Cymbals Eat Guitars is a frenetic, emotional, catchy, wildly great band from New York City. The Real Housewives Of New York City is a frenetic, emotional, catchy, wildly — well, ah — wild reality show from New York City (and the mind of Bravo’s Andy Cohen). It’s enough to make you think, “Man, can this band and this reality show about wealthy women have anything more in common?” As it turns out, they can! Sort of! Another commonality is Matthew Whipple, Cymbals Eat Guitars bassist and recent The Real Housewives Of NYC convert. I spoke to him about his love of the show and this week’s season six finale (which included a woman ripping off her prosthetic leg and slamming it on a table while having cocktails).
KELLY: I have to admit that I don’t normally watch The Real Housewives Of NYC at all, but after watching the final few episodes of this season I’m not sure why I haven’t been. It is insane. Have you been into it for a long time?
MATTHEW: Not at all, actually. Really just the past few months. I suppose I had a misplaced sense of being above these kinds of reality shows intellectually, but there was a weekend in April when my boyfriend and I were both sick in bed, and he showed me a few clips. I immediately felt like “I need to know more about these women.” Now it’s one of my favorite shows.
KELLY: All of the women are incredible. I love how they are all so intensely rude to each other in such thinly veiled ways. Like when Carole showed up to her 50th birthday and Heather was like, “Oh, you finally got here! Everyone was waiting!”
MATTHEW: Absolutely. I feel like those kinds of interactions are pretty true to life for most people. Most of us feel like we’re fantastic people who are never rude to our friends, but how many times has someone invited you to something and you’ve either blown it off or shown up late for the silliest reason, or just no reason at all?
KELLY: You are exactly right — there were times, many times, when a few of them would be sitting around gossiping forever about one of the other women, and it was just so horrible and so horribly relatable.
MATTHEW: I do think there is a genuine friendship between Carole and Heather though. Carole is my absolute favorite, by the way. She’s a best selling author. And a journalist who has reported from war zones. And a hip downtown bohemian. And a PRINCESS.
KELLY: SHE’S A PRINCESS?
MATTHEW: Yep. Her late husband comes from I believe a Polish royal family (the Radziwills).
KELLY: ! I was curious about Carole’s involvement with the show, since she did seem to have a legitimate career.
MATTHEW: See that’s the thing, particularly about the New York housewives, is that they are all pretty accomplished outside of the show. I don’t think any of them qualify as actual housewives. There are obviously degrees, but I actually think it’s great that the show portrays these women as kind of hustling like most New Yorkers have to even though they are all immensely privileged.
KELLY: Yeah — I don’t have a lot of Real Housewives experience outside of this, but it was surprising that they mostly all had things going on that weren’t, I don’t know, planning charity galas or whatever you expect from a “Real Housewife.” Speaking of, I was VERY surprised that Josh allowed Kristen to star in that billboard.
MATTHEW: I was too! I felt like that was a pivotal moment in the show’s depiction of their relationship, since there have been other past moments where it seems like he treats her pretty badly.
KELLY: Yes, definitely. Up until then it seemed like she was stuck in a horrible, somewhat emotionally abusive relationship. Not that her being on a billboard would change that, but I did fully expect him to say something awful to her and for her to then do a talking head, saying something like, “Well, you know, he’s right. They do need someone younger to sell the sports chemicals or whatever.”
MATTHEW: I guess we’ll see next season. I do like Kristen as well. She had a big moment standing up to Ramona earlier in the season. Not a lot of the other housewives have taken a stand against Ramona when she gets really mean, though I guess some of the more seasoned cast members have learned to kind of tune it out.
KELLY: Was that in Montana? I didn’t see the Montana episode, but I heard a LOT about Montana.
MATTHEW: That was early in the season at Heather’s house in the Berkshires.
MATTHEW: The best episodes are always when they go on a trip somewhere. That’s when the real crazy comes out, always. This season has been kind of ho-hum though in terms of big blow-ups, but the finale was a huge payoff.
