The Real Housewives Are the Modicum of Etiquette

Last night Bravo aired part two of The Real Housewives of New York City’s epic reunion. The Housewives were right where we’d left them on Tuesday, packed tensely together on adjacent daises inside the cavernous confines of Cipriani Wall Street. The combination of the dark crypt-like space and their pale, seething bodies — crammed, as they were, into elaborately gaudy finery and absurd amounts of makeup — conspired to give us a distinctly creepy sensation that, since the show ended, all of the Housewives had died and gone to purgatory, whereupon they had been damned to eternal discussion of what’s worse: people who think they are better than other people, or people who say they hate people who think they are better than other people but then act like they are better than other people. We don’t know if Bravo intended that or what.

The evening’s session began with a massive Kelly pile-on — one of many — and because this set the tone for the evening, we feel we should begin with a small transcript of what transpired before we get into who won the episode.

It began when the host, Beelzebub, asked a viewer question of Kelly: What had she meant, early on, when she said she’d joined the cast because she wanted to show a “different kind of housewife?” It was a leading question, and across from her on the couch, the three-headed monster — Jill, LuAnn, and Bethenny, which we will call Cerberus when they act in concert — eagerly awaited her sure-to-be-articulate response. She did not disappoint.

Kelly: Just like what I said, like a housewife like there’s no price. Cartwheels have no price.

Cerberus: [Mouths ] What is she talking about?

Kelly: The life that I lead, you can think that it’s like super-glamorous and filled with diamonds and everything, but I have a very relaxed life, and listen 

Cerberus: [Smirks, rolls eyes, smiles]

Kelly: One thing I love about these women is … Jill has the most amazing diamonds I’ve ever seen. Like that is a third eye. I love that Bethenny is extremely sexy and fun. I love that LuAnn is a mother and she’s also charitable. I love that Ramona is an amazing businesswoman and I think that Alex is incredibly smart. I am a different kind of Housewife 

Jill: [Interrupting] You see me as a diamond? You see me as superficial about jewelry? That’s an interesting observation. That’s your first impression?

Kelly: Jill. Zarin. What did I say to you when I first met you?

Jill: [Makes face that indicates bizarre inability to remember every single interaction with Kelly]

Kelly: I said, if my kids like you, I like you. Out of all the Housewives, you are my favorite. [She beams. This is the ultimate honor.]

Bethenny: [Wanting to get back to the good part] I just want to ask, he asked how you were a different kind of housewife. So how are you a different kind of housewife?

Kelly: [Exasperated] Bethawny, I drive a Dodge Ram. I’m with my kids 80 percent of the time.

Bethenny: The amount of time that you tell people you drive a pickup truck, and do cartwheels wearing flats, and skip through the prairieside — down-to-earth people will believe you. They’ll know it. You don’t have to keep telling them how many times you drive a pickup truck. We all get it. We all got the pickup truck memo.

Cerberus: [Murmurs in agreement.]

LuAnn: She does have a point there, sweetheart. It’s like the girly kind of bohemian thing. We know about it. We know that.

Kelly: I just have a different lifestyle.

LuAnn: [Patiently] We know you have a different style, but don’t say we’re so different from you, because 

Jill: It’s not that different! You go to more parties than I ever get invited to!

Kelly: I’m not saying good or bad. You’re putting it in a different category.

LuAnn: No, you put us in a different category 

Kelly: I’m saying you’re aspirational.

At this point we really wish they had let her keep talking, because Kelly describing the difference between how they were aspirational and she had already arrived would have been priceless. But alas, no one in the room, except maybe Alex, who stayed silent, knew what aspirational meant.

Jill: You live in a $15 million house in the Hamptons — there’s nothing more aspirational than that! Kelly, get the memo! You live in one of the most expensive condos in New York City. You might drive a pickup truck, but sorry, sweetheart, your house is much bigger and more expensive than mine. Much.

Kelly: [Grins because she understands this as a compliment]

Bethenny: [Trying to steer back to her main point, which is that Kelly is a tool] And it’s like, you write a three-sentence column talking with Matthew Modine about how great your ass looks in a miniskirt. It’s like, we’re not confusing you with Stone Phillips. You keep talking about this journalism like you’re this journalist. I mean, you’re not in Iraq covering the war. You’re writing about paisley dresses at Zac Posen. Get a grip, really.

Jill: That wasn’t my point.

LuAnn: I’m beginning to think that you’re starting to believe that you’re [hand motion up] here and we’re here [hand motion down].

Beelzebub: The women feel like you are trying to separate themselves by saying you want to show a different kind of housewife.

Kelly: I’m a very insular person. I’m a very, very private person.

Bethenny: You’re not an insular person. You go to every party that there is.

Kelly: For five minutes, Bethenny.

A long discussion then ensued about how Kelly is late to everything because she is on “Kelly time,” the meaning of “Kelly time,” and how lateness is rude, and how probably, Kelly’s lateness and rudeness means she is jealous, which is what LuAnn and Kelly’s mutual friend Michael said this one time. Then Beelzebub inexplicably asks: “Do you see the world through rose-colored glasses?”

