RHONY S9 Roundtable, Part 2: Mother Sonje and Her Children

Welcome back! With the D’Agostino Drama in the rearview (for now…), we’re moving on to RHONY’s screwball comedy remake of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, starring Sonja Morgan and Tinsley Mortimer. We’re also taking a Jessica Fletcher-style magnifying glass to Dorinda’s Papers for Fraud, and to those who think we’re not gonna discuss Bethenny v. Ramona: are you kidding me? Are you kidding me. Are you kidding me??????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

Taylor: I propose we discuss…Sonja.   

Tracey: I’ll call in an actor to do my part.  

Taylor: “Frenchie is an actor” is a hilar late-game scandal, by the way. Taking pages from the Kenya Moore playbook, who knew?

Gerard: I loooove reunion meta-scandals (see also: Bethenny’s disgusting infidelity last year).

Tracey: I honestly didn’t see it coming.   

Gerard: Oh yeah, I had no idea.  

Tracey: All of Sonja’s relationships are odd and seem to be crafted for the screen to some degree, so I didn’t see “hired actor” coming at all.  

Gerard: Yeah, I figured EdgarFrenchie was just a weirdo grifter or someshit.

Taylor: Yeah, Sonja seems to surround herself with a variety of con artists at all times—or, as they are perhaps better known, “Team Sonja” (shouts to Satoko, Robin the swami priest, AJ and BJ Bindra, etc.).

Gerard: How dare you call the pure-hearted mythical beasts of Narnia “con artists?” They come through that wardrobe to work gratis for a pure-hearted heroine. (Just said “pure-hearted” twice, the gin is kicking in. I’ll fix it in post.)


Taylor: This season saw perhaps the most egregious incidence of an interloper taking advantage of Sonja’s kindness, though, as the vile rogue Tinsley Mortimer exploited her for a warm bed without even the courtesy of multiple hostess gifts and her undying servitude. On a scale of 10 to 10, how despicable is Tinsley for abusing Sonja’s trust in this way?

Gerard: Wish I could go higher. We all long for the safety of Sonja’s arms, and Tinsley threw it all away by not presenting dead rodents on the stoop every morning for Sonja as a token of gratitude.  

Tracey: I don’t know about you, but after a traumatic time in my life I want to crawl into Sonja’s arms and learn her ways. She certainly has managed to…pull herself out of all her problems…of her own creation…

Taylor: I think Sonja is an excellent role model.  

Gerard: Oh God yes, what better role model for a confused young woman from a Southern dynasty than an aging alcoholic divorcee shut up within her crumbling manse?

Taylor: After all, if Tinsley’s goal is to NOT constantly repeat her own mistakes, live a delusional life in a ten-years-dead marriage, and generally remain static while wishing desperately for the world to magically transform to the exact way it was when she was happy, what better example than Sonja, who does zero of those things?

Gerard: Tinsley still drinks ~bar alcohol~ so she’s got a long way to go before she can fully adopt Mama Sonje’s ways.       

Tracey: If bars start stocking Tipsy Girl does it become bar alcohol?  

Taylor: Bar ambrosia, more like.

Gerard: I love philosophical questions.

Taylor: Give me the Tipsy Girl, you say, as you swagger up to the PYT behind the bar at Beautique, and a glass of milk to drop my tooth in.   


Taylor: I’ve said before, and I WILL write a blogue about this, but I’ve always found Sonja most effective as a mirror to whomever she’s bouncing off of at any given time–Ramona in social affairs, Bethenny in business, LuAnn in love–and I think Tinsley has to be the most harrowing example of this. Sonja’s abuse of Tinsley was self-flagellation at its core.   

Tracey: I ended up liking Tinsley, which I’m sure will be up for discussion later, but I still couldn’t get enough of Sonja’s torture of her.

Taylor: I think Tinsley was a wonderful piece of texture in this cast.    

