The (dilapidated) House of Morgan is toppling down in a spectacular fashion – if “spectacular” means public and embarrassing to one who is capable of feeling such an emotion – but we shall get there in due time because first we have other unplesantries with which to deal. In the olden days (you know, when Alex and Simon were on the show and Alex tried to convince us that she was an in-demand model and Simon tried to convince us that he was heterosexual), the first ten minutes of conflict within this episode would have been stretched out for an entire program, but those days are now dead and full of decay and the hostility exhibited before the first commercial break was really just a light amuse bouche made out of imitation crabmeat that sat on a countertop for too long.
I don’t know which part of the first ten minutes of this episode of The Real Housewives of New York is most likely to nestle itself deep within the stickiest part of my psyche and forever remain there unless I can figure out how to order a self-lobotomy kit from amazon.com:
1. The bald models wearing printed jersey-blend dresses that won’t wrinkle even in a suitcase packed for Atlantic City that made their way into far too many shots at Luann’s party.
2. The fact that Ramona all but verbally assassinated Kristen – and feels absolutely no shame for doing such a thing because, after all, she was “protecting Bethenny” from how awful it was when Kristen allegedly fired word bullets her way and Ramona cannot comprehend that she just did the very same thing.
3. That Ramona is legitimately a person who cannot own her horrific behavior and instead shrugs and continues to only listen to the maniacal voice inside of her head that says, “Nothing anybody has ever criticized you for is accurate. And you look amazing in Ramona Blue and Crayola has decided to come up with a brand new crayon in your honor and you should use it to scrawl words of hate across Kristen’s face because nothing could possibly protect Bethenny more.”
It’s becoming truly uncomfortable to watch some of these women act like they don’t know any better and I think it’s because I believe that at one point they really did know better than to do things like speak to people in such a horrid manner or throw tantrums and have fights in public. I know they have all received benefits due to their exposure on this show – and I certainly have enjoyed discussing their behavior in my snarkiest form of prose – but I think that maybe some of them are actually dying inside and the life is seeping out of their pores and from their mouths as they spew vitriolic sentiments they probably shouldn’t even feel, let alone say out loud.
But there is an upside, and early in the episode that upside’s name is Dorinda. I wasn’t so sure about Dorinda, and we’re still early enough into the season that I suppose she still has time to take a shit on a table during a brunch thrown exclusively for children, but she’s striking me each week as decent and humane – and that’s maybe all I need from a Housewife in order to not think she should have her vocal cords permanently snipped. What Dorinda does early on is tell Ramona that her behavior towards Kristen was deplorable and unnecessary.
“That wasn’t nice,” she says to Ramona’s face after Kristen flees the room due to Ramona’s unprovoked attack that she tossed out because she forgot the word for hello. “She’s not aggressive by nature. Don’t do that. I don’t like when you’re mean; it upsets me.”
And Ramona looked at her dear friend – the one she once spontaneously threw a brunch for to get back at Bethenny for serving her own bagels at the very same time that Ramona was about to toast some too – and said, “Oh, Dorinda. You are so wise. I strike out at people all the time with almost no provocation at all. I am wrong and I will become a better Housewife – nay, a better human being – and I appreciate your candor.”
Wait…that’s what my Ramona voodoo doll said. (It’s very chatty, that thing – and that’s why I had to burn and then bury it.) The real Ramona simply looked confused by her friend’s words and instead said, “Was I mean? Well, I was being protective of Bethenny. Maybe my delivery was wrong.”
As I was starting to consider whether I should buy Dorinda a throne or just a mere crown and then personally anoint her Queen of the Normal People, Sonja was downstairs posing on the red carpet that appears at just about every New York City function because the press needs something to cover and it’s not like riots or protests happen every day in a place like Manhattan. But ignoring anything real, Sonja poses happily while Dorinda and Heather watch and comment that she has put on a little weight and that it’s probably from drinking like a very parched goldfish. I don’t think Sonja looks heavy in the slightest, but the comment served as a warning to anyone who doesn’t watch this show closely and only listens to it as background noise so that now we all know that Sonja’s imbibing has begun to cause some real concern amongst the ladies who care enough that they will bring it all up on camera.
Over at the bar -- where she just orders a Diet Coke – a handsome man introduces himself to Sonja. He is not just interested in her because there’s a camera pointed at her! Everybody needs to stop being so cynical! Anyway, before the guy can take her home and whip out what I hope is a black card so some swallowing will get done, Ramona steps in between her friend and this stranger and waves her arms up and down, a cock-block come to life that’s swathed in Ramona Blue, which incidentally might be the color this guy’s balls are now.
