As someone who once politely asked one of my male friends if he was interested in placing a bid on my uterus should I happen to put it up for sale on eBay during a particularly hellish and crampy month, I clearly don’t have a problem with women discussing vaginal issues or flashing iPhone pictures of wounded vulvas as they make their own pizzas. What I do have an issue with is the way two women, exceptionally thin in their own right, seem to think it’s acceptable to speak about someone else’s eating disorder while they are wearing microphones. Is Jules almost invisible when she stands sideways? Yes. Did I recently see a picture of her in shorts that caused me to actually gasp out loud? Yup. Might it be problematic that the lady totes around Lidocaine – which can be added to coke to increase the numbing effect of the drug in a way that might impact the ability to successfully chew anything resembling a calorie – and gleefully pops some into her calzone? Definitely…though I want to try a forkful of the stuff. There is obviously something quite disturbing about Jules and her frail frame, but watching Carole and Bethenny joke about it and debate her weight makes me feel uncomfortable. These are two people who should (and do) know better. (By the way, I am very much aware that I too have just commented on Jules' weight issue, but I'd like to plead that I have to do so in order to accurately recap this show. I feel sort of badly about it, though. I shall punish myself by watching an old episode of this series, the one where Jill Zarin donned a full costume to ice skate at a party she threw for herself, and I'll turn the volume way the fuck up so it's as unpleasant as is humanly possible.)
But before Jules can once again be shamed for a psychological condition that manifested into a physical one, Bethenny tells all the ladies (besides Sonja and Luann, who are no longer invited to events planned by producers unless Bethenny gives her explicit written consent that their presence is acceptable) how grateful she was that Dorinda accompanied her to the doctor and that it’s hard because she doesn’t have family who will care for her during events like a medical crisis. Ramona is sweet here. She tells Bethenny that her friends are her family and they’re there for her. But enough about the serious stuff! It’s time to make pizzas, decorate them with toppings, and ask Jules her exact weight, even though both her expression and the tone of her voice clearly indicate that she would rather discuss her husband’s alleged infidelity. She claims to weigh 115 pounds, a nothing weight for someone as tall as she is, but while she’s outside – inhaling nicotine and the kind of freedom that comes from not sitting at a table and being grilled by her new friends –Carole and Bethenny remain inside and sneer that there’s no way their emaciated buddy weighs more than 95 pounds, max. “Jules presents her eating disorder as something she’s gotten past,” Bethenny says. “It strikes me that she’s right in the middle of it and maybe not entirely dealing with it.” I’m sure Bethenny has a point here. I have a point, too: commenting on Jules’ weight to the cameras will probably not be the thing that propels her to get healthy any time soon.
When the calzone that I thought El Chapo might request for his last meal arrives at the table, it’s revealed that there are no drugs shoved inside, but there is a fork and a measuring cup mingling with the cheese. Okay – now I have to say it and therefore become one of those people I sort of hate: Jules, in order to avoid actually having to consume her creation, stuffed kitchen utensils inside of it and nothing about that action is hilarious. Instead, it is transparent and it is sad and I hate that Bethenny is right. But whatever is in that calzone is nothing compared to what’s in Jules’ purse. Yes, there’s Adderall (“Shocking,” said nobody) and numbing cream and Percocet and Dorinda sits back and listens as her friend lists the inventory of a pharmacy that’s currently living inside of her purse and wisely intones that perhaps Jules should not be mixing her painkillers with booze because it’s making her typical adorable style of wackiness turn into one that might require an intervention led by Sir Andy Cohen sometime around hour seven of the eventual Reunion that I look forward to as much as I look forward to one day contracting scurvy.
The next day, Carole and Adam meet up with Former Housewife, Heather Thompson, to go ice-skating. Heather’s sweet husband is there also and it’s nice to see that these people are actually friends. After twirling around the ice a grand total of four times, Carole and Heather sit down alone to chat about how things are going with Carole and Adam and the way writing their cookbook together is causing a bit of conflict between them. As someone who has never written with someone, I can only imagine how difficult collaborating must be. Fuck, I once had someone share an idea for a book he had with me and I changed the plot of it while he was in the middle of explaining his grand idea! In any case, besides the stylistic conflicts Carole and Adam are engaged in, things are going well. But enough about the two of them! It’s time for Carole to tell Heather that Jules is super kind and sweet as the sugar she’d never eat but that there’s definitely an eating disorder in her midst and the whole thing is bizarre and worrisome for Carole to watch. Girlfriend’s got a point. Perhaps Jules should have just shoved a melon baller inside of that calzone and called it a fucking day.
Speaking of Jules, she invites Dorinda over, serves her some baked fish sticks, and then explains – when directly asked – that Carole really annoyed her the night before by taking inventory of the food on her plate. Dorinda’s recommendation is for Jules to fight back and tell everyone that she doesn’t need or want their advice or their opinions, but Jules is more pissed off that Bethenny always makes jabby comments at her expense even though Jules has been nothing but nice to her. “You need to say it,” Dorinda encourages, making sure to add that Bethenny will be receptive to Jules’ complaints because Bethenny is nothing if not a master at accepting constructive criticism from women she barely knows. Oh, sorry – I thought it was Opposite Day for a second. I feel badly for Jules here, really badly. Her father is in the hospital, she’s married to a dwarf monster, her vagina is broken, and now the other skinny Housewives are being nasty to her. If I had any extra that I could spare, I’d give her some Codeine to make her feel better.
