I’m sorry everyone, but I can not, in good conscience, talk about last night’s Real Ghouls of Murder Island reunion. I just can’t. The most exciting thing was that Sonja Tremont Morgan (of the Blockbuster Video Morgans) got out visual aids so that she could humiliate Holla! Thompson. Yes, the most exciting event at the reunion was about packaging design and marketing. How can we talk about that? Sure we got some discussion about Thomas (or Thomas) and how the Countess of Crackerjacks refuses to tell the world that she slept with him (I guess she didn’t), but she did cop to lying and said how awful it was and had a whole host of publicist recommended excuses about why she brought him home and blah blah blah. Gosh, it was tired. It was more tired than when that awful girl in your office says “cool beans” and puts her makeup on at her desk. It was sleepier than Ramona after half an Ambien and three bottles of Pinot.
So, yeah. I can’t talk about that. I can’t talk about that at all. You know why? Because Jill Zarin, that is why. For the rest of today, whenever anyone asks me a question, the answer is going to be “Jill Zarin.” “Brian, what are you writing about right now?” “Jill Zarin.” “Brian, what would you like for lunch?” “Jill Zarin.” “Brian, If you were stranded on a desert island and you had to pick three people to go with you, who would you take?” “Jill Zarin, Ginger Zarin, and Jill Zarin’s sister’s radio show.” Yes, my entire brain is taken up with Jill Zarin’s appearance on Andy Cohen’s Half Hour Narcissism Hour. It was, in a word, SoFuckingAmazingICantEvenTalkingAboutItWithoutGesticulatingAndCrying.
OK, how do we solve a problem like Jill Zarin? We can not. We can solve it as much as we can solve 9/11 conspiracy theorists, daylight savings time, or that smell your house gets the morning after you eat McDonald’s and the trash is just stinking up your entire apartment. Yes, we can not solve Jill Zarin, we can just sit and watch her uncomfortable interaction with Andy Cohen in stunned silence. The overriding sentiment seems that Jill Zarin should just move on. She should just get over herself, pack up, and move to a convent somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and help them make small batches of linen on ancient looms for the rest of her life and think about what she has done, or what has been done to her. But she can not. She is still thinking about the Housewives. She is still watching it, she is still mulling it over in her brain, day after day, trying to think about what went wrong. She gets in the shower and has imaginary arguments with Andy Cohen where she finally convinces him that she was right and she should have her own show. She lies awake at night trying to think of ways to get Bethenny to like her again. She runs on a treadmill and enumerates all the ways she was wronged. This is what Jill does.
I joked to my friends when she got fired that Jill Zarin’s life was ruined, that she would never return from this moment, and I was hoping that I was wrong. (I’ve met Jill a handful of times, and she is quite a lovely person.) But I think I was right, her life is ruined. She seems incapable of moving on. And I get that, I really do. It must suck to be fired, especially for someone whose ego is as big as the rosette on her necklace, especially when so much of your identity and public persona is tied up in that job. It’s hard to have that yanked away, told that you are no longer good enough, that everything you did that you thought was for the good of your job was actually wrong.
That is why Jill Zarin came right out of the gates and asked Andy Cohen why he fired her. I will say that she never got a straight answer. “Well, the show got too toxic and the viewers wanted something to change, and it was clear from the reunion that if we kept everyone, those relationships were not going to change.” Andy is correct. The fighting on the show became intractable and exhausting. But he never answered Jill Zarin’s question. Why did she get fired? Why keep bug-eyed Wineasaurus Ramona Singer and husky-voiced Flight Attendant Rolling Bag LuAnn? What made her the one to go? He never said and I think that is what Jill Zarin needs to hear to finally get closure.
Maybe it was her insane conspiracy theories? Jill Zarin blames Bravo for creating the rift between her and Bethenny. Jill Zarin blames a Bravo producer for setting up the girls on Crazy Island so that they were all in a “pedicure firing squad” so that they would stare her down and have her evicted from the house. Jill Zarin thinks that Heather Thompson is supposed to replace her because she has red hair and is married to a Jew. Jill Zarin thinks that Bravo needed to vilify her so that Bethenny’s show would succeed. Jill Zarin believes that Bethenny won’t make up with her because Bethenny doesn’t want all of Jill Zarin’s popularity on her show. Yes, the whole Bethenny thing seemed to be a sticking point for Jill Zarin. That is where she thinks it all went wrong. She admitted that when she fought with Bethenny she went into Andy’s office and told him that they fought and what good TV that would make and he told her it was a mistake. He was right. Jill Zarin thought she and Bethenny would make up, but they never did. They never did and now she’s ruined.
Jill Zarin doesn’t seem to realize that she is on reality TV. She seemed to think that she could control the things that were happening, that she could write the script and keep herself on television forever. She didn’t realize it was real people she was messing with. When she did those things to Bethenny that there was an actual person on the other end who might not forgive her, that it takes two to tango, and when one knows the steps and the other doesn’t, a lot of toes are going to get trampled.
