Last night Real Housewives Of New York turned 100 and kept it 100! Andy Cohen checked in one-on-one with all of the current cast, Aviva Drescher, and also Kelly Bensimon who shared some really illumination information about her version of Scary Island, the issues with Bethenny Frankel, and more. It made me all the more le sad that Le’ Ladies New York are done for this season!
It’s clear that Bethenny has become the omnipotent narrator of RHONY; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-describing prophet who speaks of success and failures with aplomb and certainty. It’s not a bad role for her, and she clearly relishes in it (and clearly isn’t glad her talk show ended!).
For the 100th episode, I was pleasantly surprised how candid and willing the ladies were to share their side of the stories – and I’m also super glad Bravo allowed them to really go IN. I appreciated Bravo not pretending viewers don’t understand things such as editing!
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Much like this season, Bethenny was the dominant player as she dissected her relationship to Jill Zarin, and how the show changed her life, and drama with Kelly. Bethenny burst into tears at one point, sobbing with gratitude for what RHONY gave her. Andy, permanently impassive to the mawings of a Housewife’s be-botoxed tears, patted her on the back and smirked. Seriously – I think this is the only time in the history of everything Andy hasn’t chronically interrupted. Good job, pal.
Bethenny certainly changed the platform of Real Housewives, and as she herself described, while everyone else was buying diamonds she was using the show as ad space because she began with nothing (but muffins!). Ramona Singer and Luann de Lesseps marvel at how Bethenny literally started without a career, money, a husband, or children – but she had drive, determination, and she didn’t let their snarky attitudes affect her. Bethenny had decided RHONY was hers for the taking and take she did! #Napoleona
The genesis of Skinnygirl, with Bethenny’s little hand-made signs on printer paper advertising tastings, and her driving around in that little VW Beetle with the logo is fascinating. Bethenny’s focus paid off – because now she’s the richest Housewife! Definitely a commendable hustle and awe-inspiring. And I loved seeing Bethenny cry happy tears for once, openly expressing her gratitude, her struggles, and that she couldn’t have done it without the support of Bravo. Maybe Dr. Amador IS working!! Or she’s getting soft in her old age?
Bethenny definitely proved that Real Housewives could be more than frivolous fun – and I think that’s been both good and bad for the franchise (Bravo Home Shopping Network is tiresome!). In fact, Andy mentions that the New York housewives hawk more stuff than any other franchise – don’t remind us! Ramona things it’s because New Yorkers are tougher, savvier, and more sophisticated than the rest of us. But it was really Jill of ZAAAAARIN FABRICS! that was the first product pimper of Housewives. Yeah, that Bethenny is nothin’ but a cheap imitation (I kid!).
One of my all-time moments of the show was Ramona’s casting tape – there was Ramona looking exactly the same. Nary a bang length had changed! One thing that has changed was Ramona’s marital status – no one would have predicted the end of Ramario – even close friends Sonja and Dorinda Medley. Sonja even bragged that she heard them having sex once. ICKY.
Aviva reappeared, rocking a very chic new bob but remains one prosthesis short of a pedicure – or something. Her delusional arrogance remains in-tact. Of throwing her leg she is unabashed. Proving she’s been practicing her corny one-liners since she got pink-slipped, Aviva gleefully tells Andy, “Somebody had to put their foot down!” But did they have to fling their whole leg across a restaurant?
Contrived is right! Aviva finally confirmed she planned the leg-toss and had warned producers. Heather Thomson complains that although it was premeditated, it came out of nowhere since Aviva had been largely absent from the majority of the season and then returned swinging (or throwing). Aviva has no regrets about it because it “made great TV.” Bethenny explained that was the issue – contriving to MAKE great TV isn’t the reality of Real Housewives.
Which brings us to Jillusional-Jill. Bethenny is still reeling from their very public split and her animosity hasn’t abated. The friends initially fell-out over Bethenny getting an opportunity to co-host The Today Show, and Jill actually called to ask why SHE wasn’t offered the gig, then wanted to tagalong! “I’m not in a girlband.” scoffed Bethenny. Ramona says Jill needs to be needed so when Bethenny no longer depended on her, Jill lashed out. Ramona accepts that competitive friendships seems to come with the territory of reality TV. Tru-Ramonaism.
Kelly and Luann defend Jill as deeply caring about B.
As for Bethenny she has no empathy over Jill being cast aside – especially when Jill played her over Bawby’s cancer. “I was like, ‘Whoa – this is one cunning bitch.’ She waited until on-camera to come at me with things. It was really clear she wanted people to hate me and it completely backfired,” recalls Bethenny. “Jill likes to control the process – she had like a big plan that she was gonna take me down.” Bethenny snarked that Jill is responsible for getting her cast, yet Bethenny is most successful Housewife in history (according to ‘people’ – like ‘word on the street’ ;)). “Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered,” snapped Bethenny.