Gerard: I also saw Sonja as Tinsley’s Ghost of Christmas Future, except without the part where there’s the possibility of change or redemption. Tinsley WILL be torturing some poor socialite in her hotel room in 2040.  

Tracey: The Ghost of Groundhog Day.  

Gerard: Mmmhm.    

Taylor: I mean, at the end of the day, both Sonja and Tinsley just want to be kept, and Tinsley seems, in a HYSTERICALLY improbable twist, to have achieved this. Who knew that that disastrous first date would pay dividends? Carole Radziwill, what a mensch. 

Tracey: Oh yeah, that’s what’s hilarious: against all odds, Tinsley appears to have found some rich guy who isn’t an asshole who adores her? You go girl.

Gerard: I mean I guess Tinsley has that on Sonja at least: less difficult to keep. By which I mean, she imprints on ANY HUMAN with money and a Y chromosome immediately.

Taylor: Yeah, just keep her in weekly blowouts and she’s fine.  

Gerard: Oh Tinsley doesn’t ask for a lot: twice daily makeup sessions and seven to ten bottles of Tito’s a week, boom done.        

Tracey: I think Tinsley’s insanity, which shouldn’t be downplayed, is a much more cohabitable insanity than Sonja’s.    

Taylor: I will say, in the interest of transparency, that Tinsley’s addition to the show inspired me to watch HIGH SOCIETY, which is on YouTube in its entirety, and man. If you need your Dale Mercer fix (you do), x out of this roundtable and go marathon that whole mess. Watching it really informed my opinion of Tinsley; she’s been this way for a decade. She’s not funny, not smart, not especially telegenic, but she lucked into niche fame ten years ago and she will ride it ’til the tail falls off, and good the fuck for her.

Tracey: I watched the first episode upon Taylor’s recommendation and wow, I think I needed a shower immediately after.       

Taylor: Yeah, it was sort of like…if the cameras were allowed into one of John and Dorinda’s coke parties, minus the charm.  

Tracey: The Tom D’Agostinos of the world 20 years younger.       

Gerard: I actually root for Tinsley to return, not only because I enjoyed her (and I rarely enjoy young hapless late-RHONY newbies), but also because this really is kind of the best case scenario for her life: Carole as your fairy godmother…public sympathy because Ramonja are fucking insane…spend time away from Dale…      

Taylor: Yeah it uh…keeps her safe, or as safe as you can be until Ramona inevitably decides to turn on you.   

Tracey: I kind of enjoy the single season arc of her coming onto the show to rebuild her life, going about it all in terrible fashion, being abused by her evil stepmother, and then everything works out anyway and she rides off into the distance. But I do also think she was entertaining, especially as she unraveled as the season went on, and I wouldn’t be bothered by her return.

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Taylor: But Tinsley wasn’t the only person to run up against Sonja this season. Sonja v. Dorinda: a joy.     

Gerard: Sonja v. Dorinda, whetstone v. knife.

Tracey: Sonja and Dorinda started this season off with a bang.

Taylor: Yeah, early on, when it seemed like this one might be a dud (or a RHONY-dud—no RHONY is bad, as we all have tatted on our collarbones), Dorinda came in hot. Where were you when Dorinda revealed the existence of her MOLE? I‘m sure we all remember.

Tracey: I have to say that one of my favourite little bits of this season was viewing the context for the much circulated “not well bitch” clip and learning that she was saying this to Candace Bushnell of all people.

Taylor: Oh, I was in love with every minor piece of Dorinda minutiae this season. I was personally fond of when she forgot her luggage because John Mahdessian fucked her so good but still remembered to bring her tiny portable disco ball.      

Gerard: Dorinda’s Venn overlap between Jawn Mahdessian’s outer borough mob-connected goons (I assume, don’t sue me) and like…Candace Bushnell and Hillary Clinton is such a perfect summary of her being.

Tracey: Her whole “mole” conversation with Carole was absolute gold: talking about her thick file of reconnaissance…Carole monitoring her drinking only to learn it was Coke, which she needed for the sugar.

