I think we have to start the recap of this episode with a little RIP to Dorinda Mary-Margaret Medley (I made up her middle name), who will be leaving the franchise after six seasons of slogan. But how will they get to the Berkshires now? And who’s going to take a nap under an all-pink Christmas tree or wear some sequined Afghan pants, then turn those pants into a sequined Afghan coat for their daughter? I have a lot of love for Dorinda, who in her early seasons was a hilarious voice of reason, but things just took a turn.
It seems clear the franchise really needs a bit of a change, and nothing has made that more obvious than the 15th anniversary party for Leah’s clothing line, Married to the Mob. Let’s take just a minute to appreciate that this girl – no, women! – started a clothing line when she was 22. What was I doing when I was 22? I dunno, meet some guys from Manhunt and work a bunch of shitty jobs so I can get through my nightclub habit. (I was also sadly in love with a Blockbuster employee named Jason who gave me free DVDs, and someone born when I was 22 won’t understand a single word of that sentence.)
Leah is throwing this big party at a cool venue in the Meatpacking District, which is actually affiliated with a trendy sneaker store upstairs. This all makes sense considering she has a streetwear business and likely knows the boys and girls who own it. The party is filled with hip, downtown folks who, Dorinda says, look like they need to get out of their living room clothes and put on their real clothes. Um, I’ve seen everyone’s future and now all we do is wear loungewear and not go to parties, so Leah and her friends are way ahead of the curve. Dorinda, she says, looks like Karen from Human Resources, and she’s not wrong.
None of the women really come dressed for a cool downtown party. Luann is dressed in spotted fur and a white fringe top, which looks amazing but decidedly north of 42nd Street. Ramona has an all champagne and peach ensemble with white fur. Sonja is wearing god knows what, a sort of black blur of transparent material that, like all of Sonja’s outfits, looks like panties she left in the bidet and which sprouted into a full-fledged dress. Not all women seem out of place with Leah’s true friends, and they don’t want to mingle or mingle at all.
Everyone except our favorite floozy, Sonja Tremont Morgan from Poodle Piddle Doggie Pee Pad Table Morgans. That’s why Sonja will always be a great TV. She can just sit at home and talk about how a dead flower arrangement looks alive if you look at them from across the room, which is why I love her so much. She walks into Leah’s party and says to a group of young black men, “Hey guys!” and starts hugging them all so tightly that it looks like their Supreme cups are going to pop out of their heads. There’s no way Sonja will know these guys (unless they’re somehow affiliated with her Nigerian soccer team), but she’s just ready to make some friends and have a good time.
As she sat with her new clique and flirted with one a lot, she said, “Look at me and see, like… a grandmother.” He nods and she’s, well, cool with that. May God bless her. One of them also told him, “I was drinking Captain Morgan last night. “Well, you’re partying with Lady Morgan now,” is his quick response. You see, even in unfamiliar surroundings, Sonja is ready to blend in.
However, just look at the faces of all the other women when they find out that there is no locker room. Someone tells Luann to just throw his coat over the back of a sofa. Can you see her do this? No way! That’s the problem: We’ve seen enough of the Upper East Side that these women have been bringing us for over a decade, and it’s been fun. But we are going through a pandemic and a cultural upheaval. How much would we prefer to see the young, multicultural and exciting downtown scene that Leah embodies? Wouldn’t we have liked to see a little more of a mix of New York life instead of just one filigree piece? I definitely would, and Dorinda (and Ramona, sure) don’t seem able to blend together, or even want to.
The only thing happening at the party is that Leah, who really seems to have a relationship with Elyse, invited this weird, translucent ghost in red fur to her party. Ramona tried to tell Leah that she wasn’t “allowed” to do this, but Leah did what she wanted anyway. So, Elyse walks over to Leah, the mother of Leah, Bunny and Ramona as they all talk. As she pulls back, Ramona kisses Bunny on the cheek and tries to escape. “Aren’t you even going to talk to me?” asks her ex-friend Elyse as Ramona walks away. Elyse tries to grab Ramona’s wrist, but she releases her arm and says she doesn’t want to talk to him.
Elyse stands there, puzzled, wondering if the spell that let her come out of her bottle is going to expire at any time. Leah looks at her and yells, “Go on! Go! Pushing her towards Ramona. This, right here, is why Leah is such a great addition to the cast. She knows what’s been going on for a while, and she’s not the type to shy away from confrontation, even if it means her sweatpants party is going to be ruined.
Because she always does as she is told, Elyse goes to Ramona and tells her that she is a terribly duplicitous person and blah blah blah. Ramona does what she always does when confronted with someone: she ignores them until she no longer exists. Ramona mumbles that Elyse is “evil” then walks straight down the sidewalk and asks a random person to bring her a car and he’s like, “Ma’am, I don’t work here. I’m just enjoying a sneaker night.
What’s funny about Ramona is that she can just ignore things or people until they’re gone. We call this the Barbara K effect. If a “friend of” falls in the forest and Ramona doesn’t like him, not only does he not make a sound; he’s sucked into a black hole never to come back. She then sets her sights on John, Dorinda’s ex, at Dorinda’s birthday party. She takes control of the Russian Samovar and invites everyone, including loving John, but Ramona thinks that means she’s giving her mixed signals.
The party goes off most of the time without a hitch, except Dorinda gets angry with Luann when Luann tells her not to look at her phone at the table, a behavior Dorinda had upset days before in Mexico. Dorinda never encountered hypocrisy or climax that she didn’t like. But before anyone can say, “She begins,” things move forward.
I think maybe the time has come to mention that Luann has started drinking again. Maybe she was hoping that, this far into the season, we wouldn’t have noticed. However, for a moment she’s at a table crying to her ghostwriter (which isn’t me, which means my agent will be receive a call!!) on how alcohol almost ruined his father’s life. The next minute, she tries the theft of Russian Samovar flavored vodkas. The last five minutes of the episode are devoted to Luann giving a rambling and incoherent speech before throwing “Happy Birthday” as if she was the brunette reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe’s understudy.
What no one points out is that Luann is clearly drunk. Luann has never been sloppy. Even when the rest of the women really tied her up, she could still keep him together, other than falling into a bush and, you know, telling a cop drunk that she was going to kill him, which got her in jail and and so on. probation. But now she’s there, dodging his words as someone coats their tongue with Astroglide. Isn’t that disturbing to anyone, namely, I don’t know, Luann?
This party took place right before Christmas, which means we all know what’s on the horizon. Everything is about to end. There will be more birthdays, but there will be no more parties. There will be sweatpants and sneakers, but there will be no more launch events. There will be exes, but there will be no more cuddling with them in public, at least without a mask. We scrutinize past times as if we were looking in a magic mirror. Somewhere in a cafe on the stuffy Upper East Side sidewalk, a redhead wonders if her brunch eggs will literally be fried on the sidewalk. She dabs her forehead and pulls up her mask to remove the drops of sweat from her upper lip. The fall cannot come soon enough, when the meals will be more tolerable. But what if they are back inside? What if the virus gets worse? And what about the election? And the protests? What about? What about? What about? Jill Zarin then thinks she is stirring while waiting for her meal, wishing she could be brought back before it all ends or jumps where it all starts again.