The Ladies of New York have returned.
The last time we saw them, friendships were falling apart, marriages were ending and careers were being slandered. All in a normal day for a Real Housewife of New York City.
Despite the low ratings of the last season of “The Real Housewives of New York City,” the only cast member to get the boot (or prosthetic leg) was the resident villain, Aviva Drescher. Now, Aviva was an awful, vile woman who lived in a fairyland of delusions, but I am sad to see her go for one reason: her behavior in last season’s finale. Aviva screeching “the only thing artificial about me is this” while simultaneously removing her own prosthetic leg and whipping it across the room easily has to be the best “RHONY” scene since Season 3’s Crazy Island with Kelly Killoren-Bensimon and her bag of Jelly Beans.
Now, back to current Housewives. Bethenny Frankel, the show’s former beloved underdog, has returned, hoping to set the clocks back to when audiences loved her wit and snarkiness. Since Bethenny left the show, she’s had a kid, gotten married, gotten divorced and hosted her own failed talk show. Although she’s experienced quite a few setbacks in the past few years, she’s now in a completely different position in her life. She is considerably wealthy, but she’s already back to her “I’m the victim” tricks. Within the first few seconds of the April 7 premiere, she’s bemoaning about being “homeless,” even though she literally owns three properties in the New York area. This victim act isn’t going to fly this time around for Bethenny. No longer the outsider judgmentally looking into the lives of the uber-wealthy, Bethenny herself is now one of them. Her neurotic, half-baked wisecracks throughout the show put me in great need of a tonic.
While time hasn’t been to kind to Bethenny’s image, it certainly has been to the Countess’. LuAnn de Lesseps completely captivated audiences in Season 6 with her more refreshed, relaxed persona, and that has continued into this season. She’s since broken up with her long-time boyfriend, sold her massive Hamptons home and begun looking for a fresh new start to life. It’s been amazing seeing LuAnn slowly remove the puffed-up, snobby veneer of “The Countess” and show her true self. To celebrate her new, smaller Hamptons home and the rest of her new life, she’s throwing a late-summer bash. She even invited Sonja Morgan, as she hopes to get their decades-long friendship back on track.
Unfortunately for LuAnn, Sonja seems as delusional as ever. She has two new interns performing wage-free labor in her crumbling townhouse. She continues to live beyond her means, getting facials of gold and silver while denying her massive financial problems. “People just don’t understand my money problems,” she sighs while her poor interns flitter about the home, fixing leaks and trying to figure out where a rotting smell is coming from. This season, Sonja is a girl with a mission: after the women ridiculed her last season for being drunk, delusional and scatterbrained (she is all of the above), she’s out to prove that Sonja Morgan is a real businesswoman maintaining a thriving brand (eye roll).
Apparently, though, maintaining a thriving business empire means being an absolutely horrid friend. LuAnn isn’t the only old friend Sonja is snubbing. As Ramona Singer goes through her divorce, Sonja has been nowhere to be seen. And when the ladies have lunch for the first time in weeks, Sonja turns the tables and tries to make it all about her. When Ramona attempts to talk through the horror currently plaguing her life, Sonja talks louder and louder about her own decade-old divorce.
Getting nowhere with Sonja, Ramona seeks solace from her friend Dorinda Medley, the new addition to the Housewives cast. Just as Ramona was there for Dorinda when her husband died, Dorinda is now there for Ramona during the collapse of her marriage. Ramona is a new Ramona, a more self-aware Ramona. She can no longer swim in a Pinot Grigio river of denial.
While Dorinda provided some great words of solace to “Turtle Time” Ramona, that’s about the only thing she gave in the episode. For one thing, she needs to find herself a new guy and find salvation from that tragic straw haircut of hers. Her daughter, who must be 22 or something, is unlikeable and bratty, like an older Portia Umanksy. Dorinda’s boyfriend, who runs a renowned laundry service in Manhattan, is Mafia-lite with a rat face to boot. I’d like to see less of him, please.
Christ, how many more ladies are there? I’ve lost count at this point. We see Heather Thomson for about five seconds at a ladies’ dinner. She provides nothing.
Carole Radziwill is behind on her deadlines. After her latest book, “The Widow’s Guide to Sex & Dating,” was a commercial hit (Aviva must be seething somewhere), Carole has experienced something of a writer’s block, much to her editor’s exasperation. She can only write in solitude, but she doesn’t want to be alone. The girl just wants to have fun. Good for her, I say. Carole’s enjoying life and isn’t having her career slandered by a crazy jealous woman who likes to throw prosthetic legs in restaurants.
The last (I swear it is) housewife, Kristen Taekman, has saved her marriage apparently. Her husband is a new man now, who wears pink sweaters to show that he isn’t bound by manly traditions. Her kids are doing great, and now that her husband is a completely different person (cough, cough), she can go out dancing with the girls.
There are too many Housewives this season. Bravo couldn’t even squeeze into the premiere proper season introductions for all of them. But aside from that, the show already feels fresher without the blood-sucking Aviva roaming about. While Bethenny will certainly try to reclaim her crown as fan favorite, she’s fighting a losing battle. Times have changed for the Housewives, and LuAnn certainly will not be letting that title go without a fight. While this season will not be ending with a prosthetic leg thrown across a restaurant, it certainly looks like it will be an exciting one.