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Real Housewives

Filtering by Tag: luann de lesseps

RHONY Ssn 8/Ep 18 - Body of Evidence

Glenn Rowley

rhony-season-8

This week, The Real Housewives of New York City hit Palm Beach to celebrate the Luann's just-announced engagement. But will being stuck on a yacht force her fiancee to acknowledge his past with both Ramona and Sonja? Plus, Bethenny comes face to face with the Countess for the first time since receiving damning evidence that the happy couple aren't quite what they seem to be. Read on for a full recap of the drama aboard the ship of fools...

luann-engaged

The episode kicks off with Luann de Lesseps and Tom D'Agostino's Palm Beach engagement party in full swing. All the 'Wives are aboard the Countess' borrowed yacht with a bevy of eclectic characters including former Miami Housewife Marysol Patton and the elite classes of southern Florida. While everyone's ostensibly in attendance to celebrate Lu finding her "soulmate," but the real point of interest on the boat is the fact that this is the first time either Ramona Singer or Sonja Morgan have been in the same room with Tom since he started dating the Countess. Considering his romantic past with Ramona and his storied decade of friendship with benefits with Lady Morgan, this engagement party could be quite the trainwreck waiting to happen.

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Poor Sonja is in the most awkward position of all, since the second she enters the party she catches Tom eyeballing her from across the room. However, the Bravo gods hilariously choose this moment to remind us that this isn't the first time we've seen Luann's fiancee on our screens. It turns out he first graced the RHONY universe with his presence way back in the early days of Season 1, when he hit on Ramona and her friends during a girls' night out. And the very best part is that we have the archival footage to prove it. Say what you will about Luann choosing to date someone who had a past with not one, but two of her fellow Housewives, but it seems pretty clear that Tom's had his sights set on bagging anyone in front of Bravo's cameras since at least 2008. Hmm...

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As the night wears on, the party gets crazier and crazier - with Ramona hitting the dance floor to show off her new moves and Jules Wainstein getting behind the bar to serve up some shots to the drunken revelers. The high point (or low point, depending on who you ask) is definitely when a wasted Dorinda Medley decides to give a completely unintelligible toast to the happy couple in her signature drunk language, lovingly christened "Dorindaese" by the other women. All in all, the party only has a handful of awkward moments, with Tom spending the majority of his time managing to avoid both Ramona and Sonja, while surrounded by a veritable harem of other handsy ladies. It's weird, folks. Just plain weird.

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Early the next morning, the 'Wives are all recovering from the previous night's festivities. While Jules rightly takes her husband Michael to task for dumping their kids with his parents while she's away, Dorinda and Ramona converge on Carole Radziwill's room for an old-fashioned gossip session. Dorinda's still unclear on the exact timeline of Tom's various relationships with Sonja, Ramona and Luann, and as the Singer Stinger lays out the story it becomes increasingly clear that the lothario did some major overlapping in the Housewives department. While he was going on dates with Ramona (and writing "TD+RS" in a giant heart on her hand), he never mentioned he'd been sleeping with her BFF off and on over the course of ten years. I mean, it's kind of public knowledge that Ramona and Sonja operate as a pair. Knowingly getting involved with both at the same time just feels icky and adds a whole new connotation to the nickname Ramonja.

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Of course, when Dorinda heads up to the deck for breakfast, she lets slip to Luann that the girls are talking about Tom. Now the Countess is furious and barges below deck to confront Ramona for trying once again to rain on her love parade. In a case of near-perfect timing, Ramona actually happens to be comforting a down in the dumps Sonja, who's finally allowing herself to feel the sadness of losing her erstwhile lover to her former houseguest. Barreling into the room, Luann goes on the attack, accusing both Ramona and Sonja of being obsessed with her fiancee and questioning why they can't seem to find their own men to talk about. If Singer can't put her stinger away for the rest of the trip, Luann threatens to throw her fellow OG overboard off the side of the yacht. Fired up, Ramona shoots back that the Countess is the one who actually needs to keep her mouth shut, finally confronting Lu about dragging both her and Sonja's names into the press in connection to Tom. And to make matters worse, the reporter mixed up the facts and named Ramona as Tom's friend with benefits. Thanks a damn lot, Luann!

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Finally, it's time for the ladies to say goodbye to the borrowed yacht and leave Palm Beach. Heading to Miami, they check into the Mandarin Oriental and meet up with Bethenny Frankel, who's been MIA from the craziness thus far. B, however, has had her own a-TOM-ic bomb of drama to deal with, since evidence of Tom making out with another woman at the Regency has magically fallen into her lap. Of course, the very first person who enters her room to say hello is Luann herself and Bethenny doesn't know what to do with the damning information on her phone. Testing the waters, she decides to subtly question Lu about her relationship with Tom - is she really sure he's the one? Is she moving too fast? Are they monogamous? The Countess balks at this last inquiry, insisting that of course she and Tom are monogamously committed to each other. After all, they just got engaged less than two weeks ago!

