It’s June! And the total awareness of my looming days of bliss during whence I shall sleep until the sun comes up and then frolic along beaches with my puppy and a particularly adorable man has left me feeling both exhilarated and rather selfless – and that reverberating sense of positivity has translated into a desire to help others. Seeing as I am unable to do shit like save lives, I will instead pay it forward by imparting the most essential wisdom I have gathered over the course of my life to my favorite online friends so you too can achieve some of what this momentary sense of nirvana feels like:
1. You can tell someone is a truly good friend when you don’t have to question his or her capacity for loyalty for even a second.
2. Nothing can benefit your life more than getting a good education – unless you can get sponsored by Peter Thiel, because that guy has your future covered so long as you never want that future to include a job at Gawker.
3. The people in your life you view as crazy are probably legitimately crazy and the lunacy they project daily as adults can likely be traced back to a very shitty day in middle school from which they have yet to recover. Do not try to reason with these people. In fact, it’s probably best not to look them directly in the eye or feed them after midnight either.
4. Most of the finest shows nowadays will never air on network television. Basic and premium cable are your real friends and that means you should tune in to Lifetime for UnReal, USA for Mr. Robot, Showtime for The Girlfriend Experience, and Netflix for everything else.
5. When a man tells you that he almost gets into a fight every single time he enters a bar, he’s either lying or he’s psychotic – or he’s both, which makes him a lying psychopath who probably slumbers atop a bed made out of diaphanous red flags.
6. Layer cake tastes way better when it’s kept in the refrigerator.
7. Doing squats correctly hurts like a motherfucker. Doing Pilates correctly hurts like a motherfucker who is going through heroin withdrawal.
8. Only tell the handful of people you really trust the whole truth and just smile affably at everyone else because those people don’t really care how you are or what you think. Save your time and energy for the people who matter.
9. Try not to call a television show “preposterous” when speaking to the show’s producer.
10. See Hamilton as soon as you possibly can. Know how it’s been touted as being the single greatest thing ever to hit Broadway? That hype is real.
11. Shrug off the inconsideration someone directs at you because you’re strong and you can handle it, but refuse to forgive someone for all of eternity if that inconsideration is aimed at a member of your family – at least if it's a member of your family you actually like.
12. The thread count of sheets matters tremendously.
13. If an opportunity presents itself that both excites and terrifies you, do it. You’ll figure it out as you go and really, as long as you appear confident, people will think you actually know what you’re doing.
14. Don’t even bother trying to straighten your hair when the humidity level hits 60% or higher. Also, only date men who love their air conditioners as fervently as they love their mothers or their pets.
15. For the love of all that is fucking holy, don’t ever RSVP “yes” to a holiday party thrown by a Real Housewife.
It's this last point I think we need to explore. Honestly, I get that having to scream at people you pretend are your friends while nibbling flaxseed crackers covered in brie is probably written somewhere into these women’s contracts and maybe it’s all been going on for so long that the fury one must muster up to fully engage in a scuffle almost feels detachable by now, like it’s something you can simply slip it off when you go home along with your Spanx. But still – I remember seeing the previews for this week's episode and realizing there would be a holiday fiesta thrown by Ramona and I had to ask myself this very question: After the ceaseless stress both endured and inflicted at Dorinda’s overnight soirée, what kind of fucking lunatic would head back out for more? Is the lure of those cameras and the attention that comes with it really that seductive? Do these women honestly have no possible way to earn an income other than by screaming the word "whore!" into another adult's face? Who can we even blame this vicious cycle on anymore? Should we direct our aggression towards Andy Cohen or Bravo in general? Might this odd desire for pure infamy date back to the terrifying days when Paris Hilton became famous for doing absolutely nothing at all and a whole fleet of people then rushed in a blind stampede to follow in that dipshit's flashbulb-illuminated footsteps? Sure, I could toss out the possibility that maybe we should blame ourselves for tuning in to this televised travesty, but it’s so much easier to project blame than accept it. Just ask Sonja!
It'll take us a little while to even get to Ramona's party, one I'm guessing will be steeped in the kind of shrieking that always pairs so nicely with Pinot. But first we must go back to Dorinda's house so Bethenny can confront Luann for continuing to talk shit about her while wearing what appears to be a grey onesie I'm praying is not her daughter's. And we start exactly where we left off – time stamp and everything – with Luann, Bethenny, and Dorinda in the kitchen. I’m not quite sure when Luann slipped into her sequined top (and I’m furious that moment wasn’t also time stamped), but I suppose the only thing that really matters here is the way Bethenny declares Luann a liar and a hypocrite since she bangs younger gentlemen all the time yet berated Carole for dating a guy who attended his prom only ten years ago. Bethenny also thinks it’s insane that Luann is pretending she can be of any legitimate help to Sonja and if she hears the Countess maintain one more time that she was in any way involved in the genesis of Skinnygirl, Bethenny will knock her ass and her sequins clear into next Sunday.
