The Real Housewives of New York City recap: The dancing fish in the room
We do not deserve Leah McSweeney. Listen, I know she's not perfect. I know she nearly lit Ramona's yard on fire that time, and she has wings tattooed on her pelvis because "it can flyyyy," and I know, "I'll apologize for what I've done, but never for who I am" is a slightly problematic mantra to live by.
But Leah has breathed air into the sails of The Real Housewives of New York City that I didn't even know the franchise needed. RHONY is on its 12th season, and with one word — one word! — Leah has flayed Ramona Singer's entire character open and exposed her for filth. "How?" she asks Ramona when Ramona keeps insisting that Leah's actions have hurt her beyond measure. "How, Ramona?" Leah asks when Ramona says Leah's behavior at her birthday party was so disgusting that she can't even talk about it. "HOW?" Leah asks when Ramona says that she ran her mouth about Leah's mental health issues because she was trying to come up with some excuse to explain how Leah could hurt her so badly…
Because Ramona doesn't have an answer — and Leah knows it. Yes, Leah hiked up her skirt and grinded on Luann's lap a little at Ramona's all-important 63rd birthday party… and that could potentially have been reason enough for Ramona to whisper in Leah's ear, "Could you tone it down a touch, there are a number of elderly women here and I don't want anyone to try your moves out themselves and break a hip since I didn't provide a dance floor, and my party theme was Living Room, so everyone is forced to precariously sway on this carpet instead of actually dancing." But Leah's brief party-girl dance moves were no reason for Ramona to start screeching at the production staff to cut the cameras, threaten to quit the show, kick Leah out of her party, and then have her winged monkeys of the Upper East Side scour Leah's blog for ammunition against her.
No, Ramona's reaction is indicative of something deeper, and everybody knows it. And Leah is going to make Ramona say it. Or at the very least, she's not going to let Ramona get away with not saying it. Dorinda actually hits the nail on the head when she tells Leah, "I think Ramona is threatened by you… You're almost 30 years younger than she is, you're thin, you're beautiful, and you own the one thing she can't have: youth."
You've gotta love the New York women consistently reading each other like books, and reading themselves like Wingdings in size-6 font.
Ramona's solution to losing her mind on Leah at her party is to completely ignore her. Which is pretty awkward since the very next day, the entire crew is gathering at the spa day Luann is hosting for the women of Fortune Society, who are so gorgeous and gracious and do not deserve to have these hungover banshees crashing their relaxation event. But for the most part, the women seem pretty entertained by all the blondes roaming around, ranting and raving in this small salon space. And at least Ramona being distracted means she can't keep awkwardly asking them how long they've been out of prison and then burst a blood vessel trying to feign empathy.
For some reason, Ramona seems not at all upset with Sonja, who we last saw making a tossed salad out of a mirrored table, using her stilettos as tongs. She just wants Sonja to remember what she did, whereas she wants Leah to rue the day she was born for daring to dance at a birthday party. But when Leah realizes that Ramona's response to their fallout is going to be ostracizing her, she is having exactly none of it. "I've seen Ramona's nasty side firsthand," Leah says in her testimonial as the editors flash back to a scene from Rhode Island where Ramona made a huge point of saying they all had such wonderful daughters, listing off Sonja's daughter, Luann's daughter, and so on one-by-one, until finally Leah said, "What about my daughter?" and Ramona sniped back, "I don't know your daughter."
That was the last time Ramona decided to punish Leah for what she deemed to be bad behavior, but this time is clearly different. Mostly because the other times, Leah has been willing to defer to Ramona as her elder, but this time, Ramona has gone too far and Leah has caught on to the pattern. As Sonja and Ramona are talking, Leah arrives and hovers over them until Sonja looks up, while Ramona refuses to even look at her. So Leah interrupts a totally unconnected question that Sonja has just asked and offers an answer: "That's because Ramona is a terrible person and everybody knows it — she's a bitch who doesn't support women, she's a phony, and she singles me out, and you're one of her best friends, and she still treats you like s— because that's Ramona."
With that, Leah exits the spa day…
And we're off to Mexico! Truly, the women go from a full meltdown at Ramona's birthday party to a nuclear fallout between Ramona and Leah at Luann's event straight to an international vacation at one of the most luxurious villas in Housewives history. There is a huge staff that comes along with the house "Dorinda" has "booked," and Ramona looks like an actual cartoon dog licking her chops with each new potential torture victim she lays her eyes on. She manages to be the first one in the house, where she spies a line of house staff waiting to greet them and cries out, "It's like servants galore here!"
If at any point during this recap you think I'm being too hard on Ramona, I urge you to watch any scene ever where she interacts with a member of the service entry. The woman is a monster zipped into an Upper East Side skin suit, who inexplicable wore a pair of kitten heels with athletic leggings to travel from New York to Mexico, and I am both forever indebted to and will never forgive Leah for pointing that out to us.
Sonja and Ramona briefly lie on the beach by themselves, where Ramona again talks about how "disappointed" and "hurt" she is with "the way Leah behaved" at her birthday party. Sonja asks what exactly it is that Leah did because Sonja was so drunk she tangoed a mirror into glitter and doesn't remember it. But Sonja's not the only one who's asked. Luann and Dorinda — who were also at the exact same party, and in the grind line that made Ramona screech to cut the cameras (deadass) — have also been asking Ramona if they missed exactly what it is that made Leah's behavior at her party so abhorrent. And each time, Ramona says something along the lines of: "I don't even want to say what she did, it's so awful."
