These women aren’t actually friends. The more of the Housewives I watch, the more apparent it is to me. I’ve been slowly catching up on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and while I think Kenya is a brilliant producer/shit-stirrer, the women on that show would never spend time with her if they weren’t being paid to do so.
At some point, we have to question the point of these manufactured friendships. Drama? Real friendships can have that, and it doesn’t get as nasty. Good TV? I find that hard to believe. Tabloid fodder, because any publicity is good publicity? Please. Does anyone even pay for Housewife gossip outside of Radar Online?
In this episode, we watched everyone try to get Carole and Aviva to make up. If they weren’t cast on a show together, people would understand if Carole never wanted to speak again to the woman who spread damaging lies about her career. But because they’re on the Housewives, this was about two employees being able to work together despite hating each other. Unfortunately, their job is existing in the same group of friends.
I’m getting ahead of myself as usual. Before we can deal with what went down between Aviva and Carole, we have to deal with what went down between Ramona and Sonja, the Countess and Sonja, Ramona and Kristen, and Aviva and Kristen. *throws self off balcony* Seriously, last night was exhausting, and not in a fun, drinking-all-day-on-the-beach way. But onward!
CHAPTER ONE: COCO MADEMOISELLE
We meet up with Ramona and her dog Coco, who are doing a photo shoot with Jennifer Barton, Doggie Stylist, presumably the Amanda Sanders, Image Consultant of dogs. Ramona wants to make a calendar of her and Coco that Avery can take to college, because what eighteen-year-old out on her own for the first time wouldn’t want ther reality star mom right next to her John Belushi Animal House poster?
Ramona makes some joke about how the other Housewives aren’t the only ones who can model, and I gotta check her ego: a photo shoot with your dog that you paid for isn’t even really up there with a Yummie Tummie spread. Luckily, Sonja and her dog Marley show up to disrupt this mess and throw some shade on Coco. Sonja’s financial problems are coming to a head and she is more determined than ever not to lose her five-story townhouse. She starts babbling about “developing her French LLC for the men’s, women’s, children’s shirt company, and suits.” Ramona gently suggests that Sonja is spreading herself too thin, and the rest of the world agrees.
I don’t know what it’s like to own property, or go through a divorce, or to have a lawsuit against you for millions of dollars. I don’t know what it’s like be faced with the prospect of losing your daughter’s childhood home and the real estate investment you thought had set you up for life. But I do know one or two things about being broke as fuck, and I have to think that it would be better for Sonja and her daughter if Sonja wasn’t constantly stressed about money and living beyond her means, not to mention having dozens of interns at the house all the time. Wouldn’t she sleep better in an apartment that she could afford, where there weren’t buckets catching rainwater everywhere?
Maybe it’s because I came into adulthood during the real estate crash, but I don’t get the idealization of home ownership in a vacuum. Like any major commitment, it can turn into a nightmare just as quickly as a happily-ever-after. Then again, we saw how hard it was for Sonja just to take down the portraits of her and her ex-husband in her dining room, or even to refer to him as her “ex.” Maybe holding onto this house is her last way of holding onto their relationship.
CHAPTER TWO: NON-HOSTILE TAKEOVER
Next, we’re at the doctor’s office with HollaHeather, the hollahusband, and their son Jax. As much as I feel for her and her family, what was the conversation when she pitched this scene to the producers? “Not really feeling like filming at a restaurant or event this week… Why don’t you come with us to our child’s doctor appointment?” It just seems like such an intensely personal moment to want to put on TV.
I’d rather watch that scene than what came after, though, which was Kristen and Aviva ignoring their kids at a craft place. It was decided that they were going to make soap, which prompted my favorite bit of honesty of the episode:
KRISTEN: Wow, that sounds like fun! Cash, do you want to make some soap?
Aviva started talking about their upcoming plans for the Hamptons and Kristen got distracted by a toy with eyes that popped out: “Heh, who does this remind you of?” I could’ve sworn I heard Aviva laughing initially, but she certainly had her pissface on when the cameras cut to her. Hmm. Kristen brought up the Carole thing to say that she didn’t want to be involved in it. Aviva asked her to keep it “non-hostile” around the kids, then told her to shut the fuck up about two seconds later. One of the soap-making employees shuffled the children away, as though she was all too used to being treated like a nanny. Unless they were making the soap out of the liposuctioned fat from former Housewives à la Fight Club, this scene couldn’t have been less necessary.
CHAPTER THREE: TENNIS THE MENACE
Oh, the Hamptons. Where rich Manhattanites go to relax, and these people go to argue. First up, it’s a doubles match of Jack/Jacques and the Countess versus a bickering Ramona and Mario. Listen, some couples can play tennis together, and some can’t. That’s just the way it is. Kristen and Josh show up, and despite Kristen’s impeccable lavender outfit, she’s wearing the wrong sneakers, so they can’t play tennis anymore and move to bocce. Ramona is all pissed about that, because she was hoping that Kristen and Josh would fight more than her and Mario.
