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Real Housewives

Filtering by Tag: heather thomson

RHONY Ssn 8/Ep 13 - Steel Calzones

Glenn Rowley

bethenny-frankel-surgery

Everybody's got issues this week on The Real Housewives of New York City. While Jules feels targeted by some of the 'Wives over her eating disorder and Bethenny deals with the reality of her medical crisis, Ramona's efforts to play peacemaker between Luann and Carole don't go exactly as she planned. Read on for a full recap of all the drama...

jules-wainstein-eating-disorder

It's pizza night for the Big Apple 'Wives as they meet at farmhouse chic eatery Wild in the Meatpacking District. Jules Wainstein is still suffering on account of her vaginal injury, but she's braving the pain to make some pizzas with the girls. As the other ladies arrive, Jules tries to fill them in on her accident, but when she starts stumbling over her words, Bethenny Frankel points out that she "need[s] a verb" for the story to continue." After a quick debriefing on both Jules's and Bethenny's medical issues, the ladies put on their aprons and get busy rolling their dough. While her co-stars are all making regular pizzas, Jules takes her creation up a notch by concocting a calzone - preferably filled with Percocet and Lidocaine to deal with this uptight group of girls. The activity also prompts Carole Radziwill to bring up the newbie's eating disorder, and Jules explains that she never weighs herself, choosing not to focus on the number as part of her ongoing recovery. 

real-housewives-of-new-york-city-carole-radziwill

While Ramona Singer leaves the party early (with one of the restaurant's plates in hand) and Jules and Dorinda Medley go outside for a smoke break, Carole brings up the newbie's "food issues" with Bethenny back at the table. The pair opine that, while Jules presents her eating disorder as something that's in her past, it seems like she's more affected by it in her day-to-day life than she lets on. In fact, the newest 'Wife's subconscious issues with food become readily apparent when the women dig into her calzone to discover she's baked a stainless steel knife, fork and sauce cup inside. As the pizza party wraps up, the subject comes up yet again when Jules reveals she takes Adderall, prompting Carole to remark that she shouldn't be taking the medication because it makes you lose weight. Jules reassures Radzi that she's completely fine in her recovery - she goes to two different therapists twice a week - but for a party that was supposed to be all about fun and food, it's seems all anyone could talk about was the new girl's eating disorder.

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The next day, Carole meets up with a friendly face we haven't seen in a while: former Housewife Heather Thomson! Holla! As the pair go ice skating in Bryant Park with their significant others, I can't help but think about how much I have missed seeing Heather on my screen every Wednesday night this season. After taking off their skates and sending the men away, the two BFFs sit down for a serious catch-up over hot chocolate. Carole explains that the cookbook she's writing with her chef boyfriend Adam Kenworthy, and when Heather mentions that Bethenny's been telling her about Jules off-camera, Radzi brings up the incident from the pizza night. To Carole, it's apparent that Jules has plenty of food rituals and she opines that the newbie might have put the silverware in her calzone as a way to avoid actually eating it. Whatever the reason, it's raised a red flag among the other women and now Carole is worried about Jules and her eating disorder.

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Meanwhile, Dorinda drops by Jules's apartment in the Flatiron District for a visit. The newbie is still bothered by Carole commenting on her "food issues" the night before and reiterates that if anyone has questions about her eating disorder, they can simply ask instead of dancing around the topic. Jules is also insulted by Bethenny's constant jokes at her expense and feels that the OG is trying to make her seem stupid and ditzy. From the newbie's perspective, both veteran 'Wives are being borderline mean-girlish and she's decided to have her guard up around them from now on. Besides, Jules is going through enough in her personal life - what with her dad in the hospital, her nanny suddenly quitting and the injury to her vagina - to have to deal with drama from the other 'Wives. There's an undercurrent of tension in the Wainsteins' marriage, and Jules breaks down in tears to Dorinda as she explains that Michael just isn't stepping up to the plate to help her. It's gotten so bad that Jules admits she was actually relieved to be in the hospital after her accident because she could just take a minute without all the pressure on her. 

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While Dorinda helps Sonja Morgan declutter her basement Hoarders-style, Bethenny goes to a pre-op appointment for her fibroids issue, which are still causing a lot of bleeding. However, the appointment leaves Bethenny in tears as she tries to process the fact that the fibroids are going to require major surgery. With words like "living will" and "medical proxy" being thrown around, B is forced to confront the fact that she doesn't have any family to call in times of crisis. This reality leaves the Skinnygirl feeling more alone than ever as she considers what would happen to her five-year-old daughter Bryn if something were to happen to her. 

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Luann de Lesseps is still living in Lu-Lu Land and decides to throw a cocktail party at Hunt & Fish Club in the Theater District as an excuse to reconnect with the rest of the 'Wives. However, Ramona arrives at the party on a mission. Pulling Luann aside for a private chat, the Singer Stinger remarks that the Countess seems to be on the outs with both Bethenny and Carole. Luann points out that neither of her frenemies even bothered to RSVP for the cocktail party and declares that she's past the point of caring about either of them. Ramona tries to play peacemaker though, and simply wants Luann to make up with Carole once and for all. After sending an apologetic text in the Berkshires about calling Radzi a pedophile and extending an olive branch at her holiday party, Ramona points out that Luann seems to have stopped making any effort in a rather mixed metaphor about sports. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Ramona Singer?

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Ramona encourages Lu to reach out to Carole for some one-on-one time, whether it's a phone call or meeting up for coffee. However, the Countess announces that she's done apologizing for last season's drama and she "[doesn't] care what Carole RadziVILL thinks. Period." It appears the ship has sailed for Luann and Carole to ever really be friends again. Besides, the Countess is in love and doesn't have time for any more drama that will squash her bubble of love. In her annoyance, Luann suggests the ladies take a trip to Palm Beach to replace the cancelled vacation to Mexico, and it looks like neither Carole nor Bethenny are going to make the guest list for this one...

What did you think of this week's RHONY? Are Carole and Bethenny crossing the line about Jules's food issues? Were you happy to see Heather make a cameo? Do you love Ramona trying to play peacemaker as much as I do? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

Revisiting #BookGate: RHONY's Season 6 Literary Feud

Glenn Rowley

rhony-bookgate

The Real Housewives of New York City have given us an endless number of memorable fights and feuds over the years. From Jill Zarin and Bethenny Frankel's iconic falling out and Kelly Bensimon's descent into madness on Scary Island during the show's third season to the battle between the blondes and brunettes that dominated much of Season 4, there are certainly plenty of confrontations viewers won't be forgetting any time soon. Since RHONY's eighth season premieres this Wednesday, I figured it would be fun to look back on one of my absolute favorite showdowns in the history of the series: Season 6's literary war between Aviva Drescher and Carole Radziwill that became known in the course of Housewives history as #BookGate. So let's go back a couple chapters and reexamine the epic battle between RHONY's one-legged villain and cool voice of reason.

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Our story begins at the start of Season 6, where Aviva has been offered a book deal between seasons to write a memoir and share her story as an amputee, appropriately titled Leggy Blonde. Now, this is a pretty standard branding opportunity for a Housewife: thanks to her role on the show, said 'Wife gets the chance to further establish her personal brand and cash in on her newfound celebrity status by publishing some type of book. We've seen it time and again, from Teresa Guidice's cookbook empire and Melissa Gorga's controversial "bible for marriage" to Taylor Armstrong's story as an abuse survivor following the suicide of her husband Russell in 2011. Earlier this year, we even got a peek into Tre's year-long stint in federal prison, thanks to the publication of her tell-all memoir mere weeks after her release date. Aviva's book, in particular, would tell the story of her life - from the farming accident that took her leg as a child to joining RHONY as part of the controversial Season 5 reboot.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

While book deals have become a dime a dozen in the Bravo universe, one 'Wife's literary accomplishments stand well about the rest. Coming into the franchise with a journalism career lasting more than two decades, a New York Times bestselling memoir and multiple awards under her belt, RHONY's Carole Radziwill is the real deal when it comes to putting pen to paper. In fact, Cool Carole's career as a writer was so well-known that Aviva gushed over her new co-star's first memoir, What Remains, upon meeting her in the Season 5 premiere. So naturally, when Aviva locked down her book deal, she called upon Carole for some advice and help. However, Aviva's bizarre and aggressive behavior throughout Season 5 hadn't exactly endeared her to her cast mates, and she found herself on the outs with Carole and the other ladies as Season 6 began. 

