The Real Housewives of New York City recap: A prancing pimp in pajamas
I had a great time in the Hamptons; we all had a great time in the Hamptons; Leah had a flamin' great time in the Hamptons. But all vacations must come to an end, and boy am I glad to have our gals back in their natural habitat of New York City, where they each operate like a shark in a champagne-hued bandage dress — if they stop moving, they'll die.
This episode was pure chaos, but it's a completely different variant than the chaos of the Hamptons, wherein Sonja and Leah screamed about socialism into each other's mouths while Sonja was actively on the toilet. No, this episode was just a perfect encapsulation of the everyday frenetic energy with which these women sprint (and somehow simultaneously totter) through life. At one point, at a casual lunch between fashion shows, it takes the waiter eight full minutes — oh yes, I counted — to collect everyone's water order because not one of them can stop talking for long enough to bark "sparkling."
During that very same eight minutes, the conversation switches from someone screaming, "You're gonna turn into a vagina!" about Ramona's oyster order, to admonishing Sonja for not living in the moment, to screaming about face creams, to setting up an impromptu mobile work station at a neighboring table, to the emotional trauma inflicted by mothers, to the need to be seen as an adult while still receiving validation from our parents, all the way back around to the oysters again when everyone realizes that Ramona placed the order only for herself, not the table…
All without a single scene cut. Again, I say: your scripted drama about drug trafficking or whatever could never.
New York Fashion Week is like the 5 o'clock of the Real Housewives franchise — it's always NYFW somewhere. Fashion Week kicked off the Beverly Hills season a few episodes ago, and now it's arrived on its home franchise of New York. Sonja is showing again this year, although from what I can gather, it's not exactly the fashion debut of her Sonja by Sonja Collection and more of a … thank you to her supporters? Either way, it means we get to see Sonja in business mode, a.k.a. exactly the same Sonja as every other mode, but sometimes she wears a blazer in a way that still somehow manages to show her entire bra.
Tinsley is also participating in Fashion Week, closing out the show of Garo Sparo, who you might remember from Project Runway. And it really is a wonder how Tinsley and her mother Dale can take any moment — even one including a bedazzled sneaker, or say, a photo of frozen eggs — and turn it into a page ripped straight from a Tennessee Williams play. As Tinsley coos over the dress and crown she's about to walk down the runway in, Dale says from the couch behind her, "It's been 10 years since you’ve been doing things like this, and I'm happy that you're back to doing them." Now maybe I'm a little sensitive from having a healthy relationship with my mother rather than one based entirely around unattainable expectations, and inevitable failure all these years…
But all I could hear in Dale's statement is: It's been 10 years since you've had my validation! Tinsley, on the other hand, squeals, "Thank you, mommy!" and then Dale just starts weeping. So then Tinsley starts weeping, saying that Dale has to stop because she's going to ruin her makeup.
"You just look like yourself again, that's what's making me cry," Dale weeps. "Mommy, please, I can't right now!" Tinsley cries, carefully arranging her prized menagerie of glass figurines before taking the stage.
And if Tinsley just wants to keep trying to revive some shadow of her former self instead of doing the work to figure out who she might like to be in the present, that's fine by me. Watching her and Dale ugly-cry at each other every time Tinsley gets asked to host an Auntie Anne's opening or whatever is always a good time. Plus, everyone seems really happy for Tinsley, except of course Ramona, who barks, "Why'd you walk so fast?" the moment Tinsley comes offstage. Which is pretty rich, considering Ramona's own history with the runway, that the editors somehow keep from deploying even once during this episode.
Perhaps they were casting a lighter touch in order to make their future shady edits really sing, like when Luann arrives at the Pamella Roland show a little early, and just marches backstage and demands that someone do her hair. "My friends are late, so I might as well get my hair done," Luann husks to the stunned man whose been tricked into doing extra work for no extra pay. His title card pops up on the screen: "LOIC, hairdresser for models actually in the show." Never change, editors; send Luann an itemized bill, Loic.
Pamella Roland is apparently an acquaintance of Ramona's, which is how the Housewives got invited to her show, and also why Ramona feels comfortable demanding that some poor woman move away from the step-and-repeat so that she can take her own photo first, saying, "I'm interrupting, it's who I am." To a stranger! But of course Ramona is beyond offended when Leah winds up not coming to the fashion show, texting Tinsley that she can't make it, but she'll still meet them after for lunch.
At lunch, Leah arrives wearing a tiny pair of Aaliyah-eque sunglasses that I'm pretty into (more on Leah's style later), and finds Sonja sitting at a smaller table next to the group. She's just had an outburst after Ramona told her to stop working on her fashion show from the table, screaming back, "You can go around with your little bottle, and your one bottle of cream, but I have 20 models!"
Any attack on Ramona is a friend of mine, especially when it's wearing Sonja's permanently smudged reading glasses.