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Luann leaves Bethenny's room frazzled and suspicious - the Skinnygirl isn't being nasty or mean, but the prying sets Lu's radar off that something is definitely up. Once she retreats back into her bubble of blinded love, Bethenny gathers Carole and Ramona for an emergency summit meeting. Unable to tell Lu, she spills the secret to her two closest allies, revealing that Tom apparently cheated on Luann just a few nights before at the Regency. At first, Ramona refuses to believe such a salacious tidbit of gossip, but when Bethenny drops the bomb that she has pictures of the alleged incident, it seems undeniable. With the women in varying states of shock, guilt and complete ignorance, the episode abruptly ends with an ominous reminder that the drama is "To Be Continued" next week...

What did you think of this week's RHONY? Is Luann delusional about her future with Tom? How should Bethenny handle the cheating situation? How much would you have paid to be a fly on the wall at that engagement party? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

RHONY Ssn 8/Ep 17 - And Away We Finally Go

Glenn Rowley

ramona-singer-real-housewives-of-new-york-city

This week on The Real Housewives of New York City, the women head to Palm Beach, Florida to celebrate Luann's engagement on a glamorous yacht. But when Bethenny finds herself with incriminating information about Tom, it looks like there could be trouble in paradise for the Countess' fairytale ending. Read on for a full recap of the drama...

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Dorinda Medley has an announcement to make. After a season of unexpected health problems and cancelled trips, the 'Wives are finally going somewhere on vacation. Since Bethenny Frankel's started bleeding again (as a complication of her fibroids), the trip proposed last week to Hawaii is now out of the question. According to Dorinda, the next best place she can take the ladies is Miami, which she informs Luann de Lesseps, Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan over lunch at Ristorante Morini. Of course, the Countess is over the moon at this news - considering that she's been spending much of the winter at her fianceé Tom D'Agostino Jr.'s place in Palm Beach. Ramona, on the other hand, considers a trip to Miami to be about as exciting as brushing her teeth in the morning. But either way, Miami here we come! 

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To prep for the girls trip, Jules Wainstein invites Ramonja to come shoe shopping with her at Jeffrey New York. While the newbie hunts for the perfect pair of Asian-inspired daytime shoes, Ramona has a bone to pick with Luann and needs to get it off her chest. Apparently the Countess took the bait in a press interview at a fashion show and dragged both Ramona and Sonja's names into the story by giving a quote about how much she "doesn't care" that her fiancé was romantically connected to her fellow 'Wives before proposing to her. And on top of that, the reporter got the quote wrong - writing that Ramona was Tom's "friend with benefits" instead of Sonja. Oops. Now Ramona's officially ticked off, particularly considering that Luann basically tried placing a gag order on all the other 'Wives in regards to talking about her relationship in the press. Seems like a double standard to an awfully annoyed Ramonacoaster. 

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Meanwhile, Bethenny's invited some of the 'Wives over to discuss logistics for the trip to Miami while munching on macarons and tea sandwiches. (Oh and it's also official: B has to get her fibroids surgically removed.) Apparently, on the first night of the vacation a friend of Luann's is throwing her and Tom an engagement party on a yacht in Palm Beach, and all the 'Wives are supposed to attend before heading to Miami on Saturday. Bethenny's bowing out of the celebration with a dozen valid excuses, but is tickled at the thought of Luann, Tom, Sonja and Ramona all stuck on a boat together. Ramona questions what kind of man would even go after three different girlfriends in the first place. After all, it's kind of common knowledge that she, Sonja and Lu run in the same nationally televised circle of friends. However, Bethenny puts money on Sonja starting some drama on the yacht by bringing up her decade-long friends with benefits history with Tom. Hmm...this should be interesting. 

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While Jules leaves early to visit her adorable parents in Boca Raton, the rest of the ladies arrive in Palm Beach and head straight to the yacht for Luann's engagement party. Naturally, the Countess has donned her best bridal-white cocktail attire and is gleefully strutting around the boat in anticipation of showing it off to the other women. (Keep in mind, it's not actually her boat...) Luann simply can't help herself sometimes, yet unbeknownst to her, Ramona's still peeved over the press mishap. Sonja blames Dorinda for stirring up trouble between the two OGs, but Ramotional insists it's common knowledge that Luann's the one who actually calls in all the stories about her in the press. Plus, shouldn't Tom be held accountable for the mess he's created between three Housewives? As Dorinda points out in her confessional, this kind of upstairs/downstairs business just isn't right.

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Carole Radziwill's the last to show up on the dock, having decided to attend the engagement party with her investigative journalist cap secretly on. I mean, she's never met the infamous Tom who's romanced three of her friends, so how can she resist watching what's sure to be a sinking ship? While Luann parades her friends around the borrowed yacht, squawking constantly about how she can't believe she's getting married, Dorinda gives her the heads up that Ramona's planning on confronting her on the boat. However, the Countess is determined that this engagement party in her honor is going to go off without a hitch, and vows that the Singer Stinger won't be bothering her for the duration of the trip. This night is all about Luann. Period, end of story.