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

At Heather Thomson's birthday party in the Season 6 premiere, Aviva asked Carole for help editing Leggy Blonde, but the #BookGate feud officially kicked off when the pair went to lunch in the following episode. The meal started awkwardly enough when Aviva pulled out a pair of glasses nearly identical to the pair Carole had been rocking the previous season. Vivs pulled a full-blown Single White Female! Yikes. Off-putting to say the least. As Carole said in her confessional, imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery. Actual flattery is. As Aviva launched into telling Carole about how she'd spent the last few months under a rock writing her memoir, the conversation quickly took a strange turn. While Aviva had been working on her memoir, Carole was in the final editing stages of her first novel, A Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating. Comparing their different writing processes, Carole explained that she insisted her editor consult her on any changes that were over two letters, and asked how Aviva actually put her story on paper - did she end up hiring a ghostwriter?

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Much to Carole's surprise, Aviva balked at the suggestion she would have her book ghostwritten, and likened it to writing a long email. Never mind that hiring a ghostwriter for a celebrity memoir is a standard best practice in the publishing world or that Aviva had no previous writing experience, apparently sitting down to write your life story for a major publisher is just a breeze. Clearly bothered by the ghostwriter suggestion, Aviva somewhat inexplicably decided to go on the attack, turning the question around and asking whether Carole had either of her books ghostwritten. Now, let's just stop right here. This question is absolutely nonsensical, considering Carole's 20+ writing career. In her pre-Housewives life, the woman worked for Peter Jennings documentary unit at ABC News and won three Emmys and a Peabody Award. When she joined the show in 2012, Carole was still writing a monthly column for Glamour magazine. The insinuation that she would hire a ghostwriter for her memoir is not only bizarre and insulting, it's flat-out wrong.

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Naturally, this ghostwriter gossip quickly circulated among the other 'Wives, as both women rehashed the awkward lunch with the group. Carole rightfully felt that Aviva was trying to call both her career and personal integrity into question, while Aviva claimed that Carole was simultaneously one-upping her and putting her down. Further, Aviva started spreading rumors to the rest of the group that her publishing house had passed on Carole's new novel, and that "the word on the street" was that her first memoir was actually ghostwritten by legendary editor Bill Whitworth. These inflammatory accusations turned out to be the main topic of conversation at Aviva's housewarming party, prompting an infuriated Carole to pull the hostess aside mid-event for an impromptu confrontation.

rhony-bookgate

The conversation started out rather calmly, with Carole explaining that there wasn't any element of competition between the two 'Wives - she was happy Aviva got a book deal, but asked her not compare her singular memoir with Carole's entire journalism and writing career. It's like apples to insulting oranges. Not even remotely the same thing. However, once Aviva brought up the accusation about Bill Whitworth, Cool Carole went from voice of reason to rightfully enraged, calling Aviva a liar who had no idea what she was talking about. Aviva continued to run with her story that Widow's Guide had been turned down by her publisher, but Carole incredulously pointed out that her book had been the subject of an intense bidding war between six different publishing houses, which had been covered extensively in the press. Check your facts, Vivs. The argument continued to escalate, eventually spilling out into the stairwell in front of the other guests as Carole called Aviva a "mean, nasty, insulting bi***" and a soulless "psychopath." Storming out of the party, Carole declared her friendship with Aviva officially over, saying the other woman was "completely out of touch with reality." Aviva, of course, continued to vent to some of the other 'Wives, insisting that it "takes a village" to write a book and Carole couldn't possibly have done it herself.

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From that point on, the feud only intensified as the other 'Wives took sides and declared themselves either Team Carole or Team Aviva. As Carole's resident BFF on the show, Heather obviously took up for her alongside newcomer Kristen Taekman, while Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan were more supportive of Aviva. When Countess Luann de Lesseps hosted a BBQ for all the ladies at her home in the Hamptons, Carole and Aviva went for round 2 of their argument and Heather's protective side came out in full force to back up her bestie. Accusing Aviva of attempting to assassinate Carole's character with her gossip and rumors, the Yummie founder clashed with both Vivs and "image consultant" Amanda Sanders, whom the blonde villain had brought as backup. Ultimately, Heather jumping into the fight resulted in her gangsta side rearing its head as she unleashed "don't tell me anything, motherf***er!" on Aviva in the midst of the chaos. Don't mess with the Holla! queen, people.

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At Kristen's beachside clambake to celebrate the Fourth of July, the two women attempted to bury the #BookGate hatchet once and for all. Carole couldn't understand what she had said at their first lunch that was so offensive that it sparked Aviva's relentless campaign to slander her entire life's work. In just two years, Aviva had gone from Carole's superfan to maligning the very career she had so vocally admired in when they met. It was something akin to emotional whiplash. However, in yet another bizarre about-face, Aviva came to the beach ready to sing Carole's praises, admitting that she had read A Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating. Having somehow managed to get her hands on a pre-release copy meant for the press and people in the publishing industry, Aviva pulled Carole's book from her bag and claimed to have loved every page. With an outlandish "job well done," Aviva called a ceasefire on the episodes-long feud and the Housewives eventually moved on to other drama.

carole-radziwill-season-6-reunion

While Carole spent the remainder of the season largely avoiding her frenemy, the #Bookgate drama was rehashed one final time during the Season 6 reunion. With Andy Cohen mediating, the two 'Wives simply couldn't see eye to eye. Despite maintaining that it "takes a village" to write a book, Aviva once again denied employing a ghostwriter for her memoir. (She also spouted off that Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird was supposedly ghostwritten by Truman Capote, but that's neither here nor there.) Carole justifiably pointed out that not all Housewives fights are created equal. This wasn't about ditching a trip or getting someone's blowout wet, this was Aviva attempting to discredit her entire life's work as a journalist and storyteller. Without any resolution in sight, Andy put a lid on the feud once and for all.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

To this day, Housewives fans have never gotten any definitive answers on who used a ghostwriter and who didn't. We may never know the full truth behind #BookGate. However, I think it's fairly safe to say that the evidence speaks for itself. Carole has an established, award-winning literary career, which she built over two decades as a journalist, author and now reality TV star. A Widow's Guide... was optioned as a TV show and she spent all of Season 7 working on her third book, which will be a collection of personal essays. In fact, her contract with her publisher even prevented her from blogging for Bravotv.com during the season. Aviva, on the other hand, was fired following Season 6 for refusing to take part in either of the cast's trips to the Berkshires and Montana and manufacturing the infamous leg throw at Le Circque during the season finale. I don't know about you, but in the epic battle for literary glory, I say Writer Girl comes out unequivocally on top.

Whose side were you on in the #BookGate drama? Do you miss Aviva's antics on the show? Comment below and don't forget to tune in to Season 8 of The Real Housewives of New York City, premiering Wednesday, April 6 only on Bravo!

