Apparently, it takes Lady Morgan a really long time to pack. And the process is so arduous, that it must be done in total solitude and inside of an air so rarified that only she and her interns are permitted to inhale it.
This episode – which I shall call Only Sonja Morgan Has Lived the Life – begins with freezing cold rain, three stunned women, an intern who earns college credit for serving as the gatekeeper to a lunatic, and absolutely no sense. See, it’s the day the women are all leaving for Ramona’s Birthday Weekend in Atlantic City, and Sonja, who has planned the trip, refuses to allow her friends to pass the time indoors while she takes her time selecting whether or not she should pack the thongs she usually wears in Telluride or the ones she likes to shimmy out of in St. Tropez. These are very tough decisions, and they cannot possibly be executed while her dear friends sit quietly at her kitchen table three floors below so she forces them to wait in the cold. They would have waited in the limo, but it has yet to arrive because the driver is still cleaning up the puke from when it was used the night before for the trashiest prom in all of the annals of history.
Dorinda and Kristen seem puzzled and annoyed by Sonja’s decree to shiver in the rain, but Heather is not feeling either of those emotions. No, Heather is fucking pissed – and she has every reason to be, especially when she reveals that there have been countless times when she has personally guided an intoxicated Sonja back to her home, lugged her up the stairs she’s not even permitted to glance at today, and then placed her friend safely into bed. I’ll get back to Heather’s justified anger in just a second, but who else here is even more furious that she is that there is no footage of Heather lugging a dead-weight-and-filled-to-the-brim-with-vodka Sonja home? How dare these cameramen not follow Sonja all year round, including the months when the show is not in production? How is it that we have been forced to endure all of these scenes with Dorinda’s prominently-browed daughter and her sweaty, smoochy boyfriend but we never got to see the good stuff?
None of it makes sense. If the kitchen is off limits to Sonja’s guests, can they not spend over an hour reclining in the interns’ room, one I expect is stacked with bunk beds closely shoved together? Seriously: what is Sonja’s fucking problem?
When the limo finally does arrive curbside, it is white and loaded with flashing neon lights and even when I was seventeen, I would have taken one look at that thing and thought it was the tackiest car in all of creation. It makes perfect sense then that Ramona, who just arrived, behaves with absolutely no modicum of class and begins to shriek to the driver who is hauling their luggage into the trunk that she needs a wine opener stat.
Please join me in a quick prayer that one of her birthday gifts will be a bedazzled corkscrew that she can keep on her keychain or stuff into her cleavage.
Bethenny is running late too, but she slips frantically into the limo and begins apologizing profusely and that’s really all it takes for the women to forgive her because 1) she apologized and 2) only one person on the trip can be elected Head Asshole and Sonja is currently wearing that crown because someone in Gstaad once told her that she looks pretty and young when she has something jeweled stuck on top of her head – though to be fair, the person who told her that was probably her when she gazed at herself drunkenly one evening in a mirror.
At 11:42, Sonja finally makes her way outside and it looks like one of her interns forgot to remind her to pack an apology. Not only is an apology not forthcoming from her lips, but she is furious that the women are annoyed with her. She planned the trip! She ordered this hideous limousine! What more do these women want from her? Well, Heather would like an apology and so does Kristen, and I think it could very well be the two enormous necklaces Kristen is wearing around her neck that are giving her the bravery to confront the incredibly delusional woman before them. But before any of us can explore Kristen’s new superpowers or wonder about where she got those necklace talismans (my money’s on Luann), Ramona briefly loses her shit and screams “I can’t!” three times because she is sick of listening to Sonja and Heather argue and she has been through far too much to handle any of this nonsense and “so has Bethenny,” who looks reluctant to be dragged into this mess in any way, even through empathy.
Speaking of Bethenny, she’s having her best episode so far, and by that I mean that I haven’t imagined at all any of the household items I own that could be fashioned into a muzzle should she ever walk into any room I happen to be in. (I’m still considering my options, but the cord on my vacuum cleaner keeps spinning into the forefront of my mind.) She tries to explain to Sonja – who I’m beginning to see as less loopy and more as seriously troubled – that she should apologize, and she goes so far as to have Sonja repeat after her words that when strung together make up an I’m-sorry sentence. Bethenny even goes so far to tell Sonja where to place the comma because Bethenny might not always be likeable, but she managed to pass freshman English, a class Sonja never went to because the teacher once told her that there was no such thing as a sexy J.
Apropos of just about nothing, Sonja explains to Bethenny that she has “friends around the world who lay out the red carpet for me, sending me tickets to come to Dubai, Gstaad, Telluride.” I can only imagine that these friends are the kind of people who enjoy the company of an escort with a superiority complex, but I’m still of the belief that they probably allow her entrance into their homes instead of leaving her out on a construction-filled street like she did to her own friends. But Bethenny doesn’t care about any of that. She is taking on the thankless job of trying to explain to a crazy person that speaking that way makes her sound pretentious and name-droppy. “Those are my contacts,” muses Sonja, still not getting it, and when Bethenny tries one more time to explain that Sonja sounds full of shit when she says that – “all show and no go,” – Sonja nods sagely at Bethenny’s wisdom and agrees that the other women cannot possibly understand because “they haven’t lived the life.”