And then Bethenny arrives. She saunters in and looks about as happy as she usually does and she kisses Sonja hello and then sort of pecks Kristen on the cheek and Sonja immediately informs her that Ramona just chopped Kristen’s head off in retaliation for the issue Kristen is having with Bethenny. The woman has not so much as had a drink yet and it’s on, and I’d feel badly for her that she is being asked to tussle before even having a teeny bite of a canapé, but she is the one who has been nasty to Kristen and Bethenny doesn’t usually eat anyway.
“You often have that face on that you are coming for me,” says perhaps the single most aggressive woman in this galaxy and any other galaxy we have yet to discover. And then, to make it all better and to make sure Kristen understands, Bethenny makes the face and now she’s at a party without a drink and screwing her face into the expression of a toddler who just smelled Sonja in the morning.
“Don’t give me a damn reason to give you a sourpuss face and you won’t see one,” says Kristen – but to the camera, not to Bethenny.
Basically, Kristen is annoyed that Bethenny has been dismissive of her and that she said something about not thinking the name of Kristen’s nail polish company was smart and Kristen wishes Bethenny had shared her business savvy with her kindly and Bethenny thinks that is nuts because she hardly knows Kristen. The woman’s got a point even though she knows full well how this Housewives universe works. It’s a universe where everything is up for grabs to be discussed and to get dissected and then to get sold. That Bethenny is the only one who has started a legitimately viable business while on TV is what makes her different. It’s really too bad that the excellent point she’s making is shrouded by her frenetic energy and her defensiveness and I’m starting to also be a little concerned that she was forced to hand over the muscles in her face used to smile to her ex-husband as part of her divorce settlement.
On the other side of the party – which means that it probably would be best to hover somewhere in the middle of the room – Sonja and Dorinda are checking out one of the bald mannequin’s dresses and Sonja explains to Dorinda how this party has not been set up well and if Sonja doesn’t know such things, who possibly could? See, Sonja was not only Marc Jacobs’ muse and the person to whom Mark Cuban looks to for the nation’s most qualified interns and the President of her very own imaginary country. She’s also a party planner and she knows with certainty that the bald mannequins wearing the printed jersey clothing should be suspended from the ceiling so everybody can see them better.
And just then, as though the heavens finally answered one of my most sincere prayers, into the frame swooped my newest best friend, Robin, the Swami Priestess. The very first thing she says is that the clothing is far too “shleppy” for Sonja – and that’s a dick thing to say at a party for these hideous clothes and also, aren’t Priestesses supposed to be all about love and light? Could I have possibly Googled “Swami Priestess” incorrectly?
Trying to be kind in response, Sonja fingers the clothing and tells her Swami Priestess, “I don’t know if it’s shleppy, but this is for the masses, not the classes.” Here’s what I’ll say about that: I wouldn’t wear that shit either, but to classify something for the masses when you yourself have no hot water in your townhouse that is run by kids who work for questionable college credit is a sign of being both an asshole and of being certifiably nuts. But the new concern is that Luann will hear the comment and so Sonja turns to Dorinda and tells her that the only way Luann will hear it is if Dorinda tells her (or, you know, when she watches the show) and before Dorinda can gingerly remove the symbolic crown I’ve fashioned for her out of the hunk of hair I pulled out of the back of Ramona’s scalp and knock Sonja out cold for borderline threatening her, Sonja decides to turn instead to Kristen and tell her that she’s most likely to tell Luann about the comment and Sonja – who can not only plan parties with suspended mannequins but also apparently can see into the future – can see it all now and that’s when Kristen begins to wonder whether this trip to Turks and Caicos with such imbeciles might be such a good idea after all.
Good idea or not, this is The Real Housewives and taking exotic vacations where you get to stay in cold, modern villas and fight with people you pretend are your friends is part of the job! You don’t get to appear on Watch What Happens Live to try to sell the fuck out a cookbook for nothing, my friends. And so, they all arrive in Turks and Caicos where it is not snowing like it was incessantly then in New York and Carole is filming the trip and that strikes me as odd since the trip is already being professionally filmed for the reality show they’re all on and I can only assume that Carole is gathering behind the scenes footage to use in a lawsuit one day. And should the lawsuit be for a murder, there’s a good chance that the prosecutor will want to see the first ten minutes of the film where the women arrive and Ramona screams that everyone knows that she and Sonja share a room and she all but pushes the women down the marble staircase to snag the room she deems the best without any kind of discussion whatsoever. The rest of them just look on in a pissed off annoyance, like Ramona is that kind of gigantic fly that refuses to leave your house and sits on the screen door and so you open it and figure it’ll finally fly away back to its natural habitat but instead it swarms right back into your living room where it unpacks and stays for the next month.