Kristen gets into it with Ramona about HollaHeather’s anniversary party, which feels like a lifetime ago by this point, even though it was just last week. Ramona says that if she could make up with Aviva after a year, Heather could certainly make up with her, to which Kristen responds, “Exactly, you had a year. She only wanted a couple more days.” Their fight gets put on ice for the moment.
Out on the beach, Jax’s doctor calls HollaHeather and her hollahusband, and it turns out that he’s a good candidate for surgery that could reverse his hearing issues! Heather is incredibly relieved, and there was a very sweet moment when she asked her husband, “Can I have a hug?” It’s a pure, happy moment in an otherwise snippy episode.
CHAPTER FOUR: THE LONGEST PARTY EVER
That evening, Ramona has the ladies over to her house to drink margaritas and eat some very stacked caprese salads. (Come on, there’s no way Ramona is eating that much cheese. Seriously.) Kristen shows up looking wary, Aviva shows up in an eye-searing hot pink blouse, and Sonja shows up in a bathing suit cover-up with her intern. Ramona asks Sonja to taste a rosé that she’s considering making part of the Ramona wine brand, which she says isn’t final. Sonja tells her honestly that she doesn’t care for it, that there’s “a little burn after” (that’s the rubbing alcohol, honey).
Proving that these women treat get-togethers like group therapy sessions, Ramona pulls Kristen aside to tell her that it “wasn’t her place” to say anything about Heather’s party. Kristen basically said fine, if it’s not my place to take sides, then it wasn’t your place to take sides either by boycotting the party, and Ramona went all manic on her. It’s very telling how people treat Kristen. I’ve noticed that the people who treat her like a moron always stand to benefit from that perception (Ramona, Aviva, her husband). Kristen does a good job of keeping her cool, speaking calmly and rationally, and not escalating the situation, and eventually Ramona thinks she won and wanders off. That’s pretty much the best you can hope for.
HollaHeather and Carole arrive, and Carole’s also in a bathing suit cover-up, presumably from Sonja’s friend’s “line.” HollaHeather goes to “say hello” to Ramona and approaches her with, “Bitch, you f*cking blew off my party.” I love Heather. Ramona has some bullshit to say about how sometimes her texts don’t go through (please, this isn’t 2004, nobody’s buying that excuse anymore) and how Heather is a hypocrite, but HollaHeather can’t be bothered and just rolled her eyes. That’s why this woman is so successful on this show: she is truly able to let things go.
There was a gross moment where HollaHeather and Mario were talking about cheating at golf and Mario said the best cheaters get away with it and I really hope that Bravo is not going out of their way to give RoMario the divorce edit this season. Isn’t it shitty enough that they have to go through this publicly? Wasn’t it painful enough to see Ramona posing with her dog in the hopes that it would end up on her daughter’s dorm room wall, calling attention to Mario’s absence by saying he’ll just have to find another photo shoot? Come on, now.
Ramona, still stinging from the little burn after Sonja tasted her rosé, listens to Sonja talk about how “everyone” in St. Tropez saw a video of her caburlesque performance and loved it and wanted to pay her a million dollars to bring it to them. “They want to book me in Berlin, they want to book me in St. Tropez, they said oh, if you go to Mykonos, you’d have ten thousand people.” Instead of letting Sonja’s delusion wash over her like a warm Long Island breeze, Ramona replies, “I didn’t see it, but I heard it was a little raunchy.”
Ramona did not even need to start with her. We all know this show isn’t going to Bay Ridge, let alone Berlin. Sonja takes the bait and says, “Comedians get raunchy. Seinfeld gets raunchy.” Seinfeld does not get raunchy. He is actually very well known for the opposite of that, for exclusively working clean. But again, there’s no need to get into it with Sonja, because her delusion is harmless and only snowballs when challenged, as we see when Ramona posits, “You’re a comedian?” and Sonja goes on to say of course she is, why, she’s been a comedian for twenty-five years, she could be on Broadway if she wanted to, how does Ramona think she amassed the fortune she has?
That’s when Ramona finally says what she really meant to say, which was, “Honey, you can’t do everything at once.” Except that after that last exchange, Sonja isn’t hearing it from a place of kindness, she’s hearing it from a person who didn’t even see her show but thought it probably sucked and wasn’t funny. Sonja turns to the Countess for comfort, who says diplomatically, “I love that Sonja goes out there and does her thing… It could’ve been a little more polished.” Hardly fighting words considering that Sonja spoke openly about winging it on the day of her show, but now she’s pissed and not having any of it. Ramona tries to apologize to Sonja, but she’s too upset to hear it, and meanwhile, Aviva creeps up on them like Amanda Sanders, Image Consultant.
Eventually, Ramona fake cries and hugs Sonja to her chest and rubs her nose against her face like my cat with a cardboard box she wants to claim, because Ramona has decided that the fight is over. This was a mistake. When you hurt someone, you don’t get to decide when they’ll be over it, and clearly Sonja is not, because she goes to a far corner of the party and bitches about their conversation for a good minute.
