Just when I start to feel like this show has gotten completely scripted, we’re hit with some of its realest moments yet. Or rather, some of Sonja’s realest moments yet. Oh, sexy J. I actually started tearing up when I saw her sitting alone at that restaurant, damn this show. It truly throws me that a channel that’s gone to such lengths to hide its stars’ financial problems would suddenly feel comfortable airing all of Ms. Morgan’s dirty laundry. Is our little Bravo all grown up? Or have they run out of personality disorders to agitate?
Remember last week when I said that these women weren’t friends? I was wrong, at least a little bit. There are some true friendships on this show: Carole and Heather, LuAnn and Sonja, Heather and Kristen, and (for now, at least) Ramona and Sonja. That’s what makes this show so complicated to navigate: there’s real drama in fake friendships and fake drama in real friendships, and then, every once in a while, the fake drama destroys a real friendship, like The Great Jill Zarin/Bethenny Frankel Rift of 2010.
Is the tension between Ramona and Sonja real, or is it just someone’s idea for a storyline, like Jill Zarin later said of her fight with Bethenny? In the past, viewers have not warmed to these kinds of fights. We all saw through it when it was Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, and unlike the latter, this convention hasn’t gotten better with age.
But let’s not get too analytical before we’ve even gotten out of the Hamptons.
Sonja invites Ramona and Aviva over to her RENTED HOUSE (calm down, Bravo) for an afternoon of sunbathing and gossiping, only to have Ramona cancel on her last minute because she started feeling sick after she went for a run. Ramona always has the worst excuses, doesn’t she? Remember when she bailed on Aviva’s charity SoulCycle session (lol) because her dermatologist appointment got too intense? A lot of this episode was Ramona being a diva.
Case in point: when Ramona dragged Carole and LuAnn to something called “the Hamptons designer show house.” I don’t know what this place was, but it involved a chandelier being rigged with an umbrella. Did Bravo’s lighting people set that up, or was that some kind of Dadaist “design?” I’m baffled. Ramona basically used this opportunity to peel wallpaper off the wall (I can’t believe I paid $1.99 to watch this) and tell Carole and LuAnn, ON CAMERA, the details of Sonja’s financial troubles.
Basically, Sonja failed to sell her townhouse in the time allotted to her, and now the city or the bank or whatever is taking it into short sale, and she’s unlikely to break even. Listen, I’m not going to pretend to fully understand the details of Sonja’s finances, because a) her accountant is probably an intern with a jar of quarters and a shoebox of Barney’s receipts, and b) it’s none of my goddamn business. I’m aware of that, unlike Ramona, who spewed what she knew to Carole and LuAnn and then had the balls to tell them not to go spreading it around! We cannot pretend to ignore the context in which this conversation was had. Ramona knew that what she said was going to end up on TV, and she said it anyway. Not cool, and not a good friend.
The next day, Carole turned around and told Heather and Kristen what she heard about Ramona, also on-camera, also not cool. I mean, at least in this situation a) the information was already out there, and b) these ladies seemed genuinely sympathetic. Also, how hot was HollaHeather’s hollahusband corralling the kids to the beach with a beer in his hand? Mrmph.
There was a brief scene in which Kristen discussed her prospects for a post-35 modeling career with Lewis Black, which we will not discuss because quite frankly, this episode was depressing enough. Kristen should obviously just get a job hosting something on the Style network. Done and done. I mean, seriously. Do I have to think of everything?
Next, Ramona showed up late to a wine tasting in the Hamptons with Sonja, Aviva, and the Countess. This scene was basically just an opportunity for Sonja to have a mini stress tantrum about how everyone was being unsupportive and nobody really listens to her when she lists her five thousand different business opportunities, which is true. Everyone has been trying to tell Sonja to pick one project to focus on and carry it to completion: Heather, Ramona, the Countess, Andy Cohen, Amanda Sanders’s cleavage, the Elvis impersonator that Kristen almost had sex with, the mock-up box for Sonja’s toaster oven. Everyone.
By the same token, Sonja has told them just as many times, in her own way: don’t try to understand my choices. Just support me. Now that she’s really in a vulnerable place, she wants their advice even less. Sonja says something about women who marry royalty knowing how to shut up and act nice and The Countess calls her “bitchy,” which was pretty surprising for her, but if anyone gets what Sonja’s going through in getting divorced and having to downsize, it’s LuAnn. Meanwhile, Ramona showed that she knows how to just “okay” people to death and diffuse their anger, a skill that she unfortunately tends to employ at the worst times.
In other drinking adventures, HollaHeather shows up at Carole’s fabulous apartment with tequila, a six-pack of beer, and a beef with Spanx. Carole orders a pizza, and the two get drunk and blow off steam like actual human friends. Carole’s wacky neighbor stops by with his adorable dog, and he has a shot with the girls before he heads out. I loved this scene. I wish we got more of these scenes on the show. How hilarious was it when Carole said she edits people’s Wikipedia pages when she can’t sleep?
