‘The Real Housewives of New York City’: Bitchcraft

The Real Housewives of New York
“The Salem Bitch Trials”
July 6, 2021

Leah opens the episode FaceTiming with the other women to tell them about the trip that she’s planned for them: a visit to Salem, Massachusetts, to get back in touch with their witchy roots. It’ll be a nice break from everything that has been weighing on them, what with the virus and the election not being decided and stressing everyone out. Leah reminds them that their first dinner will have a “latex and leather” theme, so we have that to look forward to. Leah also confirms with Ramona that her “friend” Bershan will be joining them, Leah adding that she could see herself having fun with Bershan, spending all night talking about dick.

Speaking of Bershan, Ramona meets her for lunch where after “complimenting” Bershan on her “deep” voice, Ramona explains, again, that she had to leave Eboni’s Harlem event because of her vertigo.

Bershan asks Ramona if she liked Eboni’s event, and Ramona somehow twists this into Berhsan not liking Eboni’s event? Ramona’s logic here is mystifying, but Bershan doesn’t fall for the trap and counters that Eboni’s dinner was “educational,” but agrees with Ramona that it was a bit of a “hard sell.”

Ramona then mentions the trip to Salem — which is somehow going to be FIVE DAYS LONG? good lord, that is entirely too much time for these women to be stuck together —  and how she’s looking forward to going with her core friends, not those superficial Hamptons people (whose opinions she cares about more than literally anything on this planet, including Coco and Avery). Bershan is all in, God bless her.

As for Sonja and Eboni, they take a full-sized party bus to Philadelphia to meet Eboni’s match-making friend, which seems like a lot of bus for a two-hour drive? But sure. On the drive, they discuss how they’re both alone in New York, before talking about Eboni’s racial “agenda” and how it’s her life’s work. Eboni informs Sonja that Ramona tried to throw her under the bus, suggesting that she was in agreement with herself and The Countess that Eboni is “too preachy.” Sonja dismisses this and insists that Ramona and The Countess are just “uncomfortable” and that they have to do the work. Not talking about race issues is how we got ourselves into this mess in the first place. As for Ramona, she needs to just put on her big girl pants and not try to shut down the conversation every time it comes up.

As for the upcoming trip to Salem, they are both looking forward to having a good, fun trip, where they can have other conversations. There will be, according to them, “no shit in Salem.”

Once in Philadelphia, Eboni and Sonja meet with Devyn, the matchmaker, and after removing the MASKS THAT THEY ARE WEARING BECAUSE OF THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC, they both proceed to kiss Devyn on the cheek. HAVE YOU DING-DONGS LEARNED NOTHING?

After ordering some coffee and littleneck clams (?!) Sonja begins telling Devyn about herself: she is a philanthropist who cares about kids, animals, and the LGBTQ community, and she’s learning more about the Black movement. Also, she’s a Francophile who really likes French and Italian men. When she was married, she and her husband liked to travel, but they were also happy to be alone together, spending time on their private island. Not that a private island is required! Those things are not important! Sonja claims before Eboni steps in and insists that actually, those things are in fact important: Sonja doesn’t need some broke-ass nobody. She needs someone worldly and smart, and she has, as we all well know, no age parameters.

Devyn already has someone in mind, a guy who lives in New York, and who has a house in France, and Sonja is like, “SIGN ME UP.”

We then return to New York, where we are subjected to the always boring, but mandatory packing montage.

The next morning, Leah shows off their ride to Boston: a legit tour bus, complete with sleeping compartments, and may I just suggest for everyone’s sanity the women just each retreat to their individual compartments and go to sleep for the duration of the drive?

Instead, they discuss vibrators, divorces, Bershan’s cancer, the fact that the latex and leather dinner is going to be at a tattoo parlor where the women will have the opportunity to get permanent tattoos (way to bury the lead on that one), and the first, but not the last, of the “Salem bitch trials” jokes is thrown out. 

The women arrive at their hotel, The Hawthorne, which compared to the kind of places these women usually stay at, is remarkably restrained and modest. It’s perfectly lovely, but you can literally get a room there for less than $200 a night, and these women regularly stay in places that cost more than $10,000 a night.

The women are greeted by the staff who give them the history of the hotel which is conflated with the history of the town, leaving the women under the perception that the Salem Witch Trials took place there when the actual hotel wasn’t built until 1925. So yes, while the hotel may be haunted as the manager claims, it’s unlikely that it is being haunted by any of the Salem Witch Trial victims or Judge Hawthorne for whom the hotel is named. 