“Don’t say that either,” advises Bethenny, but I’d like a bit of clarification before the absurd sentences cease completely. Is “living the life” another way of saying “they didn’t sleep with a senior citizen because he has more money than God and was able to get me out of my job as a hostess so that I could become an impersonator of someone who actually has some class”?
What can I tell you? Linguistics interests me.
On the other side of the car, Dorinda is in mild shock at how vicious and cruel these women are to one another, which is always the kind of thing the new girl says and the only one I’d ever believe actually feels that kind of shock by what is occurring before her is a Housewife who, prior to joining the cast, lived in a tree trunk in the wilderness with only an owl for company. I mean, come on; Dorinda has seen this show! She had to know on some level what she was getting herself in to.
That said, Dorinda does have some excellent advice when the time comes and Bethenny has to pee so badly that she might explode so the car pulls onto the side of the road so she can squat.
“Don’t use a wet wipe on your vagina!” warns Dorinda. She swears the wipe will do something like sting, and I don’t use wet wipes myself, but I shall take Dorinda’s warning to heart and avoid ever placing a wet wipe anywhere near my nether regions because stinging is never how I want it to feel and just like how my niece once randomly said when she was two years old, “I love my vagina,” I love mine too and I only want it to feel happy.
After Bethenny got her squat on, Ramona tries to pee too but she just can’t make it happen. Maybe if she’d gone to camp or spent more time in the Berkshires doing anything but trying to hail a private jet, she would have learned some outdoor skills. It really might have been to her benefit. I’m a camp girl myself and I’m quite certain I could fashion a wine opener out of a twig, a piece of bark, and half of a pine cone in thirty seconds flat.
It’s called having skills.
When the limo of doom finally winds its way to the front circle of the hotel in Atlantic City, the women spill out of the car and most of them shriek with glee. I’m not sure if it’s being out of a car with Sonja that’s making them so delighted or if maybe they really enjoy being in a place where the sound of ringing is not just inside of their own heads, but either way they seem thrilled to have arrived. Some upper-level guy from the hotel greets them (which gives the establishment a nifty bit of product placement and means that there’s not a snowball’s chance in the fiery depths of a roaring Hell that any of these women paid a dime for this trip) and escorts them to the two suites, and Bethenny – who has already had enough and she has just gotten there – would be more than happy if her room was the broom closet just so she can get a fucking moment’s peace.
After almost flooding the entire bathroom with Jacuzzi jets gone awry, Heather is happy to open the door to the suite and see Carole and Luann. I don’t believe it’s ever explained how they got to Atlantic City, so to amuse myself, I am going to imagine that a magician who roams the hallways of the place conjured them up and was of course assisted by the finest magician’s assistant in all the land, Adrienne Maloof, a former Housewife on the Beverly Hills installment of this towering franchise who appeared this season at a terrifying party where she was made to emerge from behind a satin curtain by a magician who I know nothing about except for the fact that I would never ever sleep with him.
Heather tells Luan and Carole about Sonja’s rudeness earlier, but there’s not a whole lot of time to dwell because it’s time for dinner and more drinks and yet another Skinny Girl label thrown into the frame because I think that somewhere in Bethenny’s contract is a clause that if one of her bottles does not appear in the shot every twelve minutes like she has set up a goddam egg timer, she will walk away forever and then how will Sonja end up with free booze?
We’ll get to the emotional dinner in just a moment, but first it’s time for a brief intervention with Kristen. You see, Kristen showed up dressed for dinner wearing two different colored Manolos, and I think we need to have a serious talk with her. Kristen, if you’re reading this, I want you to take a seat on a comfortable piece of furniture and grip the hand of the person in your house who offers you the most emotional support (which would probably be your housekeeper) and listen to me very carefully as I burst a bubble that should have been punctured long ago: the only person who could sort of maybe get away with wearing two different colored shoes in public on purpose is Carrie Bradshaw and she is fictional. Yes, Carrie wore two different shoes on the ladies’ vacation to Los Angeles in season three, but she also once wore a belt around her bare waist to go try on bridal gowns and a bath loofah strapped to her head to a baby’s communion. To sum up, Carrie is not a real person and she could barely get away with some of her fashion choices and you are a real person so this nonsense needs to cease immediately.
