Bethenny Frankel is the mood ring of Real Housewives Of New York. If the Skinny Girl founder says she’s feeling good, everyone is actually feeling good. When she says she’s having a terrible time, everyone is actually having a terrible, terrible time. Just look at the catastrophe that is the cast’s season 10 trip to Colombia. As the first part of the annual vacation saga, Wednesday night’s “Wigging Out,” reveals, the Cartagena vacation was nightmarish long before the RHONY ladies boarded the infamous boat from hell, whose sinking fueled headlines this past winter.
The foundational problem with the South American getaway is that Bethenny is in a no good, very bad mood. As usual, her co-stars assume Bethenny is simply a bully who enjoys being angry, but that’s not what’s really happening (and it rarely is). Rather, Bethenny is in an emotional crises over two large problems: her ravaged relationship with former BFF Carole Radziwill, and her anxiety over legal problems with ex-husband, and co-parent, Jason Hoppy. These issues, rather than any looming maritime disaster, are what's caused a disturbance in the New York vacation force.
Throughout most of the episode, Bethenny merely seems mean. She loudly tells Dorinda Medley she dislikes the house that poor, sweet Tinsley Mortimer chose, despite the manor’s sprawling beauty and attentive staff. There’s a bizarre dinner argument with Carole over Brian From Speed Dating, a man who is currently pursing both Bethenny, and, it’s revealed, Carole. Bethenny calls Carole “smug” and eventually criticizes her boundary-pushing dress. She has a loud argument with Dorinda over what Dorinda should and shouldn’t blab about their conversations.
Then, that classic Bethenny Frankel bravado cracks once Dorinda gets up and leaves the conversation. Bethenny begins sobbing at the table. When asked what’s got her so upset, the mogul doesn’t even know. She just tries not to ruin her makeup with tears.
The answers instead arrive the next morning when Bethenny apologizes to Tinsley for openly dragging her trip. Bethenny's mea culpa captures every single thing that’s wrong: “I have a lot of stuff going on with my custody case. I’m here with someone who I used to be very close with who I’m not close with anymore. That’s more tension and makes me feel more awkward. It makes me feel trapped inside.” As Bethenny adds in a confessional interview, she feels even more “like an outsider” because this is Tinsley’s trip and Tinsley is Carole’s new best friend. “This is their trip,” she adds.
This is why Bethenny literally gets up and walks away from the breakfast table when Tinsley is presented with a parade of gifts from her boyfriend Scott Kluth for their first anniversary. Not only does the display further prove this vacation is truly Tinsley’s world and everyone else is just living in it, but it reinforces Carole and Tinsley’s friendship. Since Scott couldn’t be there, it’s Carole who hands over the gift the coupon king got his girlfriend. “He asked me to bring this in my suitcase,” Carole explains, confirming she and Scott are so close, they plan surprises for Tinsley together.
At this point, Bethenny is fine with admitting her bald-faced envy of her co-star's seemingly magical life, saying in a confessional, “I may seem jealous. It’s because I am. I want to come back as Tinsley.” Bethenny may blame her jealousy on Tinsley's supposedly no-stress life, yet Tinsley's friendship with Carole definitely plays a part too.
While the cause of Bethenny and Carole’s friendship riff remains fairly obscure — is it the Adam Kenworthy photography thing? Drama over Bethenny’s foundation? Regular old mounting resentments? — it is very clear why Bethenny is also stressed over her relationship with ex-husband Jason. She eventually tells Dorinda that her restraining order against her former spouse ends in a month, and she is still in the midst of hammering out the custody agreement for their daughter, Bryn. “I don’t want to go back to the life I had. I don’t want to be tortured,” she cries.
This is where it’s important to remember what exactly happened between Bethenny and Jason in 2017. Early that year, Jason was arrested for allegedly stalking and harassing Bethenny. A NYPD spokesperson told Us that Jason contacted his ex-wife “numerous times via email and FaceTime, and approached the victim making verbal threats.” One of those verbal threats was allegedly made at Bryn’s school, where, a police spokesperson told People, Jason appeared to tell Bethenny he would “destroy” her and “tried to provoke a fight.” Jason was issued a six-month stay away order in October 2017. The Cartagena trip clearly coincides with the end of those six months. It’s no surprise Bethenny is having panic attacks.
At least it seems like some of Bethenny’s emotional turmoil may subside in the near reality TV future. In a preview for next week’s vacation saga part two, Carole tells Bethenny they need to “address the elephant in the room:” the inescapable tension between them. While social media suggests the former friends haven’t patched up their issues yet, months after filming, it’s possible the upcoming dinner conversation will bring about some closure.
At this point, a true, honest conclusion is better than nothing.
Looking for more theories, recaps, and insider info on all things TV? Join our Facebook group, Binge Club. The community is a space for you to share articles, discuss last night’s episode of your favorite show, or ask questions! Join here.