I finally got my wish on last night’s episode of Real Housewives of New York: Jill returned from the land down under and the episode was marginally better for it. Mostly it was the Sonja show yet again, though, which probably means that Sonja is smarter than she seems and found a way to finagle more camera time for herself since last season. And, well, she does a good job of it.
The episode was comprised of a series of awkward dinner and cocktail dates with one sales party wedged in for good measure. Oh, and Jill can’t be bothered to leash her dog, so it almost got devoured in Central Park. But whatever, more important things were at hand, namely the social order of the group. Thankfully, we had Sonja there to explain it to us.
Jill! Jill’s back! Glory hallelujah, we might get to have a fun, ridiculous storyline again (as opposed to the boring, ridiculous that we had last week). She came back from Australia bearing cheap gifts for Sonja, Kelly and Luanna and promising to stay out of drama, but the girls met for lunch and immediately got into the Ramona-Cindy drama over Ramona’s dead friend. Nevermind that none of the women present were directly involved in the drama in any way; they got to have another laugh over the fact that Cindy would expect them to go to Quogue, or all places, and then Sonja and Kelly play-acted the upcoming confrontation between Kelly and Ramona. And credit where credit is due, Sonja does a pretty decent Ramona impression. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Over in Brooklyn, the producers suddenly remembered that we have another housewife who we hadn’t seen in a long time. Her name is Alex. She was celebrating one of her kids’ birthdays, and so the family hired a pianist to come play in the house. Francois, who takes piano lessons, seemed none too impressed. As it turns out, the piano he was playing was new too, and also a birthday gift. Francois continued to seem unimpressed. Which is the problem with kids, really – they’re not reliable vehicles for validation.
Next, Kelly and Ramona had their confrontation with Sonja present to mediate (read: revel in the drama), but the fireworks were fairly limited. Kelly launched into a nonsensical monologue about fighting and winning and how she’s just not fighting at all and how Ramona has hurt her in the past, which is something that’s continually mentioned but that I still can’t quite remember. And then Ramona popped up from the chair to show Kelly that she had dressed like a hooker just for her, and instead of being perplexed or slightly offended, Kelly seemed to love it. Maybe the key to Kelly is to just be completely nonsensical, and she’ll think that you’ve done something special for her and grin like an idiot.
Our next awkward meeting happened between Cindy and Sonja, just as the episode’s previews promised. Cindy had been invited to Sonja’s house under some sort of quasi-positive guise, but as soon as drinks were poured and Cindy stopped dancing with Sonja’s young, attractive houseboy (and oh man, did that make Sonja uncomfortable – no one acts inappropriately with Sonja’s houseboy but Sonja, and don’t you forget it. Also, what exactly is a houseboy?), Sonja blew up her spot for crossing Ramona and making everyone drive to Quogue, which is the biggest social faux pas to ever befall the Real Housewives of New York.
Sonja went on to explain the very delicate Real Housewives social order, and apparently, Ramona is on the top. Which is interesting, because only a few scenes prior, Sonja had spent several minutes in front of the camera doing her best derisive Ramona impression. Apparently she had already paid penitence for that sin and felt the need to spread the gospel to others, and Cindy was the unwilling recipient. And when you worship Ramona, you take communion with pinot grigio and…more pinot grigio. There’s no body of Ramona, just blood. And at this rate, Ramona’s blood might actually consist of more pinot than anything.
The parties continued at Ramona’s place, where she was having one of those annoying get-togethers where you’re expected to buy something, except it was for Ramona’s own jewelry line. LuAnn pretended to be excited that someone out there was manufacturing more giant, tacky jewelry for her to buy, but in reality, she’d never do anything truly supportive of anyone else on the show. That’s not our LuLu, who later privately expressed her distaste for Ramona’s baubles with a larger-than-life-size gold butterfly strapped to throat. It’s probably a compliment if she says that a jewelry line isn’t her style.
