Last week's war of words over Pop of Color was the start of Bethenny vs. Kristen and this week we're in for round 2. However, before we jump into this week's episode, I want to pause and check in. We're roughly halfway through the season at this point, including reunions. How do you feel about Season 7 so far? I have to say, I'm really loving it. It feels like every week, there's just the right amount of drama and confrontation mixed with moments of humor and genuine life events. The dynamic between all eight women feels natural - tensions and cliques included - and the ebb and flow of which 'Wives take center stage in a given episode feels innate. Everyone, with the exception of Bethenny, has had a chance to play every part - from a starring role to Greek chorus. All in all, I'm really happy with the season thus far as a fan, and every episode has left me satisfied while simultaneously looking forward to the next week. I can't wait to see where the second half of the season leads us. On that note, let's get into the events of this week.
The new year has arrived and it's officially 2015 in our Housewives timeline. Bethenny has invited the ladies to decorate cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake. Clarification: the ladies meaning Ramona, Sonja and Dorinda. Naturally, Ramona's carrying liquor and glassware in her purse, even though Bethenny made sure to provide Ramona pinot for the get-together. Can you really drink in a cupcake shop? And yet, New Yorkers can't buy a large soda. Seems logical. Somehow, the moment turns sexual over frosting, with Sonja bringing her best Marilyn Monroe impression to the act of decorating. Lady Morgan also announces that, as she's finally about to pay off her $7 million judgement that's been casting its gigantic shadow over her storyline the past four seasons, she wants all the girls to go away to the Turks and Caicos. The NYC ladies certainly love their island getaways. Sonja also manages to blurt out that she knows the premier of the TCI - there's that lovable name dropping again - and that it's going to be a great trip.
Kristen and the Countess are shoe shopping at Sigerson Morrison in Soho, and in the Kristen Fashion Moment of the episode, I'm dying over her peacoat/scarf/gloves combination. The shopping trip is as good a time as any for the two to go over everything that went down last week at AOA. Kristen reiterates that she felt very dismissed by Bethenny when the Skinnygirl up and walked away from her in the middle of their conversation. Luann wisely intimates in her confessional that no matter how hard Kristen tries, Bethenny simply isn't interested in the Pretty Girl. Kristen sees the cast as a close, tight-knit group of friends and her argument that Bethenny can't cherry-pick who she wants to be friends with in the group makes sense on one level. These eight women have been put together on a TV show and up to this point, Kristen hasn't done anything for B to dislike her, so the snub seems unprovoked. However, in life, sometimes people just don't click - even within a given friend group. That's probably something every person has experienced at some time, but none have had to live it out on TV like this. Luann's advice is to let the situation work out naturally, but with Bethenny's walls up so high with Kristen, I don't see anything at all natural happening between the two. Kristen calls a timeout on the conversation to ask the store clerk to take a picture of the gorgeous shoes she's trying on, which happen to perfectly complement her Pop of Color pedicure. Kristen's dedicated to her blog at all times and in all places! Priorities, girl!
Later, Carole and Bethenny are out for a one-on-one dinner, and while Carole's shirt may spell trouble, the meal becomes yet another bonding moment between the two budding friends. The topic that bonds them together? Carole's sex dream about the Skinnygirl, of course. "Did we go downtown Julie Brown?" Bethenny needs to know. But apparently, Writer Girl only touched her in her no-no square during the dream in an attempt to get B to unwind and relax. After detailing the dreamy lesbian encounter, Carole actually cops to instigating the issue between Kristen and Bethenny at AOA, by passing along B's "dumb" comment and the trademark question. Surprisingly, Bethenny isn't mad and takes Carole's confession in stride, acknowledging that Carole is right about some of what she's saying. However, the Skinnygirl also claims that she never used the d-word in talking about Kristen's nail polish line - just that, in her opinion, some of Kristen's business decisions may not have been the smartest. A classic case of semantics, but however it came out, the comment probably wasn't offered in the kindest of lights. Dumb. Not smart. Same thing.