Of course, these moments of genuine human connection don’t last long, and the next day we’re at Sonja’s townhouse, where Ramona approaches her in a very patronizing way about looking for an apartment. Ramona’s not wrong, but she also seems more concerned with how she comes off on this show than with how Sonja is actually coping with the reality of losing her home. There’s a difference between, “Have you thought about looking for an apartment? I’ll help you find one” and “I’m here to tell you that you should start looking for an apartment.”
Yes, Sonja’s in denial, and yes, she’s going to be out of a place to live very soon, but is she actually going to end up on the street? I seriously doubt it. Even if her house got sold out from under her and she had to get out immediately, she’d probably just crash at a friend’s place in the Hamptons for a couple weeks and then find a place to sublet or something. Sonja looks nuts when she starts talking about being positive and lighting her abundance candle and “haven’t you read The Secret?” But maybe she just doesn’t want to talk about this shit on TV. Maybe she doesn’t want her daughter to hear about this on TV, RAMONA.
Because by God, then we had the saddest scene in the whole world, where Sonja gets stood up by her twenty-three-year-old boyfriend on camera and has to call one of her interns to meet her so at least she doesn’t have to sit there alone and try to eat. This was too much for me. I had to leave the room so I wouldn’t burst into tears. Sonja’s a strong women and she doesn’t need anyone’s pity, nor does Bravo need to twist the fucking knife for us. Talk about a deal with the devil. This channel will make you a star and then sit there licking their fingers while you fall apart.
Also, why for fuck’s sake didn’t we spend more time at the ice bar?!?! That looked awesome! Where is this place where you get free faux fur robes and hunting caps? And Carole convinces Kristen that she got engaged with a ring from Canal street? Why doesn’t the whole show just exist in this universe? Goddamn!
Speaking of Carole, she’s renovating her apartment where she’s lived for ten years, which is actually a realistic size for New York City. We finally got to see what’s up those treacherous-looking stairs! A tiny office and a bedroom that’s too small to film in, it turns out. It was totally gross when those designers were all, “You should do this and that because WHEN YOU GET MARRIED TO MAN YOU WANT COOK FOR MAN, IS GOOD FOR WIFE TO COOK FOR MAN.” Carol has an Emmy and a Peabody and fucked George Clooney and maybe she doesn’t want to get married again. It’s fucking crazy to get rid of your kitchen if you ever plan to sell your apartment, but she’s old enough to know if she wants to keep her place. Ugh.
Finally, we’re at a spa that’s apparently deep inside Grand Central Terminal. I never realized before I lived in New York how much stuff is in that building– friends of mine play tennis in there, and apparently Housewives start fights there, too. Remember when I said that Ramona was being a diva? Who shows up to a spa day with their big pissy I-can’t-get-my-hair-wet face on? Carole, LuAnn, and HollaHeather have a perfectly relaxing time in a soundproof room, which is exactly right, and Ramona gets into a fight with Sonja that turns into a fight with Kristen.
Ramona, acting like the parent of a teenager (which she is, now that I think about it, but my point still stands), called up Ben’s mother. Ben is the twenty-three-year-old who Sonja was tapping, up until he stood her up at dinner, an event that we now realize was probably directly related to Ramona sticking her nose into it.
I know everyone thinks that milennials WANT their parents to be called at the drop of a hat, but as young as twenty-three is, Ben is still an adult. It’s completely inappropriate, infantilizing, and just plain icky to call someone’s mother to see if he’s boyfriend material for your friend. I mean, how did that conversation even go?
BEN’S MOM: Hello?
RAMONA: *sound of wine glass being clunked down* Uh hi, yes, this is Ramona Singer, is this Ben’s mom?
BEN’S MOM: Who is this?
RAMONA: Hi, I’m Ramona Singer, and in all sincerity, I was calling because your son is dating a good friend of mine, Sonja Morgan, and in all sincerity I’m wondering if he’s a good fit for her because he’s very young.
BEN’S MOM: I’m sorry, who is this?
How does Ramona even have time to make phone calls like this with her packed schedule of wine-shilling and freaking out about Avery going to college? Sonja brings up the call in a good-natured, sort-of-joking way, but Kristen sees it for what it is and is horrified. Ramona decides that it’s none of Kristen’s business and throws her glass of champagne in Kristen’s face. I want to emphasize how fucking rude, how fully “shots fired” it is to throw a drink in another adult’s face, because when Kristen splashes Ramona back, Ramona acts like getting her hair wet was the unforgivable act of the century. One thing I think we can all take away from this situation: Bravo simply cannot get good sound in spas, or in any situations where they can’t attach a mic pack to these heifers.
Next week: Josh gives Sonja advice, LuAnn drives off the road, and Ramona throws more booze in Kristen’s face, with dangerous results. Until then, I’ll be like Carole’s neighbor’s dog: asleep at the pizza party.