No Place Like Housewives for the Holidays

Glenn Rowley

housewives-christmas

Give a ho-ho-ho for the Housewives! Since we're right in the midst of the holiday season, I decided for this week's feature to take a special look back on all the times the 'Wives have celebrated good tidings of great joy (and even greater drama) throughout the history of the franchise. So bust out your sleigh bells and sugar plum fairies because it's time to send Old Saint Andy back on his way through the Christmases of Housewives past...

RHONJ Season 3/Episode 8 - Holidazed and Confused

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The holiday season took up the bulk of the middle part of New Jersey's third season, with Christmas alone taking up four episodes. The first episode kicked off at the conclusion of Teresa and Melissa's very first tentative truce. To launch the busy holiday social calendar, Jacqueline Laurita was hosting a cocktail party and invited Melissa and Joe as a ceremonial olive branch on behalf of Teresa. There were still no Wakiles allowed on the guest list, but it was a tiny step of progress. Meanwhile, the Giudices' legal problems were just beginning and when Teresa went off in court at bit player Monica Chacon (Joe's ex-partner's lawyer's wife), the aftermath was far from pretty. As a note, this was also the first time we heard "On Display." 

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At the Lauritas' low-key cocktail party, most of the 'Wives managed to be in the same room together without any table-flipping or literal brawling. As Jacqueline began to point out, the Gorgas didn't seem so bad...maybe they could all actually have fun together! The party consisted of lots of bubbly drinks, sparkly dresses, courtroom reenactments and Joe dressing up in Jacqueline's sequined, spaghetti-strap jumpsuit. By the end of the night, Melissa was inviting everyone to HER Christmas party - hoping that everyone could keep the good times rolling without any of Teresa's eye-rolling. 

RHONJ Season 3/Episode 9 - Twas the Fight Before Christmas

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The next episode focused on the Gorgas' charity Christmas party for children with cancer. At the party, Kathy tried to extend an olive branch to Teresa (remember, the two hadn't spoken since Kathy's infamous "unattended" comment at the Posche Fashion Show), which was handedly shut down by Tre with a "Oh so now it's good to see me?" Melissa took Kathy's side as she retreated to lick her wounds, but almost immediately Melissa's brother-in-law decided to confront Joe Giudice about a sum of money he supposedly owed him, which had the hostess rushing to put out a second fire. Then, for the party's grand reveal, Teresa's nemesis Kim G. waltzed in with none of than...Monica Chacon! Desperate for camera time, much? Clearly the unofficial Friend of the Housewives came to the party looking to cause trouble, but the Housewives effectively circled the wagons, with Melissa and Joe eventually kicking the uninvited plaintiff in the Giudices' lawsuit out of the party and Jacqueline standing up to her neighbor on behalf of her then-BFF.

RHONJ Season 3/Episode 10 - There Arose Such a Clatter

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The impending fight between the 'Wives and Kim G. bled over into the next episode, with matriarch Caroline eventually joining the fray in an attempt to stop the nonsense. Accusing Kim G. of coming to the party with the intent to cause hurt, she laid down the law and actually kicked the troublemaker out of the party - in a home that wasn't even hers! Chris Manzo emerged in the end as the fight's primary collateral damage, considering that Kim G. was the mother of his best friend Johnny. However, once Mama Manzo starts laying down the law, there's basically no stopping her. For Christmas Eve, Teresa and Kathy throw dueling parties - leaving Melissa and Joe feeling caught in the middle. Traditionally, they always spent Christmas Eve at Teresa's, but with the entire Giudice family there, they weren't so keen on breaking bread so soon after the christening disaster. As yet another peace offering, Melissa makes sure to bring pignoli cookies to Teresa's rather than the Italian sprinkle cookies that got thrown in the trash the year before. However, Joe Giudice wasn't even close to being on his best behavior, trashing Melissa behind her back all night and calling her a "raccoon face witch."

RHONJ Season 3/Episode 11 - A Very Jersey Christmas

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In the end, the Gorgas decided to stay at Teresa's house for about an hour before heading to the Wakiles' for the rest of the night, where they could let their hair down and relax. This decision obviously caused drama with Teresa, who had set places for them at the table and everything! To Tre, taking her brother away from her on Christmas Eve made Kathy a bad cousin, and she wasn't about to forget it any time soon. Christmas morning, however, was a success all around as the 'Wives were gifted with gold Rolexes, Louis Vuitton luggage, a recording studio, a diamond ring at the spot where Albert proposed, a brand new laptop, a sparkly robe and...nothing from Ashley. Poor Jac. A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

RHONY Season 5/Episode 10 - You Want to What Me in the Where?

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Christmas arrived roughly halfway through the fifth season in NYC when the 'Wives came together for Luann's Life & Style party/coat drive for the homeless. Decked out in red, the ladies navigated through a number of battles and tiffs while getting in the Christmas spirit. Just a couple of episodes earlier, Luann and her boyfriend Jacques had played a mean-spirited prank on Ramona by setting her up with a blind taste test of her own Ramona Pinot Grigio. Mario had already stood up for his wife over a group dinner at Le Cirque, but when Ramona was the first to arrive, the Countess decided to raise the issue again. Insisting that the trick had been a ploy to showcase Ramona's wine rather than put her in an awkward situation, Luann attempted to downplay the incident and minimize the devious set-up that it was in reality. However, for once Ramona refused to take the bait and shut the conversation down by "taking the fifth."

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Next, the ladies and their men all congregated around a banquette where a sloshed Sonja took the opportunity to give an unsuspecting Jacques an ultimatum about his relationship with Luann: put a ring on it or get out while you can. Sonja claimed that her drunken tirade stemmed from a conversation she'd had earlier in the episode with Luann about her wanting to have a baby, but it seemed very clear that Lady Morgan was simply deflecting some deep-seated anguish over her own failed marriage. Let's face it, a drunken Sonja is never a Sonja with a sexy J. The Christmas festivities capped off with all the ladies stepping into the spotlight to sing a rather off-key yet fun rendition of "Jingle Bells." That is, once Aviva stopped freaking out over not knowing the lyrics. For the event, Luann had hired a punk band called The Stumblebum Brass Band, who proceeded to turn the song into their own rendition called "I Wanna F*** You in the A**!" Great use of your fifteen seconds of camera time, boys. It certainly landed you on the naughty list for the next year. 

RHONJ Season 6/Episode 2 - O Christmas Tre

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New Jersey's sixth season rang in both a major cast shake-up AND the holiday season. In the second episode, the 'Wives celebrated Christmas with varying degrees of success. While Amber Marchese had her family practicing emergency fire drills, fellow newbie Nicole Napolitano got a major Christmas fail from her boyfriend Bobby in the form of a high heel-shaped wine bottle holder from the local Colts Neck pharmacy. Meanwhile the Giudice/Gorga/Wakile/Pierri clan got together for a family gag gift exchange that quickly turned sour. While Rosie could laugh at the vibrator Joey Gorga gave her, Teresa wasn't so impressed with the dictionary Kathy purposely sent her way. Kathy claimed she brought the gift because the whole family had a "hard time with the English language," but Teresa felt insulted and singled out. Eventually, the dictionary came back to haunt Kathy when she asked Teresa to write a blurb for her cookbook, which the OG refused to do after the so-called insult. Points for the family at least trying to get in the holiday spirit, right? 

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Later on, Christmas took a somber and emotional turn in the Giudice home as Teresa and Juicy Joe exchanged gifts by the fireside and contemplated the possibility of both going to prison over their legal issues and having to wait years to spend Christmas together again. As Joe opened up about how difficult it would be to leave his wife and daughters, Teresa resolutely promised that, despite what people say, it wouldn't be their last Christmas together. And as we know from this year's Christmas festivities, she was right! Now it'll just be another four years before they do it again...