Next, we're at Luann's photoshoot for her fashion line. "Creating clothing for women has been a dream of mine," she says in her confessional. How the Countess has expanded her brand in recent years is confusing to me. The old adage to "do one thing and do it well" is something she's apparently never heard before, as she's released music, books, an etiquette handbook and now a sportswear collection. It's not as if "fashion" comes to mind when you think of Luann de Lesseps the way it would with say, Kyle Richards or Heather Thomson. I'm hard on her week to week for her Navajo-chic outfits and gaudy statement necklaces, but let's face it: the Countess is not known for her sartorial choices. But ok, more power to her if a sportswear collection is something she wants to put her name on. I'm not letting my mom wear it. Apparently the Countess Collection is for sale on EVINE Live, the favorite distribution channel for Housewives coast to coast - just ask Heather Dubrow's Consult Beaute skincare line and Lisa Vanderpump's jewelry collection.
Luann's asked Kristen, the resident model of the group, to participate in the photoshoot, while Heather and Ramona come along for support. I'm obsessed with Heather's white coat, by the way. Bethenny walks in on a phone call, wearing a giant fur hat, just as the ladies' conversation turns to her apparent scheduling conflict with the upcoming trip to the Turks and Caicos. Apparently B has to leave early because of her daughter's recital, but Heather can't go if the dates are changed. As Heather brings up in her interview, the girls are constantly trying to work with and help Bethenny, but nothing they do seems to make her happy. Before heading into hair and makeup, Kristen asks Bethenny if the dates need to be changed, rather than continue the conversation through the grapevine. B says no, the dates don't need to be changed, just that she has to leave early so she's not away from her daughter for 21 days in a 31 day period, due to her visitation situation with her not-yet-ex-husband. The stress of the scheduling somehow brings on an emotional meltdown for Bethenny, as she retreats to a corner with Luann, hyperventilating and in tears. Ever the nurturer, Heather feels her hands are tied because of Bethenny's resistance to her and none of the other ladies try to comfort her. Ms. Yummie Tummie wisely points out that, while the ladies are all trying to rally around Bethenny during her struggles, they can't know what's going on if she doesn't communicate with them. Lots of pointing out things in talking heads this week. Once the photoshoot actually starts, Bethenny hits the nail on the head by saying that Luann looks like she's in a Stayfree maxi pad commerical, and I'm left wondering during the montage how exactly this collection qualifies as sportswear.
We see Sonja for the first time since cupcake decorating trying to pack for the upcoming vacation. Because as you know, packing can make or break the entire trip. While her stylist Cesar is going through her multiple broken bathing suits to find one that's wearable, Sonja admits that she's actually packing to compete with the likes of those "skinny bitches" Bethenny and Carole - the latter of whom will likely arrive in the Turks and Caicos topless in a g-string according to Lady Morgan.
A few nights later, Luann, Bethenny, Ramona and Dorinda are out on the town for a "broads dinner," stretch limousine included. While on the way to dinner in Queens, the four rehash how wild Sonja got the night before at Beautique, throwing herself at plenty of men who were not her boyfriend. Why were cameras not there to capture this GNO adventure? During the evening, Sonja was apparently all over Dorinda's boyfriend John, yet none of the women present told her to keep her hands to herself, and Sonja cancelled on the group dinner currently in progress. Noted: Sonja counts as one of the broads. The conversation about Lady Morgan's welfare continues over baskets of bread at the restaurant. Ramona admits that Sonja is in a "total party girl" phase, but that at other times seems to have it together. Luann counters that their friend is exhibiting very self-destructive behavior by masking her problems in alcohol. Bethenny chips in her two cents that Sonja gets away with murder, and that the ladies shouldn't be excusing her behavior just because she's going through a hard time. All four agree that they feel a degree of responsibility to take care of their friend, but Dorinda lays down the truth that everything comes down to Sonja making the decision to help herself. No one can do it for her. But maybe, Luann posits, the ladies can get a clearer handle on the situation when they go away to the Turks and Caicos. Seems like a perfect time for a girlfriend intervention to me. This will go well. The subject is promptly dropped when Ramonational doesn't want to talk about it anymore and Luann gets left all alone at the table as the other three hit the ladies room.
The next day, Bethenny and the GI Jane Ramonacoaster meet for pedicures at Bed of Nails, and the girl talk immediately turns to the issues brewing between Kristen and Bethenny. Ramona, ever the pot-stirrer, claims that Kristen seems to have a bone to pick with the Skinnygirl, and Bethenny tells her side of the story from AOA, saying that Kristen - whether she's bright or not - seemed ready to pounce that night. Interestingly, she doesn't provide any context to Ramona about what was upsetting Kristen, which Carole had explained at their earlier dinner. Instead, she claims Kristen has a "sour puss face" and that if the Pretty Girl is gunning for her, bring it on. But before we can ready ourselves for the next clash in their feud, Bethenny has to stop to explain the definition of a "hoe" to Ramontional. Toes before hoes all the way!
