Ladies of London Recap: The Barefoot Baroness

Ladies of London season 2

We might be a bit late, but RT is now officially here to recap season two of Ladies of London! Considering this season was filmed nearly a year ago, it seems we’re not the only ones running late (what’s up with that, Bravo?). Nevertheless, the ladies are back, minus Caprice Bourret and Noelle Reno. But fresh faces (and royal titles!) appear in the form of Baroness Caroline Fleming, long time friend of Caroline Stanbury, and former “friend” of the cast, Viscountess Julie Montagu

The addition of fancy titles does not seem to offer fancier storylines, however, as this season began with the unbelievably pedestrian argument about where to eat a turkey. Last week saw tensions reach a boiling point between fellow Americans Juliet Angus and Marissa Hermer, with Caroline S stuck (or should we say, sticking herself?) in the middle, over what an American Thanksgiving should mean, where it should be held, who should attend, and how to attach one’s birthday to the holiday for a little extra helping of holiday guilt! As a fellow Sagittarius whose own birthday falls squarely on Thanksgiving day this year – and does so every four years – I have come to the understanding that the only expectation a birthday girl over the age of 10 can hope for on Turkey Day is a tossed off “Want some pie with a candle in it?” And by now, Juliet should have learned the same. Alas, reality TV is not for learning, but for manipulating and backstabbing! So, let’s jump in right where we left off…

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Caroline S is visiting Marissa for some tea and electroshock therapy. Marissa, who says she and Caroline are “perfectly fine” after the pre-Thanksgiving cocktail party, is peddling some sort of contraption she claims will help Caroline’s arm pain. There is no contraption, or butler, to help Caroline take her boots off, however. So Marissa does the job. Marissa reflects that Thanksgiving didn’t go as planned, since “Juliet didn’t attend her own birthday dinner.” Marissa claims Juliet chose the wrong social ladder to climb, but as we cut to the dueling Thanksgiving celebrations at Bumpkin and Caroline’s, we’re left to wonder whose ladder is sturdier? Though she may be “perfectly fine” with Caroline, Marissa is not fine with Juliet. So she’s not going to invite her to the annual Christmas singalong at Royal Albert Hall. Hmph! Again, Marissa claims she only wants her “closest friends and family” at these sorts of events. Caroline, who looks as if she couldn’t care less either way, just doesn’t want the blowback on all of this to ruffle her perfectly coiffed feathers. 

Annabelle Neilson, Marissa, and Julie are at an art show hosted by one of Annabelle’s friends who she knows from the fashion world. Marissa cuts out early, while Julie hob-nobs with Annabelle’s many cool connections in the room. Julie is grateful to have become closer to Annabelle this past year, as she “is the book of aristocracy for dummies” which Julie desperately needs in order to deal with her husband’s Earl of Sandwhich-y parents, inherited royal estate, and general Britishy Britness.

Speaking of royal estates, fellow newcomer Baroness Caroline F is shopping with Caroline S. The two Carolines have been friends for 20-something years and know where all the bodies are buried. Caroline F is Danish royalty, very aristocratic, and over the top, according to Caroline S. She says people have judged Caroline F because she broke away from her aristocratic roots, becoming a model and a woman about town instead. The Baroness (which I am now switching to because the Carolines F and S are making me batty with initials!) thinks of herself as someone who enjoys the finer things in life. She comes from one of the most important royal families in Denmark, apparently, but doesn’t brag about being a Baroness upon meeting someone for the first time. She grew up in a conformist, stiff-upper-lip type of world, but thinks having a title doesn’t mean anything more than having a title. After having modeled for two years, then married for eight, with three children to show for it, she’s happy on her own now and wants the be loved for the person she is.

Juliet is dropping by Julie’s house to prep for Caroline F’s Danish Christmas party, and you’ve just gotta love a broad who answers the door in enormous Velcro curlers! Juliet and Julie’s husbands are often away from home, so they’ve bonded over their shared lifestyles. While Julie gets decked out in a fabulous Alexander McQueen dress borrowed from Annabelle, Juliet wonders how Marissa will act when she sees her at Caroline’s event tonight.

Over at the Baroness’s home, she’s channeling Martha Stewart by organizing and cleaning and primping all of the last minute details. What! No staff of thirty? Hmmm. The Carolines are quite different after all, it seems. The guests start trickling in and Caroline is a warm and welcoming hostess to each of her red-bedecked guests. Marissa will not be coming after all, so the drama may be lessened. Not so fast though, as Caroline S takes a not-so-subtle dig at Julie’s gown, snarking that she should “give her a corsage” to go with her “cute” going-to-prom dress. Julie looks hurt, and reflects that growing up in Sugar Grove, Illinois, she never knew the name of one single designer. She mumbles that she borrowed the dress from Annabelle while Caroline F hilariously offers Cheetos on a silver platter to her American guests.

