What a difference a year makes. Ramona’s face has a new shape, Jill has cameo-d her way back from a place where nobody knows her name, and Sonja’s gas gets more screen time than most rookie Housewives could reasonably hope for. Still, there are some things never change. With a certainty usually reserved for death and taxes, The Real Housewives of New York City (RHONY) will always embark on their annual trip to the Berkshires – and the trip will always be cuckoo-pants.
In celebration of the now-concluded three-episode arc of pure alternate reality, I present to you a brief analysis of this year’s most epic Berkshires conflicts.
Bethenny vs the Berkshires House
Dripping with Christmas cheer, Dorinda’s Berkshires home boasted a breadth of seasonal paraphernalia that only Clark Griswold could top. But no army of decorative Santas or mound of shiny baubles could camouflage the memories of Housewives showdowns constantly repeating themselves through a series of rapidly misfired one-lines that haunt these walls.
Bethenny, clear-eyed with the memories of screaming “YOU F*** EVVVEEEERRRYYYONE” at castmate Luann, knew what she was in for when she was forced to agreed to join the cast’s winter pilgrimage – and then received pretty much exactly that. After focusing some renewed efforts on gossiping about Luann’s upcoming marriage, she subjected herself to the tireless tirades of Ramona Singer (more about that below), removed her shirt (presumably to better recount the experience to anyone who would listen), and then slipped off into the Berkshires night.
Like a lipsticked Ned Stark, Bethenny entered the Berkshires house ready for battle in her Winterfell-sized fur coat. While knowing the house’s history all too well, she still managed to extract herself without slut-shaming anyone this time around, enjoying a delicious chicken meal in the process.
Tom D’Agostino vs Monogamy
Entering the Berkshires with tales of Tom “dipping his stick in the fun dip again,” Bethenny set off a series of ever-expanding whispers among the cast, culminating in an all-hands discussion about Luann and Tom’s upcoming marriage. “Don’t you have anything better to do, Ramona?” a frustrated Luann lashed out, only to be met with a resounding “NO.”
Indeed, no matter how loudly or frequently Luann prattled on about “Palm Beach and penthouses and parties,” the ladies were loath to let the topic drop – there was simply too much to be said.
Winner: EVERYONE. I said it once and I’ll say it again – it will always, ALWAYS be about Tom. And, as long as his behavior keeps the Botoxed brows of the Upper East Side raised a shade above their (already unnaturally high) resting spots, we’ll be there to watch the aftermath.
Sonja vs Inner Sonja
The great tragedy of RHONY last season was Sonja Morgan’s palpable absence from the cast’s Berkshire trip. This year, she was both invited and determined to be on her best behavior.
While her typical life choices often lead to some seriously questionable actions, on this trip Sonja’s voice tended to ring out in representation of reason (or, at the very least, normalcy). When the cast literally circled Luann to grill her about her upcoming wedding, Sonja stayed out of the fray. When Ramona was trying to evaluate where she stood with Bethenny, a supportive Sonja advised, “She didn’t say f*** off or anything. That’s good.” Even her wildest antic of the night — trying to kiss a good-humored Dorinda, who had been startled to discover a sleeping, fully clothed and seated-upright Sonja — was carefully timed to avoid the cameras and, by Sonja’s usual standards, downright boring.
WINNER: Sonja. In the most surprising of surprise upsets, Sonja emerged from the Berkshires weekend with a clean record – no incoherent nonsense about dead Kennedys, boasts about Nigerian soccer teams, or behavior that could put her in the cross-hairs for an indecent exposure charge. Maybe she was just so relieved to receive a Berkshires invite that she was determined to keep her cool; maybe she’s just saving her best material for the cast’s upcoming tequila-themed Mexico trip. Either way, let’s just hope that she basks in this new-found glory while she can as I have a sneaking suspicions that it won’t last.
Ramona vs. Bethenny
It started with Ramona’s nonsensical yet seemingly genuine assertion that, when it comes to Bethenny, “I like her who she is.” But it somehow exploded into something that was far more confused, escalating not so much into a fight as a free-association meander through Ramona’s mind. While Ramona hopped from subject to subject, leaving waterbed sex nor college tuition nor 10,000 cases of wine untouched, Bethenny looked on in mild bemusement.
Then, just as quickly as the storm started, it was gone. Calmly watching Bethenny depart post-blowout, Ramona expressed her fervent wish that the two would “get over this,” neatly glossing over all of the hard hours she had put into calling Bethenny a ‘b****y witch’ on repeat.
WINNER: N/A. Even though she managed to keep her composure a whole lot better than Ramona did, Bethenny’s forced involvement in the spat (including every sit-and-blink stare she delivered as Ramona dug into her) rubs any shine off of what may have otherwise been a victory. But, with its lightless walls now bearing the scars of a hulk-like Ramona rampage, it’s clear that the ultimate loser of the night was poor Dorinda’s guest room.
Jill Zarin vs RHONY
In the aftermath of the Berkshires, former Housewife Jill Zarin returned for an awkward tableside chat, during which Tom unleashed a definitely-not-rehearsed monologue about how he’s definitely, definitely not cheating on Luann. And, though the mid-meal reel of Jill and Ramona’s past screaming matches offered a fond frolic down memory lane, the current shots of Jill just couldn’t compete.
WINNER: RHONY. A lukewarm RHONY re-entry is understandable. Jill’s been trying to work her way back onto the show for years, and approaching her first scene back with some restraint is not a terrible idea. But regardless of her onscreen behavior (or lack thereof), the producers issued the parting blow by introducing Jill and her husband simply as ‘Luann’s friends’ – without any reference to her once-foundational status.
Tinsley vs. Sonja
For the entire duration of the Berkshires weekend, Sonja seemed unable to say anything to Tinsley without reminding her that Tinsley was not to “use” Sonja’s “assistant” (or “house guy,” depending on Sonja’s mood when she mentioned him). And though this unending monologue was usually pretty easy to resolve (distracting Sonja with some good mashed potatoes, escaping into the bathroom…) the frequency and fervency with which Sonja raised it still managed to make even Ramona uncomfortable (which is saying something).
WINNER: Connor the house guy. The persistence with which Sonja pushed this issue was confusing at best. Still, we haven’t seen Connor scurrying about in the background of any of RHONY’s recent episodes, so it’s been nice to have him back (even if in name only).
New episodes of The Real Housewives of New York City air 9pm ET Wednesdays on Bravo and are available the next day on-demand.