The Real Housewives of New York City recap: Tinsley leaves a legend
Tinsley takes her final stand as a New York Housewife and, well, kind of reads Dorinda for filth on her way out.
If you can make it through a Real Housewives of New York City reunion, you can make it through anything. The echoing sounds of women screaming in that defunct Zarin Fabrics warehouse will haunt my dreams for months to come. What's worse, though, is realizing that even when the editors raise the mic of just one woman so we can hear her speak, the screams of the other women are still so loud in the background that they can never be totally silenced. I think if we listened hard enough, we could have heard a faint "Tell it allllll," echoing from seasons past. But I won't mention Bethenny, lest I upset Ramona.
The RHONY cast's ability to shift from palling around during commercial breaks to absolutely eviscerating each other the second Andy shifts the topic is unreal; it exhausts me just to watch it, and yet they seem bright-eyed and and Botox'd to the gills through all 12 hours of filming. There's almost nothing a New York Housewife takes so personally that she can't get over it and move on to the next topic. But that's always been RHONY, hasn't it? One minute they're monsters, the next minute they're sweet. They really are the Sour Patch Kids of the Bravo universe (for the record, RHOP are Skittles because of Gizelle's living room alone, and RHOBH are Lemonheads, no explanation necessary).
No matter how much they argue during the season, the New York women always seem to be able to reel it back in and forgive each other just enough to keep having fun for their paycheck and our entertainment. So that's what makes Tinsley such an interesting addition to this reunion: She already has both feet out the door, so she really has nothing to lose.
STAY MAD, SIS
Our Tinsdale has never been the best arguer. It's what made Dorinda picking on her so painful to watch because, shrill as she may get, Tinsley is mostly harmless. She's all emotional defense, no stinging offense.
And don't get me wrong — Tinsley is still is screeching at a very high pitch for most of the segment discussing Dorinda's treatment of her this season, and she doesn't exactly give Dorinda the verbal pummeling she deserves. But she does come prepared with a few concrete thoughts and ideas about why Dorinda treated her the way she did, and more importantly, she doesn't give Dorinda a single inch toward rehabbing her tarnished reputation. Because she doesn't need to — Tinsley never has to work with Dorinda again, and they both know it.
Part 2 of the reunion opens with Andy trying to get to the bottom of why Dorinda had such a bee in her bonnet about Tinsley and Scott's relationship for the last two seasons. Dorinda says over and over that Tinsley wasn't "transparent" about her relationship with Scott after they broke up, and she knew for a fact that they were still seeing each other in Chicago and Las Vegas and Argentina. Everyone pretty much says "who cares?" to that, except Ramona, who says: "What, do you have a tracking device on her?" Hey, even a broken clock is funny twice every reunion.
But I think the most absurd thing about Dorinda's claims regarding Tinsley's lack of transparency is the fact that, for years, Dorinda has had the single most confounding relationship on RHONY. Even if Tinsley wasn't sharing every single time she saw Scott, she never misled anyone about the fact that she wasn't over him — she loved that Coupon King through and through. Whereas with Dorinda, not only did the cast find out she broke up with John from an article in Page Six, but while they were dating, Dorinda was always weaving this tale about how things were soooo casual, and soooo easy, so we reeeeally didn't need to worry about John or his business or general appearance…
And then we see her in previously unseen footage screaming her brains out at him about taking money from Scott, but claiming live at the reunion that she never knew anything about any money. Who does she think she's kidding?!
Once Tinsley deployed the information bomb that Scott gave John some unknown amount of money for some unknown thing, all the pieces of this weird hatred finally into place. Before I watched part 2, I was thinking about why the mysterious money thing would have turned Dorinda on Tinsley so, and I landed on: Dorinda absolutely cannot tolerate being embarrassed. But then Tinsley stated it much better than I could, and she did so directly to Dorinda's face: "Your Achilles heel is that you can never be wrong, and it is going to be your end and your detriment."
Hot damn, look at the Midwest spine of steel on Tinsdale!
Andy asks Dorinda why she got so angry ("frothing at the mouth," as Tinsley says, continuing to serve Toddlers & Tiaras realness over from her little chair on the edge of the circle) when Leah tried to mention Tinsley in her toast at the end of the season. Dorinda claims, like she thinks it's the most reasonable thing in the world, that she didn't like the implication that Tinsley brought Leah to the show when it was Bethenny who offered her up as a casting suggestion. But as Andy points out, Leah and Tinsley had become friends before filming, so Leah did indeed come into the fray with Tinsley on her side.
And of course, as everyone in the world understands, even if Tinsley wasn't the one who brought Leah onto the show, no factual error in the world deserved the raging response that Dorinda gave it in the season finale. No, that was a rage fueled by her Achilles heel, which was triggered by Scott once giving John some money. We really did learn a lot tonight.
But my very favorite thing about this segment isn't getting to the bottom of Dorinda's nasty behavior toward Tinsley — no, it's Tinsley refusing to forgive her for it. I'm not saying that if Dorinda came to Tinsley in a few months and said she realized she mistreated her and she's truly sorry that I wouldn't want Tinsley to forgive her then. But right now, in this public reunion, when Dorinda tries to give a blanket apology about mishandling things because she clearly just wants to stop talking about it, I respected Tinsley refusing to assuage two seasons' worth of uncalled-for anger. I simply never saw any of this coming for Tinsdale, and I'm happy for her. (I also really hope that she'll give that throat a little vocal rest now.)