On her way out, the Countess swings by to apologize to Sonja, too, even though she barely said anything inflammatory, especially for her. “People talk about your performances, too, and I always highlight the positives, even though I could say something nasty,” Sonja whines. The Countess takes about half a second before she realizes that fighting with these women isn’t part of her job description anymore, pretends not to hear, says, “Bye, love you Sonj!” as she dances off with her boyfriend. Smart. Sonja talks some trash about “Lu-man” being a “drag queen trapped in a woman’s body,” which you think would be a compliment coming from someone who supposedly knows every drag queen in town, but honey, it ain’t. Sonja is in a MOOD at this party.
CHAPTER FIVE: THE PEN IS MIGHTIER
After that seven-hour long party finally ended, we got two minutes of Carole recording her audiobook, which has the word “penis” in it. Carole mumbles the word and has to rerecord it. “You swallowed penis,” her editor smiles, and Carole goes, “Well, I’ve had some practice.” I’m only writing about this because it’s a perfect example of what another Housewives fan referred to as a “single entendre.” These are all over the series. It’s when someone thinks they’re being coy and sexual but are actually leaving nothing to the imagination. Carole has an Emmy and a Peabody and fucked George Clooney, but sometimes, even she is just a Housewife.
CHAPTER SIX: THE SECOND LONGEST PARTY EVER
Kristen throws a clambake on the beach at sunset because she’s obsessed with Elvis. The party gets off to a great start when Aviva throws a glass of white wine on Sonja’s head intern. Ohhh, how I wish this had turned into a fight. That was your chance, Tyler!
There was a lot of talk about Ramona rinsing her wine glass out in the ocean and whether it was “stirrul” or “steeral” to do so. Obviously she doesn’t subscribe to the Same Hole Theory developed by my Grandma Sophie, who doesn’t rinse her glass between blackberry brandy and white wine because “it’s all going in the same hole.” (I hope this anecdote isn’t too revealing.)
HollaHeather decides that it’s time for Aviva to really try to reconcile with Carole. You could argue that she’s just doing the same thing Ramona does, i.e., deciding that now that she’s made up with Aviva, everyone should make up with her. But I think she knew that Aviva would be too embarrassed to behave like a lunatic around her kids, so she wanted to seize an opportunity when they were around.
Aviva comes up and brays over everyone that she needs to steal Carole away for a minute, like a Sarah Silverman character. She grabs Carole’s wrist, and Carole digs her fingers into the flesh of Mario’s arm, making him shriek: “You’re hurting me!” They go on a pretend magic carpet ride to a whole new world where Aviva didn’t try to ruin Carole’s professional reputation. Ramona and the others watch the fight from afar, trying to deduce its tenor from Carole and Aviva’s body language. When they see them start talking with their hands, they send HollaHeather to mediate. When that isn’t successful, the Countess goes and jumps on Carole’s leg. Even THAT does not stop this dead horse from gettin’ beat.
Aviva, trying to change the direction of the conversation, starts talking about what a great writer Carole is, how she was a “gushing fan” when she met her. Then she drops the bomb: she read The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating, which is not even out yet.
Carole is deeply disturbed that Aviva somehow got her paws on a galley copy of her book, which is exactly right. Those are for CRITICS. They’re not fans, or for friends-of-people-in-the-publishing industry, or even for other writers, and they are ESPECIALLY not for someone who does not wish the writer well. What if Aviva leaked the book somehow? Carole has every right to be outraged, but she still gets a great diss in when she asks, “Did you call and congratulate Bill [Whitworth, her alleged ghostwriter]?”
The worst part of all is that Aviva whips her copy of the book out of her bag and holds it in front of her face while repeating what she practiced in the mirror earlier: “This is a great book. You are a great writer.” THE BITCH BROUGHT THE BOOK TO THE BEACH. I honestly felt sick to my stomach watching this play out. Aviva is truly obsessed with Carole, Losing My Religion-style. She’s in this scary cycle of building Carole up to godly heights, then resenting the pedestal she put her on and trying to tear her down. It’s seriously unsettling.
This fight was never about whether Aviva liked or didn’t like Carole’s books. Does she honestly think Carole gives a flying fuck either way? It was about Aviva accusing Carole of not writing her books and spreading that rumor among their friends and on television. If Aviva really wanted to make up with Carole, she would take responsibility for her seriously hurtful actions and apologize, and perhaps they could just agree not to talk about each other’s writing careers. But of course, that didn’t happen. Instead, it went like this:
AVIVA: This is a great book, you’re a great writer, this is a great book, you’re a great writer.
CAROLE: So you’re apologizing for all the things you said to me?
AVIVA: Happy 4th of July.
And we end another Housewives episode with a silent prayer that seven hours of TV revolving around this fight is enough.
Next week: Ramona is a meddler, Sonja comes for the Countess, and two women over thirty have a splash fight that turns serious. Until then, I’ll be like Cash: “No.”