Get to Our Game

Mallory Kasdan responds to “the Real Housewives of New York”

RHNY Non-Recap: This Says a Lot About the Show

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Slacker Blogger

So admittedly, I have not yet watched the full episode. I tried. I really did, to watch it in real time on Thursday night. (Ed. Note: It is now Monday). And it was so brutal that I turned off the television set and went to sleep instead, promising myself I’d get to it the next day, and then the next, and then the next. And still, by Monday afternoon I still have only seen the first 20 minutes of the show. So I apologize to the two of you still reading this, and I promise next week to get my housewife mojo back. But in the meantime, I will ask you this: how funny is it that they always shoot the exterior of Sonja’s townhouse to show that its connected to a public parking garage? Kinda mean but kinda funny. Also, the new assertive Alex is cool but a leeeetle strident, and quite possibly drinking to excess. And Sonja has jumped the shark.

More soon. In the meantime, please enjoy this Gawker recap. It will keep you in the know until I can get my stuff together.

Forgive me.

Real Housewives of New York: Run Amok Brides

Brian Moylan — Oh, the various assaults, crimes, and misdemeanors perpetrated by this cast of jokers running roughshod over Gotham City. The Real Housewives of New York were more worked up more than a bunch of whores during a penicillin shortage, and it was all in the name of matrimony.

Hello, everyone, I am Dame Brian Moylan, Executive Director of the Real Housewives Institute, I am here to discuss the mating rituals of our favorite subspecies of reality star, the Real Housewives. I know you were expecting Sir Richard the Lawson-hearted, but he was detained due to a prior engagement (slaying the singing dragons of American Idol) so he may ask me to help out with his study of the Housewives now and again this season.
Now, we have some very important events to discuss, namely a wedding. Well, it wasn’t a wedding really, but the Real Housewives sure were treating it like one. There is nothing a Real Housewife loves more than a wedding. Nothing! They will say yes to that dress, they will be shedding for the wedding, but they don’t know whose wedding is it anyway. Whether it’s their first wedding, a friend’s wedding, or that favorite creation of the Real Housewives, the vow renewal ceremony (which is as much of a wedding as a Tofu Chik Patty is a piece of fried chicken), the Housewives love a wedding. It’s because it combines their two favorite things: the validation of basking in someone else’s adoration and being the center of attention. Naturally they were all very jazzed for this Marriage Equality March where a bunch of homosexuals trotted across the Brooklyn bridge to convince all the mean men in the legislature to let them get married just like everyone else.

We heard about this magical march across the rainbow bridge last week when Alex McCord, the shining Athena of the Gay Civil Rights Movement, was telling everyone to wear their wedding dresses to the event and castigating Jill Zarin for being on the host committee of the march but then planning on ditching it to whoop it up with the breeders in the Hamptons instead.

On the morning of the March, Sonja Tremont Morgan, a beautiful sylph who was once the muse and model for John Singer Sargent back in her salad days of the 1860s, was seated in her Manhattan townhouse surrounded by white dresses. This is how she—one day when the invincibility potion she bought from Lisle von Roman wears off—hopes to die. Kelly Killoren Bensimon and Countess Crackerjacks arrive wearing street clothes and Alex McCord, the second coming of Harvey Milk, arrives in her wedding dress. They’re all going to wear wedding dresses to the march because, well, a Housewife loves a motherfucking wedding. But what to do? Kelly doesn’t have her wedding dress because it’s in a museum. In fact, it is hanging right here in the Real Housewives Institute, next to the chuppah from Jill Zarin’s first marriage and the death shroud of Jo De La Rosa’s recording career.

Countess Crackerjacks didn’t have a wedding dress either. She took a big drag off her Pall Mall and said, “Listen, girls, I don’t know what to tell you. Back in ’73, when I finally decided to ditch the game and get hitched I didn’t have a big fancy shindig like the rest of y’all. No, I eloped. I was wearing a pair of jeans, a ratty Harley Davidson T-shirt Count Crackerjacks stole from some trucker at a rest stop somewhere on the 101 outside of Scottdale, and the most darling giant turquoise necklace you ever did see. So I don’t have a dress, sorry. But I still have that T-shirt. Sometimes, when I’m sad at night and I’ve given Bronson Pinchot the night off from attending to my love needs, I take it out and make it into a little pillow. You can still smell the sweat and fumes on the thing, even now. Even now.”

That’s not even one of Sir Richard’s Countess Crackerjacks stories (I wouldn’t dare attempt such blasphemy as to write one myself), that is pretty much a direct quote from the show, with embellishments. Naturally, Sonja had like 174 wedding dresses just lying around from all her times modeling in them for Jack—which is what all of Sargent’s friends called him—so she just let everyone borrow them. God, Sonja really did think she was getting married, she kept going on and on and on about how it was “her day” just like a bride. There is nothing more obnoxious than this modern sentiment that the bride gets to ignore all social niceties and order everyone around on her wedding day. “It’s my day I get whatever I want. It’s my day you better wear this ugly dress cause I said so. It’s my day so if you don’t put those hot pokers in your eyes I’m going to sit here and pout and cry and you’ll ruin my day!”

