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Real Housewives

RHONY Ssn 8/Ep 5 - Birthday Bashing

Glenn Rowley

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This week on The Real Housewives of New York City, it's one OG's annual birthday celebration while the rookie of the group opens up about a shocking personal secret from her past. Read on to find out what the newest Housewife on the block revealed while trying to bond with Bethenny Frankel...

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While Bethenny packs for a trip with her five-year-old daughter Bryn, Carole Radziwill meets Dorinda Medley at Tasca Chino for tapas. As Carole sits down, she asks Dorinda if they can get catty for a moment. (Hello, of course you can, this is Housewives!) Radzi jokes that she didn't quite understand Jules Wainstein's house in the Hamptons - the newbie said it had been under renovation for years, but there was no equipment or construction tools to be seen. More importantly though, the brunch Jules held for everyone was full of nothing but tension and awkwardness. Jules arrives late to the meal and Carole immediately brings up the brunch and apologizes for her mean girlish behavior. However, Jules quickly brushes off Carole's behavior, choosing instead to pin the disastrous morning on Bethenny. After just a select few interactions with her, Jules hasn't come away with a positive impression of the Skinnygirl, and proceeds to air her multitude of grievances to Carole and Dorinda. Carole promises that Bethenny is better once you get to know her, but for now the newbie's not buying it. However, she's willing to give B a second chance to make a good first impression and decides to invite her to lunch one-on-one later in the week. 

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Meanwhile, Ramona Singer drops by Sonja Morgan's townhouse on the Upper East Side with big news: her divorce from Mario is final and she has the papers to prove it. Regardless of how much she and Sonja butcher the word "solemnize," her marriage to Mario is officially over. However, Ramona has more on her mind than just her newly-christened single status. When Sonja makes the excuse that she missed Bethenny's birthday BBQ in the Hamptons because she was away with her daughter, Ramona corrects her by informing her that she simply wasn't invited. Ouch. According to Ramona, Bethenny didn't want Sonja at the party because she's embarrassed by how drunk she gets and didn't want Lady Morgan causing a scene.

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All of a sudden, Ramona is staging an impromptu intervention for her bestie, explaining that she's tried to distance herself from Sonja lately because her drinking has gotten so out of hand. Sonja, however, is having none of this talk, and hilariously thanks Ramona for "sharing" her feelings. Lady Morgan then deftly changes the subject by filling Ramotional in on Luann de Lesseps' housing situation - or lack thereof. Apparently Sonja has agreed to let the Countess move in with her on a sort of trial run to see how it goes. Ramona thinks this is a terrible idea and opines that Luann will be a terrible influence on the Frack to her Frick. Keeping up with the Countess's hard-partying ways is the last thing Sonja needs.

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A few days later, Jules and Bethenny finally meet one-on-one for lunch. Bethenny goes into the meal knowing she needs to apologize for the brunch in the Hamptons, and cops to feeling uncomfortable because of the lingering tension with Dorinda's boyfriend John Mahdessian. Now, I'm not sure if Jules is just nervous about the meeting or intimidated by Bethenny but the newbie stumbles over her words and struggles to even form a sentence as she tries to tell Bethenny how offended she was by the Skinnygirl's comments about her home. In fact, it reaches a point where Bethenny is essentially helping the rookie construct her own argument against her - in the case of Frankel v. Wainstein, Bethenny turns into the lead prosecutor!

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As the two 'Wives finally begin to bond, Jules opens up about the fact that she never graduated from college despite going for seven years. Naturally, Bethenny asks why and the rookie reveals that throughout her teens and early twenties, she struggled with an eating disorder. Jules fight with the disease was so bad that she eventually reached a meager eighty pounds and questioned whether she would ever be able to have children because of it. It's true that you're never cured from an eating disorder, but 13 years later she's happy and at a healthy weight. The newbie confides in Bethenny that she's very open about the eating disorder because it helps keep her accountable and not fall back into old behaviors. Having watched her estranged mother battle an eating disorder for most of her life, this topic is right in Bethenny's wheelhouse and she tearfully empathizes with Jules while applauding her bravery for opening up about her struggle. These two got off to a rocky start, but it finally feels like they've bonded over something real, deep and genuine in their lives. 

