The Devil's In The Details On RHONYC
This week's episode is the Sistine Chapel of banality. And yes, this season's about Tom, too.
This week's episode isn't just a turning point for the season, it's one for the show; nobody gives a fuck anymore and the result is spellbinding and hilarious. [in the style of Ramona] Well, all right, maybe Bethenny cares. But you know what? All right; whatever. What do I know? In all sincerity though, there's been a shift. And this week, you know, I've embraced it. It's renewing itself, and I'm renewing myself. [end Ramona]
I've long said that this leg of the franchise is the most successful because, even at its worst, the cast is so enmeshed, the drama creates itself. Leave one camera on a tripod in Sonja's foyer and another in the backroom at Beautique and you're done; that footage alone is probably enough for two seasons. So while I'm happy the season's finally starting to take shape -- once again setting its sights on Luann and Tom -- I have to say that everything that came before Dorinda's fundraiser was an embarrassment of riches. Superficially dull, yes, but filled with dozens of eye-catching moments. Let's explore some highlights.
To the rankings!
- Ramona's Drink Order
Rather than just order a drink and also ask for a glass of still water like my, and I assume everyone else's, stepdad, Ramona decides to torture the bartender by ordering two drinks and make every second count so he remembers her later on in the night, if you know what I mean. At least Sally Albright spoke clearly and knew exactly what she wanted. Ramona just kind of talks and improvs like UCB grandmaster, Bethenny. Here's her order exactly, obviously edited and condensed: 1. "A tall glass of water in a stem glass, with a straw." 2. "Vodka. Very light vodka, like, half a shot, on ice with club soda, three limes and a straw in another tall glass."
- Ramona & Avery Shopping
For a show ostensibly about "real housewives," one thing nobody talks about enough is how hard it is to produce a good scene between parents and their children, whether it's in terms of good parenting or just good television. Second only to Orange County's Vicki, Bravo's original monster and the woman whose flavor launched a thousand spinoffs, is Ramona. Shopping at Bendel's with Avery, she gets more than she bargained for as Avery gets retribution for her mini-meltdown earlier about taking her coat off the second they walk into the store by telling her the pair of sunglasses she likes make her look old and sad, and who later stops short of pulling up a PowerPoint presentation she made for her Interpersonal Communication class up on her phone and using it to explain why she's wrong about how she handled things with Bethenny.
Ramona's still skeptical, but it's clear Avery made some sort of impact as her mother's face contorts in the background like Gwyneth's in Contagion when she's dying. The best is when she asks why it's always her who has to be the bigger person. Yeah, what's up with that? Anyway, someone please have them check in every few weeks via FaceTime for more lessons on mannerisms, tone and physical space.
- Kathleen & Missy
I knew I would love whatever this scene was once I saw "Ramona" and then "American Cut." Lest we forget, per her Leaves Of Grass-like tome on sex and dating, steakhouses are GREAT places to meet men. Cut to Kathleen and Missy, who look like chic super-villains; at one point Kathleen sees Ramona wander over out of the corner of her eye and asks if they're "circulating." It's as if an alarm is about to sound and all the viable sex idiots and mating partners have 10 seconds to get out before the hatch closes and choice scenes from Species are recreated.
And then there's Missy, who gets rounded out when a waitress comes over with drinks from a secret admirer and Ramona feigns interest because whoever sent them over "followed Missy's rule," meaning he sent one for each of the women. Major props to Ramona for waiting MINUTES (PLURAL) before tracing Missy back to Tom and setting her up to tell a story about how she used to date him and only found they weren't dating when she saw him at a bar with…LUANN. Then they just kind of sit around and sip cocktails and glance through slit eyes, as one does on girls' night.
- "The List"
As an aside, I finally figured it out: Tinsley's red off-the-shoulder TH look is Dancing Lady Emoji, which is fine, it's just been bothering me! While we're on the subject though, that's probably what 23-year-old Chad subconsciously finds so hot about her. (Oh, and that she's DTF, too. Yeah, there's that.) Really though, that is probably what she's in his phone as: "Dancing Lady," or maybe it's the Emoji itself. It's either that or "Tinsel" because it was so loud that night.
