If there’s anyone out there who’s been doing a little too much self-care, been making a little too much progress in therapy, anyone who’s looking to increase their anxiety levels by upward of 5,000 percent, then might I recommend trying to watch the final scene of Wednesday night’s Real Housewives of New York City episode without pausing, looking away, or grabbing the nearest vase to knock yourself unconscious with.
I mean, I thought last week’s in-episode advertorial for The Hustle where Sonja and Dorinda screamed “Anne Hathaway” into each other’s mouths until one of them had an orgasm was bad. But this week, a lovely young lady named Bridie was hustled into believing that if she called upon the New York Housewives to help bring awareness to her very worthy charity, they might plan an event to do that very thing. But what Birdie didn’t know is that Housewives are only about bringing awareness to Housewives…
And, of course, to Anne Hathaway’s starring role in The Hustle, coming to a theater near you this week!
This scene wherein Ramona, Sonja, and Dorinda talk over a survivor of sexual assault in front of a room full of people — at various times telling her which parts of her own story she should make sure to share, yelling at each other to shut up, and having an extended public discussion about how to pronounce her name — is so tactless, so disarmingly uncomfortable, so astonishing in its insensitivity, that it is, of course, all I want to talk about for the rest of this recap, and potentially, my life.
And even though the scene took me 45 minutes to get through because I had to stop, slap myself in the face, and fondle my Monopoly piece token every 10 seconds just to make sure I hadn’t drifted into some Inception-style nightmare, other things did actually happen in this episode. So let’s briefly talk about those before I tell you how Sonja prompted a woman to publicly share her story of sexual assault by saying, “Let’s get it straight from the horse’s mouth…”
It’s Halloween in New York City, and Luann is performing two of her cabaret songs at a Halloween party hosted at the Kimpton Hotel. She will lead you to believe this is tantamount to headlining the Super Bowl, but even better because she gets to dress as a sexy nurse. The theme of the party is…scary hospital?…so naturally, Sonja and Tinsley also dress as sexy nurses, Bethenny dresses as a sexy angel, Dorinda dresses as a sexy black sequin, and Barbara K, in a stunning turn of events, dresses like such a convincing Slash from Guns ‘N Roses that the other women don’t even recognize her. She just is Slash from Guns ‘N Roses, and from the way she was feeling herself in that costume, I do believe she welcomed someone to her jungle that night.
If Ramona dresses as a sexy nurse or a sexy Steven Tyler, we’re not privy to that information because she opts out of coming to Luann’s show, choosing instead to go to “Omar’s” which is considered by Sonja to be another display of social climbing. Somehow, this is not what Luann chooses to fixate on, instead becoming annoyed that Bethenny came to the party, stayed for two and a half hours, and then left when Luann still hadn’t come on at 11:30, a half hour after she said she would. Now, I get a little bit Luann questioning that Bethenny said she had to get home to her daughter when her daughter would be asleep at that time…
But there are things you think, things you say, and things that briefly cross your mind, and then you push them right out before they have time to settle because they’re completely absurd. Questioning your friend’s desire to be at home with her progeny over being in a hotel conference room covered in fake spiderwebs in order to watch you talk-sing through two songs 40 minutes after you said you’d be onstage is firmly more in the latter camp.
Especially because Bethenny later finds out Luann said this at a dinner with Sonja, Tinsley, and Dorinda, where they all start adding up the little digs Luann has been taking at Bethenny lately. There was calling her Queen B for getting the best room in the Berkshires, talking about her leaving the concert early, and now apparently a response to Bethenny’s apology text for having to leave early that said she heard B’s costume was “over the top.” Bethenny takes this opportunity to note that last year, Luann came to a Halloween party in blackface and she didn’t call it over the top, which frankly, feels like a missed opportunity to make an extreme understatement.
