‘The Real Housewives of New York City’: You Do That Voodoo

The Real Housewives of New York
“Eat, Drink, and Be Scary”
July 2, 2020

Before we begin with the episode, we have to acknowledge something I’ve never seen done on one of these shows before: with the departure of Tinsley halfway through the season, the show updated the women’s taglines.

New taglines:

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Old taglines:

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Huh. OK.

We have also apparently reached the stage in post-production when the COVID lockdowns began because the individual interviews look … different. The lighting is all too bright, the sound is all wrong, and at one point, Ramona loses an arm in a weird technical glitch. It doesn’t actually have any impact on the story, it’s just an interesting TV historical note (and probably explains the nearly month-long break between this and the previous episode).

We begin the episode at a Halloween costume shop where Leah, The Countess, and Dorinda meet to mostly talk shit about Ramona since they have nothing much else to do as they’ve clearly already rented their costumes for the Halloween party that concludes this episode. What, you think the Real Housewives of New York City are going to wear Party City costumes to an event? (That said, Leah does appear to buy Rob, her baby daddy, a priest costume on this trip, explaining that he’s going to be her plus one.)

The Countess exposits that her friend Evan is throwing his annual Halloween spectacular, but that she will not be performing this year (thank God). Instead, he’s arranging a dinner for her friends ahead of the dance party. Sounds fun! Can’t wait to see how they ruin it!

Dorinda then tells Leah and The Countess about her adventure out to Long Island to plan Ramona’s birthday party and how the party planner used her and Sonja for publicity on his social media. Dorinda then says on camera what was unsaid in the previous episode: that it was clear Ramona swindled them into going out there with her so as to get a free party out of the guy. And it’s a small thing, but I’m glad it was acknowledged; my intelligence feels less insulted. 

Dorinda tells The Countess how she tried to convince Ramona to make the party a joint one with Sonja but how Ramona refused because it’s her “coming out” party and it’s ONLY ABOUT RAMONA. Leah, who has only known these women for five minutes, is like, “I mean, I get why Dorinda is mad, but she’s known Ramona for 20 years. How on Earth is she surprised by this?” GOOD. QUESTION. And one I’ve been asking for the past eight seasons.

Dorinda then mentions that Ramona reached out to her to “do a whole Tinsley thing,” and The Countess explains that they just took Tinsley out for drinks to say goodbye (and honestly, it’s for the best for everyone Dorinda didn’t go). Dorinda looks to the bright side: Tinsley’s departure frees up a room at Blue Stone Manor; maybe she’ll invite Elyse to join them.

Speaking of Ramona, she meets up with Rori, the matchmaker who set her up with both Red Scarf Guy and that bald Mansplainer who didn’t believe in marriage. Over drinks, Rori asks what is more important to Ramona, love or money, and Ramona is like, “BOTH.” Ramona explains that she wants her best friend, but someone who summers in Europe the way she does. Rori tries to explain that sometimes women look to men who are older or maybe a little heavier if they are looking for an expensive lifestyle, but Ramona insists that SHE WANTS IT ALL.

See, the problem is, Ramona, that a man who is handsome, wealthy, charming and over 60 is also certainly off the market already, Rori does not say, but is clearly thinking as she takes another long sip on her drink.

Elsewhere, Sonja and That Elyse Woman meet for drinks and to get themselves completely wound up over Ramona. And, not without reason.

First, Sonja reveals that Ramona picked out Sonja’s Halloween costume for her, and when Elyse wonders why Ramona didn’t get her a costume, too (because you’re a grown-ass woman and it’s weird that Ramona got Sonja a costume in the first place?), Sonja suggests that it’s about Ramona keeping Elyse in her place. Which is an interesting theory when the truth of the matter is more along the lines of Elyse never once crossed Ramona’s mind when she was shopping for costumes.

(It’s true, though.)

