All week long, I have felt torn. I have barely slept. And when I have finally been able to achieve something even slightly resembling a peaceful slumber, I awake with a start, my heart racing.
See, I cannot get Heather Thompson out of my mind – and, oh, how I have tried because I already spend far too much time thinking about this glorious mutation of a species, The Housewife. But she’s lodged in there, that Heather – and I think I can hear her begging for my aid like the wind once bleated desperately for Poe.
I should try to raise money for her! That was the epiphany that settled into my sleepy consciousness really late the other night as I lay in bed, still wide awake. I considered my options. I could maybe hold a high-end lemonade sale where the tart beverage could be made entirely out of Skinny Girl products (you know – so maybe Bethenny might eventually like Heather because at least this little scenario would involve Heather helping Bethenny out with that skill of product placement which Bethenny has yet to master because it’s totally an accident that whenever Bethenny appears on camera, one of her products also makes its way into the frame and is always totally in focus). We could sell that Skinny Lemonade at a public forum where we debate exactly what drug Ramona is currently on that keeps her from fully reverting back into the abject monster she has always been and where we might be able to attain our own supply in bulk. Or I could try to do one of those Kickstarter campaigns like Zach Braff did to collect funds for his second directorial effort, the one that nobody wound up seeing. I suppose I could sell my own blood, but I fear that might somehow make getting tan more difficult. I’m not a science person, and I’m guessing that the loss of some blood probably has very little to do with a reaction to sun exposure, but I simply cannot take the risk because I look way better with some color. But I must do something because Heather clearly needs some money so she can buy herself two essential things: a brand new nanny who will bring her nannyless living nightmare to a skidding end – and so she can buy a skirt that wasn't once worn by an extra in the chorus of Oklahoma.
If you feel as strongly as I do about this grave matter, please contribute! Send the checks directly to me. Feel free to make them out in my name. I'll do the right thing with the money – you know, like charities always do. And if there’s any money left over after purchasing Heather a person to watch her kids and some decent cocktail attire, I will funnel the extra money directly to Bethenny’s therapist so the guy can call in some backup.
Bethenny, it seems, is more of a legitimate mess than maybe any of us could have possibly imagined, even those of us who are writers with very vivid imaginations and those of us who are frequently on mind-altering substances that allow the mind to drift to odd and wonderful places. But know this: drifting anywhere near Bethenny’s mind will not lead to anything wonderful unless you too are a lunatic masochist.
The episode starts right back where we ended last week, at Dorinda’s dining room table in her, um, eclectically decorated house of horrors in the countryside. Bethenny has just flipped the fuck out on Heather, pushing away the woman’s concern and potential friendship and screaming the following sentences: “I don’t want attention! I don’t want to deal with anything!” Oh, Bethenny. You’ve made it borderline impossible now for someone who used to get a good jolly kick out of you to see you as anything other than supremely warped, but this time I can’t look at the childhood in which you were raised by a creature from the satanic wolf species as the reason. You are one zillion percent allowed not to want attention or to have to talk about that which is most personal and painful in your life. Of course you have that right. But you kind of threw that right out the window when you signed your contract to appear on this show again, didn’t you? You don’t want attention? You’re a Real fucking Housewife! It’s not indentured servitude. Nobody forced you to be on a show where you were mandated to throw brunches for strangers and invite cameras into your home so that every time the camera did even a slight pan, Skinny Girl products could be seen by even a blind viewer.
