'The Real Housewives of New York City' recap: Dueling dinners
Watching an episode of The Real Housewives of New York City is like running a marathon (shout out to Carol and Cosmo): it is exhausting, and whether you know it yet or not, someone definitely pooped themselves at some point—but in the end, you’ve learned something about yourself.
The women RHONY cast do more in the span of a 42-minute episode than I have done in the last 42 days. These are some high-strung broads, and I somehow always manage to forget in between seasons what a shock to the system it is listening to them yap over each other while standing at various kitchen islands. I usually spend a portion of each new season’s second episode recap ranking the new taglines, but I simply feel like there are too many other things to address here. And this episode took place over the course of fewer than 24 hours as everyone sprinted around like hamsters who learned to use speaker phone while fretting about a clambake!
It’s not that the second episode of season 11 revolved around high drama, or saw someone fall over into a bush, or bring a man back to a house that wasn’t theirs or anything. It’s just that these New York women are like sharks—if they stop moving, they’ll die.
This episode features one woman celebrating 55 days of sobriety with the friends who recently seized her power of attorney, another woman throwing an impromptu mermaid dress-up party so she can stay sober, a 60-year-old complaining about how a 40-year-old man asked her if she’d have kids with him, a tour through an extra Hamptons home that rents for $120,000 for eight weeks, a tennis pro who now has some excellent on-camera evidence to file a suit against a very wealthy woman should he so choose, and y’all—I swear to Andy Cohen—it all ends with a quote from Madea himself, Tyler Perry.
It’s all…fascinating. It also, for the most part, has nothing to do with the meat of the episode, which is a much less interesting kerfuffle over who’s allowed to go to an overcast clambake that surely no one is actually interested in going to; they are, however, interested in asserting their superiority over each other. The season thus far is centering on the simmering feud between Dorinda and Luann, who both take turns judging the other for drinking too much and/or getting sober incorrectly. It’s fun because you can’t root for either of them!
While they’re unable to be in a room together, the cast has separated themselves by hair color. Tinsley, Sonja, and Dorinda are staying at Ramona’s Hamptons house, while Luann, Bethenny, and Barbara K are all bestie-ing it up while suspiciously knowing very little about each other’s personal lives. Numbers-wise, the blondes have it, so the brunettes are trying to recruit Sonja to come to their dinner even though she’s currently sporting yellow CVS extensions that she allegedly got at “a shoot” and is continuing to wear as “a joke.”
The Barbie hair works perfectly for the mermaid outfits Dorinda has brought though, and you have to hand it to these women—they are just stone cold free-nippin’ it in some Party City seashells while looking pretty incredible.
When the blondes sit down to lunch, Sonja gets a call from Luann making sure she’s coming to the dinner she’s hosting for all the women who have been there for her throughout her recovery thus far. I was a little skeptical that the attendees would be the three women who actually had an intervention with Luann…and then Sonja, who Luann insists has been there for her and who she’s definitely not just trying to lure into her alliance to see if she has any secret hidden immunity idols…
But once the details start coming out about the intervention weekend, Sonja does seem to be in the know about Luann’s relapse…
And, wowzers. It is some wild stuff. Apparently, the house upstate that Luann referenced falling in love with last week represented a little more than just a real estate investment. First of all, it’s the house that made her try to sell her Hamptons home, which was not exactly hers to sell, and led her children to sue her. “It was a fixation,” Luann says about the house. “I had to have it, I was manic.” Apparently, that fixation led her to start drinking again, and at the pinnacle of her relapse, she drank two bottles of rose and started calling and emailing everyone she knew, demanding that they give her $6 million to buy the house. Bethenny says that Luann started telling everyone she was a bad person because she wouldn’t give her the $6 million.
That’s when her friends knew they had to intervene, which Babara says involved her getting power of attorney over Luann (not something I knew a friend could just…do!), and convincing her to go to rehab. “I had to relearn in rehab the second time around that alcohol is a power greater than me,” Luann tells the camera.
Listen, Luann is not perfect, and I don’t believe most of the things she says (or any of the things she sings), but she seems to be working very hard at staying sober this time, and that is powerful to watch. The RHONY women may be the wildest bunch in the Housewives franchise, but they have some real life shit going on.
Ramona, for example, seems to be the last woman in the world who still meets men at bars. The moment her ass hits the seat at dinner with Dorinda and Tinsley, she tells them she’s going to “take a lap.” She returns to the table having met our handsome gentlemen at the bar—who, whoops, were all married to each other! But no matter; as Dorinda points out, Ramona loves to “flirt” so much, she’s started simply hiring handsome men to teach her sports so she can flirt with them. She’s having her tennis pro come over and informs the other women that she met him at a bar when he bought her drink, but once she found out he was a tennis pro, she couldn’t date him, so she decided to just take tennis lessons from him instead.
