‘The Real Housewives of New York City’: Pandora’s piñata

The Real Housewives of New York
“Say it Ain’t So”
August 24, 2016

And so it is we’ve come to the end of another season of The Real Housewives of New York City. We are all a little older, a little wiser, and a little more humiliated thanks to some bald dirt bag who has a fixation on reality television stars of a certain age.

We begin this episode with The Countess having just learned that Bethenny had a photo of Fiancé Tom making out with some random former Playmate the night before their engagement party. As a result, The Countess storms out of Bethenny’s room without seeing the evidence for herself, announcing that she is GOING TO VOMIT.

But before puking, The Countess heads back to Bethenny’s room, demanding to see the photo with her own eyeballs, and Bethenny obliges, but adds she can’t tell The Countess who it was that took and sent the photo to her. (Real Housewives Production staff, maybe even Andy Cohen himself.) The Countess can’t decide what makes her angrier: that Fiancé Tom did this at the Regency in front of other people; that Bethenny sat on this information for the entire weekend; that Bethenny didn’t share this in a “quieter, gentler fashion,” i.e., not on camera; or that Fiancé Tom cheated on her. LOL J/K It’s definitely not that last one.

Dorinda and Jules are drawn to the commotion and learn from The Countess what is happening and decide that surely there’s some mistake, right? Maybe it’s not Fiancé Tom? Maybe it wasn’t taken on Wednesday? Is there a time stamp? Has she considered it might be a case of time travel? Or doppelgängers? Or ghosts? WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE?

Meanwhile, Princess Carole, Ramona and Ramona’s hair curlers try to reassure Bethenny that she did the right thing by telling The Countess. As Bethenny cries, for some reason, Ramona insists that she wishes someone had told her about Mario before she learned it in Page Six.

Oh they tried, Ramona. They tried.

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This drives Bethenny to start drinking directly from the bottle, and who can blame her, really?

The Countess returns to Bethenny’s room looking for more answers, and Bethenny sends the other women away because she doesn’t want this to be a “gossip event,” she explains. On camera. On a nationally televised series.

The Countess demands to see the timestamp on the photo, and Bethenny explains that she doesn’t have one BUT! WAIT! HEAR HER OUT! she went CSI all up in this bitch and called multiple people at the Regency bar to confirm that there was a bald man making out with a brunette on Wednesday night. The Countess then texts Fiancé Tom to demand some GOD DAMNED ANSWERS, and he replies that he’s in a meeting, sry.

Meanwhile, to Bethenny, The Countess keeps insisting that there must be a mistake, she knows in her heart Fiancé Tom loves her, he was probably just drunk, she’s in love with him and this will not destroy their marriage, and other worrisome things that suggest she’s laying the foundation to not end the engagement with the man she’s known all of three months and who has SIMULTANEOUSLY DATED TWO OF HER FELLOW CAST MATES.

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Eventually, Fiancé Tom returns her call, and The Countess proceeds to scream at him, demanding to know HOW HE COULD DO THIS TO HER IN FRONT OF EVERYONE, while Bethenny cringes and takes another swig of her Skinnygirl vodka.

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Once off the phone, The Countess fills in the other women: Fiancé Tom’s story is that he doesn’t remember, and he knows he fucked up and she doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

Except for when she does and she barges back into Bethenny’s room demanding a bloody mary and to wonder how he could do this to her at the Regency where everyone knows him. Bethenny points out that this is why she asked if The Countess and Fiancé Tom were monogamous, and The Countess begins lamenting that he couldn’t wait to ask her to marry him. And that’s when Bethenny wades into dangerous waters …

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… asking if maybe he couldn’t wait to ask The Countess to marry him because she’s rich. The Countess insists that Fiancé Tom has his own money, to which Bethenny points out that he might, but not as much money as The Countess… Furthermore, there’s Sonja Morgan, who just sounds rich, and his ex-girlfriend who everyone agrees is “very very rich.” With that, Bethenny just hands The Countess a glass of straight vodka rimmed with Tajin and instructs her to drink it.

Bethenny also makes sure The Countess knows that the photo was sent to her by a man, squelching The Countess’s hopes that it could have just been sent by a jealous ex. And with that, The Countess heads to her room to pack her things, leaving Bethenny to sigh to Princess Carole that The Countess is embarrassed because the truth is out, they all know it and she is going to stay with Fiancé Tom anyway.

