‘The Real Housewives of New York City’: Serious business

The Real Housewives of New York
“On an Island”
May 16, 2018

Air Intervention arrives in Puerto Rico, where Bethenny and Dorinda meet with Bethenny’s crew of volunteers. There, Bethenny divides up the cash cards and instructs her people to try to deliver them to 12 houses each. Bethenny and Dorinda are then taken to a remote mountain village that was devastated by landslides during Hurricane Maria and which remains without electricity to Dorinda’s astonishment and horror. The women pass out the cash cards to the grateful villagers, many who burst into tears at their generosity.

It’s a moving series of scenes: watching Bethenny put all of that Bethenny energy into doing something concrete to help these people’s lives … it’s hard not to admire her. That said, as someone who was here for Hurricane Harvey, as someone who helped friends muck out their houses, carried their clothes and yearbooks and furniture out to the curb to be disposed of, and watched them go through the emotional process of realizing that their lives were never going to be the same, I felt … conflicted watching this segment. A part of me wanted to shield these people from these reality show cameras, to not be used as props in a storyline about Rich White Lady Dorinda coming to realize that her priorities are fucked up. Nothing irks me more than the Great White Hero trope and it is in FULL EFFECT in this episode.

But. The reality of the matter is Puerto Rico was hit by a category 5 hurricane, was all but ignored by our government and as a result of our negligence, suffered greater losses than what we saw after Katrina. And Bethenny Frankel genuinely helped people in a concrete and significant way by giving them money and supplies and perhaps raising awareness — even if her generosity and thoughtfulness were ultimately milked for content for a reality show. And, hey, guess what, it’s hurricane season again. So, if this episode made the average Real Housewives of New York City viewer a little more aware, a little more empathetic towards our fellow American citizens and what they have been through and what they continue to suffer, then it was worth it.

By the way, more than 10,000 people are still without power on the island.

And then we’re back in New York tending to Actual Important Business like shopping for fur coats and working on cabaret shows that no one asked for.

Ramona picks up Sonja in a limo to make nice with her and to drag her out to Great Neck to go shopping in some dude’s store. On the ride — which, ZUT ALORS!, takes them through QUEENS — Ramona apologizes to Sonja for disappointing her in the Hamptons, and Sonja accepts it because Ramonja can’t remain mad at each other, come on.

They then look at chinchilla coats and skin-tight jeans and drink champagne. Worth noting: Sonja, while prancing around in the jeans, calls out, “Let’s go bowling!” Do … do these women not own jeans? Do they believe that jeans are only worn by bowlers? I don’t understand?

Meanwhile, in the Countessdom, she meets with some guy to talk about a cabaret show she wants to do. According to her, she sang on Broadway this one time and Liza Minelli looked at her and said, “Girl … that was awesome.”

lucille two vertigo.jpg

OK.

Anyway, this cabaret show is a thing that is happening, and if you want to spend $80-$170 to see The Countess warble “Money Can’t Buy You Class” while Sonja thrusts a microphone between her legs, you are in luck, my friend.

Later, having returned from Puerto Rico, Bethenny joins the other women for drinks (but Dorinda stays home for reasons unexplained). They ask her about her trip, but she demurs, encouraging them to ask Dorinda about her experience when they see her next. Sonja is the last to arrive and promptly begins whining about being seated at the end of the table again, prompting eye rolls from the Tinsley and Princess Carole end of the table, but a degree of sympathy from Bethenny. After all, Sonja brought Tinsley into the group, and now she’s the one being pushed out.

(I mean, MAYBE. Or maybe the casting agents brought Tinsley on the show and she happened to know Sonja Morgan from her previous life, but there has been very little evidence that the two were ever “good friends” or that any of these women are actually good friends when the cameras are off, BUT WHATEVER.)

Bethenny admonishes Tinsley for not being grateful enough towards Sonja after Sonja helped her rebuild her life when she returned to New York “at the bottom.” Her Royal Highness interjects, “emotionally,” meaning that Tinsley was at the bottom emotionally, but BETHENNY IS NOT INTERESTED IN PRINCESS BUTTSINALOT’S THOUGHTS ON THE MATTER.

And then everyone is screaming at everyone else: Tinsley at Sonja for suggesting that Tinsley had no friends, Sonja at Tinsley because Sonja, Bethenny at Her Former Best Friend for defending Tinsley because that’s JUST LIKE PRINCESS NO IDENTITY, and Her Royal Get Off Her Jockness at Bethenny because GET OFF HER JOCK, SHE IS A RIDE OR DIE FRIEND.

Meanwhile, Ramona and The Countess:

calm down rhony ramonatake a xanax ramona rhony

Sometime later, Princess Wordsmith goes to a meeting at Cosmopolitan where an editor pitches that she write a one-page “On My Mind” column and Her Royal Writingness is all, “Yeah, sure why not, what else am I doing with my time?” Because, honestly, what does she do with her time?