Apparently, after they went to the haunted house and dinner the week before, Ramona and some of the other women (I’m thinking it must have been Sonja and The Countess) jumped into a car to go get drinks someplace else, and Elyse was explicitly NOT INVITED by Ramona who told her it was “just the girls.” That Elyse Woman texted “BULLSHIT” to Ramona in response, and then apparently seethed about it for a week.

As for Sonja, she’s pissed at Ramona for not being supportive enough about her big Century 21 gig in which she’s been named their “Chief Lifestyle Officer.” Sonja adds that when she gave Ramona the news, Ramona bragged about how she knows the family that owns Century 21, and their original buyer because one-upping people is Ramona’s entire brand.

As they make a toast to themselves, Elyse and Sonja hint that they have an infinite amount of dirt on Ramona, not that they would ever use it. LADIES, USE IT. I’M BEGGING YOU. WE’RE ALLLL BEGGING YOU.

Over in Dorinda’s world in Murray Hill, she meets her daughter Hannah for lunch at a New York diner, “Jimbo’s Hamburger Joint,” and God bless them both, this place is authentic as hell — no chic Eurotrash cafe this time. As for Hannah, she appears to be going as Future St. Vincent from 2021 for Halloween, and I am here for it:

Over burgers, Hannah tells her mother how proud she is of her for stepping out on her own for the first time really, and what a good mom and role model she is. It is very sweet, it is what Dorinda needed to hear right now, and there are tears.

Also having a meal with her family is Leah who gets authentic Chinese with Rob and her daughter Kiki. There, they talk about Leah’s lunch with her parents and how Rob not only treats her mother like his own mom, he’s a lot like Leah’s mom as a person, too.

Leah also casually mentions that her parents kicked her out when she was 17 — or maybe it was 19 — which, combined with the information that she didn’t go to college, all seems to come as news to her daughter. I’m certainly not saying that Leah is a bad mom, but maybe these are conversations with your kid that are more appropriate to have off-camera?

And then, the Halloween party.

While The Countess examines the party space and the dinner table complete with a terrifying sea creature seafood tower and severed goat heads, Leah has arrived at the hotel suite next door that The Countess has rented for hair and makeup prep for the two of them and Jill Zarin, who will be joining them for the night.

The theme of this year’s party is “Voodoo Priestess,” which is just begging for culturally insensitive costumes with this crowd.

Leah plans on wearing a silvery bodysuit and Day of the Dead makeup (even though Dia de Los Muertos and the Voodoo religion have literally nothing to do with one another, a fact I could write an entire dissertation on being a Texan who has lived in New Orleans). The Countess’s plan is to be a “French socialite from New Orleans,” and Jill’s costume is “18th-century prostitute.” None of these things have anything to especially do with voodoo, but I’m going to breathe through it. I’m just going to keep repeating to myself, “there’s no blackface involved, there’s no blackface involved, there’s no blackface involved,” and it will be fine.

Meanwhile, there’s Ramona who shows up in a costume that looks like it was plucked from the cover of a fantasy novel about a sorceress.

Ramona shows up to the party one hour early and with Missy, the ex-girlfriend of The Countess’ ex-husband, in tow. In pure Ramona fashion, she had another, better party lined up for later in the evening, so she texted the group and suggested that The Countess’s dinner be moved up an hour early so as to accommodate her schedule. No one else complied, however, so she and Missy are left twiddling their thumbs for a solid hour before anyone else arrives.

Meanwhile, Dorinda, Elyse, and Sonja share a car, and Sonja has very clearly been pre-gaming. Dorinda, who is wearing an anatomical bodysuit with a corset over it, is immediately groped and molested by Sonja. Also, the three discuss Ramona and how they are all irritated with her, which prompts Sonja to start banging on a voodoo doll she has brought as part of her costume, hexing “Ramona” “in her ear and in her rear.” So how’s that plan to not be so drunk in public going, Sonja?