Kelly: I don’t want to be in negative town. I don’t like fodder. Shoot me if I want to be excited for people who are doing great. Shoot me.

LuAnn: I don’t need to build a friendship with you. Because I don’t feel like your heart is in the right place.

Kelly: Your heart and my heart are in totally different places.

At this point, the conversation has devolved into a sandstorm-thick cloud of slights and perceived slights. Our brains are so full of crap we can’t even see our hands. Finally, soon after this line is uttered, regarding Kelly’s friend Max:

Kelly: Maybe he’s an imaginary boyfriend to you, but he’s not an imaginary boyfriend to me.

—an intervention comes from a most unexpected place:

Ramona: “KELLY! STOP! You do this on the show all the time. You don’t make sense. Sometimes I wonder if you are the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. You don’t make sense. Kelly, you don’t make sense.

There were many more interactions like this throughout the show. But for now: Who won the series?

RAMONA: Alas, intervening on Kelly’s behalf was the last positive thing Ramona did on the episode. She took digs at everyone: (“The veins in your neck were just like popping out,” she pointed out to Bethenny, after they watched footage of her fight with Jill. “Ugh.”) But her needling of LuAnn about her problems with her husband was most repulsive: “My husband and I spend a lot of time together, unlike LuAnn’s, whose husband has been gone six months out of the year.” It was horrific, and worse was Ramona’s disclosure that when LuAnn didn’t want her marital problems on the show, Ramona was “laughing behind her back … We were all like, ‘How are we going to bust her on this?’” Déclassé, as Ramona would say. Her dreadful performance culminated when she lost her shit over LuAnn’s comment about her crazy eyes: “DON’T CALL ME CRAZY EYES.” Actually, that was awesome, as was the full minute the camera lingered on her crazy eyes when she was done talking. But still, Ramona lost the episode.

LUANN: LuAnn’s personal problems have given her depth and humility. Gone was the egomaniac we saw earlier in the season, and although she made a few slipups here and there (truly, it wasn’t nice to call Ramona “Crazy Eyes” — that’s for anonymous bloggers to do), it only made her seem more human, and she accepted the criticism the other Housewives leveled on her with grace. “Just because I’m a Countess doesn’t mean I’m perfect,” she admitted. Plus, she held her ground on the important things: “Darling is my favorite word, and I’m not giving up darling for anyone.”

There were a few moments when we caught ourselves feeling bad for Kelly, like when she announced that: “When I was 15, I was honored for being the most charitable person in my area,” and Bethenny’s eyes rolled so far back in her head we thought Beezlebub was going to have to call the paramedics. And at points, during her epic rambles when it seemed like she was actually just really nervous. But as the show went on, it became clear that Kelly is not just stupid. She is spoiled. She completely tuned out whenever the conversation wasn’t about her: “I’m bored with this,” she announces at one point, and is completely unable to accept responsibility for or apologize for anything, even when she was clearly wrong. “You know, you guys are always going on about honesty, accountability, and responsibility and whatever,” she says at one point, “and you know, who cares?” Well, we know who doesn’t care, and that is Kelly.

Alex was so silent during this episode that when she finally cracked open during one of the Kelly clusterfucks with a, “CAN I SAY SOMETHING,” we expected it to be really wise. Instead she just said to Kelly: “I think this could have gone a lot better if you had been more articulate.” Then she lapsed back into silence as her soul continued its journey down the River Styx.

We hate to say this, but Bethenny was kind of a mess in this portion of the program. Her usually welcome one-liners seemed harder and more unattractively scripted than usual, like her attack on Kelly’s journalism career, which, while not unfounded, arrived apropos of nothing. Later, she admonished Ramona to “get off the crack pipe,” and after that it was like she was like a pit bull in attack mode — she didn’t even stop when it came to her friends, most notably LuAnn, who she complained unfairly presented herself as “The Modicum of Etiquette.” Which is, you know, what? “The Suez Canal and all that, we know,” she said, rolling her eyes dismissively. In the end, this, and Bethenny’s inability to let go of the chip on her shoulder, lost her the episode.

Mother Hen Jill really proved herself the heart and soul of the show this go-round. No one had anything bad to say about her, not even Kelly. She was funny, but not mean (well, except maybe to Ramona, who deserved it), and distanced herself from Cerberus when they went too far in criticizing the others. She even displayed actual self-awareness, a trait so rare in Real Housewives-land that we had to blink and rewind to make sure we saw it. “Sometimes I get really crazy and I make up stories in my head, and I’m so sorry,” she said to Bethenny about their fight at the party, which she deemed hard to watch. For this, she should be allowed to ascend to heaven. But at the very least, she wins the show.

Auxiliary Winners
Jill’s mom, the Real Housewives yenta: Ramona: “I got tears.”
Michael, LuAnn and Kelly’s mutual friend: For telling LuAnn that Kelly was jealous of her. We have to give him something, because he is in so much trouble right now.

The Real Housewives Are the Modicum of Etiquette