“I feel her loneliness,” says Dorinda – and illustrated once again is how Dorinda appears to be a genuinely good person who has humor, empathy, and compassion for days and whose only real flaw is that she insists upon dating a sweaty slug. And by the way, I’d like to thank the heavens the moon and the stars that John has not appeared on this show so far this week.
Bethenny is having a rough time these days also. She’s left the doctor and is getting ready for her upcoming operation, but she must wait until the bleeding stops before the surgery can even take place. Her driver recommends that Bethenny needs to rest in a manner she probably never does and she feels close to him, even as she orders him to get her bloodstained pillow cleaned.
And now Sonja’s back and I so want to say that it’s great to see her because she seems like a really nice person and she’s a fellow human being at all, but it’s just too hard for me to get it up to say any of that because the woman is either legitimately too ridiculous for words or she’s pretending that she’s too ridiculous for words and either answer offends every area of my brain. Need an example? How about that she still has interns working for her even though she doesn’t actually have a real job? How about the fact that she dyed her puppy pink, but even that didn’t work out correctly and now her canine friend looks like Cyndi Lauper’s hair back in the eighties? Hopefully Dorinda’s presence will cause Sonja to suddenly appear more like a normal person. She shows up to help Sonja root through her cluttered basement in an effort to bring some structure to her life. (I don’t know if a Housewife can actually get a promotion, but somebody better give Dorinda a raise. Let her stand in the middle of the group and hold the apple! Let her host Watch What Happens! The woman has earned it!)
Sonja’s decluttering endeavor is making her feel shitty. Every time she sees a stuffed animal, she’s reminded of when she had a complete family unit and she grows more and more emotional. Since ostensibly her job now is to comfort her co-workers, Dorinda tries to implore Sonja to move on from the past and accept her life as it is right now. It’s excellent advice, but Sonja’s finest quality is not exactly the strenuous grip she has on reality. Moving on from her hoarding issue, Dorinda wants to know if Sonja has spoken to Bethenny since the day Bethenny reamed her out for infringing on her business. Turns out that Sonja has reached out via text and she sent Bethenny flowers after hearing about Bethenny’s illness and Bethenny responded relatively kindly and Sonja believes they are now moving forward, which maybe means that Sonja will be allowed to accompany the group the next time they meet for Make Your Own Sundae night, though I hope she will bring her own pills to decorate her ice cream like they’re sprinkles because Jules doesn’t always cart around extras.
Back in her car, Bethenny is emotional as she calls her assistant to find out if she has a living will. She will actually have to have major surgery and she’s scared thinking about what could become of her daughter should something happen to her. It’s awful watching this typically strong woman in pain and all I can say is that I know very well what it’s like to appear fully together on the outside even as you’re crumbling like rotting plaster on the inside and there’s nobody strong enough around you to help piece you back together. It sucks. It sucks so badly and I hope Bethenny finds some peace in the midst of all of this misery.
Jules and Michael are up next. They’re out at a bar where they meet up with Sonja and Luann and the big news is that Luann is engaged to be engaged and Jules’ vagina is almost healed and now she has to pee less often. Success! Dorinda shows up next in a sparkly silver vest that looks like very aggressive tinsel and not only does the shine of it all not terrify Luann, but she invites the whole group on a vacation to Palm Beach since that’s where she spends much of her time now that’s she’s bagged a new rich man with impressive real estate. Ramona, Tom’s ex-girlfriend, arrives next toting an invisible master plan. She wants to take Luann aside and tell her that Carole still hates her and Luann better do something to change things because Ramona is getting really tired of being the sane one – and that’s only funny because it’s fucking true. In any case, Ramona will take Luann by the hand if she must and drag her through the steps of how to craft a real apology so Ramona no longer has to be stuck in the middle of such nonsense.
None of it seems to be bothering Luann, however. She is smack-dab in the narcissistic throes of love with a man who is a millionaire and having to engage in a conversation about the conflicts she’s having with other women just irritates her. See, Luann doesn’t seem to even recognize that she’s presently on the outs with Bethenny or that Carole is considering dressing up as her for Halloween next year in a manner that will not at all be any sort of tribute.
“Do you think I give a flying leap?” asks Luann, whose voice has grown more husky the more she gets laid on a regular basis, which means that soon she will hardly even be able to speak. Yes, Luann will just have to croak from this point forward that she could care less that Carole doesn’t buy her apologies for that time she bellowed across a crowded room that Carole is a pedophile. Water under a Palm Beach bridge! How many times can she possibly apologize about shit she’s not even sorry about, especially when she’s engaged to be engaged to a guy with an excellent portfolio? Holy shit, Luann is so that girl who drops you the second she lands a guy – and I’ll bet Jules’ newly healed vagina that she has been that way since middle school.
“I couldn’t care less about her,” Luann announces to Ramona before draining her wine glass and getting up to walk away because she saw a salt shaker on the bar that looks like it will fit in perfectly with the décor of Tom’s Florida pad and she wants to see if she can register for it. Perhaps when she's finished with that, she can also register for some new friends who don’t hate her so much.
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.