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Meanwhile, Bethenny's over in Miami in possession of an earth-shattering development in the Tom and Luann love story. A bomb has literally been dropped in Bethenny's lap: the night before she left for Miami, an unidentified friend sent her pictures of Tom making out with a girl. A girl who happens to be a former Playboy model and is decidedly not Luann. In the wake of all the drama over Tom's history with Ramona and Sonja, this new information is just...beyond belief. According to Bethenny, Tom's reputation is that he only dates a very specific "barracuda crew" found on the Upper East Side, yet these damning pictures she now holds in her hand could mean his fairy tale wedding with Countess will be over. Now, the only question is when and how she'll tell Luann...

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Back on the yacht, Tom arrives just as night is falling and the party's about to start. As he cozies up to Luann, it dawns on me that this is only the second time we've seen him on camera and I realize that despite the Countess shoving their love down our throat all season, we really don't know much about him. This lack of information doesn't bode well. Down in her room, Ramona's getting glammed up with Carole and Sonja, and can't help but point out that the last time Sonja saw Tom, she was romping around with him in bed. How's she going to react to seeing him? Because that's not weird at all. Sonja promises she's simply going to be her flirty, coquettish self, but she starts getting emotional when she realizes the stories Tom and Luann have been feeding her aren't exactly matching up. This whole time Sonja's tried to be diplomatic and supportive for Luann's sake, but is it possible that Tom knew full well that the Countess was living with Lady Morgan when he started pursuing a relationship? What's really B.L. now? It looks like we'll have to wait until next week to find out, because we're blessed with yet another ominous "To Be Continued..." warning as the episode draws to a close. 

What did you think of this week's RHONY? Can Tom be trusted? Does Ramona have a right to be angry at Luann for talking to the press? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

RHONY Ssn 8/Ep 16 - The Countess Bride

Glenn Rowley

luann-de-lesseps-engaged

This week on The Real Housewives of New York City, Luann's engagement is the talk of the Big Apple, but Tom's romantic past with both Ramona and Sonja creates tension at the celebratory dinner in her honor. Plus, the 'Wives hit Mohegan Sun for a fun-filled weekend away, though Jules and Bethenny remain at odds. Read on for my full recap of the drama...

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After all the bonding last week on the party bus, it's finally time for some fun at Mohegan Sun! (Yes, for those of you wondering, this is indeed the same casino Kim Zolciak-Biermann did an appearance at last season on Don't Be Tardy. No, I can't get over it.) Once Ramona Singer "randomly" assigns rooms for all the 'Wives, Sonja Morgan asks Jules Wainstein how things are between her and Bethenny following their blow-up at Joanne Trattoria. The newbie finds it ironic (and not in the good way) that someone with a brand called Skinnygirl would be gossiping about someone's eating disorder behind her back. Jules doesn't want to have to worry about Bethenny mocking or belittling her at every turn going forward. Of course, in their room, Bethenny and Carole Radziwill are dissecting the drama as well, and conclude that Dorinda Medley must have got away with stirring the pot and riling Jules up against them. Either way, there doesn't seem to be much hope for a friendship between the newbie and the two vets any time soon. As far as Jules is concerned, she won't be sharing anything personal with Bethenny or Carole ever again.

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Dinner that night is light and bright. Now that Bethenny's made up with Sonja over the Skinnygirl vs. Tipsy Girl controversy, the 'Wives can focus on more important things like Dorinda's past as an aerobics instructor and Bethenny's ability to bust into a headstand before dessert is served. The women hit the casino and I daresay they're all actually having fun together. Sonja's not drinking, Jules is chanting in Hebrew to summon Lady Luck to the blackjack table and the weekend turns out to be entirely different from last season's drunken disaster in Atlantic City. In fact, the trip is so drama-free that it only takes up the first 12 minutes of the episode...and that's saying something!

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Back in the Big Apple, Carole and her boyfriend Adam Kenworthy are ruminating over the status of their relationship. The lovebirds may be struggling to write a cookbook together, but Carole opines that they actually have the healthiest, most normal relationship out of all her friends. (This is particularly ironic considering how much flak she took from Luann de Lesseps about dating a younger man.) Even if they were to hypothetically break up before The Reluctant Vegan hits shelves, both Carole and Adam figure that they can be amicable for the sake of the inevitable press tour. After all, that's what being adults is about, right?

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Meanwhile, Ramona is out shopping with Sonja and suggests putting together a dinner to celebrate Luann's engagement. Lady Morgan rightfully points out that neither she nor Ramona really has any business planning something for Luann - especially considering their respective pasts with her now-fiancé Tom D'Agostino. However, Ramona's already sold on the idea in her head and informs Sonja that since she couldn't get ahold of Luann, she decided to text Tom about the party. According to Sonja (who seems so full of good advice tonight), it's never a good idea to text another woman's man, but Ramona doesn't see the harm in it if she desperately needs to reach Lu. Note to the Singer Stinger, Girl Code 201 is as follows: do not text the guy you used to date who is now engaged to your fellow Housewife (and who also happened to be hooking up with Sonja for the past 10 years.) A love triangle involving three Housewives and the same guy is never agreat example of etiquette.

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The one 'Wife who won't be able to make Luann's celebratory dinner is Bethenny, who's taking off to Aspen with her daughter Bryn despite her doctor's recommendation to avoid unnecessary travel. Luckily, the Skinnygirl's trusty personal assistant Julia gives her a much-needed reality check that she needs to put her health first. However, in classic form, Bethenny refuses to change her plans and risk having to go to the Countess's engagement dinner instead. She does, however, promise to take it easy in Aspen and spend most of her time in bed while Bryn is in ski school. So let's call it a draw?

