Hear ye, hear ye. This session of Real Housewives of New York Court of the State of Bravo is about to begin. We will hear testimony and sentence the guilty accordingly. The Honorable Andrew M. "Andy" Cohen is presiding.
That's what these reunion shows are, aren't they? They're the reality television equivalent of putting these women in stocks in the town square, hauling them all out for us to laugh and jeer, and as they relive their crimes, we stand by with a head of rotted lettuce in our hands waiting for the first opportunity to hurl it at them. These reunion shows are pretty much pointless. Nothing at all happens. It's just a bunch of accusations, cross examinations, and interrogations. But it's the pop culture legal system at work.
The sick thing about this particular Real Housewives of New York reunion—and we're talking about the second of three parts—is that brand new evidence was entered into the courtroom. Recently, the reunion shows for the various Housewives franchises have all started to be fights more about what happened off-camera and between seasons than about the action that we witnessed on a weekly basis. This is especially true here, where there was a whole argument about who told who not to film with whom (see above) and the women seemed to be fighting not so much about the pre-planned activities that the producers laid out for them, but about the inner workings of their own show. I guess it's like any workplace, where most customers don't see what really goes on behind the scenes, but when everyone gets together in the break room, they bitch, complain, and backstab.
The whole proceeding is starting to be unfair. Not only did we see Kelly Killoren Bensimon walk past the cameras and head for the stage door, but we were treated to this little bit of silliness between takes.
It's obvious this was never meant to be on the air. Everyone thought they were on a break. The PAs are talking to the ladies and they are chattering among themselves, free of their on-screen personas for a moment. The unwritten contract is that this is the stuff that stays on the cutting room floor. But here is Bravo taking advantage of an embarrassing personal moment so that we'll all laugh at Ramona Singer in her Zac Posen dress. Mission accomplished.
Order, order in the court. We are here to judge and convict all the women based on their testimony last night. Let's go around the courtroom, shall we?
Bethenny Frankel: Bravo's newest star did a great job for her likability last night. She continued to be the lady who tells it like it is, and she took accountability for her mistakes. Even when she and Jill Zarin continued to rehash their epic squabble, she admitted when she was wrong and when Jill was right. Big points for that. However, the best move she made was when Andy Cohen kept reading all the mean questions from viewers about Jill and Bethenny told them to can it. She and Jill may be over, but she's not going to let people kick a lady when she's already lying on the floor with a black eye and a gushing head wound that's clotting her hair up with blood. Bethenny lost points when she attacked Kelly Bensimon. Until we realized that we are perfectly OK with her attacking Kelly.
Verdict: Innocent until proven otherwise on her own reality TV program.
Ramona Singer: Ramona is as daffy as a Looney Tunes marathon, but she was the surprise this season. Though she started her share of fights, had a stupid fake wedding, and raved like the wacko she is deep down inside, she came off as a much more relatable mess. Last night she remained calm during the Bethenny/Jill smack down, and expressed her opinions in a reasonably logical manner, which is rare for her. Then she went back to the whack job we know and love when it was time to rehash Kelly Killoren Bensimon's Night on Poison Island. Like Judge Andy said, it really did make her look like a bully when she kept chiming in and cutting Kelly off, and if you look bad next to Kelly, you're in rough shape.
Verdict: We're letting her go with a warning.
Alex McCord: Who knew that little spindly-haired scarecrow Alex McCord would turn into a powerhouse? She didn't stand by and listen to Jill harp on her and she defended herself. She also tried to calmly go after Jill Zarin. Usually when people on these shows say they've changed or turned over a new leaf, they really haven't, but now that Alex says she's going to stand up and fight for herself, she really is. We like this Alex much better. It's like she's shrugged off her shackles and is ready to stand on her own.
Verdict: We want her as our defense attorney.
Sonja Morgan: I love Sonja Morgan. She just seems real and the kind of lady that only likes a scene if she's the one making it. She is a bit skeptical of this whole experiment, and because she doesn't really take sides in any argument, everyone is friends with her. Sonja is the comic relief that would rather make jokes about sex than get into some fight about who said what to whom. She'll be the more honest personality that we're going to need now that Bethenny is leaving.
