Well, it’s finale time for the very short season of Bravo’s grown up version of Long Island Princesses: Secrets and Wives. I laughed, I cringed, I nearly called the cops on Jonathan Doneson on behalf of women everywhere. And now, I submit one final recap of the show that everyone loves to hate, knowing there are a few hardy souls out there still watching with me! Here we go.
It’s the day after Sandy and Cori Goldfarb’s 20th wedding anniversary party, and both of them are hungover. They discuss Jonathan’s behavior at the party, which was mildly acceptable for the first time this season. Sandy’s behavior, however, was not. At least in Cori’s eyes. She brings up her irritation with Sandy not making a “loving speech” to her at the party due to his drunken state. Sandy argues that nobody else needs to know their “intimate details,” but Cori argues that it was a moment he could’ve shown appreciation for the wife and mother she’s been, but he didn’t.
Meanwhile, Susan is meeting Andi Black for some shopping and defensive maneuvering. When asked about Jonathan’s thumb move, Susan laughs it off. “Jonathan is really comfortable with himself,” says Susan. Andi understands that Jonathan has some good qualities, but she doesn’t know whether to love or hate him at the moment. Well, I’ve got a suggestion: just go ahead and hate the misogynist S.O.B! He already hates all of womankind, so it’s allllllll good, ladies.
If last night’s Secrets and Wives revealed anything, it’s that the men in this circle are bloody awful. And the women who love them appear clueless. But when a Fire Island trip brings the women together during which tempers flare, these ladies show how to get over a reality TV fight in 3.5 seconds, which is more than I can say for the Real Housewives of any city on the planet.
We pick up at Cori Goldfarb’s party, where Susan Doneson’s husband Jonathan is making an absolute drunken fool of himself, verbally abusing his hostess with such gems as “Shut the f*k up!” Cori breaks down in tears when Susan is unable to control her attack dog man. While an embarrassed Susan tries to do damage control with the group, Jonathan corners Cori in the kitchen to demand that she “not be upset.” That’s as much of an apology as she’s going to get out of this scumbag for now, I guess. On the ride home, Susan tries to explain how to act like a human to Jonathan while he promptly falls asleep in the cab.
On this week’s Secrets and Wives, the ladies take their friendship, and the last shred of their dignity, to a whole new level of hell, gazing upon Cori Goldfarb’s bare lady parts while she lays spread eagle before them on an exam table – all in the name of Truth + Beauty. A little too much Truth for my taste, I confess.
The ladies gather at Cori’s spa, Truth + Beauty, to experience a day of horror with sketchy consultant “Dr.” Levine. Cori’s client base is basically zero, perhaps because people have heard of the anal relaxing cream that lines the shelves? Or the prerequisite vaginal rejuvenation consultation – with all of one’s closest friends looking on! – that the spa is now known for? The low client base is surely a mystery. Liza Sandler of the thousand botched facial plastic surgeries (seriously, go check out her younger photos on Bravo, then ask yourself: Who is this formerly human girl?) volunteers to be the example of what not to do to age gracefully. Unaware of the irony, Liza poses herself in front of the group while Dr. Levine warns the ladies on using too much filler, or else beware the dreaded trout pout!
On last night’s Secrets and Wives, the ladies decide to drag their sorry, hungover butts to an exercise class the morning after partying in Mantauk, where all is not going well among the delusional divorcees of Long Island. Gail Greenberg is leading the boot camp in her all new young person gear. What she’s asking this workout gear to do cannot be done, i.e. turn back the clock like 30 years. Susan Doneson shows up in black lipstick and raccoon eyes ready to feel the burn, but first she must dish to Cori Goldfarb about how she feels attacked by Liza Sandlerand Andi Black at last night’s dinner. Susan has no sh*ts to give about Liza losing her house to a messy divorce. “You’re 47 years old, aren’t you bored?” she wonders about Liza.
Back in LI, Amy Millerdiscovers her son Max has traffic tickets piling up, but Max brushes her off like dust, just like every other man in her life. Max also makes the executive decision to bring a new dog into her home. You know, because he’s a responsible young man who lives with his mom, doesn’t pay parking tickets, dresses like a bunny, and can’t do laundry. Amy blames Max’s distracting behavior for getting in the way of her relationship with Arthur. I blame Max for making me sigh deep, sorrowful sighs over the state of entitled 20-something manboys everywhere. (Seriously, can we not round them all up and set them adrift until they’re house trained?) Amy fears that Max will turn out just like her ex-husband, Max’s father, who…lives with his mom and can’t do laundry. So, yup.
