‘The Real Housewives of New York City’: The calm before the shitstorm

The Real Housewives of New York
“Back in the Big Apple”
May 4, 2021

I can’t start this by welcoming you back because 1. I only just last week finished recapping last season and 2. I’m already two episodes behind in this new season, so I guess I’ll just begin with, “Hi again.” We are now in the 13th season of The Real Housewives of New York City, and the world has completely changed since they finished filming the 12th season, what with the pandemic and stuff. Still, the ladies of The Real Housewives of New York City aren’t going to let a little thing like a deadly, highly contagious virus spread via aerosols and a major world city being shut down for everyone’s protection after 33,000 citizens died to stop them from getting into petty fights over perceived slights, room choices on extravagant vacations, and modestly-priced evening gowns, come on now.

The other bit of news is that we are down one iconic cast member, Dorinda, who is taking some time off to work on her anger issues, and we are adding a historic cast member, one Eboni K. Williams, this franchise’s first Black Housewife. But some things never change, and she’s introduced to the show as Leah’s “friend” even though they had never met before August and Eboni was specifically sought out by the casting directors in response to the social justice movements that erupted around the world last summer.

Finally, the internet has let me down and I don’t have gifs of the ladies’ new taglines (yet), so we’re going to have to use Leah’s Instagram for the time being:

Luann de Lesseps: “Of all my vices, being glamorous is one I’ll never give up.”

Leah McSweeney: “I’m sex-positive and BS negative.”

Ramona Singer: “I may say the wrong thing, but my intentions are always right.”

Eboni K. Williams: “I’ve had to work twice as hard for half as much, but now I’m coming for everything.”

Sonja Morgan: “Just like New York City, Sonja Morgan never goes out of style.”

In case you were in a coma through 2020, this episode begins with a helpful visual aid to explain what you missed:

March 1, 2020: New York City is full of tourists! and restaurants! and busy-ness!


October 1, 2020: Empty streets. Empty restaurants. No busy-ness.

We really begin this season with Leah going back to the boxing gym for some therapy with Martin (NYC gyms reopened in August, apparently, which is actually kinda shocking to me — exercising indoors, breathing heavily in other people’s faces? just does not seem like the safest practice, BUT I’M JUST A TV BLOGGER, NOT AN EPIDEMIOLOGIST, WHAT DO I KNOW). Ramona, Mario, and Avery hang out in Ramona’s apartment in New York after having spent the summer quarantining together in Florida, trying to catch COVID from Donald Trump Jr’s unhinged girlfriend. The Countess sends her assistant out to the supermarket for her because she thinks masks are a “fashion faux pas,” and not because she’s lazy and/or terrified. And Sonja yammers at some poor intern about shaving her lady bits.

So, same ol’ same ol’ but now with 100% more novel coronavirus.

Leah reveals that she’s made some changes since we last hung out with her: she’s moved into a new apartment and, like many people in the pandemic, adopted a pet, a purse dog named “Angel Marie Cristofaro-McSweeney.” And, you know what? FINE. SHE’S ADORABLE.

Leah is also converting to Judaism with the help of an Orthodox rabbi (!!!) which she reveals to her sister Sarah on a FaceTime call. Sarah points out that Leah will probably want to reconsider going full Orthodox, because for one thing, she’ll have to dress a lot more modestly. Leah insists that her rabbi told her that she would have to dress more “modern” not “modest” and oh my God, will someone please sit her down and make her binge Unorthodox on Netflix?

Leah insists she’s going Orthodox because it’s the “real” Judaism, and explains that she’s attracted to the “rules, rituals, and prayers.” Because being raised in the Catholic church, it really does a number on ya.

Leah’s call with Sarah is interrupted by a call from her father whom she’s reached out to on this Yom Kippur so as to ask for his forgiveness for not being a great daughter. But instead of just being all, “Of course I forgive you,” or even better, “You have nothing to be forgiven for, you are a wonderful daughter,” Daddy McSweeney is like, “Nope, you have to do some penance first.” Leah argues that she’s atoning now, but he’s insistent: in Catholicism, it’s not just good enough to ask for forgiveness, you have to seek penance. He then asks about Angel Marie and points out that because she’s a “Mexican” dog, Angel Marie, like him, is Catholic.

I mean, the math does check out.

The Countess has also recently moved, back to the Upper East Side from … wherever she had been. She and Ramona are neighbors, in fact, and Ramona comes over for lunch and a tour of the new pad.

As she opens a bottle of faux-rosé — fauxsé, if you will, and she definitely will — The Countess reveals that she is back on the wagon again, after having had two blackout drunk moments in the Hamptons that summer, in which she couldn’t remember how she got home.


I mean, great job realizing that you can’t handle your booze, or whatever, but you shouldn’t have been going out in the first place. Had you gotten blackout drunk at home by yourself, you wouldn’t have to worry about how you got there when you regained consciousness.

