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Do The Women of ‘RHONY’ Have a Drinking Problem or a New York City Problem?

Alcohol consumption was a huge part of The Real Housewives of New York City this season, maybe even more so than Elyse Slaine was. At times, Ramona Singer’s former friend (one of 50) lurked in the back of scenes, while drinking was front and center in nearly every episode: for better or worse, for funny or sad, and certainly for messiness. And while Dorinda Medley tried her best to deflect the question in the first part of the reunion, there’s one aspect that can’t be deflected: drinking is a major part of living in New York City.

I’ll start with the disclaimer here: in no way am I excusing or supporting some of the behaviors we witnessed on this season (and previous ones as well) and you probably already know I am in no way a medical professional, so I’m in no way diagnosing these women or the population of the world’s greatest city as a whole. But I do believe for those watching outside of the tri-state area, there is some context that can be provided.

Drinking is a huge part of life in New York City. The majority of social events involve it, if not focus on it. Can you live here and be a fun and functioning member of society while sober? 100%, and sometimes it’s truly better that way. New cast member Leah McSweeney was sober for a decade before joining the show, and likely will be just as fun and outspoken and anti-tiki torches in future seasons, as she stated she’s stopped drinking again. Luann de Lesseps spent a year staying away from alcohol while on probation after her 2017 arrest, of which one of her charges was disorderly intoxication. Sonja Morgan also learned her lesson watching herself back, slurring after drinking Coke and rosé (a problem on every level), and spent a significant amount of time at a resort once the season wrapped, focusing on cleansing her body and sipping mostly on green juices. Dorinda, well, that’s a tricky one. Her drinking has been questioned for a while now, and was also rumored to be the reason she won’t be returning to the show due to the fact that she becomes a “mean drunk.” She spent much of the reunion segment getting defensive and deflecting, pointing to Ramona’s drinking instead of answering for herself, only finally admitting the topic makes her “uncomfortable” when pressed by Andy Cohen for an answer.

It’s always been said that New York City was a main character and just another one of the gals on Sex and the City, but guess what? So were those pretty pink cosmopolitans, filled all the way to the tippy top of those martini glasses. Consuming alcohol is a large part of social life here in New York. From the times when we used to dip to happy hours at the bar around the corner from our office to now making plans to drink (while also enjoying food, we see you Governor Cuomo) as we dine on the side of the street, much of what we do finds alcohol at the center of our activities. It’s not only easy to find, buy, and drink it, but often, to have too much. It’s how we bond with co-workers, catch up with old friends, and give ourselves liquid courage to sit through a date (certainly one at the Regency). Even in these times, I guess I could’ve put together some cheese and crackers and grapes and brought it down to the park to meet up with friends as we reached across the six-foot oasis between us, but instead, I picked up canned wine and carried that over, swigging it down with no reaching required.

It is incredibly easy and common to drink a solid amount here in New York. We’re sipping while we’re gossiping, while we’re taking in gorgeous sights from a rooftop bar, while we’re watching sports — and double overtimes certainly aren’t gonna stop the drinks from flowing. And you know what else doesn’t put the brakes on? The fact that we don’t have to drive. Most people in New York get around by public transportation including the subway, cabs, or Uber rides, or even walking. We don’t have to think about getting home. Now, I’d like to insert a reminder to always be aware of your surroundings, make sure you close out your tab, and you’ve got your keys handy so you get home safely ladies, but for many of us, the biggest worry about the ride home is making sure not to puke in the cab as it drives over the bumpier-than-it-seems Brooklyn Bridge (that’s what a friend told me, not that I would know). We don’t have to think about getting pulled over or making a deadly decision, besides the fact that we do have to consider where we’ll stop to get a slice of pizza on the way home.

Between the high rents and high-stress jobs, New York City is also a place that makes a beverage sound awfully enticing at the end of the day. I don’t want to say the city makes you drink, but the city surely encourages you to drink. I mean, I would assume hanging out with Ramona Singer also encourages you to drink, as watching her sure does. Plus, for these women specifically, the pressure of having cameras around and long filming days probably contributes to their consumption, as well as the fact that, well, probably very little footage of their drinking adventures falls to the cutting room floor, and these shameless gals want their faces on your screen. Just consider how many times you’ve watched Luann in a bush.

Again, to be crystal clear, in no way am I suggesting the women of RHONY aren’t drinking in excess or weren’t being considerate of other elements in their body they may be mixing with alcohol. I’m not saying their intake or behavior is fine and normal (it rarely, rarely ever is) but it’s not shocking to see for probably many New Yorkers. It’s not unusual to see someone really feeling it, and at that point, we just make sure they have a lady pal who is looking after them and making sure they get home safely.

It would be surprising if drinking wasn’t a big topic on RHONY, just as it is in New York City. It’s certainly a topic that has been addressed the most on this Real Housewives franchise, more than any of the others. The ladies of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills don’t seem to go overboard (even if they are being safely chauffeured home) unless they are relaxing on vacation in France or Italy. Same for The Real Housewives of Orange County who have certainly indulged in a tequila shot or seven, often on vacations in Mexico. But in New York, it can be turtle time anytime.

The Real Housewives of New York City airs Thursday at 9pm ET/PT on Bravo. 

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