The Real Housewives of New York City recap: Every day is a cabaret
When this episode of RHONY started with a complete emotional breakdown that seemed to be about fake letters but was actually an elongated mourning for a past life, set at an ornate dinner table, I thought: why can’t we stay in the Berkshires forever? This rural region of western Massachusetts possesses these New York City women like the Amityville Horror house, but instead of picking up an axe at 3:15 a.m., they pick up the pinot grigio at 3:15 p.m. and they don’t stop hacking away at it until someone has passed out spread-eagle on the pool table, wearing a curtain like a blanket and using a 16-year-old dog as a pillow…
It’s simply the best. But I never should have been worried about them keeping the momentum going. Because the moment these women got back to Manhattan, it was yet another complete emotional breakdown that seemed to be about the coupon king of Chicago but was definitely about mourning a past life, set at another ornate dinner table. The ladies of RHONY cover more emotional territory in the transition from one weekend to the next than the rest of us could work through in a lifetime of therapy. Is it good to treat emotionality like a sprint? Perhaps not. But watching them, I feel like that woman in the flower shop who breathed an audible sigh of relief the moment Ramona and Sonja left her store en route to “Le Pain Quotidien”…
I’m so, so glad I don’t run with these women, nor would I ever want to be a “helper” to them in any way, but to watch them play emotionally volatile truth-or-dare? Oh yeah, I’ll be there in my sequin Cher pants, fresh from microdermabrasion, holding two tiny bottles of Patrón, ready to throw myself at a 22-year-old bartender—thanks very much.
Wednesday’s episode picks back up on the unbelievable scene we departed with last week: Sonja screaming, “YOU DON’T TOUCH THE F—— MORGAN LETTERS!” She is referring to an earlier point in the day when they went to an estate owned by her ex-husband’s family, the Morgans, and Dorinda touched a letter on a desk with her fingernail. And she has, of course, been referred there by Mr. Grey Goose himself.
The horror of watching Dorinda slowly descend the stairs, wondering if she’s going to come back in this dining room to find Sonja weeping “Oh my God it was awful” about her briefly touching a piece of notebook paper, and surely reign unholy fury down on these women who have been nightmares on wheels from the moment they entered her home, was a scene that could have only been written by Jordan Peele. The tension teeters on the precipice as everyone stares at Sonja in horror, then tries to console her that Dorinda didn’t mean any disrespect by touching that piece of paper. Just as the paper-toucher herself is about to re-enter the room, Bethenny sweeps Sonja away from the dinner table to calm her down elsewhere, and the relief I felt could only be compared to waking up from a dream where you have to take a test you haven’t been to the class for all semester and realizing that you are, in fact, a grown ass woman.
Does Bethenny do this because she has a pathological need to be the hero all the time? Sure. Is it technically still heroic because her actions saved the life of a very unique, toaster-oven loving woman that night? Also yes.
Instead of Sonja getting herself into trouble with Dorinda, Ramona is able to explain to the table at large that Sonja’s not really upset about the letters, but that being at the Morgan house “stirred up a lot of memories of her ex-husband and what she has with him, and there’s a lot of loss for her there.” I also really appreciated the other women nipping it in the bud when Barbara tries to say her outburst was “a lot” and “scary.” I’m sure it was absolutely both of those things—but only you get to call your best friends scary, not some interloper (put a pin in that).
Bethenny basically barks at Sonja that she has to settle down and eat some food, and so she does. Sonja just wants to have fun…and so she does. In the style of The Blair Witch Project, the next few minutes are found footage from Bethenny’s iPhone, in which we watch every iteration of these women mounting each other on every surface of Dorinda’s home, dancing in negligees, and putting their whole face right up to the camera to get that really perfect horror movie angle. And if you’re wondering if Sonja briefly masturbated with an electric ghost Halloween decoration—why, of course, she did.
Everyone heads back to the city except for Bethenny and Dorinda, who go on a vigorous walk in Ugg boots. Bethenny tells Dorinda how she fully believes in otherworldly visits now, and knows that Dennis has been communicating with her since his death, like on the notepad of a hotel lobby in Boston. This remains an emotionally complicated time for Bethenny. She loved this man, he was important to her, but when he was alive, she knew she needed to get distance from him to move on. And now that he’s passed, she wants to hold the memories of him close…but she still wants to move on. “I’m really tired of this,” she tells her housekeeper, who seems very kind about listening to Bethenny talk about Dennis, but maybe also a little trapped: “But this is not the life I want—it’s really hard to break away from him, it’s harder than you think.”
Perhaps a fresh outlook is why Bethenny decides to throw her first formal dinner party at her new luxurious apartment. The attire is “sparkles,” which Ramona just does not seem to be able to wrap her head around. Interestingly, she’s thrilled to be on good terms with Bethenny right now and is sucking up to her via buying flower arrangements for her party.
But nothing will stop Ramona, nor Sonja, from telling Luann that Bethenny was upset when she heard that Luann had been complaining about her getting the nicest room at Dorinda’s house. Luann just tries to act all tough at first, saying, “Bethenny’s upset because I said Dorinda should have given me that room, then let her be upset, I don’t give a s—.” But then Sonja and Ramona—who were really on their best game tonight–are like, okay but didn’t she recently sort of save your life with an intervention, and get you into rehab, and find you a lawyer? Luann ever so slightly concedes that perhaps she should give a s— what Bethenny thinks. And by that I mean she husks out, “I appreciate all she’s done for me… the least she could do is give me the goddamn room.” What a woman!