Alex, channeling Larry Kramer’s ghost, reminded everyone that the day was about Marriage Equality. Then Sonja informed her that she was named the Grand Marshall of the parade and she would be speaking to kick off the march. That basically meant she was marrying the parade, so it was her day. It was all about Sonja.

All the ladies rolled up to the march and who is there but recalcitrant board member Jill Zarin. Standing next to her was a big burly man in one of those reflective vests that people working on the street at night wear. Across his chest in white letters it said “Damage Control.” He was clearly there with Jill. As Alex McCord was walking through the crowd, she also stumbled up someone else familiar. “Simon?” she asked. “What are you doing here?”

There he was, her dutiful husband Simon, standing there with his arms around two of the gayest homosexuals New York has ever produced and wearing a rainbow sequined bolero jacket of some sort that he bought for $200 one night while cavorting on magic mushrooms at the Ice Palace on Fire Island. “Oh, Alex, I didn’t expect to see you here. I just came here for support. Yes, that’s it,” he said taking his hands off the shoulders of his companions. “I want to show all the gay people that I’m one of—I mean that I give them my full support. These are my friends Dustin and Jayden.”
“Girl, what is wrong with your hair?” Dustin said.
“And why are you wearing a wedding dress?” Jayden asked.
“Ain’t no one wants to marry her tired ass!”
“Okrrrr. We need all the gay marriage help we can get, but sister, that ensemble isn’t helping anyone.”

Alex stomped off to the podium where Sonja was waiting to make her speech and Simon came with her, turning back quickly to give Dustin and Jayden a “sorry, I have to go make nice with my wife” shrug of his shoulders. When they got the podium, Simon was really moved to make a speech, but they said he couldn’t. Why? Because Sonja Morgan was marrying the parade, and she wanted to be the only one to speak so unless Simon got permission from the bride, he wouldn’t be able to speak now and he would forever have to hold his peace.

In Alex and Simon’s defense, I have seen them at countless fundraisers and events for homosexual and HIV-related causes over the years. The only time I’ve ever seen Sonja was at this march when the cameras were on, but still, she wanted to make her big wedding speech in front of everyone and wouldn’t let Simon. They got into a big fight right up there on the podium in front of everyone. Sonja kept saying, “It’s my day, it’s about me, don’t talk to me, I have to speak, now is not the time.” Well, when is the time? If they don’t get her permission to speak now, then the march will be over and they aren’t going to have another special march just so Simon can give his little speech. And what does she care if someone else speaks? Like Alex rightfully said, the day wasn’t about any of them, it was about a cause.

Anyway, it was time for Sonja to speak and she got up to the podium and started discussing love or something like that. As soon as she opened her mouth, moisture started falling form the sky, and umbrella after umbrella opened in the crowd in succession, like a row of Busby Berkley chorus girls spinning and unfurling parasols. But the moisture wasn’t rain, it was tears. It was crying tears of all the dead homosexuals who were never allowed to get married, crying at Sonja Morgan. Selfish bride Sonja Morgan, taunting them wither her wedding dress.

So they all march across the bridge and Gay Marriage was solved! Congrats! They celebrated with a reception for Mr. & Mrs. Gay Equality March at Alex and Simon’s house. Alex gets everyone’s attention and finally lets Simon give the speech he wanted to give all day. “Well,” Simon stammers, “I just wanted to say that when I moved to America I really wanted to marry someone named Alex and I met this really nice man named Alex but since you can’t marry a man and get a green card, I had to marry a woman named Alex. My life has been very different ever since.” Then he started to cry.

After the Marriage Equality March, Ramona bought a table at a party for Mr. Gucci, the king of the handbags. There some back burner plots simmered, simmered, simmered. There’s going to be some big blowout between Ramona and Kelly, and there’s also something strange going on with Ramona and new girl Cindy about some dead man’s cigars. Isn’t that the next Johnny Depp as a pirate movie? Pirates of the Caribbean 17: Dead Man’s Cigars. Actually, Cindy kind of looks like a dead man’s cigar. Did her brother smoke her? Anyway, simmering, simmering.

But last night the main course was the fight between Alex and Sonja. Sonja had an art party for her hunky boyfriend Brian. An art party! What kind of awful human being throws such a thing? Anyway, apparently Artist Brian doesn’t have a gallery. He has some paintings in a coffee shop in Brooklyn and in his girlfriend’s house. Screw Larry Gagosian, he has got it made! Sonja invited Alex to the art party, and a fight broke out.

