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Spinoffs & Other Shows

Recaps, opinion pieces and analysis of Bravo TV shows including Don't Be Tardy, Manzo'd With Children, Ladies of London, Tour Group, Shahs of Sunset and Southern Charm.

Ladies of London Ssn 2/Ep 2 - The Barefoot Baroness

Glenn Rowley


It's Christmastime in London, which means it's time for decorations, caroling and eccentric holiday parties thrown by charming aristocrats! It also means this was filmed a loooong time ago considering that next Christmas is only a few short months away. After a quick montage of the ladies' various morning rituals, the episode starts with Caroline S. visiting Marissa at home. After last week's drama at the cocktail party, Marissa is quick to explain in her confessional that things between her and Caroline are totally fine. And then she pulls out an electric shock machine to try on her friend. Apparently the gadget is illegal in the States because it can be turned into a taser gun, but it's supposed to deliver small shocks to help you wake up. Marissa jokingly suggests they invite Juliet over to electrocute her too after all the Thanksgiving drama, and we see flashbacks to the two turkey dinners from five days prior. After dedicating the entire premiere to the buildup, I'm genuinely surprised that we only got to see 15 seconds of the actual competing Thanksgivings.


In the end, Juliet chose not to come to the party at Bumpkin that was supposed to be a birthday celebration for her, and Marissa says in her interview that she thinks her friend has chosen the wrong social ladder to climb. Caroline posits that Juliet feels threatened by Marissa's confidence in where she wants to be in life, saying that Juliet doesn't have that same self-assurance. For her part, Marissa feels that she's tried enough with her fellow American pal and that she's tired of her efforts constantly backfiring in her face. Marissa is officially done trying, and is taking a stand by choosing not to invite Juliet to her annual Christmas carol singalong at Royal Albert Hall. The yearly tradition is reserved for the Hermers' family and dearest friends, and right now Juliet doesn't fit into either of those categories. Caroline, however, is sure that this escalating feud between the two Americans is going to blow up in her face and become her problem to mediate.


That night, Annabelle, Julie and Marissa brave the cold to attend a collaborative art show by visual artist Sebastián Gordin and fashion designer Emilio de la Morena. After navigating across the wire-strewn gallery in heels, Julie admits to not knowing much about fashion, but thankfully has Annabelle to call as a best friend to help educate her. In her confessional, Lady Hinchingbrooke is the it girl at the intersection of London's art and fashion worlds, so she feels lucky to be along for the ride. Julie describes Annabelle as the "book of aristocracy for dummies" who happens to be letting her in on how it all works and giving her a better understanding of the world of high society and titles. After all, Julie may have married the future Earl of Sandwich, but at heart she's just a girl from Illinois. Annabelle really is the coolest and I'm loving this friendship already.


Next, we finally get a bit of background on new cast member Caroline Fleming, who's shopping at Matthew Williamson with Caroline Stanbury. The two Carolines have known each other for more than 20 years, and spent their youth as two blondes living it up on the London scene. Caroline Fleming is hosting a Scandinavian Christmas party for the Ladies, where tradition dictates that the men dress in black tie and the women are all in red dresses. Caroline Stanbury explains in her interview that her friend comes from a very old, important family in Denmark but didn't follow the natural path for aristocracy. Instead, Caroline Fleming moved to NYC and became a professional model and TV presenter before getting married, having three kids and divorcing. Now, she's more than happy on her own. In her own interview, Caroline Fleming explains that having a title is simply that - a title - and she would rather laugh on a bicycle than be crying in a limousine. This is not your average Baroness, people. 


The night of the Scandinavian Christmas party arrives and all the Ladies are decked out in red. With both Luke and Gregor out of town, Julie and Juliet are each other's dates for the evening, while Annabelle is out of town and Marissa is under the weather. Though Annabelle can't make it, she's lent Julie a stunning Alexander McQueen dress to give the real life Cinderella a full-on princess moment. As they're getting ready, Juliet admits that she hasn't spoken to Marissa since Thanksgiving and says she's taking a timeout from the friendship for a minute. Juliet certainly is acclimating to her new home - sweeping issues under the rug is a very British thing to do. 

Meanwhile, Caroline Fleming is putting the final touches on the party at her house in Chelsea. In her interview, the baroness says that she tends to surprise people when they come to her house for a dinner party because of her very Martha Stewart-esque way of running the show. Caroline Stanbury is the first to arrive and the other women follow suit, including her sister-in-law, recurring cast member Sophie Stanbury. From the get-go, it's evident that this isn't going to be a typical dinner party as a barefoot Caroline F. serves Cheetos as hors d'oeuvres in honor of the Americans. Her guests aren't sure what to make of the Danish baroness, as she runs back and forth between the dining room and the kitchen, happily humming to herself and refusing the ladies' offers of help.


Following the Danish tradition, a Christmas goose is the meal's main course, which causes picky eater Juliet to have a mini tantrum. This isn't the first time the brash American has thrown a fit over food at a dinner party - remember her meltdown over eating Bambi last year in Mapperton? However, in an attempt to impress her baroness hostess, Juliet manages to try the goose and surprisingly find it delicious (or at least says so in order to suck up?). Caroline Fleming also announces that it's perfectly acceptable to eat the goose with your hands. Apparently, etiquette says that anything with wings can be picked up with your fingers at the dinner table, though Caroline Stanbury declares the practice "caveman-esque." The rule of the night, though, is that when Caroline Fleming wants you to eat something, you eat it - as Caroline S. soon learns. A traditional dessert of oranges is served after the meal, but Caroline Stanbury doesn't eat fruit - attributing it to post traumatic stress from her boarding school days. However, Caroline Fleming is insistent that she try the dessert - if Juliet can eat the goose, Caroline Stanbury can surely eat an orange - and manages to get a piece of fruit in her friend's mouth. (Mind you, Caroline S. doesn't look too happy about it.)