Ramona proposes they toast to “their new budding friendship,” and I am at yet ANOTHER hold-up moment: these lunatics have been on this show together for 13 YEARS now, how is this a “budding” friendship?

The Countess suggests they drink to her not drinking anymore, instead, which is a lot less fun, but FINE.

The two women lament that they haven’t seen or heard from Sonja all summer, that she hasn’t been returning calls or texts and that they are concerned. The Countess reveals that she ran into Sonja’s daughter at Gitano (which looks like an exhausting brunch/bar scene that serves overpriced queso and guacamole) and Daughter Morgan told The Countess that her mother is “always busy,” so who even knows what is happening with her?

The Countess then shows Ramona around the apartment, pausing to point out the feature that convinced her to sign the lease she just can’t believe: she can see Ex-Husband Tom’s terrace from her living room. She didn’t even realize it until she moved in, she swears!


Leah, masked up, meets our newest — and first Black — cast member, one Ms. Eboni K. Williams, lawyer and talking head on news shows, including one she co-hosted with Eric Bolling on Fox News, so you know she is well-prepared to go head-to-head with these jackasses. She meets Leah in Central Park wearing a sweatshirt with the names of the Exonerated Five, and GOD DAMN, I can not wait for her to meet these Upper East Side women and teach them a thing or thirty. Can. Not. Wait.

Eboni and Leah talk about dating, and Leah reveals that she’s still seeing “Pita Chip,” the complete piece of shit who shared with his friend — or tried to share with his friend, but sent it back to Leah by accident — Leah’s naked selfie last year and NO. JUST, NO MA’AM.

They then discuss the pitfalls of starting to date someone new which leads to a very frank discussion about whether or not one would poop on a first date: Leah, absolutely not; Eboni? gonna poop.

She’s pretty great.

Ms. Morgan has moved back into her townhouse: if she can’t sell it, she might as well live in it and not be paying rent in two places. There, Sonja teaches her poor harassed intern how to draw a bubble bath, and from said bath, Sonja Facetimes Leah so that Leah can tell her she’s bringing the new cast member her new friend, Eboni, to the brunch Sonja is hosting the next day. Because we are still pretending that these women are friends in real life and none of this is manufactured for television, even though all of that was laid bare in the most recent reunion.

I digress.

Over at Eboni’s apartment, she hosts a friend, Natalie, for some rosé and exposition. We learn that Eboni is professionally a lawyer, but hosts a late-night talk show, State of the Culture on Revolt TV, and a podcast, “Holding Court with Eboni K. Williams,” and is now doing this whole Real Housewives nonsense. Eboni explains that she tried the big firm thing, but hated it, so she went into public defense for a while. But then she saw her reflection in a mirror and was like, “You know what I could do with this face that would be even better than defending people for no money at all? TV.” It was a big move that left her in deep debt and soon the repo man was coming for her 3 Series. But, she’s worked on her credit since, and now she’s bought her own place in Harlem, into which she will be moving soon.

Genuine question: How many times in her life has Ramona Singer set foot in Harlem, do you suppose?

Finally, Sonja’s brunch. Leah and Eboni arrive first only to find Sonja frantically power-washing her patio because Sonja. “Is this for real?” Eboni asks, and … oh, baby girl, honey, my sweet summer child, you clearly have no idea what your fate has in store for you.

As she goes in for a hug, Sonja insists that she has the “antibodies,” and Eboni is like, “OK, but I actually do, because I was actually sick with this virus.” Leah then laughs with Sonja about Ramona’s claim that she donated blood which, as I pointed out in the reunion recaps, we all know was not true because that narcissist would have posted 30 times on Instagram about it if she had.

Then, Sonja, in a completely deranged moment, brings Eboni outside to show her the diversity of her fish pond. BLACK FISH MATTER.

The women chat about the recent unfortunate turn of Sonja’s fate: months after launching her brand, Sonja by Sonja Morgan, in an actual store, said store goes bankrupt because of the pandemic. Leah asks about the financial structure of the business, and Sonja explains that she owns 54% of it — not that it’s making any money. Eboni puts on her lawyer hat and instructs Sonja that she needs to look at the books: technically, Sonja is the controlling partner, and she needs to see those books and make sure she’s not being ripped off. Impressed, the ladies ask what kind of lawyer Eboni is, and she responds, “every kind.” Yes ma’am.

The conversation turns to Eboni’s dating life, and she reveals that as of January, she was planning a wedding, but then, like with Sonja’s Century 21 deal, the pandemic changed everything. Eboni wanted kids, he already had three and didn’t want more, and with the threat of a world-changing virus hanging over them, shit got real.

