Any worthwhile reality TV franchise needs some extreme tension between two of its most polarizing cast members. Where would Jersey Shore be without Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola yelling "Rahn, stahp" on a boardwalk somewhere in New Jersey, right? So, The Real Housewives Of New York has leaned season 9 directly on another rivalry, pitting Bethenny Frankel against her longtime frenemy Ramona Singer. But, after 15 episodes of televised hostilities, this feud is starting to lose steam. Let’s all call last night’s "Oil And Vinegar" as the official moment when it jumped the shark. Ramona admitted Bethenny will never be rid of her, no matter what Bethenny does or wants.
I would love to blame RHONY's nonsense on the series' producers, since the behind-the-scenes puppet masters are usually the ones actually wreaking havoc. But, Bethenny and Ramona are grown women who have been dealing with reality TV for nearly a decade. They’re not 26-year-olds desperate for a Bachelor In Paradise invite. They can’t be easily manipulated, especially since Bethenny knows she can bounce off of Bravo once again if she ever gets tired of this carousel of madness. Instead, the roots of this "feud" are the ladies' legal obligations to RHONY and each other. Every single season 9 argument has proven Bethenny is dedicated to airing her grievances and then moving past the drama, while Ramona is taking her genuinely horrific divorce trauma out on her co-star. The situations these women find themselves in might be framed by the producers, but the emotional explosions are all 100 percent honest.
The basis of Bethenny versus Ramona actually makes sense and comes from a deeply emotional place. The pair have had their ups and downs for years, and Ramona seemed determined to force things into "A New Low" at the start of the season by using Bethenny’s 6-year-old daughter Bryn against her. The pinot grigio fan famously asked Bethenny if children at school were talking to her first-grader about a "porn” film in which Bethenny supposedly appeared. Bethenny was never an adult film actress — she starred in "cheesy" 1994 B-movie Beverly Hills 90028 — and it was wrong to try to use Bryn to shame her mother in such a way. Bethenny recognized as much and abruptly exited the cursed dinner where Ramona also called her a "witch."
Under normal circumstances, such behavior would end a friendship for good. Clearly, Bethenny doesn’t want to see Ramona after her inappropriate line of questioning, which is understandable. Yet, the production schedule of RHONY doesn’t allow for such breaks. Instead, Bethenny skipped a few for-camera outings until she couldn’t anymore, eventually meeting up with Ramona for drinks with the fellow New York ladies. It did not go well. When the women headed to the Berkshires for Dorinda Medley’s Annual Birthday Party From Hell, Ramona claimed she wants to patch things up with her frenemy. Instead, she blacked out on vino bianchi and told Bethenny she "fucked" her way to success. Ramona also pantomimed diving into Bethenny’s vagina and attempted to slut-shame her co-star in various ways. Again, these are comments that would reasonably decimate any friendship. At this point, Bethenny has told Ramona she will never even share a "sidewalk" with her, let alone a conversation.
But, this is reality TV and not real life, so the women are thrown together yet again for a ski trip to Vermont, followed by Wednesday night’s "Oil And Vinegar" steak dinner. Throughout the installment, Bethenny is busy planning an exciting group trip to Mexico, which will have one day dedicated to her Skinnygirl tequila. She spends most of the episode hemming and hawing about whether or not to invite Ramona, whom Bethenny does not want around for a day celebrating her brand. Finally, she decides to allow Ramona to be there for the exact same amount of time LuAnn (de Lesseps) D'Agostino will be there, since the latter is planning to arrive late. When the former countess reveals she’s actually coming for the full excursion, Bethenny’s strategy is thrown to the wolves. So, she’s forced to actually talk to Ramona about their issues in hope they can finally move on and co-exist in Mexico.
Bethenny candidly reveals she’s "uncomfortable" and unsure of how to move forward, considering she can’t exclude Ramona from a vacation with her own longtime friends. When Bethenny says certain behaviors of Ramona’s have been "disingenuous" and "nasty," the latter goes on an out-of-left-field, expletive-filled tirade about her own failed marriage and very expensive divorce. Once Ramona stops screaming, Bethenny replies, "I take it back. I don’t want you to come on the trip. I really don’t." Ramona refuses to accept this, saying, “Well, it’s a group trip, I just won’t come to the tequila party.” And this single statement is why it’s time to stop investing in this feud.
With both women trapped on the RHONY boat, their frenemyship will never actually be over. There can be no true stakes when these two are contractually obligated to keep hanging out, no matter how much Bethenny wants to avoid Ramona for the rest of her days. If the Turtle Timer was actually barred from the vacation for her antics, or suffered some consequences other than fretting about Bethenny disliking her, this would all be worth caring about. Yet, here we are, and Ramona will still be knocking back her favorite pinot grigio south of the border while claiming she doesn’t “not not like” Bethenny, as previews promise. Yes, my head is spinning too.
With few escape routes of this mess, is it time to start wondering if someone needs to leave Real Housewives Of New York for this terrible merry-go-round to finally end?
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