The Real Housewives of New York City is back for Season 8! I could not be more excited. I love pretty much all of the Housewives shows, but out of all the cities in the franchise the RHONY ladies are my people. That being said, this season has a lot to live up to - I considered Season 7 to be a pretty perfect Housewives season and it's going to be hard to top it for me. In fact, I loved last year so much that it's what inspired me to start That Housewives Guy. This season, the dynamic is already bound to have changed, what with the departure of Heather Thomson and Kristen Taekman (RIP Holla!) and the introduction of newbie Jules Wainstein. So it's going to be different and my expectations are pretty high this year, but I feel confident my Empire State girls can exceed them.
We have a new intro! Well, partially. The first thing we notice is that there's new intro music, which seems a bit random. Andy Cohen tweeted that the new music is an attempt to freshen things up - and it clearly signals the start of a new chapter in NYC - but as of right now, I miss the old theme music. Get back to me in a few weeks though. We also have new taglines! However, for some inexplicable reason only Bethenny and Dorinda got updated looks for the opening, which I'm confused by. I need some answers, Bravo! Compared to years past, I'm a little let down by the new taglines...as a group they're not quite as memorable as previous seasons'. My vote for best tagline definitely goes to Dorinda for "Diamonds aren't a girl's best friend, martinis are!" because it is so her. Quick thoughts on the others: Bethenny's is obviously true, but gets points docked for being kind of a redux of Ramona's in Season 5. (In the same vein, Dorinda's echoes Camille Grammer's from Season 2 of RHOBH a little too closely as well. Dorinda still wins.) Carole's is easily the weakest of her four years on the show. C'mon princess, where's the quippy one-liner about your great a**? Sonja continues to defend her party girl antics and Jules' "a Jew and an Asian walked into a bar..." one-liner is amusing, if a little corny. Luann is still milking the Cool Countess thing for all it's worth, but wouldn't this have been more appropriate as her tagline last season? And Ramona finishes us off with a completely on-brand cliche about her love of pinot while reminding us how old she's getting. There you have it. Dorinda easily comes out on top, all while looking fabulously gangster in her beaded minidress.
The premiere kicks off with Dorinda Medley visiting Bethenny Frankel at her newly completed apartment. B gives her the grand tour, including her bedroom (which surprisingly isn't decorated in much Skinnygirl red) and gorgeous walk-in closet. Now that the summer is winding down, Dorinda wants to get some of the girls together for a boozy lunch. Bethenny informs her that Carole Radziwill won't be able to come because her boyfriend's parents will be in town, but Doris wants to invite her friend Jules and her incredibly short husband Michael to come. Dorinda warns Bethenny that Jules isn't like them - she's still hopeful and kind. Don't worry, the RHONY broads will knock that out of the new girl real quick.
Speaking of Radzi, she's deep in the honeymoon phase with Adam the hot chef. They've been together for nearly a year now, and have even adopted a puppy together, ironically named Baby. Via confessional, Carole explains that she's been in full-on nesting mode, and is super bummed that Adam's leaving on an extended trip to Ethiopia. However, it may be a wise move on his part considering that filming has started again. Last season's drama with Luann de Lesseps is still fresh in Carole's mind (Adam was working as Luann's family chef when they met and had previously dated her niece), and she isn't eager to put her boyfriend in the same room as her friend-turned-nemesis any time soon.
OG Ramona Singer is officially single and on the prowl. After spending the majority of last season attempting to move on after Mario's cheating scandal, she's finally filed the papers for divorce. Now, she's on a new path, dating men and loving her life. In the shock of the night, her daughter Avery is apparently 21 now and going out to bars with her mom. Wait, what?? I swear Avery was 18 like...two seasons ago. How is that possible? Either way, Ramona still can't remember the name of her daughter's friend, who apparently spent an entire weekend in the Hamptons with them over the summer. Classic Ramona. I will say, the Ramonacoaster looks genuinely happy and I am here for it, people!
Meanwhile, Luann and Sonja Morgan are each dealing with empty nest syndrome. Both Victoria and Noel have left for college, the Countess sold her place in the city and Sonja's daughter has gone off to boarding school, so the pair came up with a solution: bunking together! That's right, Luann will be crashing at Sonja's townhouse when she's in the city. As the two veterans debate eskimo teeth and blowjob techniques, I can't help but think my what a difference a year makes. At the start of Season 7, Lu didn't want anything to do with Lady Morgan and now they're playing a female version of The Odd Couple, or maybe it's just a younger Grey Gardens.