Heather looks appropriately horrified by the reaction and she basically throws up her hands in frustration and high-tails it back to her seat and that kind of normal-person retreat makes Bethenny realize that maybe she has not behaved well. See, Bethenny has these moments of total clarity after the explosion she created has ricocheted through the room and shaken the walls and almost ruined the sushi while covering everyone’s ridiculous dinner party attire in dust and misery and then she finds the nugget of sanity that she usually ignores as just a pesky rumble of a hunger pain and then she is able to sort of apologize. So she stands up and declares that she would like to hug Heather, the woman she has effectively alienated for no great reason at all. It’s bizarre, all of it. I mean, I get the intention. Bethenny feels badly that she made Heather feel badly for acting kindly when Bethenny is so unused to being around (or being) kind, but what pray-tell, does a hug from Bethenny solve here? Heather stands up rather graciously and Bethenny touches her arms to Heather’s body in a move that I think she believes constitutes a real hug and Bethenny tells her, “It’s okay,” (it’s not) and then begins to stammer like a crazy person who is unfamiliar with language in general and she tells Heather, “I really like you,” which is not at all true, and Heather just nods and stays calm before sitting back down next to the lovely husband who must be her gift for having to deal with all of this bullshit.
So what exactly is the real problem here? Well, according to the madwoman of the moment (not to worry, Ramona; your moment is just around a corner of Dorinda’s house that’s probably festooned with an odd tchotchke), Bethenny explains, “I don’t dislike her. I just feel like she’s insideof me.” And that right there, friends, is Bethenny. She can only have surface relationships. She likes Sonja because Sonja only talks about herself, blowjobs, and how she herself enjoys giving blowjobs. Bethenny wants a crowd around who will do all the talking so she can do all the snarky judging. Maybe she’ll throw a funny comment into the discussion here and maybe a pithy comment there and maybe she’ll deign to toss in a blankly empathetic glance. But she can not engage on a genuine level and she doesn’t want to learn how to do such a thing and maybe that’s why she should instead go on a reality show where she has to live in an abandoned house that’s been built on an island all by herself and have to survive without a shitty-tasting bottled margarita and I think that might actually be a really good idea for her, but then I remember that she just doesn’t like attention – which she made clear by BEING ON A REALITY SHOW.
“I’m sorry about the dynamic I’ve set up,” Bethenny says to Heather, and that’s actually a good, self-aware apology, but those well-crafted hunks of accountability only come from Bethenny in the aftermath of one of her verbal detonations. And you know what? Sometimes accountability is not enough. Sometimes not acting like a total asshole means more.
Watching the entire thing transpire, Dorinda has enough sense to comment to the camera that Heather’s intent is good and that she’s a solver and a nurturer – and Bethenny just doesn’t like that. Another thing Bethenny doesn’t care for is how, after she has decreed that the incident she created in public is over, that Luann has the audacity to react to the nonsense she just witnessed. She’s still right here, says Bethenny. Can they not wait until she’s gone to talk about how insane and broken she is? But Bethenny? You don’t get to dictate the rules for how everyone acts in response to your communal emotional breakdowns and since everyone at that table is wearing a microphone and actually admits to enjoying the attention you pretend to shun, they can and will react any way they damn well please.
Privately, staring directly into a camera, Bethenny attempts to break down why she experiences so very many breakdowns. “I am going through a lot of pressure personally and I’m experiencing this all publicly. I am holding on by a thread.” THEN DON’T BE IN AN ARENA WHERE YOU BECOME EVEN MORE PUBLIC, YOU LOON! It’s not like you need a check from Bravo so you can buy the air that you eat! Holy fuck, I have lost my patience – and not even an anemic non-hug from the Skinny Girl herself would make it all better. Might her therapist make house calls? He can come to my place after he spends more time with her during which she talks about how broken she is without really doing anything about it.