But Bethenny? She is not just looking at Ramona like she’s a mild and buzzing disturbance. She is looking at Ramona like Ramona is a total dick and she tries to tell that dick that her behavior is crazy and rude, but it turns out that fighting with a lunatic is kind of an exercise in futility. Ramona doesn’t want to hear it. She wants this room and she is and has been for years such a difficult and abrasive person to deal with that it appears that most people have just stopped trying and, as a result, she gets exactly what she wants. The room is not what her roommate wanted, though. Sonja wanted a bathtub because she doesn’t know how to work the knobs on a shower – let’s just allow that sentence to hang in the air for a moment, no? – but Ramona can’t care about Sonja’s needs right now because she is directing the butler about how to unpack for her in a vivid example of weird entitlement that makes me want to yank out a clump of hair from the front of her head too and that way we won’t all have to see that piece wound up into one of those huge fucking rollers later on as she gets ready for dinner.
Outside the villa, Bethenny and Luann have a quick and honest conversation about how they kind of forget how awful Ramona can be and that’s when the terrible one herself emerges from the house like the Loch Ness Monster gliding to the surface in a yellow bikini and Lucite heels. Clomping over to Bethenny – a person I really believe Ramona is genuinely afraid of – she says this: “So Bethenny, I guess I came across rude, the way I said it, and you’re right and I was just hot and bothered and hungry and my delivery was terrible and you look beautiful and I’m sorry.” I don’t really know how the “you look beautiful” part came into it other than as a way to appease the woman who rocks a fedora with far more style than Kristen’s douche of a husband ever will, but Ramona apologies are like shooting stars; you want to stare at it hard because you aren’t sure you even saw it in the first place and there’s a chance that you might never see it again.
“What about me?” asks Luann, a woman almost pushed down the stairs in Ramona’s quest for a bedroom with more square feet than any other bedroom on the entire island.
“You don’t count,” Ramona shoots back – and she doesn’t even smile when she says it.
Deciding to fuck with her just a little bit, Bethenny tells Ramona that she will forgive her as long as Ramona switches rooms with her and Ramona wanders away from such an odd conversation in which someone seems to have the nerve to ask her for something she already loudly declared was hers and instead she jumps in the pool and straddles a water noodle and somebody needs to locate some Valtrex on that island because we all know where Mario has been.
As the day passes into the night, Bethenny and Luann go paddle boarding, Ramona does squats in her Lucite heels poolside, and then she tells Sonja that the reason she was acting bitchy earlier is because the last time she was in the Caribbean was after her vow renewal ceremony and being here has brought up all kinds of painful memories. I call complete and total bullshit there. I’m sure that when she made the connection she felt a wave of sadness, but let’s not pretend that such a thing was the actual origin of Ramona acting like an asshole because she’s not in the Caribbean all the time and she’s usually kind of an asshole. But I think that, should she announce her justification to anybody besides Sonja, the rest of the women might willingly believe her since it might be nice for them to lie to themselves collectively about how they’re not traveling with Lucifer’s sidepiece.
Right before dinner, Ramona is kind of all over the place. She’s gesturing wildly with her hands and cannot make any sort of simple statement without throwing around her entire upper body like she’s recently become a student of modern dance and I kind of sincerely hope that she just swallowed a handful of Adderall because if this is just her natural endorphins kicking in, it’s frankly a little bit alarming. But then The Ramona Show is over – maybe her jerking around like she was auditioning for the starring role in a German Expressionism film about a starving migrant peasant worker was her taking an showy bow – because it’s time for Sonja Morgan’s Life of Delusion!