RHOC Season 9/Episode 4 - Pretty Ugly

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In Season 9 in Orange County, brand new Friend of the Housewives Danielle Gregorio invited Tamra and Heather, somewhat randomly, to an ugly sweater charity party. In fact, it was so random that the first time we learned of the event was actually in a flashback of Danielle dropping an invitation off at CUT Fitness...which we hadn't seen before. (Season 9's use of flashbacks was weird, you guys.) At the party, a decked out Tamra, Eddie, Heather and Terry met new Housewife Lizzie Rovsek, a former Miss Kentucky who had brains to match her beauty and a sexy AF husband. Despite her past as a pageant queen, Lizzie and her poinsettia'd sweater made a grand entrance by promptly falling in the foyer and spilling a drink all over the floor. It was a shockingly endearing introduction to all the wonderful things about Lizzie and I knew right away that I would love her. Not much actual charity may have occurred at the party (besides giving poor Danielle the majority of her camera time all season), but Terry and Heather managed to win the ugly sweater contest with their matching snowflake-bedazzled ensembles. (For those who were wondering, my Christmas wish this year is for Lizzie to come back as a full-time 'Wife next season. Make it happen Santa!)

RHOC Season 9/Episode 8 - Not So Silent Night

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Just a few episodes later, the holidays were in full swing when newbie Shannon Beador brought all the 'Wives together for her annual Christmas party. Plenty had happened in the interim including Chairgate at Javier's, Heather's hoedown-themed groundbreaking party, Vicki's trip to the forgotten state of Oklahoma and more. Needless to say, through more than one of the events above, the animosity and bad blood had quickly begun building between Heather and Shannon, and the latter's party was the perfect time for it to boil over. The drama first started when Heather was offered a guest co-hosting gig on Good Day L.A. and offered Tamra a segment on the show to promote CUT Fitness. For some reason Tamra took offense to this because prior to filming, the show had a rival fitness studio on when Heather was a guest host and Tammy Sue assumed that Fancy Pants had something to do with it. Yeah, I didn't quite follow it at first either. I mean, talking about shooting a gift horse in the mouth...

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Naturally, Tamra had a passive-aggressive conversation with Heather when she was surprised by the news, and then proceeded to gather Shannon, Lizzie and Danielle together to badmouth Heather behind her back. (Meanwhile, Heather was in the other room trying to console an upset Vicki about Briana's impending move to Oklahoma.) When Heather and Vicki joined the other women, Fancy Pants was rightfully blindsided when Lizzie tried to put all the cards on the table and force the conversation between her and Tamra. In what felt like a gang-up, Shannon sided with Tamra and blew up at Heather for "talking so condescending." In a fortuitous moment, Heather's cell phone rang with a call from a sick Nicky at home asking her and Terry to come home. There was debate over whether or not Heather faked the phone call, but she gracefully and furiously exited the party by telling Tamra "I don't even like you right now." #TeamHeatherForever

Sadly, we've never seen Christmas in Beverly Hills, Atlanta or Miami. Maybe this year? To all you readers out there, I hope your holiday was all things merry and bright! 

Heather Thomson: Ain't No Holla!-back Girl

Glenn Rowley

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

After three seasons of "Hey mama, what's cookin'?" and more than a few "Holla!"-s, Heather Thomson announced after the Season 7 reunion finished airing that she won't be returning for the next season of RHONY. Citing a desire to focus on her family and her business, she announced her departure in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight. In her statement, Heather said in part, "[m]y third year I kind of figured out where I was with the women. There was a beginning, middle and end for everything, and for me, that was the end. The opportunity, the experience - it was all amazing while it lasted. But again...the third time was the charm for me." For this week's feature, I'm looking back at the fashion designer's biggest and best moments in her three years as one of the Real Housewives of New York City.

Season 5

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Heather was introduced to viewers during Season 5, which was essentially a hard reset of the show. After a particularly dark and messy reunion following Season 4, Bravo fired Jill Zarin, Alex McCord, Kelly Bensimon and Cindy Barshop, replacing them with Heather and fellow newbies Carole Radziwill and Aviva Drescher. On paper, Heather sounded sort of like the second coming of Jill Zarin - a (converted) Jewish wife who also happened to have a successful shapewear line. However, with her trademark cheshire grin and a career based on empowering women, the Yummie Tummie designer couldn't have been further from the next Jill. From the get-go, Heather burst onto the scene with a no-nonsense attitude and a lot to say, which almost immediately managed to rub some of the OGs the wrong way. In her very first episode, Ramona accused her of interrupting conversations and not letting anyone else speak, while Luann bashed her in a confessional for talking about her father's passing a few days before filming started. At the same time, Heather found herself naturally bonding with fellow newbies Aviva and Carole, perhaps because they'd all been thrown in the deep end without knowing how to swim all at the same time. After being subjected to a verbal drive-by shooting at lunch wherein Luann regaled the newbies with a bizarre story about Ramona threatening to blackmail her over her children's behavior, Heather even made a pact with Carole and Aviva that they wouldn't become "mean girls" like their new co-stars.

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Just a few episodes into the revamped show, Heather hosted the first trip of the season by inviting the ladies to accompany her on a business trip to London for her Yummie Tummie shapewear brand. However, her issues with Ramona turned into an even wider rift when she chose to leave the OG off the invite list for the UK getaway. Finding herself on the outs, Ramona went on a warpath, first trying to get on Heather's good side to score an invitation and then lashing out at everything from the newbie's "fake" smile to her personality once she realized she definitely wouldn't be going to London. Many a green Housewife would've balked at her first taste of the Singer Stinger, but Heather stood her ground. In a hilarious confrontation following the trip, Heather essentially chased Ramona around the room at Aviva's anniversary party inside the Empire State Building trying to make peace, but the Ramonacoaster wasn't having it. Heather had officially gotten onto her bad side. The verbal combat between the two continued for much of the remainder of filming, with Ramona accusing Heather of talking behind her back and calling her a liar nearly every chance she got. In her recently released memoir and in subsequent interviews, Ramona has explained that her resentment stemmed from her assessment that Heather was disingenuous on camera. However, Heather came out of the feud looking like the far more rational and classy one after being subjected to Ramona's attacks. 

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For the bulk of the season, Heather also volunteered herself for perhaps the most unenviable job in the history of RHONY: helping Sonja put together a marketing campaign for her infamously nonexistent line of toaster ovens. Offering her marketing expertise, a full production crew and multiple concepts for the packaging visuals, Heather was sucked into Lady Morgan's tornado of delusion and it didn't end well. Heather put tons of energy and time into helping Sonja with branding advice, organizing a photoshoot and catering to her many demands, and in the end it was a road that led to nowhere. Viewers watched an entire season of putting a campaign together for a toaster oven that never got made. From the toaster oven experience, Heather learned one of the first rules of Housewives 101: never mix business with Housewife friends. 

On the season's cast trip to St. Barth's, Heather got tangled up in Luann's scandalous pirate debacle when the Countess knocked on her door at 3 a.m. with the Johnny Depp lookalike in tow. The next morning, Luann ran to Heather's room before the cameras went up, begging her to go along with the story that she had actually spent the night with some "old Italian friends" rather than the pirate. Heather promised she wouldn't say anything but refused to perpetuate Luann's lie, which snowballed into a bigger and bigger problem until she finally got busted. Heather's refusal to play into the charade was an example of her personal integrity and moral character on display for the world to see.

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At her first reunion, Heather found herself on the end of the newbie couch, explaining her use of the word "Holla!", sparring with Sonja over the toaster oven campaign from hell and sticking up for herself when Luann accused her of not defending her enough. She pointedly put the Countess' pirate drama on the table: they were on St. Barth's, cameras were everywhere, how could Luann not expect to get caught? Heather also dug in her heels about Sonja, saying that Lady Morgan "wouldn't know hard work if it bit [her] in the a**." By the end of the reunion, Heather was on generally good terms with most of her fellow cast mates, but true resolution was nowhere in sight.

