Southern Charm New Orleans: I just can’t do it

For the most part, this show is too boring to bother with. And the Jeff storyline–does he or doesn’t he have brain damage from his football days and will his wife leave him because of it–is just sad, and too real for reality TV.

RHONY Recap: S10, Ep. 4 – “Fashion No-ment”

We return to Luann’s brunch, where Dorinda is in the midst of storming out after her epic meltdown over Sonja’s nutjob-iness. Luann is pleading with Dorinda to cut Sonja some slack (since she’s a nutjob) but Dorinda is having none of it; Ramona is pleading with Sonja to apologize to Dorinda but Sonja–as usual–refuses to take any responsibility for her part in this mess.

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Dorinda gets in a last dig at Sonja, throwing out that if Richard were alive, he would still love and respect her, whereas Sonja threw her marriage away by cheating on her husband. Sonja denies she would have ever jeopardized her “beautiful marriage” like that, but Luann seems to confirm that Sonja’s fooling around in the South of France was indeed the reason for her divorce. I don’t doubt it–Sonja seems to have a hard time staying away from the D.

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As Ramona and a still-hysterical Dorinda drive away, Ramona gets down to the real problem here: she is having a dinner that night–seated! with one table!–and two of her guests may never speak to each other again. What is she going to do??! Ramona has some nerve. It’s a good thing she made that comment in a talking head, because since Dorinda was offended by the audacity of Sonja’s narcissism, hearing the audacity of Ramona’s narcissism might have sent her completely over the edge.

Over in Bridgehampton, Bethenny is showing Carole and Tinsley her new investment property. It’s an 8-bedroom, 6-bath property with an unfinished attic and therefore tons of potential. It’s also one of the few historic properties left in the Hamptons, because people keep knocking down older houses to build McMansions. Here is where there is a regional disconnect because, where I live, an 8-bedroom, 6-bath house IS a McMansion.

While the three of them are outside admiring the pool, Carole calls Dorinda in response to her distraught text. Naturally Carole, being a widow herself, sympathizes with Dorinda in the brunch debacle, while Bethenny, having been through the world’s nastiest divorce, can see Sonja’s point of view. Dorinda thinks divorce is a choice, while death is a tragedy. I’m not sure it’s that black and white–who’s to say what constitutes a tragedy in someone else’s life?

Ramona is discussing her investment philosophy with Dorinda as they get ready for the dinner party. She would rather have her money in a SOUTH of the highway Hamptons house that she can use and enjoy rather than in the stock market where it just sits there. Her house has appreciated seven times over and she can periodically rent it out tax-free. This actually makes sense. Ramona is so crazy, I forget she’s a business woman who has done pretty well for herself. Ramona likes to comment on her own success, which is kind of annoying, but she tempers that by pointing out that she came from nothing and built everything she has on her own. (With a little help from Mario, I’m sure). I loved that about Heather (holla!), too. It’s much better than Sonja pretending she was to the manor born all the time.

Everyone arrives, and as Bethenny points out, they all look ridiculous. Carole is the worst offender with her “fashion moment” tattoo body suit, but Bethenny, Bethenny’s boyfriend Dennis, Luann and Ramona are all tarted up like they’re on their way to a poor man’s Carnivale. And Tinsley is wearing yet another oversized bow.

Sonja and Ramona immediately get into it because Sonja is miffed Ramona didn’t stick up for her at Luann’s brunch. Tinsley hears their raised voices and wants to stay away from the fray, but Dorinda channels the “Meddler” and tells her she should jump in there with them. Before she can, Ramona calls everyone to the table, where it’s about to go down.

Carole is confused because she thought this was supposed to be a party celebrating her marathon run, but there it is just a family-style buffet with no marathon memorabilia. “Marathon memorabilia”-huh? What is she expecting? Ramona gives a nice toast congratulating Carole on her achievement, and that should be enough for Princess Radziwill.

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Luann, not realizing that Bethenny’s date is the “married man” she accused Bethenny of dating at the last reunion, tries to make polite small talk by asking how he and Bethenny met. An awkward moment ensues when everyone informs her that this is in fact THE Dennis, but the Countess recovers nicely, even, at Bethenny’s shrewish prompting, apologizing to him for her reunion comments. I remember a time when this little exchange would have devolved into a Berkshires-style throwdown, but in this case everyone lets is go and all–surprisingly–is well.

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Sonja is mad that she is relegated to the corner of the table when Dorinda, who she thinks started the brouhaha at the brunch, is “right in the middle” of the table. Not true–Dorinda is at the other end of the table, in the same seat Sonja is, but on the opposite side. Sonja starts babbling about Rocco to her “Hamptons friends,” and somehow Dorinda hears her from her end of the table, hollers that Sonja is not dating Rocco and calls her a “liar, liar, ho on fire.” Dorinda is obviously getting into the wine, and that can only bode well for the evening. Clip, clip.

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Sonja fires back that she IS dating Rocco and she’s not a liar. This is Tinsley’s cue to ask Sonja why she’s been going around town lying about her and her finances. Sonja maintains that she’s not lying about Tinsley, and her money is coming from somewhere–her boyfriend, her “mommy” –but not from Tinsley herself. She doesn’t believe Tinsley paid for the infamous gift card or anything else in her life, prompting Tinsley to jump up and yell at Sonja to close her mouth and close her legs. Good advice.

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Tinsley writes out a check to pay Sonja back for her room and board, but Sonja doesn’t want her money–she wants her love. Huh? Then maybe Sonja shouldn’t be telling Page Six that Tinsley is basically a high-class escort. She tries to return the check to Tinsley but Tinsley throws it back at her. Bethenny intercepts it and burns it over one of the candles on the table, thus ending that little bit of drama.

