They started the year as pals, but over the course of Season 7, we've watched Luann's friendship with Heather and Carole turn into an all-out Housewives war. For this week's feature, I'm breaking down the Countess' vendetta against the BFFs and what I think are the real reasons behind it. From Adam the hot chef and the naked man in the Turks and Caicos to Luann's new song and her instantly-iconic "uncool" one-liner, there's a lot to cover, so let's jump in.
Before we get into the current season, we need to back up for a little context. During Season 6, Luann was demoted to Friend of the Housewives status. The party line from Bravo was that the Countess was living full-time in the Hamptons during filming, so the decision was made out of necessity. However, we learned in The Andy Cohen Diaries that Luann was none too pleased with the demotion and, being one of the original NY Housewives, understandably so. The official reasoning also didn't make a ton of sense considering that she actually appeared in almost every episode of the season, went on both cast trips to the Berkshires and Montana and received arguably more screen time than leg-throwing villain Aviva Drescher, who was actually cut out of the opening credits of multiple episodes in which she didn't appear at all. (The real reason behind the Countess' demotion may have been that she held out longer than any of her cast members in their standoff with Bravo to get a pay raise, but good luck getting confirmation of that.) Luann spent the season allied with Carole, Heather and newbie Kristen against Aviva's toxicity, Ramona's glass-throwing antics and Sonja's delusion. In particular, her longstanding relationship with Lady Morgan took hit after hit, leading her to question the status of their friendship. By reunion time, she was seated firmly at the end of #TeamLeftCouch and presented a united front with Heather, Radzi and Kristen.
Cue Season 7 and that solidarity seems to have gone to the dogs. In the first few episodes of the season, #TeamLeftCouch was seen lunching together, having sleepovers at Luann's new house in Sag Harbor and refusing to pick sides in the Battle of the Brunches. But the slumber party vibe came to a halt when Adam the hot chef entered the picture. While staying at Luann's house, Carole met Adam, who was working as a private chef for the de Lesseps and also happened to be the ex-boyfriend of Luann's niece. Sparks between the two were undeniable and soon Carole was testing the waters of a relationship with the sexy younger chef. I'm all for this relationship because Adam's hot, Carole's cool and quite frankly, she can date or not date or hang out with whomever she pleases.
Luann, on the other hand, did not see the situation the same way. Initially, Carole chose not to say anything about it because she didn't know exactly what was happening and didn't want to blow what could be a simple fling out of proportion. Naturally, when she found out, the Countess took this as Carole being secretive and hiding some sort of illicit, cougar-y affair with her niece's ex-boyfriend. Ultimately, the relationship turned out to be much more than a fling, seeing as Carole and Adam are still together as of this writing.) By the time things had progressed enough for Carole to feel that she should tell Luann, the unseen niece had already beaten her to the punch. I'll admit, as Carole did, not the best way for Luann to find out. Being a family friend, it could be a slightly strange position for Luann to be in. But you'd think the Countess would be happy her friend had found love with someone she knew was a good guy, right? Nope. All season long, Luann's attitude regarding the relationship has been nothing but negative, passive-aggressive and dramatically overblown. When Carole pulled her aside during Dorinda's cocktail party at World Bar to cop to the situation, Luann seemed - at worst - slightly irritated by the dalliance. She admitted to knowing the two liked each other and agreed that her niece had broken up with Adam long before sparks flew with Carole; her reaction was far from full-blown anger. In fact, when the conversation ended with Carole admitting that she wasn't sure where this new thing with Adam was going, Luann's last words were, repeatedly, "we'll figure it out." She may have been weirded out by the news, but all in all it didn't seem like that big of a deal.
Her interviews, however, told a different story, rewriting history to paint a deeply personal betrayal by Carole of the two's friendship. According to this updated edition of Class with the Countess, friends simply don't date friends' staff. Though she appeared calm on camera, even riding to Atlantic City with Carole separate from the other women, Luann had clearly come to the conclusion that Carole had crossed a line. And one should know...never cross the Countess. When the subject of Adam came up following the boxing match at B.B. King's, Luann hit below the belt by calling him "Sonja-young" - the ultimate low blow in the world of RHONY. Naturally, this jab didn't go over well with Carole, who then referred to Luann as a "hypocrite of epic proportions." How old was Tomas the pirate, exactly? The double standard is laughable. Since then, Luann has taken every opportunity throughout the season to sneak in a cutting remark about Adam and Carole - as recently as this week's episode during Kristen's charity event. While Carole has been busy living her life and being happy with her new romance, Luann has managed to milk the situation for everything it could possibly be worth. In the case of Adam the hot chef, I'm siding squarely with Carole.
