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When Pranking Goes Wrong
RHONY recap and power ranking
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First of all, “Naughty-ical by Nature?” Something must be done about these episode titles. “Naughty-cal,” maybe, but “Naughty-ical?” And all because they got a little naughty on a boat? I just don’t know. I don’t feel great about it. I don’t feel great about a lot of things these days. I’ve been wrestling some demons.
Welcome back to my weekly RHONY recap! I am one of eighteen people watching this television program, and the Anguilla trip isn’t over just because you’re over it. We open this week in paradise with the interrogation of Jessel Taank by Erin Lichy and Sai de Silva.
After bailing on dinner the night before for some “me time,” Brynn asks Erin for the skinny on what went down. In a flashback, we see Erin and Sai casting aspersions on Jessel’s narrative about her upbringing and her time in New York. They seem to doubt everything from Jessel’s family moving out of Kenya to her being broke while living with her uncle when she first arrived in New York. Side note, I think her uncle was, like, the staff photographer at The New Yorker?
In any case, there is no amount of professed suffering that Erin or Sai are willing to accept as truth. It’s as though they will be pleased with nothing short of Jessel admitting that her life was super easy and fun and much better than everyone else’s. Is it Jessel’s posh accent that makes them so suspicious? Is this some form of anti-British discrimination? I don’t know, but I sure am bored with it.
The interrogation continues after breakfast (where Brynn licks Jenna’s finger?). Everyone boards a boat, where all good and pleasant things happen in the world of reality TV, and Erin and Sai decide to make “not believing Jessel’s backstory” a whole thing. Sai starts… shouting? Actually shouting when Jessel says that her family’s story is a part of her story as well, with Sai retorting, “WE WANT TO KNOW ABOUT YOU! IT’S THAT SIMPLE!”
Ubah in a confessional, takes the words out of my mouth. “Any generation, people share stories of their family… It’s so shocking that these intelligent women don't see that. It’s annoying and actually quite embarrassing.” You’re so right, Ubah. It’s very odd.
All we get out of the rest of this boat excursion is Jenna in a wetsuit, which is fun and further solidifies that Brynn is going to make “flirting with Jenna” a part of her storyline (she mentions how good Jenna looks in it) and the captain also informs us there’s a sea turtle swimming nearby. We all go to look, and the BRAVO camera dutifully zooms into it. What a fun moment for everyone involved.
The important thing to know, at this point, is that, yesterday, Ubah pushed Erin into the pool, which is here classified as “a prank.” I’m not convinced by this. I think pushing someone into the pool is just sort of something you do sometimes. When I think of “a prank” I think of, like, deception of some kind, perhaps? Regardless, you must be aware that Erin is now planning on getting Ubah back.
I do not like pranks. The whole idea of pranks upsets me. We are friends, we are allies, and yet you wish to do some naughty little subterfuge on me. For what reason? To bring you joy? Why does my suffering bring you happiness in any way? How awful. If I saw you in a state of peril or confusion, I would not so much as crack a smile. But perhaps we are simply different people.
It’s on the way back to the villa from the boat that Erin decides to do her revenge prank on Ubah by… taking Ubah’s phone that she left in the Uber and not telling her. Again, I am not well-versed in pranks, because I do not do them, but does this constitute one? At their very best, I always think a prank should end with a “Ha! I sure got you good.” Does producing someone’s lost phone from your purse accomplish this? Am I some sort of alien for not getting any of this at all?
While Ubah doesn’t notice that her phone is missing at first, she goes looking for it after everyone has gone to sleep, and she’s really freaking out about it. In a confessional, she says her family often worries about her being single and traveling, and she checks in with them often. Also, “your credit card is in there, your password, your pictures.”
Which, yes, phones are, for better and for worse, people’s whole worlds these days, so I understand the anxiety. She gets it back after Jessel retrieves it from Erin (aww! I loved the Jessel and Ubah alliance happening here), but the damage is done, and Erin is in real hot water with her.
The next morning, Ubah is pointedly ignoring Erin, refusing to make eye contact with her. This all culminates in a moment where Erin overhears Ubah saying her name downstairs. Mind you, Erin was practically cowering mere minutes before, but after hearing Ubah say her name (while asking where Erin was), she decides to get confrontational.
Things escalate rather quickly, resulting in a shouting match in which Ubah snatches Erin’s sunglasses from her face and puts them in her purse in retribution for her phone being taken. Was this overkill? I would say so, and I would even say Erin makes a decent point about pranks, noting that Ubah took a chance on assuming Erin would be okay with being pushed in a pool, and Erin took a chance on assuming Ubah would be okay with her phone being withheld.
It’s also the case that, well, Ubah did forget her phone in the car. She could have really been without a phone. But Erin’s behavior with Ubah is nonetheless odd with her exaggerated fear before the confrontation and then her over-the-top keep my name out of your mouth moment that led to the shouting match. I’m also very much here for Ubah being a plot engine.
The battle continues next week, but I’m starting to believe I’ll never see Erin in that parrot costume that was teased, like, two episodes ago. Was it a hallucination? Was it just a dream? Well, maybe so…
Either way, this “prank-gate” business is classic reality TV: a situation wherein everyone is a little right and a little wrong, a Rorschach that allows audiences to stake out their own moral positions on the matter, no doubt influenced by the popularity of the figures involved. Where do you stand on pranking and on Ubah vs. Erin? I’d love to know. I’d love to be reminded that other people watch this show.
Erin Lichy AKA Queen of Assumption (Because You Assume Shit About Everyone)
“I’m chill.” - Erin Lichy, lying
Sai de Silva
I’m sympathetic to Sai’s rough upbringing, but I can’t stand when people feel the need to one-up people in the Suffering Department. There was a moment where Sai and Jessel were arguing over who had less in their bank account when they were younger, and I just think if you ever find yourself in such a debate you should order another margarita and stare quietly at the sea for a bit.
Jenna was hanging in the background this episode, which is good for her since she’s been the piñata for a bit. She flirts with Brynn, and, if this is queerbaiting, then consider me queerbaited. I think it’s cute. Do I believe Brynn is actually into her? I guess I don’t know. But whomst amongst us doesn’t have that straight friend who does the whole wink-wink, nod-nod, “I love you bro, I made you breakfast dude” thing? Anyone? Just me?
I did say a few recaps ago, did I not, that Brynn’s weird hostility for Jenna might be a crush. I hope the crush is real so that I can be proven prescient in some way. When people call me prescient, it feels really good. I feel like the Oracle at Delphi, or like a wizard.
Poor Jessel! She really took a beating from the Had Squad this episode. I felt bad for her. Do I think she’s embellishing how difficult her life has been? Well, yes! But you know what? It’s a woman’s right to lie, especially a brown immigrant! You stretch that truth, girl! You should tell them you were mugged by rats on the subway right after you got to New York. Tell them the Broadway cast of Wicked beat you up in an initiation ritual. We, your loyal Taank Tops, will believe you!
I loved seeing Ubah in the spotlight this episode, even if it was a bit chaotic. It confirmed to me that Ubah does have her own brand of crazy lurking somewhere in that beautiful six-foot frame, which is good for me as an Ubah fan who’d like to see her return next season. She’s also, in my opinion, very wise! She’s dropped serious wisdom in the past two episodes. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
That’s all for now. See you next week! “Naughty-ical.” They can’t be serious.