The Real Housewives of New York City recap: Do the Dubin
This episode starts at a 10 and it ends at an infinity symbol lit on fire with gasoline, and by gasoline, I do of course mean whatever Sonja Morgan has been drinking all night in Miami. It also posits a new Housewives trope—coupled with the happenings of Tuesday’s Halloween episode of RHOBH—wherein a drama-inducing statement is presented the moment before a group photo is about to be snapped so that all the other women have to mutter, “Well this is awkward,” through clenched teeth until they finally feel they’ve gotten an Insta-worthy shot and can disperse to scream in each other’s mouths or hide in a corner dressed as Sexy Little Bo Peep, or Sexy Grandma Claus, or what have you…
And I love it. It’s a maneuver nothing short of Machiavellian, and I do intend to use it. Maybe at a family wedding, maybe at a class reunion—who could really say? The year is young and so is Sonja, at least according to her seeming complete lack of hangover-fear.
Wednesday’s episode is all about Ms. Morgan, although her seething, drunken rage is all about how Luann thinks things are all about her. Well, that, and the fact that all the other women keep making out with her former fellas. I think Ramona has a point when she says that Sonja has, y’know, been with a bunch of dudes, so that would wipe out a lot of contenders for an age-appropriate man who lives somewhere between 52nd and 86th Street and is willing to date a Real Housewife. But I also know that in no other universe would you ever kiss or date any of your friend’s former boyfriends, lovers, Tinder hookups, cable guys, Tej’s…without at least checking in with them about it first.
But the Real Housewives are not just friends, they’re also co-workers. Which means that even when they’re furious with each other, or disrespectful to each other, or knocking themselves unconscious on a glass dining table, their futures are impossibly intertwined, which is always bound to present a new layer of emotional complication. Add into that mix a Dorinda-pour of rum, and you have a recipe for a natural disaster—and this Miami trip seems like it could end with the National Guard being called.
But it all starts out in New York when Sonja pops in unannounced to Luann’s rehearsal for a cabaret Christmas show. And from the moment she enters the room and sits down at the panel of six white men in glasses watching Luann talk-sing her way through Jingle Bells with occasional adlibs like, “Oh yeah, we love our sleighs baby,” Sonja does not stop talking. Sonja might actually be a good cabaret performer if she had any musical talent because she is entertaining. I was left agape at the montage of her saying, without context, and still in the middle of a rehearsal: “Your nipple’s coming right out of your lace!” “If it’s just me why do I have to offer three-ply toilet paper?” and the iconic, “Glue stick and glitter, baby!”
She finally focuses in on Luann’s performance when she presents an imaginary Dorinda with “the first annual Jovani Award for Magnanimous Glamor.” Sonja tries to tell Luann that all of her trouble with Dorinda started because she mentioned her in her cabaret show, so even if it’s a nice comment (it’s not), she should keep Dorinda’s name out of her show…
If you can believe this, Luann is not interested in that note. She continues to snap at anyone who suggests not using Dorinda’s name in her show, saying that they need to “get a sense of humor,” including Dorinda. Truly, you never know you are telling a funnier joke than when you have to tell someone it’s a joke—that’s how you know it’s good, and that you have an excellent and universal sense of humor!
When Sonja reports back to Dorinda that Luann is planning to talk about her “all over the country” in her new act (a quick note to say, I truly do not know what kind of terminology to use for Luann’s version of cabaret), Dorinda says she’s already told Luann she doesn’t want her using her name: “It doesn’t matter if it’s nasty, if it’s nice, if it’s funny, if it’s whatever…I don’t want to be in your cabaret!” Dorinda also gets Tinsley to tell Sonja that the night before—at what is continually described as “Barbara’s clay thing,” but described in chyrons as “Barbara’s store opening” and only shown in sepia-toned flashbacks (did Barbara open some sort of drink-and-do-pottery situation and they didn’t even have the decency to show the name of it???)—Luann was telling everyone that Sonja was acting manic at the rehearsal and she thinks she might be on pills.
This is not an insane logic jump for Luann to make. But again, a good friend would not present the suspicion to a room full of her other closest frienemies as an open discussion rather than a point of real concern. So when Luann shows up to the tree lighting—oh, did I mention this is all taking place at a tree lighting Dorinda tries to convince us is better than Rockefeller Center’s because it’s “more intimate, more VIP,” but mostly because she’s been asked to emcee—no one is thrilled to see her. Dorinda immediately tells her to keep her name out of her mouth, to which Luann responds that it’s funny, and it was funny when she did it the first time. And then she says the line she’s been practicing in the mirror for days: “Life is a cabaret, get used to it.”
