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The Berkshires Continue To Be The Best Thing About RHONYC

Luann gets her shrug on and Ramona officially cracks. This is fine.

The standard two--to-three-episode layover in the Berkshires per season isn't enough for me anymore. Nail the windows shut; board up all the doorways. Please, do anything and everything to keep these monsters isolated and confined to Dorinda's haunted estate Blue Stone Manor for as long as possible. Don't get me wrong, I love a trip to Beautique and the equally eccentric (crumbling) halls of Maison Morgan, but Blue Stone Manor and the surrounding area are something else entirely.

The Berkshires aren't in New York City, but they're frequently the best part of The Real Housewives Of New York City. Over the years it's become less of a set piece and more of a character; I love it.

Blue Stone Manor is to RHONYC as The Black Lodge is to Twin Peaks. (Coincidentally, if Sheryl Lee were unable to play Laura Palmer in the revival, Dorinda would be perfectly cast; three martinis and two hours in hair and makeup, and you're set. She'll probably even bring her own velvet chair.) Something happens to these women in the Berkshires, and I'm not sure we'll ever truly understand why or what it even is. Then again, like Twin Peaks, I'm fine with being left in the dark as long as things continue unfolding as wryly and horrifically as they have been.

To be fair, the behavior that Blue Stone Manor and the Berkshires produce isn't completely out of left field. It would be disingenuous to argue that Ramona has been anything other than Catherine Martell-adjacent since the show premiered. (This week, she's recast as Agent Cooper and his, SPOILER, leather-clad doppelgänger.) It also helps that they don't have a choice in the matter and are stuck somewhere further out of their comfort zone than, say, Brooklyn. There's an element of common sense holding things together, but there's also some sort of supernatural force at play here. How else do you explain Bethenny being not just tolerable, but enjoyable for the first time in NINE episodes? You can't.

This week is another embarrassment of riches: Tinsley's vocal fry, which has become so severe it sounds like someone's popping bubble wrap whenever she talks; Sonja being the sheepdog to Ramona's scattered flock; Bethenny crying in a room designed by The Hamburglar; Ramona's bizarre reactions to the use of a stick of butter, and winning a chocolate bunny. At one point Bethenny and Carole decide to build their own fire. Later, they're sitting with everyone (except Dorinda) and casually talking about relationships and fidelity while the room fills with smoke because the fireplace doesn't actually work. Again, they are so self-involved and the drama's so good that they're unaware of or disregard the fact that the room they're sitting in is filling with smoke. It's a wonderful tableau and eerie recreation of K.C. Green's "THIS IS FINE" meme.

These things only happen in the Berkshires, and I cannot wait to go back next week and see Dorinda flip through her little black book and dial Lorraine Warren on a rotary phone while Luann and Bethenny struggle to keep Ramona's arms and legs in place so Sonja and Carole can tie them to the bedposts while Len blesses bottles of Evian and turns them into holy water while they wait for a priest to arrive. Will that actually happen? No. But this being the Berkshires and Blue Stone Black Lodge Manor, some version of that scenario will.

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