But without Sonja to berate — and having already fussed at Tinsley about getting marinara on her HomeGoods comforter earlier in the day — Ramona starts right in on Leah, telling her how rude she was for skipping the show, while actively ignoring the waiter desperately trying to ask her if she wants sparkling or still. Leah says that she's sorry, she ended up needing to work through something. But Ramona won't stop scolding her, so Leah decides to tell the women what's going on: starting to cry, she tells them that she told her mom that she drank over the Hamptons weekend, and right before the Pamella Roland fashion show, her dad informed Leah that her mom was so mad, she's not speaking to her.
Naturally, all the women start chiming in with their completely unhelpful feedback, except for — if you can believe it — Luann, who asks Leah how she's feeling about it. Leah says she doesn't regret getting drunk because she felt like she was in a safe environment, but she still doesn't want her mom to be upset with her. Tinsley says that she understands being an adult and still wanting to please your mother. When the other women ask for examples of what Tinsley means, she says, "This is symbolic, it's going to sound crazy to you guys," and y'all—my dumb ass really thought Tinsley was going to dive deep on the earlier scene where Dale wept about the return of her daughter to her former luster and then asked Garo Sparo if he might know of any gentleman callers…
But then Tinsley finished the sentence: "My mother was very specific about not wanting me to have my hair curly for the show today." The editors flash to a scene of Dale in the audience telling Luann that Tinsley really shouldn't have worn her hair curly. And y'know, Dale wanting Tinsley's hair to look a certain way — my guess would be Dale preferred an early-2000s barrel curl just like the good ol' days when Tinsley was destined for greatness — most certainly is symbolic of something deeper. But for Tinsley, who continues to talk about her hair for four full minutes, I think it really is just about hair. "I wish me and my mother were arguing over the way I wore my hair," Leah says in her testimonial, "but we're talking about big life shit."
The next day, Leah's ex, and the father of her daughter who she's still very close with, swings by to talk about that very same big life shit. For some reason, they do this in her publicist's open-concept office so people have to try to pretend like they're still working behind them while Rob tells Leah that he's talked to her mother, and he doesn't like the idea of her starting to drink again either. Rob tells her he thinks it could be a destructive path, and Leah responds, "I know, but I'm not using it destructively anymore," which kind of feels like when a person in a scary movie says, I'm just going to see what that noise in the basement was.
"Rob and my mom are like my two rocks, so to have them both questioning me, that's really upsetting," Leah says, although she doesn’t seem to be asking herself the same questions just yet.
There's hardly any time for that kind of reflection though, given that Leah is now having to figure out an outfit to wear to Sonja's fashion show since the outfit that Sonja sent over for Leah to wear is … a sweatsuit. As in: head-to-toe heather gray, sweatpants, sweatshirt, plus a fuchsia hat and mirrored sunglasses to complete the outfit. We see that all the other women were sent two or three Sonja by Sonja Morgan options to choose from, all of which were dresses. Leah says she sent Sonja her size and three dresses from her collection that she liked (and the editors flash up the texts to prove it) … and Sonja sent over a sweatsuit, calling it athleisure.
Leah thinks this must be Sonja's passive-aggressive way of getting back at her for the Hamptons outburst, and while that might be true, I think I actually agree more with Tinsley, who says that Sonja knows Leah is cool, and probably thought this was a cool outfit. I genuinely believe that when Sonja looks at the strapless stretch-maxi dress covered in Lil' Kim's mugshot that Leah ultimately wears, she thinks that a sweatsuit with sunglasses and a hat is exactly the same thing. Streetwear is simply not Sonja Morgan's arena…
Sequins, and freaking the f--- out are Sonja Morgan's arena. She's running around five minutes before her show in a blazer and jeans, putting torn up pieces of notebook paper on seats, and I'm pretty sure that once she does get changed, she just … doesn't zip up the back of her dress?? Once everyone is seated, models just start walking without any change in the music or lights, but all-in-all, Sonja's ready-to-wear collection is … totally wearable. And had Leah been sent that (allegedly cashmere) sweatsuit right about — I dunno — now, when there's nowhere to go but the living room, she might have been a big fan.
But in the moment, when Sonja asks where Leah's Sonja by Sonja Morgan outfit is, spewing faux-innocence, Leah responds: "I think you're full of s---, I think you’re passive-aggressive and you're still mad at me from the Hamptons!" Well, there ya go — no mincing words when you're clad in Lil' Kim, I guess!
Sonja says if Leah doesn’t want her "signature piece" then to give it back. But neither one of them ever seem really angry, even when Leah throws the Duane Reade bag containing Sonja's sweatsuit, and Sonja screams, "I gave you a nice bag, I gave you a beautiful bag!" Leah screams back that she received a paper bag, and it was ripped. So there's only one thing left to do: Sonja starts putting on the sweatsuit herself, right there in front of 200 people, until her team pulls her into another room. She reemerges, bra-less in the heather grey suit, complete with fedora and sunglasses…
"You look like s---!" Ramona cries.
But Leah can't stop laughing, saying that even though she still thinks Sonja was being shady, "It's pretty damn hard to stay mad at Sonja when she's prancing around like a pimp in pajamas." My thoughts exactly.