Incredibly important news came out this week – and I'm not talking about an Olympic swimmer reacting with a blithe "Whatever" upon allegedly being held up at gunpoint in Rio or the fact that there are now Swedish Fish flavored Oreos with a startling bright red cream center. (By the way, what is going on in Oreo Land? Who is doing the focus groups and reporting back that the public is dying for such revolting flavor combinations? At this point, I'm fully expecting the next edition of the Oreo to be Athlete's Foot flavor to kick off football season.) But I digress. The really important news of the week is that Luann just announced she will wear three dresses at her upcoming wedding. One dress is for walking down the aisle, veil included. Another is for the party itself that will be attended by the finest C-List socialites nobody has ever heard of. And the third dress she will throw on WHEN SHE PERFORMS A SONG. Yes, the Countess has not only convinced herself that she should marry a guy who cheated on her, but that she should also commemorate their union musically – and I'm not sure which part of that is more disturbing.
Other wedding plans emerged in the article I read on People's website so I could calm my blood pressure after watching ten unbearable minutes of Fox News. She’s having bridesmaids. Dorinda will attend the festivities – and she'll make it nice. The other Housewife invites are up in the air, though I think Bethenny might have to be given a lobotomy to get her to show up at a place where Jill Zarin holds court and the bride sings unironically about class and Girl Code. But more than making me laugh, this article did something else: it made me realize that nothing that happens on this show tonight actually matters. There was a massive cliffhanger two weeks ago. Tom cheated! Bethenny has pictures! The bald one was full-on making out with a Playmate at the same hotel he used to take Ramona on the dates he now denies he ever went on! Luann must be informed of the philandering, the women decided – and it should obviously happen on camera.
Now, anyone who thinks Luann would have listened to these sordid details and then reconsidered her upcoming nuptials is someone I want to be friends with because it must be nice to be in close proximity to such sweet naïveté. That outcome was never going to happen. A murky yellow diamond is on her long finger. She has squawked about her soulmate nonstop for three months. She's moved into a penthouse with a terrace. She's spent the last few years trolling the streets of Manhattan and the beaches of the Hamptons for men because she cannot stand to be alone. Luann is getting married, people, and she will walk down that aisle steadfastly believing everyone else is incredibly jealous of her because, at this point, she knows no other way to be.
I don’t actually think the other Housewives are jealous of Luann, but I do think they’re collectively fed up with her preening and her posing and the ceaseless gruff giggles that slip out of her mouth at random moments. I think they’re exhausted from her constant yammering about herself and only herself. I think they probably find it both infuriating and insulting that they can intermittently be bleeding from the vagina across the table from her and she will continue to discuss her total bliss without even offering a tampon or some empathy. I think her refusal to even briefly nod and say, “Yeah, it’s weird Tom was involved with you guys before me, huh?” is flabbergasting and mildly cruel. And I think I would rather sit on Jill Zarin’s lap, shove my hand up her skirt, and braid her pubic hair during Luann’s vows than be stuck in that hotel with all of them in Miami where the show begins tonight.
As insufferable as Luann has been lately, hearing there’s indisputable evidence that her fiancé cheated on her while she was spinning in delirious circles of love is tough to see. Nobody deserves to be deceived by someone she trusts and it’s hard to come back from that kind of blatant betrayal. I don’t think anyone is finding satisfaction in this situation – I know many people will not agree with me about that – but this is a shitty scenario all around and tonight’s episode is a form of televised misery from the very start. As Bethenny struggles with trying to decide if she should show the pictures to Luann that will clobber her heart, Ramona finds herself in a room with the bride to be. They’re getting manicures and Ramona is working so hard to stop herself from blurting out the terrible news that she briefly turns a pale shade of blue. Old Ramona would have spouted that information immediately, turned it into a song, and accompanied the ditty with the dance she learned a few episodes back, but New Ramona – she who was dropped off by compassionate aliens who knew we as a society had suffered long enough – doesn’t do a single thing but smile sadly.
