‘The Real Housewives of New York City’: Primal Screaming

The Real Housewives of New York
“Burning Up”
May 11, 2021

We begin the episode with Leah visiting Eboni at her Tribeca apartment and before we move on I just want to note how weird this still is to me. I know that these women were having nasal swabs shoved up their heads every five minutes so as to film this season, but it still feels so weird to watch a reality show in which it is acknowledged that the virus is still raging, and have those characters on the show hang out indoors with people with whom they do not live. Throughout the summer of 2020, we had one (1) other family we would hang with in one of our yards, and I felt like a jackass if I had to go inside to use their bathroom. So seeing Leah and Eboni sitting two feet from each other, breathing in each other’s faces, it’s jarring.

ANYWAY. Don’t get used to Eboni’s apartment because she’s moving out. Apparently, her ex-fiance owns it? And she is ready to move on, though as Leah points out, if her ex was paying for a schmancy apartment like this, she’d be bringing other guys home every night. Eboni then shares a different story about why they broke their engagement from the one she told in the premiere: instead of it being about the two of them being on different pages regarding having a kid, it’s all because of the quarantine. He chose to lockdown with his kids in New Jersey — presumably with their mother — and who was she to stop him?

Leah then moves on to a more interesting topic: gossiping about the other women. So what did Eboni think of her lunatic “friends”? Eboni notes that Sonja literally looked her up and down upon meeting and Ramona was “pleasant.” Eboni adds that she was surprised Ramona invited her to the Hamptons, which would be strange if they weren’t taping a reality show together, but you know. Fourth wall and all that.

Leah explains that because she’s missing Burning Man this year, she’s going to be hosting a “Burning Man dinner” at Ramona’s Hamptons home and I am very sorry but this is like a Real Housewives Mad Libs. None of those words go together and my brain rejects all of this.

Oh, and at one point, Eboni sneezes and Leah jokes that she just had 1/4 of an orgasm and I literally have no idea what is even happening anymore. Is that a thing? (No. It’s not.)

Over at Sonja’s townhouse, she is having a session with her “healer” Aleta St. James (the first woman in America to give birth to twins at 57, apparently!) whom we haven’t seen in several seasons. Sonja chooses to have her healing session in her ex-husband’s old gym, which is now just filled with fainting couches, so far as I can tell, and explains to Aleta — WITH A STRAIGHT FACE — that she doesn’t “live in the past, [she] lives in the moment.”

Sonja then lies down on one of the fainting couches and begins sobbing about her divorce which took place literally 15 years ago. Her divorce is old enough to get a learner’s permit.

Of course, what this is really about is the fact that since Mr. Morgan left her, she no longer can afford the Morgan lifestyle and her financial stresses which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic are weighing on her. And while it’s easy to point out that millions of Americans were also negatively impacted by the pandemic and didn’t have a $10 million townhouse on the Upper East Side to live in while they sorted things out, I still feel for Sonja.

But let me tell you what’s not going to solve Sonja’s money problems: paying actual money to a New Age quack to wave some crystals around and click some finger cymbals at her.

And then we’re off to the Hamptons. Because the city is all but shut down, Ramona has apparently invited the women to stay with her for FIVE DAYS.

She has brought in Michelle, a “hospitality director,” to help her with food and setting up Leah’s Burning Man dinner, which, considering it’s being held at Ramona’s house and Ramona seems to have provided all of the food and decorations, I’m unclear on how this will be Leah’s party, BUT SURE.

Leah and Eboni ride to the Hamptons together, and on the drive, Leah explains that her grandmother is close to death and could pass away at literally any moment. Leah and her grandmother are close and she promised that she would come straight to see her as soon as she’s back from the Hamptons, but dammit, grandma, Leah’s got a Long Island Burning Man dinner to attend host.

Upon arriving at Ramona’s, Leah and Eboni are introduced to Michelle, the hospitality director, and Ramona reveals that she had her hair and makeup people put some red and blue feathers in her ponytail for the dinner that night because nothing says “Burning Man” than having a glam squad come out in a pandemic to gussy you up. Still, Leah is thrilled that Ramona is playing along and reads this as Ramona extending an olive branch.

Ramona then takes them on a tour of the “Burning Man” set-up which involves a few tents, a bicycle for some reason, and a shit ton of flowers. Because that’s what the desert drug festival Burning Man is famous for: tulips.

The women then return inside to grab some lunch, and in the process, Ramona refers to Michelle, the hospitality director as “Diana,” repeatedly. Michelle, the hospitality director corrects her and Ramona sighs that “I get my help wrong,” eliciting some side-eye from Eboni, and an incredulous, “did she just say what I think she said? Did she actually call them ‘the help?'”

They sit down to lunch, though Ramona is irritated that The Countess and Sonja have yet to arrive, and Leah’s like, “Well, since they’re not here, does that mean we get the best rooms?” Ramona explains that she’s already promised the best room to The Countess after the whole “lower-level” debacle.