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Upon arriving back in New York City, The Countess makes a big show of checking into a hotel while she “wraps her head around things.”

3 days later, Ramona pays a visit to Dorinda who reveals that she recently received a call from The Countess and Fiancé Tom who were at the Regency. They wanted to bring some waiters to Dorinda’s apartment so that they could get their stories straight, and then she, Dorinda, could go sell to the other women some complete batshit insane lie about how Fiancé Tom never did the thing that he was photographed doing. When Dorinda declined, Fiancé Tom told her she wouldn’t be invited to the wedding and furiously hung up on her.

Later we hear from The Countess herself who explains that in the night in question she and Fiancé Tom had a fight and The Countess went home. He then ran into a woman he knew from his prodigious past who was “ready, willing and able” to be there for him and “he fell into her clutches.” So, basically,  what The Countess is saying here is that she has found someone else to blame this entire mess on — someone who didn’t give her an 8-carat diamond ring.

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Finally, the obligatory season finale party: our final chance for everyone to be in one room together and scratch each other’s eyes out. Bethenny is hosting some sort of Skinnygirl event for her new tequila? I guess? Because there’s a whole Mexican theme complete with sombreros and fake mustaches and a piñata filled with “$10,000 of jewelry.”

And I guarantee you, if she weren’t contractually required to attend, The Countess would have begged off, claiming she was in Palm Springs or Vail or the South of France, anywhere but on camera with these women. But she does attend, escorted to the party not by Fiancé Tom, but by Jules and Her Husband. Also in attendance: Sonja on a date with that Italian guy, Rocco; Princess Carole and the Earl of Quinoa who has recently cut off his dumb hippie ponytail; and Dorinda accompanied by Fudgie, with whom Bethenny has forged a (temporary) truce.

And everyone is being nice and behaving themselves and generally staying on the rails — but then, as Bethenny is explaining to Dorinda, Princess Carole, Ramona and Sonja that the piñata is filled with expensive jewelry, The Countess stomps over and declares that IF THEY DON’T STOP TALKING ABOUT HER, SHE’S LEAVING. Everyone laughs and laughs because 1. The Countess’ ego clearly knows no bounds but also, too 2. It’s not going to be that easy to leave but good try.

Ramona tries to empathize with The Countess, saying that she couldn’t sleep all night, The Countess’ situation having brought up so many painful memories of her own. And The Countess snaps that SHE DOESN’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT FIANCÉ TOM AND RAMONA EVER AGAIN. Of course, Ramona was talking about the dissolution of her 25-year-long marriage to Mario and not some douchebag she went out with for a couple of months, BUT OK, THE COUNTESS.

Ramona then becomes the Unexpected Voice of Reason as she tries to remind The Countess that there’s no rush to the altar: she is on her own timetable and maybe she should get to know Fiancé Tom better before making him Husband Tom. The Countess listens carefully to Ramona’s points and takes them under advisement.

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Later, The Countess and the Duke of Plantains have a brief, friendly conversation for the first time in over a year.

Also, Bethenny hashes out her issues with Jules, telling her that she didn’t feel like she deserved being attacked so viciously at that one dinner. In turn Jules says, “It’s Dorinda’s fault.” For her part, Dorinda is all, “Nuh uh.” And then Bethenny is like, “Look, whatever, I don’t care, non-crisis over, go get a margarita.”

Bethenny also tries to talk to The Countess who yells at her for having the NERVE to doing her due diligence on the veracity of the Fiancé Tom photos before showing them to The Countess. WHY DID BETHENNY HAVE TO GO AND VERIFY THE PHOTOS? WHY WAS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR BETHENNY TO LEARN THE TRUTH BEFORE SHE WENT AROUND TELLING PEOPLE ABOUT THEM? And in conclusion, stay out of The Countess’ business and let her “live in [her] bubble.” Actual words she actually said.

And then Sonja tries to eat a tamale husk.

With that, The Countess sale de la fiesta, missing the jewelry piñata altogether, and slipping away before we can get everyone’s Postscript:

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Sonja’s first date with Rocco turned into a second and third. She’s still the straw that stirs the drink, but now it’s a virgin cocktail.

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With photos of Michael and his alleged mistress surfacing recently, Jules and Michael are now in the process of divorcing. Jules is focusing on her children and her new business.

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Dorinda and Fudgie are still dating and not living together. She saged her Berkshire home in hopes for a tranquil summer.