Now, everyone, if you will please watch the video that accompanies this exhibit, we are going to discuss this argument in depth. Alright, you will clearly see that Sonja approaches Alex and as soon as they finish air kissing, she brings up their tiff at the march. Sonja’s all “It was nothing. Water off a duck’s back.” Well, then why are you bringing it up, Sonja? Then she goes with the insulting, “Simon, is that your husband’s name? Simon?” Ugh, that was just awful. And then she says, “What I didn’t appreciate was him all up in my grill. It was horrible.”

Alex comes back with, “What was horrible was how you made the day about you and not gay people.” Point number one for Alex McCord. Then, she tries to calmly and rationally explain her position to Sonja who then says, “Let me cut you off, because you’re annoying me.” Then, when Alex tries to defend herself, Sonja gives her the, “Let me finish!” and gets all huffy. OK, Sonja, you cut people off but then get pissy when they cut you off? Then, miraculously, she just decides, “This is not the time.” Well, Sonja, if it wasn’t the time, why did you bring it up and start the fight in the first place! Alex was trying to have a calm discussion and your rudeness turned it into a screaming match. Then, when Alex pipes up so that she can be heard, Sonja just keeps talking and talking and talking over her, calling Alex rude and accusing her of not shutting up. It appears that Sonja, herself, was the one breaking all of her own rules. What does that say about her? She hates Alex because she hates herself? She’s a pompous jerk? Who knows, but it wasn’t quite right.

I’m a big Alex McCord fan, but I’m not sure how I like this new aggressive Alex McCord. She’s able to get loud, but her argument wasn’t the best. “Check the website, check the website, check the website,” she kept saying. Oh, Alex, we all know that the internet is only made for two things: porn and lies. “Checking a website” is not the best defense. But she didn’t let Sonja run over her and didn’t do the old Alex thing and just apologize when she knew she did nothing wrong. No, she left that party with her head held high knowing that she had won—something. A shred of dignity, the fight for gay rights, another season wearing studded dresses to basement art parties at rich people’s houses. Something, she won something.

But Sonja had everything to lose. She used to be our favorite, this Sonja. She didn’t let anything get to her. She just wanted a glass of chardonnay, a good laugh, and perhaps a hot guy to slam her into next Tuesday every now and again. She was the fun one who didn’t get involved in the drama. That Sonja used to be so above it all just by laughing it all off. But now she’s one of them, the screeching grub women of New York, down there mud wrestling in the mire with all the other invertebrates, getting herself all dirty and exposing her jelly insides for the world. Yes, Sonja, you lost.

Then it was time for the big reveal at the art party. Ageless old Sonja had posed for yet another portrait, this one by her boyfriend Brian. She recalled all those regal oil paintings of her that hung in the Met and the Tate and all those other museums with shortened names. She was sure this was going to be just like that, a muse for another age. When Brian peeled the the drapery away from the painting, Sonja’s eyes had that glint from long ago, but it went out quickly and with a small hiss, like wet fingers closing around a candle wick. Everyone’s face dropped when they saw the misshaped woman’s figure in a Crayola world. She looked like she was inhabiting a scene from What Dreams May Come, that awful movie where Robin Williams goes to heaven. Just like that movie, no one wanted to see this either. There she was, at the center of a schizophrenic rainbow sitting in a big puddle of white. It’s like she wet herself and washed away all the color, all the goodness, and all that remained was a bleached wasteland. That’s when it started again, the dampness, the tears, coming down not from heaven but Sonja’s eyes. And now there wasn’t an umbrella in sight to save her.

Real Housewives of NYC Recap: Thank Goodness For the Vag Spa Lady

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger

Well that was torturous. Probably the most boring hour of drudgery I’ve forced myself to watch in a while. The wives seemed out of practice and concurrently more of their awful selves than ever. And my cable box actually went out for the first five minutes, as if to say, no no, no, don’t do it. Read those back issues of the Atlantic that have been piling up since 2004. Read the back of the cereal box. Read something. Anything.

But of course I watched.

And what did I learn?

Ramona whored herself out yet again, lending her name to a white wine she can quaff, and heightened her belligerence toward friends and strangers. Because she is a businesswoman, we get to see her interviewing some poor schmuckettes to be her assistant and abuse them beyond humor. I thought kids today were supposed to be media savvy. You’d think they could use Google and envision the montage Bravo would prepare of them before they agreed to be on camera. But no. Ramona had to be all Donald Trump and then say it’s a tough world out there and she’s doing these girls a favor by telling them they have bad skin and outfits. Ramona seriously sucks. She is dumb and mean.

We also saw Ramona being crabby in the morning in the Hamptons with Smoove Mario and houseguests Alex and Simon and being incapable of using a bagel knife. Which is a good thing, I think. Pinot grigio + aggro behavior + knife skills is never a good calculation, so let’s keep that cutlery away from Ramona.