The other news of the week is that Dorinda has moved to her new apartment which she didn’t let anyone else see before buying, so now she’s showing it off to John. Dorinda says that she and John living together would be “like a 2,000 square foot apartment for 12,000 square foot of personality.” I get what she’s saying, but watching them walk around the apartment together was kind of like watching two tired pugs roam around and occasionally bump into each other. I just don’t get it! What are we doing here! Dorinda seems completely ready to cut John loose, saying to the camera in what I can only describe as a hopeful voice, “I’ve gotten very independent—and maybe in the long run, that’s not going to work for him.”
There’s certainly much more nuance to Hannah (who looks very pretty and grown up!) coming over to the old apartment to inform her mom that, once again, someone does not care for one of her homes. Poor Dorinda. Why won’t anyone like her homes?! But Hannah has good reason, seeing as that’s the apartment they moved into after Richard died, and a place that they had a lot of hard, difficult times. Dorinda gets it, but she also seems to maybe want her daughter to say she hates her adolescent home maybe, like, fewer times. If I were to offer Dorinda one tip on ingratiating her spaces to others a little more readily, it might be to have one or two less haunted scarecrows visible at all times. Maybe.
But talking about Luann’s party and Dorinda’s new apartment is like talking about how hot it is outside while you’re watching your house burn down. Because what’s coming is just…a terror. We first catch wind that Ramona has become involved with a charity called NY Loves Kids when she invites Sonja, Dorinda, and two other friends to meet the CEO of said charity, Bridie, for lunch. One of the other friends is wearing a hat so giant that you cannot make out any part of her face, and at first I thought that an odd move for an indoor lunch, but when she was later also wearing a giant hat that obscures her face when the most embarrassing thing I’ve maybe ever seen happen on this show takes place, I realized that woman is a genius.
Bridie met Ramona through Safe Horizons, a non-profit for domestic abuse, and asked her if she could lend a hand to her charity, NY Loves Kids, which works with children who have been sexually assaulted. This is an extremely sensitive subject matter, and as you can imagine, these three handle it with aplomb right from the jump. Ramona makes sure everyone knows she’s “getting chills just talking about it,” and then asks Bridie to share her story, though it should be noted that over the course of this, thus far, five-minute interaction, Ramona has called her variations of Birdie, Bri, Briddie, and just kind of a Brrrr noise.
Bridie tells the women that she grew up speed skating, and when she was 15, another skater moved to her town, got close with her family, and began sexually abusing her for months. She first publicly shared her story a few years ago, and when she did, the abuser admitted to assaulting her, but since the statute of limitations was up, there were no legal repercussions to his repeated sexual assault of a child. It’s sick, and working toward changing that statute of limitations in New York and beyond is one of NY Loves Kids’ main priorities. Ramona has offered to put together an event to raise money and awareness for Bridie’s charity, and Sonja and Dorinda are co-hosts because as Sonja says at the end of the meal, “I do children too.”
Perhaps Bridie realized when the women started competitively telling her how into helping kids they are that this might not be the most eloquent bunch. But surely she could have never seen what was coming next…
The backstory is that Sonja and Dorinda have been becoming increasingly annoyed with Ramona’s social climbing tendencies. First she ditched Dorinda at that gala, then the moment they arrive at the NY Loves Kids fundraiser, she ditches them to talk to skeevy Harry Dubin, and finally, they find out that they’re not invited to a birthday party for Ramona hosted by a mutual friend when Ramona starts offering up that anyone should “feel free” to host a birthday party for her. She tries to blame the mutual friend hosting the party for Sonja and Dorinda not being on the list, but the editors win their MVP award for the night by playing a clip from the same event where Ramona ditched Dorinda, wherein that very host says she’d like to invite Sonja, and Ramona says NO. And then has the nerve to tell the cameras on the TV show that she knows is filmed that she had nothing to do with the invite list.
So that’s the backstory for the impending disaster. The front story is that Ramona and her co-hosts need to get in front of the people giving money at this event, along with Bridie, and say a few words about NY Loves Kids. (I have to imagine the middle-story is like, five, Tito’s and soda.)