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The heat between Princess Carole and Duke of Scallions is burning strong… plans for their cookbook however, are on the back burner.

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Ramona continues to lure eligible bachelors on the Upper East Side with her citrus fragrance. But now she’s vetting her suitors more carefully to make sure none of them have dated her friends.

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The Countess and Fiance Tom are busy planning their New Year’s Eve wedding. It’s still unclear which of the ladies will be invited, if any.

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Bethenny’s ex moved out of their apartment and the divorce is finalized. There’s no more bleeding for Bethenny financially or otherwise.

Before we sign off for the season, a few words about The Countess and her “engagement.” It’s easy to come away from this entire storyline feeling smug filled with a certain degree of Schadenfreude towards The Countess. After all, she was insufferable with all her, “I’M IN LOVE, I’M IN LOVE!” crap and waving that giant diamond ring in everyone’s faces, even after they expressed their very reasonable concerns about Tom. And then, after everyone is proven correct about this asshole, she chooses to stay with him and attack the friends who tried to protect her? Nope. You get what you deserve, lady.

But. I recently read this old piece on Salon by Penn Jillette about his time on Celebrity Apprentice, and one of the things that really stuck with me, especially considering all the reality television I watch and write about, was this:

Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” introduced me to the idea of “ego depletion.” I read it after my tour of duty on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” and it explained some of the mysteries I experienced doing that show. Studies have shown that if you make someone very self-conscious  about everything they do and say, their self-control just gets tired out. The ego can be exhausted. It’s the very trying to be one’s best on camera that puts one at one’s worst on camera. You just can’t keep it up that long. You want to be at your best, but pretty soon the internal censors are exhausted, take a break, and pretty soon sweet Arsenio is yelling things like, “I’ll tell you what a fucking bitch whore she is!”

The non-sexual question I’ve been asked the most since “TCA” is “Were those others just faking?” It’s a question I can’t answer. We were all professionals, we were all aware of the camera, but we were also living our lives. It makes it very crazy. I spent a lot of time saying “It’s not real.” But that’s not true. It’s also not TV. It’s really not TV. When I was having my heart-to-heart with Clay, the full endless horror of it was never broadcast. It was edited down to a minute. When I’m on Piers Morgan and he’s ripping me a new asshole, that’s TV, I know that every word he says is going out. But “The Celebrity Apprentice” is so long that you know the vast majority of stuff will never be seen, but cameras are still on; it could be seen. It’s Schrödinger’s showbiz: it’s all fake and it’s all real at the same time. The situation itself makes everyone crazy.

It explains SO MUCH about the Real Housewives as a franchise specifically, and I think a little bit about The Countess this season in particular. My guess is The Countess decided that she was done being made to look like a bed-hopping slut and she chose to change her narrative by getting into a serious adult relationship. But when reality began to intrude, be it Sonja or Ramona or Tom’s other ex-girlfriend or the fact that he clearly has a pattern of pursuing rich women or his BLATANT CHEATING IN FRONT OF EVERYONE, she was unwilling to let go of the facade and admit that everything wasn’t perfect. Granted, she didn’t have a full-fledged Teresa Giudice meltdown about it — but we haven’t made it to the reunions yet.

And so, while I think The Countess is ridiculous and shouldn’t marry this obvious nightmare of a human being, I also feel deeply sorry for her. It must to be exhausting to feel like you have to pretend all the time.

So that’s it! We’re done with the Real Housewives of New York City! Until the reunion which begins next week and will last God only knows how long. Stock up on Skinnygirl vodka and I’ll meet you there!

The Real Housewives of New York airs on Wednesdays at 8/9 p.m. on Bravo.

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6 thoughts on “‘The Real Housewives of New York City’: Pandora’s piñata

  1. Therese – no more RHoNJ recaps? Say it ain’t so. I NEVER laugh out loud (I type it out because I am OLD) but your RHoNJ recaps were side-splittingly funny! If they are no more I will simply have to relish the nickname “Fudgie” in your RHoNY recaps and move on.

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    1. I know and I’m so sorry! I do plan to get caught up with my RHONJ recaps, I promise. It’s just been a busy transition, and they were put on the back burner. Keep an eye out, I hope to get to them soon. Thanks for reading and finding me here!

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  2. Therese, congratulations on your move. Your recaps are some of the best around, and I’m so glad they will continue. You’re a treasure!

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