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In Defense of Jill Zarin

A word of praise for a much-maligned Housewife

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Jill Zarin.(Flickr)

In the historic battle between the Jewish Mother and her various combatants, I have generally—sometimes even publicly—sided with the detractors. I didn’t need more fodder, but more has been provided by Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City, whose Jill Zarin—wife of Lower East Side fabric czar Bobby Zarin—has spent three seasons as a walking embodiment of the caricature: presenting oppressive enmeshment as familial warmth, costuming manipulation as concern, haughtily asserting herself as the benevolent, wisecracking, all-knowing Den Mother, before vengefully lashing out when others deigned to develop relationships that did not flow through her or make decisions without running them past her. In case she was being too subtle about the whole act (she wasn’t), Zarin published this two months ago.

Of all the characters on whom Zarin has bestowed the gift of her toxic love, she was perhaps most generous with Bethenny Frankel, the Housewife who, until this season, wasn’t a wife at all; as the only single member of the cast, Frankel essentially emerged as the Jewish daughter to Zarin’s Jewish mother: beautiful, primped and eternally presentable, yet alone—and thus clearly (clearly) in need of guidance. Zarin and Frankel luxuriated in the bathos of their mother-daughter dynamic for two seasons—until, that is, Frankel found a man and belatedly began doing what children do: separate, as in individuate (and not, as both Zarin and Frankel would later describe it, as in a husband-and-wife split).

Given the obscurantist editing of reality television, it’s unclear how exactly a few wrong moves snowballed into the slow hacking murder of a relationship, though the subject has been Talmudically parsed by viewers and critics alike. The vast majority of folks have been siding with Frankel—New York Magazine included in their weekly round-up a recurring feature outlining “why Jill Zarin is a disgusting person”—a group to which I belonged until last night. In the season finale, Zarin offered Frankel the most heartfelt apology that will ever grace one of these absurd shows, to which Frankel responded with the self-satisfied churlishness and unearned righteousness of a hormonal teenager (“You have a lot of changing to do,” she tells Zarin, at the close of the episode). But why? Frankel is at a wonderful moment in her life, in which—according to her—she finally has everything she has always wanted: a husband, a  career, an apartment “downtown” and a new baby. Isn’t this the time to be generous, to be forgiving? As I watched her maintain iciness, I couldn’t help but think: Jesus, Bethenny, basta already with the kishke-schlepping.

And then, all of a sudden, it occurred to me: The daughter is becoming the mother.

She still has some distance to go, though. As her former friend could teach her, there’s a time to kvetch and there’s a time kvell: When the camera panned to Zarin in her last encounter with Frankel, she looked both genuinely contrite and also happy for someone she loved—even though the brat was too spoiled to appreciate it. At that moment, Zarin was, in a word, a mother. A Jewish one? Maybe, maybe not. But certainly a good one.

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Loved your take, Alana. Jill mentions in her book about the Jewish tradition of asking for forgiveness 3 times. Bethenny asked 3 times before. I think Bethenny is skeptical about Jill’s intentions for all of a sudden wanting to be friends again. I wish they would make up already. They both hold grudges way too long.

JayneSnow says:

Jill Zarin has Lied and manipulated not only her cast mates but the viewers too. Faking positive reviews fot her book is false advertising. She also posted fake reviews on her husbands fabric store site,dating back to 1995.Screen shots of both of these have been saved by numerous bloggers.Enough already! Get this woman off TV, out of the press and into some serious mental health care. – ADIOS LUNATIC

Cleo says:

There is no defense of Jill Zarin’s childish, malicious, nasty, vile, rude, abhorent, vindictive behavior both on and off camera this year.

She gives Jews a bad name as well as women, new yorkers, upper east siders, east coasters, Americans and human beings.

Talk about toxic. Bethenny was not acting like a spoiled brat for refusing to resume a friendship with someone like Jill. Zarin is the spoiled brat here, assuming that there are would be no consequences for her actions. Jill wanted to make Bethenny look bad because she was jealous that Bethenny got her own show. Her plan backfired spectacularly and Jill is the one who came out with her reputation destroyed. Not because of anything Bethenny did or said about Jill, but because of Jill’s own actions.

Writing positive reviews (under an assumed name) for her own book was bad enough, but attacking those who gave her book a negative review and accusing those negative reviewers of being anti semitic is reprehensible.