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The next day, Carole and Bethenny join Ramona for lunch at her apartment while Jules meets Dorinda for pedicures on the Upper East Side. Naturally, the topic of conversation in both groups is a rehash of the aforementioned lunch. Both Jules and Bethenny feel much better about developing a relationship with one another and came out of the meal with a newfound mutual respect. Jules alludes to the fact that she was very forthright and honest in their conversation, but Bethenny doesn't say a word about the eating disorder - explaining in her confessional that it's absolutely not her secret to tell. Ramona's also anxious to discuss her upcoming birthday lunch - the storied, annual event that shuts down a restaurant on the Upper East Side and brings together her 60 closest girlfriends. The OG wonders if Carole will be OK with seeing Luann there since it's such a large group, and Radzi insists she will be more than fine. Bethenny, on the other hand, isn't quite as sure where she stands with the Countess. It turns out that when she hosted Kyle Richards and the rest of the RHOBH ladies at her house in the Hamptons over the summer, Luann badgered her endlessly to get an invite to the dinner party and accused her of being "uncool" when she explained that it wasn't her party to invite people to. While the two OGs bonded upon Bethenny's return to the series last year, the Countess has slipped back into her old slithery ways and B wants to keep her at a safe distance. 

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At last, Ramona's yearly birthday luncheon is upon us and, much to her chagrin, many of the 'Wives show up in varying shades of her signature Ramona Red. As Ramotional's off-camera girlfriends fawn over her eight-month-old haircut, Bethenny makes the hilarious observation that it appears these Upper East Side ladies who lunch seem to have put themselves on ice for the last year. They literally look exactly the same as they did at Ramona's birthday lunch last season! Luann arrives bearing two separate gifts - one for the actual birthday girl and one for Bethenny, since her present apparently wasn't ready on the day of her party. This is less-than-ideal gifting etiquette to begin with (especially for a birthday diva like Ramona), but the situation gets worse when the two 'Wives open their gifts next to each other. The Countess decided to get Bethenny a monogrammed Carlos Falchi purse while regifting Ramona a necklace from her Countess Collection that she had to get fixed. I wonder what Class with the Countess has to say about this birthday faux pas...

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Pulling her aside, Luann tells Bethenny in her most heartfelt voice that she wanted to give her the handbag as a way of telling her how much she loves her and considers her family. Bethenny, however, is somewhat perplexed by the gift and points out that Luann has given her incredibly mixed signals as of late. One minute she's chewing the Skinnygirl out over text for not including her in filming with the RHOBH women and the next she's buttering her up with an expensive purse at another 'Wife's birthday party. Bethenny then pointedly accuses the Countess of constantly failing to own her behavior - in her on-camera life or otherwise. Luann seems blindsided by Bethenny's issues with her and argues that her fellow OG has had over four months to bring them up with her. Further, when it came to Kyle and the other Beverly Hills 'Wives coming to the Hamptons, Luann explains that she merely wanted to be included. After all, with her younger son Noel off to college, she's officially become an empty and it gets lonely. Even now, she doesn't have an apartment in the city and is living out of a suitcase. Eventually the pair manage to hug it out, but it seems that Bethenny isn't quite ready to buy into a renewed friendship with the Countess, engraved Carlos Falchi bag included.

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As the gaggle of women sit down for lunch, Sonja and Luann corner Dorinda for the details on her life. Remember how they haven't been involved with any of the season's drama yet? Dorinda briefly gives them the rundown on the drama between the other 'Wives and John, and throws out that her costars must be putting her boyfriend through the ringer because they're just jealous that she's in a happy, committed relationship. Hmm...based on Ramona and Bethenny's reactions to this comment, I'm not sure that assertion holds much water. Dorinda stands to address the roomful of Ramona's closest girlfriends and gives a heartfelt toast to the birthday girl that's chock full of subliminal messaging. As Ramona happily looks on, Dorinda toasts to friendships with women who support and uplift each other, and are there no matter what. Dorinda has made it clear in her confessionals and other scenes that her 20+ year friendship with Ramona has permanently changed because of the drama with John at the lingerie party. Maybe now the OG will get the message? Either way, cheers to the ladies who lunch!

What did you think of this week's episode? How does Jules's eating disorder revelation change your perception of her? Does the Countess need to take a page from her own book when it comes to gifting etiquette? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!