While I totally agree Jill attempted to orchestrate a takedown, a part of me has always wondered if Bethenny was initially in on it but it spiraled out of control? Bethenny is also one cunning bitch – but she had the trump card: timing! While Jill was trying to ruin Bethenny, Bethenny got knocked-up and people were so enamored with her romance and baby. It’s interesting that Bethenny still seems venomous and bitter after all these years. I expect a media rebuttal by Jill in 3… 2… 1…
In case you were wondering about Jill’s absence and Andy revealed she chose not to appear. UHHHH… did Jillusional get a lobotomy recently? While we didn’t hear Jill’s version of events of what transpired – we’ve heard enough.
Ramona’s most cringe-worthy moment was her argument with Jill in Morocco. The one where she burst into hysterical tears. Her least favorite trip was Montana (which was incidentally Heather’s favorite trip). I’m convinced Ramona is hylophobic. (Irrationally afraid of Trees). Ramona admits her biggest regret was her walk on the Brooklyn Bridge with Bethenny. Ramona is remorseful over not having sympathy or being more sensitive to Bethenny’s emotional state (like being pregnant! Ramona is a bitch!).
Bethenny is relieved to hear Ramona apologized (The Apologizer strikes again!), and remembers wanting to jump off that bridge as Ramona calculatedly ripped into her. Intriguingly much of Ramona’s comments were true, but the delivery was predictably Ratrocious! Bethenny still believes Ramona has a ‘conscience.’ She does? It’s largely obscured by pinot and hairsprayed bangs, but I mean, maybe…
Speaking of Bethenny’s greatest moments, she recounted arguing with Kelly. Unsurprisingly, the ladies have very different perspectives. Kelly feels Bethenny was always cutting and mean to her, without reason, but Bethenny complains that Kelly always put herself above the other women. Ramona described Kelly as impossible to get to know because she was so out-there, so she kept things superficial by talking about kids and fashion.
Recounting the “I’m up here; you’re down there” argument Kelly was shocked Bethenny was so calm and believed she was came with a plan to get into an argument. Bethenny insists she had just woken up from a nap and was groggy. Kelly also maintains she meant “You’re down here” as in Kelly was more mature than Bethenny, who was acting like a mean girl.
Things came to a Skinnygirl eruption on Scary Island. First of all, as a person whose been pregnant, I’ve long accepted Bethenny (who was at the time in her first trimester) was hormonal as f–k during Scary Island and taking things out on Kelly, whom she couldn’t stand. I think Kelly is, as Bethenny said, “extremely oversensitive” and isn’t adept at rolling with the punches. And to a degree they both snapped, but Bethenny is better at controlled reactions. However, I’ll let the quotes do the talking:
Kelly insists her so-called breakdown was misrepresented – she was “crying” but trying not to let the other ladies see. Kelly blames Bethenny for slandering her by constantly, publicly calling her crazy. “It’s not easy to come back from crazy. That doesn’t brand well,” laments Kelly. “I was toxic – you couldn’t touch me.” For Kelly the incident and Bethenny’s subsequent scathing commentary ruined her reputation – professionally and personally. “I had built this name, that had so much integrity and I was so proud of – that was literally destroyed by someone who didn’t even know me. That was calling me crazy. I could have lost my kids, Andy!”
Bethenny, on the other hand, has no remorse because “It is what it is!” She describes Kelly as “extremely fragile” and unable to cope with the realities of reality TV, decided she was bullied. “Kelly was not built for reality television,” chided Bethenny. “She couldn’t take the heat in the kitchen and she wants to say that we ruined her reputation. Her not being true to who she is ruined her reputation! You don’t hate the player – you hate the game.”
From Sonja, “I think Kelly systematically annoyed people and they ganged up on her.” And I agree with Sonja completely.
However, it was Kelly’s breakdown that brought Jill to Scary Island as a surprise. To the victor go the spoils (NOT). Surprised Jill didn’t haul a suitcase full of ZAAAAARIN Fabric Sarongs!
Ramona called Jill and tried to impress upon her the severity of what was going on with Kelly, even putting Bethenny on the phone to beg for Jill’s assistance. Jill, naturally, decided it was another opportunity to for her to grab camera time and didn’t take it seriously. She then showed-up confrontationally, and without warning, after Kelly had left. Everything is all about Jill, right Baaaawby!
Both Ramona and Bethenny complain that Kelly couldn’t handle their bluntness because they like to tell it like it is. Good lord – just because you ‘own’ calling people out that doesn’t make it acceptable. It’s still obnoxious!