Back in Bethenny’s room, Carole gets a glimpse of the evidence and concludes it’s absolutely Tom in the picture. The news has to come out, but Bethenny’s concerned about how she should tell Luann – and when. It won’t be happening over dinner, the one Dorinda set up for everyone. First to arrive are Sonja, Ramona, and Bethenny and that gives them plenty of time to talk about Luann behind her back, especially the way she’s tried to package her relationship so it looks like a fucking bouquet of lemon yellow sunshine and lollipops. It also quickly comes out that not even New Ramona was able to keep her mouth totally shut. Sonja knows everything at this point – I’m guessing the lady who did Ramona’s pedicure does too – and she’s not particularly surprised that the guy she was sleeping with while Luann was living with her is continuing his player behavior. While there’s not a bit of shock crossing her features, there is a furrowed look of concern. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sonja is borderline ridiculous. She has a house crammed with interns who pick up dogshit and tell her she’s pretty every hour on the hour. She can’t handle her booze. But she is also clearly a very decent person and she’s upset enough at this news that her colon has been in overdrive all day.
(Brief aside here: What kind of fools are the rest of these Housewives to show up for dinner an hour late? Is it possible they do not comprehend just how much shit Bethenny, Ramona, and Sonja can say about them in sixty minutes while cameras are pointed at their faces? C’mon, ladies.)
Before the others arrive, Bethenny makes sure to arrange that she’s not sitting next to anyone she will be forced to be a bitch to in a remarkably well thought out bit of psychological feng shui. Finally, the late group walks in and I have no idea what it is that Carole is wearing, but I want two copies of the entire ensemble so I can dress both myself and my puppy up like we’re literary dominatrixes. After dinner – during which Bethenny yells at Carole for being late, Ramona yells at Dorinda because she doesn’t want to go to the sand bar tomorrow, and Dorinda inexplicably begins spouting gibberish – the women head off to something that looks like a cross between the foam party I went to in Cancun when I was twenty and a jazz festival, which means I want to go to there immediately. (Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for any place that serves drinks or desserts that arrive at the table engulfed in flames.) While Carole dances with some guy and Jules and her newly healed vagina hump a tuba, Bethenny and Sonja are back at the hotel discussing what they should do about this Tom situation. They’re horrified by it all. Sure, some men cheat, but to cheat a week and a half into an engagement is a scumbag move at its purest. After Bethenny announces that she does, in fact, know it all (she’s probably gonna get killed over social media for saying that), she tells Sonja that she would want to know the dirty details about the guy she’s marrying and Sonja brings up an interesting idea. Instead of immediately confronting Luann with the knowledge she has since she’s an all-knowing sear, perhaps Bethenny should confront Tom instead. Meanwhile, back at the sand bar, Dorinda destroys whatever love I have for her by lamenting that she wishes John was right there by her side. Dorinda! Do you have any idea how much sweat John could produce in Miami? Luann, of course, chimes in about how much she misses Tom while Jules has already forgotten her husband’s name and Ramona applies bronzer for the date she’s about to go on, the one that seemingly came out of nowhere.
But back to Bethenny and Sonja. Sonja thinks they should call Tom and see what he has to say. Maybe he was drunk. Maybe he fell face-first into the Playmate’s lips and had no choice but to shove his tongue into her mouth so he could steady himself. Maybe he’s just a total prick, but she thinks they should call and get his side of the story before they speak to Luann. (By the way, I love that Sonja looks at the clock and is able to determine the guy will be awake for the call. That’s the kind of detail you’re just hyperaware of when you’re talking about someone you often have sex with in the dead of night.) As the phone rings and rings, Bethenny’s stomach is in knots. When he doesn’t answer, she says the very thing everyone is thinking: “He’s out banging someone else.”
The next morning, as breakfast arrives at the hotel, Carole tells Sonja and Bethenny that Luann informed her that Tom and Sonja only had a one-night stand, not some ten-year tryst. Now listen, you do not fuck around with Sonja’s sexual history. She may have lied about frolicking with John F. Kennedy, Jr. throughout the eighties – though I believe she probably had several vivid hallucinations she thinks were real – but this is a woman who appears to be nothing but upfront about the men she entertains beneath the sheets. Into this mini-nightmare come the others, including Ramona who looks like she had her skull rammed into a headboard all night long. She tells Dorinda that she’s really sorry but she will not be going to the sand bar with them. A picnic on the beach? Please! Ramona wants to get dressed up and drink some rose in a place where she can stare at people who have achieved at least a score of “satisfactory” on the Attractive Meter Scale she keeps in her pocket along with her diaphragm. After most of the group has filed out of the room to get ready for the day, we find out that Luann calls the aisle she will walk down at her wedding “the runway” – because of course she does – and Dorinda is certain these two crazy kids will get married while Bethenny marvels over how blind Dorinda is allowing herself to be in terms of pretending she doesn’t see the mask Luann has strapped to her face so she can come off as more appealing to the guy who is cheating on her.
