The time for Ramona's birthday party has finally come, and it's more disastrous than we could have ever imagined.

By Jodi Walker
July 24, 2020 at 01:30 AM EDT
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It's always fascinating to watch The Real Housewives of New York City on back-to-back nights with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and compare the two casts. These are all wealthy, status-conscious women; they are all reality stars; they all work for the same company and have the same fans and get written about on the same gossip sites. And yet, where the women of Beverly Hills are always power-grabbing for who gets to hold the steering wheel of their meticulously calibrated machine…

The New York franchise is something more akin to a runaway train set ablaze by a madman, with a caboose full of booze and a conductor asleep at the wheel, and it's all headed toward what will soon reveal itself to actually just be a picture of a tunnel painted on a boulder. These women do not care about power. But they do care about attention — and perception.

Surely only the sudden, horrifying realization that all eyes were not on her is the only thing that can explain Ramona absolutely losing her mind, breaking the fourth wall, and demanding that the producers cut the cameras (deadass) over a little dirty dancing at a private party full of only women. Of course, that's not to excuse the handful of cast members at said birthday party who couldn't just set their annoyance with Ramona aside for one night, but that's the thing about RHONY: Everyone on this train is actively setting off fireworks — it's just a matter of whose happen to be the loudest on any given day.

When that given day is Ramona's birthday party, you better believe she's going to be waving her intolerable sparklers as loudly as she possibly can. If you're wondering how long it took Ramona to say the phrase "my 50 closest girlfriends" in this episode, I counted: a mere 14 seconds after the opening credits! I don't think I've said my own name in my entire life as many times as Ramona has touted her 50 closest girlfriends in the lead-up to this the birthday party. Of all people, she's brought Leah to check out the venue with her party planner the day before the celebration. Leah asks what the theme is going to be and Ramona responds without a hint of irony: "Ramona's Living Room."

Currently, they're standing in an empty ballroom. Soon, they will be standing in a ballroom filled with lamps!

Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo

Apparently Ramona has made her party living-room-themed because, as she tells Leah, her friends don't like to sit down, they like to "move and groove." Given what's coming, with each new time Ramona reiterates to Leah how fun and fancy-free this party is going to be, it feels more and more like horror movie where the young couple is cuddled up in their car, talking about how they're going to get married one day, when really we know that a man with a hook is about to super murder them. Nothing about his party is going to be fun, and Ramona will permit exactly no moving and grooving.

I guess Ramona doesn't actually do that good of a job convincing Leah she's going to have a good time, though, given that she's also peppering in condescending remarks like "Just make sure to cover those tits" and saying it would be "very déclassé" of Dorinda and Sonja to bring up any drama. In her testimonial, Leah says, "It kind of makes me wonder what kind of women are going to be there… They're probably all Upper East Siders, lots of facelifts, and it probably looks like a MAGA rally." I guess we can add psychic to the list of Leah's many unique attributes.

And perhaps if Leah hadn't taken her second trip of the season to the Russian bathhouse, this time with her sister, the terrifying events we have headed our way might have never happened. But as they drape themselves waifishly over a hot tub, Sarah makes the mistake of telling Leah that their mother has told her she doesn't like Leah… moments after Leah has said she wants to make efforts to rebuild her relationship with her mom. Sarah also helpfully adds that Leah's face was starting to look overworked. "F— her!" Leah cries, startling a number of large men nearby. "I will get my t—s done, I will get my p— done, I will get my whole face done!"

So yeah, Leah's not in a great place going into Ramona's — her surrogate "mommy dearest" — party. In fact, it seems like everyone is in a pretty bad place except for Luann, who actually has a lovely scene visiting the Fortune Society, an organization that helps people who have just gotten out of prison get reacclimated to society. Though Luann does refer to herself as being "incarcerated" a few times in her testimonial, she thankfully goes pretty far to recognize the difference between her own arrest and, say, someone who was imprisoned for 20 years. She actually seems to be coming from a place of recognizing her privilege to have gotten out of her own situation while still having a job and people to lean on, and she wants to give back to the people at Fortune Society who haven't been afforded such opportunities. She's going to be taking some of the residents on spa days because "spa days make you feel good, and these people to deserve to feel good about themselves."

Now, prepare to shake that uplifting scene off, because we are about to descend deep into the depths of the Morgan townhouse, where Sonja seems to eternally screeching, "Why is there water here?!"

Apparently, it's time for Sonja to find a new renter, but every time she sets foot inside that townhouse, she just can't help but go full Gray Gardens. She's planning to renovate the house to "everything white, glass, brass," because that's what renters want, and financially speaking, she needs to get someone in there, like, yesterday. But I have to wonder… is selling this thing an option? I mean, I'm sure she can make more money over the long haul renting it, but is it worth never sleeping again because the toilet won't stop running? Also… can you imagine if Sonja Morgan was your landlord?

