Something funny happened at the party the Zarins held at their fabric store on last night’s Real Housewives: The women, and even their crazy, fruity, fabulous husbands, actually kind of seemed to be getting along. Maybe it was because of the lighting, or because the cheap Champagne they were drinking made everyone as hammered as Brad. Or maybe it was because everybody was in their confident place — Bethenny looked rail thin and had prepared some funny lines, Ramona got to be annoyed about tennis, Kelly had her hot boyfriend, Simon was in a too-wide-pinstriped power suit, and Jill was in charge — it almost seemed like everyone had a sense of humor about themselves. It was telling, and kind of comforting, in some small way. Of course, it was all downhill from there.
But still, we have a winner!
Someone, in this episode, exhibited actual human tendencies. Who was it? Let’s review by taking a look back at the characters….
LuAnn: Since this episode featured everyone’s working lives, LuAnn met with the writer of her book, Class With the Countess, and paid a visit to her publisher, Gotham Books, to look at covers. LuAnn didn’t lose any points in either of these situations, although the publishing industry did, for looking basically pathetic. (The writer, for pretending LuAnn’s platitudes were wise, and Gotham Publisher Bill Shinker for saying the fuchsia cover was better “for this market.”) Later, LuAnn actually gained points when she avoided involvement in a brewing squall between Mario and Simon with a move that we’re going to call “The Countess Method of Avoiding Unladylike Situations.” The move has three parts.
1. Assess the situation. Instead of looking directly at the people you are assessing, look over their heads as if you are looking for someone else. This will allow you to see what’s going on without getting directly involved, similar to the way one slows down when looking at a car crash on the highway.
2. Decide situation is not ladylike. Shake head slightly, pivot until back is turned to participants.
3. Keep back turned, as if you don’t even notice they are there, increasing awkwardness by one-third.
Still, this was not enough to win LuAnn the episode, for she’s still pretty much a bitch.
Jill: In last night’s episode, Jill shone when she demonstrated two proper methods of dealing with gay men. First, through fabulosity: She helped the poor exhibitionist couple looking for drapes at Zarin Fabrics, giving them design advice while waving around her Chihuahua (“Decorating is in your genes!”) and then through stern discipline, when she called Brad to heel for his excessive drooling over Max. She also apparently tricked whatever gay runs Traditional Home into photographing her nightmare of an apartment, which is an achievement. But a few other things she did rubbed us the wrong way. It was sinister, for instance, when she described herself as a natural saleswoman who could “sell anything.” Also, she defiantly bought a $16,000 handbag on television despite the economy, which wouldn’t be so bad except for that it was on television, which was ostentatious, and despite the fact that she could have bought a similar model at T.J. Maxx, which has Special Relationships With Designers, for the low price of $29.99. But it was introducing her term for “private plane” into the vernacular that ultimately cost Jill the episode. Jill calls it a “P.P.,” she informed the writer of the Home piece. When she added, “As in, ‘Does he have a big pee-pee?’” this actually made us want to reach into the TV and rip out her hairpiece.
Kelly: The newest Housewife entered this episode with a greeting that sounded like it came from a high-pitched muppet. (“Hiieeee!” is so going to be our new “HeLLOOW!”) And not a cool, aloof muppet, like Janice. She’s more like Fozzie. “Max is spontaneous, and I’m spontaneous, and the two of us together are like firecrackers!!!!” Kelly admits in the “confessional” about their pillow fight at the Zarin store (that was so CRAZY). Since this episode was loosely structured around the ladies’ careers, we were interested to see if Kelly, the busy journalist, would take us on another interview, or perhaps sit in front of her computer answering e-mails or complaining to her editors about how she wanted to do a more “literary” story. Instead, we watched her pose in a cutout bathing suit for an invitation to her Halloween party, and later take a spontaneous JOG IN THE MIDDLE OF TRAFFIC ON FIFTH AVENUE. With a blowout. FYI, out-of-towners? The businessmen whose heads turned as she breezed by were not looking at her spectacular gams. They were staring at her because no one does that. Much less with cabs behind them. They sure must have done a lot of sound-editing to get the “getthefuckouttatheway”s out. Kudos for that, but Kelly still lost the episode.
Ramona: As Bethenny explained, if you get mad at everything Ramona does, you end up in a state of anger about Ramona all of the time. So, following her example, we’re not going to get too upset about Ramona’s behavior this episode. Like how she totally undermined Bethenny by saying that Jill was only friends with her because she was “the underdog,” merely because she was upset because Bethenny had made a sensible and correct point about how the branding of her face cream and jewelry should be aligned. Or how she pointed out her dislike of Simon again, and went to the specific trouble of insulting his hot, sweaty tennis outfit, which only made it sound as though she was totally in love with him. But we can’t help it: We are mad about the skin-care line. Just because the women on the show have to pretend that Ramona doesn’t have wrinkles because of “skin products” doesn’t mean we will. Let’s not push it, dear.
Alex: Listen, Alex gets credit just for surviving her “birthday surprise.” Even if Bravo just exaggerated Simon’s freak-out by repeating the same line six times in a row.
Bethenny: Certain members of this show’s quintet of skanks have tried to paint Bethenny as the scrappy, low-rent one. Kelly did it in the last episode, and Ramona in this one. It’s a little true. She is pretty scrappy. Way too scrappy, it turns out, to sell cupcakes to Connecticut soccer moms. (We were actually expecting, when the slightly portly shoppers declined her vegan treats, that she would yell something like, “FINE, the Twinkies are in aisle eleven, fat-ass!”) But in reality, she was the most classy of all of these ladies. She actually thinks about what she’s going to say before she responds to their bitchy comments. She thinks about what she says, period. Witness this monologue:
“I read Ramona’s rules in Cosmo, and they need to be rewritten. Number one, no textual relationships … think of my vagina as a vase: If you’ve had sex with me, it’s time to send flowers. Nothing against Ramona’s rules, but they were written when she was in a Baywatch-thong red bodysuit, a chignon, and was tanner than George Hamilton.”
Think of my vagina as a vase. Bethenny wins the episode.
Joni: Leave it to Ramona’s only brunette friend in the world to defend Bethenny against Ramona’s claim that Bethenny is “an underdog.”
The Cute Gay Couple at Zarin Fabics: “We’re not really handy, we’re gay.”
Jill’s Chihuahua: For making a valiant attempt at escape.