'RHONY': Why Dorinda Medley Deserves Your Empathy

Every season of The Real Housewives of New York has a villain and it seems that season 12 has settled on Dorinda Medley.

Dorinda has always had a vicious side to her that usually comes out when she drinks. But this season, she’s been particularly volatile. She’s attacked Tinsley for merely breathing and has lashed out at her supposedly good friend Ramona.

Dorinda herself even admitted that it was tough to watch herself this season, particularly in episode 7, where the ladies go to an orchard.

She explained to Us Weekly,

“There’s a lot of things coming up and a lot of things, like, that I am going through myself that are making me definitely on edge and uptight.”

She added,

“I think I say it at the winery — I just feel vulnerable and scared and overwhelmed.”

From an outsider’s perspective, it seems incredibly clear that she is going through a terrible bout of grief over her late husband Richard, who died in 2011.

real housewives of new york rhony season 12

If there’s anything I know about, it’s grief. I’ve been grieving my dead father for 14 years.

And the big secret about grief that nobody tells you is that it never gets easier. 5 years, 10 years, 15 years — no amount of time makes it less painful.

So even though Dorinda’s husband died 9 years ago, she’s still going to experience intense periods of grief, and that can mean a full range of emotions.

With grief, you never know what’s going to set you off, what’s going to make you mad, what’s going to make you cry.

So when Dorinda yells at Tinsley over seemingly nothing, when she gets in a fight with Ramona and then immediately starts crying, that has nothing to do with Tinsley or Ramona. It has to do with Dorinda and the shit storm of emotions that comes with that.

Now, that’s not to say that I condone Dorinda’s actions or even that I’m willing to excuse them. It’s never ok to talk to anyone like that, let alone your friends.

But I do understand Dorinda — to some extend at least (a father and a husband are not the same thing, of course). And I certainly do empathize with her.

rhony dorinda medley
Dorinda at her late-husband’s grave

I realize for anyone who hasn’t had to deal with the misery that is grieving a close loved one that this kind of behavior can be hard to understand. And it’s certainly not easy to tolerate.

But Dorinda needs her friends now more than ever, even if it seems like all she wants to do is push them away.

For Dorinda’s part, she’s trying hard to work on controlling her emotions. She’s seeing a therapist and is trying to work through her feelings. That’s not an easy thing to do.

And she knows that she’s a work in progress. She even joked that her tagline this season should have been, “I’m not only reconstructing my house, I’m reconstructing myself.”

But if Dorinda Medley truly wants to “reconstruct” herself then she’s really going to have to find a healthy outlet for her emotions that doesn’t include going off on her friends for no reason. Oh, and she should definitely stop drinking.


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Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.