Season 6

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The sixth season brought the addition of Heather's friend Kristen Taekman to the cast, and started with a bang as Carole and Aviva feuded over #BookGate. As Aviva spread rumors around New York City that Carole used a ghostwriter, attacking the validity of her decades-long career as a journalist and author, Heather jumped into the fray to defend her BFF. This led to many confrontations between her and the blonde villain, including the time she memorably threw out "don't tell me anything motherf****r" during a particularly heated exchange at Luann's BBQ in the Hamptons. Heather gansta side unleashed and the women discovered once and for all just how much street cred the former Bad Boy employee had behind her smile. You don't want to mess with her. BookGate also proved to be yet another example of perhaps her most defining quality: Heather Thomson will always stand up for what she believes is right.

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The season also documented more of Heather's family life, including the celebration of her 1oth anniversary with husband Jonathan - the party for which was boycotted by a few of her cast mates - and her heartache over her son Jax's medical issues. As a result of complications from birth, Jax had already received a liver transplant, suffered from severe food allergies and a chronic lung disease and was dealing with increased hearing loss that had the possibility he would need an invasive surgery to reverse. With so much out of her hands, it was heart-wrenching to watch Heather tear up in her interviews over her son's continued health challenges. On the Fourth of July, she broke down on the beach to Carole over wanting just one thing to work out for Jax and his health. 

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

In an attempt to escape the drama, Heather hosted the first cast trip of the season - inviting all the women (minus Aviva) to her second home in the Berkshires. However, the getaway proved to be anything but peaceful. Ramona was less than thrilled at the prospect of spending a weekend in the Berkshires; according to her, the only people who vacationed in the Berkshires were the ones who couldn't afford the Hamptons. Nothing was good enough for the OG - first she mistook Heather's house for the "garage," then she had air conditioning units delivered for the weekend and culminated her trip by throwing a glass at Kristen's face while out on the lake. While Heather tried to get the women to commune with nature, Ramona faked a meltdown during a hike through the woods and ended up bailing on the trip via private plane. Once back in NYC, Heather helped lead the charge to call out Ramotional for her insulting behavior.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Later in the season, the second cast trip to Montana gave Heather a chance to show off her athletic skills as she repelled down a mountain, herded cattle and hit the bullseye in tomahawk throwing. However, the Montana wilderness also ended up being a battleground for between Heather and Kristen when the model called the Holla! queen the dreaded B-word (bossy!) during a group geocaching outing, accusing her of needing to control everything from what the group did on vacation to her husband at home. This obviously didn't go over well with Heather, and led to fallout between the two friends for the remainder of the vacation. (Eventually, they talked it out and squashed the beef before heading back to the East Coast. What happens in Montana stays in Montana!) This fight on the frontier was perhaps the one time Heather didn't look great in an argument, getting tipsy and picking on Kristen for wanting to geocache. Chalk it up to cabin fever?

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Following the Montana trip, Heather had big moments in the next couple of episodes: taking the stage to sing "Bill Bailey" at an open mic night at Birdland and throwing her bestie Carole a Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil-themed party for her 50th birthday. However, the season finale was all about Aviva, who'd played the role of largely-absent villain throughout filming. She'd missed the trip to Montana due to what she proclaimed to be "moderate to severe asthma", a diagnosis Heather and the other women called B.S. on. Aviva planned to confront Heather and the ladies during the finale party for "Team Sonja" - throwing x-rays and medical records at them around the table as some sort of demented proof. When Heather stood up and called her "laughable", Aviva lost her temper and slammed her prosthetic leg down on the table and throwing it across the room at Heather. During the recent 100th episode special, Aviva admitted the leg throw was pre-meditated and Heather explained that, looking back, she considers it to be the series' most cringe-worthy moment for being so contrived on Aviva's part.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

At the Season 6 reunion, Heather was sandwiched between her besties Carole and Kristen on #TeamLeftCouch, rocking a '40s inspired Valentina Kova dress. Heather has a history of being one of the more logical 'Wives on the couches come reunion time, and this reunion was no exception as she once again squared off with Ramona over her beloved Berkshires, called Sonja's business acumen into question and took Aviva to task over her season-long litany of offenses. In the end, Heather said her biggest takeaway from the season was that "even through trials and tribulations, there's always growth and...a whole lot of laughter."

Season 7

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The just-completed seventh season was a new chapter for the New York 'Wives, as Bethenny Frankel returned to the show after leaving at the end of Season 3. Much of Heather's storyline during the season revolved around the clash of personalities between her and the Skinnygirl. Heather's love of deep chats and connecting didn't exactly vibe with Bethenny's walls and try as she might, it seemed that Heather could do nothing right where B was concerned. The two brand moguls sparred again and again throughout the season over everything from invites to Bethenny's birthday party (Heather was sticking up for an uninvited Kristen) and what to eat at new cast member Dorinda Medley's birthday dinner in the Berkshires to who was a bigger know-it-all on the cast trip to the Turks and Caicos. Eventually, Bethenny realized her walls needed to come down a bit and the pair were able to carve out a casual friendship by season's end.

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Heather's friendship with Luann wasn't quite so lucky. The first cracks in the friendship formed after Heather took Carole's side when her BFF started dating Luann's chef Adam. However, the cracks became fault lines during the cast trip to Turks and Caicos. On the trip Luann accused Heather of breaking the "girl code" and being "uncool" by bursting into the Countess' room when she found a naked man in the bedroom attached to hers and Carole's. Luann managed to hold the grudge against Heather for the entire season, milking the storyline for everything it could possibly be worth - iTunes single included. By season's end, the pair's once-strong friendship was in tatters, having been sacrificed by Luann for the sake of a storyline.

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Prior to filming of Season 7, Heather had struck up a friendship with new Housewife Dorinda Medley while they were both vacationing at their homes in the Berkshires. However, during the season, the newbie also had plenty of beef with the Yummie mogul, taking issue with what she saw as Heather's tendency to go from "teaching to preaching." Many times throughout the season, the newbie lost her temper with Heather for reasons never quite understood - including their memorable argument about using the f-word during the last dinner in the Turks and Caicos.

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One of Heather's greatest legacies from her three years on the show is without a doubt her friendship with Carole. The two met as newbie Housewives and over time became lifelong best friends. They supported, defended and backed each other up through thick and thin, often to criticism from other 'Wives. While on paper the two seem hugely different, Heather's outspoken nature turned out to be the perfect yin to Carole's more reserved, observant yang. The BFFs are a true testament to real friendship, which is often hard to find in the volatile, dramatic landscape of reality television, where others will gleefully sell your friendship down the river for more camera time. The thing I'll miss most about Heather leaving the show is not seeing her and Radzi together on my TV anymore. 

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Rumors of Heather's departure from the show began circulating before the season had even finished airing, as far back as the middle of July. At the time I didn't want to believe it, but looking back, the hints were there. Her Bravotv.com blogs got shorter and more succinct as the season wore on and she wasn't given a final interview soundbite during the season finale. Her "Where Are They Now" card was mysteriously vague and she even retired her trademark catchphrase in the opening moments of the Season 7 reunion. Casting shakeups are inevitable at the end of each season, but I'm really disappointed to see Heather leave the show, especially on such a quiet note. However, the three years we got with the Yummie Tummie founder were great ones, full of laughter, empowerment and authenticity. You'll be sorely missed on the show Heather, but I'm sure glad we got to watch and learn from you for as long as we did. Holla!