Sitting at a long table where I can blessedly no longer see Kristen’s shoes, the women have dinner and Sonja is already drunk upon arrival. She’s so drunk that she has again rewritten her history and now instead of remembering how she was once Marc Jacobs’ imaginary muse and a movie producer for a film that was never made, she has decided that she has been in PR for all of her life and that means that she supports people and she supports artists and she has been in PR, she has been in PR, SHE HAS BEEN IN PR! To her credit, Bethenny tries to shut down this newest example of sheer delusion because here’s the thing: Sonja has not been in PR her entire life. If she had been, perhaps she would actually have a real business that she could publicize or hot water running through the pipes of her townhouse. And look: maybe people she has never met before or twenty-something models for whom English is their second language believe the sheer fiction she spins, but women who have known her for years cannot be required to listen to such bullshit and not explode. They just can’t.
Sonja’s reaction to Bethenny telling her she has not been in PR her entire life and that she is not a fairy princess with her very own lavender unicorn is to burst into tears – and the rest of the women kind of come to Sonja’s defense! Ladies, this is called enabling and it’s not an attractive look on anybody. And Kristen, even though Sonja is currently losing her entire mind over cocktails, don’t think I have forgotten about your shoes.
After an enjoyable dinner where I think I saw one person maybe nibble on a bit of edamame, it’s time for the gambling. Drunk off their asses, Ramona and Sonja bond again because nothing says true friendship like being loud and obnoxious in public and they become those two women everybody always sees at a casino or at a bar or at the fucking circus who scream too loudly and laugh too heartedly for it to be anything but fake for them and annoying to everybody else. At another table (but still within shrieking range of the drunkest blondes) Bethenny is gambling and she is losing and she could care less and it’s not just because she’s rich. She just needs to sit quietly at a table and stare at cards before going back for more so she can hear that Sonja also has a degree in neuroscience and has been performing surgeries for her entire life on astronauts.
And then it’s dancing time. Ramona hits the dance floor and all of the women join her and they are having a nice time and I am just choosing to ignore the fact that Carole is wearing glorified bunny ears on top of her head and that she waxed poetic earlier about the joy of hickeys while reclining on a couch as makeup was applied to a face that looks markedly different than it did last season. I like Carole – or at least I want to like Carole. She used to be both fun and yet still refined, right?
Is it possible that I imagined the entire thing?
Slumped in a banquette towards the end of the night, Sonja again begins to tell Bethenny her adventures in PR, and that’s when Bethenny decides she’s has quite enough and she gets up and just leaves Sonja drooling alone. Dorinda finally steps in and hauls Sonja back to her hotel room. I know I’m sometimes one to engage in a little thing called hyperbole, but this is not one of those times and when I say that Sonja could barely walk and could hardly speak beyond a slur, I am not kidding. It was gross to watch. If I liked Sonja more, it might be sad to watch. But it’s just very hard to get it up for a woman who, once back in the room, opens yet another bottle of wine and then warbles that she used to be a model in the United Arab Emeritus and that she used to party with Madonna and John-John Kennedy all the time, which I think must be how she got to record her pop album while also becoming a magazine publisher, stories we can hear about the next time she is intoxicated beyond reason or comprehension.
As far as Dorinda is concerned, her birthday present to Ramona was taking care of her best friend, but Sonja greets the morning happy and somewhat clear-headed. She feels badly that she fought with Bethenny the night before, so she goes to Bethenny’s room and is greeted with a hug before Bethenny gently asks her to sit down so they can have a talk. Before launching into the message that she needs to stop glugging down alcohol after taking pills and maybe even deal with the root of the problem, Bethenny first gives Sonja every compliment on the planet so that when she finally speaks the harsh truth, maybe Sonja will know it’s coming from someone who cares about her. It’s a wise way to go about it and I applaud Bethenny for her direct nature and her honesty here, but the entire thing reminds me of a story I once heard about John Belushi. Belushi had a very bad drug problem and there would be all these people who would sit him down and have long, emotional conversations with him and they believed they had broken through and that maybe something would change. I find no fault with good people trying to save someone they care about from almost-certain devastation, but I also remember as the key part of the story that these people would then tell Lorne Michaels, “I just had a really good talk with John,” and how he would have to kind of break the news to them that they may have had a great talk – but Belushi wasn’t listening. He’d heard that message many times before and he probably used the time during your monologue to meditate or contemplate where to score later or to remind himself that he needed to buy milk. And I see this Bethenny/Sonja moment much the same way. Bethenny is clear and she is compassionate and she is correct about everything she is saying, but Sonja is not listening and doesn’t think she has a problem and she is not taking pills, she is taking vitamins, and she and her geriatric ex-husband were very much in love once.
And on the image of Bethenny wrapping Sonja tightly in her arms while telling her that she needs some help, Sonja wonders if she should offer to be the head of PR for Skinny Girl Cocktails and the episode ends. Next week it looks like we’re still in Atlantic City and that the fight the women attend will include the boxer’s saliva-drenched mouth guard landing at Kristen’s feet.
For the love of all that is good and holy, please let those feet be cloaked in a pair of shoes that is just one fucking color.