The caterers come out with a cake for Carole, and everyone congratulates her once again on the marathon.

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Still unsatisfied, Carole gives Ramona’s attempt at a “themed” marathon party an F. How gracious. Where did Carole get the idea this was supposed to be a theme party anyway? What’s wrong with getting friends together for a nice dinner in your honor? Obviously they threw better parties at ABC News when Carole worked there. Because she used to work at ABC News. In case you didn’t know.

The next morning, Dorinda and Ramona are having some hair of the dog while Ramona shows a nice text she received from, of all people, John Mahdessian. She asks Dorinda about the state of her and John’s relationship, and what Dorinda says without really saying it is that she has outgrown John. Interesting. And finally!

Ramona may have gotten a nice text from John, but she’s gotten a nasty text from her former BFF Sonja.

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It’s basically a verbose rehash of everything she said to Ramona at the party last night that ends with her calling Ramona an “unfeeling POS.” Neither Ramona nor Dorinda know what is going on with Sonja, but they’re both over her behavior.

As is Tinsley, who is rehashing the previous night with Carole over at the Topping Rose. The Sonja she used to know was fun and light-hearted, but the Sonja of today just seems dark and depressed. Everyone pretty much agrees that Sonja is, in Bethenny’s word, “imploding.” She’s actually been imploding for about 4 seasons now, but where she used to be merely pathetic, she’s now becoming pathetic and mean.

Tinsley and Carole hit up the bartender for place cards for yet another brunch–will these women never learn? (And of course the bartender at the fancy Topping Rose has a supply of place cards on hand.) They relegate Sonja to the end of the table again, far away from Tinsley and Dorinda, and place her across from Ramona, with whom they think she is still on good terms–they don’t know about the text yet. Ramona is not pleased with the placement and concocts a scheme to relocate to the other end of the table without making it seem she’s deliberately removing herself from Sonja’s presence.

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She pretends to consult Dorinda and Tinsley about a decorating project, while at the other end of the table Sonja is complaining about Ramona to Carole. She babbles about being the fun one at all the parties and then having to go home and be in the trenches. No one knows what she’s talking about and they all tell her she’s losing the “fun.” Ramona yells down the table that Sonja needs to learn how to listen, but before it can descend into yet another screaming altercation, the Countess steps in and asks for the check.  With that, another delightful Housewives brunch is in the can.

 

 

 

 

Southern Charm Recap: S5, Ep. 3 – “Groovy Baby”

It’s another beautiful morning in Charleston and Thomas’ unabashed lechery is on display once again as he tells Ashley he’s glad he found a woman with a good heart, then asks if he can feel her heart up. I think my 10th-grade boyfriend used a similar line on me once, and it was cheesy coming from a 15-year-old. Ashley’s not fazed by it though–she just simpers and giggles and feeds into Thomas’ image of himself as a Rhett Butler-type roguish devil, just like a good gold digger should. And just like a good gold digger target should, Thomas puts Plan B in Ashley’s morning eggs.

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Patricia calls Cameran to tell her she wants to throw her a baby shower/party, but when Cameran tries to gives her some input on the guest list, Patricia informs her that as the hostess, SHE will be in charge of the invites. Of course this means Kathryn will be excluded, as well she should be. Cameran is worried, but has the sense not to challenge Patricia on the issue.

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Why would anyone think Patricia would ever want Kathryn in her house? Aside from going after Patricia’s son Whitney like a coked-up Tasmanian Devil, Kathryn has made a spectacle of herself at every single social gathering she has ever attended. That is, until last season when she decided to pretend like she was getting her shit together in order to get her kids back. Even if Kathryn could be trusted to be on her very best behavior at the baby shower, Patricia has seen her true colors and is not fooled by her little performance of late. So no, Patricia is not going to invite Kathryn anywhere, and no one should expect her to.

Patricia isn’t fooled, but apparently the courts are, because Kathryn has moved into whatever phase of her and Thomas’ custody agreement that allows her to have unsupervised visits with the children. Kathryn’s drivel about being a mother and how much it hurt to lose custody of her kids fails to interest me. I think they would probably be better off if she remained–at most–on the periphery of their lives, but I don’t really care one way or another.

Nor do I care about Cameran’s birth-coaching session with Kathy the childbirth “educator.” This scene seems totally contrived–I highly doubt Cameran is that ignorant about the process–and “childbirth educator”, like “accountability coach” and “feng shui consultant,” seems like just another term for snake-oil salesman. And what is Whitney doing there? Whitney seems even more disconnected to the child-bearing process than Cameran is pretending to be.

Craig and Austen meet for drinks and Craig tells Austen his life would be so much easier if God would just make him gay. Whatever, Craig. Does he think drama and confusion are unique to heterosexual relationships? Craig doesn’t understand why Naomie was crying over their breakup at Shep’s party when it was so obvious she didn’t want to be with him anymore. I kind of wonder about that myself, since they were so clearly mismatched and Craig was so awful last season. But relationships are complicated, and just like the editors made me #TeamNaomie last season, they’re kind of making me #TeamCraig this season, so who knows what really went on between them?

God, more baby stuff. Cameran and Chelt-sea go to a place named “Bond with Baby” so Cameran can get an ultrasound. Yawn. After the requisite cooing, they settle in to discuss Chelt-sea’s relationship with Austen. Chelt-sea doesn’t have a problem with Austen, per se; it’s his lifestyle that turns her off. He’s unemployed, parties all night and sleeps all day. How exactly does that make him different from most of the other guys in Charleston?

