The Real Housewives of New York Meet The Recession

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GM Rick Wagoner promises, from the bottom of his heart, that he won't be back. Photo: Getty Images

We don't know about you, but we've been looking forward to the new season of the Real Housewives of New York, which starts tonight. Not because we found the social-climbing machinations of this bunch of ragtag cougars that fascinating last time around, but because, with the Greatest Depression having rolled into New York, things could get genuinely exciting.

Will Bobby Zarin have to give up his private jet? Will Ramona's McMansion be foreclosed upon? Will Bethenny Bakes have to file for Chapter 11? Will the count be revealed to be one of the principals in a European feeder fund to Bernie Madoff and lose everything, forcing the countess and the children to roast the puppy they got last season over the charred embers of their Southampton estate? Really, this could be Real Housewives' chance to be something important, not just a crass reality show about rich ladies fighting, but something that reflects the socioeconomic reality of the early 21st century, the vehicle to tell the story of the fall of the bourgeoisie and the rise of the middle classes! It could be like Greatest Depression's The Cherry Orchard. Or, at the very least, some seriously Tom Wolfe–ian shit!

Alas, no.

New York reporter Nina Mandell went to last week's premiere party, where she asked if the recession would play into the show at all. "It puts a damper on things, I've got to be honest," said Ramona. "But I'm still spending money." For instance, there was her birthday present. "Bobby bought me a B bag, a very expensive bag that are custom-made crocodile — it's a sick bag. It's my guilty pleasure; everybody will hate me."

Ditto social-climbing hotel manager Simon Van Kempen and his wife, Alex McCord, whose names currently appear under the "premiere circle sponsors" (donations of $10,000 or more!) of the Met Opera program. "If we can still spend money, it's incumbent on those who can to spend," Van Kempen opined. "Going back to FDR," he continued, "'the greatest fear is fear itself,' so if we're all scared about our jobs and not spending any money, we're not going to have jobs and no one will have any money. But it's not as if we're going out splurging," he added. Although: "There is episode one, where we go out and spend $8,000 on a shopping trip."