But hysteria aside, it’s time now to make some toasts because it is after all still (still?) Dorinda’s birthday and Luann is up first. She tells the table filled with friends, enemies, and borderline strangers how she and Dorinda were “physically and chemically attracted to each other” when they first met and I now feel like the gift I sent to my best friend for her birthday was not enough, that I should have told her how much I wanted to go down on her on the night we met because of the rampant chemical attraction between us that was immediately evident. I mean, none of that is true, but I wonder now if that’s what real friendship involves. I suppose I’ll save all that for next year and in the meantime, I shall continue to support her frequent bikini waxes. After the chemical attraction in the room fades, Ramona gets up next because she can’t allow Luann to have any of the spotlight, not when she and Dorinda are so much closer anyway. Announcing that she met Dorinda when Avery was only four years old is basically her not-so-subtle way of saying that she knows Dorinda better than Luann does, so suck it Luann. And then she sits in Dorinda’s lap because that shows that maybe they also have a chemical attraction between them too, so the Countess can suck it once more. But even more than the musical chairs and my very real need to procure myself a pamphlet entitled “How to Go Down On Your Best Friend,” what really sticks out in this toast are Ramona’s other words of adoration for Dorinda. “What I really love about you?” begins the woman who is one pill away from morphing back into her former self. “You’re genuine.” And she does this weird blinky wink of one eye when she says it and I think that maybe that second pill of the night has just kicked in and one of her eyes thinks it’s time to go sleepy-time. But before that can happen, Bethenny gives a toast about how Sonja is the sanest person in the room and it is just showy enough for Heather to raise her eyebrows because toasts are about attention and doesn’t Bethenny want to run fleeing from such a thing?
The weekend finally over – and Dorinda’s Birthday Spectacular now just a long string of painful memories – the women land back in the city and Ramona goes to pick Avery up from the train where she has returned from college for winter break. Avery drops her bags to run to Ramona and it’s quite sweet, just as it is that Ramona is so excited to have her daughter home for a month. But the reunion is compromised when Ramona learns that Avery has to write a paper and that’s inconvenient for Ramona because she wanted to go out to dinner that night because, after all, they only have an entire month to go out to eat and Avery is in the car with her mother for about twelve seconds before she rolls her eyes at Ramona and she made it ten more seconds than I ever could have, so let’s give it up for Avery.
And the truth is that I’d rather stay in the backseat of that car while Ramona rambles and Avery reminds herself to check the schedule so she can know when Amtrak trains leave in the middle of the night than be at Bethenny’s brand summit, an event where all of the top people who run her zillions of businesses can be in the same room with their queen. As the terrified people look through their eyelashes at the woman who writes books about her own life because she hates attention, in walks Sonja Morgan. That’s right: Bethenny has invited Sonja to attend what seems to be a serious business meeting. She claims that she extended the invitation because maybe listening to someone who has viable businesses could help Sonja, a woman who only has fantasy businesses, and if I believed such a thing, I’d at least acknowledge that Bethenny is maybe not the very worst person on this spinning planet. However, call me cynical, but I am far more likely to believe that a producer of this show sat in his own meeting and, when called upon, began, “You know what would be funny?” and then proceeded to explain the hilarity that could ensue when you added a steeped-in-self-importance business moron into the equation of a serious business meeting. I’m betting that producer hopes to one day name his daughter Irony and that the guy was given a raise for this particular setup.
Sonja, who still doesn’t seem to know that she’s a joke, sat enthralled at that table even though she thought that attending a brand summit would mean that she’d be at an event where she would get to list all of the brands that she owns because she gets to live the life and she even told her Style Intern to be on high alert and to make sure to answer her phone calls because sometimes Sonja forgets to mention that she owns both Alaia and Proenza Schouler and such omissions could throw the entire brand summit into chaos. Once she realizes what a brand summit actually is, she sits back and she nods serenely and she asks a question and lets us know that she feels like she just earned her Associate’s Degree sitting at that table. I only pray that her imaginary Associates will not in any way interfere with the imaginary Doctorate Degrees she earned during the same weekend at Princeton and Yale, which really means that one weekend she slept with two guys and one claimed he went to Princeton and one said he went to Yale.
