“Can I call you Hillary?”
Hillary Clinton’s appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen was never going to be the typical interview with the former secretary of state and presidential candidate, what with the talk show’s penchant for getting guests liquored up and loose enough to swan-dive into rumor pools they ordinarily would never even dip a toe into.
It was never not going to be the hardest-hitting, news-making sit-down with Clinton, who was promoting Hulu’s documentary series Hillary, which chronicles her life and 2016 presidential campaign and launches Friday. But that was precisely what made the appearance such a delight.
It’s not every day you see Hillary Clinton take a shot with a Real Housewife and kiki with some drag queens in the Bravo Clubhouse.
The interview was taped Wednesday, which means Clinton wasn’t asked to weigh in on the biggest news on the minds of many viewers by the time it aired Thursday night: Elizabeth Warren’s announcement that she was suspending her own presidential campaign, leaving it statistically near-impossible for a woman to swing open the door she cracked open in 2016. (But you do you, Tulsi.)
But Cohen has always had a talent for making his guests comfortable enough to use his show as a pitching mound to throw shade—this is the show, remember, that birthed Mariah Carey’s “I don’t know her” dig at J. Lo—and Clinton seemed happy to take aim at a few choice batters.
Asked what she really thinks of Melania Trump’s “Be Best” anti-bullying campaign, Clinton quipped, “I think she should look closer to home.”
And she divulged that, while she’s spoken with varying degrees of regularity to most of the Democratic candidates throughout primary season, “I’ve not been in touch with a few of them, most notably Bernie Sanders.”
Had Sanders reached out to her, she clarifies, she would have gladly spoken to him. Still, the comment echoes a saltiness that’s already generated plenty of headlines, when it was revealed that, in one episode of Hillary, she slams Sanders pretty harshly.
“Honestly, Bernie drove me crazy,” she says. “He was in the Senate for years. Years! He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him. Nobody wants to work with him. He got nothing done. He was a career politician. He did not work until he was like 41, and then he got elected to something. It was all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.” Asked about the comment afterwards, she’s stood by it.
It’s clear that Clinton knew what kind of party she was being invited to when she showed up on Cohen’s show, and she seemed totally game to engage in all of its demented joy.
The episode opened with Cohen tossing off a series of HRC-themed puns, soundtracked by Clinton’s clearly amused laughter off-camera: “Let’s make like a glass ceiling and get smashed.” “I’m with her, literally.” And, in reference to the show’s drinking game, an encouragement for audience members to “drink until all Hill breaks loose.”
Cohen asked Clinton what was going through her mind during iconic photos throughout her political history. About being at Trump’s inauguration, she says she was thinking, “This is even worse than I thought.” About the presidential debate in which he notoriously stalked behind her while she spoke, she remembers thinking, “This guy really has problems.” And as for the famous photo of her looking exasperated during the 11-hour Benghazi Senate hearing, she captions it, “I cannot believe these idiots.”
I don’t know if this is the first time the meme of Clinton cringe-inducingly shimmying with excitement during one of the 2016 debates was brought up in her presence, but it was definitely the first time it was used as the theme for a Never Have I Ever-inspired parlor game in which she would recreate the shimmy every time she’s done the thing Cohen prompts her with.
The revelations were nothing particularly scandalous, but they were pretty fun. She’s forgotten the name of a world leader she’s meeting before. She’s taken a roadie with her in a motorcade. She’s gotten tipsy with Obama. She’s gone skinny-dipping, but not in the White House pool. She’s been to a gay bar. It was all very cute!
She followed tradition and delivered what she said would be her Real Housewives tagline, hilariously turning her back to the camera so she could dramatically whip herself around to deliver it: “I’m neither as good or as bad as people say.” (This is what she also reveals in Hillary as what she wants etched on her gravestone.)
There’s a bit of news in her earnest defense of Nancy Pelosi’s controversial State of the Union gesture, tearing up the text of Trump’s speech after he finished.
“I thought she was making a very strong point in demonstrating that so much of what he said was untethered from reality and just plain factually wrong,” she said. “Sometimes it’s the only way to get attention because otherwise his speech, which was filled with so many errors, would have been taken at face value. Because she visibly did that, which then went viral across the internet, people said, wait a minute, maybe we better take another look. I thought it was an interesting and effective gesture.”
Even when she was deflecting the few more uncomfortable questions, she was quippy and fun. “I’m the last person to comment on anybody’s relationship,” she responded to a question about Melania repeated swatting Trump’s hand.
The entire thing ended in a drag pageant, with RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Trinity the Tuck, Peppermint, and Alaska modeling looks inspired by Clinton’s college days, time as first lady, and modern style, respectively. The plastered politician’s smile immediately elasticized, nearly spreading off Clinton’s face as she cackled breathlessly at the whole ordeal. She seemed to be having the time of her life.
The entire thing was a blast. Sometimes it’s just fun to see a world leader be allowed to enjoy herself with such abandon, freed of shackles of political propriety. More, in the wake of the Warren news Thursday, it was a much-needed elixir for many crestfallen Bravo viewers. As one tweeted me during the show, “It could not have been better timed for this thoroughly disappointed woman tonight.”
There is a necessity for Clinton to engage in the heavy news of the current election cycle, and there has been and will be ample opportunity for that. But sometimes it’s just nice to have a little fun. Preferably in the presence of some drag queens.