Cut to Austen, who sure enough is in the bar in the middle of the day ordering a beer flight and wondering what his next move should be.

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Chelt-sea and Cameran lament the state of the region’s dating pool and I can’t help but think Cameran is mentally patting herself on the back for landing herself a doctor.

Thomas is talking to his father on his phone, and we learn that he is paying for Ashley’s apartment downtown. I bet that tidbit sent Kathryn into a tailspin. Thomas and his father agree that Ashley has a good sense of humor, which Arthur Ravenel approves of, because after all, if you can’t “eat it, spend it or make love to it,” you have to laugh at it. No wonder Thomas has such a healthy respect for women.

Kathryn comes over to Craig’s new house where he shows her his new endeavor–making pillows. Some of his pillows are cute. I can’t fault Craig for not practicing law now that he’s passed the bar and is an actual attorney. I’m an attorney and I’m much happier waiting tables–law is not for everyone and sometimes it takes awhile to figure that out.

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Craig thinks that since he and Kathryn have some sort of bond, they represent a “safe space” for each other. Of course Craig buys into the idea of safe spaces. How did Craig become such a pussy? He seems like a completely different person from the Season 1 Craig who called out Kathryn for sleeping with everyone in the cast and told Thomas she was “trouble.” Now he thinks she’s some kind of soulmate? Good luck with that–Craig is nothing more to Kathryn than an easily-manipulated mark who furthers her sinister agenda.

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Speaking of that, while she and Craig are talking about Thomas and Ashley, Kathryn “lets it slip” that she and Thomas hooked up after the Season 4 reunion. Craig is sure to spill those beans later in the season and Kathryn will sit back and smugly watch the drama she wrought play out. She of course thinks Ashley is playing Thomas the way she tried to play him, but Craig disagrees. So do I. Thomas is way better at this game than Kathryn is giving him credit for–if a full-blown sociopath like herself wasn’t able to play him into marriage, how does the simpering Ashley stand a chance?

It’s baby shower day, and everyone is getting ready for the festivities. Patricia explains that the theme of this party is Slim Aarons, a photographer who chronicled social life in the 60’s. And not just any social life–ultra WASP-y Babe Paley-type social life–so the Southern Charm crowd should be able to relate. I’m not sure if Babe Paley would approve of Patricia’s get-up, but she would probably approve of the spread Pat has set out for her guests–finger foods and lots of booze, just the way we WASPs like it.

 

Naomie is upset that Kathryn hasn’t been invited and tells Chelt-sea she thinks she should say something to Patricia about it. No, Naomie, you shouldn’t. Chelt-sea agrees that if Patricia would just give Kathryn one more chance, she would see the change in her and all would be well between them. How are these people so obtuse? Patricia will not see a change in Kathryn because there has been no fundamental change. She has changed her behavior to achieve certain goals, but she is still the calculating, “hillbilly femme fatale” (tm Whitney) she has always been.

Even though Naomie is French and therefore inherently superior, she’s still a millennial and prone to the arrogance and entitlement that characterizes her generation, so she makes a major gaffe by taking Patricia aside and trying to plead Kathryn’s case.  She barely gets a word out before Patricia makes up an excuse about someone being at the door and walks away from the conversation. Patricia thinks it’s inappropriate to come to someone’s house and air their grievances to that person, and she is right. To her credit, Naomie realizes she crossed a line and has the decency to be embarrassed about it.

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While Cameran is opening gifts and being presented with a vaginal birth cake in the next room, Naomie recounts the Patricia episode to Craig, who is supportive of her efforts to stick up for Kathryn. Naomie thinks that Kathryn feels like she is nothing, and this statement is indicative of the kool-aid everyone except Patricia has been drinking. Kathryn does not now and has never felt that she is nothing. To the contrary, Kathryn is a narcissist and as such believes that Kathryn is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

But Naomie and Craig have both believed her bs about rehab and think she has grown. This prompts Naomie to ask Craig if he’s grown. Uh oh. He mumbles that he’s been really busy and has gotten a lot of stuff done, and Naomie pounces on him by asking why he thinks he’s been able to get more done in the two months they’ve been apart than in the three years they were together. Craig recognizes this as the loaded question it is and refuses to answer. He thinks this is Naomie’s way of calling him a loser, and he’s probably right because the reason they broke up was because Naomie thinks he’s a loser. She tells him he needs to get out of bed and accomplish something during the day instead of sitting at home and pretending to do things.

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Craig wonders why sewing and owning two properties isn’t good enough for her when he’s the same guy he was when they started dating and “traveled the world” together. Naomie says it’s because she got her shit together and stalks out of the room. To her retreating form, Craig calls out that she’s still living off her parents, which, although true, probably wasn’t the best way to make his point since he also lived off her parents for a couple of years.

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Minutes after this confrontation, who walks into the party but Liz and JD–together. This has really been a bad day for Naomie. She is seething as JD and Liz walk into the party and JD gladhands everyone. Shep and Whitney give her some really good advice–basically telling her in a nice way that JD and Liz’s marriage is none of her business and she needs to suck it up and be polite to both of them. She greets them half-heartedly then sits down with the rest of the girls tl pout. She is galled by JD’s smirk and knows he’s thinking that he’s won whatever battle Naomie started at Shep’s birthday party.

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Now it’s Chelt-sea’s turn to step in with some good advice when she tells Naomie she’s done her duty as a friend, but it’s not her fight anymore. JD and Liz know they’re the talk of the party and beat a hasty retreat. When Naomie ignores Liz’s good-bye, Liz admonishes her not to do that then tells the girls she loves them, despite the fact that she knows all of them are going to gossip about her the minute she walks out the door.

