The Real Housewives of New York City recap: Tinsley takes her final bow (for now)
From the moment Martin the boxing coach strapped our Tinsley into a pair of gloves, advised her to tell anyone who didn’t want her to be happy to go eff themselves, and then appointed her Dame Tinsdale of the Go Out There and Demand What's Yours Tinsdales… we should have known wouldn't be able to hold onto her much longer. Something changed in Tinsley throughout her time on The Real Housewives of New York City…
And it was surprisingly moving to watch that change transpire throughout the bountiful flashback montages we received in this episode, playing Tinsley off in her final episode as a New York Housewife, leaving only memories of puffer-clad dogs teetering in her wake. It could be that it's been an extremely emotional last few weeks, it could be the ambiguity of this sudden and mysterious Housewives hiatus, or it could be that it's just nice to see someone leave one of these shows because they outgrew it, rather than it outgrowing them.
Now, it's rarely a sound bet to give a Housewife too much credit in any arena (you better believe I'm checking every single one of their Instagrams these days, and I'm looking for receipts, not black squares). But for now, Tinsley has left RHONY on top, and I could even get behind her anchoring a Chicago franchise in the near future — that is not something I could have imagined myself saying a season or two ago. But there's just something about watching a woman be bullied relentlessly by a harping sack of spite wearing a blonde wig and a Gucci jacket that makes you want to root for the underdog in that scenario. Which brings us to…
Dorinda. Who's been on her worst behavior all season but still seems to be in an exclusive competition with herself to see who can seem like the biggest jerk in this episode. Spoiler alert: Dorinda wins! At the top of the episode, she's invited the other women to go to Blood Manor — excuse me, she's invited all of the women but Tinsley to Blood Manor, and tells Leah she can invite Tinsley if she wants to. Blood Manor is one of those over-the-top haunted house situations, and I actually enjoy being scared, but watching all those clowns and zombies scream right in the women's faces made me want to hurl. In this economy? I don’t think so.
Luann is the only one dressed for Halloween because she says she's going to another party later, but Dorinda is, for the record, wearing a skeleton onesie with a black bandeau bra inexplicably over the outside. Later she yanks it up and down her body while mocking Tinsley for not having children yet.
After the haunted house, the women head to dinner, where the others talk about how Tinsley posted an Instagram of herself at Scott's apartment without first telling them they were back together, which they think is rude… even though just last week they were telling her they understood why she wouldn't want to share something so private… and encouraged her to literally go to his apartment and plant a toothbrush in his bathroom like Neil Armstrong during the moon landing… after Tinsley flat-out told them she was hopeful for this relationship with Scott moving forward. Exactly what is it they want from her?!
I don't like being put in the position to defend Tinsley and Scott's relationship, which I've never found particularly inspiring — but who else is going to do it? Nobody listens to Tinsley when she defends herself, Leah gets so mad when she tries to defend Tinsley that she starts chucking raviolis, and for some reason everyone is cowering so much under the potential wrath of Dorinda at this dinner that they not only refuse to be happy for Tinsley's rediscovered love but also actively ignore her.
When they first sit down, Leah proposes a toast to Tinsley, telling the others that Tins told her in the car on the way over that this time with Scott, it's the real deal and they're going to get married. As Tinsley raises her glass, Dorinda yells down from the opposite end of the table, "That's good that you're moving to Chicago!" And the look of hope in Tinsley's face when she thinks Dorinda is actually congratulating her is heartbreaking, as it falls the moment Dorinda completes her statement: "That's great, you can move out of your hotel finally." Wow, I had almost forgotten that Dorinda is just as hung up on Tinsley permanently living in a luxury hotel as she is with Tinsley not telling her every detail of her on-again-off-again relationship. It's all very chill and normal adult behavior!
As Tinsley lowers her glass because no one actually toasted her and they're now just talking among themselves, she leans over to Leah and says, "For some reason, my relationship is very important on some levels, but then when I'm happy, it's not important." Luann is sort of trying to get the others to acknowledge Tinsley's news, and at least leans (almost as if she's trying to keep any communications a secret from Dorinda, Ramona, and Sonja) and tells Tinsley that she's happy for her.
"Yeah, thats great news, you'll love Chicago," Dorinda barks again. "It's so great because you just live in a hotel, so you can pack up and go tomorrow."
Dorinda likes to act like she's this straightforward badass, but she might be one of most passive-aggressive Housewives I've ever experienced. Tinsley doesn’t even try to fight back at this point, which really gets under Dorinda's skin, so she hollers once more down the table: "I've got a turkey baster — maybe you can try to have a baby." And then, I kid you not, she puts her and up in the air for someone to high-five her. Luckily no one does, but I will never forgive Luann, Ramona, or Sonja for knowing that was so far over the line and saying nothing in defense of — at the very least — their work acquaintance, Tinsley.
Ramona and Luann do later invite Tinsley out for drinks because they feel guilty for ignoring her at the dinner, and they seem genuinely happy for her when she tells them this is all really happening with Scott; he's turning a full room into a closet for her, and she's planning to move to Chicago the next day (and as we know, Scott did propose soon after). Tinsley appreciates their excitement for her, but Ramona has also invited a man named Ron to the congratulatory drinks, so the toast between Ramona, Luann, Tinsley, and Ron is altogether a little odd.
