Recent article: Substance unsurprisingly lacking in “Real Housewives” reunion special

#BooksMyJobGaveMe Podcast, Journalism, Tufts Daily

Any excuse opportunity to turn my reality TV habit into writing is a welcome one! I’ve been into RHONY since season one, day one (for the record: Bethenny all the way). The season finale of season five left me wanting. In short: ‘meh’ and transparent. Even for RH standards. Is it the editing, or the ladies? 

Substance unsurprisingly lacking in ‘Real Housewives’ reunion episode

TV Review | 2.5 out of 5 stars

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012

Season five of “The Real Housewives of New York City” wrapped this Monday with Part II of the season’s reunion. This is an episode fans looked forward to, giddily anticipating half−hearted — or heartless — apologies, quick zingers and a parade of Louboutins and statement dresses. But this season’s reunion left us wanting more. It felt like the reluctant gathering it probably was, as none of the women seemed particularly interested in rehashing old problems or reopening wounds.

From left to right: LuAnn, Carole, Aviva, Ramona, Sonja, Heather (photo courtesy people.com)

At the reunion, the ladies seemed sedated, settling themselves in for a moment−by−moment dissection of the season past. Reunion shows are touted as the be−all and end−all, clearing the air of events that took place often months earlier while offering cast members the chance to make belated digs. Carole kicked off the night by promptly establishing herself as the most sane cast member: she admitted that, as a veteran journalist, she was drawn to joining the cast out of her interest in the spectacle of it all.

Aviva’s ex−husband Harry was next on the docket. Harry’s intimate knowledge of some of New York’s most elite women is no secret — it even extends beyond this particular group of ladies. LuAnn and Sonja both openly admitted to “dating” Harry in some capacity in the past, either before or after his relationship with Aviva.

The Ramona-coaster, prepping for another go ’round! (courtesy bravotv.com)

Attention then turned to Sonja, who touted Sonja Home, her still−unfinished line of household items, focusing most notably a toaster oven. Throughout the season, Sonja butted heads with Heather, a businesswoman who created a popular shapewear line, over the design for the toaster oven’s box and packaging. Two photo shoots, several screaming matches and one still−unavailable toaster oven later, Sonja sat on the couch and pulled out mock−ups for the logo, designed by “fans,” as if trying to belittle Heather’s creative work. Whoa, Sonja. That was actually a pretty rude move to make, especially towards Heather, who actually cared about Sonja’s brand enough to go in with her on this charade of business know−how.

LuAnn’s alleged affair with a hipster pirate — completely serious — in St. Barths made for interesting conversational fodder. On a vacation to the island of St. Barths, the ladies sans Aviva spent an evening at a dance club with a man known only as Tomas. As several castmates attested, Tomas came home with LuAnn that evening and [insert your own joke about pirates, sex and booty here]. After about a mile and a half of backpedaling with excuses, phone calls in foreign languages and outright lies about Tomas being there — he was, then he wasn’t, then he was an “Italian friend” — LuAnn finally came out with it and admitted that she lied to keep a bad−looking situation from getting any worse. Funny, since she was miked during all of her conversations and someone on the crew surely knew how to translate French. Better luck next time, Lu.

Oh, and what’s Carole doing all the while? Exactly what she should be doing: staying out of the mix, defending herself when necessary and observing the spectacle.

The reunion was a limping culmination of a season spent bickering over absolutely nothing, and the cast members continue to come off as self−important women hiding behind charity causes and swanky events in an effort to make themselves relevant in the New York social circle. Of course, no one watches RHONY seeking incredible character depth and nuanced storylines — don’t forget, these are people made into characters, with the help of copious amounts of editing — but at a certain point, the finger pointing and “setting the record straight” betray a lack of substance that has become a trademark in “The Real Housewives” franchise.

 

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