These three arrive at the party at its actual time, 8:30, and Sonja immediately begins doing her whole voodoo doll thing in Ramona’s face, eyes drooping, words slurring, and with the alarming caution that the “other three vodka sodas might kick in at any minute.”

Oh lord.

Sonja does manage to explain her hostility towards Ramona — a little — telling Ramona that every time she tries to tell Ramona something about herself, Ramona makes it about Ramona. If Sonja has a construction project, Ramona has a construction project; if Sonja’s daughter is going to college; Ramona’s daughter is going to college. At this, Ramona corrects her: Avery has actually graduated.

But Ramona’s one social skill is knowing when an apology is expected, and to that end, she tries to hug it out with Sonja, but Sonja slurs that SHE IS NOT ACCEPTING IT.

That Elyse Woman decides now is a good time to get involved and begins giving Ramona an earful about how she feels like she’s at the bottom of the totem pole, and that she supports Ramona without Ramona supporting her back. Ramona, understandably feeling ganged up on and flees to the bathroom.

Her peace is short-lived, however, as Ramona is soon cornered by Dorinda who airs her own grievances, namely that Ramona should be gracious enough to jointly host the birthday party with Sonja and that Dorinda feels like Ramona used her and Sonja to get a free party out of the party planner. Ramona insists that she is paying for the party herself (though she notably won’t swear on Avery’s life that she is when challenged to do so by Dorinda) and then turns on the offense, demanding to know if Dorinda is drunk.

Around this time, The Countess, Leah, and Rob make their entrance, and Leah introduces him around. He jokes that he’s “all small and shit,” but both The Countess and Dorinda, who tower over him, seem charmed. And listen, as someone who has an uncle who is married to a woman who is probably six inches taller than him, I can testify that short men who are self-confident enough to date women taller than them are some of the most stable human beings you’ll ever meet.

Anyway, Ramona is nothing but complimentary about Leah’s costume, telling her that she looks stunning, and from across the table Sonja begins slurring that Leah is a “fucking weirdo.” But instead of being insulted, Leah makes her way around the table, and sits with Sonja who then begins telling Leah that she likes her because they’re both “artists” and “think outside the box.” Sonja then assures anyone near her that Leah is “very smart” and “not stupid.” Which is a defense to an argument that no one is making but you know what? Take it.

Leah insists that she and Sonja have an understanding, that she speaks Drunk Sonja, and now she just needs to learn Sober Sonja.

The Countess finds herself generally horrified: at Sonja’s drunkenness, and at the fact that Ramona would bring Missy as her guest of all people, but like Leah pointed out at the beginning of this episode: bitch, you’ve known these women for 20 years now — what did you expect?

As they take their seats, Dorinda reveals that she brought as her guest William, the young man we learned in the first episode of the season Ramona was “friends” with …

… and she has seated him right next to Ramona, who stares straight ahead, clearly trying to use her sorceress powers to will herself to disappear.

But she does not disappear. Instead, as The Countess tries to stand up and offer a toast, Dorinda beats her to it, stands up, and demands the attention of the room. She then asks for a consensus from the group: “Do you think it’s nice when you have a good girlfriend — I just got here — and when they don’t like something, they say right away, ‘ARE YOU DRUNK?’ because they can’t stand what you’re saying. And then they walk out. … She’s been boozing it up for an hour and a half, and [unintelligible because she and Sonja are screaming at the same time] it’s drunk and it’s mean.” Dorinda then accuses Ramona of “being schadenfreude” (that’s not how that word is used) and of deriving happiness out of other people’s misery.

With that, The Countess offers her own toast: “Happy Halloween!”

That Elyse Woman, now feeling sorry for Ramona, because honestly, it’s a lot, approaches her to make sure she’s OK, and tell her that she loves her. But Ramona has understandably had enough and soon she and Missy are fleeing The Countess’ dinner and dance party for greener, less confrontational pastures, leaving the rest to this:

The Real Housewives of New York airs on Bravo.

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