Fashion scientists, can maxi dresses actually implode? Or explode? The one belonging to The Countess Luann, as Luann de Lesseps is known from The Real Housewives of New York, swished so angrily in and out of hotel rooms in the season eight finale that disaster of all kinds seemed possible. I thought the dress might end up actually biting someone. Swish, swish, gnash.
Real Housewives fans have seen most things—including the unbeatable flinging of a prosthetic leg—but Luann’s fiancé cheating on her was a special doozy as he had already been out with two of her castmates mere months before.
There was no room for any other drama in the finale. It began and ended with the revelation that Luann’s fiancé, Tom D’Agostino, had been unfaithful with a Playboy model (that last bit, according to People). Luann swans about looking grand and inviolable, so to be cheated on so publicly was not good for the “mwah mwah darling” image.
And all around this lay lip-gloss, recrimination, and finally the remains of a piñata—which, this being the New York Housewives, was a promotional tool filled with jewelry.
Making sense of the episode requires a working knowledge of the “housewives.” They work, essentially, as a hive, who—while very thin and worked-out—spend a lot of on-screen time in restaurants and bars drinking, eating, and exchanging intel—accompanied by brilliant and critical incidental music.
It was Bethenny Frankel, chief gossip wrangler, Skinny Girl mogul and perpetually in very watchable crisis, who had been sent the blurred-for-TV image of Tom, Luann’s fiancé, kissing another woman in the Regency Hotel, New York.
Naturally, Bethenny began by making it all about her, wailing, “I don’t want to be holding this information… (oh yes you do). I have to tell her.” Then, with Luann, more mewling, as she lay on her bed, protesting that although she had been a cow to her in the past, “I don’t want to be doing this right now.” (Oh yes you do.)
Luann seemed genuinely devastated to be faced with evidence of her loved one’s infidelity, and said she was going to throw up. And that is where the scurrying in and out of rooms began.
The other women wondered why Bethenny hadn’t conveyed the information she knew to Luann when she knew it, but Bethenny is all about staging. “Men are fucking animals,” she wailed to the other women, who—like her—are masterful at inserting themselves into the center of the drama.
Ramona Singer, who promotes her wine as ruthlessly as Bethenny promotes her vodka and single and all-too-ready to mingle, wailed she had found out her ex-husband, Mario, had been “screwing some other bitch” by way of Page Six, unlike her where it was from a friend (on national television on a reality show!).
The other thing that Bethenny was pushing in this episode, apart from truth, was brand. Her meltdown over being the conduit of gossip led her to claim—as if in her very own Valley of the Dolls—that she had a headache, and needed alcohol. Get her a bottle, get her some ice.
Doors continued to swing open and closed, with the maxi dress threatening to explode. Luann thought she had been with Tom on the day when he was caught snogging someone else. “I do love him, but I can’t put up with this,” she said, and found out everyone else knew about the mess before she did.
The mounting disaster had been significantly foreshadowed: Tom had been seeing both Ramona and Sonja Morgan (daffy, and proprietor of a warrenous, clutter and intern-filled townhouse)—separately, as far as we know—before alighting upon Luann. Maybe it will turn out he worked his way through the casts of New Jersey, Beverly Hills, and Melbourne too. Maybe he will cross the Atlantic and target Cheshire next. Maybe Tom is more than a Housewives superfan—but a super-shagger. No big-haired, confected reality superstar female is safe.
Luann confronted him by phone, questioning why he had no recollection of his other-woman kissing marathon. “What do you mean, you don’t remember?”
Bethenny, still on her bed of self-suffering and torment, wailed that she just wanted to be the messenger; she didn’t want to be listening to this confrontation.
Sonja, coldly ignored by Tom at a party a few weeks back, noted that Luann just wanted to be married, whatever the cost.
Bethenny thought Tom was after Luann’s money, and wondered why Luann seemed more worried about others seeing Tom misbehaving than the fact he had misbehaved. “She cares about how this looks.”
Carole (Radziwill, genuine American aristo, and with a hot younger boyfriend who sported an excellent haircut for the finale) said Tom wasn’t the first, and wouldn’t be the first, man to claim not to remember.
Dorinda (Medley, who is fun but has an unpopular, rather large boyfriend) got a call from Tom, saying her own friendship with Luann was under threat, and her own invitation to the wedding rendered null and void, unless she tried to explain things away to the other women.
Then, a moment which required more explanation. Luann appeared, all dolled up for a Mexican-themed promotional party for Bethenny’s brand. She revealed she had met Tom to discuss everything, he was “devastated,” and they decided to “work through” their issues because they loved each other.
Why this took place off-camera—presumably on his say-so—was a near-fatal flaw, because at the party, even when the women were talking about the piñata, Luann accused them of talking about her. She and Tom were each other’s therapists, she revealed, which sounded both dumb and icky.
Everyone watching at this point either screamed at the screen, or wondered the most effective way to stage an intervention.
Bethenny, who had professed her friendship so fulsomely a few minutes before, now said Luann had no self-respect. She also rounded on a waiter for being so stupid as to serve vegetarian ceviche.
Luann made clear to Bethenny that she and Tom were in love, end of. Bethenny said she was being deluded. Luann told her to stay out of her life, and added she wanted to remain in a bubble.
The end-of-season epilogues given to each of the women at the end revealed Luann was planning her wedding to Tom. It will be at New Year’s, and it is unclear whether the other women will attend.
On the Real Housewives’ blog, Luann writes under the headline Tom’s a Good Man: “We all make mistakes, and some we make in private and others we make for the world to see. After I found out about what Tom had done, I had to dig deep within myself to find the love to forgive, but I did.
“I forgave him shortly after reuniting back in New York. Was it easy? No way. Am I glad I did? Absolutely. We are still engaged and are finalizing our New Year’s Eve wedding plans. He’s a good man and we love each other. We will stand the test of time regardless of what those women try to do to ruin our happiness.”
Well, that might be all well and good, but you can expect more implanting of stilettos in backs at next week’s NY reunion.
“I don’t want to fight anyone,” says Bethenny, implausibly.
“You called me every name in the book for no reason,” Luann says to her.
“Not for no reason,” says Bethenny, rather brilliantly, and correctly.
Reunion host and Bravo honcho Andy Cohen will oversee, as he always does, yet another reunion’s rows, tears and walkouts. He created this monster, and now he and we are all its bemused, addicted hostages.