Christmas morning, your first snow day of the year as a grade schooler, the feeling of lifting your pillow to see what the Tooth Fairy left for you. All of those things wrapped into one give you an idea of the anticipation level I had for the return of RHONY after hiatus. Starving for new content in a world whose productions have been all but ceased by quarantine. Then it arrives and Santa never came, a warm front hit and stopped the magical snowfall in it’s tracks, and the tooth pillow is empty…it’s contents have disappeared with no reward to be found for weeks of wiggling. Like a smack to the face of my senses, I’m snapped out of my magical thoughts and left holding a rapidly reddening cheek with my mouth agape. Talk about a let down.
The show begins with Leah, Luann, and Dorinda meeting up in a costume shop to let us know that Halloween is right around the corner. Luann’s friend Evan is hosting a dinner instead of his usual party, and Leah’s plus one will be her “baby daddy” Rob. With Tinsley no longer in the picture as a receptacle for Dorinda’s misdirected anger about her own life, Ramona is now set firmly in her sights. She feels used by Ramona as a social media prop, and says Ramona barely spoke to her at the Larry Scott birthday party prep. Three weeks isn’t enough time for me to forget that yes, Ramona did speak to you, she just didn’t take your suggestions for her party. That doesn’t reduce you to a prop. It just means she and her planner had a different vision, one that didn’t include a naked girl with sushi all over her.
The first shock to the senses comes in the form of newly added at-home confessionals. Keep in mind that this season was already in the can before quarantine. Yes, some editing and color adjustments needed to be completed, but confessionals are done throughout the season. Usually distinguished by outfits we see repeatedly on the women. We’re only halfway through the season, and later in the show you’ll see confessionals that were filmed closer to real time, so it’s not that they didn’t have material. With all of that in mind, it feels like we’re under a re-branding of sorts. A now sober Leah looks great in hers. A once venom spewing Dorinda is now softer and calmer with less zinc pink lipstick. And Luann, predictably, has a picture of herself in her backdrop. The audio quality is horrible on some, generating visions of public access offerings of days gone by. I can’t help but wonder if they’re not attempting to create a whole new direction for the storyline.
The show shifts to Ramona meeting with her matchmaker Rori. Again, I’m awash in the feeling of overproduced reality for the show only. We know Ramona is dating on her own as is evidenced by her constant need to leave a function early for what she deems as a bigger and better affair to attend. It’s always a case of “the grass is always greener” with her. Much like last year, I feel like if you aren’t going to commit to the show full time….quit. At this point it feels like we’re being thrown a bone as viewers, and one with no meat on it and the marrow has been sucked out too. We should never be more invested than someone getting paid to be there. But much like her response to Rori about what she wants in a man, she wants it all and feels like she shouldn’t have to settle for one or the other.
On the other side of town Elyse and Sonja are commiserating over their recent Ramona experiences. This definitely makes it crystal clear that Ramona is now square in the circle of the bull’s eye where Tinsley once stood before hiatus. Elyse is feeling shunned by Ramona which is odd to her considering her friendship with Ramona is the reason why she’s even in the mix with the ladies. Sonja is feeling like it’s always about Ramona. Not really an epiphany after 20 years plus of friendship is it? We’ve seen these ups and downs between Ramonja before, and we’re definitely in a down. I did find it more than a little ironic that in her confessional Sonja was chastising Ramona for trying to one-up them with her fake friends, considering Sonja has been known to lapse into name dropping people who are no longer on this mortal coil like she saw them just yesterday.
We get some actual family interaction for a change as Dorinda’s joins her daughter Hannah for a burger. Hannah is liking seeing her mom exert her independence and not rely on a spouse or a partner as an anchor. She’s very proud to watch her grow into this new version of herself and sees her in a new light which brings Dorinda to tears.
The family time continues as Leah, Rob, and Kiki head out for Chinese. We get to see a little more of their dynamic and learn that her parents still consider Rob a son and that with no mother figure of his own, he returns the sentiment with Leah’s mom Bunny. Leah realizes that she’s been holding a grudge against her mom for a long time and that she needs to be better to her. As Rob agrees, Leah realizes how similar he is to Bunny with the “I told you so” vibe and that unlike most girls who marry someone like their father, she had a baby with a guy who’s like her mom.
The rest of the episode revolves around the Halloween party. Not attempting to short change you here, but I really don’t want to relive that hot mess. Suffice it to say there are cameos by Jill and Missy, harkening back to days where there were actual real life relationships and I can’t help but wax nostalgic. Where we once were offered insights in to the lives of the other half, we’re now left with staged events, forced interactions, and a lot of awkward drunkenness.
Sonja needs subtitles through most of it. Leah is off the rails tearing away at a seafood tower and screaming, and Dorinda gives us yet another drunken toast, that sadly isn’t even quotable. With the Berserkshires coming up next week, I’m hoping our anticipations will finally be met, but if I’m being honest, I’m keeping my expectations low because I’m tired of being let down. I hope you’ll join me then and that we’ll all be pleasantly surprised!