Verdict: Sonja would really like a hung jury (get it?), but we'd rather have her be our wacky bailiff.
Countess LuAnn de Lesseps: Crackerjacks didn't do shit last night. She just sat there in her asymmetrical purple number and smoked Pall Malls when the cameras weren't looking. She did chime in once to express an opinion and then quickly said, "I don't want to get involved." But you are involved, LuAnn. You are fucking right there sitting on that couch. She has a history of this, making passive aggressive actions and then when the heat turns on her saying, "I don't take sides!" and giggling and grinning while throwing her hands up in the air that if they went any higher, the enormous turquoise necklace she bought from that pawn shop in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, would weigh her down and she was just fall flat on her back. Oh, LuAnn, stop pretending. We know you take sides and it's not ladylike to pretend otherwise. You're not being elegant by staying above the fray. Your hands are just as bloody as everyone else's.
Verdit: Convicted as an accessory to murder.
Kelly Killoren Bensimon: We already lit into Kelly for making absolutely no sense whatsoever. She's like a Speak and Spell where the battery is dying. You understand that there is language coming out of her, but it is just all garbled and strange and doesn't quite connect. There two specific, memorable moments from last night. The first was when a viewer asked why Jill saved the Bethenny "get a hobby" message and Kelly said, "Maybe it was because she wanted to hear her voice." Um, we don't think she was crying into her pillow at night fondly remembering their times together by replaying a recording of Bethenny screaming at her. The other was when she repeatedly accused Bravo of forcing her to go on vacation with the other women (there's that behind-the-curtain craziness again) and Andy Cohen saying that wasn't true and her saying. "Yes, it is, but thanks, Andy," like somehow Andy accusing her of being a liar was meant to help her. I know that some people think that Kelly is on drugs, but I just think she's crazy. If she's not crazy, she is the worst the most inarticulate person who ever got a degree at Columbia. She didn't seem hopped up last night (like she did on Poison Island, when her nervous twitching, candy gnawing, and non-stop rambling made her look cokier than the bathroom stalls at the Beatrice Inn) but she still didn't have a tangible grasp on reality. She has somehow convinced herself that things that didn't happen are real. Kelly thinks she makes absolute sense. She's like a homeless person rambling at the top of his lungs on the street corner. We all think he is batshit insane, but he thinks he is the only one who can see the world plainly. That is Kelly, rambling on in her fantasy world of unicorns and gummi candy while the rest of us just stand by with a straight jacket waiting for when she gets messy enough to actually commit her.
Verdict: Guilty by reason of insanity.
Jill Zarin: Oh, Jill. I like our former Gawker intern. I admit it. No matter what people may think, she isn't a bad person, she's just a lady on a TV show who made some serious mistakes. My colleague Richard Lawson thinks that the theme of the season was "Jill fell down," and he is right. Jill succumbed to some bad behavior this year and did some really stupid shit on television. But Jill has admitted to all the mistakes, said she was wrong, and asked for forgiveness. What else can a person do? For whatever reason—because people stopped liking her, because Bethenny got a show and she didn't, because she wants to keep being famous—Jill realized she needed to change, that she was stupid to hold a grudge against Bethenny, and that she needed to repent. There is nothing worse than some reality TV person trying to defend their bad behavior, explain it away, or make up lies (yeah, we're talking to you, Kelly) to make themselves look better. Jill did the right thing and owned up to all the bad things she did and tried to get some credit for the good things. If Bethenny hasn't forgiven Jill, she is at least at peace with the state of their friendship. Jill would be smart to stay out of the gossip, name-calling, fame game for a bit and just lay low. Right now we're taking her apologies at face value, but we're a little worried that her next target is Alex. Serve her time in the prison of public disapproval and come back as the nice, down-to-earth, nurturing lady we remember and that we know she is. People will forgive a lot if she learns her lesson. We hope the theme of next year is, "Jill got back up."
Verdict: On probation. If she reforms, she'll get off with time served.