The Real Housewives of Potomac
For the last six seasons, the conceit of Real Housewives of Potomac has been that no matter what, the plotting and scheming of Gizelle Bryant and Robyn Dixon were necessary evils to keep the show moving. However, this episode and the last have made a strong case for the decline in the power rankings of the Green-Eyed Bandits; the duo threatened mutiny only to be rebuffed several times.
This week, Robyn and Gizelle “sneak out” (how does one truly sneak in a medical boot?) in the middle of the night to stay at a hotel 30 minutes away (I note that they didn’t confirm that they stayed at the Marriott, so I won’t assume that’s where they landed). Now, as someone who once only had the budget for a Chinatown bus, Subway sandwiches, and couch surfing, I can appreciate paying for the accommodations that you want, but all the histrionics are a bit much at this point. We all know full well that it was the production who selected this house, and they initially declined to go on the trip, so to be miffed at the lack of proper comfort is like being mad that there are no fish dinners left at the wedding reception you didn’t RSVP to. (That said, I am perplexed by the layout of this house altogether — it’s sizable enough that Ashley had her own exercise space, and there was a separate bar, but no second-floor bathroom? Who did this construction job, the people at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?)
However, what really has those two more upset than anything is that they chose to leave and the group doesn’t care, just like the gang was unperturbed when they opted out of the trip in the first place. The drama and messiness proceed just fine without them as it always would, and neither Karen nor Wendy feel the need to genuflect to them for camera time. They try to make a case out of this — the fact that no one follows up to see them to their hotel safely — but it’s a nonstarter: They keep in touch in their group chat, and they are almost certainly followed by production. It must be destabilizing for them both to realize how easy it can be to be devalued, particularly when they both so clearly need to maintain the power they have on this show and the check that it comes with: We all saw the hazardous conditions and stairway to heaven that Gizelle is currently living under, courtesy of the disastrous podcast-launch event we recently witnessed.
This is why I find it so interesting that Robyn has chosen that tack of choosing to be intractable in her conflict with Wendy. Robyn and Wendy won’t be good friends, but for what it’s worth, I don’t think Robyn has strong friendships on this show outside of Gizelle; on several occasions this season, for example, Robyn has had to be reminded to say hi to Askale at an event, and she was the one who introduced Askale to the cast. Housewives works best when the groups break up to make up again; the never-ending silent treatments and blank stares are not part of that program. This is where someone like Ashley or Mia shines and probably why Mia agitates the cast so much, since she is playing by classic Housewife rules and not those who are invested in maintaining their position; she sticks and moves and resets for the next conflict. Mia was certainly messy on the boat ride they all took, but she wasn’t misrepresenting Robyn’s words nearly as much as Miss (or is it Mrs. now?) Dixon would like to pretend; she has been saying all season that this isn’t the Wendy she knew a year ago, that the woman she met had substance — I don’t know how you glean that from day drinking at a picnic bench, but to each their own. But Robyn is committed to victimizing herself here — a conversation could have been had long ago where she simply admitted that she approached the conversation incorrectly and that Wendy’s comments on Juan had hurt her feelings. However, instead, we are circling the drain, and Robyn’s satin hats are still taking up real estate in her mom’s garage.
Surprisingly, Mia and Wendy manage to accomplish the patented Real Housewives frenemy détente. I know this is a trademark “fake makeup that has already fallen apart before the reunion” scene, but even given that, I have to say that I find it highly ludicrous that “you don’t have to appreciate my creative journey, but at least respect it” from a 34-year-old pursuing an MBA is really being countenanced alongside “you can say whatever the hell you want about me, but leave my mother who was chewed up by the prison-industrial complex and is a recovering addict alone.” Color me dramatic, but I think that some more conversation should have been had here. If your husband basically spent the day disciplining you like a toddler at Disney World for your behavior, maybe the result is something a little deeper than “all parties have something to apologize for here,” but at least we are getting some plot movement as we move toward the close of the season.
Next week, it’s time for a crab boil; Ashley, G, and Mia get into it; and Michael terrorizes our screens just in time for Halloween. See you all then!
• This is only tangentially related to the episode, but why do people from Maryland think their state flag needs to be on everything? It looks like a bad kindergarten art project, yet they will put it on EVERYTHING. I promise you can keep your Maryland coffee mug at home.
• Ashley is deeply unsettled by G’s behavior on this trip, which is almost amusingly paradoxical. I am not saying that G is not behaving boorishly toward her; clearly, everyone on the trip has commented on his behavior, and again, it is extremely disappointing to watch all the men choose to stay in the background and mind their business. However, either she possesses a very high level of unawareness, or she thinks that Michael’s accent somehow makes his behavior less egregious because they truly aren’t that many degrees removed from each other; G probably just likes hanging out with Black people a little bit more, if we’re frank here.
• Karen Huger, of the Surry County Hugers, is just full of gems on the road to her vow renewals. This week, she announces, “If you all let your women continue down this road, they’re not gonna look like this at 58.” Gotta love her humility.
• I have to say, I do agree with Mia on the luxury-vacation bit. I am going to make a stretch and assume that COVID played a bit of a role here, but I am a mother of three and a professional. I don’t want to go on vacation and have to cook and clean up for myself; I am sorry, that’s what you do in college to save money for spring break, or on Summer House where they pretend that they don’t have money, or something (I don’t watch that show).
• I like Ray and Gizelle’s dynamic together when they are in a good place. I don’t know what is in Ray’s coffee this season, but he seems comfortable on-camera, and it shows.
• Chris Bassett drunkenly admitted — and got Candiace to state as well — that Ashley was “not that bad” the same evening that Candiace screamed at her for offering Monique a character letter. It makes you wonder how much of this is theatrics for the sake of Candiace pursuing a Kleenex endorsement.
• Speaking of Chris: It’s kept in the background, but he does a lot of quiet signifying that he is “down” with Black people in a way that I don’t make a point of calling out because it seems unnecessary in all of the plot points of the show but is starting to grate. Earlier in the trip, he made a point of stating his preference for Black women, which has come up before, but, okay, whatever. This week, he repeatedly states his desire to play Spades, which, for those who are unfamiliar, is a very popular card game in African American households, which is kind of like Hearts in reverse. I don’t like, walk into all-white rooms talking about the latest podcast episode of The Daily or, you know, my favorite episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so it’s very irritating when he feels the need to do this performance. I’m sure he likes Spades just fine, but I was half expecting him to turn on “Candy,” by Cameo, and get everyone to do the Electric Slide later.
• In trying to explain how aggrieved she was about the glorified dorm room that she and Gizelle were put in, Robyn asked, “What if Juan came?”, which is kind of like me telling my mom I wasn’t married yet because I was saving myself for Yahya Abdul-Mateen. We both need to start operating in a universe with more probable outcomes (although if you ask me, Yahya and I are fated for each other).