When that summit finally ends on a low note because the sweetener served at the meeting was not Skinny Girl sweetener and that meant that Bethenny had to pull a fistful of that shit from her own purse where she keeps sweetener just like my Nana did, we land back with Ramona and Avery. Avery is unpacking and Ramona brings up that Mario is trying to pursue her and would like to get back together with her, to which Avery wisely responds that she doesn’t really ask her father any questions and that she’d prefer to stay out of such a thing. Not willing to let the topic die a peaceful – or even a sputtering – death, Ramona asks how her daughter would feel if she and her father did reconcile and Avery simply expresses the hope that her mother will be happy. She’s so mature! Who raised this kid? But really, who has time to figure out who raised Avery when what we should really be focusing on is who or what raised Ramona because the woman is so enthralled by the fact that she and Avery are now friends that she can’t seem to realize that talking to your kid about her father’s flaws while you are both wearing microphones and there are cameras in your daughter’s bedroom might be a bad thing. See, it's a slippery slope to talk that frankly to your kid about her father's personal defects. Avery’s a smart girl. Let her figure it all out on her own – and I speak from the perspective of a kid whose parents were divorced and, during what I call The Angry Years, felt the need to enlighten me daily about how seriously the other sucked at life. It doesn’t lead to anything good is all I’m saying.
The subject in that bedroom blessedly changes to how Ramona is totally known for wearing a particular shade of blue and, because I’m nice, I will refrain from saying what else she is known for.
Then we attend the next business meeting of the episode because it’s about time that we learn that Kristen has a true passion. We all know about the Elvis fixation she’s got and we all suspect that she is secretly spending hours a day examining the underground tunnels of New York City so that one day she can escape from her still-fedora-wearing husband and live amongst the mole people, but she also has a gigantic love of nail polish! Kristen is so versatile, you guys. The meeting takes place at Ricky’s, a store that’s everywhere in Manhattan and sells makeup, penis necklaces, and a variety of flavored lube – and, hopefully soon, the store will sell Kristen’s new line of nail polish. She brings Carole with her to the meeting that I think might be happening in the room where the employees eat their lunch because Carole is a writer and she can come up with some zippy names for the polishes, though I have a hard time believing that even a seriously good writer like Carole can beat the name Chillin’ Like a Villian, which is the actual name of an OPI polish. I was wrong, though! Carole presents names like Thrust and Slide and Dangler and Kristen is mildly horrified because she was thinking of calling that baby pink shade something like Daisy’s Breath.
What’s interesting here is that Carole apparently has always had a passion for nail polish too. It’s similar to how my best friend and I both like Kerouac. But Carole just kind of shrugs off that Kristen might have hit the nail polish jackpot before she did and she says that she doesn’t mind because Kristen is pretty – and now she’s smart too – and I think that I might be in love with Carole.
But watching this show is an emotional fucking rollercoaster, because just as I’m feeling all tingly because of the chemical reaction I must share with Carole, I come down with a thud because now it’s time to have dinner with Ramona and Bethenny. Dorinda and Carole will join them soon, but I didn’t know that at first and I wrapped my arms tightly around myself and rocked myself back and forth and told myself that everything would be okay and that I could totally change the channel or jump off a roof if I had to.
Ramona, clad in an itsy-bitsy camisole, is disappointed that there are no men in the restaurant because how is she possibly expected to do something like gnaw on steak if there’s no man around to watch her canines go to work? Perhaps more disturbing than that particular image is how Ramona seems remarkably intent to throw Heather, a person who has been more than decent to her, under an out of control bus that is being driven by an escaped mental patient who looks curiously like Ramona herself. Ramona says that she saw Heather go for Bethenny’s “jugular.” Okay. First, that didn’t happen. Second, how is it that Ramona is conveniently forgetting that the night before she announced to a table filled with women that Bethenny is not a girl’s girl and that’s why only people she has on salary attended her birthday party? And that right there is why I can never like Ramona Singer. She is a dick.