Because I think Ramona knows that if she says the thing that Leah did was dance a little dirty, she'll sound like an idiot for getting so upset. I think Ramona doesn't even really know what made her so angry, but by God she is going to transition that anger into hurt and disappointment so she can get sympathy over Leah, and by God does Sonja fall right into her trap. In her testimonial, Sonja says she agrees with Ramona that Leah should have been on her best behavior at an event where she didn't know anyone: "There are certain events you go to and you have to reel it in until they know you better. You can't go in there and pull your dress up… unless you're Sonja Morgan."
The same Sonja Morgan who got kicked out of a gay club in Philadelphia last weekend where she presumably did not know anyone? That Sonja Morgan? Do you know what you have to do to get kicked out of a gay bar when you're Sonja Morgan? Me either, but it's certainly more déclassé than grinding a little, I know that.
But even if Ramona wanted to be mad at Leah wildin' out at her living-room-themed birthday party, she has no right to be hurt. The one with a right to be hurt is Leah. Because before they left for Mexico, when Ramona went to see Sonja's new Century 21 display, Ramona told her matter-of-factly: "Leah shouldn't be drinking, because y'know what, I found out she's bipolar and she's on medication, and you can't mix alcohol with meds. It's very dangerous." How did Ramona find out this information, you might wonder? Well, as she tells it, "A lot of my girlfriends, they read things on the internet — I don't have time to go on the internet, but they do — and they go, 'Listen, this Leah girl writes a blog, and on her blog she says she's bipolar,' and I was like, 'Aha, that explains it all!'"
Hey, Ramona's girlfriends, I hope you're on the internet reading this, because I have message for you: You suck, and so do your boring parties.
Right before the flight to Mexico, Sonja lets it slip to Leah that in addition to telling the whole Upper East Side that Leah showed her vagina at her party, Ramona is telling people that Leah is bipolar and mixing pills with alcohol. "Which I find repulsive as f—," Leah tells Dorinda that night before dinner. Seconded! Leah introduces us to the other golden rule: "Don't talk about my vagina, and don't talk about my mental health!"
Leah says in her testimonial that she was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder on her 30th birthday, and she's spent the last seven years working to get it under control and get herself in a good place, and that she's not even on medication for the disorder right now: "So for Ramona to even be talking about it in this way is despicable." Dorinda says that Ramona has two methods of trying to get under someone's skin: "Sophomoric narcissism or a complete smear campaign — and this is a smear campaign." Man, when Dorinda is defending someone other than herself… and she's not eyeballs deep in rosé… and not screaming or spitting food… she is unstoppable.
Before dinner, Ramona appears to be having someone on the villa staff curl her hair??? Do we think that woman was on the staff specifically to assist with hair, or that Ramona stomped downstairs in her kitten heels and screeched, "Who knows how to work a curling iron?" This poor woman is somehow in for something far worse though, when it's revealed that for no apparent reason, Sonja is suddenly and completely sloshed. There is a scene where she appears to… eat an unidentified object directly off the bed, which was perhaps a pill. Then she throws off the covers, revealing herself to be entirely naked, marches into the bathroom, and sits her bare ass on a chair to have her hair curled.
This, Ramona is completely fine with, which Dorinda points out the hypocrisy of in her testimonial after going upstairs and discovering the state Sonja is in, which Ramona is just laughing at. "Whatever Ramona rules at that moment, goes!" Dorinda cries. "Drunk and naked, getting your hair done? DING, I deem that okay! Are you getting a drink? DING, you're an alcoholic! Crop top? DING, you're a whore!"
Eventually, Sonja puts a dress on while mumbling about f—ing a New York Ranger, and Ramona toddles around the kitchen barking every fact she knows about ceviche at the house staff in order to avoid talking to Leah. But they have to sit down at the dinner table eventually, where Sonja starts rambling about Leah and Ramona right in front of them, so Luann says it's time to address "the fish in the room."
Leah says she doesn't have much to say to Ramona, except, "I'm really disappointed that you would talk about my depression issues behind my back as a way to belittle me when I've actually overcome them." Ramona scoffs, saying, "Maybe I'm just trying to make an excuse for your behavior and how you hurt me." In unison, everyone asks what behavior Ramona is referencing. "Never mind, just forget it," she coos, with that creepy smile she uses when she knows she's caught and is trying to act above it all. Sonja slurs to Leah, "Ramona told me you were bipolar, that's why you were acting like that."
"Acting like what?" Leah says calmly. And it is really incredible the lengths to which Ramona goes to not give a single detail about what it is that Leah did that upset her so much. Leah keeps asking Ramona how she hurt her, and Ramona keeps responding things like, "The fact that you don't get it hurts me more," and, "If you don't get it, I can't explain it to you." Y'know… the words of a middle school mean girl just learning to dip her toes into the waters of emotional terrorism. In her testimony, Leah says, "She's clearly trying to deflect the situation and gaslight me because I 'hurt her so badly,' but she can't seem to tell me how I hurt her."
It's pretty wild to watch Leah stand her ground in the face of such grand delusion, and I respect the hell out of it. Sonja, who has somehow been defending Ramona's position to be upset with Leah this whole time, slurs to Leah, "Ramona cares about you," and Ramona snaps back at her sole ally (currently sipping rosé mixed with Coke), "Sonja you're drunk, so like, don't get involved." Could this be the season Ramona Singer finally signs her own pink slip? According to the editors: TO BE CONTINUED.
Ramona, LuAnn, Sonja, Carole, Heather, Kristen, and Dorinda — and oh, yes, Bethenny — are in a New York state of mind.