So Ramona immediately gets up there and calls her “Briddie” while Sonja is muttering, “She’s a survivor” in that way that Sonja mutters nervously. They all wrap their arms around each other as Ramona begins thanking everyone for coming to this last minute event. So, that’s one sentence without a hitch. The problem comes with the second sentence, which honestly, Ramona should have known was pushing her luck. She says, “This woman told me—okay, I don’t want to cry,” and Sonja starts hysterically laughing. Ramona snaps, “Don’t laugh, Sonja, it’s not funny!” Sonja responds—again, this is after they’ve called for the attention of a room full of people—that she’s laughing because everyone knows Ramona can cry at the drop of a hat.
Mortified, Ramona says, “Why are you doing this to me?” and Sonja reiterates, as if she doesn’t understand the problem with her laughing in the middle of this speech—excuse me, the very, very beginning of this speech—that Ramona “always cries on the drop of a dime.” Ramona hisses that Sonja is upsetting her, so Sonja apologizes to “Birdie,” then announces, “Her name is Bridie, by the way, you called her Birdie.” A little at ease now (for some reason???), Ramona admits that she has trouble with names, and then once again begins thanking everyone for coming. “We’re raising recognition in New York City—” and then it’s Dorinda’s turn to chime in! This is apparently a popcorn-style speech!
Dorinda leans over past Ramona to Bridie and says, “But tell the most important part, I want you to speak.” Presumably, Ramona is moving toward giving the floor to Bridie after a brief introduction—again, she has only gotten three sentences in, and again, these three monsters have poor Bridie in a vice grip, humiliating the hell out of her as she prepares to speak about how her sexual assault inspired her to start this organization—so she carries on. “When people are sexually abused as a child, you say, Is it my fault, did I do something wrong? You’re afraid to come forward.” Apparently, this is not the way Dorinda thinks this explanation should be going, so she starts chiming in, “It was a friend of the family, it was a friend of the family, it was a friend of the family.”
She says it so many times, my ears fell clear off my head just so I could stop hearing it. And if you’re confused, that’s Dorinda’s way of trying to share the details of Bridie’s sexual assault. At this point, people are audibly laughing at this train wreck of a speech, and now Sonja is yelling at Dorinda that Ramona is the host. Thinking that she’ll be the one to get this train back on track, Sonja indicates toward Bridie, saying, “LET’S HEAR IT STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH.”
How…have these women made it this far in their lives without trying to fix an electrical outlet with a fork? Bridie is finally aghast at being called a horse, but once she starts talking, it ever so briefly feels like she now has the situation under control as a normal human being capable of speaking words out loud not simply for the joy of hearing her own voice. She tells the crowd that she told her story for the first time five years ago, “And until people are sharing the message and sharing the story, nobody knows.” One sentence in, and we’re going stron—oh what’s that? Dorinda is grabbing Bridies hand and saying that she has to tell them that the predator is still out there? And Ramona is grabbing Dorinda’s hand and telling her to stop? And Bridie is trapped in the most chaotic blonde pretzel of her life, and now Sonja is screaming “CLIP! CLIP!” at Dorinda from down the way?
Cool, cool, cool. Dorinda is still whispering, “The predator is still out there, you need to say that,” to Bridie, whom she has allowed to get one sentence into HER OWN STORY. Somehow, Bridie finishes her portion of the speech in a truly heroic act of perseverance, all while Dorinda is hissing, “There you go, important, important” into Ramona’s ear. And somehow, Dorinda and Sonja walk away from this situation feeling like they were the victimized parties in this speech from hell, and then Ramona has the nerve to complain about her friends to Bridie. It is…unfathomable in its impropriety. In a sea of heinous Housewives behavior and awkward moments, I’m hard-pressed to name one more uncomfortable than this—can you?