It all begins when Ramona basically says that she is enjoying dating but she does not want to sleep with anyone, unlike her best friend Sonja who sleeps with everyone. Sonja doesn’t like being called a whore by her closest friend and she says she has been faithful to Dominik, a guy we haven’t heard from for a few episodes so I just assumed he’d made his escape after snagging himself some camera time. But it seems that Sonja might have cheated on her baby model – or attempted to – and maybe she just doesn’t remember because she allegedly drinks so much and so often and she doesn’t ever remember how she gets home and she flirts with other women’s boyfriends and then she denies the entire thing ever happened even though half of her friends saw it all go down with their own eyes.
“These girls are not supposed to judge me,” says Sonja – but I’m pretty sure that she’s actually wrong here. Friends shouldn’t judge, but what else should they do when you’re harming yourself and the only one who doesn’t somewhat see you as a total joke at this point is you? And look, I know that sounds mean, but does anyone really want to take the position that Sonja Morgan is anything she claims to be: a successful designer, an elite member of old-money society, sober, sane? Instead of becoming reflective, Sonja just grows more and more defensive. She feels like she is the group punching bag, but she never seems to wonder why that is. Does she think they all pulled straws and it’s Sonja’s turn to be questioned for being a person who is drinking too much and being perhaps too sexual or could it maybe be that her behavior, once deemed silly, is now concerning? That kind of reflection takes self-awareness. Is there an intern who can teach her self-awareness? I’d suggest calling in the Swami Priestess but that woman is an asshole.
Bethenny is actually at her very best when it comes to dealing with Sonja. I think there is some genuine affection Bethenny has for Sonja and Bethenny knows how to begin a conversation with Sonja to get her to maybe listen. She uses flattery and she reveals her own struggles to try to forge a connection. It’s kind of like how I get my dog to take her medicine by first picking her up and making her think it’ll all be okay. The difference is that I eventually get that 1/8th of a Pepcid into my dog but, though Bethenny’s effort is fucking valiant, Sonja will not listen.
I like Bethenny very much during these moments and I’m going to go ahead and implore Bravo to consider a show where Bethenny simply talks to Sonja on the phone but only Bethenny is filmed and Sonja is just a voice like on Charlie’s Angels and Bethenny can hang up on her whenever she gets too annoying. But while they’re both still on this show, Bethenny speaks to Sonja directly – or, more accurately, she attempts to speak to her directly.
“You’re acutely aware of things that people are talking about so I need you to, like, be with me,” says Bethenny patiently. “You have been going through a stressful time so you have been drinking a lot and so have I. I am not judging you.” And to that Sonja bursts in that she doesn’t drink that much and she kept her house and she has a daughter and the other women are exaggerating and she likes the color orange and she knows the Premier of the island and did she ever tell Bethenny that she used to work in PR?
“Listen to me,” says Bethenny with absolutely no trace of humor in her voice. “I’m a smart girl…” and Sonja, hearing only a subtext that dead dachshunds can hear sputters back, “Why are you saying that to me? Am I stupid? Did I get to where I am (bankruptcy? Being accused of being a drunken harlot on TV?) by being stupid?”
“You have to listen to other people,” says Bethenny and she’s baring her teeth now. “Shut the fuck up!”
That’s a harsh thing to say to someone for sure – and sometimes it’s the only thing that can be said, but Ramona, sitting poolside with her hair already frizzing, wants to eat and she doesn’t like hearing the screaming from inside of the house and she does some Lamaze breathing at the table to relax herself after she was the one who kind of started the mess by talking about how many men Sonja routinely bangs. Luann, always one for etiquette at exactly the wrong time, goes inside to tell two women who could care less that dinner is ready and Bethenny tells her to walk away and Luann finally does and, back outside, Luann and Heather talk about how maybe it’s difficult to get Sonja to admit something when she has no memory that it ever occurred due to what sounds like frequent blackouts, a look that’s never cute on the masses and certainly not on the classes.
Sonja finally has her awakening during the conversation that I’m glad Bethenny was essentially paid to have, but it’s not exactly the awakening for which anyone was hoping. No, Sonja believes that it’s clear that Bethenny is projecting her own problems onto Sonja.
“She’s venting on me. Nothing’s changed except these girls are getting very judgmental.”
Stay this self-aware, Sonja, and it’ll be more than probable that your only income and notoriety will end up coming from the nights when you are suspended like a mannequin at a party you didn’t plan and didn’t actually get invited to.
Ending on a high note – until next week when everybody apparently cries their weight in tears – Luann reveals that she had the best sex of her entire life two days ago and all but composes a haiku about it at the dinner table and she flushes just speaking about it and that reminds me: I’m really looking forward to this weekend.