Three things about this episode:
1. Slandering a person's career is legally actionable.
2. Age-shaming women is abhorrent.
3. Attacking someone's family is, too.
So first, Slander. Aviva lied on the show and then to cover up her lies she slandered my career on national television. On a show where not showing up for a dinner can launch a three-episode throwdown this isn't some dumb "reality" fight. It's not a joke, and she knows it and her publisher knows it. The lies she is promoting in the press and social media, and of course her scenes on RHONY, are all legally actionable. You can call someone a lousy writer. You can say you hate their book. You can even call a person "white trash" but you can't go on television and slander a person's career. It's illegal, even on reality shows.
Second, Family. Aviva says she “hates me” in press interviews and calls me "Satan" on Twitter, that's fine. She casually slanders my career (how I make a living) and also that of my former editor, Bill Whitworth. But that's not enough. She also speaks in a disparaging way toward my late husband's family. Really? Okay, Vivs. I hope that made you feel good. This is a television show. How low does she need to stoop to stay relevant?
Aviva should fact-check, or ask her Village to. I didn't marry into the Kennedy family, I married Anthony Radziwill. I'm proud of him and his family, the Radziwills. They exist, they're real, and they are separate from the Kennedys. It's a family with cousins, like most families, but my in-laws are the Radziwills, Aviva. Have some respect, and if you must name drop, get it right.
My husband passed away nearly 15 years ago, and I have a friendly relationship with his extended cousin family, the exact one I want to have. I am very close to my mother-in-law, Lee, we see each other often. We enjoyed a vacation this past winter together with family friends, and ironically, I went to a wedding the day after Aviva's attack with some of the Kennedy family and we had a nice time catching up. Aviva couldn't sink lower if you stuffed her leg with rocks.
Third, Age-Shaming. Guess what? I'm 50! I should be drawn and quartered, I should have it seared on my chest. Aviva's derogatory attitude toward women is repulsive. Even her image consultant friend flinches. I'm happy with my age. I celebrate women of all ages. Isn't it time to stop our ageist culture where women are meant to feel bad about a number? I don't feel bad about mine. No woman should. Last season she tried to age-shame Ramona. I might understand a little better if Aviva was "young" and didn’t understand how incredibly offensive she sounds, but she's 45. (She lies and says 40, of course).
What Aviva said under her breath just loud enough for me to hear, by the way was -- "At least I'm not 50 years old, without a husband."
Is all of this because I said she hired a ghostwriter? She did.
(PS: Happy 80th Birthday, beautiful and fabulous Gloria Steinem)
I found this quote on my Instagram. It's attributed to Hillary Clinton. She may have said it, she may not have. But I am sure, either way, she thought it. I made an edit.
"You may not agree with a woman, but to criticize her [age] as opposed to her ideas isn't doing anyone any favors, least of all you. Insulting a woman's [age] when it has nothing to do with the issue at hand implies a lack of comprehension on your part, an inability to engage with high level thinking, you may think she's [old], but everyone thinks you're an idiot."
Aviva has been comparing her "process" to Hillary Clinton in the press, by the way. Hillary was the First Lady of the United States, a Senator, a presidential contender, and our Secretary of State. She wasn't a woman on a reality show trying to create a storyline.
Wait, I buried the lede in this first scene -- I finally met Harry! This gets my vote for funniest moment in the episode. Even after being attacked and insulted I still keep my sassy!
How many times do I remind Aviva that she has never worked outside the home? OK, yes, a few. But she hasn't. Just like I've never done the work, or had the privilege, of raising a family. What I wanted to say but couldn't because of the show, is that she turns up this season as a writer talking about how fun it is to write and it's totally disingenuous. Also, it's just dumb. Raising a family is work and an honor but it isn't publishing. Or being a doctor or accountant or sous chef for that matter. Don't lecture me on my job and I won't lecture you on yours. That's how that works. If I had kids I hope I'd be lucky enough to be a stay at home mom. I presume it would be equally difficult and rewarding.
(Be careful if you're a stay at home mom approaching 50. She has no respect for you either.)
An Editor, is an Editor, is an Editor. . .
Publishing is rarely the subject of television shows because as you can see it's sort of boring. But I have a great relationship with all my editors. Nan Graham, who edited my memoir, was on the show last season. And Barbara Jones, who edited my novel, came on with me for this one. They are happy to do it, they respect me, but also they want to help sell books. And this is why Aviva needed to create drama: no one in her Village would appear with her on the show.
During my meeting with Barbara, Bill Whitworth called in from Little Rock where he is retired, and I told him the story. He laughed and said "I would have been honored to have ghostwritten your book. It was beautifully written." Bill is not a writer, he is an editor. Bill advised me to "explain to the young lady the difference between an editor and a writer I’m sure she'll understand." Ha. Sure. I laughed. This scene didn't make it into the show. Damn you, Bravo editors. Perhaps it will be in Lost Footage?
What I asked Aviva at lunch the last episode was whether she'd hired the writer we had talked about. She now wants to pretend it’s something else. But this is what provoked her to lie, and then spread gossip to the other ladies. She did hire a ghostwriter. Does that seem so heinous to you? I didn’t think so.
Books & Babies
Many of my friends are writers, and I shamelessly promote them. My friend Laurie is a writer, cartoonist, and (in this episode), a soon-to-be mother. We met when she was working as an editor at Glamour magazine, where I wrote a column for two years. I was thrilled to throw her a shower. She wrote a beautiful graphic memoir called The Impostor’s Daughter; she’s brilliant. (You can get it here.)
She's also a celebrity interviewer. All those cover stories on glossy magazines? Most of them are written by Laurie. She knows all the dirt on everyone and is the greatest dinner guest ever. She gave birth to Teddy in September. Laurie says I’m a natural with him. He might be the happiest baby I’ve ever seen.
Seeing Nathan Englander on the Real Housewives is surreal. He had just been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in fiction, the most elite award any writer could ever dream of. (That and being John Grisham.) He gets embarrassed when I say this, but he's one of the greatest writers of our time. He's an old friend of Laurie’s and is constantly on book tour so we were lucky he was in town. His books are brilliant, and I was holding the latest one in my hand but damn you again, Bravo editing! -- they cut it out. Buy it. It will make you feel smart and give you something to discuss at brunch in addition to Housewife drama.
I don't think Ramona quite understood what Aviva was doing. Even for her it was too much drama. But she understands it. She was the target of Aviva's rage last season. You might forgive but you don't forget that kind of vitriol.
How adorable is Ella? She knew I was upset and she wanted to bring me flowers. Heather was away on business so Jonathan brought her. She told me she loves me more than she loves pizza! That's big. I don’t have kids and I don't have regrets about that, but I do see what I am missing. I don’t need anyone to remind me.
Drum roll, please. It's Eric Goldie! Did you see my gorgeous intern in this scene? My Vice President/Intern of All Things made his screen debut this week. I couldn't function without him, or even open wine. I might have him write my next book, but first he needs to learn to spell, without using spell-check.
How incredible is the Spartan race? I couldn't have done it. Heather and Kristen were amazing. Josh is a lot like my late husband. Anthony was always pushing me to do activities I didn’t think I could do: Heli-skiing, scuba diving, kayaking with Humpback whales in the Bering Strait. He was very supportive and encouraging and I was glad he pushed me. But, in the moment, like Kristen, there were times I wanted to strangle him.
And Lastly. . .
All of that mud reminded me of something my Grandma Millie used to say: If you fight with a pig, two things happen: You get dirty, and the pig likes it. Hmm. Don’t fight.