‘RHONY’ Season 14, Episode 4 Recap: A Friendsgiving From Hell

As the sage Canadian-Portuguese prophetess Nelly Furtado once said, all good things must come to an end. In this case, I’m referring to the Real Housewives of New York cast’s blissful three-day trip to the Hamptons. Over the last two episodes of Season 14, the Housewives of the RHONY reboot ingratiated themselves to skeptical viewers by getting into micro-spats about ugly lingerie and talking about vagina popsicles, all while lambasting their host’s beautiful Hamptons home at every turn. It was classic RHONY fare, a golden way to kick off a franchise refresh.

Unfortunately, all that is gold cannot stay.

Now, don’t get ahead of me! Episode 4 of Season 14 was still quite good. More than that, it was necessary. We were having so much fun on this Hamptons trip that it became easy to forget that we had barely met each of these new Housewives before they were all shuttled off to Erin’s Long Island getaway.

We’ve had a taste of their group dynamic, but cast members must also be able to function on their own. A Housewife’s personal life and business decisions feed the machine, and vice versa; if Jill Zarin didn’t reveal that her daughter had arthritis, we never would’ve gotten the charity board meeting where Bethenny Frankel called Kelly Bensimon “Madonna” and their iconic Brass Monkey argument would’ve never happened. This may have felt like our first filler episode of the reboot, but if the filler episodes are still this fun, I’d say we’re in a great spot.

On the final morning of their Hamptons trip, everyone wakes up somewhere between hungry and hungover. The previous night’s game of Two Truths and a Lie, followed by a heart-to-heart over a gas fireplace that almost saw South Hampton go up in flames, left everyone vulnerable and a little liquored up. That means it’s finally time for Erin to make her fabled shakshuka to soak up all that booze, which is exactly when you should make shakshuka—not before a rigorous cardio workout with a very sexy trainer, as she originally planned. But given that Erin’s heating was broken and her pantry was barren, trying to get her castmates to vomit up poached eggs in red sauce might’ve just been part of her diabolical plan.

Because Jenna is Jenna, she helps Erin wash and cut the tomatoes in half a million dollars worth of Tiffany jewelry. I don’t think a Housewife has ever been more understatedly chic than when Jenna said in her confessional, “Haven’t you ever heard of Breakfast at Tiffany’s?” The ladies of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills just popped a blood vessel. Ubah brings out her hot sauce brand, Ubah Hot, to dress up the shakshuka/take advantage of some priceless on-camera promo. Being the consumerist slut for Housewives products that I am, I threw down $60 on the Ubah Hot three-jar variety pack before the women were even done eating their breakfast. I’m not competing with the Bravo fandom for these sauces; we’ve seen what happened with She by Sherée!

The women get to talking about their upcoming Thanksgiving plans, and Brynn starts to lose the color in her cheeks. Not because of the shakshuka (which admittedly looked scrumptious, who says alleged Trump voters can’t cook!), but because Brynn’s family unit is fissured. She was raised in Indiana by her grandmother—who legally adopted Brynn and her brother and sister since Brynn’s parents were “not really in the picture”—and mentions later in the episode that she’s not even very close with her immediate family anymore. Family is a tough subject for Brynn, who has clearly been seeking stability and love in her adult life as a result. That’s precisely why she has three ex-fiancés, a fact the editors skimmed over when she mentioned it last week. Brynn says that she and her latest ex, Gideon, are consciously uncoupled, which is a hilarious way to say that you’re friends with benefits, given that Brynn has no children that she’d want to protect by consciously uncoupling.

RHONY's Brynn Whitfield opens up about her family history during breakfast in the Hamptons.

Brynn Whitfield opens up about her family history during breakfast.


Brunch ends, and thus closes one of my new favorite RHONY mini trips, with all six women being shuttled back to the city. The middle stretch of the episode gives us an intimate look into each of these ladies’ backgrounds. Erin discusses her career as a decorator and property flipper, while Jessel relitigates her currently sexless marriage with her husband, Pavet. But it’s far more interesting to get to know a little more about Brynn and Ubah.

Brynn stops by the salon to dish with her hairdresser, and goes deeper into how difficult it was to grow up biracial in an all-white community. Though Brynn’s father is Black, she felt disconnected from that side of herself until she spent time fostering a support system while hanging out at a Black hair salon as a child. Ubah, on the other hand, grew up with full support from her parents, but breaks down in front of her Ann Dowd-lookalike business consultant/friend Kathleen, remembering all of the love that Ubah’s late mother showered on her.

Those emotional scenes blessedly get some nice levity peppered in before the episode’s heavy ending. Sai has a FaceTime call with Brynn, where Sai asks if it’s alright to host a “Brynnsgiving” dinner party since her friend has been feeling so down. Sai suggests that they can just mask their feelings with some liquor, to which Brynn responds, “On LinkedIn, that’s actually my expertise.” Never mind that those feelings will end up just as conspicuous as the Gmail notifications that keep popping up on Sai’s phone during their FaceTime call. Sue me for being snoopy but I’m trying to get a gander at how much Sai is paid per post—she’s got a damn Brownstone on an influencer’s salary.

Brynnsgiving rolls around, and Brynn is the first to arrive. She’s got her coquettishness turned up to 100, immediately flirting with the hired chef and bartender, both of whom are married. They couldn’t have thrown her a little wink? This woman is the guest of honor at a party her friends are having so she won’t be catatonically sad at Thanksgiving. She needs a win! All of the women sit down for dinner, and immediately launch into the reason for their gathering: Brynn not having any family to be with during the holidays. “How are you doing, are you good?” Erin asks Brynn, resulting in an immediate vibe shift.

The air has been sucked out of Sai’s beautiful dining room, and Brynn—I’m so sorry to say this—has the absolute funniest look on her face. It’s the expression of someone who is fighting back tears while trying to use a plastered-on smile to convince their friends to stop prying. Her only response to Erin’s question is a super soft whisper that ekes out of her fake smile: “I don’t wanna do it.” As strangely amusing as it is, it’s incredibly sad. Brynn is legitimately devastated, so much so that she refuses to answer any of the producers’ questions in her confessionals.

But Brynn forges on and gives us a more clear glimpse into the harsh realities of her childhood. “The bad stuff was super, super fucked up,” she says, still warring with her own impending tears. “There was abuse and neglect. I wasn’t picked up for six days, my diaper wasn’t changed.” Despite her own reluctance to speak about it, Brynn’s potent feelings of helplessness for her childhood self are deeply affecting, and the rest of her castmates can feel it too. Once everyone else at the table begins to cry, the floodgates open and we get our first “To Be Continued…” of the season.

It might be a far more grim note to close on than in previous episodes, but RHONY can’t be all fun and games for this reboot to work. There have to be emotional stakes too; without a proper arc, this cast exists in a flat line (and, therefore, flatlines). We’ve already lost this city once, and now that I’m thoroughly attached to these women, I’d be devastated to see it happen again. Besides, if there’s one thing Gossip Girl taught us, it’s that no New York Thanksgiving is complete without a heaping spoonful of trauma, and we’ve only just started to eat.

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