The Real Housewives of Potomac
So far this season, we have been introduced to a gentle reboot of Candiace’s reality TV persona. While her mouth and her confessionals are still as sharp as ever, her edges have been a bit softer: She’s a stepmom, a grad student, and budding girlboss entertainer in the making. Sisters are doin’ it for themselves, as the song goes, one four-count and pilot episode at a time. Alas, just like DC’s The Suicide Squad, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Namely, Candiace is still the cantankerous, quick-to-the-draw, impulsive loudmouth we were introduced to, and no one triggers her less desirable qualities more than her husband and Ashley.
Candiace cannot seem to figure out what role she wants her husband to play in her life. Is he her partner, her manager, or her errand boy? She’s triggered by Gizelle mentioning the obvious — that it can seem like Chris is riding her coattails — but to be fair, it’s a logical conclusion to make of a husband who spends half his time on the links and the other half doing Instagram cooking classes. In a lot of ways, it does seem like she has transferred her dynamic with her mother into the one she has with Chris: She expects him to show up on her terms, as she is the one controlling the purse strings in the relationship. This power structure does not bode well for their managerial relationship, which she apparently seems to believe entails being onsite at every single moment that she has an activity or obligation (as someone who has had to coordinate with talent management for various projects, I can assure you that that is not the case). Personally, I think they should cut their losses while they still can; Candiace can help him with the down payment on a food truck that he can have in DuPont Circle in D.C., where professionals and Bravo fans delusional enough to think Candiace might make the occasional appearance will eagerly pay 15 dollars for a grilled-cheese sandwich. A double-income household and happy marriage seems like a worthwhile investment to avoid them cursing each other out in the parking lot of a wing spot.
Ashley inexplicably agitates something deep in Candiace that at times is warranted, but frequently ends up being an overreaction to her behavior. My working suspicion is that they have more in common than not, and it unsettles her: They both came out of the pageant circuit, both met their white partners while working together, both have a tendency to run their mouth and regret it later, and — while we’re at it — they both have generous foreheads. So for the life of me, I don’t grasp why Candiace thinks that she has enough country to throw that jab. I mean, hers may not be quite as expansive as the real estate possessed by me or my fellow East African princess Askale, but if someone wanted to rent ad space, they’d have plenty of room. She has made the executive decision that Ashley was gleefully carrying that bone for Gizelle, and regardless of whether or not you agree with her (I personally don’t), her reasoning for it was illogical: She didn’t like the tone with which Ashley said “that’s not how that was supposed to go”? Why is this irritation not extended to Gizelle, who additionally inserted herself into her marriage? That question is rhetorical because the answer is obviously that she doesn’t want to threaten her position within the delicately constructed hierarchy of the Potomac crew, lest she be banished to the hinterlands with Karen Huger. Instead, we get a flurry of over-the-line insults targeted at Ashley during Robyn’s birthday party, commenting on her wide body and breast milk, as if Ashley’s postpartum figure is still not more petite than 80 percent of the adult world. I appreciate a witty barb, but to call a nursing woman a filthy milkmaid just because you dislike her is unacceptable. There are some lines that are just not worth crossing; I’m sure she wouldn’t appreciate it if people called her a sentient Bratz doll, for example.
Notably absent from Robyn’s party are Wendy and Karen, who, to their credit, aren’t surprised or hurt to be excluded from the event. Wendy and Eddie debriefed on camera on their feelings about the events that took place in Williamsburg, and as I mentioned last week, they had already revealed last season their trials and tribulations with Eddie’s family to the group, which makes Gizelle’s choice to discuss the rumors about her fellow soror on camera all the more hurtful to the couple. It should also be noted that Gizelle has recently revealed that she had also discussed this with Wendy before filming, which means that both Robyn and Gizelle had private conversations to address the gossip as friends, and then chose to bring it up on camera for the sake of a plotline. Aside from this drama, we have Gizelle bringing her daughter back and forth to her learner’s permit test and Robyn living in a Judd Apatow film, so they needed to deliver something else. As Eddie astutely pointed out, “you have to be hurt to project hurt onto someone.” I appreciate how confident they are in their union, but I also hope it doesn’t come back to bite Wendy in the ass. While Gizelle may continuously place everyone’s worth in the quality of a man they can attract, I don’t think Wendy should, nor do I think that she should set herself up so that it would be a failure if Eddie did indeed end up straying; and while I understand some people finding her reaction a bit excessive, this is the same reality-TV universe where someone once pulled off their leg and put it on a restaurant table to make a point, so I think we can all agree that histrionics are par for the course here.