Bethenny was right to tell Jill she needed to change if they were ever going to be friends again. Jill needs to change if she ever wants to be considered anything other than a disgusting human being.

Eve says:

Bethenny is nothing like Jill. Nothing. Jill is nothing like a good mother to Bethenny. She couldn’t be happy for her and attacked when Bethenny was doing well. Mothers aren’t jealous of daughers, at least not good mothers. Their fight was so much bigger than Bethenny finding a boyfriend. I know Team Jill would like to believe that it was but that is delusional.

Shannon says:

Wow!!! You sure sound dumb right now Alana.

Cleo says:

I would like to add to my list of groups that Jill Zarin gives a bad name to:

Housewives (duh), ice skaters, potato latka makers, “PP” afficianados, dog owners, friends, amateur tennis players, authors, sisters, daughters, mothers, Saks Fifth Avenue customers, Kodak product promoters, redheads, women who wear size 1 (or more likely women who replace the tags in their size six or eight clothing with size 1 tags) and fabric discounters.

If I left any groups out, please add to my list, I’d like it to be as complete as possible.

Mel says:

After being told several times that Jill was done with her- she finally listened and realized that Jill was right- they were done.

Seriously? says:

Jill ruined her own reputation this year.

Susan Saunders reviews on Amazon, and dozens of other fake reviews for her book, and for Zarin’s Fabric have been exposed. She has been completely out of control and pathetic, and not just on the show, but in her real life as well.

Her constant complaining and nasty gossiping would not have been acceptable for a 12 year old, let alone a middle aged woman. She may have been a favorite once, but she has single handedly shown the world who she is this year.

The “world” is gagging.

http://blog.zap2it.com/thedishrag/2010/05/real-housewives-amazon-gate-jill-zarin-asked-interviewer-to-review-her-book-under-a-fake-name.html

kitkat says:

I would like to know where Jill’s forgiveness for Alex was when in the finale, Alex extended her hand to her for reconcilliation, and Jill spectacularly snubbed her. Jill is a petty, nasty woman and the viewers see it. The camera doesn’t lie. You are on the wrong side of this one. Jill is a creep and does need to change. Also, when a mother bestows all this supposed generosity (of which I saw nothing really), does this said “mother” keep score and await payback?

katiecoo says:

All you need is to watch the scene where the “mother” Jill Zarin shames, rejects, humiliates, lies to and exposes her “daughter” Bethenny sneakily on a speaker phone to another woman (who she’s lying about being there listening) and her snide smiles, attacking, viciousness unprovoked, to realize this is a mother from HELL that someone would be in therapy for their entire adult life to just survive that “childhood”. Take a look, I am rewatching that nightmare episode right now. It’s heartbreakingly abusive to Bethenny.

Joan says:

You obviously don’t know what is going on off-screen and the back-stories on this woman. If you did, you would know that it is much, much worse than what you saw on-screen. You would know that the apology was for the sole purpose of trying to “redeem” her reputation – she said as much on Watch What Happens Live – that she would redeem herself by the end of the season. This woman sucks the air out of the room. Out of the house. Out of the universe. She is the most self-centered person I’ve ever seen, and believe me, I’ve seen more than my fair share.

You are right. Jill is like a mother. Like the suffocating Jewish mother stereotype. A younger version of her own mother, who, when she comes on screen, makes me go running for the Xanax. Overwhelming, overbearing, pit bull of a mother. They give women, Jews, and Jewish women a very bad name.

And what on earth is “kishke-schlepping?” Kishka (usual spelling) is a piece of gut stuffed with schmaltz mixed with matzoh crumbs and spices. So “kishka-schlepping” makes no sense. On the other hand, Jill brought cold latkes.

Shadowsnomore says:

The list of crimes Jill has committed is long long. So long that they can’t be listed in one post. Here is a link to a site that goes over many of them-
http://lynnnchicago101.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/i-hate-jill-zarin-the-list-may-19-2010/
Jill continues to this day to build upon the list. Her bashing of Alex in the press, not taking responsibility for her behavior, calling legitimate book reviewers Anti-Semitic for a bad review, and insulting the viewing audience by blaming her behavior on others and editing… I could go on for days! The fact that she expected Bethenny to forgive her on Jill’s terms is unbelievable, the fact that some fans are forgiving, defending and believing Jill is reprehensible!

Seriously? says:

Oh, and I think you need to watch that apology again.

