RHONY S9 Roundtable, Part 1: D’Agony and D’Ecstasy

Oh hey, welcome to our very first season roundtable. We were a little nervous so we got hammered (well, Tracey didn’t, even though she lives in Mexico where you can start drinking at breakfast). We also now know why reunions are aired in three parts. Behold: part one of our assorted RHONY thoughts, in which we discuss the unexpectedly ill-starred LuAnn-Tom romance, and consider the immortal question: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Carole Radziwill?

Taylor: Welcome, BW readers, to our inaugural Bitchy Witches Round-Cauldron! Just made that up now. I know, it’s great. This is coming to you live from the WhatsApp chat where this fine blog was born. I’m backgrounding The Sixth Sense and Mischa Barton just threw up everywhere, which feels like a fitting backdrop for this conversation. Tracey, Ger, I trust you’re well?    

Gerard I did not remember that Mischa was in that movie and I’m shook but other than that yes.

Tracey: I’m naked and my bed is littered with empty sushi containers so I am totally well.

Taylor: So think of this as a mini-reunion, only we’re all on the same couch, passing judgment on the TV before us. We’ll just cycle through the big stories of the season and, like Ramona after four glasses of pinot at 11am, whatever comes out comes out.

Gerard: Ah I see. So we’ll all give Mario Singer shirtless back rubs.

Taylor: Remember when they had concurrent Mario/Ramona and Alex/Simon porn scenes? Okay I can’t let my mind wander to that.

Tracey: I can visualize Ramona’s negligee in my head right now. It was, appropriately, very witchy.

Gerard: Sadly the only lovin we have to visualize this season is Tom doing coke off LuAnn’s ass.                  

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Taylor: But actually, that serves as an apt springboard for the most arousing couple of the season—yes, you’ve read my mind Ger—let’s start with Tom and LuAnn. Did you love this story, or love-love it?

Gerard: My rose for this season was LuAnn’s rose for this season being her husband, and I’m devastated and completely shocked that they couldn’t make it work. I gave them 30-40 years together, conservatively.

Taylor: I just have so much respect for the velocity of the storyline.

Tracey: I honestly thought they would last a bit longer! But as the news stories started coming out I did realize it wasn’t going to happen.            

Taylor: I’m going to draw on Cynthia Bailey, as I do any time I need a tedious housewife even though I kind of like her as a person, but it took her, what, six damn years to get out from Peter Thomas? And that was at least as ill-advised and doomed as Tom and Lu.

Tracey: Yeah, and Peter Thomas doesn’t even have a penthouse apartment.

Taylor: LuAnn gave us an encounter, a proposal, a wedding, a decline, and a divorce in one and a quarter seasons. That’s phenomenal return on investment.

Gerard: I think LuAnn would have kept it going as long as it was feasible if we’re honest, but Tom gets distracted by pretty young things like *checks notes* …Missy? Okay, if you say so!

Taylor: I love that Tom has a pedigree all the way back to season one being a skeeze to Ramona and her friends, by the way. That’s a very underrated Tom touch.

Gerard: There’s a damn dissertation to be written on the man-roaches trawling the Upper East Side for rich Golden Girl ass (see also Dubin, Harry).

Tracey: Yeah he was the guy who negged her or her friend, right?    

Taylor: Yes, Tracey, and Ramona was like THANK FUCKING GOD I’M NOT SINGLE IF THAT’S THE QUALITY OF MAN OUT THERE! (They would later go on 1-10 dates.)

Tracey: I definitely appreciate the incestuous nature of the UES, partly because I loooove Harry Dubin unreservedly, and it just makes it fairly easy to keep track of these auxiliary characters.

Taylor: If a man on this show has fucked one of these women he’s fucked at least two others, like, as a rule.

Tracey: Do we think Ramona gave him a blowie though? Since that isn’t sex in her books.

Taylor: I’m of such a mixed mind on Ramona’s sexual habits.                        

Tracey: I feel like I can see her being a prude.                       

Taylor: She’s so weird and neurotic about men that I almost buy she takes them on these chaste dates and nothing happens at the end, yeah.

Gerard: Ramona seems to believe that literally everything BUT direct p-v penetration is officially Not Sex to God, sooo.

Taylor: Ramona’s Catholicism is funny because it’s a big enough force in her life that she has a Christian jewelry empire, but also I feel like I’ve heard her discuss it maybe…twice? in a decade.

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Taylor: But let us not wander to matters of Ramona and God. Let’s get back to the true question: what do we think will come of LuAnn’s meeting with Andy Cohen next week?

Gerard: I wonder if Andy laid out how many times LuAnn has to cry if she wants to return for S10 as full cast.

Tracey: I think LuAnn will spill a small amount of dirt but be her typical cagey self.

Taylor: Yeah I think we all see through this as at least partially LuAnn’s ploy to keep her spot after dicking around the producers one too many times this year. In fact, in discussing the LuAnn story we didn’t even broach the debacle with her selling the wedding to People magazine, I guess because it feels like a lifetime ago now.

Gerard: Yes, exactly—not just any outside organ, but PEOPLE MAGAZINE, where Survivor third boots go for their wedding spreads.

Taylor: At least keep it in the family and sell it to Page Six like Sonja.

Gerard: Precisely. There’s the tiers of Housewives gossip: Page Six, then Radar, then random IG accounts. People is extraneous.

Tracey: It’s actually kind of amazing to me that this divorce we all could see coming a mile away managed to generate such a massive news cycle.

Gerard: Right? Charles and Diana for our time.

Taylor: And, bizarrely, sympathy! Like the response I feel was overwhelmingly in favour of LuAnn.

Tracey: I have no idea if it impacted any ratings for Bravo but overall it made LuAnn a household name to casual observers.