Taylor: I was edging going into that whole confrontation, because Dorinda confrontations are like…lowest common denominator coked-out screaming.

Gerard: She makes it nice, she has a Christmas cottage in the Berkshires, but also she will fucking gut you like a fish with your own dinner knife bitch.

Taylor: She doesn’t go for the artfully constructed argument.

Tracey: Yeah, just railing on Sonja for her loose vagina using a variety of metaphors.

Taylor: She is just like you are 1) ugly 2) a slut 3) fuck you 4) asswipe 5) I have your papers for FRAUD 6) clip 7) throws a coat check tag in your face so you can collect the fur coat she wore to brunch at a random Bronx pizzeria blackout drunk at 10am. Big mood.

Tracey: And yeah Tay, after her spontaneous confrontation over the drunken (Dorinda anyway) pizza lunch, I realized Dorinda is not one to plan her arguments out in advance. I think she’s an improvver.  

Gerard: I think of it as argument jazz.                        

Taylor: Oh that’s nice, I like this.                        

Gerard: She knows the key, but she lets the music take her.                        

Taylor: That’s beautiful.                        

Gerard: Only as beautiful as the subject herself.

Taylor: And, for the record, I do believe Sonja was spreading bullshit around town about Dorinda like a maniac. Like even Bethenny and Tinsley, unrelated third parties, were giving confessionals to that effect.

Gerard: Oh man, Sonja’s Page Six shit all season.

Taylor: Which she denies!   

Gerard: Like “well it was off the record nobody could prove who it was…” Okay Sonja.

Taylor: Like who hypothetically is this if it’s not Sonja? It’s probably Connor. Her loophole.

Gerard: Now I need a one-act where Sonja, Connor, and Tinsley are the only characters. One man’s struggle…                        

Tracey: She’s still festering over not being invited to the Berkshires CURRENTLY so I can see her raging to anyone who would listen a year ago about everything Dorinda has snorted/done wrong.

Taylor: I want a Sonja’s townhouse anthology series, a la American Horror Story.

Gerard: At the VERY least I want every single housewife to live there for a season.

Taylor: Season 1 LuAnn, season 2 Tinsley, season 3…Yolanda…? Get on it, Bravo. Jill Zarin would live in the townhouse if it got her back on the show, just saying.

Tracey: She was probably down in the basement for all of filming anyway…poking her head out of doorways, holding her ear up to a drain pipe…

Taylor: Dressed in a dog costume…WOOF WOOF IT’S ME MILLOU I’M BACK is Bethenny saying anything about Jill or…?


Taylor: So we’ve talked a little bit about the minor scraps of the season, but these were all undercard for the true main event, the Mayweather vs. McGregor of RHONY 9, which ended just as decisively: Bethenny vs Ramona.

Tracey: Are you kidding me???

Gerard: Are you kidding me. And yes I agree that Ramona annihilated Bethenny’s brand, her naked photos, her sex movies.

Tracey: I want to throw back to Camille Grammer in how I assess this matchup because…most people would say Bethenny destroyed Ramona BUT the one who stays in control wins, and Ramona got under Bethenny’s skin something fierce and caused so many meltdowns.

Taylor: I think of all the Ramona-isms born of this conflict the one that will most stay with me is “you had sex on a waterbed.” Like, did you or did you not have sex on a waterbed, Bethenny? Mhm that’s what I thought. Point: Singer.

Gerard: I’ve said it before, but when you read this season as Ramona’s struggle to make sure she was sitting next to Andy at the reunion again, she won, and I think there’s a nonzero chance that that was her motivation throughout.

Taylor: I read this season as more of her deranged Mario divorce angst, spurred by LuAnn’s wedding.

Tracey: I read it as boredom, which feeds into either of your theories.