The hotel’s caterer happens to be a practicing witch, and she performs a blessing over the women, which is remarkably well-received despite the fact that Ramona, in particular, is supposed to be so Catholic. Let me tell you how my Catholic aunts would take to being “blessed” by a witch saying things like, “may the powers of the dark wing crow fly with us”: NOT GREAT, BOB.

The women are then shown to their rooms, where they find personalized altars waiting for them, complete with sage to cleanse their rooms and charcuterie plates for nibbles. Oh, and Ramona is placed in one of the supposedly most haunted rooms, 612, so we’ll see how that goes for her. (Though, honestly, if the hotel prides itself on being haunted, they probably shouldn’t be giving the guests sage to cleanse their rooms.)

The women then latex themselves up and head down to the lobby where Eboni shows off her twerking skills and Ramona and Sonja hump one another for good measure.

They load onto the party bus where they discuss the possibilities of getting tattoos that night: Leah is definitely going to do so; Eboni is probably going to; and The Countess says she’s considering it. Ramona and Sonja, however, insist they would never “desecrate” their bodies that way. LADIES, WE’VE ALL SEEN WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO YOUR BODIES, SIT DOWN.

The women arrive at the tattoo parlor and are greeted by a dude on stilts who hands each of them what appears to be a fortune cookie fortune … but without the cookie, and honestly, what is the point? Sonja also greets a pair of twins in wide-brimmed hats and asks what they’re doing there tonight. When they reply that they were trying to scare her, she’s like, “LOL, ADORABLE.”

The ladies grab drinks and demand to hear about Sonja’s visit with the matchmaker, but Sonja is more interested in telling the other women that she and Eboni had a great time on their trip: it was light and fun and there was girl talk and that the topics of the Black movement and the election didn’t really come up. Bershan wonders why Sonja is mentioning this, and Sonja explains that when Eboni first joined the group, she was trying to educate the group about the Black Lives Matter movement and it wasn’t exactly warmly received by the others.

Eboni adds that Sonja’s right: her focus on the current political climate is certainly a part of who she is, but it’s not everything. And because she’s new to the group, she did want to make it very clear to the other women where she fell on those issues so that there was no confusion. Eboni adds that they can kiki and have a laugh … which is when Ramona, growing uncomfortable with where this conversation is headed tries to interrupt, but Eboni is like, “No ma’am, you are not going to shut this down.” Eboni goes on to add that they can go on to have girl talk and talk about boys and all that good stuff, but she can’t get there if she has “an outstanding question in [her] heart and mind if [they] are aligned with white supremacy.”


Ramona, now REALLY uncomfortable with where this is going, demands to hear about the matchmaker but The Countess is like, “Excuse me, did you just call us white supremacists? I thought we were cool?” 

Eboni agrees that she and The Countess have cleared things up, but that Ramona over here didn’t want to talk about things when she invited Eboni to come over the other night, demanding that they not discuss, “race, creed or color.” Ramona whines that it’s because Eboni is always preaching at her every time she sees her, and even Bershan and Sonja agree with her on that. Bershan and Sonja: “EXCUSE ME NO THANK YOU MADAM DO NOT DRAG US INTO THIS YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.”

Leah decides, again, that really what this is all about is her, explaining to the women that when new women join the group, they get shit on. She, for instance, was shat on by Ramona, Sonja, and even The Countess. Eboni is not allowing that to happen.

Additionally, Leah correctly points out, as the first Black woman to join the show their friend group in 13 years, she is facing a tremendous amount of pressure in the press. Ramona tries to argue that Eboni is used to the media, and Leah responds by telling Ramona to shut the fuck up, before insisting that Ramona is “what’s wrong in the world.” Ramona cleverly fires back that Leah’s what is wrong in the world, before leaping up to run away. Wait, no, “go to the bathroom.” Though to be fair to Ramona as we have seen time and time again and will see in the next episode, the woman has little to no control over her bowels, so it is probably for the best that she run for the toilet when she has to go, especially when ensconced in a pleather onesie.

Eboni calls out to Ramona that is it is awfully convenient that she is running away, and Ramona admits that she doesn’t want to have this conversation. Eboni accuses her of wanting to stay ignorant, and Ramona insists she’s not ignorant.