Without a doubt my favorite moments were the casting tapes. Many of the ladies are exactly the same, but the show provided them amplified versions. Heather discussed how excited she was, and attending her first party thought she had made a genuine connection with Luann only to be savaged by Luann in the interviews for inappropriate cocktail talk.
There is a lot of debate about the authenticity of ‘The Countess’ and Luann implies it was largely a put-on for the show. Needless to say, no one appreciated her constant etiquette micromanaging. And for Sonja it was karma to see Luann’s almost fall from grace via camel in Morocco!
Carole Radziwill was cast after meeting Andy at a dinner party and jokingly revealing to him that she was a ‘Land Baroness’ via her late-husband’s estate. When Andy probed for details, she joked she was ‘technically a princess.’ She received a call from producers the very next day. Carole’s hair in this thing is weird – like part 1988 high school girl sprayed side-swoop bangs; part wannabe Veronica Lake.
Carole’s favorite moment on the show were the scenes of her first meeting Adam; she giggles and blushes. Luann describes RHONY as interesting snapshot of an amazing period of her life and relishes having moments such as that on film. More like a heavily photoshopped instagram.
Let’s talk Luann. Luann cried when Andy asked her about her marriage. Luann’s favorite moment was when she, The Count, and their kids got their dog. She tears up remembering how much she loved her husband and their happy marriage. Shocking that during that time he was cheating and soon filed for divorce, yet Luann always kept such a stiff upper lip. I like this raw emotional side of Luann and I don’t think we’ve ever seen her disclose her feelings about the divorce. It’s clear that she did love her husband.
Of course, talking about Luann without the pirate would be akin to mentioning Luann without mockingly calling her ‘The Countess’. Luann is adamant that she did not sleep with the pirate in Saint Tropez, but she did invite him to come back to the house for drinks after partying which she tried to cover-up because it “looked bad.” She admits the cover-up made her look guilty and that Jacques made her watch that episode with him! Andy asked if that was the beginning of the end for their relationship and she heavy-heartedly admitted it was when things started to get complicated. I still don’t believe Luann actually cheated, but I agree her hasty cover-up made her look guilty.
Carole’s greatest regret on the show was actually talking about Sonja’s nighttime pirate activities (“Can I say ‘butt-f–ked’ on TV?”). Sonja is pleased to get the apology.
Since that trip was full of regrets, Aviva regrets calling Sonja and Ramona “white trash.” Although I think her epic, articulate, and eloquent tongue lashing was phenomenal up until the slur. Nice job lawyer girl. Aviva describes the shock at how viscerally mean fans were and how she had never experienced anything like the brutal reaction she got from the viewers. Aviva regrets that moment, but she doesn’t regret introducing us to her pervy father George? How disappointing.
Ramona discussed her divorce and admits that although shocked she and Mario fell apart in so short a time, she couldn’t continue to live with his mid-life crisis, so it was simply time to move on. She described it maturely and intellectually. Whenever Ramona says anything with clarity I feel like I’ve fallen into the 5th dimension. Those times are rare and they are shocking, but perhaps this is the dawn of a New Ramona. Maybe?
Ramona describes Cindy Barshop as the cast member she connected to the least. “I kept thinking she had four heads.” We ALL did Ramona – worst casting ever! And everyone shockingly preferred Simon to Alex McCord, but was adamant that Alex had a lot of interesting and cool sides to her that they respected (and it seemed we weren’t shown).
Kristen Taekman looks amazing, and it’s too bad she didn’t wear this look to the reunion. She muses about the insanity of Ramona, the cast trips, how surreal the experience was. Dorinda has a new haircut and looks great. She has had a fabulous experience on the show and learned a lot, she has no regrets, but concedes she reacted to certain situations wrong.
Everyone laughs at how Alex’s nude photo leak in the S2 reunion was so scandalous Ramona stalked off set (and in the process of hauling her satin cocktail-assed self off the sofa almost flashed her cooch. Irony!). Bethenny laughs, “Right now nude photos would be like 7-year-old’s birthday party.” So true – Real Housewives really has become an integrated snapshot of a very interesting time in our society. As Bethenny described it, “It’s a phenomenon.” One I will be watching for years to come.
Speaking of which, I’m bummed Heather is leaving – I loved the cast last season and as all the ladies reflected it was real friendship mixed with real emotions, dramatic and outrageous as they may be, the women all cared for each other and it was a fabulous dynamic. Ramona even shared that every castmate reached out to her during her divorce and offered support. Also Dorinda needs to come back just because her impression of Bethenny is priceless.
TELL US – WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE RHONY MOMENT? MINE WAS RAMONA’S RUNWAY WALK.