If you've watched enough episodes of The Real Housewives of New York City, you know that the producers have a tendency to pick a winner of each episode, only they do it in a more subtle way than they do on Rock of Love. It's not necessarily the woman who gets the most screen time, or wears the best outfits — usually it's the one about whom, by the end of the evening, you end up thinking, "Man, why is she on this show with these horrible people?" For much of last season, that character was Jill Zarin, the sassy redhead who brought all the women together, and who, more than anyone, seemed in possession of a soul. So who won last night's premiere episode of season two?
Kelly Killoren Bensimon
We assumed new character Kelly, who entered as the most socially prominent (and glamorously attractive) Housewife, would steal the episode with her splashy arrival. But in fact, Kelly was so totally weird that we didn't really know what the hell was going on inside her tanned, quail-egg head. It was kind of like the producers tried to give her plotlines — Was she being rude to the countess over cocktails/cappuccinos? Was she condescending to Ramona Singer at Jill's party? Not even! — but somewhere along the way she'd discovered a disco box of Quaaludes in her ex-husband Gilles Bensimon's closet and downed the whole lot instead. "Do you like shoes?" she asked Ramona at one point, awesomely. Despite the inexplicable footage of Kelly doing a photo shoot in a bikini, her self-identification as an author, and strange, mesmerizing pectoral muscles, overall, she was kind of a non-personality. (We'd also make the point that the conceit that she was just meeting these women in life, and not because they were all on a TV show together, was a little forced, too, except that we're not sure that Kelly actually even knew she was on television.)
Bethenny had a good episode. She was on the three-way-calling attack that Jill orchestrated against the van Kempens (Ignited over nasty comments made by both in New York and in the Post), whispering sarcastic commentary throughout. She also had the best lines in the entire episode, telling Jill she had "diarrhea of the mouth," accusing LuAnn of being "dis-countess," and using the phrase "my friend John Varvatos." But when she referred to Simon and Alex as "Silex," we began to suspect that her lines, like her spectacular breasts, might have had a little outside help — so we took her out of the running.
Countess LuAnn DeLesseps
Though she gets points for (a) not having a nasally accent and (b) having an enviable bone structure, LuAnn is definitely not winning soul points this season: She screwed over Jill by not sending her kids to help with the gift bags (which, if we understood correctly, only contained fabric?) and referred to herself in the third person ("the countess doesn't drink beer from a bottle"). An attempt to sound human by telling Kelly that people who think they are "above other people" are a pet peeve fell flat, since, obviously, the countess is such a person.
Ramona, last season's scantily clad villainous, actually seemed kind of sweet and kind in this episode: Early on, she had a maternal moment, when she sat her daughter Avery down on her bed and taught her one of life's most important lessons: Never talk to Cindy Adams! Later she, more than anyone else, made an effort to engage Kelly at Jill's party. And when a waitress spilled a drink on her, she totally laughed about it. However, there was no reason that needed to be a two-minute segment, so Ramona loses on that technicality.
Jill is still kind of our favorite, since she seems the most self-aware and thoughtful. Also, she looked a good deal more fresh-faced than last season. But in this episode she just came across as annoying and over-sensitive (Ramona didn't say good-bye? OMG!).
Alex is annoying beyond belief, but we have to hand it to her: She handled the conflict with Jill Zarin with class and grace. The charming — but ramshackle — house that her family found in the Hamptons fit their quirky personalities. And when she said Jill needed to go and write with lipstick on her mirror, "I'm good enough," well, she struck a blow for gawky outsider teens everywhere.
Thus, we proclaim Alex McCord the winner of The Real Housewives of New York, episode one, season two.
• Devorah Rose, who managed to get name-dropped like ten times without actually appearing onscreen and having to interact with the ladies.
• AshleyMadison.com the "Married Dating & Affairs" website that was advertised during the broadcast and promptly crashed due to overwhelming page-views.
• Porcini, the spiderlike dog belonging to Gina the masseuse.
• Us! New York Magazine also managed to get name-dropped like ten times without actually appearing onscreen and having to interact with the ladies.
Related: Another Season of Scorn, Please [NYM]