When Dorinda arrives, obviously clad in fur, she and Ramona and Bethenny talk about how Heather just went after Bethenny, but when Carole shows up, Bethenny tries to shut the conversation down because she’s an asshole and all, but she knows that maybe disparaging Carole’s best friend could be something that might come back to haunt her. Carole stands up for Heather – and that kind of unmitigated loyalty is refreshing to see anywhere within this franchise – and then she allows the topic to change to all the men Ramona is inviting to her AOA Christmas Party and how Sonja always wants to have sex with her when Sonja is hammered. That revelation releases all of the women, except for Ramona, into talking about how they love women and about lesbian sex and Ramona finds such a thing rather distasteful, and that sharp breeze you just felt flutter across your cheeks was the simultaneous exhalation of relief by every lesbian in the tri-state area and from the bottom Dakota, which I guess is South Dakota.
I was absent the day they taught geography.
On the night of the party, Ramona shows up with Avery and Avery’s friend and all the women are there too except for Sonja because she’s off giving the graduation speech at Harvard. But Bethenny is there and so is Kristen and, when Heather shows up, Bethenny greets her like you’d greet the wasp that once stung you and then, before he flew away, told you that you should know that nobody has ever cared about you. And, once again, Ramona comes right over and asks Bethenny how the hello between she and Heather went and how Heather was rough on her too when they met. Even Bethenny, a gigantic jerk, is able to acknowledge that Heather is right to be cautious with her because she hasn’t reacted all that well to her, but Ramona cannot see such a thing and still attempts to make ridiculous comparisons between the horrors Heather has bestowed upon both of their lives.
Heather will not be the issue at this party, though. Seems Bethenny has a checklist in her mind that includes: overcome hellish childhood; find a home; kill the person who forgot to bring the Skinny Girl sweetener to the brand summit (and maim his family too); and insult both Luann and Kristen for sport. Luann is up first and she asks if Bethenny is okay because the whole Heather Thing that went down at Dorinda’s was kind of nutty and Bethenny loses her entire mind. Luann tries to tell her that she's just trying to be a good friend to someone who burst into tears at a dinner party and Bethenny reacts by going on one of her association tangents that a drunk guy who once wanted to fuck her said was endearing. Is there talk about braiding another woman’s pussy hair? There is not, but Bethenny does spew an imitation of Luann where she makes it seem that Luann wasn’t asking after her wellbeing and was instead suggesting that Bethenny give Heather a pacifier and maybe breastfeed her – but hopefully not at the same time. It makes almost no sense and, while I can concede that if Luann truly cared she would have called Bethenny away from the cameras to ask if she was okay, Bethenny’s reaction is still stunning and gross – and that’s when Kristen walks over.
Having just heard from Carole that Bethenny called Kristen stupid, Kristen asks if she can speak to Bethenny just as Bethenny is fighting with Luann about nothing. The two turn her away and Kristen just kind of waits for her own turn to fight with Bethenny. It’s like a really shitty carnival game where you win tickets for fighting with a monster and the tickets earn you a water gun that won’t even work.
Once her diatribe at Luann is over, it’s time for someone else to tell Bethenny that she’s a total asshole and Kristen asks her to come sit down and Bethenny goes with her like she is being dragged to a hugging convention attended only by the men who have wronged her and by her mother. Kristen stays calm and explains how passionate she is about her nail polish line and that it hurts her feelings that Bethenny would insult both it and her – and that’s when Bethenny pulls the rudest move I’ve ever seen a shithead like her pull off. She gets up and walks away and when Kristen tells her to come back, Bethenny laughs in her face and says no. It is an act so dismissive, so curt, so unwarranted when she was the one who insulted Kristen, that I am officially done with Bethenny because she’s not broken – she’s just a pile of dogshit.
Not wanting to leave the party with everyone hating her – and terrified that Ramona might be her only ally – Bethenny approaches Heather, who matters in a way Kristen never will. She tells Heather again that she’s sorry for her behavior and Heather accepts her apology and forges a tenuous truce with the creature standing before her and then Bethenny shouts goodbye to everybody and laughingly tells Dorinda that she’s the only one Bethenny hasn’t somehow offended and then she goes off into the night alone, which is exactly how every night of her life will pan out, even if there’s someone by her damaged side.