After seven months of marriage, Real Housewives of New York City’s Luann de Lesseps D’Agostino and Tom D’Agostino of the Not-The-Grocery-Store-D’Agostinos have filed for divorce. At least they’ll always have Palm Beach. Or rather, West Palm Beach.
Reality television relationships are one of those bizarre things where I don’t know these people, will never know these people, and yet I still have (and feel as if I have a right to have) opinions and emotions about the breakdown of them.
Luann’s relationship with Tom (and his former relationships with her castmates Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan, the latter of which was a FWB-sitch) were a massive part of RHONY’s last season’s drama. And honestly, it was a large crux of this season’s drama as well. It brought us such golden moments as “Don’t let it be about Tom” and “I came from Palm Beach” and my ULTIMATE FAVORITE “WE GOT THE YACHT.”
Luann’s gross, unabashed love with Tom was the ultimate social media manifestation. On the outside, it was all Palm Beach and yachts and tantric sex—on the inside, it was slaps in restaurants and cheating scandals.
After a brief courtship, Luann got engaged to Tom and the night before their engagement party, he was seen kissing another woman. This was already after Tom had gone on a (currently disagreed upon) number of dates with Ramona and had had (allegedly/apparently) a years-long friends-with-benefits arrangement with Sonja. But against everyone’s objections and warnings and passive-aggressive threats, Luann and Tom got married on New Year’s Eve (coincidentally Tom’s 50th birthday).
In the months after, both on and off the show, Luann has had to defend her marriage and dodge more accusations of infidelity than Bethenny Frankel has Skinnygirl-branded memorabilia in her house.
From a viewer perspective, this is creepy-good timing. Luann’s bombastic gloating over her marriage (oftentimes rubbing it in the faces of other women who were in the midst of terrible, broken relationships) is the best part of this season.
On LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE of RHONY, Luann got into a fight with Tinsley Mortimer about the difference between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach and described her “rose” (a la “rose and thorn”) as her husband.
And in previous episodes, she railed against the other women for not giving her the nice room in a Vermont ski chalet after she had “flown up from Palm Beach” and “just gotten married.” She was saying this to a group of women she had not invited to the wedding because they all kept reminding Luann that Tom was cheating on her. And all of last season, she would burst into weird, gurgling giggles and shriek, “Can you BELIEVE IT? I’m getting married!!”
Reality television is so complex that if you tried to write this out for a scripted show, you would get slammed for being unrealistic.
It feels mean to write this about Luann, even though I don’t know her. But that’s the magic and beast of reality television. Because as much as I feel as if I’m given a peak into the lives of these women, the medium also serves to completely rid them of their humanity and personhood in my eyes. They’re real, but they’re not real.
So because this is a real person, and this was a real marriage (however brief), let’s take a moment to think of Luann, and Tom, and be sensitive about their sadness.
Let’s remember the good times. Let’s remember Luann’s three wedding dresses, and her belief that coming from Palm Beach deserves a special room in the ski chalet. Let’s remember the yacht because although we don’t have the yacht anymore, we once did. And really, isn’t having a yacht a mere state of mind?