Ramona meets Bethenny at iconic New York eatery Sarabeth's for a gossipy chat about their dating lives and some of the other women. Bethenny relates a story of seeing Luann and Sonja at a birthday party over the summer and on a scale of one to hammered, they were at a 9 and a 20 respectively. Ramona explains that she has stopped going out with Sonja at night because she doesn't want people to get the idea that she has the same wild habits and hard-partying ways as Lady Morgan. It's just not a good look for anyone. Bethenny's also been spending plenty of time with Dorinda, and along with her comes her shady boyfriend John Mahdessian. B says she feels like Dorinda is constantly trying to sell John to her, to the point where a great deal of their conversations consist of boyfriend propaganda and half-truths. Obviously, this isn't how Bethenny operates, and she surmises that Dorinda feels self-conscious about the relationship because she knows what type of person John is. Ramona says she's trying to warm up to John for Dorinda's sake, even letting the couple stay with her in the Hamptons soon, but still doesn't feel comfortable around the man.
Next, we're properly introduced to newbie Jules and her family, which includes her venture capitalist husband Michael, five-year-old son Jagger, two-year-old daughter Rio and dog Zoe. The Wainsteins live in a spacious loft apartment in the Flatiron District and have been married for eight years, despite knowing each other since they were kids. Jules' parenting strategy apparently comes down to bribery and with her long flowing locks and statuesque figure, she represents a pretty stunning, yet down-to-earth, new class of Upper East Side Jewish mothers.
Dorinda and John are out on the town to celebrate their anniversary, but don't ask which one because apparently John celebrates this benchmark monthly. At Valbella Ristorante, Dorinda is a happy girl with her extra dirty martini with olives, but not quite so jazzed about John wanting to be so constantly touchy-feely in public (read: in front of the cameras). The couple have reached a point of transition in their relationship. With Dorinda's daughter Hannah finally moving out on her own, John may or may not be moving into her Upper East Side pad sometime soon. Though, I just have to get this out of the way. With his constant fawning, positive affirmations and need for attention, is anyone else getting a little bit of a vibe that John could become New York's version of Brooks Ayers?
Bethenny's also in a time of transition with her Skinnygirl empire, and has moved into a hip office downtown with an elevator that smells overwhelmingly of pot. Popping into the office, B gives her small army of employees a quick pep talk. It's a new world where the Kardashians have becomes the Kennedys and in order to compete, she has to get creative. Bethenny's committed to doing disruptive things if it means getting Skinnygirl to another level, and gives her employees free reign to be innovative as long as the job gets done. In her confessional, Bethenny explains that she's still in the midst of the divorce that never ends with ex-husband Jason Hoppy, and is juggling the bills for three different properties: her new apartment, her office space and her old apartment in Tribeca where her ex is still living. It seems outrageously unfair that her ex is sitting pretty in the apartment that used to be hers - all while she foots the bill - but until the divorce is final, Bethenny doesn't have any choice but to make it work.
Next, Ramona and Carole meet at Mon Petit Cafe for some lunch and catch-up girl talk. The two 'Wives couldn't be at more different places in life - Ramona is out on the town every night with friends and dates and gentlemen callers, while Carole is in full nesting mode at home with Adam. Naturally, Ramona is talking a mile a minute, regaling Carole with stories of late-night parties, trips to the Hamptons and reg-GAY bands, and Writer Girl has to hit the pause button to teacher how to properly pronounce the word "reggae." For all her endearing malapropisms, Ramona seems genuinely sunny these days and there's no way anyone is going to get her to "talk less, smile more" just to impress a man.
Finally, the weekend arrives and Bethenny and Dorinda converge on Catch for their boozy lunch. Naturally, John is attached to Dorinda's hip and B's brought along a date as well, conveniently also named Jon. Jules and Michael arrive and Dorinda makes introductions between her two sets of friends. Right off the bat, we learn two very important facts about Jules' identity: she's really Jewish, like kosher-level, and she's half-Japanese. Dorinda vouches for how fabulous and fun Jules is, but Bethenny remarks that the new 'Wife's tiny frame and long locks eerily remind her of her estranged mother. Bethenny also opines that Jules appears to be more than just Naturally Thin - skinny enough that there could be a problem here. Strange first impression, right? So far, I think Jules seems lovely and I'm looking forward to seeing what she brings to the table this season. And just like that, the season premiere ends with the promise of more much drama coming quickly down the pipeline.
What did you think of the season premiere? Are you excited RHONY is back? How well do you think Jules will fit into the group? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and click the "Share" button to post this recap on social media...