Bethenny Frankel's Real Housewives spin-off returned last night for Season 2, and watching the new episode, I was reminded of the essential problem with this show: as much as I love Bethenny and am glad that she's finally happy, her relationship with Jason just feels increasingly hollow, often negating the entire premise. Maybe he's just bad at being on camera and is completely different off-screen; maybe there's something darker going on. I can't really speculate on where Jason's head is at, but I can say that the show doesn't exactly inspire me to root for the couple at the center of it -- hell, it doesn't even inspire me to take them seriously as a couple -- and that's a problem. Luckily, his perfect parents from Season 1 have finally devolved into the nagging, demanding, passive-aggressive, clingy, normal in-laws the rest of us have. Now that? That, I believe.
The majority of the premiere took place in Jason's bucolic Pennsylvania hometown, allowing Bethenny to do a lot of her signature snarking about how podunk it was and how all the bars are filled with poor people with subpar dental plans who drink well water. A lot of which was funny, by the way. I mean, it's unfair and not entirely true and a mark of insufferable Manhattanite snobbery, but it's at least partly true, and when you live in a city for long enough, leaving it feels really, really weird. It just does! I can't hate Bethenny for feeling something I have felt myself, many times. And besides, those people are going to see what she said about them in her interviews and get her back on one of her fortnightly trips down there anyway. As funny as Bethenny is, she's still not terribly wise about what she chooses to say in her asides. As a viewer, I like that. As a citizen of Hazleton, I probably would significantly less so.
So they stayed with Jason's parents, who spent the entire visit complaining about how Jason and Bethenny only bring baby Bryn to visit them every two to three weeks, and saying they wish they'd bring her every week. Which is insane. That is just too much. One weekend a month is too much, let alone every weekend of every month forever. Not to mention the fact that Bethenny's in-laws are dictating where she and Jason can live -- the mere mention of them considering moving to California seemed tremendously offensive to them, as if they should have any say in it whatsoever. I hate parents like that, and whatever, that's a personal issue of mine, but I can't imagine anyone watching this and thinking their constant passive aggressive sniping about how Bryn doesn't recognize them anymore (after a two week absence?) and how they're going to steal her away and lock her in the house so she can't go to New York is okay. I understand that Jason doesn't want to insult his parents, but those people need to be dealt with.
But as enraging as that was, the in-laws storyline is the only thing about the show that feels really authentic. Other than Jason always laughing at Bethenny's jokes, I still don't see what their relationship is based on, or a real, believable bond between them. If laughing at Bethenny's jokes is all it takes to be her soulmate, then half the viewing audience should be married to her too. Problem is, from what I've seen of them together, I'd believe that viewing audience actually knows her better than he does. Kind of seems less jarring now that the "happily" was left out of the title's cliché, to be honest.
Did you see the premiere? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments, then see our interview with Bethenny!
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