Dorinda says it’s not her cabaret, and if Luann uses her name in her show to get a laugh at her expense, she’ll be hearing from Dorinda’s lawyers. And then she lights that VIP tree and gathers everyone around for a group picture where Sonja, who has had a few drinks, says right before the click: “Bitch, I heard you said I was manic, I’m gonna manic your face off,” and then begins doing some sort of jig, yelling out that “it’s not pills, it’s happiness!”
This is how we head to Miami. With everyone mad at Luann, and Luann certain that she has never done anything in her life that would warrant anyone ever being mad at her. Oh, and also with the tidbit that Ramona made out with Harry Dubin after Barbara’s clay event (???), which Tinsley tells Sonja once they arrive at the nicest house I’ve ever seen and actually manage to choose rooms without much incident. I don’t really know what to make of Sonja’s continued attachment to Harry Dubin, whom she dated 30 years ago, and who told her he loved her on a picnic at some point in the Bravo-recorded past (and who was also, mind you, married to Aviva Drescher somewhere in between), so I’ll just let her tell you: “Ugh, Harry gets me so upset! Harry Dubious, that’s what they call him. It’s getting so on my nerves that I want to erase him, but I can’t because I love him, and he can’t stay away from my girlfriends.”
Does Sonja express these complicated emotions to Ramona? No. She gets absolutely slammered and pesters some poor employee of their luxury house named Tej (“RAAAAAJ” “It’s Tej.” “TAAAAAJ, you lost my shoe!“) far past what would have been my breaking point five times over. I mean there is just no way to describe how drunk Sonja becomes in what seems like a matter of moments and it only continues to escalate. She’s screaming all over the house, she’s trying to pee in the bathtub, she’s eating out of the serving bowls with her entire sticky boob exposed.
I wouldn’t blame Luann, or anyone else, for being annoyed with this behavior, but the problem comes when no one else is particularly annoyed, but Luann snaps when Sonja starts talking about how “Ramona makes out with my guys, Luann fucks my guys,” and bringing up Tom. And the thing is, I could see how this would be annoying. At this point, Luann and Tom had a relationship that far surpassed Sonja and Tom’s. However, it’s not really fair that Luann scoffs at Sonja’s inability to move on when she’s never apologized or owned up to anything, ever. Luann can just move on from things and roll her eyes about not being cool when she’s the one who did something wrong. But when someone wrongs her, they need to apologize for a year and book her personal massages.
As for Sonja’s method of dealing with hurt feelings, Dorinda nails it on the head when she says, “There’s a lack of respect for Sonja and her feels about past relationships. She makes fun of it, she does the fabulous floozy thing, but when she has a couple of drinks, the pain comes out.” When she has 15 drinks, she screams, “I CAME TO YOUR REHEARSAL, YOU’RE A F—KING DIVA—SHUT THE F–K UP.”
That’s when Luann leaves the table. It’s also about the time that Bethenny arrives at the table because she flew in late from D.C. and Sonja is screaming about Luann exploiting Dorinda. Tinsley tells Bethenny that Sonja was being “very articulate” trying to explain why she was hurt to Luann, which I’d say is stretching the truth a bit, so Bethenny marches off to Luann’s room because she doesn’t want to talk behind her back, but she’s had it with her being entitled. I was expecting it to be a perfect storm of Bethenny having a good point, but not knowing that her evidence of said point had recently tried to pee in a bathtub, and that Luann would be in no mood to hear her out…
But it was actually mostly fine. I mean Luann doesn’t suddenly own up to being entitled and say that her cabaret hasn’t gone to her head, it’s gone to their heads, but they don’t really get in a fight. Bethenny just says that she didn’t want to talk behind Luann’s back so she’s saying it to her face, and returns to the dinner table…
Where she finds Sonja sleeping sitting up and Ramona doing a very bad job of not inviting Barbara to go out with her when she’s begging literally every single other person to go. Barbara just shrugs her shoulders and says she knows Ramona doesn’t want her to go, and I actually feel bad for Babs—first the pottery shun, now this?!
So Ramona and Tinsley go upstairs to change for going out while Bethenny screams at Sonja to go to sleep. And perhaps mistaking the glass table in front of her for a bed, Sonja suddenly goes violently crashing down. Curtains.