Or maybe she's in his phone as "Tinsley," he seems semi-responsible. She should really be in his phone as "Back Knife Emoji," though, after what she puts Sonja through this week. Yes, Tinsley commits the ultimate offense this week. Listen, it's bad enough she's asking Lady Morgan, her host, for sugar for her coffee -- the literature Sonja left on her bedside table clearly states that, if she has to have things like ketchup or sugar, she either has to buy them herself at the Duane Reade two blocks south of the townhouse, or steal them from any of fine UES eateries on the approved list located below -- and having dinner with her friends, but now she's deviating from The List!
Den Mother Lady Morgan and The List are here to help Tinsley find a man so she can move out and rejoin society! The List doesn't say, "A 23-year-old who lives on the UES with five other guys in a two-bedroom and has two months to get a job at a think-tank or at Goldman Sachs before his grandmother and/or parents stop helping with rent and he moves back to Wyoming or Rhode Island or wherever the fuck he came from." That's what the paragraph beside the asterisk at the bottom of Sonja's list says! That's what Ramona's list says because it's a photocopy of Sonja's list!
That's not what her list says! How do I know? She made it with Sonja! She said it out loud! Goddammit, Tinsley! Is this bit overwrought? Of course, but so is Sonja's visceral reaction to the deviation.
- Tinsley's Kissing
Whenever Tinsley's face is mashed up against Chad's is great. It's cringeworthy at its best and heartbreaking at its worst. Not because of the age difference, but because they're bad at kissing. It looks like an audition tape for The CW's Beverly Hills, 90210 reboot, or like a parody of what that would look like. Sometimes her face is an inch from his and her tongue darts around his like a kitten struck by lightning as it goes to drink some milk. Other times her face is mashed against his and the tongues look like two pedestrians that bumped into each other on the sidewalk and every time they go to continue on keep clumsily moving in the same direction.
It's extremely uncomfortable, which means it's amazing.
- Bethenny's Run-In With Tom
You've got to hand it to her: Bethenny's all business. I loved her emotionless apology to Tom for being the one who brought his drunken Regency escapades while he's engaged to Luann into the fray. If anything, she should have apologized for the whiplash her apology gave him. Not in so many words, but she's essentially just like, "Hi, nice to meet you and sorry for the stuff, what's up?" And it works! Because fuck if either of them want to acknowledge any sort of fault! This is a coup in more ways than one.
Sonja starts so strong, but it's her spotty performance after that really cinches her position here. First she's telling Luann that Ramona should wait until Bethenny comes round to her, next she's slighting Tinsley at Beautique ("What's better than a night out with Tinsley and Ramona? Two goofballs that think they have their shit together," she says in a TH without a hint of irony) and crying foul about her departure from "the list." Her best moment though is, of course, in her kitchen, in which she enters holding a single plant leaf in a glass of rust-tinted water and uses it as a springboard to tell Tinsley she's a terrible guest and give her shit about fucking the 23-year-old she wanted to.
- Dorinda's Auction Items
God bless her. Really, Dorinda is just wonderful. She's trying to raise money for Beauty for Freedom and help eliminate human trafficking worldwide, and here she is, auctioning off drinks with Luann (I'm saying this as a dig right now, but I can also go ahead and go fuck myself because I would spend $10,000 on that if I had the money), some of Sonja's clothes (which could mean anything), lunch with herself, a weekend at her haunted Berkshires home, etc. She and Carole eventually turn it out, but as she was listing what she had at the meeting they showed my heart swelled and my jaw dropped.
Um, quick question: where the fuck have they been hiding Barbara? Briefly billed as Luann's friend and then cast aside until Carole drags her over to the auction to look at $400 face cream or whatever, Barbara turns it out. She's either had a little too much to drink, doesn't know Carole's mic can pick up what she's saying, or doesn't give a fuck. I'm going to go ahead and say it's all of the above because rather than pretend she wants to throw a few dollars at stopping human trafficking, she opts to talk to Carole about Luann, her friend, instead. What's so great about this? She says Luann has something to prove and would rather get married and divorced than walk away from the relationship.
Barbara! You may not have given anything to charity (she probably did, I don't know) but you've given me hope that this season, even though we know they get married, will be just crazy as last season.
- Tinsley's Reaction To Her Date Getting Carded
The look in her eyes when she says, "you didn't card me…" and her range of emotions in all of 10 seconds is otherworldly.
We're on course for someone to rip a subway grate out of the sidewalk with her bare hands and throw someone else down it for talking to someone she met three minutes ago. Sonja is literally going to board her house up from the outside and burn Tinsley and Chad alive in it in the season finale. And I'm here for all of it.