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Naomie returns Liz’s attempt at a gracious exit by giving her the finger, which is not very French of her. Quel dommage.

 

 

RHONY Recap: Til Brunch Do Us Part

It’s Veterans Day weekend, and everyone is headed to the Hamptons for Bethenny’s birthday. Bethenny is a Scorpio–that explains a lot. Sonja as usual is a flustered mess trying to pack, and ends up dragging the equivalent of the contents of three bag ladies’ grocery carts plus her dog onto the Hampton Jitney.

 

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It would be a nightmare to be seated next to Sonja on the Jitney, or a plane–anything really–and have to endure her harmless but inane chatter for the entire trip. But is she really harmless? The other ladies aren’t so sure.

Dorinda is driving Tinsley and Carole out East and they spend the drive ripping on Sonja.

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They all agree that Sonja is “nasty nice,” couching her digs in seeming compliments. Tinsley is mad at her for saying Scott pays for Tinsley’s life, which, as Tinsley indignantly points out, is ridiculous because she has always lived in the style to which she is currently accustomed–she was a debutante and grew up in the biggest house in Richmond, for God’s sake! (And this was before she married a Mortimer and ruled the Manhattan social scenes.) Tinsley doesn’t really have a problem with being a kept woman, but the point is that she doesn’t have to be one in order to maintain her lifestyle. I love Tinsley–she’s a Lu in training, mugshot and all.

Lu stops into a lovely little cheese shop in Sag Harbor to order a gift basket for Bethenny. She fills it with wine, cheese, aged balsamic vinegar and other specialty products from the area. I would LOVE to receive one of Lu’s gift baskets, but I’m pretty sure Bethenny will find something hateful to say about it–she just can’t help herself.

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While the gift basket is being prepared, Lu heads over to the local hardware store to begin fulfilling her weekend house guest Sonja’s list of demands. Sonja is juicing, so to begin with, she needs a blender. I wonder why Luann doesn’t already have a blender, but apparently she doesn’t. I also wonder how regular people like hardware store workers and cheese shop owners can afford to live in the Hamptons–either they have long commutes, are independently wealthy, or their families have lived there for generations and bought land when it was going for about ten cents an acre–which probably means that by now they are independently wealthy.

Bethenny seems mildly miffed that Carole is staying in a hotel with Tinsley instead of with her, but thinks it could be for the best since her daughter Brynn is at the house this weekend. Just to make sure, she calls up one of her trusty sycophants–this one is identified as “Meghan–Brand Manager”–who naturally validates this notion by telling Bethenny that she needs her space. I feel like most of the people who work for Bethenny bear vague, courtesy titles like “Brand Manager” or “Product Specialist,” but are really only there to alternately stroke her ego and talk her off the ledge. I guarantee you they are earning every dime they make.

Ramona has a fancy new car that she thinks is sexy, powerful and energetic–just like her. She is revamping her Hamptons home and has purchased some new art for it. The artist and his friend for some reason are standing in her driveway when she arrives, and she immediately ropes them into helping her carry in her luggage, move her new furniture around and fix her TV. As Ramona herself points out, she is not one to let an opportunity for underlings (Ramona perceives pretty much everyone as an underling) to do her bidding go by.

I wonder if the editors are as over Sonja as Tinsley and Dorinda are, because, after showing us Luann’s sporty new 2-seater Mercedes and Ramona’s Maserati or whatever it is, they show Sonja pulling up to Luann’s house in her circa 1997 Mercedes, baggage and dog in tow. She neglected to tell Lu she was bringing her dog, but the Countess takes it in stride. I’m sure Lu is long-resigned to the fact that Sonja is the rudest, most exhausting house guest on the planet. (Well, next to Ramona, but since Ramona has her own Hamptons house, she doesn’t have to inflict herself on her friends.) Lu and Sonja hang out in Lu’s charming kitchen and dish about Tinsley and Carole.

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Oblivious as usual, Sonja thinks she and Tinsley are fine even though she hasn’t heard from Tinsley, and Sonja and Luann are both annoyed by Carole’s terse responses to their congratulatory emails regarding the marathon. Luann got an actual “Thanks,” while Sonja only received a “Thx.”

Dorinda, Tinsley and Carole arrive at Ramona’s after spending 5 hours driving approximately 95 miles–why don’t these people just take the train?–and all of them head out for Bethenny’s birthday dinner. Despite being 12 minutes late, Bethenny is the first to arrive at the restaurant. This of course sends her into a fit of anxiety so she stamps her well-shod foot in frustration and–wait for it–makes one of her obligatory, tired “quips”–it’s her party and she’ll cry if she wants to. Good one, Bethenny.

Everyone shows up pretty soon after Bethenny does, and this will be a typical Housewives dinner. The first problem is that Tinsley doesn’t want to sit next to Sonja. Bethenny points out that the table is the size of a postage stamp so pretty much everyone is going to be sitting next to Sonja. The next problem is that Sonja refers to Carole’s new ash-blonde hair color as gray. Nasty nice? Or just nasty?

While Sonja settles in at one end of the postage stamp, at the other, Dorinda and Carole are complaining about her to Luann. Luann is noncommittal, and before Sonja can overhear the conversation she goes in on Carole for the “Thx.” Carole is not having it and basically tells Sonja to zip it–something more people should tell Sonja more often. But Sonja isn’t the only one who feels offended by Carole’s lack of communication. Bethenny texted her throughout marathon day and claims to never have received a response. This prompts Carole to pull out her phone to prove that Carole did indeed respond to Bethenny’s texts, which prompts Bethenny to pull out her phone to prove that she didn’t. This petty exchange goes back and forth, with Bethenny calling Carole defensive and Carole claiming she’s just “correcting” Bethenny (which amazingly doesn’t send Bethenny into apoplexy).

