I would say “I couldn’t help myself,” but I don’t care for that expression. I could chalk it up to needing to stay plugged into pop culture as a selfless act of serious journalism, but I don’t think you’d buy it.
Instead, I’ll cop to my addiction to Real Housewives of New York City, and admit that not only was I glued to the screen for RHNY Reunion Part 1, but I just lapped up Part 2, with equal portions of fascination and dismay.
Caricatures, but then again. . .
The Housewives franchise is certainly contoured to appeal to our voyeuristic side, offering up more caricature – at first – than anything else. We see it in the New Yorkers: Spoiled Material Girl (Jill), Savvy Social Climber (Alex), Tragi-Comic Smart Mouth (Bethenny), Name Dropping Parvenue (the Countess), and so on.
Yet in short order, we take a closer look, and begin to experience each cast member three dimensionally – their contradictions and vulnerabilities, set against the soap opera-like trials and tribulations of a world most of us don’t inhabit.
And then we’re hooked. We come to like these women, recognizing ourselves in their human failings, and we’re happy when “good stuff” comes their way. We laugh, cringe, and wish for them to be their better selves. Okay, at least occasionally.
Part 1 Recap
It was a strange season. Jill became the one we love to hate, and at the same time, we hated it. We didn’t get it. We want to see friends care about each other, not tear each other down.
As for the Reunion? My recap of Part 1:
- Cool dresses, hot tempers
- Mega-fighting (no surprise)
- Bethenny looked amazing, 10 days post C-section
- Alex is a new woman (and we like it)
- Sonja injects class and calm
Then there’s Jill, repeating:
It didn’t come out right.
I didn’t mean it.
I was in a bad mood that day.
And each time, an apology. Sort of, sometimes. Okay, maybe not so much.
As in a well-crafted fictional series, we’re attached to these characters. We jeer them and cheer them, gawk at them and chuckle over them, analyze them and admire them. But we’re missing the bigger picture, and we know it.
Stir the pot, while stirring into the pot: break-ups, break-downs, post-divorce dating, illness, death, along with professional ventures, pregnancy, engagements and weddings. We’re served up gourmet gossip fare, and a fertile look at a wide range of human emotions. Much more than petty jealousy, designer fashion, and squabbling at social events.
And yet it seems much was about jealousy after all, and possibly a toxic tour of narcissism. Something about the feud between former BFFs Bethenny and Jill didn’t add up. Until last night, when admissions and confirmation came that Jill was jealous of Bethenny’s success, and was trying to sabotage it. Childish behavior. The end of a friendship.
Reunion Recap Part Deux
In last night’s airing of Part 2 there were more apologies, non-stop , from Jill. Paraphrased:
Alex to Jill:
You’re apologizing not because you want to make up, but because you want to look good.
I’m the biggest cheerleader… I’m the last person to be accused of not being supportive of my friends.
She [Jill] said Bethenny has her own show. Why should we help her be successful?
I’m not denying it. I was wrong. I apologize.
I was wrong. I was wrong.
It was a mistake. I don’t know. It was a mistake.
You’re right. I held a grudge.
Okay! Uncle! We believe she’s sorry (for the consequences), if not for her actions. But at this point, Jill has been tarred and feathered and we should leave her alone. Hopefully, to redeem herself. Hopefully, to take that statement “I can’t change” and examine it. Hopefully, to reconsider it.
Kelly, Kelly, Kelly. . .
Then the topper: Kelly Bensimon in total denial, Kelly rewriting reality (TV?) history, Kelly who needs something more than lollipops and jelly beans, Kelly who calls a break-down a break-through, even as host Andy Cohen states “Kelly, that isn’t true” to one of her numerous comments that make little sense.
Bethenny Frankel is often portrayed as the show’s “Greek chorus,” with her classic one-liners and running commentary to situate episode events. At this point, even she is trying to edit herself when it comes to Kelly; there’s something seriously awry. We’re more than wondering. We’re worried. The woman needs help.
A dark season? Oh yes. And one more part to this “reunion” still remains to air. Fortunately, Bravo is offering us lighter fare for the rest of the summer, with new shows like Work of Art and Bethenny’s Getting Married. Peeping through the key hole on pseudo-society is one thing; witnessing relationships and individuals self-destruct is quite a different matter.
Images courtesy Bravo TV.
© D A Wolf