After all that mayhem, it's nice to watch the clip of Luann's growth this season, especially with the reminder from Andy of how the last reunion ended: with everyone super-annoyed at how self-involved Luann had been acting. We've seen Luann wear many hats, many statement necklaces, and many, many versions of herself, but as Ramona describes it, Luann truly evolved this year.
You can even see it in her response to a Jasmine from Queens celebrating her as a sober voice of reason this season. Luann says that she's really had to check in with herself and her relationship with alcohol: "Part of recovery is learning what you're able to do and what you're capable of, and there were a couple of times on the show where I was not proud of my behavior." Even when Justin from Massachusetts calls Luann out for saying multiple times that she was "incarcerated" or "on parole," she admits that those were not the right terms and she shouldn't have said them because "nothing like that has happened to me."
And then, in a moment I simply could have never predicted before this season, Luann begins to talk about how it's important for her to raise awareness around the broken prison system in this country. "They're making money off of people's misfortune, and a lot of people are in jail that should not be," she says. "It's a real issue in our country and it needs attention." And well, Luann, a Real Housewife of New York of all things, just gave it some.
YOU CAN'T SPELLY 'HORNY' WITHOUT 'RHONY'
Let's just get one more fun segment in before we have to move on to the black hole of Ramona's delusion.
Our beloved editors roll a lengthy clip package of maybe one quarter of the times that our RHONY gals were horny this season, including highlights like Luann deftly picking up those Canadians on the beach, Luann talking her way into a massage from a dog groomer, Luann striking out with a hot Italian tennis coach, and of course, Sonja collapsing on a pile of young men at Leah's party and exclaiming giddily, "I never get invited to parties with hot guys!"
At the reunion, Sonja reveals that one of those guys still calls her (perhaps for textbook money since she says he's in college), and Luann reveals that the massaging dog groomer had a wife. In a much weirder twist, Katie from L.A. asks about the handsome (if slimy) young guy, William, who we saw hanging around at multiple parties, and asks for some clarification on Ramona's relationship with him. And Ramona literally responds, "Who's William?"
She claims that she misunderstood the question because she calls that man Bill. Which could actually be true, because everyone does then start screaming about Bill, but it's just hard to match that name with that guy in the stretched-out V-necks. Still, Sonja is screaming about Bill's penis size, and Dorinda is screaming about how she is actually very good friends with Bill, and Ramona is screaming that her relationship with Bill is purely platonic, which for some reason makes Dorinda really mad.
It doesn't make me mad that Ramona is clearly lying, but I do find it such an odd move from her, since she's always desperate to be seen as a sexual and desirable woman. It seems like frequently bedding a 30-year-old would go a long way toward maintaining that persona. Perhaps ol' Bill has some details on Ramona that she'd rather not be associated with…
I really have no problem talking smack about Ramona, because we all know she's a monster. She can hide it for an episode or two, or claim that she's so proud of Lu or loves Leah like a daughter, but sooner or later Ramona is going to spread rumors about your mental health and then tell you that you should "own it and help America." That's just who she is.
Andy certainly brings up Ramona's outbursts at Leah in Rhode Island and at her birthday party, but nothing is wilder than listening to Ramona defend herself for telling people that Leah is bipolar and was drinking while on medication.
Leah explains that she wrote an article about her bipolar II diagnosis in 2016, and Ramona says that when her friend googled Leah, it came right up. "And I have friends with bipolar, I have a friend right now in the hospital," Ramona exclaims, defending…what, I'm not exactly sure. Leah says if anything, that means Ramona should have known that the way Leah was acting was just because she was dunk, not because of her bipolar disorder. And then this happens:
RAMONA: "Well, if you're bipolar and on medication, you can't drink alcohol."
LEAH: "But I'm not on bipolar medication!"
RAMONA: "Well, how would I know that?!"
That is exactly the point, Ramona! How would you know that Leah is on bipolar medication? Especially to such a degree that you think it's okay to start telling people that she's drinking on said bipolar medication! It is so infuriating, and it's only going to get worse.
Ramona tells Leah that she didn't do it maliciously, and then Leah gets really mad. She says Ramona knew exactly what she was doing and that her saying that to Sonja meant it would be on the show. Standing up out of her chair, she emotionally says that she had to have a conversation with her daughter about her diagnosis, all because Ramona brought it up on television. Unbelievably, Ramona starts screaming back: "Twelve percent of America are on antidepressants… you need to own it and help America!"
"You're gonna tell me I need to help America?!" Leah exclaims, correctly.
I don't think Leah ever tried to distance herself from the bipolar diagnosis once it was brought up, but as she tells Andy, this was her fist season in this new medium of communication with the world, and she didn't plan on bringing it up. To which, I kid you not, Ramona responds: "You're so verbal about everything else, your vagina, your this, your that — how did I know you didn't want to bring it up?"
I don't know, Ramona, maybe because… SHE DIDN'T BRING IT UP.
Dorinda and Ramona briefly get into it, but I think we have plenty more of that coming our way. So for now, let's just end things the way that Ramona and Leah do after Ramona sort of apologizes: with an awkward, unnecessary, and potentially dangerous elbow bump. See you next week!
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.