The Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip
I’m slightly conflicted about this new season of Ultimate Girls Trip. What I like most about this “Housewives All-Stars” format is that you get to see the women in a different context and with people who aren’t all in the same cast. This usually leads to some revelation about who these women are. For example, take Kenya Moore in the first season of the show. When she was with people who weren’t from Atlanta, she didn’t have to play the villain anymore, and we got a nicer, better, more fun Kenya. Yeah, she cussed out Ramona, but wouldn’t you?
I feel like that’s not happening on this edition of the show. Not only do they have women from the same cast, but they also have women on opposite sides of the major beef of the season now sharing a gorgeous house on the other side of the world. Instead of getting Whitney and Heather or Candiace and Gizelle in a new context, we’re just getting the fights from their past seasons but with entirely different peanut galleries weighing in on them. Well, except for Marysol. She isn’t doing anything other than complaining about being sober and figuring out ways to deal with her alcohol-induced ulcer.
So, yes, there have been lots of fights and lots of drama, but they’re the same fights. They’re the same drama. I never want to talk about Heather Gay’s black eye again, especially after most of its issues have already been resolved. The other weird thing about this season, as my friend and colleague Louis Staples pointed out when we watched the first episode together, is that it’s a little bit like time travel. This was filmed after their respective seasons had wrapped but before the reunions were filmed. We’ve now watched the seasons and the reunion, so we’re far in the future concerning these same fights. Just like Leah at the table listening to Alexia tell her story about her dead bi-husband for the second time, I’m a little bit bored and over it.
As for new fights and new alliances, I am here for it. Who thought that, of all people, Leah and Candiace would be fast friends? Porsha and Gizelle make way more sense, but these two are quite the tag team. I would invite them on my trip. Marysol and Alexia are so close you can’t even get any daylight between them, so I don’t think they’re going to make one friend on this whole trip other than Pepsi, the delightful and hilarious butler this season. I don’t know how he will deal with all of these women and their plights, gripes, and commands. Porsha and Candiace just want KFC (Original Recipe, not Spicy, which is the least Atlanta order I have ever heard), and in an hour, he has delivered not only drumsticks and wings but sides and biscuits. The word “no” does not exist in this villa, and these women are testing the limits of yes.
The first episode shows everyone arriving at the villa separately, especially Whitney, who was dropped off in a different town and had an hour-long hike up a hill to get to the villa where they’re staying. As soon as Heather arrives, they want to grill her about Jen Shah. Ugh, more old drama. Of course, it’s Gizelle asking all the questions. On every Housewives trip, there needs to be a good balance between fun and drama. So far, this trip has been too heavy on drama and not enough on the fun. I blame Gizelle. (Also, like Milli Vanilli, I blame it on the rain.) She was praying for drama at the spirit house and must have sacrificed her fashion sense because her wish is coming true. In the first episode alone, Gizelle dives into the Jen Shah of it all, reignites the Heather and Leah situation after it has already cooled, flat out asks Whitney if she’s mad that Heather is more faithful to Jen than her, cusses out Marysol and Alexia repeatedly for speaking Spanish, and starts a whole game called “Impression Session” just to be messier than “arroz con mango,” a new expression I learned just from my Cuban aunties.
Speaking of all the Gizelle mess so far, the skirmish between Heather and Leah is weird. When she first arrives, Heather tells Leah she is proud of her sobriety and wants to help her. Then, sitting with Gizelle and Porsha, she says, “Let’s get Leah drunk.” Gizelle then rats her out, and Leah gets offended, especially because Heather already said the first thing. When Whitney finds out about this, she says that Heather will later pretend she doesn’t remember saying it, which is exactly what happens. That Whitney had this whole pattern of behavior absolutely clocked is fascinating.
I will say, of all the women, the only one I see with new eyes is Heather. I’ve always been partial to her, but now that Whitney is talking about how she behaves and how she just wants to chase Porsha because she has 19 bazillion Instagram followers, I see what Whitney is talking about. Heather is an odd addition to the show because it is literally like taking one of the middle-age, white women who live in a red state from BravoCon and plopping them right down in the middle of the biggest celebrities they could imagine. I don’t think what Heather is doing is malignant; I think she just badly wants everyone to like her.
I hear where Whitney’s going with this; Heather’s need to please and be liked can be extreme. When they’re at the elephant sanctuary, all of the women throw mud or poop or a combination of the two at each other, and Heather pretends she doesn’t know what is going on because she doesn’t want to upset PETA. Then, when Leah is talking about her fear of going on several dates with a guy only to find out he has a micropenis (same, sis), Heather, in her confessional, is saying that there are plenty of tiny-dicked guys out there who can get the job done. Really, Heather is so afraid of offending people that she won’t come out against dudes with small dicks? Who is going to fight her on this? What man is going to say, “I have a micropenis, and I’m offended.” Not even me, the president and founder of the Real Housewives and Micropenis Institute.
What I always love about UGT is that the women can break that fourth wall like it’s a supple hymen on a horse-riding expedition. Heather and Whitney get into a fight where they finally talk about the real reason behind their tension: They’re both dealing with fame in different and opposite ways. Whitney thinks that Heather only wants to do what is going to make her more famous, and Heather thinks that Whitney is more interested in having moments on the show than being faithful to her. They can finally talk about the show. Leah talks about how awful her last season of the show was and how no one told her she could leave Ramona’s house to be with her grandmother. She also tells us she had no idea what was happening with RHONY at the time, which means Bravo should have been more transparent with their stars.
I also liked hearing how Candiace and Chris are at the worst point of their marriage. Is that all a result of what happened this past season, or was it going on during filming too? All we got this season is Candiace and Chris talking about Gizelle and other people making these two-bit accusations against them. If they were also falling apart while this was going on, that is a way more interesting story than the trumped-up bullshit we got.
I did enjoy Porsha’s explanation of how she didn’t steal someone’s man, but just like Gizelle is deciding to believe that Jen Shah gave Heather her black eye, I am deciding to believe that she did. I loved everyone making fun of Candiace and her stupid hat and also that their first question was the same as mine: “How did she pack that?”
The thing I didn’t enjoy the most was that boat trip. As Porsha and the editors point out, a group of Housewives should never go on a boat. It’s sort of like having Take Your Daughter to Work day at the Weinstein Company. Everyone is in danger. I appreciated that we got round after round of fighting between Leah and Porsha, Porsha and Candiace, Whitney and Heather, and Gizelle and everyone. I do not need this level of tension. I want light drama only, thank you. I want behind-the-scenes secrets; I want fun kikis; I want tea to be spilled. If I wanted to go over old shit, I would fire up that Bravo (sorry, we’re on Peacock now) and rewatch the old seasons. Give us something fresh, like Porsha versus Candiace. That I am a million percent here for.