Jill was very sorry. THAT SHE WASN’T GETTING HER OWN WAY.

The tears were real. BECAUSE HER LITTLE SCAM TO DEFAME BETHENNY ALL SEASON AND THEN HAVE BETHENNY COME BACK AND FORGIVE HER ON DEMAND WASN’T WORKING.

Why would Bethenny allow someone this nasty back into her life, especially now that she had a precious newborn? Why?

Kadooz to Bethenny for being intelligent enough to get this toxic liar out of her life. Jill lost Bethenny completely when she lied and said she hadn’t gossiped about her. We SAW her gossiping about Bethenny to everyone, including some random psychic. Then she further ruined her “apology” by calling Alex “toxic” once again, accepting NO responsibility for her own actions.

Jill was also incredibly rude at Ramona’s parties, and at Luann’s event, AND at Alex’s fashion show, heck, she even bitched about food at Ramona’s vow renewal (AND the boat!)

The other cast members confirm that Jill tried to sink the VI trip too. If it’s not all about Jill, she wants to ruin or disparage it.

Who needs a friend like that? NO ONE.

She is rude and self-absorbed. She has absolutely no taste, in fashion, or in decorating. She’s petulant and greedy and childish, watch the insider video when Bobby is buying her a watch. It’s on Bravo. It shows who this woman is.

She brags that blow jobs keep her husband forking over the gifts.

UGH

Pick another role model. Please.

little rock says:

one of the most heartfelt apologies? the only thing heartfelt on jill’s part was the desperation to be a part of bethenny’s world. this is what jill misses, not their friendship. and another bit of advice: when offering a supposedly heartfelt apology? don’t lie! NOT ONCE THIS SEASON WERE YOU EVER BETHENNEY’S CHEERLEADER. how could you be? when you were trying so hard to be her downfall.

Xuczn says:

Zap2it was one of the first to report that a scandal was brewing around “Real Housewives of New York City” star Jill Zarin on Amazon.com. Now, new details shed light on Zarin’s role in Amazon-gate.

Members had launched a grassroots investigation after one “Susan Saunders” replied angrily to a negative review of Zarin’s book, “Secrets of a Jewish Mother.”

Written to Alana Chandler, the No. 1 ranked reviewer on Amazon, the comment called the reviewer anti-Semitic and “jealous of Jill.” “Saunders” even suggested that Chandler’s pet should be taken from her. Chandler has since claimed that “Saunders” also followed up the comment with a “threatening email.”

Amazon members then discovered that “Susan Saunders'” account was registered to Jill Shapiro, which is Zarin’s name before marrying Bobby, from New York City. Her daughter’s name is Allyson and her birthday is November 30. All of these details correspond with public information on Zarin. Also, Bobby’s brother, David Zarin, is listed under “Saunders'” “Interesting People & Friends” list.

After our story launched, the profile was wiped clean of personal details, but David Zarin is still listed.

Now, new details have emerged that shed light on Zarin’s take on reviewing under assumed names.

According to The Daily Beast, during an interview with the housewife, Zarin was pleased to hear that the interviewer liked her book. She then asked her if she could review it. When the writer declined, Zarin had a novel idea.

“Can you go under an assumed name?” Jill asked.

After the writer declined again and even Zarin’s sister, Lisa Wexler, who was also being interviewed, tried to get Zarin to stop her requests, Zarin continued.

“I don’t know, you could just say you loved the book,” Jill said. “Anonymous. Is that so bad?”

The writer continued to decline the request, then a relentless Zarin told her she could have her boyfriend do it instead.

Keep It Real says:

Jill doesn’t really want anything to do with Bethenny. She just wants a public “make up” because she is doing damage control. Jill set out to destroy Bethenny’s repuation and it backfired on her. Jill and her team HATE Bethenny. Her assistant Darren is even posting links to articles that are bashing Bethenny. I am sure he did that at Jill’s request. Bethenny knows that Jill is insincere and she not falling for the BS, she is too smart.

Mary says:

Well written!

I believe Jill was sorry and I think Bethenny acted like she was too good for Jill. She is done with Jill and needs her no more. What a shame. If Bethenny even has a heart, she would remember just how kind Jill was to her when she was not at a point in her life where everything was going her way!

As for Jill and Alex….. Alex thinks that she is finally part of the in crowd and this has made her the mean girl!

otaypanky says:

i agree with everyone here.

alana…why are you tring so vigorously to bury your writing career?

