This shit, and other things that Leah elevates

In which I bid a not-so-fond farewell to Season 12 of “RHONY.”

A little over a week ago, I resurrected this newsletter for the sole purpose of ranking the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills after another season of bold fashion choices, conspicuous consumption, and refusing to let the mouse go. Also, I rather missed writing about the things I care about, including Bravo.

I originally intended to keep this newsletter eclectic, splitting my posts between musings on various Housewives series, theater, and horror. Unfortunately, live theater remains mostly non-existent and I can’t remember the last time I sat through an entire movie (I can, it was hard), and these days I pretty much just watch Bravo shows and play Mario Kart. Which is to say that I’m going to rank the New York City Housewives now, because it was that or rank Mario Kart courses, and I’m not sure I have the range.

If you don’t care about Bravo, I’m sorry, but also I owed it to the New York ladies, the Housewives fans who follow me, and — well, that’s it, really, but these posts are free now, so I can pretty much write about whatever, legally speaking. Anyway, let’s get cracking!

1. Leah. A first-year Housewife nabbing the top spot on a post-season power ranking? I never thought I’d see the day. But Bravo gave us some real new stars this year (see also: Garcelle, Sutton, Wendy), and no one burned hotter and brighter than Leah McSweeney. Was she, at times, distressingly drunk? Sure. Are her politics questionable? I prefer not to think about it. Her flaws notwithstanding, Leah came in like a hurricane, destroying white supremacist-linked tiki torches and Upper East Side face lifts in her wake. She was funny, vulnerable, and a perpetual thorn in the side of Ramona Singer, who would prefer that her friends have zero tattoos, let alone tattoos on or around their vaginas. Sorry, Ramona, but Leah elevates this shit.

2. Luann. The Countess deciding to hop off the wagon after two seasons worth of sobriety storylines was a choice, to say the least. It could easily have been a disaster, but thankfully, Lu’s friends took one for the team and decided to be such hot messes that she looked like a teetotaler in comparison. The one time Luann did get drunk and veer into asshole territory, she immediately pulled back and decided to never get that sloppy again — at least, not on camera, which is all that really matters. She was truly the voice of reason this season, displaying surprising compassion while also refusing to let Dorinda repeatedly use one lousy mugshot against her. Also, “Viva La Diva” is… kind of a bop.

3. Sonja. At some point during the season — probably around the time she stopped mixing her water pills with alcohol, and also Xanax — Sonja transitioned from hard-to-watch drunk to downright aspirational. She finally got a product into stores! And then Century 21 filed for bankruptcy, but that is completely unrelated, and also happened after the show wrapped, so we are not letting it undermine her happy ending. Usually Sonja gets a coherent season followed by a shitfaced season, but this time, we got a little of both. What’s important is where she ended up, looking better than ever with her brand new face, and lovingly calling out Ramona on her shit.

4. Tinsley. I can already hear Dorinda screaming at me, both for the mere mention of Tinsley Mortimer’s name, and because I dared rank her at all. She abandoned the show! Walking away from filming is the ultimate sin, yes, but Tinsley didn’t bail because she couldn’t take the heat — she bailed because she found something better, a life of stability and the prospect of a family. And yes, as a bonus, she no longer has to get raked over the coals by women old enough to be her mother. I’m not as sold on Scott as Tinsley is, but who cares. She seems happy, and she managed to win the whole damn reunion simply by keeping her cool and casually exposing the root of Dorinda’s seething hatred of her. Chic!

5. Ramona. One of the most remarkable things about RHONY airing for as long as it has is that we’ve really been able to see these women grow. Just look at the difference between Season 12 Luann and Season 1 The Countess: truly a masterclass in character development. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Ramona, who will never not be the absolute worst. Growth is not in her nature! And yes, at some point between voting for Trump and being a one-woman COVID superspreader event, she did manage, however briefly, to be a voice of reason amid the alarming drunkenness of her castmates. Unfortunately, Ramona sucks at being the voice of reason almost as much as she sucks at apologies, and we are, for some reason, cursed to bear witness to her bullshit until the end of time.

6. Dorinda. Few Housewives have had a worse season than Dorinda did. I’m not even sure what to say at this point about her tragic, often infuriating fall from grace. The last few episodes of the season were borderline unwatchable, from her constant raging to her slurring denials that she was drunk to her perpetual refusal to take any accountability for her actions. I know that the defense of Dorinda is that she was in a really bad place while filming, which, sure, but a lot of this isn’t new — it was just cranked up to a level that could not be ignored. My not-unpopular opinion is that Bravo was right to fire Dorinda. My probably-less-popular opinion is that she should stay gone. I sincerely wish her all the best dealing with her anger issues and whatever else is going on far away from any cameras.

Photo via Bravo.