If memory serves me correctly, Ashley has not been welcome in the Bassett household since Candiace put her out in season four, after Ashley told her not to ruin her momma’s table in the house that Mama Dorothy held the deed to. So Ashley crossing the threshold of Candiace’s million-dollar marital estate the same day the news of her separation from Michael went public is a fairly significant development. It’s a shame that this hard-earned progress won’t last so much as an episode, but we can cherish it while it’s here.
The show has crafted these sort of binary arcs to follow and develop beyond the major storylines for the season — which, of course, seems to be the drama being stirred up around Chris and Candiace. There is Gizelle versus Karen as the titans of the show, Robyn versus Wendy with the petty grudge that refuses to extinguish itself, Mia and Jacqueline as the besties-turned-enemies, Candiace and Ashley riding the thin line between love and hate, and Charisse … is just there, offering peanut-gallery commentary and reminding us that she was the one the show was originally supposed to be built around.
Regardless, Ashley’s time with Candiace is interesting for several reasons. First, it reveals that her and Michael are in a tense place because he is not taking kindly to being pilloried in the public square, a circumstance that Gizelle is sympathetic to as someone coparenting with a man who repeatedly embarrasses her and her family. I can appreciate that, but where I stop short is when both women repeatedly insist that their partners are still good men despite their irredeemable actions. While you may have forgiven them, you cannot dictate when the audience will absolve individuals of what they have seen with their own two eyes, particularly when the men in question refuse to accept culpability. Seriously, when Ashley began to drone on about how she is struggling with dating eligible athletes because she is “going to compare anyone to Michael,” my eyes rolled so far back into my head that I worried my contacts would get stuck.
On Candiace’s end, she discloses to Ashley that Chris is no longer comfortable around the cast, and that the stress of all the recent rumors has aggravated her enough that she has canceled IVF. What’s most interesting is how candid the two are about how Gizelle has schemed and planned around other cast members for years, a tacit acknowledgement of the planted rumors around Monique and Chris, Wendy, Eddie, and even Robyn back in the early seasons when Juan was still persona non grata — and presumably now Candiace and Chris. That makes it even more frustrating that Ashley would suggest Chris apologize to appease a situation and further enable this behavior for yet another season — but also extremely confounding that the duo would then divert to rumor mongering around Karen’s marriage when both of them have claimed to be frustrated about misrepresentations over their partners, especially Candiace. I’m assuming Candiace thinks it is fair game because the rumor is about Karen and not Ray, but it’s the same level of targeted gossiping about each other’s marriages for the sake of amusement, with no sense of boundaries or consideration for what the Hugers may have come to terms with privately.
Meanwhile, Robyn goes to see a lawyer about a potential prenup. I have generally accepted that Ms. Dixon is dedicated to giving us Marshalls couture, but Ya Allah, what in the Coyote Ugly is going on with her hair? She must have gotten her extensions and highlights done by the same person who gave Gizelle her first abomination of a confessional look. (Thankfully, Gizelle’s second yellow look is a marked improvement, although the wig is still giving shake-and-go and the top is a bit ill-fitted at the bust — we’ll take what we can get.) I am genuinely happy that Robyn seems to have some coins in the bank, but I truly do not understand all the hemming and hawing about what happened that led to the demise of the Dixons’ marriage the first time around. For those who don’t know sports, Juan used to be a legitimate DMV-area legend in his college-basketball heyday, played for the Washington Wizards for several seasons, and had access to a lifestyle that he does not now. If it is that uncomfortable for them to be honest about how that success got to his head and impacted their marriage, then they have no business getting remarried. Every time Robyn alludes to it, Juan acts like she said Candyman four times. It is extremely immature.
Speaking of immaturity, Wendy gets this cockamamie idea in her head (that was almost certainly suggested to her by producers) to organize a “burn session,” a.k.a. the annual all-cast event where the group tries and fails to air out all of their issues with the intent of moving past them. As Chris Bassett points out, this only works if everyone comes to the table with good intentions, and it becomes clear quite quickly that Gizelle and Robyn have no intentions of doing anything of the sort.
To Wendy’s credit, she has accepted the criticism that her behavior can come off condescending and holier than thou. Now, for me, that is not the big issue. All of the women can be performatively condescending in their own way at times. I think the issue is more about the women feeling insecure over the fact that Wendy is maximizing the opportunities afforded to her. Wendy can just be a bit corny and stilted, and according to a recent interview with Carlos King, part of that is because she has been trying to figure herself out after spending her life dutifully fulfilling the role of the Nigerian daughter, wife, and career woman, but it is not translating that well. The narrative edits have also augmented the tensions between Robyn and Wendy; apparently, they had an offscreen relationship during the pandemic, and none of the concerns that surfaced last season around her changing body image were ever relayed to her off-camera, and now Robyn is allegedly on a mission to ice her out by any means possible.
I give all of that context because I think it’s a useful preamble to Robyn’s irrational burst of beige rage at the winery. Robyn, apparently, is convinced that she not only did not appear aggressive in her confrontation with Wendy during Ashley’s dance class, but that she did not need to be restrained and told to sit her ass the hell down before she embarrassed herself on national television. She is so worked up over the implication that she tried to fight her that she says “please be careful in your words because that is dangerous,” which is just capital-I ironic for someone who is longstanding besties with Gizelle “word on the street” Bryant. She can call Charisse and her terrifying boob job for backup all she wants, and have Gizelle gang up on screaming down Wendy all she wants, but she is the only one who ends up looking like a fool here, stomping out to the sprinter van with nothing but a mean-girl attitude and weird tropes about “thug” behavior.
Never one to be outdone, Ashley fills the void by bringing up allegations by a friend of hers who claims that Chris was flirty with her at the Spring Fling, placing Candiace immediately on the defensive. According to her, these claims were revealed to her after her one-on-one time with Candiace, but her tone with Candiace — smugly asking, “It don’t feel good, huh?” — certainly raises alarm bells. Now, I don’t like this for a few reasons: (1) we are now conflating hitting on people/making passes with an inappropriate crossing of boundaries that implies violating consent; (2) I really don’t need another season of Potomac to be a referendum on a husband’s behavior; (3) I will not pretend that I personally believe any of these husbands are of such strong moral fiber that they are above anything resembling infidelity. The way that the cast is stacking the deck and vaguely laying it out without proof is setting us up to reflexively defend the men involved in the story as victims of catty women. This drama is veering into very messy territory for so many reasons, and I need us all to eject quickly and move right on to why the hell Mia throws a drink on Wendy in Miami.
• Candiace’s sister having no clue who Trina is legitimately made me feel old as hell. She thought Trina was a singer, and I almost fell to my knees in disgrace. We are truly losing recipes in the culture. Are they not mixing “Nann” into DJ sets at the club any more? That said, I could have gone my entire life without hearing Chris indignantly ask, “you don’t know da baddest bitch?” Please, give it a rest.
• Every segment of Gizelle fussing over her kids leaves me warm and fuzzy; it is the best part of her. I would genuinely watch a limited-run special of Gizelle and her daughters. Maybe they could feature her getting her oldest ready for college; she certainly could use the image repair right now. Bravo, if you use this idea, run me 5 percent of the ad revenue, please.
• Ashley’s sobriety journey hasn’t even made it five episodes. Bless her heart.
• What in the potpourri hell was that accursed bird’s nest that Mia called a centerpiece? Her arbitrary standards for classiness send me spinning — especially for someone who just revealed that she had been in flagrante delicto with G on a Miami beach while he was still married — but I am happy that she doesn’t have cancer.