It’s only Luann, Dorinda, Jules, and Carole who head out to the sand bar. Ramona, Sonja, and Bethenny have broken free to go to a place with tables and a better likelihood that Ramona will find a guy and (again) get herself laid. It’s probably better they’re not all together; Ramona’s grown a little sick of hearing the Countess rhapsodize about her happiness, Sonja’s horrified to learn she was just downgraded to a blip on Tom’s dick after being introduced to his mother, and Bethenny would rather be at a Thanksgiving dinner table with her ex-husband and his entire family than have to stare at Luann while knowing she’s got a picture of him feeling up some other chick in her purse. Besides, Bethenny has actually been having a good time with Luann on this trip because Luann has yet to be so over the top that those around her get struck down with spontaneous vertigo. Perhaps had she been privy to the sight of Luann flailing her arms with glee while chortling, “They know my music!” after a fellow sand bar attendee yells out the title of one of her bullshit songs, Bethenny might reevaluate things.
Also: I so want to kayak to some boat to get a hotdog. I think I’ll do that tomorrow.
As she luxuriates on the sand bar in close proximity to the one fan of her music in the whole wide world, Luann cannot help but vent about the terribly inappropriate question Bethenny asked whether or not she and Tom are monogamous. Yes, she had an open marriage with the Count. Sure, she’s now marrying a guy she’s known as long as I’ve known the carton of Egg Beaters in my refrigerator. But how dare Bethenny – a woman whose divorce has lasted longer than her marriage – even deign to question the sanctity of one of Luann’s relationships? It’s right about then when Carole appears to consider drowning herself or kayaking back over to the hotdog stand just so she can finagle her way out of this awkward conversation where she knows far more than she’s saying.
And now it’s the last night in Miami and Dorinda is so pissed at Ramona that she creates metaphors on the spot that compare Ramona to a dog. Speaking of our newest favorite canine, her tits are out and proud in her new dress so maybe she can use them to smother Dorinda later in what’s bound to be yet another boozy blowup. Wanting to avoid a battle for the evening, Bethenny got strategic and invited an artist friend to join them for dinner. After all, there’s no way the woman who wrote a book on etiquette would confront her at the table if some famous guy is sitting there, right? Turns out it doesn’t matter who else is at that table. Dorinda is fucking furious at Ramona for forsaking the sand bar and finally Ramona has to get up and give her a hug just to shut her up. All this, of course, is just the prelude. The real shit starts to go down when Luann announces to the table at large that Tom has been sending her nonstop “I miss you” texts and Sonja rolls her eyes and makes a comment about being Tom’s one-night stand – whenever she wanted one for ten straight years. “Luann, he lied about Sonja being a one-night stand,” Carole says calmly, and it’s more than slightly disconcerting when Luann’s response is, “Don’t talk about my fiancé. I would kill for him.” Um, anyone keeping an eye on the utensils on that table? Because things could get very bloody very quickly.
I’m guessing the rest of the meal went by without incident – otherwise we would have seen the carnage – so the next morning dawns and it’s time for Bethenny to shatter Luann’s world. When Luann walks in, Bethenny appears jittery. She sounds short of breath. And she sits back and allows Luann to tell her that she was really hurt by the monogamy comment Bethenny made about someone she’d apparently commit murder for and that her last marriage was not open the entire time. Luann’s approach here is actually calm and she sounds thoughtful, like maybe she rehearsed this conversation in the bathroom mirror before she entered Bethenny’s room. It’s that calmness that makes what happens next even more jarring.
Bethenny apologizes easily for what she said about Luann’s open marriage and it’s an apology I believe. Then, with her voice and slender body shaking, she tells Luann that she has something she needs to tell her. “Please don’t let it be about Tom,” Luann chokes out – and my heart breaks for her when Bethenny nods and responds, “It’s about Tom. And it’s true. And I’m gonna show you some pictures. And it was Wednesday night. And there is nothing about this that I want to be doing right now.” The look on Luann’s face as Bethenny says all of this is tragic, as is the way she whispers, “Don’t do this to me,” as tears flood her eyes. “Luann, this is not me doing this to you, I swear to God,” Bethenny answers, tears swimming in her eyes as well. And that’s when Luann realizes she cannot hear whatever is about to come next – she cannot see whatever picture she can never unsee – and she rushes out of the room so she can be far far away from the truth.
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. Also be sure to check out her website at nellkalter.com Her Twitter is @nell_kalter