This fight is not about whether Carole responded to Bethenny’s texts about the marathon; it is an excuse to release the tension that has arisen between these two because their friendship is not what it used to be. Bethenny feels replaced by Carole’s new BFF Tinsley, and Carole has a new BFF because she was tired of being Bethenny’s meek little yes-man.

Ramona is just happy that Carole has found her voice and is using it to stand up to Bethenny. Usually Ramona is the only one with the balls to contradict her, and she’s always ending up in “the hot water” for doing so. Ramona doesn’t end up in “the hot water” for contradicting Bethenny, she ends up in the hot water for saying things like Bethenny slept her way to the top, has no friends and will inevitably screw up every relationship in her life. That’s not really contradicting someone; that’s going for the jugular. Bethenny is no stranger to such tactics, so I don’t feel bad for her when Ramona does this, but…semantics.

Next we move on to Luann and Tom. Lu tells Bethenny she wishes she would have listened to her, but she was blinded by love and refused to see what was right in front of her face. Bethenny is not satisfied with this meager mea culpa and needs Luann to tell her she was right, which Luann does. “You were fucking right,” she says–not once but twice, and all is well with Bethenny and Lu.

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Luann tells the table she is tired of talking about Tom and feels she doesn’t need to, since the whole tawdry business was splashed all over the tabloids. She just wants to move on. Sonja chimes in that Luann doesn’t live in the past–which she doesn’t, and I applaud her for it–but Ramona wants Lu to know that her friends want to talk about it with her so they can support her through it. It’s a kind, articulate, un-Ramona-like thing to say, and I’m proud of her for saying it. When Tinsley adds that she wasn’t trying to be mean when she lambasted Lu over her marriage at their lunch, Lu tells her she was kind of mean, then, having made her point, masterfully turns the conversation around to the Tinsley/Scott situation. Tinsley would have gladly packed up and moved to Chicago if Scott had asked, but he didn’t ask.

Despite all the conflict at the table, the dinner ends well with Luann rasping a Marilyn Monroe-ish rendition of “Happy Birthday” to Bethenny, and all the ladies dancing around the restaurant. Can I just point out that this scene depicts every restaurant worker’s nightmare? The place has completely emptied out except for this one VIP table that lingers and lingers, oblivious to the fact that most of these people just want to get the fuck out of there and go home, or to the club, or wherever else. I hope they tipped well enough to justify keeping the restaurant open and making the staff stand around and twiddle their thumbs until they deigned to leave.

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It’s the next morning and the titular brunch is up next. Before that, I have to point out a pet peeve. Carole is talking about how she doesn’t bother to lock doors while Tinsley does, and says, “that’s the difference between Tinsley and I.” Everyone makes this mistake, but Carole is a writer and should know better. In this context, it’s “Tinsley and me.”

There are two brunches going on simultaneously. In Bridgehampton, Brunch 1 consists of Carole, Tinsley and Bethenny. Bethenny is irritated on arrival as Carole and Tinsley are too engrossed in their conversation about Tinsely’s frozen eggs to care that Bethenny is going to use the restroom.

In Sag Harbor, Brunch 2 begins with Sonja shuffling downstairs in a caftan wearing Luann’s slippers. She is happy she’s not at Dorinda’s because here, she can go “shopping” in her hostess’ closet without repercussions. Sonja is so rude. I cannot wait for the Dorinda smackdown. Speaking of Dorinda, when she and Ramona arrive everyone starts rehashing last night’s dinner until Sonja has to start babbling about herself. She can eat and drink anything she wants and remain thin; she’s only gained weight because of the antidepressants she’s on. She insists she’s not depressed but rather riddled with anxiety because of all the stresses in her life. Blah, blah, blah.

Dorinda is over it. She is sick of Sonja thinking she’s the only one who’s experienced hardships in life–she’s not the only mother whose kid has gone to boarding school and is worried about what college she’ll get into, she’s not the only person who’s been divorced, and she’s not the only person who’s had financial problems. As usual, Dorinda is right. Look out Sonja, because the Dornado is gathering righteous steam.

The ladies at Brunch 1 are also rehashing the previous night, and Tinsley explains why she’s mad at Sonja. She thinks that Sonja saying she moved to New York to find a rich man to take care of her is tantamount to calling her an escort. Bethenny thinks that since Tinsley’s claim to fame is being a socialite, becoming a kept woman is the next logical step and that there’s no difference between a kept woman and a trust fund baby. Um, there is. Kept women have to work for their money. The three of them leave the restaurant to go tour Bethenny’s new house, but we’re going to have to wait until next week for the real estate porn, because over in Sag Harbor, Dorinda is about to go off.

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Sonja makes some crack about Ramona using guys then dumping them–most recently her contractor, Mario–which upsets Ramona because it’s not true. Dorinda tells Sonja this is where she gets herself into trouble and she needs to stop making sweeping generalizations about people about whom she knows nothing. Ramona tries to make peace by saying they should make a pact to be more thoughtful about how they talk about each other, and I have to say that this has been a good episode for Ramona. Who is this rational, mature woman?