KELLY: The finale was absolutely crazy.
MATTHEW: I feel like Aviva taking off her prosthetic leg and slamming it down on the table was RHONYC’s Red Wedding.
KELLY: Hahahaaaa. I think that is a very apt comparison. I also loved when she pulled out her x-rays. That was a good reveal before the main leg reveal.
MATTHEW: Yes…she brought her x-rays to a cocktail party! She knew shit was going down, so before she left the house she thought “I better bring my x-rays.”
KELLY: “I know someone is going to challenge me about my asthma at this party, and Team Sonja must include some sort of asthma specialist who will be able to verify if he has the proper documents.”
KELLY: One thing I didn’t fully understand was: Why does everyone hate Aviva?! It seems like they all hate her because she didn’t go to Montana and because she maybe doesn’t have asthma.
MATTHEW: There have been moments where everybody has been fine with Aviva, but I feel like there was just never a really genuine friendship between her and the rest of the cast. She also accused Carole of using a ghost-writer to write a memoir about the death of her husband…so…
KELLY: Haha, whoops! Yikes. I guess that makes sense then. It makes sense that they would all scream at her about asthma at a party celebrating Sonja’s team, forcing her to remove her prosthetic leg and slam it on the table.
MATTHEW: My boyfriend said he thought that party seemed staged…like “we need some fireworks…let’s put everybody in a room with white wine.” Although, it is totally in line with Sonja’s personality to throw a party for her hairdressers and image consultants and facialists and interns.
KELLY: Oh, yeah. It seemed, more than most of the encounters do, very set up. Also, from Aviva’s intro in the beginning, it sort of seems like her whole Real Housewives career has just been waiting for the one moment when she can finally say that her leg is the only thing that is fake about her.
MATTHEW: It definitely seems like they recorded those after filming had wrapped. They actually change season to season. Ramona’s reference to “Turtle Time” is a reference to like 3 seasons ago. I needed that explained to me at first. Free of context it’s just bizarre.
KELLY: Haha, I wanted to ask you about that! Just because it was baffling. I honestly wrote down, “WHAT IS TURTLE TIME?”
MATTHEW: “Get the pinot ready, because it’s turtle time”…refers both to Ramona being on a constant slow drip of her eponymous brand of pinot grigio as well as an incident, again on vacation in the Caribbean, where she got wasted and danced like a lunatic at some club called the Thirsty Turtle or something.
KELLY: Oh my god. I really love that explanation.
MATTHEW: I think now it is used more generally on the show to refer to “turning up.”
KELLY: Sure, that would make sense. I was going to say that it’s unfortunate that “turtle time” is part of what is supposed to define her character, but it is at least so much better than Carole saying she has a great ass and Kristen’s incredibly sad, “I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m preettty.”
MATTHEW: Yeah Kristen’s intro is kind of sad. I think they’ve been playing up the New York cast’s quirky nature relative to some of the other Housewives shows to drum up ratings. Surprisingly I think NYC ranks last among them. The intros used to be more generic…vague, aspirational stuff like “I’m living the American dream…on MY terms”…stuff like that.
KELLY: Right. Well, if that’s what they’re after, I feel like they should include more about how Carole reported from war zones and IS A PRINCESS. “I’ve reported from war zones, I’m a princess, and look at my butt ’cause I have a great ass.”
MATTHEW: Haha…hers used to be “I may be a princess, but I’m NOT a drama queen.”
KELLY: Hahah ahh, I should have known they already covered it.
MATTHEW: I highly recommend digging into past seasons, there’s great stuff there. The cast changes as well. Carole, Heather, and Kristen are all relatively new. The seasons with Kelly Bensimon and Alex McCord are great.
KELLY: You know, I am unfortunately definitely going to.
Cymbals Eat Guitars’ LOSE will be released via Barsuk on 8/26.