The final event of the episode is the pre-party for the launch of Luann's fashion line in a suite at the Warwick Hotel. Yes, I said pre-party - the real party won't happen until next week. As Dorinda says, going out with the RHONY ladies is something like a twelve-step process. Dorinda arrives in a Luann-sized statement necklace, Kristen in a peek-a-boo sweater dress, Heather in a fur shrug and, most randomly, Carson Kressley in ripped jeans circa 2006. Someone please tell me the biggest necessity of my high school wardrobe isn't making a comeback. Of course, the issue of Bethenny having to leave the upcoming trip early gets rehashed and the ladies discuss their confusion over Bethenny's fragile emotional state. Ramona arrives in royal blue just as the pre-party is wrapping up, and doesn't want to air kiss Kristen because her fuzzy dress might make her sick. Something like that? Right after that non sequitur, Ramona goes in for the attack. Standing over Kristen, she reprimands the model for getting on Bethenny's case at Luann's photoshoot and not being sensitive to what the Skinnygirl is going through. Is she serious? Ramona claims she's merely being protective of Bethenny but her tone of voice and mannerisms say otherwise. Kristen tries to explain why she cut to the chase, (she had to go into hair and makeup and wanted to be part of the discussion), but Ramona keeps cutting her off and goes on the offensive by saying Kristen wasn't welcoming and put B on the defensive. Then, she takes it a step too far, asking Kristen if she's "that dumb." Having been thrown at her twice in as many episodes, the "D" word proves to be a trigger for Kristen and sets her off. She doesn't know anything about what's going on with Ramona or Bethenny because no one tells her anything, she heatedly explains, so how can she be expected to know the details of their lives? And the "dumb" comments need to stop. After two seasons, Ramona of all people should know not to throw that word in Kristen's face. Heather tries to intervene, calling the Ramonacoaster out for doing the exact same thing to Kristen that she just accused her of doing to Bethenny, but Ramona doesn't see the correlation. Kristen storms out, letting Ramona know that - unlike her royal blue frenemy - she's leaving with her wine glass in hand and not directed at Ramona's face. Burn! Ramona asserts in her confessional that, as nice as Kristen is, she's not meshing with everyone in the group (a.k.a. the veterans) the way she wants to, and that leaves her on the outside looking in.
As I take a step back and consider where this issue in the group dynamic is heading, it all looks fairly simple to me. I broke down some of this last week, so bear with me if I repeat myself a bit. To put it simply, there's an imaginary divide between the veterans and the newer 'Wives. Yes, Bethenny was gone for three seasons, but she's clearly in the veteran camp with Sonja, Ramona and Luann. And even though she's newcomer this year, Dorinda gets an automatically reserved seat at the broads' table too, for being a longtime friend of the latter two. This leaves Carole, Heather and Kristen as, essentially, the second generation of New York Housewives. Even though it's her second season on the show, Kristen is still viewed as the new girl on the block by the more experienced women. Carole's in the perfect position of playing sides in both camps, having slowly been let into Bethenny's world on the sheer force of her charm and cool factor. Other than bonding with Cool Carole, who really is cool, Bethenny chooses to invest all of her time in the veterans, which you can see multiple times in this episode alone. And everyone wants to be friends and engage with the famous Skinnygirl. She's clashed with Heather over the differences in their standard operating procedures but simply has no interest in engaging with Kristen, who's a nice girl and feels left out for no reason. Bethenny's essentially running the show and Ramona's feeding into the clique mentality by continuing to make Kristen feel excluded and boxed out. I'm all about bringing back the vintage Housewives feel, but I also really love the newer girls and think they bring a vital energy to the show. They do operate differently than the vets and I like watching them - the real, genuine friendships between them in particular. But everything would be easier if Bethenny would just willingly meet Kristen and Heather halfway instead of so concretely putting her walls up. After all, she's getting paid to interact with all the women, and even not communicating sends a message. Now, it may not be quite black and white between the broads and the next generation as I'm making this analysis, but either way, it makes for a fascinating dynamic as all eight women voluntarily force themselves onto an island together for five days. With nowhere to hide, the 'Wives will be forced to confront the issues between them and I have a feeling that everything we've seen so far is merely the simmer before it all boils over.