The most striking thing about Jill Zarin is that she hasn’t learned anything from this whole ordeal. She still thinks she’s as much in the spotlight as ever. She touted her jewelry line, her shapewear line, her Twitter followers (which she says she doesn’t know that you can pay for Twitter followers, even though she never actually denies that she paid for them). She said that people come up to her all the time and ask about her mother (which is probably true) and her sister’s radio show (which no real person has ever asked her ever). Jill Zarin is still looking out for Jill Zarin. Jill Zarin is still trying to make Jill Zarin™ a reality.
The one point that she did score was by throwing the dwindling ratings for Real Jills of New Zarin City in Andy’s face. The ratings for the show are down. It is true, and Jill thinks it is because she is not there. Andy says that though fewer people are watching the show, those who are watching think it’s a good show. Sorry, Andy, but that is no answer. No one in television cares about the quality of the show, only how many people are watching. Look at the continued existence of Two and a Half Zarins! Basically he is saying that the show is better without Jill Zarin, and he doesn’t care if people watch it or not.
Mr. Cohen seems like he wants to stock the shows with more and more “real” women, people who live actual glamorous lives and have accomplished something substantial and are in the public eye. When they are crazy model women like Joanna Krupa on Warring Latinas of the South Pole then it works. When they are like Heather Thompson and Carole Radziwill, as pleasant as they both are, it doesn’t work as well. Yes, they’re inspirational, but that is not why we watch Housewives. We watch it for fights. You can’t give us trashy chocolate from the dollar store which we learn to love and then switch to fancy dark chocolate and try to make us want that. We want the crap you fed us in the first place. So are the ratings lower because they changed the formula? Yes. Is Jill Zarin an integral part of that formula? I think not. (And Andy just seemed uncomfortable the whole night from shaking Jill’s hand at the end when she insisted on a hug, to saying “Yes, mmhmm, yes,” to everything she was saying even though his tone and body language disagreed with the very things he was agreeing to.)
Oh, the other good point that Jill got in was that Andy plays favorites with Bethenny and goes to dinner with her and invites her to parties even though the rest of the Housewives aren’t invited. “She’s not a Housewife,” Andy sneered back playing a weak game of semantics. That’s OK, Andy. We know that now that Bethenny is rich on Skinny Girl Margarita-Flavored Booze Beverage and has her own talk show you want to cozy up to her because finally she has as much to give you as you have to give her. She might have more, even. These two are at Cafe Cluny scratching each other’s backs like monkeys at the zoo, having a blast and waiting for Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa to pop by for a night cap.
So, will Jill Zarin ever get her job back? I think not. Between the product plugging, the mugging for the camera, and blaming everyone else for her problems, there is no way that the good people at Bravo will admit they were wrong about Jill Zarin and have her come back. Can you imagine what that would do to her self-worth? It would be so big that you couldn’t even put a Skweeze Couture shapewear wrap around it to make it fit in the universe. It would just be spilling over into everything, terrorizing children and knocking down cranes all over the city. No, I think this may be the last we see of Jill Zarin, at least on the Bravo network.
But Jill got into the town car that was waiting for her downstairs and she rode smiling all the way home to the Upper East Side. Her publicist, her agent, her husband, even the driver were all telling her what a good job she did. She was so right about everything. She plugged everything she wanted to, she made all the points she wanted to make, and she did it. She might have even gotten her job back. Or another show. An even better show. A show that, this time, is all about Jill Zarin.
When they got home, with all the minions dispatched, Bobby loosened his tie and went into the other room to watch TV. Jill Zarin said she was going to the kitchen to make herself a Diet Coke. She put her phone down on the counter and looked at its blank screen. Then she went to the fridge, pulled out a bottle of soda, twisted the top off and took a sip. Her eyes looked for her phone. It could have happened already. It should have happened in the space it took her to open that fridge. There should be a phone call. It should be Andy, no, it should be his boss. It should be Lauren Zalaznick, Chairman, Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media NBCUniversal. She is calling to tell Jill Zarin she saw how well she did and to welcome her back. With more money, of course. And total control. She gets to pick who is on the show, when they film, what it’s called, how it’s marketed. Jill gets to pick everything. It’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be called Jill Zarin and her mother and sister can be on it, of course. And Aly when she’s home from school. Bobby will be around, but he won’t do much, just like when they were on Housewives. But not Bethenny. She can’t be on it. Well, Jill Zarin can go on Bethenny’s talk show and the two of them can share a long hug when Jill Zarin walks out, a hug that lasts longer than it should on TV, where we hear the microphones slap against each other’s bodies and the muffled mumbles where they share a few words no one else will ever know. They’ll embrace like that and then sit down and a clip package will play about all their hijinks together and then their fighting and they’ll shake their heads and both say they’re sorry and they’ll laugh and smile.
That is what Jill Zarin was thinking about as she stared at the phone. Maybe a little big longer, she thought, as she looked down at it, one hand on her Diet Coke and one foot propped against her leg while she stood next to the kitchen island. It’s gonna ring…now. No, it’s gonna ring…now. No, it’s gonna ring. It’s gotta ring. Now. Now. Now. Just outside the kitchen, the sun was going down over the Manhattan skyline and all the buildings were glowing that early fall glow where it looks like the sun is going to blow up all the buildings with its light and she could sort of feel it on her forehead, but she couldn’t see it. She was looking down. She was waiting for it all to start again.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Bravo]
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