I’m just going to say it: when Bethenny and Luann sat down to have a drink on last night’s episode of The Real Housewives of New York City, I got a little lump in my throat and something resembling wetness formed in the corners of my eyes. I could blame it on allergies, sure – or maybe on the fact that I only pretend to dust – but I think it’s just fair that I acknowledge that I actually felt a little emotional watching these two women – foremothers of the show both – coming together out of friendship and esteem and because production told them they had to sit down together for at least five straight minutes.
Oh, it was glorious!
Yes, Bethenny is back on the Housewives, and I’m going to go out on a limb during this first episode of what’s bound to feel like an endless season and make the call that she is exactly where she belongs. Bethenny has always been at her best on this show in the way she often wasn’t on her own spinoff or on that godforsaken talk show Ellen Degeneres gave her for Christmas one year. On her own – away from the crazy people – Bethenny came off as shrill and impossible to please and frenetically hyperactive. But on the Housewives – where everyone is far more insane than she is – she comes off beautifully as the lone voice of reason amongst the lunatics. Her quips are funny and sarcastic and delivered in a droll patter and I really don’t care if this entire season is Bethenny complaining that she doesn’t have an apartment and then winding down by drinking one of her own cocktails with Luann. As far as I’m concerned, that scenario is far better than watching Sonja train interns to do nothing, which I’m starting to believe might be a human rights violation.
Should we all sign a petition?
So Bethenny is back and her ex-husband is squatting in the loft her millions bought and decorated so she has been relegated to Presidential suites in hotels, lugging her clothing, her dog, and her assistants with her. I can see that a good segment of the audience won’t feel a single shred of remorse for Bethenny, but I do. C’mon: it has to seriously blow that your ex-husband refuses to leave the home your money created and it has to blow further that a divorce has lasted for longer than a marriage. I mean, I laughed out loud later in the episode when Bethenny showed her assistants the photo of her grinding with Jamie Foxx and pretended to be so nonchalant about her frequent proximity to fame, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hope that one day she gets to pick clothing from her very own closet.
(Full disclosure: my best friend in the entire world hates Bethenny with a burning and stinging passion. She finds her an ungrateful, constantly-complaining monster and she has requested that I grow to despise the Skinny Girl too – and quickly. We’ve disagreed about important world issues like this in the past, but I’m genuinely concerned about the state of our friendship if the Bethenny Conflict is not quickly resolved. Bethenny, if you’re reading this, can you maybe look directly into the camera at some point soon and apologize to Becky for annoying her and then offer to buy her a Presidential suite of her very own? It would make my life a whole lot easier, that’s all I’m saying.)
Moving on from Bethenny and her constant feelings of displacement, we learn that Kristen and Josh are doing really well and that maybe Josh is no longer the frattiest douchebag the world has ever seen these days and the family harmony is proven when we see that the fuchsia shirt he is wearing completely matches the pants on his young daughter. It’s also lovely to see that Kristen’s daughter – who was physically struggling last year – is now able to walk, and it’s good to know that Kristen’s marriage has weathered exposing it to the world needlessly in exchange for reality show fame.
Kristen goes out to meet Carole, Heather, and Luann for dinner – but Carole will not be eating since she only ingests cucumbers, vodka, and butter these days. That’s an excellent plan since I think we all privately thought that Carole looked a little chubby during last year’s Reunion episodes, right? Look, it’s fine if emaciated women want to claim they don’t exercise, but announcing to the world that you only eat buttered cucumber slices when you’re trashed on vodka is – I think – a minor cause for concern.
But who can be so concerned about Carole’s rapidly declining BMI when Sonja has been seen plastered all over New York City? It’s gotten bad, you guys. She even interrupted Molly Ringwald’s cabaret act to introduce herself to the crowd! In the world of these women, interrupting a former teen star’s Fosse medley is grounds for death, and these women are so over Sonja and her nonsense and her imaginary toaster ovens and her slave interns and they plan to tell her exactly how they feel because that’s what friends do when there is a camera pointed at their faces.
And speaking of Sonja, she is back and she’s hauling the crazy – or, to be more accurate, she has new interns to haul the crazy. She is still in her home and her facialist is brought in to give her a placenta treatment in the garden that makes her look like one of the murderers in the movie The Strangers. And she speaks of her luxury line that is coming out soon and at this point, I’m really not sure if that line exists purely in her head in the same part of her brain where it makes sense to think that dating twenty-year-olds serves to do anything but make her appear ridiculous. Regardless, I think we can all agree that a Sonja Morgan line of luxury items – which are never really identified so it’s unclear what that line includes – might never become bestsellers and will only be given to women as a joke by their gay male friends who will then be asked, “Where is my real present?”