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Sonja is still sputtering that what she’s saying about Ramona and her discarded men is true when Luann tries to divert her by saying Sonja’s been through a lot. That is all it takes for Dorinda. She is sick of people making excuses for Sonja. Sonja is not the only person who has been through a lot and everyone is tired of hearing about how bad Sonja has had it. Sonja is still whining about her divorce when the marriage ended 12 or 15 years ago and it is beyond time to move on. Dorinda BURIED her husband and she’s managed to move on. Sonja says she’s sick of hearing about Richard all the time, which is a terribly insensitive thing to say for someone who was just blathering about how sensitive she is to everyone around her.

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Terribly insensitive and really stupid, because Dorinda rises out her seat to point in Sonja’s face and drive home the fact that Sonja’s husband LEFT her and Dorinda’s husband DIED. She tells Sonja not to compare her “fucking marriage,” which ended because Sonja was “fucking around” in the South of France, to Richard’s death. YES, Dorinda! Let’s hear the dirt about the real reasons why Mr. Morgan left Sonja!

Dorinda takes things to Defcon 4, but she is absolutely right most of the time. Sonja is really insufferable and it’s time people called her on her shit. When she was a drunken mess, her behavior could be attributed to alcohol; now that she doesn’t drink, it’s become obvious she’s a self-centered weakling who has no idea what it means to be a grown woman or a friend. “Nasty nice,” indeed.

Dorinda’s not done yet–the tirade continues next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recap: Southern Charm New Orleans Premiere

After the train wreck that was Southern Charm Savannah, I’m not expecting a whole lot from the New Orleans version of the franchise, but I’m giving it a shot because at the very least it has to be better than Savannah, right? Wrong. The first episode was BO-ring. At least Savannah had the contrived antics of Ashley to snark on; so far, New Orleans has nothing.

The show begins with a super-sized intro before the credits roll, and then we meet the members of the cast. First up is Tamica, a morning show anchor who is married to Barry, an “entrepreneur.” I’m always leery of people who call themselves entrepreneurs–it seems like a convenient euphemism for doing a whole lot of nothing or shilling cheap clothing lines a la “She by Sheree” or “Alexis Couture,” but we’ll see. Tamica is the daughter of the late Bivian Lee, Jr., a former quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, so she is probably pretty connected in that town.

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Tamica and Barry

After running their two kids around all day, “entrepreneur” Barry picks Tamica up from work and they head over the 24-mile Pontchartrain Causeway to Reagan and Jeff’s house. Jeff played in the NFL for seven years, four of which were spent with the Saints. According to Reagan, her family has been in New Orleans ever since there has been a New Orleans. Her ancestor created bitters and invented the Sazerac, which Reagan says is the official drink of Louisiana. She greets Tamica and Barry with a couple of Sazeracs and the four of them head out to the backyard for dinner–which Reagan has cooked herself. How refreshing. It’s tiresome when people claim to have an aversion to the kitchen, like not cooking imbues them with some kind of aura of sophistication.

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Reagan and Jeff

Tamica and Reagan have been friends for years and have a sister-type relationship that apparently involves a lot of fighting and making up, which might make for some drama down the road. And when the guys meet for lunch the next day, we learn about another bona fide connection in this group. Justin, who narrated the opening montage, went to high school with Tamica who, according to Barry, views him as a little brother. It’s unclear how everyone knows Jon, a 24-year-old artist who has sold paintings to the likes of P. Diddy, Drake and the Obamas. From the previews he seems like a douche, but it’s early yet.

It’s Mardi Gras time, and everyone talks about how great it is, except for Barry, who hates it. He feels like a mouse caught in a trap with all the street closures, crowds and other constrictions. I wonder if he’ll get something worse than beads thrown at him after this episode airs.

The most interesting thing about this episode so far is Reagan’s friend Nicelle’s house.

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Maybe Bravo should forget about franchising Southern Charm and go the real estate porn route by giving us a Million Dollar Listing: New Orleans. All the ladies are meeting there to try on costumes for their Mardi Gras float and drink coffee cocktails prepared by Nicelle’s chef, “Benny Poppins,” an accommodating sprite complete with an apron embroidered with his name. I wonder if Craig made it?

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Justin is a lawyer-cum-sports agent whose father is a judge and mother is a prominent philanthropist. He is moving in with them while his own house–which his parents own–is being renovated. Justin has a girlfriend who may or may not move into his parents’ house with him, and I have to wonder where she lives now. Why would a grown woman move into her boyfriend’s parents’ house for a temporary stay? Maybe this is a setup for conflict between Justin’s girlfriend and his overbearing mother.

I’m so bored. Nothing but exposition is happening in this episode, but it’s the first episode so I’ll give it a break and try to identify areas of potential drama:

Since Justin thinks Tamica is still as “fine” as she was in high school, maybe there will be tension between the girlfriend and Tamica. Or Justin and Barry.

When the ladies get drunk at the Mardi Gras parade while the guys stand around for 6 hours waiting to see their float go by, we learn that Tamica and Barry don’t have sex. Will their marriage hit the skids?

Reagan wants to get an apartment in town while she finishes her third year of law school. Jeff thinks they’re both going to live there, but Reagan apparently wants to him to stay in their house. Will their marriage hit the skids?

Tamica doesn’t approve of Reagan’s plan and thinks it’s bad for her marriage. Since Tamica doesn’t have sex with her husband, Reagan doesn’t think she should be dispensing marital advice. Can their friendship survive?

Jeff’s mother stole a few hundred thousand dollars from him by posing as his wife (eww!) and forging a bunch of documents. When Jeff confronted her about it, his whole family cut him off. Hopefully Jeff’s family is a bunch of malevolent inbreds straight out the bayou and we’ll get to see them in all their slack-jawed glory.