So, it’s the second installment of Bravo’s experiment with the “real” Long Island friends ofSecrets and Wives, and this time we’re going to be able to tell these dern ladies apart if it kills us! (Or maybe just me.) We start at Liza Sandler’s house where she is waking up in bed with bestie Andi Black, both of whom are in full drag queen makeup. Speaking of queens, Liza’s mother enters the room to compare hair heights with her daughter before Liza and Andi start chatting about Susan Doneson’s sideways remarks about Liza at her party the previous night. Susan basically thinks Liza is a whiner for complaining about moving out of her North Shore palace, as she doesn’t have a job, but does have a hefty divorce settlement coming her way. Liza is not happy with the smack talking, that happened at HER party, in HER yard, at her soon-to-be-surrendered McMansion!
Meanwhile Susan, the only career woman in this circle, is heading to the gym with Amy Miller for a Soul Cycle spin class. They run into Cori Goldfarb at her spa before entering the gym. The concept of “Truth + Beauty,” Cori and husband Sandy’s business, is a “one stop shop” for all your health and beauty needs. It looks like a spa with a poor-man’s gym and Chico’s costume jewelry, but what do I know? Andi joins the ladies at spin class and gets an earful from Amy about her upcoming trip to the Bahamas with her much-derided boyfriend, Arthur. Back at the front desk, Cori is needling Sandy about his “involvement” in the business, which she doesn’t really want much of. After he pretends to know what’s going on for a while, Cori shuts him down with an “I am going to stab you” threat. In the gym, Gail Greenberg shows up in dueling rat-tails and Andi immediately asks her if they can all go for a ladies’ weekend to Gail’s Hamptons home. Gail evades, then sort of nods yes while Susan interviews that Gail goes nowhere without her plastic surgeon husband, Dr. G, who Gail carries around “like one of her Birkin Hermes handbags.” Susan complains that Gail looks down on her. Why? “Because I’m a working girl?” asks Susan, with no irony.
It’s premiere night for Bravo’s newest experiment with real friends navigating life and love on the North Shore of Long Island: Secrets and Wives. Bravo follows six ladies, Andi Black, Susan Doneson, Cori Goldfarb, Gail Greenberg, Amy Miller, and Liza Sandler, who’ve grown up together, gotten married – and divorced – together, and are living out their pitfalls and triumphs under the microscope of a close-knit community where no one is exempt from criticism. Although my first impression of the promos for this show was “ugh, yet another housewife knockoff!!” I’m kind of revising that thinking now that I’ve seen just how real the ties are among this group of ladies. Many of them went to high school together (the throwback photos alone rival RHONJ in their ‘80s awesomeness!), and more than a few of them have gotten a bit messy-boots with their inter-dating histories.
We first meet Cori Goldfarb, who’s yelling at her dog and complaining to her housekeeper, with the help of a Smartphone Spanish translation app. Cori describes the North Shore of Long Island as one of the “premiere suburbs in the country,” kind of like Beverly Hills. (But kind of…not.) Cori is still married to her first husband, Sandy, which makes her somewhat of an anomaly in her town. Friend Amy Miller says Cori & Sandy were the “It” couple back in the day. Sandy & Cori recently opened a business together, a high-end spa, which they funded by selling off their beloved Hamptons home. Although Cori sometimes wants to smother him with a pillow “until he, like, stops breathing,” she says she still loves Sandy. The couple have four daughters together.
Premiering tonight on Bravo is the much-hyped Secrets and Wives, a show that looks very Real-Housewifey on the surface (and may well turn out to be), but is based on a different premise, and an important one at that: these chicks are actually lifelong friends. Growing up on the North Shore of Long Island, they went to high school together. They dated each other’s ex boyfriends (and, in some cases, ex-husbands). They got bad spiral perms in 1983 together. In short, they know where the bodies are buried. Which could make for some good drama…or some insufferable RHONJ-like feuds.
”There’s no jealousy between us; we’re all really supportive,” S&W cast member Andi Black tells Long Island Weekly. “Most of the time when you have all these gorgeous women, you think you wouldn’t be supportive of each other, but there’s a love there.” She adds, “We all have had our weak times, and when you see all these other women being strong and lifting each other up, you realize you can get past anything. There’s not an issue that someone can’t relate to on the show.” Big words for a brand-spanking new reality “star.” But only time will tell if the group’s lifelong friendships will withstand the test of Bravo cameras in their faces day in and day out. After all, many a reality marriage has crumbled under similar conditions.