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Dorinda meets Ramona at Bistro Chat Noir to go over details about the dinner for Luann. Right away, however, Dorinda echoes Sonja's sentiments that Ramona probably shouldn't be the one hosting the dinner, and adds that the Countess seems to have an issue with Ramotional every time she comes up in conversation. Besides, shouldn't Dorinda be the one to throw the party since she was the person who set Luann up with Tom in the first place? That being said, I do think that Ramona's motivation is absolutely for the right reason - she simply wants to do something nice to celebrate Luann's big moment. Let's just get to the party, shall we? And for the record, I'm kind of in love Dorinda's yellow cable-knit sweater.

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Ramona settles on Black Barn as the venue for Luann's engagement dinner, which means it's the second event she's hosted there after her ill-fated holiday party. As the other 'Wives arrive, the dress code seems to subconsciously have been all-black. But Jules is rocking a crop top, Carole's bringing back the choker and everyone really looks fabulous. As they're waiting for the Countess to make her grand entrance, Dorinda brings up the need for a girls trip since the one to Mexico got cancelled and suggests the 'Wives jet off to Hawaii before busting out leis for everyone. But will we actually make it to the Big Island? (The answer is no.)

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Once Luann arrives - wearing bridal white, naturally - Carole gives her a little heart-shaped crystal to show just how genuinely happy she is for her former nemesis. Boy, have these two come a long way since the end of last season. (To be clear, by "a long way" I mean being able to be basically civil with each other thanks to Carole taking the highest high road there ever was...) The Countess proudly and giddily shows off her engagement ring from Tom, an eight-carat canary yellow diamond that Sonja describes as "murky," and is clearly thrilled to be the undisputed center of attention for an evening. However, the love triangle-shaped elephant in the room might be bringing out the jealousy in Sonja, who's having an understandably difficult time putting on a supportive face. With the Palm Beach wedding almost a year away, are there any bets for what might happen in the interim?

What did you think of this week's episode of RHONY? Should Ramona have hosted Luann's engagement dinner? Does Sonja have a reason to be jealous of the Countess and Tom? Will Jules and Bethenny ever be friends? Let me know in the comments section below!

RHONY Ssn 8/Ep 15 - All Bets Are Off

Glenn Rowley

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The Real Housewives of New York City gets more real than ever as newbie Jules takes Bethenny and Carole to task for gossiping about her eating disorder, which ignites a new feud just as Bethenny is ready to put her bad blood with Sonja to bed. Plus, after weeks of gushing about how in love she is, Luann finally puts a ring on it! Read on for a full recap of the drama...

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We pick up right where last week left on, which is in the wake of Luann de Lesseps storming out of Dorinda Medley's ill-fated dinner party at Joanne Trattoria. As the Countess makes her angry escape, she runs right into Dorinda Medley and Jules Wainstein coming back from their smoke break. (Quick PSA: don't smoke.) Luann rails that she just can't understand why the other 'Wives can't simply be supportive of her relationship with Tom. If everyone else in her life can be happy she found her new "soulmate," why can't these bitches?? (Her words, not mine.) And with that, Lu is out. The Countess has dropped the mic and officially left the building. 

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Meanwhile, the rest of the women are still sitting around the table debating their frenemy's life. Is she back on her high horse? Can she help herself from pointing out that she's moved into Tom's penthouse? As her costars vent about Luann, frustration starts to build on Jules's face as she starts rushing to the defense of the absent Countess. The newbie points out that it's quite uncool to talk about your friend the second she leaves the table, and this segues into Jules confronting Bethenny Frankel and Carole Radziwill over talking about her behind her back. First, Jules takes Bethenny to task for constantly insinuating that she's stupid. All season long, the rookie hasn't taken kindly to any of Bethenny's jokes at her expense ("I need a verb," anyone?) and she's finally had it. With no bones about it, Jules calls the OG out for her "not nice" behavior, leaving all the 'Wives visibly stunned. No one in the history of RHONY has anyone ever stood up to Bethenny Frankel like this...

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Jules then brings up the fact that she's been very honest and genuine from day one with her new friends about everything in her life - from revealing her eating disorder to talking about her marriage. Therefore, to find out that Bethenny and Carole have been gossiping about her eating disorder was a major betrayal of trust. B counters that she's actively kept a distance from Jules and her eating disorder, considering her estranged mom's own history with the disease, but Jules doesn't let her off the hook one bit. Instead, she gets emotional as she tells Bethenny (and Carole by association) to stop talking about her behind her back, as it discounts all the work and years she's put into her recovery. Furthermore, the other women may be uncomfortable with how skinny she is, but Jules exclaims that she loves her body and hugs her bones every day in gratitude. All of this is the reason why Jules is so open about her eating disorder, to keep her accountable. An eating disorder stays with you for life and every day is a challenge - in fact, Jules admits that she threw up her food just a few days prior. It's a powerful, vulnerable moment for the newbie and I've never loved her more. So many people can be helped, educated and enlightened by Jules choosing to share such a vulnerable story on a platform like the Housewives.

