The Real Housewives of New York City - Season 11
Credit: Heidi Gutman/Bravo

I find it incredibly rude that the RHONY producers would tease us with Sonja placing her pocketbook in her lap, pulling her face skin back with tape, and proudly announcing the price of her dress within her first 10 seconds of screen time during this reunion, and then silence her for the rest of the episode.

In some ways, this reunion is off to a perfect start: Ramona trips twice just trying to get onstage, demands some poor craft services attendant come help her, and then Andy makes her talk about her new teeth; Tinsley is outfitted in a full table setting, including charger plates as earrings, a full table runner down her back, and a placemat adorning her chest; Dorinda is passive-aggressively telling Andy that she’s wearing Naeem Khan, complete with a flashback of Carole telling Luann that she heard Luann was trying to borrow dresses from Khan, and he doesn’t really do that unless you’re Michelle Obama (or maybe Madonna, but we’ll get to that comparison shortly), so Luann can keep her $400 Jovani dresses…

But that’s in the first five minutes. The remaining 55 are mostly a runaround of Bethenny, Dorinda, and Luann arguing about things they already argued about at the last reunion, which was a surprising twist of redundancy for such an otherwise exciting season. Where are the confrontations about the awful thing Ramona said about Dennis, and accusations of Tinsley being a fake New Yorker I was promised?! Probably the most exciting moment of the first part of the reunion was the preview for the second part, in which Andy asks everyone what they think of Luann’s singing only to be met with complete silence beyond the sound of Barbara’s spray tan seeping into the couch. I expect the biding of time in an RHOBH reunion, but not here — not on RHONY where time is money and money is toaster ovens.

I guess I can make my peace with a slow start because even a slow start includes the reminder that Dorinda once texted Luann a Tyler Perry quote about moving on that she was just sure was the right thing to say after being disinvited from a clam bake. So let’s get to breaking down all the montages, shady Andy moments, and even shadier questions from Debra in Rhode Island, or whatever:

Home is where the haters are

Probably my favorite montage was the one of all the women who moved into new homes this season, which included a quick reminder that the Morgan townhouse still has some sort of Haunting of Hill House-like hold on Sonja (spoiler alert: Alex McCord is Poppy). One little flashback to the water-damaged curtains and she was done.

As for Ramona, she says she just accepted an offer on her apartment, but Andy makes sure to point out that she had to drop the price a few times first, which she handles with a shocking amount of grace. Dorinda also gracefully navigates a viewer question about why she emphasized so much that her new apartment is just for herself and not John — and the answer is that her apartment is just for herself and not John. Why are people so bothered that a 54-year-old woman likes to have her dry cleaned cake and eat it too? It is an absolute crime, however, that they showed Dorinda’s fabulous real estate agent straight out of Death Becomes Her in the montage, but didn’t proceed to bring out for an entire segment.

The only hubbub comes when Luann tries to play off her move to slightly less glamorous upstate New York as a need to get away from all the people with cameras in her bushes, which leads Bethenny to point out that Kelly Ripa, Howard Stern, and Billy Joel all somehow manage to live peaceful lives in the Hamptons, “But Luann de Lesseps has to move to a bungalow in Kingston?” Luann says that getting arrested makes you very popular. “Luann can’t walk the streets, but Madonna has no issue,” Bethenny responds, while caaaasually managing to point out that Madonna is her neighbor.

The Dennis of it all

There is, of course, a montage of Bethenny grieving Dennis throughout the season, including a flashback to her grief counselor, Fisher Stevens, and some extremely appreciated mention from a drooling Andy about how hot that caterer she briefly dated was. But other than that, it’s not a lot of new information, just that grieving is hard and specific and impossible to be good at.

The most interesting bit comes after Bethenny says that her current boyfriend Paul is a Very Private Person, and Andy helpfully reads a question from Gwyneth in Palm Springs asking why Bethenny thinks it’s so weird that Tinsley doesn’t share anything about Scott, but thinks it’s fine to keep her own romantic relationships “off limits.”

And the answer is, of course: there is no difference, Bethenny is just being hard on Tinsley. But Bethenny still tries to pull some stuff about how Tinsley and Scott met on camera and he sent her that heinous flower arrangement on camera, so she couldn’t possibly be entitled to the privacy that Bethenny feels entitled to. And Tinsley just kind of lets her say it, perhaps because she knows she needs to reserve her energy and eyelashes for when the topic of Scott really comes up later. And maybe even Bethenny realizes she’s reaching with little more than a pooper-scooper because she later adds that she projected some of that regret of not being able to “get off the ride” with Dennis onto Tinsley while watching her not be able to get off the (coupon-discounted) ride with Scott.

Feeling Jovani (remix)

Oh, what to say about Dorinda and Luann arguing about the same things they’ve been arguing about for a year and giving Jovani Fashion, Ltd. more press than a Super Bowl commercial? Perhaps my close personal friend Tyler Perry said it best: When you haven’t forgiven those who’ve hurt you, you turn your back against your future; when you do forgive, you start walking forward.

Directly following a montage of their arguments over the season, Dorinda says of the Jovani drama, “Thank god I gave her that … your show is a combination of the dresses and taking the piss out of your castmates.” And Luann cries back, “Why do you have so much anger Dorindaaaaaaa?” The conversation quickly moves to — I kid you not — who started it. Dorinda heckling (which she still won’t admit to being heckling), or Luann turning that heckling into, like, her entire career. It’s a classic chicken-or-the-egg situation, really.

There are cries of “we were like family!” and “a 13-year friendship!” and “you broke my heart!” and “no, you broke my heart!” The most interesting thing Dorinda says to Luann is that she doesn’t have any substance anymore, which seems true, and the most interesting thing Luann says to explain her behavior over the course of the season is that she just felt cold and numb about everything that was happening, which also feels true. Is the hug that they finally share at the end, like so many other forgiveness hugs we’ve seen before, equally true? Unclear…

But there can be no denying the looks of pure torture that come over the other women’s faces when Andy tells the DJ to bump that new track, and everyone sits stock-still while Luann dances and sings along in her seat to “Feeling Jovani,” not an ounce of self-awareness in sight.

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