And that was proved accurate when, in the next breath, she passive-aggressively inquired into where Ramona’s wine had been made and then laughingly corrected her pronunciation of the region. How dare Ramona not speak Italian? If the person who fronts the money for a wine brand doesn’t speak the language of the region in which the grapes are grown, then the wine spoils immediately. Everyone knows that. It’s like the first law of wine making, right after ensuring that actual humans squash the grapes with their feet.
Afterward, Kelly and Cindy went on a walk in the park and “ran into” Jill while complaining about Sonja’s instruction that Cindy pay homage to Ramona because Ramona is the leader of the pack. Predictably, Jill didn’t seem amused by that information, and that’s because she is clearly the leader. This is why you don’t leave the country during the season, Jill. Someone usurps your fake throne, and then you get back and the entire royal structure is screwed up.
In further Sonja news, she had LuAnn and Kelly over to feed them dinner from her new cookbook. Except her new cookbook is all about toaster oven cooking, so she made them fish and asparagus in a $20 toaster oven that she picked up for $5 at a yard sale in one of the dumpier neighborhoods of Long Island. The fish didn’t even stay together long enough to get onto the plate, and apparently Sonja was unaware that most meat gets smaller as its cooked, so each of her her guests had approximately three bites apiece. But just so you know, Sonja has cooked for royalty with her toaster oven. The Churchills! Who are, uh, not royalty. But they are British. That’s kind of the same, isn’t it?
Somewhere around this time, we had our small inter-commercial, non-narrative clip that I usually skip in the recaps, but this time it starred Sonja and was more than worth mentioning. You see, Sonja had been asked to helm another event, this time with a bunch of straight guys. Firefighters, even! Hot ones. The ones they put in the annual FDNY calendar. They were having a charity softball game and Sonja had been asked to throw out the first pitch, but because Sonja leads with her vagina, she decided to dress up in a skanky Halloween costume to do it, for reasons that weren’t entirely clear.
And I’m sure she threw that pitch at some point, although I don’t remember that happening, but mostly she just mugged for the camera and showed us all her ass, encased like divorced sausage in flesh-toned pantyhose. Thankfully she had underwear on under there, which apparently presents a bit of a problem for Sonja next week, but pretty soon she asked the firefighter to take their shirts off so that should could pick which one she would hit on later and I forgot all about her butt. Sonja, you’ve still got some things down to a science, even if you’ve gone of the deep end recently.
Next, Jill visited Alex in Brooklyn, and you know that it was serious because Jill deigned to leave the island. She seemed incredibly nervous and immediately put her foot in her mouth about whether or not Alex works out, but Alex took it well and moved on to the topic at hand, which is still…Bethenny. Bethenny and Alex’s kids. Who Jill called animals, which is something that Jill denies, but it sure does sound like it probably happened. That’s the kind of stuff that Jill says: Mean and entirely uncreative, because Jill is not funny or original, just vicious. But this show is so godawful without her that I can’t even summon up the righteous outrage that I would normally include at this juncture. It’s just good to have you back, Jill, even if your feigned genuineness makes me uncomfortable.
To conclude, we accompanied Ramona and Cindy to an anonymous Upper East Side restaurant that looked like every other restaurant that they’ve ever eaten in, wherein they argued about whether or not Cindy should have had pinot grigio at the party to thank Ramona, and also whether Cindy should have bowed and kissed Ramona’s ring. Ramona, naturally, was of the opinion that Cindy had done her some sort of grave injustice, but instead of being magnanimous and reasonable, Ramona told her that when Cindy was married, she’d understand.
And I generally kind of like Ramona because I appreciate her particular brand of housewife performance art, but there are few things more unnecessary, not to mention so transparently mean-spirited, that I’ve heard uttered on this show. No part of the entire discussion had anything to do with Cindy being single until Ramona decided to bring up her marriage as a weak excuse for why Cindy should have had her drink of choice at the party. That didn’t stop Ramona, though, and if her intent was to bring the meeting to a screeching halt, then I suppose she was successful. Looks like she takes it to another level next week and actually makes Jill weep in embarrassment, which is something heretofore unaccomplished in all of Housewifedom. I guess we’ll have to wait and see, and in the meantime, try to scrub the image of Sonja’s pantyhosed ass from our minds.