this thing's incredible

I Hate Adult Coloring Books — Except This (Slightly Deranged) RHONY-Themed One

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

Only after weeks of quarantining — during which I put together puzzles, attempted new recipes, and re-downloaded Duolingo — did I start watching The Real Housewives of New York on the repeated and determined recommendation of a friend. I quickly caught up on all 12 seasons, and nearly every night, I would recap episodes to her that turned into hour-long conversations about our favorite moments: from the many “Bezerkshires” getaways to the Puerto Vallarta “work trip” that spiraled into a full-fledged “tequilathon” faster than Countess Luann could drunkenly fall into the bushes.

So it wasn’t a surprise when that same RHONY-obsessed friend gifted me something RHONY-themed for Christmas. I was surprised, however, to see that my good friend had sent me a coloring book, seeing as I do not possess an artistic bone in my body and never once considered picking up a Crayola in these 11 months of self-isolation. But this wasn’t just any coloring book. While I find the “stress-relieving” ones with sprawling, intricate patterns headache inducing, this one immediately put a smile on my face: Here were my favorite reality-TV stars in a book, drawn in such a way that does justice to their outrageous personalities.

Each page of this coloring book features a different scene from the series, starting with housewives who haven’t been on the show in years. One of the first pages is an illustration of Countess Luann facing off against Alex McCord, accusing her of wearing Herman Munster shoes (they were actually Louis Vuitton). Another is of Jill Zarin holding a portrait of the late and beloved Chihuahua Ginger, which I tried my best at coloring in to show all her royal glory in shades of dark umber, metallic gold, and ruby red. They’re not all so literal, though: One of my favorite pages is of Bethenny, her eyebrows slanted down and mouth agape, and the quote below it simply states, “Bethenny screams.”

A colored-in page from the author’s book. Photo: Arielle Avila

Part of what makes this coloring book work for me is how each of the women is drawn by Ryan Casey, the artist and mastermind behind both this book and the Instagram account @Drunk Drawn. Their eyes look as if they’re melting right off their faces, which Ryan told me over email is “inspired by the wasted look that comes over someone’s face after a few too many.” I’ve mostly colored the pages true to their form, but I’ve also steered from the traditional when the illustrations call for it. For instance, in a rendition of Ramona and Harry’s scandalous makeout session — Ryan draws the two sitting next to each other with their tongues tied and forming a yin-yang — I used only bright neon colors and made Ramona’s hair a shade of fuchsia while Harry’s sporting lime green.

Unlike some of the more complex “adult” coloring books I’ve seen, these line drawings are neither complicated nor simplistic. They allow you to color a page without getting caught up in the tiny details and enjoy the finished product in a reasonable amount of time. The same moments my friend and I spent hours talking about and laughing over made it into the book too — I can’t tell you how many times we’ve said, “I cooked! I cleaned! I made it nice!” or used the “fish room” as a way to describe anything unsavory. I’ve definitely turned to those pages on days when I need a quick pick-me-up. On the nights I’ve spent rewatching the show, I’ve found myself pouring a glass of wine and pulling this book out with my new colored pencils and giggling even more than before at the sheer absurdity of it all.

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I Hate Adult Coloring Books — Except This RHONY-Themed One