Speaking of hurt people hurting people, Gizelle and Robyn take the opportunity to advertise their podcast, which they have been recording in Gizelle’s lauded West Wing, malfunctioning sliding door and all. The episode, of course, is about infidelity, and the women chat about their experiences with monogamy and the lack thereof in their respective partnerships. Let me just say this upfront: Not everyone needs to have a podcast. Personally, I like my podcasts to be highly produced and edited, and if they’re going to be that barbershop style that the green-eyed duo is going for, you need a particular level of dynamism which translates into audio that I don’t think they possess. Regardless, Robyn talks about what she will and won’t accept in relationships now, which I find hard to believe since she has pretty much been with Juan in different states of coupling and uncoupling since high school. Gizelle reads off the statistic that 22 percent of men have cheated on their significant other and that if someone has cheated before, there is a 350 percent chance that they will cheat again. Now, as someone who majored in economics and studied/suffered through statistics, I feel obligated to lend my skillset to the ongoing study of the Reality TV Arts & Sciences and point out that these numbers don’t make sense. I put my loans to use and did some digging, and it seems to have come from this nondescript blog which points to a Psychology Today article that seems to report that first-time cheaters cheat the second time around 3.5 times more frequently than those who didn’t in their first relationships, which is a bit different than a 350 percent chance. Regardless, Gizelle quips that she wishes she could have known this two years ago, and that is the closest that she has come to admitting that Monique was telling that truth on the reunion stage, which we already knew since she hasn’t lost any sort of defamation suit yet.
Next week, we see Karen fulfilling her Ambassador duties, Candiace’s marital tension starts to escalate, and Gizelle begins to open up on the face crack heard around the world during last season’s reunion. See you then!
• It is very cute that much ado is being made of Karen Huger’s vow renewal — although for all our sakes, please don’t make Ray walk down those stairs before he ends up on the wrong side of a Life Alert commercial — but the exterior looks like Williamsburg in 1997: abandoned warehouses as far as the eye can see. I hope they figure out how to give that façade some sort of a face lift or the girls that are forced to come and film for the show will be clowning the Grand Dame the entire ceremony.
• I found it interesting that Candiace called her marriage an “Ebony & Ivory love story” when she had previously and notoriously called Ashley a “bed wench.” No additional comment there, just an observation.
• Askale made a perfunctory cameo as Robyn’s friend at her birthday dinner. I want so much more for her, since the Ethiopian community in D.C. is quite large with a rich culture. Give us a coffee trip, something!
• Michael, a troll who abandoned his appointed post at the bridge, has decided to mansplain the entire postpartum process during a visit to a holistic nurse. As if that wasn’t unbearable enough, his doting husband compliment of the week was that Ashley didn’t look overweight and that he was still attracted to her. Is this what awaits me in marriage? Because if so, I think I’m just going to go ahead and get a cat.
• Mia has been an erratic presence on the show thus far, but her exploring her journey with her mom was genuinely touching. As someone who has also experienced a lot of childhood trauma, I know personally how hard it can be to work through that with your parents, regardless of whether a camera is there. It also helps me understand her a bit more. I think a lot of her chaos is an intentional persona she creates, not just for TV, but to keep people at a distance because too many of the people closest to her have caused her the most harm. That said, I hope she finds the right balance, both for her emotional health but also to ensure that her presence on the show doesn’t become too much of a strain.
• Robyn starts to seek the counsel of a life coach. Normally I am against life coaches, but this one seems quite sensible, explaining to her that coaching is for people who are emotionally and psychologically healthy and want to make changes to move forward in their lives. The problem is that Robyn seems to think that applies to her. I guess if she was self-aware, she wouldn’t be seeking out a life coach in the first place.