During dinner, the subject of the Christmas singalong at Royal Albert Hall gets brought up, and Juliet quickly realizes that Marissa has invited everyone but her to the event. According to Juliet, this is her friend's way of showing her that they're officially in a fight, but when someone tries to hurt Juliet, she takes note. She takes NOTE, people. With the dinner winding down, Caroline Fleming announces that she's kicking her guests out in 10 minutes. Apparently, when it's a Monday night, it's perfectly acceptable to tell your friends to leave. Ever the social climber, Juliet proclaims in her interview that she likes Caroline Fleming because she's kind of ridiculous, just like Juliet herself. The guests leave the party feeling like they've just been booted off a rather eccentric roller coaster. No one's certainly ever kicked Caroline Stanbury out with a mouthful of pudding!


The following day is the Christmas carol singalong at Royal Albert Hall. Marissa explains via confessional that the holiday season is THE social season in London and every year she and Matt host their family and friends at the singalong. It's one of the most quintessential British holiday traditions there is. All the Ladies show up with their families in tow except the uninvited Juliet and Caroline F., who's in Denmark, and Caroline S. is ready to drink her way through the Christmas caroling. Meanwhile, a dejected Juliet is out to dinner with Gregor in another part of the city. She vents to her husband that with the holidays fast approaching, she knows what it feels like to be left out and is missing home more than ever. The subject of the Americans' rift also gets brought up at Royal Albert Hall when Julie toasts to friendship and specifically name-drops the absent Juliet. Marissa explains that the Thanksgiving fiasco gave her a reality check about her friendship with Juliet. From her perspective, Julie thinks Juliet feels animosity towards Marissa, who married a Brit and didn't have to work as hard to get into the social circles Juliet is so desperate to be a part of. At dinner, Juliet admits that she feels bad for the drama that's gone down between her and her friend and agrees with Gregor's advice that she should sit down with Marissa to try to clear the air. 


Back to work at the Gift Library, Caroline S. is inundated with a rush of orders that need to be shipped to clients by Christmas Day. The pressure is on, as she points out in her interview that a gifting store can make between 50 and 70% of its annual revenue during the holiday season. Additionally, it's crucial that the Gift Library do well this season because Caroline is running out of funding. If the business doesn't do well, she's basically screwed. However, news from her assistant isn't good: a number of important orders won't make it by Christmas and if they give everything back, they'll lose about $200,000 in the space of a single day. Coming up with a worst case scenario, Caroline starts contemplating how many people she'd need to let go and quickly dismisses her assistant, who's almost in tears.


With Christmas Day around the corner, Marissa and Juliet meet over mint tea at Reform Social & Grill to determine the fate of their friendship. Juliet explains that with the new year coming up, she doesn't want any bad energy but was hurt by being left out of the Royal Albert Hall event. First, Marissa says she doesn't want to get into the invite situation, but Juliet presses the issue and Marissa admits that when she tries to do nice things for Juliet, like her birthday party, it always backfires in her face. Juliet goes on the defensive, playing the martyr that it backfires because she must just be such a terrible person, but Marissa is quick to reminder her that you don't have two people host the same party for you an hour apart. It's just plain rude. Juliet then pivots her argument, complaining that she feels things always have to be Marissa's rules and expectations, and says she's trying to figure out whether they're supposed to be cheering for each other or competing with each other. Marissa retorts that she always supports her 100% and if Juliet thinks otherwise, then she doesn't know her at all.


Juliet immediately backpedals, saying that she's not denying the fact that Marissa's always been her go-to friend, but she just doesn't feel like she's being supported now. With Gregor gone so much for work, she's feeling more alone than ever. Marissa empathizes with Juliet's situation, but feels that she's put so much effort into their relationship and isn't getting anything out if it but drama and a headache. Juliet agrees that maybe they've been trying to hang on to something that simply isn't there anymore. Marissa points out that sometimes friendships change and that's OK. In her interview, Marissa explains that sometimes in friendships you have to make a decision, and she's chosen not to invest in her relationship with Juliet any further. Instead, she's safely keeping her at arm's length and keep her boundaries up so she doesn't get attacked again. However, this doesn't mean she's not willing to spend time and have fun with Juliet as friends. For her part, Juliet feels good having cleared the air, even if the two are transitioning from being BFFs to just Fs. With that decided, the pair offer an awkward "Merry Christmas" and Juliet offers to pay the bill on the way out. In her confessional, Juliet tearfully admits that there's a sadness that feels like a breakup and it's hard when you spend years with someone as your best friend and you turn around one day to discover you don't know them anymore. Marissa + Juliet, best friends forever? That's certainly a universal sentiment that almost everyone has experienced at least once, and that makes it all the more painful to watch the dissolution of this best friendship play out on TV...Until next week, Londoners. Go tell your best friend you love them.