Cindy, the new one. She seems ok, or comfortable on camera anyway. It’s definitely in the NYC demographic that she was able have her babies on her own and at an “older age,” though she doesn’t look any older than Bethenney, or Alex, or Kelly. All these housewives are sort of ageless. You could tell me any one of them is 35 or 55 and I would believe you. Cindy handled Jill’s yapping like she knows her way around a yenta– but come on, we all wanted to know the deal.

Besides the vaj spas, Cindy is a philanthopist, raising money for lots of causes, including cancer research. Good. Good. She’s friends with an artist with a bad perm who has a foot fetish. Good. Her brother’s name is Howie, and I’m sure we’ll see more of him. And she’s raising two baby girls on her own, with just a few paid people to help her. But she seems to be a self-made woman, so rock the hell on. I’m sure her children will be given the very best, and taught the wonderful lessons of laser vs. tweezing vs. waxing as soon as they have hair on their bodies.

Kelly was rather mellow, but had several snarky comments I enjoyed, such as “I don’t know if Simon and Alex are in the market to buy art, but they’ll come to the opening of an envelope.” Zing! Mostly she just played with her hair and repeated bumper sticker sayings she learned on the ashram – things like “It’s all good” and “with the help of my beautiful daughters,” and looked uncomprehending while Jill talked at her about closure and feelings and Bethenney and shapewear.

Speaking of Jill. Hilarious. The editors and Bravo love torturing her. She is such a hateful hag. “Bawby I gotta get Spanx with lace,” she yammered, getting out of the car at the Hamptons wedding. “I’m on the HONORARY committee,” she intoned in some kind of conversation about a march for same sex rights. Seriously, what the f— are you talking about? I loved it when in one scene she talks about how much she’s changed, how her values are intact and that she’s moved on since last season, and the very next she’s gossiping with two women at this wedding and saying, “That bitch Alex McCord is wearing ivory at a wedding – how dare she?” Great stuff.

Alex and Simon were very present in this episode. We learned that Alex has signed with a modeling agency and that Simon is her IT bitch. I relate to this, because my husband is my IT bitch. Hopefully that is where the similarities end. Alex was pretty strident, gulping wine and hanging out with the Ramonacoaster, which is a better idea that hanging out with Jill and LuAnn I suppose, but still, I say go smoke a bowl with Sonja and Cindy instead. Alex is definitely trying to assert herself all over the place this season, and it’s a bit much. She’s got something major to do with this March for Equality, which managed to get everyone hot and bothered about how important their names are to this particular cause, and gave us the treat of hearing Ramona slurrily discuss politics and same sex rights to marry. Leave it to these women to make an issue that has nothing to do with them …. about them. ACK.

By the way, who on earth would allow reality show cameras at their wedding? So intimate. So respectful of the institution of marriage. I’m glad all of these jackasses can get married and same sex couples can’t. Is this what Bravo is subtly trying to comment on here?

We saw Sonja and LuAnn on a weird double date with their lovahs. I had never seen LuAnn’s guy speak more than a “Oui, oui,” and he is straight out of central casting. LuAnn was not memorable in this episode and is probably boning up on her judgy McJudginess somewhere, or else in the recording studio getting ready to “drop” her next single. Can’t wait. And Sonja is very loose and languid and filled with sex and vulnerability. Her current flavor of the month is an artist who she introduces to “hedge fund guys who will buy his paintings.” Hmm. I’m sure he is filled with self-regard after watching himself in this episode. Honestly though, its refreshing to see women have the power to put men in these situations occasionally. If I wasn’t so tired right now, perhaps I could find a feminist perspective for the Housewives. But I need to go for a walk now.

Today in Real Housewife Profiles: Cindy Barshop

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger*

According the Bravo website, Cindy Barshop has “revolutionized hair removal with nationwide cult favorite Completely Bare spas and beauty products.” This must be that revolution everyone keeps talking about in the Middle East!

Besides the fact that Cindy is a single (divorced?) mom with twin girls, and at some point decided hair and its unsightliness on the body was her ticket to the big time, little is known about the freshest housewife. She looks ready to rock, with her Chrissie Hynde bangs and her downtown apartment. Her smile is mischievous: is she in on this joke? Did she go to camp with Jill Zarin? And is she friends with that lady from the Matchmaker show?

So what can we expect, besides bad puns from the New York Post, about this lady the bar shopper? Since she’s single and in the um, intimate areas grooming industry, I predict many dates with bachelor type men and lots of talk about vajeweled vajayjays and other things I’m not sure I want to see on screen. I can predict plenty of embarrassing scenes with her and her babies — this season we’re likely to see her kids getting spa treatments, eating gluten free kale smoothies, and working out with personal baby trainers to make sure their glutes are high and tight when they crawl. I’m sure they will actively prepped on camera for their pre-school interviews, their block skills honed and their glue stick application perfected. Sheepish “baby experts” will be shown working with these little schmoopies, and the rest of the country will be correct in wondering what the hell is wrong with people who raise kids in this fakahkta city. I greatly look forward to this.