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The next day, Luann meets Ramona for a walk-and-talk to clear the air from their dust-up at the Italian restaurant. With coordinated pops of red and blue against their winter black, the two vets go tit for tat over whether Ramona's really Luann's friend or if she's once again rearing her infamous Singer Stinger. Ramona can't believe Luann would even question her support after everything she's done to broker peace between her fellow OG and Bethenny and Carole. For the millionth time in this episode alone, Luann pulls out the "I'm in love and I'm getting married card," which prompts Ramona to point out that, while she may think she's in love, the relationship is rushing to the altar rather quickly. I mean, Luann and Tom only met a few months ago - after Ramona had dated him and he was still sleeping with Sonja. Icky. Ramona argues that there's no way Lu can really know the man she's supposedly ready to marry in such a short amount of time, but the Countess counters that when she knows, she knows. No matter how they met (did she or didn't she steal Tom away from a date with another woman at The Mark Hotel?) or who they dated in the past, as far as Luann's concerned it's all B.L. For someone who spent the entirety of Season 7 preaching about the girl code, the Countess seems to be eager to forget any code-breaking that may have happened "Before Lu."

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Meanwhile, another gossip session is occurring in the West Village as Dorinda and Bethenny converge at Carole's apartment to rehash the drama with Jules. Bethenny is still speechless over the newbie blowing up at her and isn't quite sure what to think of the entire ordeal. Carole points out that Jules's anger seemed to be directed solely at B, while everything she said about the OG talking about her eating disorder could've been pointed at Radzi as well. Bethenny insists that she's been very delicate around Jules thus far, specifically tip-toeing around the subject of her eating disorder altogether. The OG ventures a guess that the rookie is paranoid because she opened up about her marriage and shared some private information that she's now afraid will become public (i.e. the couple's divorce announcement since filming wrapped). Either way, Dorinda points out that Jules's eating disorder is clearly a touchy subject that everyone - Bethenny and Carole included - should just be a bit more respectful about. However, Bethenny claims that she is officially done with the newbie. It looks like Jules won't be getting any more of the Skinnygirl's time or attention from here on out.

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That evening, Sonja throws a small dinner party at her townhouse on the Upper East Side - inviting only Dorinda, her boyfriend John Mahdessian and the Wainsteins. Never mind that this is the first time Dorinda has let her boyfriend around any of the 'Wives (or Bravo's cameras) in weeks, the big news is that Jules is setting Sonja up on a blind date. As Lady Morgan rolls out the fine china and a borrowed butler from her ex-brother-in-law, it turns out that she already knows the mystery man in question, who's a notorious Italian playboy named Rocco. (By the way, how many Roccos could Sonja possibly know? I mean, c'mon now...) The evening seems to be going well, with Sonja regaling the table with stories of her giant, 200-year-old napkins, but conversation inevitably turns to Jules and Bethenny's showdown at Joanne's. Both Sonja and Dorinda are proud that Jules stood up for herself, but the newbie swears that she'll never again trust Bethenny or Carole with any personal information about her life. 

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It's finally time to go to Mohegan Sun! For the drive to Connecticut, Ramona's organized a party bus filled with enough Skinnygirl alcohol and snacks to hopefully avoid any drama between the ladies. Yet despite Ramona's best intentions, the tension is palpable between Bethenny and Jules as soon as all the women board the bus. However, the most pressing item of business revolves around the one 'Wife who's M.I.A: Luann's officially engaged! Of course, all of the women had to find out in the press, rather than from the Countess's mouth, but they toast to her anyway. Looks like Luann is finally getting everything she wanted - I'm just surprised cameras didn't follow her to Vail to capture the big moment.

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Now that she's fighting with Jules, Bethenny is ready to make up with Sonja after months of silence surrounding their Skinnygirl/Tipsy Girl feud. With some time and distance, Bethenny recognizes that she was perhaps a bit harsh in completely cutting Sonja off, and she finally wants to make at least some sort of amends. The Skinnygirl admits that it's impossible not to love Sonja, and that under all her messy quirks, she's truly a good person. For her part, Sonja is both happy and relieved to finally get an apology from Bethenny, and admits there was wrong on her part as well. The Skinnygirl claims she's seen a positive change in Sonja lately and declares their drama officially over. But does this mean we won't see them argue over this at the reunion??

What did you think of this week's RHONY? Are you Team Jules or Team Bethenny? Can you stand hearing Luann say "B.L." or "soulmate" one more time? Are you happy she's finally engaged? Let me know in the comments!

RHONY Ssn 8/Ep 14 - The Benefits of Friendship

Glenn Rowley

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This week on The Real Housewives of New York City, tension start to build between Luann and the other 'Wives over her relationship with Tom after Sonja shares a surprising revelation. Plus the vagina problems continue for both Jules and Bethenny in what feels a bit like a filler episode. Read on for a full recap...