Ramona and The Countess finally arrive, and The Countess has some dating news of her own: she’s seeing some giant galoot of a South African named “Garth.” She explains that she put it out in the universe that she wanted an Aryan “tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed” man, and poof! he appeared on her dating app.

I mean, she is dressed in her finest witchery, so, maybe?

Ramona jokes that she needs tips on finding a boyfriend in COVID, and Sonja is incredulous. RAMONA GETS ENOUGH ACTION, so much so, she doesn’t remember her boyfriends’ names. Ramona insists these “boyfriends” are just “friends” and when Sonja suggests they are “friends with benefits” Ramona does not jump up and flee from the table. Personal growth!

Leah points out that Ramona’s been seen making out all over the Upper East Side with Harry the Ex, and Ramona waves it away, saying that Harry the Ex sometimes “gets a little frisky.”

It also reopens Sonja’s grudge against Ramona and The Countess for stealing men who started off in her bed, but before we go too far back down that well-worn road, The Countess turns the conversation back to Eboni’s dating life. Eboni has apparently been recently dating a guy who started off as a friend, and who is a part-owner in an NFL team. Leah jokes that Eboni needs to introduce her to some players, but Eboni shuts that down. NO, MA’AM. YOU DON’T DATE THE TALENT, YOU DATE THE BOSSES.

Anyway, like her ex-fiance, this new man also has three kids, but they’re all grown. Sonja suggests that he is “fully loaded” and then adds, “with sperm,” in case her subtlety went past you. She also suggests that Eboni will get pregnant right away and that she should go off her birth control. And I am not suggesting that this is Sonja’s secret to becoming a Morgan, because I have no idea whether she baby-trapped Mr. Morgan, I’m just saying it is interesting that this was the first place Sonja went after hearing “part-owner of an NFL team.”

As the women finish their breakfast and go inside for dessert, The Countess asks Leah to hang back for a second and basically pressures her to be her sober friend this season. The Countess isn’t drinking, Leah isn’t drinking, they can not drink together! Leah agrees to this, and I’m sure everyone will honor this arrangement and no one will fall off the wagon and make a complete drunken ass of themselves.

Over dessert inside, The Countess and Ramona start badgering Sonja for not being in touch after last season’s filming ended, and Sonja explains that she was “in the desert” all alone, every day, receiving enemas. When they insist that’s not a good enough answer, Sonja admits that the Century 21 bankruptcy was a hard blow, and she didn’t know what rug was going to be pulled out from underneath her next, but these assholes STILL aren’t hearing her, complaining that they didn’t hear from her for eight months. Sonja then tries explaining that she didn’t want to “bother” them, in an attempt to drop the subject, while Ramona worries in an interview that she just doesn’t want Sonja to “spiral” out of control.

And let’s just pause here for one goddamn minute and talk about what is happening here. Poor Sonja Morgan has, since the beginning of this show, been in the sort of dire financial straits that only the super-wealthy can find themselves in, desperate to maintain a lifestyle that she happened to luck into, but can not keep up without a constant influx of profound inherited wealth. She finally, FINALLY! comes to the mature decision to put her townhouse — a symbol of her previous life and social status — on the market at the same moment that she has her very first business success. And that’s when A GLOBAL PANDEMIC HITS. Listen. I had many emotional breakdowns during the pandemic, and I wasn’t a floundering socialite who had, for the first time in 15 years, had a taste of personal triumph only to have it all ripped away from me. I was just a mom in quarantine terrified to go to the grocery store and I didn’t reach out to any of my friends for months, either. So maybe, JUST MAYBE, these jackasses who partied their way through the Hamptons and Palm Beach as if there wasn’t a WORLDWIDE DEATH CRISIS HAPPENING shouldn’t be harassing Sonja who was just DOING HER BEST TO GET THROUGH IT EVERY. DAMN. DAY. I am so mad and I just want to go find Sonja Morgan and give her a hug because her “friends” are worthless.

ANYWAY. The ladies pretend to have the spontaneous idea to have a “getaway” in Sag Harbor, and Eboni explains that Sag Harbor is her favorite community in Long Island. “Oh! You’re familiar with it?” The Countess exclaims, surprised, because white people, man. So Eboni gives these white idiots a lesson in American racial history, explaining that Sag Harbor was one of the first resort communities that allowed Black people to own waterfront property. “I had never heard that before!” The Countess, Ramona, and Sonja profess.

No doubt.

As the women prepare to leave, Ramona tells Eboni that she feels like she had a “natural” connection with her and Leah laughs that she told her the same thing last year.

Eboni, literally:

And then, as Ramona criticizes Leah’s outfit choices as they walk out the door, and everyone pretends it’s funny and not awful and that they all love each other, we are treated to a little preview of the batshittery to come this season.

Spoiler: there is much batshittery.

The Real Housewives of New York airs on Bravo.

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