Joining the melee next is Carole. She too takes Luann to task for criticizing her relationship, a comment Luann finds so very silly since it was almost a year ago when she declared a fatwa on Carole over Twitter. Don’t these bitches get over anything? “Just own your shit,” Bethenny almost begs Luann while Dorinda roots through her game cabinet and selects Twister to play with Jules while the sound and the fury is still abounding in the next room.
Think last week was rough? Please. That shit was nothing compared to Bethenny informing Luann that she’s the type of woman that nobody wants to leave her man with lest Luann mount that man in or around a coat closet. This is a criticism Luann will not accept! She has never stolen anyone’s man! Oh, those guys she borrowed from Sonja? Sleeping with the same men is a clause she had written into the mentor/mentee contract! And speaking of her impressionable client, Sonja is back in the city feeling sorry for herself while performing for her stylist. The show on the docket tonight is “Caring Mother,” and Sonja performs her role well by searching through her cupboards for half-eaten food items to send to her daughter in a care package. It takes a fleet of interns to pull off the intricate action of packing a box and trying to decipher if a small blue object is a sex toy or part of a phone charger and this entire scene just makes me feel sad. Can we please go back to rich women disparaging one another about their sex lives?
Also: Sonja makes the decision she’s going to stop drinking so her friends will deign to be seen with her again. Oh, and she has really bad body odor.
Back in the land of sunshine, Bethenny apologizes for verbally lunging at Luann while still making the point that it’s not really her fault for getting so crazy. The real problem is that Luann brings terrible shit out in her and she should know that Ramona doesn’t want to even tell Luann who she’s dating! “That’s because I’m dating the man she would like to date,” whispers the woman whose sequins will surely soon swoop together to form a gigantic sparkly A clear across her chest. But Bethenny is incorrect – at least according to the accused. All of her friends trust her implicitly around their husbands – and their masculine-looking female buddies! Seeking whatever form of amnesty she can get her hands on, Luann turns to Dorinda to have her back in the matter but poor Dorinda is preoccupied with searching for kindling so she can burn her fucking house down and be put out of her misery.
“You’re compiling a list and checking it twice to take me down,” Luann thunders. “Why?” Well Santa, despite the fact that you speak of yourself in the third person while wearing more bronzer than a transvestite with an uneven skin tone, these women have had it with your demented actions. Since denials aren’t working to get people to stop yelling nuggets of truth directly at her, Luann begins to explain that she’s worried about Sonja and she fears that being excluded by the others might lead to something really bad. They all agree on a temporary truce so they can eat some lasagna before they can slam their heads into a wall in an effort to maybe get a concussion that will knock them out and they can go to sleep and finally be rid of one another, but that plan is shot to hell when the real Santa wanders in the front door. Please don’t let John be underneath that beard, I actually said out loud, and it turns out that prayer works because it’s a woman wearing that costume and she arrives with a sack of presents! They all get personalized goblets big enough to hold an entire bottle of wine. It’s a sweet gesture, but maybe a rather misguided one. Why not just hand each person a machete and scream “Go!”
Carole finally has enough and leaves the room while Luann and Bethenny apologize to one another again – but I’m guessing these apologies don’t really matter because they keep debating why women don’t trust Luann. Hey! Let’s ask Ramona why she won’t reveal the name of the person she’s dating to the shimmering woman now sitting before her! And speaking of Ramona, whatever combination of pills she’s on these days is working and I’d like a copy of each one of her prescriptions because she is relatively calm and always smiling like someone with good scruff and great shoulders just went down on her and I am enjoying Ms. Singer more than I have in, well, ever. But to answer Luann’s question, Ramona explains that Luann always wants attention from every man, even the ones who have captured the interest of her friends. This is not a charge Luann will take lying down. In fact, she will not take this charge while on her knees either, not when Ramona does the same exact thing and it’s even been captured on camera so it can be used as visual evidence at Housewife Reunions for all of eternity.
“You get like a barracuda,” Bethenny exclaims – and Luann fucking earns her season’s salary at that exact moment by reacting with a hair toss and a Bette Davis laugh. Brava, Luann – seriously.
Morning dawns and Luann heads out for a brisk walk because she knows squirrels won’t tell her she’s a whore. Carole and Bethenny cuddle in bed and agree they would never speak to one another again if either flung even one of the insults they launched Luann’s way the night before. They can’t believe Luann is even willing to sit in a room and share oxygen with them after all they said to her! Meanwhile, Jules and Dorinda chat in another bedroom about how Jules got so wrapped up in the fighting that surrounded her yesterday that she forgot she has children.
