Oh Bravo. If you had to replace Jill Zarin—and you really, really had to—did you have to add insult to her injury by doing so with a woman who actually has a successful shape wear line? And if you had to replace Kelly Bensimon—another real obligation—didn't you know it might burn to do so with a leggy New York Times best-seller with even better hair? Of course the network had to replace Cindy Barshop too, but they could have slotted in a still of Sonja's intern rolling cat hair off the chairs and we'd have been satisfied. And somewhere in Brooklyn, Alex McCord, whose buggy oddness I'm going to miss a little, is taking a picture of new Housewife Aviva's hair to her stylist as an example of what she wants.
Out with the old, in with the new intro lines. Welcome, Aviva! "Never underestimate a woman born and raised in New York City." (Hmmm, got to jazz that up, 'Viva.) "She's poised and graceful and charming," admired LuAnn, "you would never know that she had a handicap." Handicapped people, always so lacking in charm. Aviva is an old friend of LuAnn's, and her ex, who last season chortled at Sonja's exposed derriere at her courtesan party, is an old friend of both Sonja and LuAnn's. Watch her face cringe whenever his name comes out of their mouths. Watch it similarly cringe if there are ever dried apricots or diet sodas or anything else that she read an alarming email forward about in her midst. And then watch it turn child-like with fawning delight when Carole Radziwill enters the room.
Speaking of Carole, "I may be a princess but I'm definitely not a drama queen." That sounds like something a Saturday Night Live guest cooked up on Watch What Happens Live, but it'll do. Carole has a news background and ties to the Kennedy family (her deceased husband was the son of Jackie Kennedy Onassis' sister) and great hair and nobody, including her, really understands why she's on this show. I don't buy for one second that shot of her getting out of the Times Square subway station in stiletto heels. And all of the above impressive pedigree is negated somewhat by the fact that she had to write a story about the Kardashian sisters' New Year's resolutions. All that said, she spoke some rare truth during last night's premiere when Aviva started talking about her four kids and Ramona started nodding her whippet head, declaring the job of a mother harder than any corporate job out there. Carole, who has beautiful lingerie instead of kids, goes to her bye-bye place when groups of women inevitably start sharing war stories of potty training or the playground. "I bet you it's not even interesting for those who do have kids," she said. (She's right!, says this mother.) "I'm going to get a drink while you guys talk about kids," she said. I'm going to use that line from now on too, even when I'm at kid birthday parties and the only options are a juice box or eight oz. water bottle.
The final new addition is Heather, who has the too-eager smile and the generic Disney princess hair of a woman who would get kicked off in week 2 of The Bachelor. "My success is built on making women look and feel their best." Okay, so far, so good. "Holla!" Oh Lord. Heather is the queen of Yummy Tummie, and has either worked in the fashion business alongside the likes of Calvin Klein, Puff Daddy, and Beyonce, or she is the world's most amazing photo bomber. Speaking of bombs, she has an unsettling habit of dropping them into conversation. "My Dad died on Friday. Yeah, it's really hard. This drink is amazing. My son had a liver transplant at six months. OMG, I love your dress. I love my kids so much. That's why I booked up a weekend nanny three months before the one was even born." Does she want to have real conversations? Is she just nervous in front of the cameras and so is speaking in awkward, smiling sound bites? Has she not watched previous seasons of the Housewives to understand that one doesn't talk about serious personal matters with Ramona, who goes twitchy when the subject is not her? She's actually pretty shrewd in her private interviews—see: her scathing response to Ramona's Learning Annex cover—but needs to bring some of that bite to her group interactions.
NEXT: "A little Sonja will spice up any party."