I cannot believe the Berkshires snuck up on me like this. I was so distracted in the last week with Ramona making the single funniest observation she’s ever made—that a hunched over decorative gremlin biting its own arm looks exactly like Bethenny crying in bed after she told Luann about Tom (“don’t let it be about Tom” “it’s about Tom”, a.k.a., the Latin inscription on my chosen-family-coat of arms)—that I didn’t even realize said observation was happening right outside of Dorinda’s Berkshire home.
<Very Jordan Peele voice> You’ve just stepped (by way of an Escalade driven by a tortured man named Josh)…into the Twilight Zone.
I don’t know what it is about that Berkshire air, but these women just cannot help themselves the minute they get out there. It’s almost always a Sour Patch Kid situation (first they’re sour then they’re sweet, you know how it goes), but boy when they’re sour, it is bad. And by bad, I, of course, mean immeasurable entertainment for us little hunched over gremlins at home. Bravo should release a Berkshires greatest hits compilation on iTunes or something—I would pay the 99 cents. I most definitely could have watched that montage of each of the buck wild Berkshire trips from the last four seasons on a loop, which included liquor, calling each other whores, calling each other whores again, the iconic “I cooked, I cleaned, I DID IT NICE,” calling each other whores some more, and of course, rolling around on the floor and face-cake.
But everyone seems to have really simmered down with the whore stuff in recent years, and it’s not Dorinda’s birthday this time, so I really can’t imagine what they could find to argue about…
Oh, right, that good ol’ Real Housewives stalwart: when in doubt, cause a truly unbelievable stink about what room you’re staying in for two days, for free, at another person’s home. But before everyone gets to the Berkshires to claw their own eyes out, crying out to the heavens, Dear God, no, not THE FISH ROOM,” they’re just going about their day-to-day in Manhattan and things are dark.
And I’m not just talking about Bethenny’s grief counseling session with Dr. Norman- has-never-been-seen-in-the-same-room-with-Fisher-Stevens, which was extremely raw and seemed to be really helpful to Bethenny as she considers getting into a new romantic relationship. I never really know what to think about health professionals that are willing to practice on national television, but I did think this was some pretty solid grieving advice: “If you’re having a bad day, have it; if you’re having a good day, relish it, because it’s strengthening you for tomorrow which could be a bad day.”
No, I’m talking about Tinsley’s constant refrain that she wants to get back to “the girl she used to be” as photos from step-and-repeats from nine years ago trickle onto the screen. Tinsley! Sis! You don’t have to get back to being a high-society debutant—also you literally can’t. You’re 43 and you star on a reality show. But, nonetheless, you have done very well for yourself since that one little decade-long hiccup! It’s a different lifestyle, and yes, occasionally you have to sleep in a room decorated with fish, or nearly go down in flames on a boat out to sea, or live in a townhouse that Sonja treats like her own personal panty drawer…
But Tinsley, you have the job a million girls would kill for! You’re Miranda Priestly’s assista—I mean you’re a Real Housewife! Throwing a puppy fashion show is just as much a part of that lifestyle as it is a New York socialite’s—just ask the gals over in Beverly Hills who basically get paid solely to partake in dog-related events.
Anyway, this what I would say to Tinsley about the rose-colored glasses through which she looks at her former life as a socialite if we were friends. And regarding her hopeless relationship with Scott the Coupon King of Chicago…
I would keep my happy lips zipped. And it’s not because Tinsley has a handle on that relationship, or isn’t lying to herself, or because Scott is ever going to marry and have children with her. She does not; she absolutely is; and that man is about as committed as I am to keeping Dorinda and Dorit straight in these Housewives recaps (c’mon—these! names! are! nuts!). No, I wouldn’t say anything because there is a zero percent success rate of changing people’s minds about their romantic partners. They just have to get there on their own. But Bethenny Frankel has never met an impossible task she wouldn’t yap into submission.
