Housewife Jill on the Reunion and Girls
BY Neal Broverman
June 09 2010 11:55 PM ET
Bravo's Real Housewives of New York has morphed into the 21st-century version of the Clare Boothe Luce classic The Women. Front and center among all the fashion and fighting is Jill Zarin, a lady you can say many things about, but you can never call dull. On the eve of the three reunion shows for the third season of RHNY, airing on Bravo and hosted by the network's gay exec Andy Cohen, the spitfire spoke candidly as ever about her frenemies Bethenny, Alex, and Ramona. She also got in a few zingers about The Real Housewives of New Jersey and Twitter haters. But what Zarin really didn't want forgotten were her side projects and her commitment to gay causes.
The Advocate: This year the show became an outright phenomenon. What put it over the top?
Zarin: Because viewers didn't expect what happened to happen; they were caught off guard, and me too, by the way. If you spoke to me a year ago, I never could have anticipated Bethenny and I wouldn't be friends. And then all the good things that happened. And her getting pregnant and married. And then the bad thing about her father. No one could anticipate this. I don't know how [The Real Housewives of]New Jersey is doing in the ratings. I know that we're flying. I'm watching Jersey, and I think that it's more of the same, you know, it's like the good girls versus, well, not the good girls, but it's the Manzos against Danielle. Every week it's the different turn of each housewife, but it's the same as last year. What's different about our show this year is that everything did get twisted.
When you see the reunion, you'll see how the couches have changed. Last year was LuAnn [de Lesepps], Bethenny, and Jill on one couch and then the other girls on the other couch. Now Bethenny and I are on each side of Andy. I also think that the story of what the season was about, which was friendship, everybody can relate to. Everybody's a friend, and everybody's had a fight. Every relationship you handle differently, and there is no right, I mean, there are things that you can do better than other things. There's no right or wrong when it comes to feelings. And I think that people wanted to see how other people handle relationships. And I say it in the show. The most important thing in life is not money. It's relationships. At the end of the day, when you're on your deathbed, you don't think about your life, such as the things that you've made, it's the relationships that you have and that those are the people close to you. And I that's what I think makes me different. I don't come from nowhere. You know, I have parents, I have a sister. A really close, close family. We wrote a book together, Secrets of a Jewish Mother. I'm a grandmother now, which you don't see on the show. And the other housewives on the show don't show that kind of side to them. Or some of them don't even have it, that core family type of thing. It's not something you do right or wrong in life. It's just sort of what family you're born into.
You received a lot of criticism, and online threats, regarding your relationship with Bethenny. Were you surprised at how vested people got in your relationships?
Extremely surprised. It's amazing how people are invested in the show and the characters. Some people take it too literal. And you're The Advocate. I'm the advocate for the underdog. I don't apologize for it ... Kelly, Kelly also by the way, along the same lines, did the public service announcement on bullying because of the feelings that she had during the show for herself, and I can't help but think back to this little girl in Boston who committed suicide not long ago because she was cyber-bullied. She felt there was no place to go except to kill herself.
I'm an adult and can handle pretty much everything, but I want to put out [the fact that she was threatened on Twitter] for those who don't have a voice and who look to me as a role model. I have a lot of fans out there who write to me for advice. Since this is the gay advocate, I don't have to tell you that it's the same thing for gay people who have been harassed, abused, and bullied their whole life; there's been a lot of gay people have taken their lives because they felt they had no place to go and didn't know how to handle it. So it's sort of a similar thing in that sense. Everybody's entitled to their opinion. I'm all for free speech, and you can really say or do what you want, but if somebody encourages somebody to mail things to me and threaten me and my family, now you've crossed the line.