Luann gets a bit of narrative redemption though in her very honest conversation with Tinsley, who asked her to have lunch. After talking about hover cars for a while and ordering tea, Luann says in her testimonial, “The hardest thing about sobriety is just not drinking, and not picking up every day. It’s not easy—I take it day by day, and it’s a struggle.” Indeed, Tinsley wanted to talk to Luann because being around her as she gets sober has kicked up a lot of feelings about her father who was an alcoholic, and not pleasant ones. She tells Luann that he died three years ago from causes related to his alcoholism.
Tinsley says that she’s starting to feel angry at her father for choosing alcohol over his family, and for “dying over drinking.” Luann listens and doesn’t get defensive, and ultimately tells Tinsley that she knows it’s hard to hear, but alcoholism isn’t a choice, it’s a disease. Tinsley emotionally says that she can’t see it like that, relating it to a person who’s allergic to peanuts having to choose not to eat peanuts. But Luann tells her it’s not like an allergy—”it’s a disease of the mind.”
I have great empathy for both of these women who are having to work through two sides of the same coin. They don’t have to get there all at once, and they were very honest and understanding with each other. Tinsley says in her testimonial that she probably doesn’t have the sympathy that she should in this situation, “But it’s hard because I’ve lived it.” To me, it sounds like she’s trying, and Luann tells her that it seems like she’s just now really grieving the loss of her father, and anger is very much a part of that. She encourages Tinsley to take part in Al-Anon, the program for friends and family of recovering alcoholics, and I really hope she does.
Okay, enough of that earnestness, time for some Truth or Dare. Bethenny straps on a pair of sequin pants, a face of makeup, and an IV to prepare for her party, but can’t quite get it all together before her smoking hot ex-boyfriend shows up because he owns the staffing company that’s providing the bartenders. She grabs him for a few minutes once she’s all glammed up though, and they still seem to have a good rapport, so I mean…how great is this guy in Boston (and has Russ done anything awful I don’t know about)? Because I’m thinking it might be time to give this square-jawed fella another chance.
But tonight isn’t about fellas—it’s about Ramona ordering vodka in a wine glass, and then the night proceeding from there about as you would imagine. Luann is an hour and a half late because Bethenny says she’s on “cabaret time.” At the table, Bethenny makes a toast to everyone being “in a pretty good place,” and Dorinda has one more to add. She raises a glass to Barbara surviving—and for a moment, I really thought she was just going to say “for surviving the Berkshires,” and continue on this Dorinda the Good Witch kick she’s been on. But no, Barbara really brings out the West in our girl, and she toasts to Barbara surviving staying in the shark room instead: “I knew, I knew the shark room wasn’t too scary because you’ve probably woken up with scarier than a mounted shark.”
Wowza. Barbara just lets it go, and is quickly rewarded when a game of Truth or Dare kicks up and Bethenny is dared to kiss her. Babs looks thrilled with the turn of event, while Sonja looks like she’s ready to crack a tiny Patrón bottle on the table and declare war. Dorinda gets dared to call John and have some quick phone sex with him, which they’ve never done before, and she very cutely just keeps telling him how she wants to “spend some time with him” while Sonja and Bethenny make so many sexual gestures in the background I’m starting to wonder if there are a few things I don’t know about.
Then Tinsley makes the mistake of admitting she’s never had phone sex with Scott, and things go south quickly. Bethenny dares Tinsley to call Scott and tell him if they’re not engaged by the end of the year, she’s dating other people—and she refuses. Then Bethenny dares her to just call Scott—and she refuses. Then Bethenny asks her to just talk to them about Scott—and she refuses.
I’m conflicted here because I too might not be dying to call my 40-something boyfriend on speaker phone while a bunch of other women giggle and make fake jerk-off motions in the background. But Tinsley also super needs to break up with Scott, and that’s what this is all getting around to in a very messy way. Bethenny asks why they’re friends if they can’t talk about these kinds of things, and Barbara chimes in that maybe Tinsley doesn’t want to be friends. Dorinda cranes her neck out like Inspector Gadget and both of her hands fly up, so you know there’s about to be trouble. “You’re always instigating,” she scoffs. “You always have to go there, stop! Stop being a busybody, stop being an interloper, stop doing it.”
You guys…I don’t think Dorinda likes Barbara very much. And—correct me if I’m wrong—but I don’t think Tinsley feels super secure in her relationship. She starts weeping and describes trying to make it work with Scott as “literal torture.” Bethenny tells her that she “can’t just be happy when it’s on his terms, it doesn’t work that way.”
“It does in his life!” Tinsley shouts back.
Again I say: Yowza. “I am not this bra-burning feminist,” Bethenny says in her testimonial, “but Tinsley sets women back about 100 years.” Tinsley is fully breaking down now, sobbing that she doesn’t’ know what to do because she loves him, and yes he is controlling, and “every day is a new headache,” but…
Well, I don’t know what the “but” is. She’s gotta dump this dude and find out how it is that Ramona has a date lined up every single time they all get together, sometimes two. Sound off in the comments with your thoughts on touching sacred letters, public phone sex, and what exactly Sonja meant when she said she’d save the caviar at Bethenny’s party to “use for later.”
The Real Housewives of New York City
Ramona, LuAnn, Sonja, Carole, Heather, Kristen, and Dorinda — and oh, yes, Bethenny — are in a New York state of mind.