Gerard: That’s the thing with LuAnn: perseverance. She knows if you’re around long enough people care about you by default.

Taylor: I’ve said this before, but LuAnn knows the long con. She knows if you keep calling yourself Countess long enough, it gets etched into the pop cultural amber and then you don’t need the title.

Tracey: As much as LuAnn was super delusional about marrying Tom, he still was the cheating asshole. Always fosters some goodwill.   

Taylor: There’s a single in this, LuAnn, if you’re listening.

Gerard: Oh man, LuAnn’s 2017 take on “I Will Survive,” the world needs it.

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Taylor: And lastly, before we switch subjects, one more piece of LuAnn-adjacent business: the return of Jill Zarin. Are we all okay? Did we all survive?

Tracey: I honestly forgot she was on the season! Sorry, Jill…

Taylor: Yeah, it was a bit of a flop cameo.

Gerard: I’m ready for the return of Jill. God knows I’ll regret it the second her gay husband Brad returns, and God knows it actually will never happen, BUT BRING IT ON.  

Tracey: I’d absolutely add her back into the mix now. The show is a different beast from seasons 1-4. I think it would be hilarious to watch her try to run her game on these ladies who have been at it for a decade.

Taylor: I mean as ever the stumbling block remains Bethenny. I sincerely think Bethenny will not ever agree to film with Jill again. And like…fair enough.

Gerard: The cameo was merely the iceberg tip of Jill’s endless total war to return to the show, cf. her summoning EVERY HOUSEWIFE WORLDWIDE to her home in some bizarre Magneto-style plot to force Bravo’s hand.

Taylor: Oh man when Pettifleur and Kara Alloway were thrown into the mix I knew she meant business.

Tracey: I thought Bawby was going to die and she could come back and guilt everyone as a widow. Looks like he might be pulling through though so uh…maybe not.      

Taylor: Bethenny sent a gift this time. A beautiful basket of SkinnyGirl lunch meats I’m sure.

Gerard: I, uh, am guessing that Bobby will continue to linger on the edge of recovery for as long as she’s not on the show.

Taylor: That’s very cynical; I do not disagree.

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Taylor: Opening old wounds AGAIN: the front half of the season was largely devoted to Carole’s trauma around the presidential election. This is something I was dreading watching, but honestly, I found something comforting in watching it play out.     

Tracey: Thanks but no thanks.

Taylor: See, I was okay with it because it was largely filtered through Carole who has a soul. I think if it had been literally any other take on it, I couldn’t have hacked it, because everyone else is way too stupid to handle it.

Gerard: I very much felt Carole’s like…hangover/last night’s clothes gestalt the day after. That said, I’m sad that it was basically her only story. How the funny have fallen.

Taylor: Yeah, this was really my segue into: Carole. Is it fixable?  

Tracey: As long as Bethenny is around? Nay.

Gerard: Ehhh I don’t know. It’s sad to me. Part of me thinks she knows she’s over it, and will move on, but then Bethenny probably wants to drag her forward as a number. And Bethenny without Carole could be a total nightmare anyway.            

Taylor: I found both Bethenny and Carole much better this year, certainly compared to their season eight swirlie-fest on Jules, but I don’t think Carole has the motivation to make real stories for herself on this show.  

Gerard: Carole only works when she has a rival. Carole v. Aviva was fantastic. Carole v. LuAnn was fantastic. She gets along too well with the women now, but also barely engages with them.

Taylor: Both Aviva and LuAnn brought it to her, though, not the other way around. And I honestly think everyone else is too scared of her because they know she’s smarter than them.

Gerard: She also is redundant now. Bethenny and Dorinda together overlap her enough that she’s kinda of unnecessary to the group.

Tracey: As was pointed out at the reunion, Bethenny escapes every fight she’s in as soon as possible, so Carole always being in tow really keeps her out of the drama without any chance to make a place for herself. My favourite Carole moments this season involved seeing her chuckle at Dorinda eviscerating Sonja, both at that first Hamptons dinner with Candace Bushnell and at the Bronx pizzeria. It reminded me of when Carole actually really enjoyed being a part of the insanity, even though she was almost always on the outside and not directly involved.

Taylor: Yeah, I think Carole and Dorinda have excellent chemistry, way better than her and Bethenny.

Gerard: See I would hope for something like that as the best case scenario: Dorinda poaching Carole from Bethenny, or Carole poaching Tinsley from Sonja.

Tracey: Oh God give me Sonja Morgan coming at Carole for poaching Tinsley. That would be hilarious.

Taylor: Sonja v. Carole would be a fucking mess.

Gerard: Like arguing with your pet.

Taylor: You’re actually far better off coming at Sonja as a lunatic because then you can get on her level. Every normie who’s tried to bring it to Sonja has been crushed.

Gerard: But again, that’s the best Carole: totally unspooling when a psycho (AVIVA) comes at her.

Tracey: I mean, Carole’s whole character on the show has basically been boiled down to crazy pet lady now.

Gerard: Oh, which reminds me: if she really HAS broken up with Adam there’s sooooome hope there, because he was like the fuckin tofu he cooked—absorbing all the Carole flavor.

Taylor: Oh man, remember when she spent all of s8, one of the best seasons ever, writing a vegan cookbook with him in seclusion?

Tracey: Remember when Carole and Heather went out to a gay bar and got absolutely hammered? It was a cute little filler scene by two friends with real chemistry. I don’t think we’ll get that Carole back though, sadly.

~~~

Whew, well I’m sure that deep dive into the wonders and thrills of season 9 Carole have left you thirsting for more, so stay tuned for Part Deux, in which we debate such weighty issues as: Does Tinsley owe Sonja a kidney, or just part of her liver? Was Dorinda involved with the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa? And is Sonja’s townhouse Purgatory, or merely a liminal space between universes?

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