But for now my work here is done. Now that you know these housewives, you are free to converse drunkenly with them on television or in your dreams, watch Andy Cohen’s after party directly following the show, and come up with your own damn theories why this show is so addictive. I will definitely be seeing you around. As for me, I’ve got to get out of this bathrobe and curlers, make a martini, and prepare my 10 month old for his Krav Maga Israeli martial arts class. Kiss Kiss.

Today in Real Housewife Profiles: Sonja Morgan

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger*

I feel like Sonja and I are just getting to know each other, but so far, I likey. She’s someone you’d be psyched to sit next to at a dinner party, and by the end of the night she would be tweezing your eyebrows. She’s confident on camera and she’s not immediately trying to make herself into some ridiculous brand through the show. I’m talking to you Countess, Jewish Mother, Skinny Girl, Ex-Model/Owl Jewelry Design Lady, and Ramona. But she has only been on for half a season, so we’ll see what happens. Eventually the insanity even gets the ones with the best intentions.

Last season Sonja was mostly a nice distraction from the trainwrecks that were Jill and Kelly, and she had to shout above the din to be heard because of all the outdoor voices. But when she did get a word in edgewise, she had a lot of sass, talked about sex and drinking quite a lot, and wore leopard print more often than not. Fun!

She also kept her ten year old daughter off the show, which reads like a classy move but is more likely a legal thing with her ex-husband, who is a son of the son of the son of either the J or the P or both in J.P. Morgan. So yeah, sister’s got some cash, so she maybe doesn’t have to hustle like some of the other girls. But she’s just …. light. And funny. A cool girl without having to try too hard. Though, who knows, maybe even she needs money and soon she’ll be hawking something gross like a line of teeth bleaching trays or girdles for your ankles.

Tomorrow: Cindy Barshop, the newest housewife, who has something to do with Vajazzling. And then, Thursday night it’s SHOWTIME!

Today in Real Housewife Profiles: Kelly Killoren Bensimon

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger*

I ask myself questions when I watch Kelly flit and flounce through New York City. Questions like: how does she make it through the day? How many hours does she lie in the sun versus have self-tanner applied by small Vietnamese hands? Also, what combination of drugs is she on right now?

Prior to becoming a Real Housewife, Kelly wore many hats. She was a model. An equestrian. A mom. And most important, the wife of a French fashion photographer named Gilles. Can’t you just see him, with his stubble and his Gallousies, the loft, and the music, and the photoshoot that led to the sex that led to the marriage that led to the divorce?

Maybe Kelly was normal before the show. Vapid yes, but able to be successful on her own because she was a model, and models are rich and get to have houses in the Hamptons and be horsewomen when they aren’t modeling. However, and to misquote Bob Dylan, she was so much younger then, and she’s older than that now.

Cut to: 2009. She’s divorced with two girls, Teddy and Schmeddy (not her real name but it might as well be), who like all other daughters of Real Housewives are so much cooler than their respective moms. These two in particular seem to be really holding things together at home. One sad scene last season showed the two girls, ages 11 and 8 maybe, making pancakes with their mom in the Hamptons, and it was like Kelly had never turned on a burner or cracked an egg in a bowl. It wasn’t cute or funny, things Kelly repeatedly tries to be to disastrous effect.

Kelly joined the show in the second season and had some fantastic scenes where she would go to a party in the Hamptons in a tiny dress and cowboy boots and talk about “covering” the party for a magazine. The way she spoke with people – and I say “speak” with a lot of respect for sentences and phrases and the way words form to make them — it was like your worst nightmare of what a party in the Hamptons would be. Just the fakest, most pathetic, stilted conversations, and of course the cameras don’t help.

What is so apparent watching these shows is this way people talk to each other and interact as if they are modeling themselves after an archetype of all the reality show people who have come before. So everyone kisses on both cheeks because that’s what you do. You say, “congratulations on your charity event, it is really fabulous.” And then you say something mean about them and later get in a fight, in order to ensure more camera time.

What is interesting about Kelly is she often gets confused with how the whole thing works. With regularity, she’ll say or do something and pretend it did not happen. And will argue emphatically that she did not say or do it, though it was recorded by cameras and played over and over. She also invents wonderfully inane phrases to sprinkle into her arguments. Which is great when Kelly is dealing with someone like Bethenney, whose sparring with Kelly was akin to Dada performance art. Bethenney, so much smarter, sharper and calmer, such a better arguer, it was almost sad to watch. But it led to phraseology like ”Satchels of Gold,” which Kelly muttered under her breath like a mantra during one argument, or the time she said to Bethenney, “I’m up here (motioning with her hand above her head) and you’re down here. We’re not the same.” I’ll miss Bethenney most for these interactions –Real Housewives at its most surreal and delish.