WWHL - RHONY 100th Episode Special

Glenn Rowley

Image Credit: Bravo

Image Credit: Bravo

After nearly eight years and seven seasons, the NY Housewives finally got their 100th episode special! This was something I actively stressed about when Bravo aired the special for RHOA reaching the same milestone but billed one of the Turks and Caicos episodes as RHONY's 100th. The RHONY special was formatted the same way as the Atlanta ladies' but was actually a half hour longer, which I was more than happy about. It turned out to be a fantastic and surprisingly emotional look back on the first 100 episodes in the Big Apple. 

In the Beginning

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The Real Housewives of New York City debuted on Bravo almost eight years ago on March 4, 2008. When it was in development, the show was originally titled Manhattan Moms, and Ramona actually found out about it through her doctor, Sharon Giese, whom we've seen multiple times on the show. Many of the other 'Wives were cast through OG Jill Zarin including Bethenny Frankel, Luann de Lesseps and Sonja Morgan. (Interestingly, Sonja was offered a spot on the show during Season 1, but turned it down, eventually joining two years later.) One of the most fascinating parts of these specials is getting to see clips from the women's original casting tapes and NYC didn't disappoint. The Season 1 casting took place in 2007 and was filled with memorable soundbite - from Alex and Simon calling themselves "label junkies" to Luann referring to herself as "five different women." (Sonja's narcissism was evident from the beginning as she told the camera that glamour was a well-used word in her vocabulary and her lifestyle was incomparable to many plebeians in the U.S.)

Unfortunately, two original Housewives are missing from the special. Bravo reached out to Jill, who apparently declined the invitation to be interviewed, while Alex and Simon moved to Australia last year which provided obvious logistical challenges. Jill did offer a short written statement in which she said she was "proud to be a founding member of such an exclusive group of talented women" - which certainly did nothing to carry on the rumors of bad blood between her and Bravo ever since her last one-on-one with Andy (where she secretly recorded the interview to 'protect' herself from bad editing). 

First Impressions

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The ladies first impressions of each other were as different as their personalities. Ramona thought Bethenny was a "tough a**" while B understandably thought all the women were cuckoo. The most polarizing cast members for viewers and Housewives alike that first season were obviously Alex and Simon. Ramona admits she wasn't welcoming to them because she resented their codependent relationship and found them "very awkward and strange." Bethenny didn't understand them - cut to her iconic line about Simon being in the midst of a deep homosexual panic, while Sonja says that Alex took her a while to understand, but that she loved her "bohemian ways and Brooklyn style." The Countess is by far the most diplomatic, saying that certain parts of Alex were very sophisticated, the couple's relationship was a special kind that seemed to work for them and she hopes they're happy in Australia. Love them or hate them, and I'm an unapologetic Alex fan, I've always thought Alex and Simon made for great TV. 

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The other Housewife who got quite a bit of backlash in the show's early days was Luann, whose haughty Countess persona didn't go over too well with some of the women. Luann refuses to make excuses for it, because she was simply used to a different life. However, Bethenny is quick to point out that Luann was very non-Countess-y in her off-camera life, but came on the show to let all the women know how aristocratic she was. One of the most ingratiating moments during Season 1 was when Luann corrected Bethenny for introducing her to a driver using her first name. It's, like, Mrs. de Lesseps, darling. Luann claims she wasn't used to being addressed by her first name; that's not the way they roll in Europe, but Bethenny thought she was just being a "pretentious bi***." Ugh, I'm with you B.

New 'Wives

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The first new cast member to join the show was Kelly Killoren Bensimon in Season 2. Jelly Bean Kelly tells Andy that she actually didn't watch the show before joining because she wanted the world to see the real her. She also surprisingly says that the first cast member she clicked with was Ramona, who was the only one to ask her about herself or her kids. The Ramonacoaster, however, sees it much differently - if the only thing you can talk about are kids, makeup and clothes, it's not going to be a deep connection. 

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Then there's Kelly's Season 2 clash with Bethenny. The model claims she didn't even notice the Skinnygirl until Bethenny made the infamous "Madonna" dig at the meeting for the charity event the Housewives were throwing together. The tiff ultimately led to the "I'm up here, you're down here" sit-down at the Brass Monkey, which Bethenny describes as watching this person in front of her saying something she had no idea would be hurtful to every put-down nerd who wasn't cool in Kelly's high school cafeteria. However, Kelly claims she was merely trying to say she was an adult who wouldn't put up with any of Bethenny's "childish" behavior. I don't think that's how it came across, Kells.

Much like Vicki in the OC, Ramona admits that she has a hard time when new cast members join the show. Surprisingly, out of all the women over the years, she had the hardest time connecting with Season 4 addition Cindy Barshop, whom she was friendly with off-camera but became her arch-enemy once she joined the show. And that, ladies and gents, is the first and last time Cindy will be mentioned during this special. As for the Season 5 shakeup, Ramona found Heather to be less than genuine while describing Carole as "quiet and surreal" and Aviva as a "fun, sophisticated Uptown chick."

The Season 5 Reboot & Beyond

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Interestingly, Andy was the one who personally cast Carole on the show after discovering she was a real-life princess at a dinner party thrown by Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos. I love that in her 2012 casting tape, Carole describes NYC as being her lover because the Big Apple has everything she could want in a lover: glamour and elegance mixed with a naughty, seedy side. Kristen may have the style aspect on lock, but Radzi is the living, breathing embodiment of a real-life Carrie Bradshaw. Heather actually got a cold call from producers at her desk at work. In her casting tape from 2011, she looks very serious and intense while talking about how tough you have to be to get to the top.

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I for one was surprised to learn that Aviva had originally auditioned for the show back in 2010, which would've been for either Season 3 or 4, but didn't get cast the first time around. (Also, her insensitive Sonja/Anna Nicole Smith comparison originally came from that casting tape as well.) It was actually Bethenny who got Aviva on the show by convincing Andy that a woman with one leg and an ex-husband who'd slept with two other Housewives would be a good fit. Beverly Hills lightning rod Brandi Glanville was responsible for getting her friend Kristen cast for Season 6, while Ramona tirelessly recruited Dorinda for Season 7. 

Jill vs. Bethenny

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Next, Andy asks which argument was most shocking in the history of the show and the collective answer is Jill and Bethenny's friendship-destroying feud during Season 3. Bethenny explains that the fight went deeper and wider than anyone could've expected, and points out that even Andy and the network were worried about its implications. However, the show went with what really happened. If it was scripted, fans would've gotten the happily ever after where the two became BFFs again. Bethenny explains that the turning point in their friendship occurred when she was asked to guest host the Today show, which at the time was the biggest deal in the world for a reality star. When she arrived at the studio, she was told by producers that Jill had called and angrily demanded to know why she hadn't been offered the gig, saying she would've been much better than Bethenny. Then, the show started filming Season 3 and Jill immediately went for the jugular, attacking Bethenny for not visiting her husband Bobby when he was in the hospital. 

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At this point, a lightbulb went on in Bethenny's head: this was "one cunning bi***." Jill had waited until cameras had started rolling to deliberately go after her and try to take her down. Bethenny posits that it was Jill's plan to get America to hate her, and it completely backfired in her face - Jill became the villain everyone hated and Bethenny came out on top in the feud. The Skinnygirl points out that it must be hard for Jill to know that she was the one responsible for getting Bethenny cast on the show and now B's become unequivocally the most successful Housewife in the history of the franchise. Jill could've been along for the ride, but as Bethenny says, pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered and that's just the way it goes. Andy asks if there was a chance for reconciliation between the two at the emotional Season 3 reunion, but Bethenny says she knew all of Jill's tears were just theatrics. Today, Bethenny doesn't hold any animosity (could the same be said for Jill?) but Jill still isn't someone she would want in her life. That chapter is officially closed. 

