Season 10 opens with each of the ladies in their element: Sonja, naturally, is discussing the merits of a Marie Antoinette costume; Bethenny is in hair and makeup preparing for a gala at the Museum of Natural History while mocking texts from Ramona; Tinsley is watching her dog have an accident on the floor; and Dorinda’s prepping her Halloween bubble-dress look. She’s throwing a Halloween party (theme: “famous people who are alive”) designed to get all the Housewives in one place.
Bethenny, we learn, has been selected to give the keynote speech at a gala for the nonprofit Delivering Good. The event is a key mechanism for segueing into one of the most interesting updates in Housewives history: Bethenny’s off-season foray into disaster relief after the hurricanes in Houston and Puerto Rico. “I said fuck it, I’m chartering a plane,” she says of her decision to go to Puerto Rico, when people were telling her she couldn’t. “There were hundreds of people quietly lining up and everyone said, ‘no one’s come. You’re the first person who’s come.’ Every town we went to.’”
Bethenny delivered food, water and supplies, and once her work got noticed, she began receiving donations to enable her to send over several more planes fully stocked with desperately needed items. “I don’t have a fucking idea how I did this,” she explains. “I really don’t. But we did it. We’re doing it. We’re still doing it.” Tinsley and Ramona were supporters of Bethenny’s cause early on, donating $10,000 and $3,000 respectively, and have scored invites to the event. While Bethenny’s charitable awakening is probably the only truly awe-inspiring moment in the franchise’s history, we’re reminded what network we’re watching when Ramona wastes no time in noting Carole’s absence and wondering why she wouldn’t have been first on Bethenny’s list of guests.
Luann has also had an eventful hiatus. Her marriage to Tom, which began only ten months ago, has ended. “He was doing so well, and then he got married and he became a shitshow,” Dorinda tells her, as the two now-single ladies catch up at Dorinda’s home. Tom was spotted with other women and wasn’t coming home at night, and Luann reached a breaking point, confessing that Bethenny’s warnings to her before the marriage still haunt her. The divorce was simple, thanks to a prenup, and it ended before she even got a chance to change her name. All the cast members reached out to her after hearing the news (even Sonja!), but she’s yet to hear a word from Carole, and she’s not happy about it.
One of the few who is in contact with Carole is Tinsley, who welcomes her into her hotel room for a visit after placing a room-service order for a charcuterie board. (“I’m Eloise, all grown up!” she declares.) The two became BFFs after they travelled to Spain together with their former boyfriends. After introducing Carole to her small dog Bambi, Tinsley rehashes her breakup with Scott, of CouponCabin fame. The relationship was a pressure cooker, she thinks. Or maybe not. Neither of them can cook, so they can’t be sure that the metaphor works. Either way, she’s single for now, and has no interest in being set up by Carole again. For her part, Carole’s no longer calling Adam her boyfriend, but she’s still meeting up with him nearly every day, either for coffee or, as he puts it, “coffee.” She likes the no-strings-attached nature of their relationship, but Tinsley wants none of that, and is still pining for Scott.
With the Halloween party soon upon us, Ramona meets Sonja at an overstuffed costume shop. Ramona is very confused about the state of their relationship. She felt so close to Sonja while on their trip to Mexico, but since they’ve been back she’s been getting the distinct sense that Sonja has been avoiding her. After all the stress of her divorce, Sonja began taking an antidepressant that led to a newfound appreciation for croissants and a resulting weight gain. It required a solo trip to Costa Rica for her to ditch the pills and the pounds and feel good again.
Bethenny has no desire to attend tonight’s party, she tells her driver Kevin. She’s in a bad place after the death of her dog Cookie, and he’s talking her through it. It’s particularly emotional because she’s had Cookie since before she was a mother or a TV star. Over at Dorinda’s, Carole is the first to arrive, fully outfitted as Amelia Earhart. As they have their makeup done, Carole marvels at the fact that Luann expected her to extend an olive branch. She should be doing the apologizing, Carole believes, after accusing the others of being envious of her.
Dorinda is fully dressed as Lady Gaga – wig, bubbles and all, thanks to assistance from a former Saturday Night Live costume designer who made a similar look for Andy Samberg — when the others begin to file in. Tinsley is a “Like a Virgin”–era Madonna, John Mahdessian is a SWAT team officer, Ramona has on a full Britney Spears catsuit and Sonja is Lucy Ricardo. On Sonja’s arm is her sometime-beau Rocco, who is full of Ricky Ricardo one-liners. The party buzz is solidly focused on Sonja’s lingering at the bar without approaching the others until Luann arrives in a Diana Ross costume that relies heavily on blackface. Despite momentary shock, the group is easily able to shift their ire back to Sonja’s etiquette breach. After Bethenny shows up in full Barbie regalia, things quickly devolve. Dorinda is three sheets to the wind, while Carole is smoking despite being six days away from running the New York City Marathon after a lifetime of not exercising. Shortly after Dorinda gets escorted home by John, Luann lays into Carole for not checking in with her after learning she’d broken up with Tom. Carole points out that Luann failed to contact her after her split from Adam, which seems to help calm Luann down.
After Bethenny fills the group in about her new Bridgehampton investment property, Ramona questions her designating it “south of the highway” when it’s actually located right on Montauk Highway. Ramona would never buy on the highway, and she insists that she’s just as entrepreneurial as Bethenny. It’s a short road to Ramona insisting into a prop microphone that she empowers women and deploying senseless air quotes.
As drama-filled as Episode 1 may have been, a preview of the season ahead assures us that this is just the beginning. Bethenny’s return to Puerto Rico, Dorinda’s battle with drinking, and the death of former Housewives husband Bobby Zarin promise many tears ahead, all sure to be punctuated with wine-throwing and insult-hurling.
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