The Baroness sings her way up and down the steps, schlepping drinks and snacks here and there in her bare feet while the group sits in stuffy silence. Are you loving this Baroness Caroline Fleming? I am drinking her Kool-aid and eating her silver-plated Cheetos right up, man!

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Juliet is surprised that Caroline F is actually cooking in the kitchen, but Caroline wants to do it herself to control the details. As the guests, especially Caroline S, claim they’re going to faint from hunger, Juliet learns there may be goose served at dinner. Which brings us to Bambi 2.0: “I don’t do goose,” says Juliet. Ah, but the goose is cooked and Juliet is given yet another opportunity to politely say nothing and simply eat what she likes instead. But no, Juliet must represent the very worst of American stereotypes in this moment, crinkling up her nose and fiddling with her food like my 5-year old daughter when offered anything except Spaghettios for dinner. Juliet does eventually come around though (or kisses royal Danish a$$, according to Caroline S) and sucks down the goose in the end. Meanwhile the Baroness gets her caveman skillz on, sucking the goose bones with abandon. Yesssss. 

Marissa’s absence is noted at dinner, with someone claiming she’s sick. Juliet stays quiet on the subject, even when Caroline F whispers, “She loves you so much” to her. Talk of Royal Albert Hall comes up, which Juliet found out from Caroline S she’s not been invited to. She takes note of Marissa’s chess move. While dinner guest Duncan flirts with the Baroness in the kitchen, Caroline S regales the dinner table with tales of her being forced to eat fruit every day for breakfast at boarding school and eventually gagging on the hated fruit. So now, no oranges for her, thankyouverymuch! It’s all so Charles Dickens, I can’t stand it! In the very best way! The guests are forced out ten minutes after dessert is choked down, and the Baroness hugs all goodbye until next time. #morebaronesspartiesplease! 

Later that week, Marissa is dragging stuffed reindeer and flower arrangements up to her private box at Royal Albert Hall in preparation for the Christmas Carol Singalong, which is one of her “favorite Christmas traditions.” She sports a ridiculous hat, which Caroline S calls out as just that when she enters the room, and flits around doling out gifts and collapsible social climbing ladders to all. Annabelle’s got Marissa’s number, commenting that she reeks of “aspirational middle class” tendencies. As shown here.

The ousted Juliet is out to dinner with her hubby Gregor, chatting about work and wine and feeling left out. Juliet is feeling homesick for family and friends back in the U.S., but relies on her strong bond with Gregor to get her through the holiday humdrum. Juliet thinks Marissa is on some “crazy mission” to cause drama with her, but Gregor assures her that she and Marissa will always make up in the end. 

Back at Marissa’s soiree, the gang fills her in on Caroline F’s dinner party. Julie toasts the absent Juliet, much to Marissa’s chagrin, while Annabelle pipes up that there’s a separation occurring here which causes uncomfortable feelings in the group. Julie notes that Juliet has it harder than Marissa when it comes to breaking into British society because Juliet is married to a fellow ex-pat American, while Marissa married a Brit.

Back at the (now defunct) Gift Library, Caroline S is catching up on business doings. Christmas is the big money making time for a gifting business, and Caroline is hearing that the Library has taken on too much and is running out of funding. If they don’t “smash it” during Christmas, she’s screwed. By all reports since then, I assume the Gift Library did not smash it after all, as it seems to have been acquired by Amara, a lifestyle company the Gift Library has been re-routed to online. 

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Somewhere else in London, Marissa is meeting Juliet for tea to discuss their issues. Juliet asks if their relationship is broken or if they can save it, admitting she’s hurt by not being invited to Royal Albert Hall. Marissa snipes that she does nice things for Juliet that backfire, like hosting a birthday dinner for Juliet that she refused to attend. Marissa goes so far as to accuse Juliet of asking her to host her birthday dinner (huh? did I miss that?), then backing out. Juliet apologizes, but asserts that it is always Marissa’s rules, Marissa’s world.

“Are we cheering for each other?” asks Juliet. Marissa says yes. But Juliet doesn’t feel that way now. She breaks down in tears that she feels very alone lately, and Marissa basically piles on by accusing Juliet of being easier to be around when she’s happy. But when Juliet’s having a rough time, she’s like a “fireball” says Marissa, and she doesn’t feel fulfilled in their friendship.

Juliet admits perhaps they’ve been holding on to friendship that’s run its course. She tells Marissa it’s good they cleared the air “whether it’s BFF or F” between them from now on. Marissa smugly smiles with her tea mug and flatly says “F” while Juliet gathers her things to go. Wow. That was…cold.           

TELL US: WHAT DID YOU THINK OF CAROLINE F’S DINNER PARTY? WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON IN THE MARISSA/JULIET SITUATION?  

Photo Credit: Rebecca Miller/Bravo