My distaste for Dorinda is at such an all-time high that I can barely even enjoy here making fun of Ramona for legitimate reasons later in the episode… but somehow, I do find a way. Because it's time for Ramona to plan her annual birthday party, which always causes a stir given that Ramona just can't help but be a nightmare about it. Last year she insisted to everyone that her birthday was being planned for her by a friend, so she had no control over the guest list… and then we saw the woman (allegedly) planning the party tell Ramona that she wanted to invite Sonja, to which Ramona barked, "NO." The editors helpfully replay that clip this year as Ramona acts like she's apologizing to Sonja and Dorinda for them not being invited last year by bringing them along to the birthday-party-planning meeting this year.
When they get in the car, Ramona appears to be eating loose turkey from her hand. Then the driver casually mentions that they're headed to Bethpage, N.Y., which is straight up in Long Island. After over an hour of driving, they arrive at the party-planning office of Larry Scott, who Ramona tells us is "the premier party planner for all of New York City." But he seems more like a Long Island Willy Wonka, as his main draw seems to be a dining table for 20 people laden with fancy desserts.
As Sonja and Dorinda eat artisanal moon pies, Ramona explains to Larry that she loves her girlfriends. So this year she's inviting her 60 girlfriends to her birthday party so she can celebrate her 60 girlfriends for 30 years of having 60 girlfriends. Dorinda casually suggests that Ramona could include her girlfriend Sonja in the celebrations since her birthday is so close to Ramona's, to which Ramona barks, "No, this is my own party!" Dorinda says she thought Ramona just said the party was for her girlfriends, so why not include Sonja, and Ramona barks (I'm so sorry, that really is the only appropriate word I can use to describe Ramona's speech patterns) back: "No, I have my own list, my own friends, this is my special birthday party, so I'm sorry, this is about me."
Ramona then explains to Larry that this party "is me giving back to all my girlfriends that I've had for 30 years." Nothing says giving back to others quite like throwing a party for yourself. I know there are some people who don't have internal monologues, but are there also some people who can't hear themselves when they speak out loud?
Ramona keeps reiterating that this is her "coming-out party" because she's coming out as single, but… hasn't Ramona been single for, like, at least four years? Eventually it's revealed that Dorinda and Sonja have been dragged out to Long Island because Ramona is very clearly getting this party planned for free if she promotes this Larry fella's Hansel-and-Gretel-style candy office on the show. And Sonja should really be getting royalties for how often these women make money off her, considering that earlier we also saw her meet with Luann about being in her new cabaret show, and while Luann claims she's of course going to pay her for it, Sonja says the last time she worked with her, Luann only paid for half her hair and makeup. Half!
Finally, we see that Tinsley wasn't kidding about how fast things are moving with Scott. It was just a week ago that she was telling the other women that she loved him but she was worried it wouldn't end how she wanted to, and now she's literally packing up her apartment to move to Chicago. Dale is there, and as Tinsley casually talks about which things are going into storage, Dale picks up an engraved silver cup, and they have a classic exchange:
Dale, choking up: "Look at that li'l baby cup… I remember when you… when you took a little —"
Tinsley, whipping around: "Why are you cryinggggg?"
Dale, sobbing: "I don't know, it's just sad to me! Because you've always been on the East Coast, and now you're… going somewhere else."
Tinsley, beginning to sob: But, mommy, it's happyyyy! I love Chicago, and I love Scott, and I'm excited."
Dale, a haunted look in her misty eyes: "Everything is changing. It's all changing."
(Fade to black, only the tinkling sound of a menagerie of glass figurines remains.)
Just kidding, Leah and Sonja come over, and everyone toasts to Tinsley's big move. But I would support Dale becoming the next New York Housewife, if only so Tinsley can swing back through sometimes and we can continue to watch them perform their two-woman Tennessee Williams act all over Manhattan (and Bethpage too, if Ramona gets ahold of them).
The next morning, Tinsley zips Strawberry, Shortcake, and herself into their matching puffer jackets and they head to the airport. Next stop, Chicago.
"I've changed so much since coming back to New York and moving into Sonja's townhouse," Tinsley says in her final testimonial. "I had thought that coming back to New York was immediately going to trigger me back into the old Tinsley that lived in New York… and it's taken be a little bit of time, but I finally feel like myself again. I feel confident again." The editors play a montage of Tinsley hosting the Big Apple Circus and walking in New York Fashion Week to symbolize Tinsley's restored confidence, but I think nothing represents Tinsley's growth quite like this final moment: allowing herself to leave New York behind and move on, no longer be defined by… things that don't really define her anymore.
Good luck in Chicago, Tinsdale. By the looks of the season preview, you have made the right decision. From what I understand, editing has been slowed down due to COVID-19, so RHONY will be off air for the next two weeks, and RHOBH might be on hiatus for as long as a month. As we know, the editors are the seventh/eighth/ninth official Housewives of any franchise, so let's be supportive of them in these trying times. See you back here soon!
Ramona, LuAnn, Sonja, Carole, Heather, Kristen, and Dorinda — and oh, yes, Bethenny — are in a New York state of mind.