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Cultural Capital

The Real Housewives of New York City Really Live in the Past

And I can't wait until this season is in the past, too.

RHONY cast member Ubah Hassah surrounded by the "Find my iPhone" logo.
(Photo by Gavin Bond / Bravo)

Tony Soprano once said, "'Remember when' is the lowest form of conversation." I don't think any of the current cast members of "The Real Housewives of New York City" have seen "The Sopranos," because oh my God, these women cannot stop taking trips down memory lane.

Whether they're rehashing the troubling pasts that led them to become the glamorous socialites they are today—OK, Gatbsy—or regaling each other with "embarrassing" stories about, I don't know, falling down at a gala or a club, these women seem to live primarily in the past. I'm not a psychologist. (If I was, I would prescribe myself a hearty dose of "stop watching 'The Real Housewives of New York City.'") But if I had to make a diagnosis, I would guess that these women love reminiscing because their lives right now are boring. They're employed; they're mothers; they're doing responsible things like abstaining from alcohol and freezing their eggs. It's all the kind of behavior I'd expect to see on a vlog about a corporate retreat for a successful startup that makes period underwear or fashionable laptop cases—not on a Bravo show.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: This does not make for good television. I am tired. I need a vacation from the vacation these women are on.

This week, the RHONY girls continued their sort of tense trip in Anguilla, orchestrated by Sai De Silva. They spend time on a yacht, and harangue Jessel Taank about whether or not she's lying about her upbringing, then they go to dinner and talk about how hard they used to party, and then they hang out in their palatial rental home, where we finally got a hint of vintage RHONY conflict. Erin Lichy hides Ubah Hassan's phone as a "prank," and Hassan is furious when the ruse is revealed—which really freaks the rest of the women out. 

Finally, in the last few minutes of the episode, Hassan gets in Lichy's face and takes the other woman's sunglasses. "You took my fucking phone," she says, while Lichy retreats, repeating, "Ubah, get away from me, get away from me right now." Sorry, but you're going to get frightened when a woman has an outsized reaction on Women Having Outsized Reactions: New York City Edition? Literally get with the program! 

Anyway, here's to hoping this is a taste of what's to come. I don't want to dwell on the past but remember when this show had a stacked cast of reality TV savants? 

Most authentic New York City moment: Competing for gold at the Broke Olympics

Last week, Taank did the classic play of being a little dodgy about how much help she received from her supportive family when she moved to New York City. This week, Sai De Silva countered with a move of her own: out-struggling Taank. When Taank says there were times when she was an intern living with her uncle that she only had $20 in her bank account, De Silva counters with feeling: "There was a point where I had zero dollars and zero cents…it was negative $498… all I ever was was [overdrafted]! Do you know what it feels like to have no money, no parents' house to crash in? Having 20 bucks in my bank account was a dream when I was young!" OK, word! 

Maybe instead of bickering, these women should take some time to reflect on the fact that their apparently radically different life experiences led them to what they do have in common—which, as I mentioned in the first installment of this column (how naive I was back then…), is that they both grew up to be RHONY cast members who named their kids "Rio."

Least authentic New York City moment: UCB x RHONY when?

Lichy wasn't the only cast member who was disturbed that Hassan didn't find the phone-hiding prank funny. "Know when a joke is a joke, like everybody needs to take a humor class or go to a comedy workshop," Brynn Whitfield says, which is rich coming from someone whose single joke is clumsy sexual innuendo of the "Oh, you spend a lot of time on your knees?" or "Why don't you squirt that shot into my mouth?" variety. A real New Yorker would know that taking a comedy class as a 30- or 40-something is a punishment for liking improv, not an educational experience. 

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