Aviva's Leg Throw

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The next topic of discussion is Aviva's infamous leg throw in the Season 6 finale. Carole says she wasn't surprised and sees the dramatic moment as Aviva's attempt to get the spotlight back on her after being absent for so much of the season. Radzi thinks she had been wanting to throw that leg for two whole seasons. Andy once again asks Aviva if she walked into the party planning to throw her prosthesis and she finally cops to the moment being contrived. Apparently, she even told a producer beforehand that she was thinking of doing it, depending on how she was received by the other women after their trip to Montana. Her cast mates don't see the leg throw in quite the same light as Aviva. Heather calls it the most cringeworthy moment of the series for being so obviously set up, while Luann remembers thinking at the time that it would be Aviva's swan song as a Housewife. If you take it that far, you're on your way out the door. After leaving the party, Aviva remembers wondering if she overdid it. Andy asks her as such, to which Aviva responds, "I think I made great TV. You're welcome."

Pirate Booty in St. Barth's

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The conversation then turns to cast vacations, and while the women are split on which was their favorite trip (Morocco! Montana! Turks and Caicos!), what really needs to be discussed is the Season 5 trip to St. Barth's, a.k.a. Slutty Island. Specifically Luann and the pirate. This horse has already been beaten to death but the story goes that Luann knocked on Heather's door at 3:30 in the morning with a Pirate of the Caribbean in tow. The next morning, the Countess raced back to Heather's room before the cameras got there, asking her to perpetuate this story about Luann being with her "Italian friends." Heather promised she wouldn't say anything, but if Luann wanted to lie, that was on her. Lie she did, and like any untruth, the story snowballed and ended up being carried on for way too long.

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One of the other 'Wives found out how Luann really got home that night from the driver and then invited the pirate to dinner the next night in an effort to throw her under the bus. It was then that she truly dug her own grave - getting busted on camera asking another friend in French to lie for her. In hindsight, Luann admits that she panicked, forgot she had a mic on and says the call was what really made her look guilty. Heather sees this as a "DUH!" moment. After all, Luann had been on the show for half a decade at this point. How do you forget you have a mic on? Heather also points out that French isn't that hard of a language to translate; maybe Swahili would've been better! Once she found out she'd been busted, Luann had to call her then-boyfriend Jacques off-camera to explain the story - a call she says was the pinnacle of embarrassment. When asked, Luann denies that the pirate incident was what led to the end of her relationship with Jacques the following season, but it certainly didn't help matters.

Scary Island

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Next under the microscope is Scary Island, the Season 3 trip to St. John's that to this day goes down as possibly the most infamous trip in Housewives history. Originally, the trip was supposed to serve as a kind of bachelorette party for Ramona before she renewed her vows, but got hijacked by Kelly having a jellybean-fueled, Al Sharpton-misquoting, complete emotional breakdown. Even now, Kelly maintains that she was a victim of "systematic bullying" on the trip and Luann agrees, saying that the other girls bullied the model until she snapped. The incident was so serious that Ramona even called Jill, asking her to come meet Kelly at the airport because something was seriously wrong. Ever paranoid, Jill thought it was some type of set up for the show, which prompted Bethenny - who wasn't even speaking to Jill at the time - to grab the phone and get the gravity of the situation through Jill's head. The next day, Kelly boarded a plane with a producer and the girls were all sure she would be checking into a psych ward somewhere. 

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Naturally, Kelly sees the whole situation differently. While the other 'Wives say she had a breakdown, Kelly says she was just crying. She also purports that the entire situation basically ruined her reputation. It's hard to come back from crazy - it doesn't exactly brand well. Once the episode aired, Kelly found that she was suddenly toxic. No one wanted to be associated with the crazy girl from the Real Housewives of New York. Bethenny thinks that Kelly is an extremely fragile, sensitive person who wasn't cut out for the rigors of reality television. From her perspective, Kelly couldn't take the heat in the kitchen and tried to excuse her behavior by claiming that the other women ruined her reputation. I think it's safe to say that we'll never fully understand what happened on that island.

Reunions

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After Ramona and Luann spend a segment mourning their respective divorces (don't ask me why Luann turned her chair around to cry...), it's time to talk about our favorite thing: reunions. Carole accurately describes the reunions as a "sh**show," with Andy asking a question and everyone trying to answer at once. Sonja hits the nail on the head by saying that reunions are the time when each Housewife wants to show all the other women up and get justification that the way everything happened during the season was the way SHE thought. For Carole, the toughest reunion moment was Season 6's BookGate, with Aviva's relentless, nasty attacks on her writing career. Heather claims the Season 5 reunion was her most memorable, while Dorinda says her first reunion experience during the just-completed Season 7 went better than she expected it to. Bethenny proclaims Ramona as the queen of the reunion - she was the first to walk off a reunion in Season 1 and the first to fall asleep in the middle of one six seasons later. Bethenny points out that the issue that caused Ramona to walk off in Season 1  - discussion of Alex's nude photos surfacing on the internet - seems like small change now that Housewives have broken into the White House, gone to jail and f***ed their friends' husbands. Ah, the rosy days when the biggest issue to deal with was a naked picture on the internet...

All About the Benjamins

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Bethenny credits RHONY with starting the "I am woman, hear me roar" movement of the Housewives franchise. More than any other city, the New York ladies have always been the most ambitious, driven and business-minded. Andy points out that the NY Housewives promotion is often times out of control. Never before had the franchise seen fights over branding and logo placement on a step-and-repeat. More than anyone, the show has documented Bethenny's meteoric rise in the business world. A few years ago, she was driving around Montauk in a shrink-wrapped Skinnygirl car and trying to give out muffin samples in the supermarket. What a difference seven years makes. Talking about the gift Bravo has given her, the Skinnygirl breaks down in tears, grateful she's been able to inspire so many viewers around the country to believe they can accomplish anything. That's what fans talk about when she meets them: not the fight she got in with Ramona last week, but how she inspires them and is a good role model for their daughters. There's no question that Bethenny has used the Housewives platform wisely. She went for her dreams and got them, and now she's rich, bi***.

Regrets

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Many of the 'Wives say they don't have a single moment they regret on camera. However, Carole's biggest regret is the comment she made in her Season 5 interview about Sonja and the pirate. She won't repeat it, but Andy reminds us that she said they went up the butt in St. Barth's. Thank you Andy. Sonja is glad to hear it from Carole, and says that she even got a three-page handwritten apology note from Writer Girl after it aired. Aviva claims her biggest regret was calling Ramona and Sonja "white trash" on Slutty Island, but mostly because it gave her her first taste of the fans' wrath on social media. Poor Aviva, people were soooo mean to her. On a side note, that trip to St. Barth's was just full of regrets, wasn't it? Ramona's biggest regret was her conversation with Bethenny on the Brooklyn Bridge during Season 3. She now recognizes that Bethenny was reaching out to her for help, but she reacted in a way that didn't embrace or help her cast mate. Crazy eyes now knows that when someone is asking you for help, it's not the time to kick them when they're down. It's a good lesson to learn, Ramona.

RHONY's Impact

To wrap the special up, Andy asks each of the women how they feel about the show reaching 100 episodes. Bethenny's proud to be part of something that is part of popular culture, while Ramona claims she knew the show would be a success, she just didn't realize it would go on for such a long time. Heather points out her gratitude at being part of the modern-day soap opera and Luann explains that the show works so well because it shows a "good group of very different women with different philosophies about life. Kristen thinks the show will be remembered for the genuine friendships and for having so many OGs seven seasons in, while Sonja posits that what they'll really go down for in the history books are their fighting words, depth and ability to get ahead. At the show's heart, the women really are a sisterhood, and several of them point that fact out. The show will be timeless because of those bonds and that camaraderie and because they really are all friends at the end of the day. As Ramona points out in the show's closing moments, even though they may go at each other's throats sometimes, the common thread is that the women all genuinely care about each other. To RHONY girl power!