As Luann places bacon on a griddle, Bethenny pulls on her jacket over her pajamas so she can get herself as far away from the asylum as humanly possible. I sort of hoped she’d shimmy down a vine of ivy outside her bedroom window, but she’s content to pack her bags, run into the driveway without saying goodbye, and only returns after Luann catches her. Ramona and her meds believe Bethenny’s goodbye was more than acceptable, but Luann is irritated and so is Dorinda.
Back in the city, Jules is struggling terribly. How do women live without nannies? She has no time for herself! She hasn’t even had a chance to shave and now you can put weave her armpit hair into a lovely fishtail braid! In more positive news, she has finally learned how to make a cup of coffee. While Jules congratulates herself for mastering the complexity of a Mr. Coffee machine, Carole arrives at Bethenny’s apartment and digs into some avocado toast. The two then discuss whether or not Bethenny was slut-shaming Luann and, unpopular though my opinion might be, I’m in agreement with Bethenny here. She does not seem to judge Luann for her very healthy sexual appetite and her rather indiscriminate selection process when it comes to men. Her issue is that Luann presents herself as refined and conservative while actually being quite the opposite. As for Carole, she doesn’t believe Luann’s apology for calling her a pedophile was sincere and she’s relatively certain there are ghosts whizzing through the corridors of Dorinda’s Berkshires home.
Later that night is Ramona’s Christmas party, the one I still cannot believe anyone went to on purpose. The hostess looks lovely, as does the venue, which is decked out to look rustic and inviting. Luann is the first to show up in a brocade jumpsuit that is so hideous that I don’t think I can describe it without a thesaurus, so I’ll get back to you on that, though I’m leaning towards calling that crimson tragedy “ghastly.” As Ramona attempts to avert her eyes from the Project Runway castoff in her midst, she explains to Luann that she must apologize to Carole and then tell Sonja to make up with Bethenny. Luann follows that advice and sits down with Carole and Bethenny and politely attempts to make small talk, but Bethenny cannot even pretend that she’s not searching the premises for anything that she might be able to quickly turn into a noose. Her annoyed reaction strikes me as rather over the top. Bethenny, listen to me closely. Just look over at the woman, smile with your mouth closed, have a drink, and then tell everyone you know later that Luann wore a red lace jumpsuit with a plunging neckline out in public. You’ll feel better, I swear.
Luann is not really there to talk to Bethenny, though. It’s Carole she is after. She wants Carole to know that she went too far in her criticisms and she’s genuinely sorry and she really misses their friendship. Carole deems the newest apology “slightly more genuine,” but I actually buy what Luann’s saying. Yes, perhaps she’s apologizing just so she can make things easier on herself, but that doesn’t also mean she’s not actually sorry. I guess what we can glean from this conversation is that Carole doesn’t miss Luann in the slightest so this apology doesn’t matter to her, Luann is completely smitten with her new taken-from-Ramona beau, and Bethenny is so talented that she can even make her insults rhyme.
Then Sonja and her trainer walk in and Luann grips her in a tight hug and whispers that she’d better talk to Bethenny immediately. Unfortunately, Bethenny would rather be Luann’s flower girl than speak to Sonja and she all but pulls on sneakers to run out of there because she’s already reached her quota of calling the people she knows fucking morons for the week. Left behind, Sonja spins more tales of delusion while Ramona – suddenly the sane one – makes gestures that indicate she believes Sonja has completely lost her marbles, a point proven to be accurate when Sonja continues to maintain that she belonged in the Berkshires and that there’s no way Bethenny would have destroyed her like Dorinda claims would have been the case. She would really like to speak with Bethenny, but she’s afraid; she doesn’t want to aggravate her any further. Thank goodness her friends are there to offer her wise advice and comfort! Luann advises her to tell Bethenny she’s dropping her fantasy alcohol line while Ramona whispers into her ear like she is a devil on her shoulder that Bethenny will never ever speak to Sonja for as long as she lives.
It’s right about then when Sonja decides she’s has enough and she stands up and begins to speak some form of gibberish I’m not even going to pretend I was able to follow, but I think part of it was that Sonja is still clamoring for an invite to a party that already transpired, one where she knows full well people fought to the fucking death and then played Twister. Why she wishes she had been there is beyond me and that means that Ramona and I are now officially soulmates because she too cannot figure Sonja out anymore and she knows a lunatic when she sees one and Sonja Morgan is one definite lunatic – and everyone knows it but her. She exits the party screaming and Dorinda wonders aloud how long it will take for her to hit rock bottom. I think we’re all wondering the very same thing and I don’t have any definite answers for you, but my gut tells me that whenever it happens, it’ll occur with a camera lens pointed straight at her face.
Next time, Luann announces that she will marry the man she has known for about sixteen hours and then invites herself on a trip to Mexico so she can be berated in the scorching sun. Please God, let a pirate who looks like Johnny Depp be in the hacienda next door! I’ll send Dorinda there ahead of time so she can make it nice.
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle.