The last thing we expected when we turned on The Real Housewives of New York was a solemn treatise on life and death, but that’s what we got last night. Jill’s mother’s conversation with Bethenny about aging (“Life goes by in minutes. And then the minutes turn to seconds. I see sickness wherever I go”) might have been one of the most wrenching fifteen seconds we’ve ever seen on reality TV, if not for the fact that she also revealed she marks the passage of time via the high holidays: “I turn around and it’s Passover, I turn around and it’s Yom Kippur. Then it’s Passover again.” And while Mama Gloria, with her chunky jewelry and surgically enhanced features, seemed to be doing everything she could to stave off death, LuAnn’s mother, who had come to the Hamptons to escort her daughter to a cancer benefit, had become resigned to the inevitability of it, due to the recent death of her husband. “It’s a part of life,” she said.
It made us think: If life is so precious, should we really spend our time watching this show?
We’re just going to go ahead and count Simon as one of the ladies from now on. (Case in point: During his shopping expedition with Alex, Simon quips, “I’ve been wearing pink shirts since I was 7 years old.”) We were pleased to find, in this episode, that Simon seemed a little less pretentious and displayed a little more self-awareness than last season, particularly when he acknowledged that his banana hammock was not appropriate in the Hamptons, because “in America we’re a little more prudish.” (It’s nice that he said “we,” don’t you think? Gwyneth would have said “people,” or “they.”) Then he let the cameramen get a shot of him in it, anyway. Best line, when Alex is wearing a formfitting Hervé Léger dress: “I like her in formfitting things, because she looks like she’s naked.” (He’s lucky we don’t count the “Scenes From the Next” preview as part of the evening’s episode, because we will never, ever recover from the sight of his naked, speckled body — hairy nipple included — getting gently brushed by a masseuse. It will now and forevermore be the spiderwebbed terrain of our nightmares.)
If foreshadowing existed in this show, LuAnn would have the title Countess wrested away from her imminently. In this episode, as in last season, she insists on being called by her royal title twice: Once to the pizza man, and later during the cancer benefit, where she refers to the hosts as “stupid” when they omit her honorific. Also, she:
1. Talks incessantly during the speeches at the benefit, then makes a major fuss when other people do so.
2. Is shown wearing a crop top in a photograph.
3. Is wearing a gown when everyone else is wearing shorts.
Once again, kind of a nonentity. Insofar as she was in the episode at all, all she did was go on and on about the really important column she writes for a magazine that basically no longer exists. She also manages to hit on the only male models who are gay at a Hugo Boss event. Best line: “I feel like if I come to someone’s party, I’m showing my respect for them. I don’t have to stay a long time.”
Reveals she has written a story for Glamour entitled “How to Be a Manhandler.” Also reveals that she once posed in a magazine working out in a leotard and “oiled up like a Thanksgiving turkey,” per Bethenny. For this, we have to at least give her an honorable mention. Also, she brought a white lizard to a party and it peed on her Cartier Tank watch. That’s some Rock of Love shit right there.
Jill Zarin and Bethenny Frankel:
We feel like we should lump them together this time, for apparently they are now lesbians and suffer endlessly at the hands of the same overbearing, overly surgeoned Jewish mother. Bethenny fights back by feeding Gloria gluten-free cupcakes, and Jill passive-aggressively forces the aging mother to come visit her more often, even though Jill’s the young, healthy one without anything to seemingly occupy her time. They win.
Aston and Martin: The pair of insanely adorable Westies not only manage to have better outfits than most of the ladies, but they also manage to convince us that there is something going on behind their pensive looks.
Brad, Jill’s Gay Husband: The dude is a terrible, terrible dancer. At one point he is an accomplice in getting Bethenny’s hair caught in a spinning fan. So maybe he himself doesn’t win anything, but as a gay best friend who is horrendous on the dance floor, he’s breaking television stereotypes. And for that, we all win.