Bershan encourages Ramona to sit down, and, surprisingly, Ramona does. But when Bershan tries to add to the conversation, Sonja talks over her. After some back and forth there, Bershan tells Eboni that sometimes her delivery to these women comes off a little harsh and preachy and too much.

And Eboni, she hears Bershan and she recognizes that for these white women it might be uncomfortable to have these conversations. But she is reminded of something that “Mona” (lol, more calling Ramona “Mona” please) said to her the other day, which is that they always have to hear about Eboni’s cause. The thing is, Eboni’s “cause” is her existential right to live as a free person in this country.

Ramona huffs that Eboni has a great life and shouldn’t complain … and the fact that Eboni does not snatch Ramona’s head off of her neck right then and there demonstrates how much patience and grace this woman has because I am ready to throw down and I’M WHITE.

As Leah points out in an interview, it’s sort of shocking that Ramona doesn’t get that just because Eboni is successful doesn’t mean she hasn’t suffered racism and sexism along the way. Ramona has a great life, but surely she’s had to deal with shit like sexism, too, right? Why is it so hard to empathize?

Eboni circles back around to her original point: that she can’t know if she can have a real sisterhood with Ramona if she has outstanding questions regarding whether or not she is aligned with white supremacy.

Leah pushes pause and asks Eboni to clarify because they hear “white supremacy” and they know it’s the “worst thing in the world.” Leah asks if Eboni is talking about Donald Trump, and Eboni admits that yes, she’s talking about Former President Klansman himself, one and the same. Not everyone who voted for Donald Trump is a white supremacist, Eboni is quick to note, but some of the people who voted for him are. And in an interview, she adds that her real problem is that if you have some other reason for supporting that awful man, that’s fine! Name them! We can have a dialogue about it! But Ramona refuses to engage at all because she doesn’t want to piss off potential customers by admitting she voted for Former President Racial Arsonist.

Leah asks Eboni if she’s ever supported the former Fire-Starter-in-Chief, and notes that there is footage of Eboni saying positive things about him, that she wasn’t sure who she was going to vote for, and that her mother was going to vote for him. Eboni clarifies that her mother DID vote for him, and that Eboni was very vocal about that.

As Bershan is trying to argue that this conversation is going nowhere, Ramona gets up and leaves for real this time.

Meanwhile, Leah asks if what Eboni is saying is that anyone who voted for Former President Good People on Both Sides is a white supremacist, and Eboni again says that no, she’s not, but she wants to know where Ramona stands on the issue. Did she vote for him because of tax cuts? Because she likes his position on Iran? If so, say it! Leah laughs that Ramona is not nearly eloquent enough to have that kind of conversation, she barely speaks English. And that’s when Ramona returns to the group and begins hopping and wiggling while yelling in a sing-song voice that she wants to “play a game!”

Leah pleads with Ramona that they have to “just move through this,” and Ramona whines that they are “moving through this” every time she’s with Eboni. “Well, Eboni is still Black!” replies Eboni. Ramona demands to know if she should apologize for being white before screaming that she’s “the daughter of an immigrant!” and running off to write a letter to The New York Times complaining that Critical Race Theory is being taught to second graders.

OK, and before we leave this episode, we have to talk about the white supremacy thing, because despite being thoughtful and eloquent, Eboni doesn’t do herself any favors here by lobbing that particular bomb without explaining herself, and she doesn’t get much of a chance to do so later, either.

Essentially, her point here is that not everyone who voted for Donald Trump is a racist or white supremacist. However, our political system is a binary one; you can really only choose between two possible winners. This means that if you vote for someone who not only encourages and rallies groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers and Unite the Right — groups that (and I am not exaggerating or embellishing here) want the United States to be an exclusively white homeland — and who also enacts policies that move towards white supremacist goals, you’ve ultimately aligned yourself with the white supremacists. It doesn’t matter if your pet issue is energy policy or taxes or foreign policy; if you vote for a man who is embraced by white supremacists, you are saying to people of color and women and members of the LGBTQ community that energy policy, taxes, or foreign policy matter more to you than their actual lives. It sounds and feels harsh, but it’s not inaccurate.

Just pause for a moment and ask yourself how this sounds: “Sure, Hitler’s policies towards the Jews are extreme and I don’t agree with him on that, but he’s doing wonders for the economy so he has my vote!” NOT GREAT, RIGHT? And that, I’m pretty sure, was Eboni’s point.

The Real Housewives of New York airs on Bravo.

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