Can't Believe This... says:

Mary… are you serious?? Jill was no more sorry for how she treated Bethenny this season than Kelly is sane. Bethenny tried over and over this season to make things right with Jill, but it was Jill that acted like she was to good for Bethenny. You can only be kicked to the ground so many times before you decide you are DONE with it. Jill needs to hire a new PR rep with a new idea… even though at this point I don’t think anything will help… Poor …Poor JIll… NOT!!!

Morgaine says:

You’ve got to be kidding? You actually believed those crocodile tears? Jill is only sorry that people sided with Bethenny, not with her. When she realized half-way through the season that her popularity had plummeted, she suddenly decided to try and make up with Bethenny. She’s kicking herself that she didn’t get to be front and center for Bethenny’s wedding and baby. That scenario was a yenta’s dream – a wedding, a baby and a new show she could have appeared on if only she hadn’t been such a wretched bitch, playing part of a phone message over and over for months to stay good and hurt. She deserves all the bad karma coming at her right now. Let her play mommy to Krazy Kelly. Heaven knows that poor thing needs a keeper. I hope the show drops both of them. Neither adds anything but nastiness to the show.

redhead says:

Morgaine:

I’m not sure when Ramona’s renewal ceremony was but the rest of the season was shot between labor day and the end of 2009. The show didn’t start airing until March 2010, so Jill’s popularity had not plummeted when she tried to fix things with Bethenny

She may have been motivated by the fear that her popularity might suffer if she didn’t try to make up with Bethenny considering Bethenny’s life circumstances, but that’s different than apologizing because the fans had turned against her.

I’m not defending Jill – I just think it’s only fair that we limit our accusations to things she has actually done.

Cleo's Mommy says:

I think Jill has behaved attrociously this year, but I also think that there’s a group of fans that take their hate for Jill Zarin too far.

LynnnChicago author of the I Hate Jill Zarin blog has been particularly hard on Jill even discussing the possibility of sending Zarin Sympathy cards to console her for her loss of fans, self respect, etc. I don’t know if the current situation is related to that campaign or not.

Lynn and her followers have also been extremely critical of Zarin and some of the other housewives for deleting negative comments from their sites, blocking people on twitter and relentlessly ridiculing Jill for claiming that she’s being harassed.

Today Lynn officially jumped the shark and landed in Kellyland when she began deleting critical comments by several posters, blocked me from posting at all and emailed another poster claiming I had harassed her.

What I did was tell Lynn that if she continued to delete my comments I would post them elsewhere. Such as here.

TO LYNN

URGENT TECHNICAL PROBLEM

A handful of posts are missing from the first June 8th thread.

I know how critical you have been of Jill Zarin for deleting posts that she was “Not Happpy” about. In fact you and the minions have ragged on her relentlessly for doing so. Therefore I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that it is merely a coincidence that only posts missing appear to be those that are either critical of you and/or supportive of me.

Please alert wordpress immediately of this problem, or if I am being naive and it is not a coincidence then I will assume that the body snatching is close to being complete and you will be blowing your husband for jewelry tonight and shilling your book on the moral and ethical evils of flagrant hypocrisy tomorrow.

NYRH says:

Jill Zarin behaved horribly. No excuses or justifications. She needs to take her 15 minutes of fame and ride off into the sunset.

IHJZ was fun for a while but now the place is toxic. The irony is that they are now doing the same things that they abhor Jill for. One of the funniest lines I read on there was from a poster who has attacked many who tried to post. She claimed “I am courageous” “I am not afraid to be on the frontline” as if she is General Patton heading a platoon. She seems to have lost sight that this is a D list reality show for goodness sake. How much courage does it take to be an anonymous poster on the internet? None. Delusions of grandeur.

Many of us have noticed the missing posts from the blog that claims “to not delete posts” and many of us have stopped going there.

You don’t go there for content, or to be entertained, you go to see who the usual suspect has attacked this hour. It reminds me of watching Kelly’s breakdown, you don’t want to watch but you just can’t turn away even though it is disturbing.