The only reason I cared about seeing Sonja was because I figured that she’d eventually lead us to Ramona, and eventually she did, delivering the fragile Ms. Singer to the viewers like Sonja was a stork with a baby. And now we need to talk about Ramona, and I thought it would be more fun but it’s not.
Ramona Singer has always struck me – and I believe anybody with a smidgen of hearing – as deranged. I recently went back and watched a bunch of episodes from the first season and Ramona did not grow into her crazy; Ramona has always been crazy. She did things like pop out her eyes so the whites took over almost completely and she confronted people in public for no reason whatsoever and she said awful things to every single person she came across, and I only enjoyed it when her target was Jill Zarin, a creature who still gives me nightmares that cause me to wake up screaming in fear that my home will one day be decorated like she decorated her own home.
But this Ramona – this recently-separated and emotionally-destroyed Ramona – is a new Ramona, and sad though she is, she looks fabulous. Seriously: I have no idea if it is an injectable or if she slathered her entire being in Tru Renewal, but I would like to request now that either her plastic surgeon or her entire line of skincare is stuffed into my next Christmas stocking. Perfect skin aside, Ramona is miserable and she’s sober, and I think that we were all aware that it could have gone in a totally different way. Now, not for a second do I expect her to remain sober, but it’s a literal relief to see that Ramona is a real person who runs on tears and vulnerability and regret instead of on Pinot Grigio and the abject fears of other women she claims are her friends.
Being a shitty friend is Sonja, who uses the entire lunch with Ramona to compare her own divorce to what Ramona is going through. Now look, pain is pain, but it’s hard to see the obvious commonalities between what these two women have gone through. Ramona was married for twenty-five years. Sonja was not. Ramona married a man who was in the same age bracket. Sonja’s ex-husband was about a hundred and twelve when they took their vows. Ramona’s marriage just blew into smithereens in public. Sonja’s marriage dissolved several years ago. I get that it’s nice for friends to want to indicate understanding your pain, but Sonja somehow makes Ramona’s misery all about herself and it’s kind of awful to watch.
Not getting what she needs from Sonja and being tasked with introducing the newest Housewife to the world (which means we have EIGHT official Housewives this year) Ramona goes over to Dorinda’s apartment for eggs and fruit and compassion. She is crying from the moment she walks through the door and, while she makes sure to mention that Mario begged her for another chance, her pure pain is evident and the whole thing just feels sad to watch. I am not joking when I say that I really believe that Ramona is clinically deranged, but it’s also finally evident that there’s a real human lady underneath all that posturing and I’m happy to see that Dorinda listened to her friend and offered her the support that Sonja just could not offer because one of those interns forgot to send her to lunch with her pouch of feelings.
For now, Dorinda is here to stay so we might as well get to know her before we turn on her. She is blonde and small and she has a daughter with very defined eyebrows and bones that poke through her clothing. She divorced her first husband and her second husband died after an illness, but Dorinda has bounced back by dating The Dry Cleaner to the Stars. The guy looks like Juicy Joe Guidice and can launder any of Princess Diana’s gowns with a flick of his wrist and Dorinda’s daughter and her brows do not care for him and that’s all we need to know about Dorinda for right now.
Jetting across town, we accompany Carole to a meeting with her editor. Seems Carole, despite all the sustenance she has been shoving down her throat, has not had the energy to meet any of the deadlines contractually mandated for her next book and her editor – she’s wearing glasses so we know she’s serious – is annoyed. She puts Carole on a schedule, and Carole looks slightly guilty for playing all day instead of doing any work at all.
And speaking of work, Bethenny never stops. She is looking for a workspace for her employees and she does it on camera for the Housewives show she is back on and it is a wonderful display of multitasking. She even gets help from one of the agents on Million Dollar Listing, further proving her commitment to Bravo and its desire for synergy. Good girl, Bethenny.
But though Bethenny can purchase any real estate she wants because she is drowning in money, she is not really happy. She would like to have her life settled. She wants a stable home for herself and for her daughter. She wants the man she once married who has now become a stranger to get out of the home that she built. She would maybe even like another baby, but she knows that it’s almost too late. Bethenny is struggling and there are bigger bags under her eyes than I ever remember her having and I would never claim that she is the easiest woman in the land to make happy, but despite myself, I really hope that she finds that elusive happiness.
Please don’t tell my best friend that I said that.