For the last week, fans have been debating the impact of Wendy’s drag of Gizelle and Robyn. I am surprised by just how split the response has been; admittedly, it was no Binder Chronicles, but it was certainly a moment, you know? Wendy delivered her jabs a little awkwardly and dorkily, but, well … she is a bit awkward and dorky, and that’s okay! I just don’t think it was rehearsed, despite it being stilted, and I definitely don’t think it was an overreaction in the scale of Housewife Reactions to Scandalous Rumors and Events. The Idris Elba comparison, however, was several bridges too far; I get that we all look at our beloveds with rose-colored glasses, but if anything, buddy is giving Eddie Winslow, who is perfectly charming and handsome in his own right.
The main reason why I’m not so quick to call Wendy’s response to the recent news an overreaction is because the Green-Eyed Bandits are trying to hold Wendy to a standard that it took them six years to arrive at. I distinctly remember the duo barreling their way into an Outback Steakhouse franchise — or whatever it was that the Darbys owned — over rumors concerning Juan Dixon. Taking a shot in the dark here, but perhaps simply speaking about these sorts of stories repeatedly — whether or not you add a qualifier — gives it life and presents the rumors as a tidbit worth discussing, which is generally undesirable. Also, Gizelle and Robyn have been in the public eye much longer than Wendy, and not just due to their tenure on the show: Gizelle was married to a megachurch pastor who originally held court over his hometown of Baltimore for years; Robyn was attached to a hometown hero, NCAA star, and first-round NBA draft pick.
Most importantly, one plot point that is continually being glossed over is that Wendy and Eddie have been through a lot in their marriage already. Part of her initial season package included detailing how her in-laws cut them off and spread nasty rumors about them after they married, and I personally have been in Clubhouse (remember that bleak pandemic moment where everyone thought that party lines were an innovation?) listening to her have to explain at length that rumors about her cast status in blogs were completely untrue. The cast is very much aware of this, and in fact, Wendy revealed that Robyn was the first one to bring the latest Eddie rumor up to her offline, asking if he would be able to help get the blog shut down, despite her claiming to not know the information and being manipulated by producer editing.
We pick back up in the wake of the confrontation, where Robyn is still having an intimate moment with her blanket and Gizelle is still feigning being unbothered (she does a really good job of playing cool as a cucumber, but the Creole Calamity doesn’t let swear words loose unless she’s agitated). Wendy tells the Cottage Gang that she won’t break bread with Gizelle but proceeds to sit down around the same living room, which I guess we can just chalk up to the blindness of rage. They eventually pack themselves to-go boxes so that the two camps can do what God intended and debrief in their respective vacation residences. Wendy channels her inner Sofia from The Color Purple and cries thinking about how hard she and Eddie have had to fight, and Gizelle continues to gaslight over the core of the issue, making Wendy out to be thin-skinned. Again, it’s understandable to inquire as to what is new with Wendy and whether this was just a side of her she had reigned in last season. The inappropriate stretch comes in when she proceeds to use rumors that everyone claims are implausible to then render a verdict on her wardrobe. The basic truth is, she feels more comfortable in her body, thanks to significant advances in medical science, and is more excited to show off her wares under the scrutiny of a 4K TV. I think more than anything that the personality changes are a more distinct self-edit, with her trying to look and sound more casual and laid-back than her sharper debut. This isn’t an anomaly; in season one, Karen used to consider herself too classy for the behaviors they engaged in five seasons later. It’s not as dramatic as they’re making it sound, just a little awkward. And continuing to harp on it only makes it worse, particularly with Gizelle imitating Wendy’s reaction in an animalistic fashion.
Somehow, Mia interprets all of this as Gizelle calling Wendy a “weak bitch” and confidently relays as such to Wendy and Karen on the way back to Karen being confirmed as Surry County’s first Ambassador, replete with … keys to the county? Regardless, this was a case of Mia severely overplaying her hand. Being messy without facts is a delicate tightrope to walk in reality TV; you must already be in everyone’s good graces and bring as much levity as you do drama for it to work well. Ashley has been able to pull it off for the most part, but Garcelle in RHOBH is truly the master at this (and if you haven’t been already, please close this window immediately and get to watching Beverly Hills, which showcases white women at their best: knee-deep in a true-crime investigation). In this case, Mia got in between two women that she has had recent skirmishes with and threw a gasoline-lit match of lies into the fire; it was bound to rebound back onto her. Hopefully that will teach her to tread a little more lightly for the rest of the season and bring the mess while dialing back the chaos, but judging by the mid-season trailer, me giving up UberEats for two weeks is more likely.