All I have to say about Southern Charm New Orleans is that I hope it gets better, but I’m not holding my breath. Until next week…

Southern Charm Recap: S5, Episode 2 – “The Break-Up Bunch, Part 2”

People are trickling in to Shep’s house for his birthday as the main players are on their way to the party. Whitney arrives first, then Cameran, who immediately starts stirring the pot by asking Craig if he invited a date. To Craig’s credit, he tells her he thinks it would have been distasteful to bring someone to the party when he knows Naomie is going to be there. Cameran wonders why he thinks bringing a date would be in bad taste. Um, duh. What a good friend Cameran is–constantly talking out of both sides of her mouth and encouraging her supposed friend’s ex-boyfriend to bring a date to rub in her face the first time they’re going to see each other since their breakup. I never thought I’d live to say this, but I am impressed by Craig’s maturity and sensitivity in this moment. Cameran appears to be disappointed that there will be no Craig/Naomie/date drama.

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Cameran also takes the opportunity to get in a sideways jab at her good friend Shep while she’s complimenting him on his new house, saying that if he took the time to renovate himself the way he renovates his rental properties, he’d be a perfect ten. Some things may have changed in Charleston, but Cameran remains judgmental and snide. I am over her “sanctimonious” commentary (tm Thomas) and her endless two-faced shit-stirring.

Ashley and Thomas are discussing the new nanny, and Ashley wonders why Kathryn has to approve of who is watching her children. Kathryn is the worst, but isn’t it a little too soon for Ashley to be inserting herself into Thomas and Kathryn’s custody arrangement? Regardless, it’s definitely too soon for her to suggest to Thomas that they get married so she can be the children’s caregiver. Slow down, girl.

In another car, Naomie, Danni, Kathryn and Chelt-sea are getting themselves all riled up for a confrontation by discussing how awful JD has been to Liz. Turning the conversation around to herself–as always–Kathryn complains that Thomas did the same thing to her that JD is trying to do to Liz; that is, made her look unstable and crazy. Um, Kathryn? Thomas did not make you appear unstable and crazy–you did that all by yourself.

All of this is just a prelude to what we really want to see–all these ex-couples, new girlfriends and wayward husbands thrown together for the first time and the juicy drama that will surely ensue. At first, everyone just awkwardly greets each other and engages in innocuous chitchat. Kathryn and Ashley briefly meet; Ashley extends her hand and tells Kathryn it’s nice to meet her. Kathryn of course snubs the gesture, mumbling that she needs to hide Shep’s present in the house. Upstairs, Ashley and Thomas engage in a little too much PDA while Kathryn and her posse look at them with varying visages of disgust.

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What is Kathryn wearing here? The red lipstick, the flouncy sleeves, all for a backyard barbecue? Overdone and attention-seeking, as always.

Shep gives Naomie some really good advice about why she and Craig should honor the time they spent together by remaining friends, but in her talking head Naomie brushes it off, saying that she’ll take advice from Shep about how to drink heavily and avoid hangovers, but not about relationships. That was pretty bitchy of her. I’ve been 100% Team Naomie thus far, but I’m not liking this angry version of her so much.

JD arrives, and this upsets angry Naomie so much that she has to leave the house to get away from him. Why is she so invested in what’s going on with JD and Liz? Outside, Kathryn snarks to Naomie and Danni that Ashley should have shown more “respect” during the two seconds they met each other (huh?), and wonders why Ashley would tell her it was nice to meet her when clearly it wasn’t. It’s called manners, Kathryn. Kathryn thinks Ashley seems dumb, which she does, and Naomie thinks she seems nice, which she also does. Kathryn isn’t having that–she’s used to these girls doing nothing but enabling her shitty attitude and abominable behavior. Somehow she keeps it together, her disdain for Naomie’s comment revealing itself only through a twisted grimace. For now.

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The food is finally ready. Cameran and JD talk about her pregnancy at the table–it’s not as bad as she thought it would be, but she doesn’t love it. She likes having boobs, but is not looking forward to six months down the road, when she’s expecting them to resemble teabags. When Cameran is being candid and not dispensing advice about her friends’ lifestyles from her lofty perch of being better than everyone else, she is quite refreshing.

Craig and Shep’s friendship seems to be back on track as Shep is impressed by how Craig and Naomie are handling being around each other. Craig remarks that everyone is working through their respective awkward situations to be there for Shep, and I am filled with confusion. Who is this Craig? Where is the sniveling pussy I have ardently loathed for the last 3 seasons? If the showrunners can make me like Craig this season, they are magicians of the highest order.

Kathryn approaches Thomas while he is standing by himself, sipping his cocktail. Thomas, ever clueless, compliments her new hair color by telling her a lame blonde joke.

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They have a conversation about the new nanny, and even though Kathryn is upset that Thomas has already hired someone without her final approval, she manages to articulate her position without turning into a screaming harpy. What is going on here??!!! Thomas tells us in his talking head that if Kathryn had acted like this when they were together, things would have turned out differently. No shit. Kathryn has obviously processed how badly she has come off during the course of this series (to sane people, at least–there’s is no fathoming how her legions of rabid stans have excused her behavior all this time) and is determined to rehabilitate her image. So far she’s doing very well–almost Camille Grammer well–but I doubt it can last. The real Kathryn will rear her ugly head eventually. Tick, tick tick…

Ashley approaches Thomas and Kathryn and says all the right things. She’s heard a lot about Kathryn, respects her as a mother and thinks her children are beautiful. Kathryn seizes onto this statement to throw a dig at Thomas–“oh, you’ve met them then,” she says, as it she didn’t already know this. She comments that she’s taken aback by all this because Thomas didn’t tell her he had a girlfriend. This is Kathryn at her disingenuous worst. No one–but no one–buys that she is surprised by the situation. As if she doesn’t troll Thomas’ social media 24/7 and is not hyper aware of every move he makes. Please, girl.