Taylor: Which is hilarious, to me, because LuAnn’s JEALOUS BITCHES line crumbles in the face of any kind of logic but I do actually think it rattled both Ramona and Sonja a bit, even though it was transparently motivated by LuAnn’s own fear of dying a spinster. I also think it was hilarious and, of course, typical Ramona how breezily she wiped the whole thing under the rug. She was an unfathomable psycho to Bethenny for really the entire year, turned on some fake waterworks and contrition in Mexico, took a couple of token punches at the reunion, and ended with tequila shots all “oh we’re all the best of friends!” Nothing touches her, it’s absurd.

Tracey: I thought Ramona handled the reunion perfectly: didn’t deny anything, apologized and joked, came off charming.

Gerard: Yeah, Ramona’s longevity is all about being a housewives savant. She does SO much absurd shit, but she understands the overall flow of things. It actually is a lot like what we said about LuAnn; clearly this is the formula for housewife longevity.

Taylor: It’s the difference between her and Vicki, honestly. On the surface, they’re kind of similarly narcissistic nutjobs, but Ramona GETS IT in a way Vicki never could. Ramona knows the show is her vehicle, and Vicki thinks it’s her show.    

Tracey: We joke about Rapologies, her mixture of sincere and insincere apologies doled out to get herself out of trouble, but it’s an amazing housewives tactic, since the refusal to admit wrongdoing is what burns most bridges and can bring down a wife even in the viewers’ eyes.

Taylor: Oh totally—imagine if LVP could deliver a Rapology. She could get herself out of so much shit.

Gerard: That’s so relevant to my Vancouver watch! Jody’s secret weakness is that if you say I’M SORRY she immediately LOVES you. She just wants that power over you. Ramona gets that about people: regardless of who was right, if someone’s upset and you say I WAS WRONG SORRY they’ll be happy 90% of the time.

Tracey: Exactly, and anyone who is playing this right knows it’s a long con.   

Taylor: I bet it’s why she’s done so well in business: a healthy mix of 90% getting what you want and 10% giving people basic lip service so they THINK they have what they want.                    

Tracey: Sacrifice your pawn and build up to a bigger move.

Gerard: And then even in a situation like this season, where Bethenny has the receipts and knows the apologies are bullshit, Ramona knows Bethenny doesn’t have the long-term energy to keep it up. Bethenny will want a new storyline just like she will.

Taylor: Bethenny also mostly gets the game here, to her credit.

Gerard: Oh for sure. It’s a dance.

Tracey: Oh yeah, by the point Bethenny was considering not inviting Ramona to Mexico I’m pretty sure she realized she was going to have to acquiesce—though Ramona did barge onto the trip without an explicit invitation, invoking the meta show rules of “it’s a group trip.”    

Gerard: That’s the whole thing: they’re at the Olympus of Housewives now, both of them. They know the secret rules, and they know they have to dance around each other ultimately, and that their conflict is all about inflating themselves, not actually winning whatever dumb argument is currently happening.

Taylor: Which is hilarious, because so often housewives will get uninvited from these things and…not…go? Like they’re not complete contrivances of production? Carlton didn’t go to Puerto Rico, for example.

Gerard: Rookie mistake, but rookies are soooo power-weak.

Taylor: LuAnn did the same thing last year with the fake Mexico trip: went into the bathroom, railed the fattest jar of cookies Tommy could procure for her, and then came to the table and graciously accepted Bethenny’s non-invite to Mexico.

Tracey: Oh yeah, you don’t sit out a group trip. Sonja Morgan knows the pain of being excluded from iconic Housewives moments that can only occur when they are locked into a remote location.

Gerard: Yup, even vaginal rejuvenation couldn’t steal that thunder.

Taylor: We didn’t even mention Ramona fucking up Dorinda’s bedroom, by the way, it really was a deceptively packed season.

Tracey: Ramona fucking up Dorinda’s bedroom, Sonja defiling her pajamas…no wonder Dorinda was ready to stab some tables by Mexico.


Coming up in our concluding chapter, we discuss the ladies’ trip to SkinnyGirl Mexico, and debate which of them will be exiled to the Land of Misfit Wives during the offseason. Start your prayers for LuAnn now!


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