Ramona then reveals that former cast member Heather will be joining them at some point during the week, and Leah is like, “I mean, I guess. But didn’t she say on her podcast that The Countess was doing drugs in St. Bart’s and that she and Sonja both fucked the pirate?” Ramona shrugs that she and The Countess just had lunch with her the other day, and it was fun to see her again, but Leah doesn’t trust a bitch. Sure, she only spent five minutes with her in the Bezerkshires (which they illustrated thusly) …

… but you don’t go talking trash about your “friends” that way in the press.

Meanwhile, poor Eboni must ask “Who’s Heather?” 15 times and receives no response.

SO SIDE NOTE: I did not realize this until I looked up this story about Heather’s podcast shade, but apparently, Heather Thomson was supposed to join the cast this season but ended up quitting the show after a fight with Leah that will be seen later in the season (but is related to this Hamptons trip). Huh!

Leah then announces to Ramona that she’s invited a couple of people to the Burning Man party: her sister and Elyse, and Ramona, to her credit, does not freak out, but simply looks alarmed until Leah assures her it’s just a joke, of course she didn’t invite them.

The women then head back inside to unpack and receive a quick tour of the house. It’s when Ramona is showing off the master bathroom and Eboni tries to compliment the skylight but is completely run over by a yammering Ramona, that Eboni stops everything and is like, “MAYBE I SPEAK TOO QUIETLY FOR YOU TO HEAR ME BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN IGNORING ME ALL AFTERNOON. I’LL PROJECT MY VOICE MORE.” To paraphrase the great Flannery O’Connor, “‘Ramona would have been a good woman,’ The Misfit said, ‘if it had been somebody there to put her in her place like Eboni every minute of her life.’”

Meanwhile, Sonja and The Countess arrive in the Hamptons three hours late to Ramona’s profound irritation. She puts The Countess in the best room in the house nonetheless, because she still feels guilty about making her stay in the spider basement last year.

Before they get ready for their big “Burning Man” dinner, we are treated to some old school Frick and Frack nonsense with Sonja and Ramona in which they try to turn on the heater for the swimming pool. It’s not really worth going to in detail, honestly.

The women then put on their “Burning Man” outfits, and, YOU GUYS.

Ramona wears some sparkly pasties under a sheer black shirt and sparkly silver miniskirt.

Eboni is in an all-black leather number with a studded jacket and Leah is in full cowboy stripper mode:

Sonja is in a crochet dress/fur vest/fedora combo, while The Countess heard the assignment and decided to go with a bikini top with a statement necklace, pants, and to up the wacky factor, I suppose, a fur hat.

But what else did you expect from “The Real Housewives of New York Do Burning Man”?

The women meet under the tents and grab their drinks. There, Leah announces they’ll be doing a “healing” session first, and brings them to a woman named Devi who is sitting in front of a small yurt with a collection of “singing bowls” in front of her. Devi explains to the women that they’ll be doing a “sound bath” to help them relax and release the “old.” Ramona, however, is VERY SKEPTICAL of this hoodoo and demands to know what they are being healed from? Bad things? Pain? Memories? Everyone is like, “stop overthinking it, Ramona, and just feel it,” but she’s persistent and demands to know what the hell this is all about, until Sonja has enough.

Devi encourages everyone to take a deep breath and then instructs them to share something they want to let go of and what intention they want to put out into the universe. Leah begins by talking about her dying grandmother and hopes that she can be set free of her grief; Eboni also shares about her family, noting that her mother and grandmother are the only blood family she has left and that she hopes to become more open to a broader definition of family; The Countess wants to “call the spirits guiding [her] to … show [her] the way”; Ramona also claims that she doesn’t have any family other than her daughter (even though WE MET HER SISTER LAST SEASON) and that she wants to pay more attention to her real friends; and Sonja wants to become more vulnerable and trust her friends more.

Sonja adds that she also doesn’t want to burden her daughter with her problems and tells the women she wishes she could just “check out,” meaning that she would check herself into a nursing home if they didn’t have such a high STD rate.

Sonja Morgan is 57 years old.

The healer is like, “Cool. So I’m going to go ahead and play with these bowls for a minute, and y’all take some deep breaths and then release whatever you need and we can wrap this nonsense up.” As she begins playing the bowls, Leah announces that she feels like screaming and proceeds to do so until she dissolves into a sobbing mess. The Countess and Ramona also join her in the screaming, noting how good it feels.

After all that cathartic screaming, the women jump into the well-heated pool before eating some pizza. You know, Burning Man stuff.

While Ramona and Sonja are bickering over what their dogs’ names are (“Is it Morley or Marley?” Ramona sincerely asks Sonja about her 10-YEAR-OLD POODLE, prompting Sonja to ask “If it is Coco or Cucu?”) a pair of costumed dancers, including one on stilts, emerge from the darkness to dance with the women. Eboni, God bless her, sees this as her cue to go to bed, and Irish Goodbyes her way out of there.

Leah checks in on her, and Eboni assures her she had a good time, but that she thought she should end the night on a good note. No disrespect intended, she’s just tapped out. Eboni then adds in a talking head that she hasn’t been around this kind of energy since she worked at Fox News and, dear reader, the way I cackled.

Leah then goes back outside to join the other three loons for a little more dancing and one last scream just for good measure. Though from the looks of the previews for the rest of the season, we aren’t done with the screaming. Not by a long shot.

The Real Housewives of New York airs on Bravo.

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