It pains me to have to write this.
Bethenny Frankel is driving me nuts.
For my OCD audience: First, stop dusting the keyboard, it's clean. Second, you're right. I didn't watch a Bethenny show last night, so I'm kind of cheating at my own rules for Reality TV Week. But see the part about "my own rules"? Shut up.
Some of you may not know Bethenny. Not that I "know" her. She doesn't even answer my tweets. It's probably just because I moved out of New York before she got famous. Otherwise, I'm sure I'd know her because we'd be doing yoga together and vying for the same competitive play-date circles. But I know about her because I have watched her show, I have visited her website, and I have even read one of her books.
For those of you that aren't enlightened, Bethenny started off as a natural foods chef -- a trade she picked up after looking for something to keep her occupied while her super-duper-rich fiance was super-duper-busy raking in the dough. After she became runner-up on Martha Stuart's Apprentice, a/k/a Pity Party, she was cast on Real Housewives of New York. (Even though she neither owned a house nor was a wife.) I couldn't watch RHONY because my brain circuitry got all pissy when I even considered it, and would throw a hailstorm of eyelash twitches my way. But apparently of the all the nitwits on that show, Bethenny was the least nitwittish and earned herself a loyal set of fans. The Bravo network smelled potential, gave Bethenny her own show, and her popularity exploded right around the same time I told my brain circuitry to eff off, I was going to start tuning in.
Bethenny Ever After followed ... well, Bethenny ... as she tied the knot at 40ish with her baby-daddy, Jason Hoppy. It documented the birth of their baby, Bryn, and it rolled hours of tape on her steady and then meteoric ascent to global domination. Bethenny started cropping up everywhere. She "wrote" how-to books on everything from how to be "naturally thin" to how to succeed in business without even really trying. Nope, the last part is a musical. Bethenny's version was how to succeed in business while busting your hump and making sure everyone knows how much hump-busting you're doing. Then she combined two of her life's passions -- being thin and being drunk -- and she came up with a line of cocktails she named Skinnygirl. The low-calorie solution for getting a buzz without getting a bum. The drink that makes the skinny girls feel self-righteous and the heavier girls appreciate that the product that makes them cry with shame also allows them to drown that shame in at-the-ready, artificially-sweetened liquor. Beam, Inc. bought the line, kept Bethenny on as a consultant or something, and now she wears a diamond ring that has been classified as a lethal weapon and lives in an apartment in the same building as Jay-z, Beyonce, and their baby plant, Blue Ivy.
When Bethenny spun off from RHONY to do her own thing, she had me. I thought she was witty and self-deprecating. You know those "confessional" moments every reality show does now, where the star narrates or reflects on what we just saw them do in "real time"? Hers were actually entertaining and usually pretty funny. I admired how hard she worked. I respected how she showed us that even though she was pretty, was doing quite well, and had the world's most good-natured boyfriend-then-husband, she had vulnerabilities and insecurities just like the rest of me-all-of-me. And I REALLY LIKED that despite the weird version of the fame bubble she was living in, she didn't seem to take anything -- including herself -- too seriously.
Now she says shit like "building my brand" more often than I sneeze.
Now she is drunk on her own Kool-Aid. Seriously, it's amazing what a sudden influx of millions of dollars will do to you. She is trying to get her veiny little hands into every market: shapewear, cleanses, body products, yoga DVDs, and of course the wines and the spirits. She's even getting a talk show this summer, which Ellen DeGeneres is producing. This season of her reality show has tracked her every apartment-renovation decision, and highlights big moments like the one where she wonders whether she really is THAT big-time that she's going to plunk down thousands of dollars on one silly little table. This is her new version of a cliff-hanger.
Now she takes herself as seriously as monkey pox or a slow Internet connection. She tweets like a maniac and it's always about how she works her butt off so that she can be with her "peanut" (Bryn, the baby). Or it's about how she just wants to know what her fans want, so she can fight tooth and nail to hire someone to deliver it to them. Or it's about how she's trying so darned hard to polish her penthouse so that we can all be jealous and wowed this season and not have to wait until next. I honestly think she might believe she invented mothering, working, and maybe even indoor living. Her new definition of sacrifice is just not expecting a thank-you for those inventions.
The moment that really pushed me over the edge was a tweet she had the balls to send yesterday. Remember Madeleine McCann, the little six-year-old girl that disappeared from her family's hotel room in Portugal several years ago? Well, police now seem to have a break in the case and think she may be alive. This is what B-Frank tweeted yesterday in response to this news:
They're re-opening that case about madeleine (the girl missing from portugal). Breaks my heart now that I have a peanut.
NOW THAT YOU HAVE A PEANUT?!? Pre-peanut, you couldn't be bothered to have emotions about some poor child crying for her mother and some poor mother crying for her child and the days, weeks, months, years they've spent worrying and wondering what the other was doing and thinking and feeling? But now post-peanut, you've suddenly sprouted a heart and can fathom the depths of this tragedy? And you want to tweet about it in a non-genuine way, because really you want the focus to be on YOU, your broken heart, and your peanut? (Who, by the way, you named Bryn. Rolls off the tongue pretty easy.)
I think that was the moment Bethenny jumped the shark on her own life. She's lost all sense of scale, perspective, and humility. I guess every empire-builder eventually does. I mean, look at Donald Trump. David Koresh. Napoleon. The Donald married a gal who doesn't even speak English and showed up at their wedding dressed as Carmen Miranda. David Koresh ended up on the wrong side of a Branch Davidian bonfire sponsored by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Napoleon met Russia and then was exiled to the one island France could find that sounded unappealing: Elba.
Maybe Bethenny's talk show will flop because the only person she lets talk is herself. Maybe she will be outed as a walking, talking skeleton that escaped from a 7th grade science classroom. Maybe Bryn will go through her goth phase early.
I don't know how it's going to happen, I just know that the demise of Bethenny is 'nigh. She is walking a line that is as thin as the one around her waist. And I'm not going to stand by and watch. (Until the end gets very bitter. Then it will be fun.)