After her puppy fashion show, the women retire to a yacht on the Hudson (a thing!) that belongs to Ramona’s friend, and after a couple of vagina jokes, immediately get down to grilling Tinsley about where her relationship stands with Scott. They insist they only pry because they’re concerned that she’s not being honest with herself about what she wants out of the relationship. And they’re definitely right, I get it, I do. We’ve surely all watched an amazing, beautiful friend date some donut because she’s tricking herself into thinking, one day, everything about this person and this relationship is going to fall perfectly into place, despite all the evidence to the contrary…
And if you haven’t, you’re the friend. But I won’t fuss at you about it—you’ll just have to come to it on your own. Because no one can make another person see their own worth, which is what everyone is trying to forcibly do to Tinsley in an open forum. They compare the relationship with Scott to Luann having blinders on about Tom, and look how that turned out. But they warned Luann about Tom, AND LOOK HOW THAT TURNED OUT. Plus, I can’t imagine Tinsley looked around that yacht lunch table at Ramona, Bethenny, Sonja, and Luann, and was like: Yes, better quickly heed the marriage advice of all of these trusted marriage sources!
I may be feeling particularly warm toward Tinsley right now though because she is the only person who doesn’t allow the Berkshires to turn her into a frothing hyena. Everything starts out fine with Ramona, Sonja, and Tinsley arriving and giving Dorinda plenty of validation for the roadside Halloween superstore she’s created in her mansion. But things go south when Luann meets the crew for dinner. She and Dorinda have officially made up now, and on her drive from her roundhouse upstate, she must have made the decision that she needs to see how far she can push this newly mended fence.
Before dinner, Dorinda passed her idea for the sleeping arrangements past the other women: even though she’s not arriving until the next day, Bethenny has requested the nicest room, which Dorinda wants to accommodate because Bethenny has issues letting go of control so otherwise she would stay in a hotel, and she’s already going through a lot right now…so Dorinda just wants to give her this. Fine. Ramona and Sonja agree to double up so they get a different big room. And Tinsley could be in the “room in the back.”
This is when we discover that there is a highly undesirable room in Dorinda’s house that she doesn’t know is undesirable. I really feel for her every time she offers up the fish room (it has…taxidermy fish all over the walls, there’s really no other way to describe it), and everyone starts freaking out. Dorinda was going to put Tinsley in the fish room and Luann in the Moroccan room, but Tinsley says she’ll take the Moroccan room and Luann can have the fish room, which Dorinda thinks is fine because Dorinda thinks the fish room is fine…
According to Luann, the fish room is tantamount to peeing on the grave of their friendship. Everything was going along nicely at dinner as Dorinda tells the other women what to expect the next day: yoga at the house, a trip to a historic manor, and a naked chef coming to cook them dinner. “Any chance you have anyone for a massage,” Luann asks, like that is a totally normal question. Dorinda, who is being extra accommodating to Luann right now says to the camera, “I think Luann has mistaken my home for an inn, but I can’t stick in the weeds with her because if I get angry, I lose.”
And I truly do not understand how Dorinda didn’t get angry at what comes next. She slips out of the booth to order Luann a personal message, and when she comes back the others have revealed to Luann that she’s staying in the Fish room. When they tell her, Sonja and Ramona start cackling like the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus. They are making a noise I have never heard before, it is absolutely nuts. This is what Dorinda finds when she gets back, plus Luann absolutely fuming about the sleeping arrangements. Dorinda seems legitimately confused: “There are no bad rooms in my house! It’s a beautiful manor!”
Luann mocks back, “Ooooh, Madame Bethenny is coming tomorrow.” She complains that she drove all the way from upstate—which is not far!!!—and “after all the shit we’ve been through” she thinks giving her the best room would have been “a nice gesture.” Yes, arguing with a co-worker is definitely comparable to losing your best friend to an overdose, Luann.
Gah, she’s intolerable this episode. So, good for Tinsley for finally having enough of this and forcing Luann to hear her say that Dorit tried to give her the Moroccan room but she asked for it instead because she didn’t know that Luann hated the fish room as much as single-breasted blazers. But Luann still won’t stand down, saying she thinks Dorinda should have responded that she was saving the good room for Luann. Dorinda reiterates that she thinks the fish room is a good room, and Luann says, “Why don’t you go fuck the swordfish!” and jumps up from the table in a huff.
Let me tell you what I would have done if I had been in Dorinda’s shoes and my friends were s—ting on my home like that…
Cried. I would have welled up right there at the dinner table. I almost cried watching it. But I think the better question is: what will Dorinda’s sister Melinda do to Luann when she finds out the Countess spoke of her sister’s fish room like that? I shudder to think, but also: can we make that happen and film it, please?