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We start this week off with Bethenny Frankel prepping for the latest expansion in her business empire with the launch of Skinnygirl candy. For the big launch event at Dylan's Candy Bar in downtown NYC, Bethenny's planned something totally different, complete with a shrink-wrapped clutch made to look like a giant Skinnygirl chocolate bar and her rocking a bright red wig. Dylan's Candy Bar is peppered with gorgeous guys and girls wearing, respectively, t-shirts in signature Skinnygirl red emblazoned with the phrases "eye candy" and "arm candy" and the room is buzzing with excited customers ready to sample B's latest concoction. Out of all the Housewives, Carole Radziwill is the only one invited, though Bethenny also points out that both Ramona Singer and Dorinda Medley have been incredibly supportive in the wake of her medical crisis. The women have really shown up for her and she's finally found a few ladies whom she wants at any and all of her events. 

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Following the Skinnygirl event, it's time for part three of "The NYC Vagina Monologues." First, newbie Jules Wainstein visits her plastic surgeon for a checkup on her healing lady parts. With his face rigid due to perhaps a bit much Botox, the plastic surgeon assures Jules that her vagina will soon go back to the "perfect little pistachio" it was before her freak accident with just a bit more rest. Thank goodness for that. At the same time, Bethenny's visiting a prominent female internist about her own vaginal issue. With the surgery to remove her fibroids just days away, B is understandably freaked out. So, with Carole in tow for moral support, she treks to the internist's office for a second opinion. Just like Jules, Bethenny gets the good news she's been hoping for: the doctor recommends not jumping straight into the operating room, advising instead to let the Skinnygirl give her body time to heal itself. This is music to Bethenny's ears and just like that, the emergency myomectomy is cancelled.

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To celebrate, Bethenny invites Carole, Ramona and Dorinda over to her apartment the next day for a good old-fashioned Housewives hangout. Cuddled up next to the fireplace, the women chatter about everything from surgery and vaginas to old-fashioned birth control methods and Ramona's insistence on using the word "brassiere." (I know I say this in virtually every recap, but dear Ramona please never change.) Eventually, the conversation circles back around to the group's collective and individual problems with Luann de Lesseps. Carole's still harboring major trust issues with the Countess. Despite the sincerest apology Luann could muster at Ramona's holiday party a few episodes back, she has yet to reach out to Carole in any way since. Instead, it's been radio silence. Ramona and Bethenny both agree that Luann seems to be back on her Countess high horse, and she's become nothing but self-absorbed and narcissistic while blaming it on being head-over-heels in love with her "soulmate" Tom D'Agostino. Though Dorinda remains a silent observer in the corner, the other 'Wives have had it with Luann shoving her perspective down their throats while she floats around in Lu-Lu Land. 

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The next morning, Dorinda invites Luann out for breakfast. Over two dishes of quiche lorraine, Dorinda promptly fills the Countess in on what the other ladies had to say at Bethenny's house. Luann is taken aback to hear that she's the subject of gossip - and claims to be particularly disappointed in Ramona for jumping on the Countess-bashing bandwagon so quickly. Dorinda encourages Lu to get back in the other girls' good graces by making more of an effort to be involved, but Luann dismisses the idea - firing back that maybe she doesn't want to be a part of the group anymore. Besides, she's sure that all the other ladies are just jealous she's so happy and in love. (Note to Luann: if you want to be on the show, you kind of have to engage with the other 'Wives.) In fact, the perfect opportunity to start reintegrating herself is that very night, since Dorinda's hosting a dinner party for all the ladies, and the hostess promises to be the mediator between Luann and the other women in case of a confrontation.

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That night, the women all show up at Joanne Tratorria, a cozy Italian restaurant that happens to be owned by the parents of pop superstar Lady Gaga. Reluctant and suffering from a cold, even Luann decides to come by for a bit, and it dawns on me that this is only the second time all season that all seven Housewives have been in the same room. (The first and only other time was at Ramona's birthday luncheon in Episode 5.) At first, the meal is slightly awkward, with the Countess flanked on one side by nemesis Carole and the other by Ramona. She announces that she's moved into Tom's penthouse on the Upper East Side and an engagement is imminent, much to the ladies' collective murmurs of half-hearted congratulations. Surprisingly, Luann opines that only Carole seems to be genuinely happy for her, which is virtually unthinkable considering their two-seasons-long feud.

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This meal is also the first time Bethenny and Sonja Morgan have seen each other since the massive fallout over their Skinnygirl/Tipsy Girl controversy. As the two awkwardly acknowledge each other across the table, Luann takes Ramona to task in the corner for turning on her behind her back and accuses her frenemy of not being happy for her. Ramona feigns innocence, insisting that she is happy for Luann and Tom, but cautions that the relationship seems to be going awfully quickly - particularly considering the two only met after Thanksgiving. Bethenny points out that Luann, Ramona and Sonja seem to exist in a very small circle: after all, they've all dated some of the same men. In a moment of perfectly terrible timing, Sonja inexplicably decides to reveal that she and Luann's boyfriend had been friends with benefits for over a decade before the Countess snatched him up. Sonja's history with Tom is news to everyone at the table, and an upset Luann proceeds to storm out of the dinner after once again accusing her friends of not being supportive. If it happened "B.L." (a.k.a. Before Lu), the Countess doesn't care, and simply expects her friends to be happy for her newfound love. But should Sonja really have to be supportive when she was just sleeping with the same guy weeks before he started dating her houseguest? As Luann makes an abrupt exit, "To Be Continued..." flashes across the screen, and we'll have to wait until next week to see how the dinner concludes.

