2018 started off as a deeply emotional year for the stars of The Real Housewives Of New York. Not only was the cast still reeling from LuAnn de Lesseps(-D’Agostino?)’s alarming Christmas Eve arrest, but genuine tragedy also struck the Big Apple. In mid-January, former cast member and constant RHONY specter Jill Zarin lost her beloved husband Bobby Zarin following a lengthy cancer battle. New York fans and cast members alike could criticize Jill “The Connector” Zarin all they wanted, but Bobby, with his omnipresent suits and sunglasses, was a saint, revered by all. No matter how you felt about Jill, her beautiful marriage of 18 years to Bobby was unimpeachable.
Following Bobby’s death, headlines were abuzz over the fact his funeral brought together Jill, who left RHONY in 2011, and fellow OG Bethenny Frankel. The pair had a famously brutal, tear-stained falling out in Jill’s final season, which led to her exit. But, Wednesday night’s “Faux Weddings And A Funeral” confirmed that era of bitter feuding has mercifully come to an end after nearly a decade. The surprisingly thoughtful, humane episode broke down the entire long-awaited detente, and even revealed some tidbits that paparazzi didn’t catch this winter.
“Faux Weddings” begins with the entire cast already heading to Bobby’s funeral. Dorinda Medley, herself a widow, is clearly reliving the memory of burying her husband Richard Medley in 2011. Ramona Singer, an individual infamous for her inability to apologize or consider her own behavior, explains that she put any hostilities with Jill to the side and visited the Zarins in the hospital. The trip led to a big heart-to-heart between the Bravo frenemies. “And we cried, and we hugged, and we talked, and whatever [tension] I had with her before or she had with me … we’re going to let it go because life is so short” Ramona tells Dorinda and the audience.
The mental image of Ramona and Jill’s reunion leads us to Bethenny, who decides to go to Bobby's funeral, even though she hasn’t spoken to Jill for at least six years. “Despite what’s happened with Jill,” Bethenny says in a talking head interview, “Bobby loved me and I loved him.”
I’m sitting around going thru photos and put together a collage of @bethennyfrankel with my family. Bobby gave me the best 1 liners and a few come to mind. “ 1 more that’s it!”and “here’s to those who wish us well and those who don’t can go $&@! Themselves!” Please share your favorite 1 liners below. Miss B...thanks for the memories tonight ❤️Jill
Because of this indisputable fact, Bethenny, who reportedly entered the funeral 15 minutes before it began and stood in the back, was unable to quickly flee the event once it ended, as she originally planned to do. Instead, she waits to give personal condolences to Jill. Although shutterbugs caught this meeting, they couldn’t hear what the former best friends said to each other, or capture Bethenny’s inner monologue. This is where The Real Housewives Of New York comes in.
“I [felt] like I want[ed] to see her again,” Bethenny says of her mindset at time during an emotional talking head interview, beginning to cry over Jill's “loss,” a word she says repeatedly. So, when Bethenny gets her wish, it is genuinely touching to see the pair hug. Bethenny tells Jill how sorry she is that Bobby isn’t next to her, and Jill repeatedly says she is proud of Bethenny.
The gut punch comes when a clearly overwhelmed Jill says through tears, “I’m alone now, I don’t know what I’m going to do without him … I’ve never been alone since I [was] 20 years old.” Bethenny, divorced and usually single, tries to help, reminding the widow she has “good friends” and isn’t the only one now riding solo. Then, in the best part of the exchange, Bethenny makes a traditionally over-the-top Jill laugh, asking where the requisite gift bags are. “This is a terrible funeral,” she jokingly criticizes. For once, Jill truly smiles.
Following this very warm public exchange, an even more important one comes up later — and it’s not on camera. Later in “Funeral,” we learn that Bethenny visited Jill for a private reconciliation at the Zarin home with Jill and her daughter Ally Shapiro. As a show of good faith, Bethenny even brought her own daughter, Bryn Hoppy, whom Jill had apparently never met (Bryn was born in mid-2010, right around the time Jill and Bethenny’s feud began gaining steam). “It was so sweet,” Bethenny tells Sonja Morgan of Bryn and Jill's introduction. The little girl even greeted the late Bobby by waving to his photo. As expected, Jill was overjoyed by the encounter, despite its somber origins.
It's no surprise that Jill was pleased with the meeting since it sounds like everyone finally said what they needed to say to move on. “She said, ‘I was wrong,’” Bethenny continues. “She was like, ‘I did the wrong things. I didn’t know what I was doing. I had the wrong priorities. I’m not the same person.’ I believed her.”
While some might be annoyed we didn't get to see this massive RHONY development on screen, that's probably for the best. After all, if the duo had filmed any of the visit, it's likely fans would assume all the tears and hugs were empty gestures for the Bravo cameras, as opposed to a legitimate emotional exchange between human people following a horrific loss. Now, we know it's real.
Even though both Jill and Bethenny have gotten their long-deserved “closure,” don't expect to see these two return to their former best friend glory. “I just want to keep [the relationship] exactly where it is,” Bethenny confirms in a talking head.
Hearing that, it’s all but promised Jill will soon return to her Real Housewives roots. Where else can Andy Cohen find drama in the 11th season of a reality show?
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