The mystery of Bethenny Frankel and Carole Radziwill’s Real Housewives Of New York feud was the question gnawing at every viewer during the Bravo veteran's tenth season. Throughout a disturbingly bleak 2018 run, we got a few hints about what caused the gigantic rift in what used to be RHONY's strongest friendship: Bethenny’s drama with Adam Kenworthy over charity photography, some ill-received text messages, Carole simply no longer being “into” Bethenny. But, none of that really clarified how such a loving BFFship could turn so sour, so aggressively.
Finally, Wednesday night’s “Reunion Part 2” shed some light on the true cause of this bad blood. To understand why Bethenny and Carole are feuding, we have to understand Carole’s very tragic summer of 2017.
Filming for New York usually begins right after summer ends, and season 10 was no different. Every year, the women return from their globetrotting vacations and Long Island summer homes — which may or may not be by the highway — and bring their baggage with them. The question of who spoke to whom, when absolutely no interaction was contractually necessary, hangs over every scene. We quickly learn who felt neglected, and who ended up connecting.
Bethenny is used to coming back from that summer break fresh off of a season of friendship and fun with Carole. In 2016, she shared Instagram photos of the co-stars’ trip to Chicago, a video from their shared radio appearance, and a sweet post for Carole’s birthday. The same cannot be said for the summer of 2017. And, that’s because Carole spent most of the season in Los Angeles helping her friend Cassandra Grey, a beauty website founder, deal with the death of her husband, as Carole explains during Wednesday’s reunion installment. That integral detail wasn’t mentioned throughout RHONY season 10, despite the fact that it puts Carole's tension with her former TV best friend in an entirely new light.
Carole, a widow herself, was grappling with one of the most upsetting life events possible when she was supposedly ignoring Bethenny.
During the reunion, Bethenny points to the fact that Carole didn’t invite her into her apartment following a summer trip to Montauk, or to a “group” dinner in Los Angeles, as proof she wasn’t “included” in Carole’s life. In both instances, Carole explains her newly widowed friend simply didn’t want to meet new people in such a fragile state.
Carole's loyalty to Cassandra Grey plays out most importantly when it comes to the incessantly discussed December 2017 text conversation between Carole and Bethenny. Carole claims Bethenny repeatedly texted her without any regard for how the barrage of messages might make Carole feel. Bethenny claims she sent one heartfelt text, and Carole said “Wow, that’s a lot.”
What viewers didn't realize until the reunion episode is that no matter the frequency and emotional intensity of Bethenny’s texts, they were sent while Carole helped her friend get through her first holiday season as a widow. That is a fraught time, and one that likely left Carole with absolutely no bandwidth to handle Bethenny’s feelings as well. Bethenny probably could have simply typed “Merry Christmas,” and it would have been too much for Carole.
Yet, Carole got much more from Bethenny than a few warm Yuletide wishes.
“I open my phone when I land, and [Bethenny writes], ‘Why are you being so cold? Did I miss something? I am your friend, Ramona is evil,’” Carole recounts of the moment she landed in Los Angeles for Christmas. “I said, ‘I’m not sad. I have no idea why you would think that. Please just stop, I want to enjoy the holiday.’” But the texts didn’t stop, and around Christmas Day, Bethenny called Carole “cold” again. Carole explains she received this text while she was at dinner with her grieving friend, whose late husband’s birthday also arrives during the holidays, making the season doubly upsetting.
“So I say, ‘It’s a lot and not a conversation for text. I’m relaxing. Please, let’s talk after the new year. XO,'” Carole explains, still reading off of her phone. “And [Bethenny] continues to text, ‘Well we’re friends. I keep trying out. You’re shutting me out. It’s hurting my feelings. Never mind. It doesn’t matter. I have shit going on.’”
All of a sudden, a season-long reference that convincingly proved how callous Carole acted towards Bethenny doesn’t look quite as dark. Rather, we realize, Bethenny was in an emotionally precarious place and so was Carole. While Bethenny — who was dealing with custody issues and stress stemming from her ex-husband Jason Hoppy’s alleged stalking earlier that year — wanted Carole to help soothe some of her anxieties, Carole had a lot of understandable anxieties of her own.
That’s why fans shouldn’t be #TeamBethenny or #TeamCarole. Rather, we should all just be sad so many miscommunications and unsaid things led to the decimation of a really fantastic friendship.
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