The other puzzle piece in this feud, of course, is Ms. Yummie Tummie. For much of the season, Heather had steered clear of Luann's warpath, other than occasionally sticking up for her BFF Carole. After all, she had her own Bethenny-centric problems to deal with. However, Heather hinted at trouble during her first appearance of the season on WWHL, and things exploded between the two while in the Turks and Caicos. First, a drunken Countess went on the attack during dinner at the Gansevoort by bringing Heather's daughter Ella into the conversation about the f-word. Rightfully offended that both her parenting and upbringing were being criticized, Heather quickly advised Luann to "stop putting [her] judgments on everyone else." Oh, and by the way Countess, you say the f-word all the time.
However, any lingering resentment between the two turned into an all-out war when Heather woke the next morning to find a naked man in the room attached to hers. Of course, the entire controversy was actually Ramona's fault for having left the naked stranger upstairs in the first place, but the sleepy Singer Stinger punted the problem to Luann. An upset Heather and Carole went into the Countess' room demanding answer, and when she claimed not to have any, her involvement in the scandal could've ended there. Instead, Luann escalated the situation further by storming into the kitchen in a robe, sunglasses and a Yummie bra ready for a fight. Yes, Heather was overly emotional about the situation, and overreacted about all the hypotheticals that could've happened. Yet somehow, Luann managed to turn the situation around in her head by accusing Heather of being "uncool" about the wild night before and claiming the duo had violated her privacy by storming into her room unannounced. How dare they! In her confessional, she throws out the possibility of the upset women catching her hanging from the chandelier with a naked man on her back, which seems like very un-Countess-like behavior for nine o'clock in the morning.
The drama followed the women back to NYC and by the time the 'Wives came together for Kristen's decorating party, Luann had come to the conclusion that Heather and Carole must've wanted to catch her in a compromising position in the Turks and Caicos. Now, I may see a degree of validity to some of Luann's other points in this feud, but this one makes absolutely no sense to me. Where did she possibly get this idea from? Was it a producer? The unseen phone conversation with Dorinda that Heather claims got her so riled up? There has to be something we missed because the accusation is a total disconnect from what actually happened. Heather and Carole were trying to find answers to the naked man situation and came in asking Luann after being pointed her direction by Ramona. It certainly wasn't some underhanded plan to catch the Countess letting her freak flag fly. As Carole pointed out in her interview, there's nothing in the world she would want to see less. Over the years, many a Housewife has alleged to the Countess' wild side that she tries to keep hidden from the cameras - from Ramona's allegations of an open marriage with the Count and Alex McCord's recollection of a wild night of partying in Morocco that went unfilmed to the gossip from Sonja's facialist last season that Luann was a dominatrix in the bedroom. Additionally, Luann tried to pit the BFFs against each other by claiming that Carole tried apologizing for storming in behind Heather's back. Even with the Countess reiterating it during WWHL this week, this claim makes no sense either. After all, the cameras were up and filming so if Carole had snuck back into Luann's room to apologize, they would've caught it on tape.
Also, it should be noted that the first time the words "girl code" were uttered in the context of this fight was during one of Luann's confessionals. In yet another attempt to rewrite history, it seems that the Countess came up with some imaginary girl code in an effort to retroactively accuse Carole and Heather of being bad friends. Where is this girl code? Can you please define it? Did Luann go to the top of the Empire State Building to chisel it onto a pair of stone tablets? No, she decided to capitalize on it by writing a song. Is the bouncy followup to "Money Can't Buy You Class" and "Chic Cest La Vie" catchy? Yes. Was it at all necessary to escalate the feud further by asking viewers to buy it on iTunes? Definitely not. There's still more to come in this storyline, as Andy hinted that it's the biggest point of contention during the reunion and Carole backed that promise up by claiming on WWHL that the Countess lunged at her during the altercation. The War of the #GirlCode is far from over, but I'm firmly on the side of Carole and Heather.
Here's what I think is the real reason behind this entire #GirlCode vendetta: the Countess needed a storyline for Season 7 and the second she saw a possible opening for one, she took it and ran. See, Bravo doesn't make decisions about who's an official Housewife until the season's been either fully or mostly filmed, so though she was asked back it was entirely possible for Luann to remain a Friend of the Housewives this year. Desperate to get a golden apple back in her hand, she was willing to leverage and even sacrifice friendships to regain Housewife status and the salary bump that went with it. She found situations, first with Carole then with Heather, to blow out of proportion and turn into one of the focal points of this jam-packed season. The only way to ensure she got promoted to a main Housewife was by making herself as relevant as possible. We saw this at the beginning of the season with her estate sale, housewarming party and hosting as many of the women as possible in her Sag Harbor home. She made sure her Countess Collection photoshoot would be featured on the show by inviting basically the entire cast to come watch the pictures get taken. Carole and Heather were simply collateral damage in her quest for re-promotion, and sacrificing your friendship to secure a tagline in the opening credits is perhaps the ultimate example of breaking the real girl code. Holla!