With the S10 premiere boner-inducingly close, let’s take a moment to look back on season openers past, shall we?
9. The B Is Back (Season 7, Episode 1)
This episode exemplifies the many flaws that would come to plague S7. It’s a bit too crowded to let us get a feel for all the women. It’s stuck in a transition phase where Heather and Kristen are still kicking around talking about shapewear and energy drinks while Dorinda is a mere pixie-cut-wielding cipher of a newbie. And, most damningly, it’s an unyielding showcase for Bethenny’s return, except this bitch is clearly not ready to return, as demonstrated by her attempting to shoehorn in (an eventually successful, sigh) backdoor pilot about her fuuucking boring real estate career with the fuuucking boring Fredrik, and simultaneously throwing sobfests about her divorce and being “homeless” (by which she means living in luxury hotels…). Ramona wears divorce grief better in the very same episode, sorry.
8. Start Spreading the News (Season 8, Episode 1)
A bit of a sleepy affair, more about setting up the pyrotechnics ahead than anything. Dorinda thinks she’s been made to feel defensive about her relationship with Jawn Mahdessian, can’t imagine why, and Luann has moved in with Sonja in a cokey remake of The Golden Girls. This is all exciting setup, but there are storm clouds too, as Bethenny suggests that Jules reminds her of her eating-disorder-afflicted mother, thus kicking off a season’s worth of obnoxious concern trolling about Jules’s behavior. Calm down and have a cutlery calzone, B.
7. Meet the Wives (Season 1, Episode 1)
The very first episode gives us a pretty accurate intro to the original Housewives, as Ramona commences a decade of mortifying Avery on national television, the de Lessepses purchase the seemingly immortal Aston, Bethenny dates a stuffy bore named Jason (no, not the psycho one, the other one), and Silex hang out half a hemisphere away. N.B., the first time I watched this episode I fell asleep before the end, and nearly had a panic attack when I woke up and finished watching Jill guilt Ally into talking to her stand-offish stepdad Bobby (uh, RIP).
6. If You Can Make It Here (Season 6, Episode 1)
A solid entry, centered on Aviva desperately worming her way back into a group that wants absolutely no part of her (can’t decide whether to take this to a leg joke place or not so supply your own). She eventually flips Ramonja on side—partly by doing shots(!) with Ramona—thus setting herself up to train all her fire on Carole and Heather in the blistering stretch of episodes right after. Also of note: Sonja dates a 23-year-old and Kristen, also, is a person, who is now on the show.
5. There’s a New Girl in Town (Season 2, Episode 1)
Season 2 starts off with a fun little dose of drama, as Silex learn that Jill’s been shitting all over them to the Post (setting up a motif that continues nearly a decade later). Bethenny stays with Jill in the Hamptons and they share a retroactively menacing series of pajama-party-esque kibitzing scenes. And, of course, we meet the lovely Kelly Killoren Bensimon, who seems a little odd…but she’s probably just a little nervous to be filming, right?
4. Talk of the Town (Season 9, Episode 1)
Another episode that falls into the season-foreshadowing category, as Luann prepares for her wedding and Dorinda complains about Sonja’s gossip-mongering. The low is even more fucking Bethenny-Fredrik real estate bullshit (START YOUR DAMN SHOW ALREADY AND LEAVE ME ALONE); the high is Ramona wondering why oh why would Luann not invite her to her wedding?! Who cares that she keeps spreading stories about Tom cheating on Luann, after all…friendship is friendship.
3. Grin and Bare It (Season 4, Episode 1)
Providing the main conflict in this opener are Jill and Alex; they’ve always hated each other and always will, of course, but now Alex Isn’t Afraid To Use Her Voice (i.e., she knows she’s on the chopping block and wants to take advantage of Jill’s newly weakened position). Enter a paaainfully passive-aggressive encounter between them at a wedding Jill was desperately (and pretty openly) hoping Alex wouldn’t attend. Various subplots lend added color to this one, from Alex setting out on a sure-to-succeed modeling career and Ramona being typically nightmarish as she interviews prospective TrueFaith staff.
…Oh, and Cindy’s there. I literally forgot about it until I was just about to publish this post.
2. A New New York (Season 5, Episode 1)
It’s truly a new era, as the show shoves Carole, Heather, and Aviva into the group via some random-ass party at Sonja’s. This is a particularly delightful Luann episode, between her saying of Aviva that “you’d never know she had a handicap” and her replying to Heather’s overshare about her father’s death with the famous “darling, I sympathize, but it’s cocktail time.” Lu also gets the headline drama, as she confronts Ramona over her endless (glorious) “weekend mom” potshots. Other highlights include Aviva already starting in with the leg jokes and Ramona and Mario(!) ganging up to terrorize Heather.
1. New Alliances (Season 3, Episode 1)
Not merely the greatest RHONY premiere of all time, but also one of the single greatest episodes of this show. It gives us the genesis of the Bethenny-Jill saga (Jill repeats the phrase “you need to get a hobby” in two separate scenes) and the Ramona origin story of her father’s emotional abuse being responsible for all her bad behavior ever. We’re really here, though, for the staggeringly great set pieces that open and close the episode.
In the first, Ramona invites Lu, Jill, and Alex aboard her (friend’s) yacht to show off her Renewal in the form of her “older Cameron Diaz” haircut. The situation (of course) devolves as an already-drunk Ramona gets even more hammered, hawks her own jewelry to the women (without offering any gifts, natch), then gets into a scrap with Luann as the latter “makes a mountain over a holemill” about Mario calling her “Countless” at a photo shoot (“Tell him i will always be the Countess, by the way.” “I MEAN THERE’S NO TITLES IN THE US LET’S FACE IT”). The drama resolves itself, as it typically does, with Ramona having a drunk meltdown before recovering into an even-drunker/super-fake moment of reconciliation and forgiveness. And then she and Luann never fight again.
In the second, Luann forces Bethenny to drive ninety minutes to meet her at a bar next to her Hamptons house so she can emotionally terrorize her for a laundry lists of perceived slights, starting with the time Bethenny invited Lu to surfing lessons, then was taken aback when Lu made her pay for it all. She also fits in time to mock Bethenny for driving there in a SkinnyGirl branded car, possibly out of resentment at Bethenny’s having stolen the idea from her. They, too, fake-reconcile, mostly because Bethenny wants to get the fuck away from Lu. Isn’t friendship a beautiful thing?