But then this past season things started to take a darker turn, when Kelly had some kind of psychotic breakdown. The women went down to the Caribbean with Ramona as part of her “Bachelorette Weekend” for the renewing of vows situation I mentioned earlier. (As if it’s not enough to put people through your wedding weekend the first time around, Ramona did it again in her 50’s – complete with a freaking bachelorette party. Though the digs were pretty schnazz – yacht for half the week and mansion for the other). Anyway, the ladies all on this boat and things were tense. Bethenney was pregnant and her jaw was large. Ramona was nattering about renewal. Alex was being kind of normal and the other ladies were talking about pedicures or whatever. Jill and LuAnn had decided not to come because they are both tools, and Jill was fighting with Bethenney, but was supposedly BFF with Kells. Rumor had it (on the internets) that Kelly was doing meth or snorting cocaine, and she was definitely spiraling. Kelly started speaking in tongues and freaking out on everyone and it got pretty weird. She left the Caribbean without being filmed doing it, and everyone on the show seemed like they realized a line had been crossed and got a bit After School Special-ish. And for like two seconds people were talking about the responsibility of the producers and the toll reality television takes on participants and how serious it all is.

Until everyone crawled back for more, including Miss Kelly. Hard to know what to make of that.

Today in Real Housewife Profiles: Alex McCord

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger*

When the show started, Alex McCord was a stiff but striking woman married to a poufy peacock named Simon Van Kampen, an Australian with an improbable name and possible fake accent. Simon “Managed a Boutique Hotel in Midtown,” and Alex “Used to Model.” And like many Brooklyn parents I know, they had young children with ridonkulous names (“Johann” and “Francois.”)

Alex and Simon were pretty clear about trying to climb various impenetrable social ladders in New York and probably read the society pages very earnestly, thought about how to go about getting in them, and miscalculated. Spectacularly. They thought, “OK. So we’ll go to St. Barth’s in August when no one is there and Simon will wear a thong on camera we’ll appear on this reality show and THAT will be our ticket to hanging with mysterious beautiful people who are always photographed looking bored with Mick Jagger in Morocco. Done!”

In those early cringe-worthy scenes, it seemed Alex and Simon were trying to imitate people on evening soap operas from the 80’s – Dynasty or Falcon Crest. Or, that Alex was 22 years old and Simon was her gay BFF from her entry level publishing job, and they would go to the bar at the Plaza and play pretend beyond their grubby little cubicle worlds. “Alex, be a darling and order me another Campari, just like you did when we were on holiday in Capri.” “Yes Simon, and let’s rub each other with that fine oil from the souls of Eskimos we purchased from that Russian logger in the Ukraine.” Or something.

Simon is pretty over the top. He loves to play with fashion, not only for himself, which he does to disastrous consequence of red patent leather pants and purple cummerbund/tie combos, but also women’s fashion. He LOVES going shopping with Alex, watching her try on clothes, model, twirl around, while making Zoolander faces, and moaning about how fantastic her body looks in Versace.

But it’s kind of beyond that he thinks she’s hot, is proud she’s his wife, and likes picking things out for her. It’s like he WANTS TO BE HER or something. Weird, but hey, at least they’re it out there with a point of view and seem to be enjoying the ride. And it’s kind of fun how they freak out all the other housewives because they are so bizarre and into each other, like nerds in high school who discover sex and than start feeling each other up in the hallways. The other wives, especially Ramona, Jill, and sometimes Bethenney were mostly nasty and patronizing towards these two early on, and I found it quite telling.

But even at their most creepy, I find Alex and Simon harmless and lovable. Mostly because I recognize them as nothing worse than strivers – which is what most so many New Yorkers are – even the ones who live in the outer boroughs! And now it’s clear to me, looking back at those hazy days of Season One when they had social mishap after embarrassing scene, when their pretentiousness was beyond silly and their children beyond horrible, that maybe they were just totally exhausted and just trying to get the hell away from their kids, who at the time were probably one-and-a-half and three. Ugh. Who wouldn’t go on a reality show if it meant you could be going to the opera in a limo, while your children whined to someone else for the eightieth time about wanting to watch another “Diego?”

So Alex really has grown on me, and at present is one of the only Housewives I can imagine hanging out with. Though she can be brittle and odd, has some difficulty with misplaced anger and needing to get things off her chest, and probably has some weirdo skeletons in those California Closets filled with Simon’s fave designers, it was incredibly gratifying to hear her yelling, unhinged, at Jill in season 3: “Jill, you are a Mean Girl and you are in high school! And while you are in high school I am in Brooklyn!” Yes, yes, and yes.