What did you think of this week's RHONY? Did it feel like filler to you? Is Dorinda stirring the pot between Luann and the other ladies? Does the Countess have a right to be upset at the other 'Wives? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

Before They Were Housewives - Countess Luann

Glenn Rowley

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In the first-ever Before They Were Housewives special, Luann de Lesseps takes us on a trip down memory lane through her enchanting life before The Real Housewives of New York City became a pop culture phenomenon in 2008. From her humble roots in suburban Connecticut and her days as a model in NYC to her time as an Italian TV star and her whirlwind romance with Count Alexander de Lesseps, Luann's pre-Housewives life is like something out of a classic novel. For this week's feature, I'm breaking down everything we learned about the Countess in her nostalgic special...

The Fairytale of the Countess

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The special starts with a look at Luann falling for Count Alexander de Lesseps back in 1993. When they met, the future Countess was living in Milan, Italy and working as a model throughout Europe. She also happened to be dating another man named Roberto at the time, but the moment she locked eyes with Alex at a dinner party at a glamorous chalet in Gstaad, that relationship was doomed. For the next five days, Luann and the Count were inseparable as they went skiing in the Swiss Alps, and at the end of the fifth day, Alex proposed. What a whirlwind! Of course, Luann had to deal with the problem of Roberto - whom she had been living with for the past two and a half years. Since Roberto was on a business trip, she ended up packing all of her things at their apartment and leaving "like a thief in the night," only calling to tell him she was engaged to another man after she'd left. Madly enamored, Luann left everything behind on a whim - the man she was dating, a successful career in Italian television, an entire life in Milan - all in the name of love.

Honeychile's Betrayal

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While she lived in Milan, Luann was befriended by Honeychile Wilder - an American socialite who had married an Austrian-Hungarian prince. Significantly older than Lu, Honeychile had made a name for herself working as a showgirl and appearing on comedian Bob Hope's popular radio show before moving to Europe and becoming a princess. In her time in Milan, Luann had been taken under Honeychile's wing and looked to the older woman as her mentor. (Luann even relays the story of a time when Honey once took her to Hubert de Givenchy's atelier to get dresses to wear to the Paris opera.) Despite having been with Luann on the night she met the Count, Honeychile became incredibly possessive at the thought that Luann would leave her. In an act of betrayal, the socialite tried to convince Alex not to marry Luann - citing that she was just a nobody from nowhere - and left Lu heartbroken. When she left with Alex to elope in New York City, she said goodbye to her longtime friend in a note, explaining that she was leaving her behind...for good.

A Big Apple Elopement

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Jetting off to NYC, Luann and the Count decided to elope after picking up a five-carat, pear-shaped diamond ring from a jewelry store in the Diamond District. Following through with their romantic plan, Luann and Alex took the subway to City Hall and got married right then and there, dressed in jeans and a blazer, with a truck driver named Lucille acting as the sole witness of the nuptials. Just like that, Luann became Countess de Lesseps after knowing Alex for only two weeks total. Now it was time to meet the family!

Connecticut Roots

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Next, Luann travels to her hometown of Berlin, Connecticut to give us a glimpse of the place she grew up. Born in 1965 as the sixth of seven children, Luann was raised in a large, middle-class, French-Canadian family in the Connecticut suburbs. With so many older brothers, Lu almost inevitably turned out to be a self-proclaimed "jock," which is a far cry from the Countess persona we've always seen on RHONY. Visiting her childhood home, Luann reveals that the house actually burned down when she was a child, which left the family basically homeless with nothing but a collection of photo albums her mother managed to save from the flames. Eventually Luann's father and brother rebuilt their home, but she still calls it one of the most difficult times in her life. 

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Bringing her new husband home to meet her family, Luann was nervous about how different her salt-of-the-earth background and upbringing had been to the Count's much more glamorous life. Never mind, of course, that she had decided to marry her now-husband after just a couple of weeks and her family still had no idea. Digging up some old VHS tapes that her son Noel came across, Luann sits down with her mother Nadine and her brother Michael to reminisce about the first time she came home with the Count. Apparently, everything went so well that no one in the family even had any idea Luann had married a titled aristocrat!

Lu's Lucky Little Red Dress

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Rewind to 1987. At the urging of a nurse's aid she worked with,  a 23-year-old Luann decided to enter the Miss Connecticut beauty pageant, once again on a whim. On a bridal shop's clearance rack, she found what she describes as "the perfect red dress," which would set her on a path she could have never imagined. While she didn't place at that first beauty pageant, a man in the audience stopped her after the competition and told her she had potential to be a model in New York City. The man encouraged Luann to enter a modeling competition the next week in Hartford, Connecticut, and opined that if she brought the red dress she would win. As luck would have it, the mysterious man was right - Luann won the modeling competition and scored a private photoshoot with a professional photographer in NYC as her prize. 

