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Is There a Place for Politics in Real Housewives of New York?

RHONY reliving the 2016 election has us longing for Turtle Time

Shaunna Murphy

Ever since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States on November 8, previously nonpartisan celebrities (in their public lives, anyway) have been speaking up on partisan issues like never before. From Jimmy Kimmel emotionally pleading for better health care to Supergirl star Melissa Benoist showing up with a NSFW poster at the D.C. Women's March, public figures are joining everyday tax-paying humans in fighting for causes they believe in.

Basically, just like Kendall Jenner's protest friends said in her now-infamous Pepsi commercial, it's time to "join the conversation" -- only we're not quite sure the conversation currently featured on The Real Housewives of New York City is one worth having.

Jill Zarin returns to Real Housewives of New York City in nutso Season 9 trailer

Since RHONY was largely filmed in the fall of 2016, much of Season 9's drama has thus far revolved around Carole Radziwill's terror that Trump might win. Radziwill is an Emmy-winning former journalist and current novelist who has covered everything from the Gulf War to Afghanistan. Her status as a Hillary Clinton supporter has put her at odds with Ramona Singer -- who keeps saying that she "knows stuff too" but doesn't say what said stuff is -- and visibly annoyed her best friend Bethenny Frankel, who has long since conquered the reality TV game and knows that none of us want to think about national politics when we're watching a show on Bravo.

Frankel knows that Housewives -- unlike "Peak TV" dramas like The Handmaid's Taleand The Americans, which make us think about the world we live in -- has always been about complete and utter escape. As missiles drop abroad and debates on female reproductive rights rage in Congress, you can always turn on Bravo to watch silly, beautiful rich people do silly, beautiful rich people things.

And while no one is arguing that turning off the news (or those thought-provoking dramas) in favor of silly, beautiful rich people drama is the right way to go all or even most of the time, it's possible that reliving the election -- which literally just happened six months ago -- is not an enjoyable escape for your average 2017 Bravo viewer. Watching Radziwill grapple with the anguish and confusion that tortured many Trump opponents in the weeks following his win could be painful; undoubtedly way less fun than "Turtle Time" on a yacht or a Johnny Depp look-alike pirate.

​Carole Radziwill, The Real Housewives of New York City
Heidi Gutman/Bravo

But even worse -- as we all prepare for Wednesday night's episode, which will chronicle Radziwill's election night party -- is the fact that RHONY has virtually nothing of interest to say about any of this. Watching these women sit down to have a god-honest talk about how national politics might affect their lives as one-percenters would definitely be fascinating, but that's not what RHONY is doing. Radziwill's anxieties are played for laughs (via copious eye-roll montages from Frankel), and her arguments with Singer -- who is less equipped for a political debate -- have thus far devolved into petty nonsense.

RHONY is taking a woman's very real terror about her country's future, and framing it as a silly fight with a Pinot-chugging crazy lady about not being invited to a party. It's not fair to Radziwill (who should really be talking to Dorinda Medley and Dorinda Medley only about these things) to have to devalue herself and her beliefs by arguing them with Ramona "I saw it on a YouTube video once" Singer. It's not fair for some of Bravo's viewers, who came into this thing wanting wedding drama and a Jill Zarin cameo, to relive the same political arguments they just finished having with their own family and friends week after week after week.

So as much as we love Radziwill, her dog Baby, her cats Baby and Baby, her handsome boyfriend Adam, and even Singer, we'll love watching them a whole lot more once they stop forcing us to relive the most turbulent weeks of our lives. And unless Bravo decides that the RHONY ladies have a message worth repeating, maybe it should stick to Turtle Time.

Real Housewives of New York City airs Wednesday nights 9/8c on Bravo.