Today in Real Housewife Profiles: LuAnn de Lesseps

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger*

As one of the Original Housewives, LuAnn de Lesseps got up in the mix right away in season one by announcing she should be referred to as “Countess.” Seems she’s married to this French guy Alexandre de Lesseps who is a Count (duh) and a descendent of the guy who built the Suez Canal. Fine. Good. Be a Countess. Totally love Countesses. Thing is, it’s not like France put on its best royal cape and said: “you LuAnn, you are officially a Countess because you are the fourth wife of this guy who’s great uncle or something built this big thing.” She kind of took that one on, pretty much countessed herself in a private ceremony with her mirror and a sparkly magic wand/tiara princess set she picked up at Toys R Us.

Yes, she speaks several languages, and yes, she’s been to Gstaad regularly with a bevy of other Counts and Countesses and Vicars and the like, but the bottom line is that she was a nurse from Connecticut, then a model, and then a fourth wife to a Count.

LuAnn’s shtick on the show has always been to attend a lunch, charity event, or party, during which one person would offend her, and then go on camera during a “confessional,” and discuss his or her etiquette breach. Given the context of GTOG, I would say that she fancies herself a referee in the game of Housewifery. She is passive aggressive, holier than thou, and just …. Annoying. Someone who would interrupt tourists on the street to speak French loudly with them just to prove she is fluent. Someone who would say things like, “Oh Rosie, I don’t know what I’d do without you! Good help is soooo hard to find,” or “The Hamptons is where I can really just kick back and be myself.” Really Lu? Is that right? I totally hear you!!!!

So she wrote a book about manners, lectured everyone around her about how to behave, and then the inevitable and delicious happened: her husband the Count cheated on her rather publicly with an Ethiopian Princess (I am NOT making this up). So she had to go through the shame of being cuckolded and then endure a public divorce (she has 2 vanilla-y, preppy, nice enough seeming kids, Victoria and Noel), all while dealing with all these cameras – surely something that was not covered in her book on etiquette. And it was hinted that she had done her own cheatin’ too – but maybe lessons on how to cope with that situation will turn up volume 2 of “Class with the Countess.”

I felt kind of bad for her when this went down, even though she continued to act all finger snappy pride-y and got into it with someone every time she left her homes, in which good help is so hard to find, especially when your housekeeper/nanny goes to the Philippines for the summer and comes back all glam and skinny in white jeans and you’ve had to figure out how to dial the phone for pizza delivery and how to Swiffer.

Then LuAnn inevitably had to “find herself” and start dating, and that led to a world of awkwardness. She made out with a couple creeps and is now dating another Frenchman who looks like David Schwimmer if he ate Adrian Brody. (*I cannot be sure that I made that up – it is possible I read it somewhere on the Internet.) But the best thing that came out of LuAnn’s Gloria Gaynor moment is definitely her decision to work with this wonderful, mohawked, sunglasses at night, cracked out “music industry producer,” who helped her to record her anthemic “Money Can’t Buy You Class.” If you haven’t see heard this song, oh how I envy you.

Elegance is learned.

Today in Real Housewife Profiles: Ramona Singer

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger*

Ramona is an amazing mammal. The first thing most people comment on are her eyes and how they bug out of her head, but I feel it isn’t right to criticize women’s appearances. Let’s just say she talks with her eyes the way some people talk with their hands. But the rest of the face does not move much, due to the wonderful relationship she has with her dermatologist.

Though she cannot help her eyes, in some cosmic way they must have shaped her bizarre personality. What she CAN help, however, is being kind of a crazy-ass b—-. She does that thing an over-tired 3 year old does when she laughs hysterically and segues into crying, gasping for air, needing a time out. She likes to claim that she’s sensitive, emotional, and loyal, and has a lot of other ways to rationalize throwing tantrums at fashion shows, ruining other Housewives’ parties, or trashing people on camera and asserting later that she’s just keeping it real and being true to herself.

As Ramona likes to say often, she is a “business woman.” She finds, as the unfortunate opening credits say every week, “making her own money an aphrodisiac.” No oysters for this lass – give her some bidness! Her and her husband Smoove Mario own some kind of tzchotzcke religious artifact company, and no doubt there is some cash in that (seriously, the weirdest stuff seems to make the most money). And in the past few seasons she has started more spin-off brands than I can keep track of. Tru-Renewal skin care. Another (same?) religious artifact jewelry company on Home Shopping Network. Her own Pinot Grigio. There is no one this woman will not collaborate with! She dresses well, works out a lot, and looks pretty great for 50 something (last season she claimed not to know exactly how old she was. She forgot!) Mario, a tanned cheese plate of a man who happens also to be a professional tennis player, and Ramona Really Love each other. I mean they really really love each other. At the end of last season these two geniuses decided to “renew their vows,” which gave the producers of the show the chance to film Ramona in a negligee looking Mario in the eyes and stating emphatically many times that her feelings for him have never been stronger. There were candles and flowers and champagne cooling in a bucket and this really ornate living room chaise lounge thing and they were being lovahs and basically leading each other off camera to have sex. It was some serious Susan Lucci s—.