On a one on one level I have met, conversed and engaged in dialogue, however superficial a number of times over the least 7 years and have never had any issue with Jill. But, t in my opinion, I think if you were using “The Real Housewives of New York City” to create a brand to market yourself to the world at large, Jill has made herself a caricature of an angry, selfish, manipulative New Yorker, potentially a less salable brand. Its gonna be hard to sell to people with more humble values that “Secrets of a Jewish Mother”, the book written by her with her mother and sister reflects the values of truly soulful people. Who knows what motivate her uncivilized behavior, whether it was scripted for the show or it was engaged in to create drama to insure that the show gets renewed. Remember the times we are living in and the fact that the women on RHONY are getting salaries per “season” which are as high or higher than the median household income of families on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In short, it ain’t chump change. And if the show does not get renewed or gets new cast of characters, what will these women do when they lose the cash flow from doing the show as well as the revenue from appearance fees and endorsements. When you behave like a Chaza it may come back to haunt you. I do not think Jill Zarin needs to be defended or honored except that I think, if you are defending the values exhibited on that show as being representative of that which ought to be embraced or celebrated in Jewish Life, then I think you have literally jumped the shark in your significance as a commentator.

Dina says:

Jill is an amazing person. I met her about a month ago and she treated me like a friend. Bethenny and Jill had a fight, like friends do. Big deal. Remember, that we are only viewing bits and pieces of an argument. Enough already with the negative comments about Jill. She has apologized to Bethenny many times. I love Jill and will defend her always!!! The haters need to find something else to do with there time.

Lisa says:

i just noticed that on Amazon, Jill is the subject of awful, unjust attacks regarding her book. Bad reviews that are written by people who obviously have not read the book. If you love Jill and have read the book, please go and write a review on Amazon. Jill deserves our help, she is a wonderful person. I am just a fan, but I am sick of the EXTREME haters hurting Jill.
Please pass this idea around.

imeancmon says:

Lisa, the only person hurting Jill Zarin is Jill Zarin. She is furiously trying to dig her way out of the huge s**t hole she dug for herself. There is no defending what lengths this woman will go to for fame. I used to think Jill was awesome, but she couldn’t keep up the act. She has shown her true colors to all the world. Don’t be fooled, she is a caculating and manipulative fame monger. She blew it, big time!

Donell says:

Here is great read on the housewives!
http://jvhri.org/detail/2967.html

Donell says:

Great pro Jill Zarin article can be found here.

http://hubpages.com/hub/I-Do-Not-Like-Lynn-Hudson

Enjoy!

KarenW says:

I really enjoyed your article, and am glad I found it. Although I have not agreed with many of the things Jill Zarin has done this season, I also see Alex McCord as one heck of an opportunist, and I suspect this will all come to light eventually.

I truly don’t care what Jill did to or around Alex, once Alex made the decision to publically humilate Jill with Betheney’s words, all bets were off. I don’t blame Jill for not wanting to talk to Alex, particularly with the histrionics Alex decided to go through on scary island, and apologizing repeatedly is not going to change anything. I believe everyone on that show has fed info to the press, and as angled for prime camera time. It is just Jill Zarin who is getting most of the blame because she but herself in a bad position.

By the way. Did anyone catch the part in the last portion of the Reunion episode where Alex said that Jill would not even look at her when she arrived on the island? This is after Alex claimed that Jill was staring “daggers” at her? Please!

I am going to add this to my favorites, and look forward to any more of your words of wisdom.

Boston1 says:

Cleos Mom, you should probably go take care of cleo and get off the computer because you have no clue what you’re talking about.

Ronit says:

Hello, I wanted to share a wonderful new blog I found.

http://idonotlikelynnhudson.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/i-hate-alex-mccord-7-8-2010/

Ronit says:

This was recently brought to my attention and I wanted to share it! It is regarding horrible injustice being done to Jill Zarin’s book!
http://maggiereynolds.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/secrets-of-a-jewish-mother

Jan Savage says:

I really don’t know why I hear people say I hate Jill Zarin She is the best one on the show in my opinion. Her new line of Shape Wear look really great. She was wearing one of the piece on the show last night and i loved it! Anyone know where I can get it?

mark says:

What happened to Jill Zarin’s face. She looks like a monster. She back to her old tricks with Ramona. Poor Ramona she does not deserve that abuse. Oh well, Jill is a backstabber and phony and should be taken off the air. Listening to that trouble maker Luann, The unperfect mother who daughter was thrown out of school and jumps off the roof to get away from her. Shame on them.

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In Defense of Jill Zarin

A word of praise for a much-maligned Housewife

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