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Arriving in New York for the first time, Luann had no idea she was about to embark on a new chapter in her life. The prize package from the competition also included a contract with Mystique Models, and Lu quickly learned how to pose and get a good photo by watching the girls around her. Despite its reputation in the 80s as a dangerous place to live, Luann fell head over heels for the Big Apple and after six months of commuting back and forth for auditions, she moved there permanently. This risky move paid off, thrusting Luann into the glitzy and alluring world of New York nightlife - full of parties, dances and of course, plenty of handsome men. However, working as a model turned out to be much more difficult than the future Countess anticipated. Her life turned into a veritable rollercoaster with its high moments (landing the cover of Playgirl) and low moments (handing out flyers as a showroom model). Eventually, though, Luann met a man named Don who whisked her off to Europe, where she launched the next chapter of her career in Milan.

Making It Big in Italy

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While Lu immediately loved living in Milan, her modeling career hit a major slump. Turned down by nearly every agency in the city, Luann found herself quickly running out of money and desperate to make something happen. Her Italian lover at the time, named Genaldo, convinced her to represent the United States in the Lady Universe pageant - an Italian beauty pageant featuring women from countries all over the world. In another moment of pure luck and good timing, Luann was crowned Lady Universe. As part of her duties, she embarked on a tour across Italy, which led to her attending a cocktail party at the home of Prince Egon and Diane von Furstenberg. At the party, the prince suggested Lu work in television and made introductions for her to impersonate actress Sharon Stone and present an award at Italy's version of the Emmys.

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Three months after successfully pulling of the Sharon Stone act (complete with blowing a kiss to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the audience), Luann was cast as the cohost of Pressing, the top-rated Sunday night show covering Italian soccer. Almost overnight, the TV gig turned Luann into a bonafide celebrity in Italy and the entire world was in the palm of her hand. Ultimately, this change in her life led her right into her title as Countess de Lesseps. 

Living the Jet Set Life

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After marrying the Count, Luann's life continued to be something out of a dream - watching him race cars in Barcelona, traveling to Hong Kong and Beijing, heli skiing in the Alps and jetting off to her homes in Portugal and Gstaad. She even became a close personal friend of Constantine II, king of Greece. Soon after marrying, Luann gave birth to her daughter Victoria, followed quickly by son Noel 22 months later. Spending their summers in the Hamptons and the rest of the year in Europe, life didn't seem like it could get much better for Luann and her young family. That is, until a terrible freak accident changed everything in the blink of an eye...

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In 1997, Luann was spending the winter in Gstaad. One evening around dusk, she was driving home from a tea party with the kids when she hit a long stretch of black ice on the road. Before she knew what was happening, Luann found herself and the two young toddlers trapped in the car, tumbling down the side of a mountain. Miraculously, the car landed upside down in a local resident's backyard, though neither Luann nor the kids were seriously injured. Digging herself out through a broken window, Lu then proceeded to walk with the kids - Victoria barefoot in the snow - until they reached a farmer's house, who kindly offered to drive them home. The accident had a profound impact on Luann, who suffered through months of PTSD and nightmares. Feeling isolated in the secluded Swiss Alps, Luann eventually decided to come back to the U.S. for the sake of her mental well-being, not knowing the decision was the beginning of the end of her marriage to the Count.

Becoming a Real Housewife

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Moving back from Europe in 2006, Luann concluded that getting back to work would be the best thing for her. Approaching a local television station, Luann talked her way into creating The Countess Report, a cable access show featuring just the Countess and a camera. From there, The Real Housewives of New York City fell into Lu's lap when she met a certain redhead by the name of Jill Zarin at a high society party in NYC. About a month later, Jill sent an email asking if she wanted to film a show she was working on for Bravo called Manhattan Moms, which eventually turned into RHONY. From there, the franchise we all know and love was born and Luann became a Bravolebrity. 

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Early seasons of the show presented Luann's life as the Countess through an idyllic, rose-colored lens, featuring Alex, the kids, her nanny Rosie and the family puppy Aston. However, while she was getting bucked off of a camel in Morocco and singing with Natalie Cole on camera, her marriage was falling apart behind the scenes. By the Season 2 reunion in 2009, the Count had broken up with Luann over email, leaving the other Housewives shocked. Recognizing that she had a family and an image that needed protecting, Luann had tried to hide her marital struggles from Bravo's cameras. However, she ended up learning the difficult lesson that - no matter how hard you try to hide it - the cameras see everything. After 16 years as the Countess, Luann's life was about to enter yet another era...

Looking to the Future

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As viewers have seen on the current season of RHONY, Luann has fallen in love with her newest soulmate, Thomas D'Agostino, after being introduced by fellow 'Wife Dorinda Medley. The pair are currently engaged, with plans to be married on New Year's Eve of this year. After eight years as a New York Housewife, Luann ends the special by saying she doesn't live her life with regrets. The many chapters of her life have been something of a modern-day fairytale, and as this next chapter begins with Tom at her side, Luann can't wait for whatever happens next.

What did you think of Luann's Before They Were Housewives special? Did it show you a completely different side to the Countess? Do you want to see a Luann wedding spinoff? Leave your thoughts and opinions below in the comments...