It also gave Ramona the chance to channel a much younger Bridezilla and plan a serious wedding at a really fancy hotel, ask her non-comprehending daughter Avery to be her maid of honor, and have her dog walk down the aisle in a matching dress with said 13 year old daughter. Like Allison of Jill and Bawby, Avery is a shining beacon of accidental humor and levity, with her monotone, totally OMG teen voice and her withering takedowns of Ramona. Love her.

The actual ceremony was kind of lovely. As Ramona came down a spiral staircase in a flawless white gown and Mario made a goony smile at her like yeah, I’ll hit that later, yeahhhh, and the random officiant guy said something embarrassing and inappropriate on national television, I admit to being moved and yielding a single perfectly formed tear that rolled down my face, but did not ruin the flawless mask of makeup I always apply on Thursday nights to watch my program.

Today in Real Housewife Profiles: Jill Zarin

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger

I’ve been given the challenge of bringing GTOG Nation up to speed on my favorite sport: The Real Housewives of NYC.  Season four begins next Thursday, April 7, and I’ll be here every day until then to make sure you have your bearings on the big day.  Have you missed the glamour of awkward PR “events,” copious pinot grigio, and treasured lessons on etiquette? I know I have.

These housewives have been working:  their cores, skin care lines, and drag queen anthems since season three ended last summer. I watched much of that season’s compelling life lessons at 3am while nursing my new baby, waiting to nurse my new baby, or waiting for my new baby to wake up/go to sleep, so my memory of this time is mostly like that of seeing the Allman Brothers Band in New Hampshire after swallowing whatever my friend’s friend’s friend ensured me was going to be fine, he promised. Anyway. At the end of the season, I have to say I was ready for a break from these beeyotches for realz. They were awful. They were fighting and screeching practically swatting each other like toddlers. They were catty. Awful. Their teeth were too white and their hair unnaturally smooth. It was weird.

But now I’m caffeinated and ready for a fresh season of my favorite totally staged show of ladies who lunch, lash out, and linger in my brain more than anything I learned in AP US History.

So let me break it down for you folks, one housewife at a time.

Oy. Jill is like your friend from college who seems down to earth and warm, but then cuts you with her Louis Vuitton shiv when you enter the bathroom at Yom Kippur services. I watch people interact with her on the show and can hear the internal anti-Semitic commentary beyond their glazed expressions. She makes me just the tiniest bit embarrassed to be Jewish and from New York.

Jill is married to Bawby AKA Bobby, who is in the schmatte business. Zarin fabrics is their shop on the Lower East Side, where Jill has pretended to work in the past. They have a daughter Alison, who is definitely the most natural person on the show in her adolescent, slightly mortified “my mom has chosen to put me on a reality show but I’m going with it” kind of vibe. Jill had a “gay husband,” “Brad,” who also worked fondling fabrics at the store, but then he got drunk on camera a bunch of times and started to upstage Jill with his seersucker suits and inappropriate comments, so we started seeing much less of “Brad.” Jill also has a hilarious mother named Gloria, who probably hopes to also get her own show at some point. She gives a lot uninvited bromides to whomever happens to be around, and its hard to tell if she is 50 years old or 120 as a result of her intense facelift. Jill also has a sister who is a radio host and seems kind of smart and normal. The sisters and the mom all wrote a book together with “Jewish Mother” in the title, natch.

Jill has at least one Chihuahua.

The most important thing you need to know about Jill is that she bonded hard in seasons 1 and 2 with Bethenney and then they had a giant falling out in season 3, which ended with Bethenney leaving the show without forgiving her. Jill looked BAD. Its vague what actually happened between them, which is strange for these women who seem to have no problem exposing any and every thing about their lives, but there was a lot of crying and self pity and gossiping and something having to do with Bethenney not calling to follow up after she sent flowers when Bawby had a cancer scare without being told he was actually sick (but he ended up being fine). Confused? So was Bethenney.

But Jill showed her true colors as the whiney tween that she is, and Bethenney looked like a freaking hero/genius/moral center of the show. In a story arc that reads like a modern American fairy tale for our times, Bethenney departed RHONY with dignity and now has her own show on Bravo, about finding love and having first a wedding and then a baby and now a nanny so she can manage herself as a “brand,” which apparently is indistinct from the brand that is Skinny Girl Margarita Mix ©.

So that’s Jill.