The others have noticed that Sonja seems to be especially stressed out about something, and that theory is confirmed when a Page Six article comes out saying Sonja was recently kicked out of a gay bar in Philadelphia (apparently after singing "Hello Dolly!" which is at least a pretty good way to go out). Leah and Elyse gather at Dorinda's apartment on the day of Ramona's birthday party to discuss how they can help Sonja, but conversation quickly turns to how much Ramona sucks right now. Leah tells them that Ramona told her she needed to keep her boobs covered at her party, and Dorinda loses it, screaming, "WHO IS SHE TO SAY THAT TO YOU?!"

With that performance, I assumed that Dorinda was going to be the one wildin' out at Ramona's party, but for the most part she just celebrates Ramona for the evening while secretly still being mad at her. It's Sonja who enters with an axe to grind right that very minute, and the axe is that Ramona won't stop talking about her 50 girlfriends who have supported her through thick and thin. But Sonja insists they were all her friends in the first place who she introduced to Ramona, and also that they're fake friends who don't really support her. Every time one of the friends that Sonja claims as her original acquaintance enters the party, she greets them by saying, "Pamela, who was at my baby shower 20 years ago!"

And every time anyone enters the party, the editors greet them with a "Ramona's Friend #1" chyron, all the way until they've gotten to 50. It is a delightful little constant in a party that is otherwise rife with chaos, starting with this godawful theme. The centerpiece of the party, the bar, has a giant sign on it that reads: "Everyone Goes to Ramona's Living Room."

That is not a theme — it's a whole sentence! And it might be the least catchy sentence I've heard since Dorinda's "like a mint in my mouth" tagline. Also, I've seen parties in Ramona's living room, and they are not "movin' and groovin'" — they're "gossipin' and loitering 'round the crudité table."

Additionally, Ramona has instructed everyone to wear black and she wears red, which I actually think is fine, but Luann and Sonja allegedly didn't read the invite, and Sonja shows up in full sequins. Leah does wear black, but it's a skintight sheer dress with a nude bodysuit underneath, which I assume she wore as a full "f— you" to Ramona. And good on 'er, because she looks amazing. Ramona even tells her so, but adds that her sexy dress is only okay because there are no men at the party. Leah just lets it roll off her back because, out of everyone, she seems to be most respectful of the fact that it's Ramona's birthday party, so they need to just be nice to her for this one night. Which is what makes the coming events all the more upsetting…

It really is just a perfect storm. Everyone is mad at Ramona, but it's Ramona's birthday party, so they really should lay off her. And Sonja is acting particularly outlandish, but everyone is worried about her, so they're just letting her. So when Ramona comes over to show off the Gucci clutch her other friends have gifted her "because they love to do that," at the exact moment that Sonja is opening up to Dorinda and Luann about how scared she is about the state of her townhouse, things finally erupt. And by that, I of course mean that Sonja calls Ramona a "pocketbook slut," and tells her to "get the f— out of here."

Ramona tosses the purse and sits down, but Sonja won't stop ranting about how Marla and Lucia were her friends first, so Ramona gets up and leaves, saying she doesn't want to argue.

And that's that. Truly, the next thing we know, people start dancing a little, and then things go to complete s—. Leah hikes up the skirt of her dress mounts a seated Luann, which Luann seems to be perfectly happy with, putting one of the giant flower decorations on Leah's head. Then Dorinda gets behind Leah and does a fairly unfortunate impression of the grinding Leah is doing, but at least they're all having fun. And then Elyse comes up behind Dorinda for a third layer of grinding…

And that's when Ramona notices all the grinding. Which, again, is taking place in a room full of women, and really seems more silly than particularly sexual to me. But Ramona disagrees. She marches over and physically pulls Leah off Luann, hissing, "Stop!" Leah tries to tell her they were just joking around, and Ramona scolds, "You have a run in your stocking," which is how I know that Leah truly flips some subconscious switch in Ramona's psyche. As Dorinda says in her testimonial, "This girl can do no right, Ramona is just waiting to pounce on Leah for anything."

Next, Leah starts kind of… spitefully sexy-dancing by herself, but it is absolutely no more vulgar than most of the dancing I've seen Ramona do on this show. And yet! It completely sets Ramona off, and she hisses again, "Stop it, you're dancing like a stripper." Leah yells back, "You're being psychotic," and it really is so much like a scene between a dysfunctional mother and rebellious daughter, it's almost like they're acting. But we're easily reminded that they are, in fact, participating in a reality show because Ramona flies across the room, screaming, "Get the f—ing producers here, we are done — SHUT IT DOWN!"

Everyone else starts kind of trying to stand up for the fact that Leah hasn't done anything wrong — which Sonja does in her own special way by getting up on a mirrored tray and smashing into shards in her stilettos — which makes Ramona even angrier, and she's yelling at the producers: "I'll quit the show, okay, I'm DONE! Cameras down, we're done, get production here!"

I don't know how a little dirty dancing is the thing that finally broke Ramona, but I can only assume it has something to do with her 50 closest girlfriends. But you know how the old saying goes: That's just what happens when Everyone Goes to Ramona's Living Room.

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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.
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