The final dinner in Williamsburg and its leadup highlights all the running contradictions that currently befall the group. Robyn insists that Wendy has no business being bothered by false allegations yet goes out of her way to passive-aggressively address Wendy’s jab about the state of her relationship — which, for the record, if Juan’s response was supposed to dispel any concerns, the absolute best it did was not make them any worse. When Askale points out that Robyn has been acting childishly in defense of her friend, she retorts that she was allowed to express her feelings on someone’s behavior, despite them arguing earlier that Wendy’s expressions were invalid purely based on their own opinion. Gizelle calls Wendy childish for the silent treatment, but she and Karen have been acting like seventh graders at the cafeteria table all season. Gizelle shows up to a dressy evening in a cable knit sweater and jeans and no one makes a remark; Askale and all 5 feet 3 inches of her somehow manage to find a dress that shows off her ample cleavage and thighs, and that isn’t worth remarking on (she looks lovely, by the way; I did find the style a bit “co-ed going to homecoming to dinner,” though). It’s easy to tell someone that they should choose not to care as long as you wilfully ignore that you 1) have historically shown, repeatedly, that you do care when you feel misrepresented, and 2) show that displeasure in real-time.
Where Robyn does have a point, however, is in cutting Wendy to the quick. Wendy can choose to try to take the diplomatic route with Robyn, as she seems to be attempting, but she absolutely meant what she said, and Robyn has every right to not forgive her for that retort as a friend. There are some things that you just can’t unsay, and I am quite familiar with that feeling as an Aries with a hot temper; you just accept that the bridge is burned and get back on the road. Now, I would note here that Ashley has said worse and is still welcome to swoop around, dropping turd bombs of chaos before retreating back to her nest. But regardless, absolution is at Robyn’s discretion, and judging by the look-ahead, the tension will not cool off between these two women anytime soon.
(Stefon voice): The mid-season trailer has everything: Candiace’s mom being a video vixen, Macy Gray at Karen’s vow renewal, white-on-white crime, and tossed salads. We clearly aren’t slowing down at all; curiously enough, however, wedding plans in an increasingly vaccinated universe are seemingly nowhere on the horizon for the Dixon household. Let us all follow in the footsteps of the Grand Dame and kneel in prayer.
• The girls closed the door on Askale again. However, we did get her first confessional, where she looked stunning and expressed disappointment with Robyn’s behavior. You win some, you lose some, but I fear that she may end up being a one-season phenomenon if they don’t give her a more robust introduction to audiences.
• Karen and Ray used her inauguration to announce a candle and aromatherapy line that she conveniently didn’t inform Wendy about when advising on her lifestyle launch. Wick-splitting aside, why do none of these women have their products available yet after announcing their development on the show? They filmed in winter, so they had plenty of time to get to an AliExpress manufacturer and get a drop-shipping situation going by now. We better not still be waiting on September Spring Summer for these product releases by the time of the reunion.
• One of the most heartbreaking things about this show that I still cannot get over is watching an ensemble of Black women who just collectively lack rhythm. The girls break into teams to audition as backup dancers for Candiace’s upcoming video shoot, and everyone looks a hot mess; Askale and Wendy aren’t even walking on the same foot, and Gizelle must have put her line sisters through hell on that AKA stepping line during her Hampton probate. I know Robyn showed that blurry still of her in the Bad Boy For Life video, but there was a reason she was seated in the clip; a boom-kack is in none of these ladies’ futures.
• Michael, a Gollum that escaped from Mount Doom, gifted Ashley a custom ring that was supposed to represent the unique composition of their families. I am not enough of a Lord of The Rings person to extend this metaphor much further but I will reluctantly admit that the sentiment was charming. Candiace warns us, however, that Darby ends up in more conflict, part of which it seems will play out onscreen per the trailer.
• Does anyone recognize the network that Wendy did that news hit for? I know there are a few cable junkies in the comments, so I want to let y’all chime in before I definitively confirm my suspicion that she is doing hits for local media establishments, which is almost always for unpaid exposure (and I have personal experience with this).