad. As Jill stood up to leave once more in tears, Bethenny suggested they give the broad a break. Hadn’t she suffered enough? Really, hadn’t we all at this point? Enter my fair Sonja. “Thank God, we need some comic relief!” cried Ramona. (Although for that I have to thank darling Ramona, who inelegantly complained of a sore back but then was placated by Andy asking after her dress designer in one of those commercial breaks. Ramona, you goofy doll face, I love you.)
Why do I constantly pledge my enormous affection for Sonja? Here’s why: “Why would you undergo liposuction for such a small pooch?” wrote in one viewer. “Well,” said Sonja, “I am pretty vain.” Andy of course asked after Sonja’s sex life and her family values and her small town roots back when she used to troll the tracks at Saratoga. Please Sonja, let me ghostwrite your memoirs! When the subject of one night stands comes up, Kelly snickers over on her sofa and pleads a conservative value system. Alex reminds blushing Kelly that one night stands do not in fact equal reckless, unprotected sex. Per usual, words of reason ping loudly off of the woman’s hardened shell. “Well, I do believe in safe sex and that’s really, really important,” Kelly responds in an aggressive tone, planting her feet firmly in the sand to ward off an imagined offensive.
Mountains out of a whole mill. Samson and Deliath. Lemons into lemonade. I could watch the blooper reel of Housewives‘ bozo moments all day. Then of course Kelly sucks the fun out of the room by pronouncing her own logic burp hilarious and the inspiration for a drink called the Kelly. “It’s lemonade, beer, and Patron, and it’s delicious,” she said. Over on the other sofa, Sonja gave her that inimitable wide-eyed look that combines amused disbelief, genuine concern, and just a hint of a come on baby, let’s get it on.
At last the moment had arrived. Andy brought up the “intense and upsetting meltdown.” Roll the clip, he was going for it. After a kaleidoscopic tour down crazy lane, Andy very gently asked Kelly how watching it made Kelly feel. She took a breath. Here it comes, her admission that she was diagnosed as a bipolar when she was 15 and the divorce sent her further off the rails and she’s seeing a new therapist and the medication is working and she doesn’t recognize that person down in St. John who went skipping after gum berries after screaming out Al Sharpton’s name. Wouldn’t that have been a refreshingly sane turn of events? Lordy, instead Kelly said it was traumatic to watch herself be a victim of systematic bullying on and off… Ramona gasps in disbelief. Ramona Singer, let her speak. See, the Kelly train is out of the station and it’s a great tool to tell children that systematic bullying is inappropriate…. Bethenny cradles her head to keep it from exploding… Classic case of systematic bullying. (I can taste Ramona and Bethenny’s outrage over this nonsense rant but I do wish they had zipped it so Kelly could spiral off into bizarro PSA land in peace. Andy was right to cut them off and warn them that their outbursts were fanning Kelly’s sense of righteousness.)
See, it wasn’t a breakdown Kelly suffered, it was a breakthrough. (Oh God, make it stop.) But the systematic bullying was worth it because Housewives has given her an amazing platform, and it’s unbelievable for her to be so charitable. (You’re right about that.) Looking for a way to sum up her scattered thoughts, Andy inferred after all this talk about bullying that Kelly appreciated the opportunity to share her message with kids. “No,” she said. Who what now? “That’s what you just said,” nudged Jill. If you must know America, Bravo kidnapped Kelly and sentenced her to a weekend on Scary Island. Herewith my favorite bit of reality TV dialogue from all time:
Kelly: I was forced by Bravo to go on the trip.
Andy: That’s not true. But I appreciate it.
Kelly: It’s true. Everybody knows that.
Andy: That’s not true.
Kelly: Andy. It’s true though but thank you, I appreciate it.
Last thought: How revealing was it when Bethenny denounced the double kiss? “I don’t like to touch people once, much less twice.” I like you Bethenny, but you are a brittle one. Stick with the therapy.
Next time: If you judge Humpty Dumpty, if you cannot celebrate Humpty Dumpty, then you too are guilty of systematic bullying.
What did you PopWatchers think? Is it time to lay off Jill? Does Alex need to butt out? What should the title of Sonja’s memoir that I am going to write be? In there any hope, in any universe, for Kelly?