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The conversation teeters on the brink of major awkwardness after Kathryn’s feigned ignorance about Thomas and Ashley’s relationship. While Thomas shrugs in the background and wishes he were anywhere but standing between these two women, Ashley manages to defuse Kathryn and the three of them part with no scorched earth in their wake. Again, I’ll give it to Kathryn. She’s doing a really good job of pretending she can behave like a mature adult. For now.

Shep gives a gracious toast after everyone sits down at the table, and it looks like dinner may turn out to be a convivial gathering–except we know it won’t be, because we’ve seen the previews and know that Naomie is about to blow a gasket. Whitney asks JD if he’s dating someone, and JD makes the mistake of joking about the end of his marriage. Naomie, Kathryn and Danni all squirm with outrage over his cavalier remarks and I’m sure Naomie is going to lose it, but then the tension is cut by Shep opening a present–it’s a blanket from JD, in case JD needs to crash on Shep’s couch (because his wife has thrown him out and he is just a good ol’ boy bachelor about town these days, get it?). JD’s jokes are in really bad taste, especially around these people who are all friends with his estranged wife.

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Cameran gets up from the table, and WHERE IS THE DRAMA? She, Shep and Craig are in Shep’s living room talking about the demise of Craig and Naomie’s relationship when Thomas and Ashley go into the bathroom together. And apparently have sex there.

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Eww. What is this girl thinking? I don’t expect any better from Thomas, an unabashed lech who told an entire party that he was going to “seal the deal on site” as he followed his girlfriend into the house. But this is the first time Ashley has met many of these people, she knows Kathryn is a ticking time bomb, and she chooses to have sex in a virtual stranger’s bathroom during a party? It doesn’t get any tackier, and all the points Ashley has racked up so far are gone. Gross.

Back at the dinner table, here we go. Naomie attacks JD, telling him he should be a better husband, that she picks his wife up out of bed every day, and that he’s a piece of shit who is going around town sleeping with 20-year-olds.

Danni gives her two cents, Chelt-sea calls him a con man, but surprisingly it is Kathryn who definitively puts JD in his place with a coherent dissertation peppered with big words she actually uses correctly. This is the first evidence of the superior intellect Kathryn is always telling us she possesses, and I am stunned. We are no longer at Shep’s beach house; we have all fallen down the rabbit hole and stumbled into the Mad Hatter’s tea party. It is a parallel universe indeed where Kathryn actually deserves some respect.

JD weakly defends himself during this 4-pronged attack, then, realizing he is not going to win here, does the right thing and leaves the party–gracefully, given the circumstances. Maybe there is something to the southern gentleman thing. The entire exchange was ugly and unnecessary, prompted by JD’s inappropriate jokes about his marriage and Naomie’s disproportionate outrage over it. All the women need to shut up with their #metoo/#timesup narrative–that’s right, I said the women need to shut up. Everyone was wrong here except for Whitney, who knows when to GTFO of a situation and escapes upstairs where he tells Craig, Cameran, Shep, Thomas and Ashley what just happened.

Craig is alarmed when he hears how Naomie tore into JD and immediately goes to find her. We are still down the rabbit hole, because when he finds Naomie, Craig is AWESOME to her. He says she did the right thing by sticking up for her friend and he has her back. He calmly and articulately explains why she shouldn’t jump to conclusions about things she’s heard he said without knowing the context. They discuss how hurt they both are over their breakup and how disconcerting it was for both of them to think the other wasn’t having a difficult time with it. It is sweet and sad to see them like this, and again–what show am I watching and who are these people?

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The next morning, everyone is going about their daily business. Shep surveys last night’s detritus, Chelt-sea warns her trainer she’s a little hungover (but she still made it to the gym–impressive!), Cameran is fiddling with baby stuff, and Naomie and Kathryn are rehashing the party. That is, they rehash the party for about 2.6 seconds before Kathryn yet again turns the conversation around to how Thomas victimized her, making everyone who didn’t know her think she was crazy. While the world rolls its eyes, Naomie has the decency to let this comment go by without a response. Poor Kathryn is happy to have Naomie to confide in because she doesn’t know how to have girlfriends since Thomas dominated their relationship to the point where she pushed all her friends away.

We have exited the rabbit hole. Here is Kathryn rewriting history again. Kathryn doesn’t have girlfriends because she’s a paranoid narcissist who sees other women as either enemies in competition for Thomas’ affection or strategic allies in her attempt to Camille-ize her image–so she can win back Thomas’ affection. Naomie doesn’t have a clue what she’s dealing with here and thinks she and Kathryn have begun a true friendship. She, like Jennifer Snowden, will eventually learn.

Thomas and Ashley are at dinner, where she resists his repeated urging to do mescal shots. She wants to stick with wine, but he thinks shots will spice things up. Why does Thomas think Ashley needs shots? Clearly she’s a sure thing. They talk about Kathryn. Thomas believes she doesn’t want him, but that she doesn’t want anyone else to have him or for him to be happy–she just wants to win. In his talking head he says that whenever estrogen is involved, it’s all about women not wanting to look like the loser. Please shut up, Thomas. You’re an idiot.

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In case making inane statements about the role estrogen plays in women’s behavior didn’t drive the point home hard enough, Thomas proves how utterly clueless he is by telling Ashley that if Kathryn had been the “nice Kathryn” when they were together, he’d still be with her. Dear God, not this again.

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Wait, what?