And listen, Ramona is completely beautiful and age is just a number and all that, but when a gorgeous maybe 30-year-old man walks in, it’s difficult for me to imagine that they met because he was trying to date her—mostly because he seems absolutely terrified of her. And he should be! She is sexually harassing him from the moment he walks in the door! It’s very difficult for me to tolerate this “Ramona is such a flirt ha ha ha” narrative because A) most of her flirting sounds like something Michael Scott would have said on The Office, and B) when the people you’re “flirting” with are people that work for you, it’s not “flirting” anymore!!!
Luckily, the Hot Tennis Pro has a safe space in Tinsley who is actually very good at tennis and, if you can believe it, doesn’t make a single allusion to his penis the entire time they’re playing. Watching Ramona huff off the court because her victim, uh, tennis pro wasn’t paying enough attention to her, mumbling about how she already took a core class this morning will absolutely be the highlight of my week.
The low point of my week is what came next. Sonja tells the other blondes about Luann’s dinner for her 55 days of sobriety, and Dorinda and Ramona start analyzing Luann’s recovery, saying she couldn’t possibly have accomplished all she needed to in 14 days of rehab. Ramona is insisting that there’s no way Luann has dealt with her “deep emotional problems,” and not to trust her when she says she’s okay, even though she has no idea whether Luann is even saying she’s okay. And Dorinda is going on about how if Luann considers her a trigger, “Then she probably shouldn’t be doing cabarets late night around booze—she probably should be staying longer in rehab.”
Hey, Ramona and Dorinda, I want to say this clearly and concisely: you guys suck! (Spoiler alert: Luann also sucks, but not for a few more scenes.)
The topic of Barbara’s clam bake eventually comes up, Dorit’s invite to which we know has become an issue because Luann doesn’t think she can be around her right now. Barbara wants to respect Luann’s recovery, so she’s asked Sonja to see if Dorit could call Luann to talk in advance of the clam bake. It’s all very Hamptons. And poor Sonja actually thinks that Dorinda might do it…
It’s gonna be a no from her, dawg.
Dorinda is pretty cool to Sonja about it, saying she understands that Sonja is trying to help, but it’s just not going to happen. But then she calls Barbara and goes from zero to “CLIP!” in three seconds flat. “Sonja’s saying I have to call Luann,” she says as soon as Barbara answers the phone. “No, no listen, sweetie, I’m not doing it.” Dorit says that she and Luann had once incident in February after 13 years of friendship—cue flashback to Dorinda aggressively mocking Luann about her recent arrest—and then spent the next four weeks apologizing—cue no flashback because, as far as we know, Dorit did absolutely no such thing—even though, as Dorinda says, she “quite frankly didn’t even say anything that wasn’t, quite frankly, true.”
This is what she opens with. We still don’t know much about Barbara except that she aesthetically looks more like she should be on RHONJ, and seems like a pretty ride-or-die chick—but we definitely don’t learn any more about her here, because she never gets a word in. Dorinda insists that she won’t call Luann, but then says she wants Luann to call her to “assure me that she is in a good enough place to see me”…even though this whole thing started because Luann openly expressed that she was not in a good place to see Dorinda.
Then Dorinda begins insisting that Luann isn’t in the vulnerable state that she claims she’s in because she’s “running around doing her cabaret on Monday nights, she’s doing fine, she’s very confident.” Okay, so do you want her to be fine, or do you want her to admit she’s not fine—which is it?! After insisting that there’s no good reason for Luann to be triggered by her, Dorinda takes a final stand on not calling her, saying, “It’s disingenuous—it would be disingenuous to my growth and who I am right now.”
One would think that very logic might make her understand why Luann doesn’t want to see her. One would also think that Luann could take this very bad look for Dorinda and turn it into a good look for herself. Alas, these women are who they are, so when Luann hears about the phone call from Barbara, she starts talking about how Dorinda is in a bad headspace and implying that it might be time for her to get an intervention. Barbara has the single correct take of the entire episode when she says, “Do I think Dorinda needs to go to rehab? Not necessarily. And I don’t think Luann’s the person to tell her to get there, either.” Go Barbara! I’m sorry that your clam bake is going to be a disaster…
Two key decisions are made at the very end of the episode: 1. Ramona decides she’s going to show up at this clam bake even though she wasn’t invited and tell Barbara “the truth” about Luann, and 2. Dorinda decides she still won’t call Luann, but she will send her a text. She passes the text by Ramona who calls it “fabulous and quite appropriate.” Dorinda says that she thinks the text “says it all.” But because the RHONY editors are evil narrative geniuses, we don’t find out what the text says until we watch Luann receive it…
“When you haven’t forgiven those who’ve hurt you, you turn your back against our future. When you do forgive, you start walking forward.” –Tyler Perry
Ramona, LuAnn, Sonja, Carole, Heather, Kristen, and Dorinda — and oh, yes, Bethenny — are in a New York state of mind.