'The Real Housewives of New York City' premiere recap: Summer in the city (six months ago)
There simply is no other place like New York City.
Living in this city is dramatic, it is fast, it is exhausting, but it is worth it—and its Housewives are no different. The highs on The Real Housewives of New York City are high, and the lows are loooow. Sometimes a New York Housewife is building a business empire—other times (most times) she’s losing complete control of her bowels on the sidewalk of a luxury villa. Sometimes a New York Housewife is buying a new estate in the Hamptons—other times she’s trapped in her bed, surrounded by an unnerving number of Chloraseptic throat sprays while all the sex sinks in her home get remounted to the walls. Sometimes a New York Housewife looks so chic, you sprint to Google to see what she’s wearing—other times she serves camel toe so sever you wonder if perhaps that’s the reasons she’s slurring her words like a rewound VHS tape…
On The Real Housewives of New York City, they actually need cameras on them all the time, instead of waiting for filming to start to stir up carefully plotted storylines. This is just…who they are. I think Dorinda summarizes it best when rattling off the sticking points of her former bestie Luann last year: “Married, divorced, arrested, assaulted a police officer, went to rehab, came out of rehab, was drinking the whole time, went back to rehab.” Actually, no—her friend Luke (RIP Ladies of London, miss you every day) summarizes RHONY’s singular appeal best when he says less than halfway through the above list, half in horror, half in awe: “Some people don’t even do that in a lifetime.”
Indeed, Luke, most do not. But the ladies of New York City stay booked and busy, whether it be good, bad, or on a toilet, because the entire cast is in a near constant state of gastrointestinal distress. Other cities which shall not be named (but shall be read, right here at EW.com!) start with a flash-forward to keep us interested; New York has to start with a “SIX MONTHS EARLIER” chyron because these women cannot put a pause on their insane lives just because Bravo’s cameras have to take a break. Is most of what happened in that six-month time frame incredibly dark and bad? Yes. Does starting with a flashback mean that there’s not much of a season in our future. Maybe. But I’m just saying…some cities’ drama centers around puppy adoptions gone wrong or the unsolicited filming of closets—the RHONY women are being sued by their own damn children.
So, let’s catch up with what each cast member has been up to before they all head to the Hamptons to talk s— about each other:
LUANN: There’s really no one else we could start with except Luann, the axis around which this hot mess currently orbits. And you can rest assured that in season 11, the shadiest Housewife remains…
These Housewives editors. I mean, damn. During the opening flashback, we’re treated to a montage of Luann overcoming her arrest last season, all capped off by her saying triumphantly, “I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I’m so excited and I did it—I did it!”
Her grinning face fades into black and white as headlines splash across the screen: Luann sued by kids and ex-husband, Luann checks back into rehab, and so on and so forth. But when we first see her at her house in the Hamptons, she’s on the phone with her daughter Victoria who is agreeing to sing “Girl Code” at Luann’s next cabaret show, which is basically the benevolent opposite of suing your mom. So maybe things are on the upswing for ol’ Lu (for real this time)? When new Friend of the Show Barbara K arrives, Luann tells her she’s 53 days sober. Barbara, along with Bethenny, is one of the people who had the intervention with Luann that ultimately got her to go to rehab.
But no matter what songs they’re lip-syncing together now… Luann’s kids did sue her. As she tells it, she fell in love with a house upstate, couldn’t get a loan, and wanted to sell the Hamptons house to buy the house upstate. But that wasn’t something she was exactly “legally” allowed to do, so her children “didn’t like that very much.” Being sued by her kids apparently sent Luann off the rails (her not entirely accountable words, not mine), and she had a relapse. She tells the camera that she was not proud of herself going back to rehab for a second time: “It’s not easy to keep that promise to yourself and keep a sober life. I take it day by day and…it’s a struggle.”
SONJA: So how about we take a load off with Sonja, for whom life should certainly be a struggle, but about which she’s too oblivious to care. Would it shock you if I said Sonja was talking about poop the first time we see her, and frantically putting on underwear as she hobbles to answer the door the second time we see her?
Of course not. The door she’s answering belongs to her new two bedroom, two bathroom apartment which is totally nice, totally cost a fortune I’m sure, and yet, is still totally sad when you think about where she lived before. It’s not that Sonja’s townhouse wasn’t sad in its own right with its basement full of economy size canola oil and feces-covered garden. It’s just that this is Sonja—so pretty much everything is simultaneously desperately sad and hopelessly hilarious.
I mean, there’s a printer the size of a dishwasher sitting on its very own table in the guest room. What could Sonja possibly be printing in that house? The printed version of the New York Post seems to be delivered directly to her bed where she’s sitting in a red negligee as an assistant makes her peanut butter toast in the kitchen…in a two-bedroom apartment! After that assistant delivers the peanut butter toast to its destination eight feet away from her, she—and I just want to pause here for a moment to bask in the true ludicrousness of this—helps Sonja duct tape towels over her bedroom windows because she has a “Netflix and chill” date coming over later, and there’s a restaurant in a neighboring building that can see directly into her apartment because she doesn’t have curtains “yet.”