RHONY Season 7 Wrap-Up

Glenn Rowley

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Season 7 of RHONY has come to an end. From the Battle of the Brunches and Atlantic City to girl code and the Turks and Caicos, it was a season full of drama, catfights and an unprecedented dose of girl power among the New York 'Wives. It truly was a season to remember, reigniting the franchise and catapulting RHONY back to the level of must-see TV. Below I break down what made the season so fantastic, what could change for Season 8 and where the season ranks in the history of RHONY.

WHY IT WORKED

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  • The perfect cast: In the beginning of the season, many questioned how well the cast would work with eight full-time Housewives, a previously unheard-of number. However, the decision just worked - there was a natural ebb and flow among the storylines, each woman had her moment in the spotlight and every Housewife was an integral part of the season's success. In addition, the mix of personalities this year was really great. The women clicked because of their similarities and clashed because of their differences, but no one was a toxic cloud on the proceedings like Aviva had been the previous year. Moral of the story: Trust Andy Cohen when he says eight Housewives will work.
  • The return of the B: No single moment in the Housewives franchise caused more hype this year than the return of Bethenny Frankel. Sure, she needed some time to get her sea legs back under her at the beginning of the season, and there were enough tears to warrant a Bethenny crying montage at the reunion, but her return delivered on its promise to put the spark back in the franchise. After three years away from Bravo, fans saw a completely new version of Bethenny, who arguably became the most successful Housewives alum of all time. However, also coming off the cancellation of her eponymous talk show and still in the midst of an ugly divorce from her ex, Bethenny came to the season with plenty of baggage to work through while inserting herself back into this group of ladies. Watching Bethenny navigate conflicts and put out fires with Heather and Kristen, newer 'Wives who had taken the reins in her absence, was endlessly entertaining to watch. Get off my jock!
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  • Personal storylines: Yes we had the fights and feuds we've come to love on the Housewives, but among the arguing, we watched the women go through very real and raw life experiences. Carole and Dorinda's widows' trip to London to retrieve the ashes of Carole's late husband was a powerful bonding moment for the two and one of the highlights of the season. We also watched a new and improved Ramona navigate through her separation from Mario and Bethenny confront her childhood by meeting her stepfather in Miami for the first time in decades. The long overdue conversation finally allowed the Skinnygirl to begin to find healing from her abusive, chaotic childhood.  
  • Girl power: Much has been made this season of the concept of girl code, mostly by Luann for obviously self-interested reasons, but the heart of the season was really all about girl power. As Bethenny pointed out at the reunion, this season felt different from the last time she was on the show because the drama wasn't dark, nasty or ugly. Yes, the women fought and argued over Adam the hot chef, being know-it-alls and the appropriate time to use the F-word, but at the end of the day they really, truly liked each other. This cast-wide camaraderie was something viewers had literally never seen before on any season of any city in the franchise, and it was honestly refreshing to see a group of Housewives who could all go out to dinner together after filming a contentious, dramatic reunion. Long live RHONY girl power!

WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE

  • Cast shake-ups: Every season, the rotating door of Housewives inevitably changes a bit, so as perfect as Season 7's cast was, it won't stay the same for Season 8. If I had it my way, I'd keep the cast the exact same - even with 23 episodes, the season still felt like it ended too soon. That's how much I like watching this group of women. However, Heather Thomson already announced this week that she won't be returning next year and there's a possibility that one or two 'Wives may be let go or demoted to Friend of status. 
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  • The problem with Lady Morgan: How do you solve a problem like Sonja? Amidst a close-to-perfect season, Sonja's smoke and mirrors show remained the one dark spot. Whether she was getting plastered in Atlantic City, having an angry meltdown in the Turks and Caicos or defending her "international fashion lifestyle brand" to the other ladies, Sonja's storyline remained frustrating. It just gets to a point where it's not entertaining to watch anymore, and I feel like that point is way past due. I don't want to read one more defensive blog about how the women don't believe in her or see one more scene where she is sloppily showing off her vagina in a state of intoxication. It's not a good look, and her delusions run so deep that I don't know what can be done at this point. Yes, the season ended on a high for Sonja - she managed to pull off her fashion show and finally dug herself out of the financial hole she'd been in since her introduction to the series. I think now is as good a time as any to put Sonja out to pasture: her story has had a beginning and a middle, and ended on a decently high note. Judging by the fact that she found herself on the end of the couch at the reunion, it makes sense to either demote her next year to a Friend of the Housewives or let her go completely. I honestly can't watch any more of the smoky eye, up-do, Gstaad circus.
  • Kristen in the spotlight: I would say Kristen Taekman had a good season. Her storyline this year focused on launching her nail polish line Pop of Color, her fashion blog Last Night's Look and also included her charity work with SmileTrain. However, her life since the show finished airing has been all shook up, and not in an Elvis way. Following the Ashley Madison hack, it was discovered that Kristen's husband Josh had an account on the social network designed for facilitating affairs and suddenly RHONY's resident pretty girl found herself in the middle of a headline-making scandal. While she hasn't directly addressed the news besides thanking her fans for their support on Twitter, Ramona and Sonja have both given statements to the press about the situation and reports have swirled in the media that Kristen will be asked back next year because of the scandal. If she comes back for Season 8, we should expect her marriage and the fallout from the Ashley Madison news to be a major part of her storyline.

SEASON RANKINGS

1. Season 7: I'm just going to say it. This was the best season RHONY has ever had. I may be biased because it just ended, but I honestly loved every minute of it. Perfect cast + perfect amounts of drama, laughter and human moments. Do you agree?

2. Season 3: The popularity of Season 3 is an undisputed fact among Housewives fans. The Jill vs. Bethenny feud ushered in a new era for the franchise in terms of narrative storytelling and remains one of the all-time high marks in Housewives history. Plus, Scary Island and Kelly's jellybean meltdown as well as Sonja's introduction to the show back when she was "classy not trashy."

3. Season 4: The loss of Bethenny was a blow, but the women kept the momentum going in the war between the blondes and the brunettes. Morocco, the march for marriage equality, Alex McCord's Herman Munster shoes - this season was full of great moments and memorable one-liners. However, the season also got too nasty for fans, prompting the network to fire half the cast after a particularly dark reunion. Ya habibi, baby!

4. Season 5: Season 5 was a hard reset for the show that introduced fans to Carole Radziwill, Heather Thomson and Avivia Drescher. With half the cast being replaced, it took a while for the women to gel, but Aviva's "white trash" meltdown on Slutty Island goes down as one of the most memorable Housewives vacation moments in history. Plus, this is the season that gave us Sonja's non-existent toaster oven and Luann's tryst with the pirate in St. Barths.

5. Season 2: In hindsight, the early seasons look quaint in comparison to what Housewives has become, but we did get Kelly's epic "I'm up here and you're down here" feud with Bethenny this season as well as better days in the friendship of Jill and Bethenny.

6. Season 6: I liked the sixth season when it was airing, but after some time away, it just doesn't stack up against many of the other seasons. Kristen was a great addition to the cast, but Aviva proved to be one of the least-effective villains in Housewives history by refusing to go on any of the season's trips and being cut out of the opening credits entirely in half a dozen episodes. Plus, the leg throw in the season finale was so over-hyped and felt too premeditated on Aviva's part to have any authentic impact. I did love BookGate, however. Note to self: don't mess with Writer Girl about her career. 

7. Season 1: The debut season is at the bottom of the pack solely because it feels like a prototype compared to all the subsequent seasons we've been given. However, there's definitely something about the original five 'Wives that brings back a flood of nostalgia for simpler times.