As one of the Original Housewives, LuAnn de Lesseps got up in the mix right away in season one by announcing she should be referred to as “Countess.” Seems she’s married to this French guy Alexandre de Lesseps who is a Count (duh) and a descendent of the guy who built the Suez Canal. Fine. Good. Be a Countess. Totally love Countesses. Thing is, it's not like France put on its best royal cape and said: “you LuAnn, you are officially a Countess because you are the fourth wife of this guy who’s great uncle or something built this big thing.” She kind of took that one on, pretty much countessed herself in a private ceremony with her mirror and a sparkly magic wand/tiara princess set she picked up at Toys R Us.
Yes, she speaks several languages, and yes, she’s been to Gstaad regularly with a bevy of other Counts and Countesses and Vicars and the like, but the bottom line is that she was a nurse from Connecticut, then a model, and then a fourth wife to a Count.
|But Who's Counting?|
LuAnn’s shtick on the show has always been to attend a lunch, charity event, or party, during which one person would offend her, and then go on camera during a “confessional,” and discuss his or her etiquette breach. Given the context of GTOG, I would say that she fancies herself a referee in the game of Housewifery. She is passive aggressive, holier than thou, and just …. Annoying. Someone who would interrupt tourists on the street to speak French loudly with them just to prove she is fluent. Someone who would say things like, “Oh Rosie, I don’t know what I’d do without you! Good help is soooo hard to find,” or “The Hamptons is where I can really just kick back and be myself.” Really Lu? Is that right? I totally hear you!!!!
So she wrote a book about manners, lectured everyone around her about how to behave, and then the inevitable and delicious happened: her husband the Count cheated on her rather publicly with an Ethiopian Princess (I am NOT making this up). So she had to go through the shame of being cuckolded and then endure a public divorce (she has 2 vanilla-y, preppy, nice enough seeming kids, Victoria and Noel), all while dealing with all these cameras – surely something that was not covered in her book on etiquette. And it was hinted that she had done her own cheatin’ too – but maybe lessons on how to cope with that situation will turn up volume 2 of “Class with the Countess.”
I felt kind of bad for her when this went down, even though she continued to act all finger snappy pride-y and got into it with someone every time she left her homes, in which good help is so hard to find, especially when your housekeeper/nanny goes to the Philippines for the summer and comes back all glam and skinny in white jeans and you’ve had to figure out how to dial the phone for pizza delivery and how to Swiffer.
Then LuAnn inevitably had to “find herself” and start dating, and that led to a world of awkwardness. She made out with a couple creeps and is now dating another Frenchman who looks like David Schwimmer if he ate Adrian Brody. (*I cannot be sure that I made that up – it is possible I read it somewhere on the Internet.) But the best thing that came out of LuAnn’s Gloria Gaynor moment is definitely her decision to work with this wonderful, mohawked, sunglasses at night, cracked out “music industry producer,” who helped her to record her anthemic “Money Can’t Buy You Class.” If you haven’t see heard this song, oh how I envy you.
Elegance is learned.
* Sheer Elegance is profiling the seven Real Housewives of NYC protagonists all week long, leading up to the Season 4 premiere on April 7.
See the Jill Zarin profile here.
See the Ramona Singer profile here.