Does this happen…every day? Does Sonja make her assistant Taylor…duct tape towels to the windows of her Upper East Side apartment every day? I would say that Taylor the Assistant deserves a triple raise in her salary, but the only thing I remember from various math classes is that when you multiply any other number by zero, it’s still zero. Sorry, Taylor, you seem like you’re truly good at your monstrous job of keeping restaurant-goers from seeing Sonja have sex.
RAMONA: I’m proud of Ramona for going to Sonja’s new apartment and not saying a single shady thing about it, but the woman remains an H.R. risk. She heads out to her Hamptons house early to get a swim lesson with a handsome adult swim instructor named Boris (on account of seeing her life flash before her extremely open eyes on that boat in Colombia last year), and does all but get down on all fours and sniff his butt to flirt with him. A sample of Ramona’s flirting style: “I can only do the breaststroke—I have good breasts!”
So, yeah, all is pretty much as it should be with Ramona. And to be fair, Boris is way into it, and these two will bang on a pile of pool noodles by Labor Day, 100 percent.
TINSLEY: Things are also pretty much the same with Tins, who somehow seemed to earn her stripes last season, but is still just a 43-year-old trying to get back to her 23-year-old lifestyle by way of a man who…sells coupons I think? Still a little unclear on what gives Scott the means to ship Tinsley a Bentley from Chicago to borrow for the summer. But for now, not being able to drive a borrowed car very well is indeed Tinsley’s season 11 storyline. (Although I should say for our girl Tins: she had a cameo on the funniest new show on television, The Other Two, that made me respect her ability to poke fun at herself a lot more. That does not, of course, mean that I will stop poking fun at her myself.)
DORINDA: Lady Dorinda of the Berkshires however, is sporting something new: a complete disdain for Luann. Sure, she ends her aforementioned list of Lu’s “erratic decisions” over the last year with a tossed off, “But I wish her well!” but I’m feeling like Dorinda—and stay with me on this—maybe doesn’t wish Luann well? It could have been how she went out of her way to bring Ramona’s hostess gift in a canvas bag from Lu and Tom’s wedding and point it out the moment she crosses the threshold, or maybe the way she’s still saying, “What did I say that was so bad?” about the time she mocked Luann for being a countess, being arrested, and having a drinking problem because Luann said, “You’re turning.”
Dorinda does at least say that she’s cut back on drinking while simultaneously seeming not to take any accountability for the things she’s done in the past while she was drinking. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with Dorinda, but we’re going to have to keep an eye on it.
BETHENNY: As for what’s going on with Bethenny? Well, what already appeared to be a tenuous hold on her emotions last season just got worse, it seems. Three weeks before filming began, Bethenny’s on-again-off-again boyfriend Dennis died of an overdose. It’s just awful, and I’m glad to see Bethenny surrounded by friends and Skinnygirl products in her beautiful Hamptons home. Even if I’ve never seen any of these friends before, they seem to bring Bethenny a lot of comfort in a difficult time.
But I’m much happier to see her be joined by Luann and Barbara K as the cliques for the season start to fully take form. I’m sure Lu and Bethenny will be screaming at each other in six episodes flat, but for now they’re bonded in trauma, and Barbara—who, in a sea of unique Real Housewives businesses, has scooted herself right to the top with her own line of tools—is a part of it all, as well. She’s hosting a clam bake that she wants to invite Dorinda to because they’re old friends, but Luann says she doesn’t know if she’s equipped to deal with that yet.
Luann doesn’t want Ramona there either because Ramona apparently made up the story she told at the last reunion about Luann drinking at a party and getting kicked out before she went back to rehab. Meanwhile, Ramona and Dorit are talking about Luann in a different Hamptons neighborhood, but while Ramona is saying that Dorit needs to understand that Luann is in a bad place right now, Dorinda is saying that if Luann wants her to bend a knee to her, that won’t be happening anytime soon. Luann doesn’t plan to apologize either, saying Dorinda is a trigger for her. Methinks they’re all going to end up at this clam bake.
And if you’re wondering where the unlikely duo of Tinsley and Sonja are, they’re planted firmly in the middle, white-knuckling their way down the Montauk Highway on the way to the madness, with Sonja’s dog surely defecating on every single surface of Scott’s Bentley…
So what did you think of the season 11 premiere?! Who will win the war between Dorinda and Luann (two women I happen to be equally terrified by)? Did you miss Carole? Does anyone know where I can hire my own Taylor the Assistant? (I reimburse for gas and every time she makes me peanut butter toast, she can make herself some too!) Sound off in the comments!