Her TimesUpness decides that her first column will be about her own #MeToo story, in which “that director” (James Toback? He’s the only director I can think of who fits this description) did to her what he did to other women, and told her that if she “rubbed [his] nipples for 30 seconds [he’d] come.”

spn_dean-gross-no-thank-you

But also, like, weird? That’s not only a weird thing to say, it’s just a weird thing to claim? And it’s a perfect example of how these sexual harassment stories aren’t just about flirting going awry, or men trying to seduce women — it’s about something else, namely exercising power over women partially through humiliation because NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD THINK SAYING TO SOMEONE, “You know, if you rubbed my nipples, I’d come within 30 seconds,” COULD POSSIBLY BE A TURN ON.

Moving on.

Hey! Pondicheri! Bethenny and Dorinda meet for lunch at Pondicheri which is a charming Indian joint that started here in Houston before moving to a second outpost in Manhattan, which is not generally the direction in which these sorts of things go. There, Dorinda tells Bethenny that their trip to Puerto Rico had a profound effect on her, and readjusted her entire mindset for the better. Well, I’m glad there was an upside to Hurricane Maria after all.

Bethenny notes that Dorinda missed the four-way fight between herself, Tinsley, Sonja and Princess Team Tinsley, before offering her defense of Sonja — to perhaps the one person who is the least interested in hearing it.

This then brings Bethenny to mention that she asked the Duke of Ramps to join them on her trips to Houston and Puerto Rico to photograph them, and his response was to ask what the comp would be. Bethenny was shocked that he wasn’t willing to volunteer his time, and when she explained there wouldn’t be any compensation — everyone she is working with is volunteering their time — he declined the offer. The problem came when Bethenny apparently mentioned this to Her Royal Sereness, and added that she thought the Earl of Arugula was an “operator,” and Princess Ex-Girlfriend took offense. The point is, things aren’t great between Bethenny and Princess Carole.

BUT TO SAY A COUPLE OF WORDS IN THE VISCOUNT OF PITA’S DEFENSE: people ask creatives to do things for free all the time — often in exchange for promised “exposure” — and it’s not cool. I agree that the humanitarian thing would have been for the Marquis of Lettuce to volunteer his time and work, but if he genuinely felt he couldn’t afford to do so, I don’t think it’s fair for him to be accused of having some sort of greedy intent. Not everyone on this show has a net worth of tens of millions of dollars, Bethenny Frankel.

Over at Grey Gardens, Sonja has The Countess and Ramona come over to paint her garden furniture? I mean, sure. The women suit up in protective gear including jumpsuits, prompting Ramona to complain about the low crotch on hers. In response, The Countess says hers fits perfectly, opening the door for Ramona to call her “LuMan.” The Countess sniffs that she’s “just tall,” and Ramona, God bless her, is like, “Yeah, tall like a man.”

jon stewart kiss delicious perfect

Ramona is also very excited to talk about the Bethenny/Princess Carole rift and marvels at the fact that Bethenny called Her Royalness Tinsley’s “puppet,” which Bethenny did not do, but shit stirrers gonna stir.

Later, Princess I’m a Writer Too hosts a book party for her friend and former VJ Karen Duffy who has written a book about chronic pain because somebody has to. The rest of the cast arrives and the first thing Ramona does is tell Princess Hostess that she can’t believe that Bethenny called her a “puppet” the other night.

what what ramona carole rhony

Her Highness, to her credit, is like, “Yeah, that never happened,” but it bothers her enough that when Bethenny arrives, she asks her if she said it. Bethenny is all, “I mean, I said in an interview that you don’t have your own identity and that you are moved by other people, but I never called you a puppet.”

And then Dorinda announces that — oh, God help us all — they are going to the Bezerkshires next weekend and as if that isn’t dangerous enough, she’s hosting a murder mystery dinner party. They are all assigned 1920s characters and instructed to dress the part and whatever producer came up with this idea deserves a promotion. Again, all Housewives fights should be required to take place in full costume.

Tinsley takes Sonja aside and tells her that she just wants to move forward, not dwell in the past and that if she ever made Sonja feel she was ungrateful towards her, she’s terribly sorry, she is very grateful for what Sonja did for her and always will be. That said, quit talking shit about her behind her back. Deal? Deal.

OH! And Dorinda informs The Countess that she ran into Tom the Cheater at a restaurant with some new woman, and learned that he is going to be hosting a New Year’s Eve party on the same yacht where he and The Countess had their engagement party.

we got the yacht the countess rhony
Yeah, this one.

AND SO DORINDA TOLD HIM EXACTLY HOW DOUCHEY SHE THOUGHT HE WAS AND INSTRUCTED HIM TO NEVER BRING HIS TRAMPS TO HER TABLE AGAIN.

At least, I’m sure she thought that’s what she told him.

drunk dorinda toast yacht rhony

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

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