After last week’s Housewife Smackdown of epic proportions, I really assumed that this week’s episode would be boring in comparison. It’s rare that there’s any kind of successfully sustained narrative arc on this show when genuine drama is involved, but Real Housewives of New York City managed to deliver last night, even if it was mostly off of the power of the previous episode’s big confrontation.
Sure, other things happened, but I’m not really sure what they were. The Bethenny vs. Jill kerfuffle has turned into something of a black hole of Bravolebrity drama, sucking in everything within a certain perimeter and making it irrelevant to those that are observing. LuAnn wants to have a cocktail party. Some people picked some models. Kelly continued to be really interested in Kelly. No one really cares about any of this stuff, and it seems like they just broadcast it in order to give the 15 minutes of weekly verbal mud-wrestling a modicum of context.
First, can we all take a moment to congratulate Bethenny on not throwing Ramona off of the Brooklyn Bridge? I think she deserves it, and by that I mean I think Bethenny deserves congratulations and Ramona deserves to be thrown off a bridge. Bethenny asked her to take a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to chit chat, and I’m not sure what would motivate anyone to put themselves in a situation with Ramona where escape is impossible, but Bethenny soon came to regret it.
As soon as Bethenny opened her mouth to mention her argument with Jill, Ramona more or less pounced on her – she told her that she had no friends, that she was probably going to screw up her relationship with her boyfriend and that she was a media whore that had probably planted the Gatecrasher item from last week’s episode herself. For once, it seemed that Bethenny hadn’t actually said anything to warrant that kind of reaction, and it reminded me a lot of last season when Ramona wouldn’t shut up about what an underdog she was and how that’s the only reason Jill liked her (which, in retrospect, turned out to be completely true), except several degrees of magnitude worse. Bethenny was in tears before long, and I couldn’t figure out the trajectory of the conversation for the life of me. What was Ramona hoping to gain by putting Bethenny down so thoroughly, with little provocation? The more I see of Ramona, the more it seems like she’d benefit from a good therapist. Or maybe a shot of tranquilizers.
The next stop on Bethenny’s Trail of Tears was at a model casting in Brooklyn where she was helping choose girls for Brooklyn Fashion Weekend. She stopped by a bit early to talk with Alex (who has somehow achieved a sort of reality TV redemption and is now normal) and told her that she had a suitcase in tow so that she could fly to LA after the casting. She was headed out west to see her father, who was apparently quite ill. Bethenny has spoken obliquely in the past about her strained relationship with her dad, and her decision to see him at the end of his life mirrored pretty closely what Ramona had revealed about her own father last week. Methinks that both of them would have gotten more out of their bridge conversation had they talked about their daddy issues instead of Bethenny’s tendency to alienate her boyfriends.
Just when things got a little heavy, Kelly showed up to change the subject to how hard models have it and Ramona showed up again and decided that it would be really entertaining if she set up Jill and Bethenny to meet with each other after Bethenny got back from visiting her dad. Just when we were thinking Kelly was the most self-obsessed person on the face of the planet, admitting that she was planning a stunt like that for her own amusement catapulted Ramona to the front of the race, right where she wants to be (it is apparently not important to her exactly what “winning” this particular race entails – namely, being an awful person for a large television audience).
Before we get to the next stop on the Trail of Tears, let’s catch up with the other participant. Jill spent most of the episode trying to curry favor with the other Housewives, likely in hopes that they’ll take her side in future conflicts with Bethenny. She even went so far as to go play with Alex’s kids in Brooklyn, a move that seemed so contrived and out-of-character that Jill didn’t even do a halfway decent job of masking her mild irritation at being forced to cross the bridge. But as Alex (who seems to be moderately Team Bethenny) pointed out, Jill keeps score and is interested in winning, and sometimes you have to shake a few hands and kiss a few babies to do that. Even if the babies are in Brooklyn.
She also had some sort of inappropriate lingerie sleepover with LuAnn (honey, if you’re listening, wearing a nightie and getting under the covers with Jill Zarin is not going to make Playboy call you), wherein she bragged about her brand new fancy-schmancy Saks credit card and acted so nouveau-riche that I almost choked on my Maker’s Mark & ginger ale that I drink during every episode of Housewives, in honor of Velvet Mafia member Andy Cohen (and also, because it makes watching the show more tolerable). Jill has been looking pretty good this season, at least, and I think she may have sold her soul to Satan in return for being allowed to age backward a few years. That would explain a lot.
Eventually Bethenny came back to town and Ramona went through with her plan to amuse herself by putting them both in a really awkward situation. She invited Jill over under the pretense of planning a fundraiser and then had Bethenny show up later, in hopes that they would finally make peace and she would be the one to get the credit for it. Well. It didn’t exactly go down like that.
Jill’s head nearly exploded at being set up, despite the fact that she pulled the exact same trick on Bethenny last season with Kelly. She got all panicky and refused to talk at first, but then agreed to sit down for a moment while Ramona and LuAnn more or less stood outside with their ears pressed to the door to make sure they didn’t miss any drama. Bethenny got emotional again (she was pregnant when this episode was filmed, although she apparently didn’t know it yet) and explained what had lead up to the now-infamous voicemail, and I thought that she made pretty good sense despite her frazzled, hormonal state.
She said that Jill was difficult to be close with because she keeps score and picks everything apart, and, well, that certainly seems true. We also found out that Jill told Bethenny that they were done before Bobby got sick, which put the whole issue with Bethenny not calling in a new light for me. If your ex-bestie, who now wants nothing to do with you, doesn’t respond to the flowers or email that you sent inquiring about her husband’s condition, what else are you supposed to do? If a close friend had kicked me out of her life over a stupid angry voicemail, I can’t say I would have done anything at all, particularly if I was traveling around on a book tour and didn’t have the details on how sick he was. Maybe I’m a jerk. It’s a distinct possibility, really.
It seemed like Bethenny and Jill weren’t really talking about the same things, however, and I didn’t come out of the episode with my opinion of Jill elevated in any way. Bethenny actually brought a card for Jill to give to Bobby, which I thought was kind of sweet and a little sad, but it was too little, too late. Jill mostly didn’t address anything that Bethenny was trying to explain, and LuAnn repeatedly interrupted the conversation for various reason (probably because she can’t stand it when she’s not in front of the camera) and eventually tried to make Jill leave. Bethenny left first, however, and Jill finally showed some emotion over the whole thing.
It seemed, though, that she was more upset and embarrassed at being outwitted by Ramona (and really, that is kind of upsetting and embarrassing) than finally having a face-to-face conversation with her former best friend, and it seems likely that some of Jill’s rage will be redirected to Ramona in future episodes as a result. Bad for Ramona, good for us – I’m kind of tiring of this story line, and we need a little more humor and wackiness in this show. It’s certainly more fun to write about when we get to see Ramona’s awful white-person dancing or when Kelly uses words that don’t mean what she thinks they mean. Gimme some more of that, producers. In the immortal words of Heath Ledger, why so serious?