The Real Housewives of Potomac
Hey … so did anything big happen this weekend? HAHA JK! Biden-Harris did the damn thing, and we owe it all to Black women who came out in full force. Black women like the cast of The Real Housewives of Potomac, who have given us so much this season and on top of all that helped save our democracy from another flop. We truly cannot thank them enough.
But enough about politics, we’ve got to head to Portugal for a much needed vacation. But before we can go to Portugal we have to front load Monique content because we SHAN’T be seeing her for the next few episodes. We touch down with Monique, tensely waiting for someone to arrive at a restaurant. Given Monique’s status with the girls it’s probably going to be Ashley Darby and Karen Huger, and who strolls in but La Grande Dame, slithering queen. Karen has the tough job of informing Monique that all the ladies are going to Portugal without her, and watching Monique process the news is truly cringe. She does her best to keep a smile on her face but deep down you can see that Monique’s both hurt and pissed, but is under strict legal counsel not to show any emotion. She uses the trip to bring up her frustration with Karen encouraging Candiace to pursue legal action. Monique, let it go. Karen is one of two people left who’ll film with you this season. Best to let this one slide. To her credit, Monique seems to roll with the punches and says she’s not demanding any of the ladies choose sides between her and Candiace, which is quite a different tune than the one that aspiring R&B superstar Candiace has been (sharply) singing the entire season.
Next, we watch as Ashley Darby, Michael Darby, and Dean Darby hold a family meeting before the girls trip. Seeing Michael holding and caring for his infant son did make me feel the warmest I could ever possibly feel towards him, which I think is a little bit warmer than freezing. A balmy 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Ashley awkwardly but necessarily asks if Michael has any “big events” (read: liaisons) planned for while she’s away from her newborn son for the first time ever, and Michael says that he’s not going anywhere without the baby and that his number one priority will be taking care of their infant son while his wife is away. Sure, Ashley’s friend Eve will be doing the bulk of the child rearing and Michael’s only responsibility is to come home and put the baby asleep, but these are the terms to which Michael agreed. The contract is signed, and now all Michael has to do is hold up his end of the bargain, which simply involves coming home at 7 p.m. to tuck his newborn child in at night. Should be a breeze right?
While discussing the terms of her release — I mean, her escape — ermm I mean her mini-vacation from Michael, Ashley Darby reveals that Monique asked if she would legally go on record and describe the knife incident that went down between Ms. Darby and Candiace last year. At first, I thought Monique was asking Ashley Darby to go on record about The Great Barn Brawl of 2019 and was like … ummm Ashley Darby and her cape famously missed the whole damn thing. However, it became clear that Monique is not playing around and is getting all of her ducks in a row for this legal battle, and some of those ducks involve compiling potentially damaging witness statements about Candiace Dillard’s character. Ashley Darby is happy to help Monique because Monique stood by her when Michael was grabbing every butt this side of the Mississippi River. Monique also knew that the Darbys had an open marriage and kept her mouth shut, going so far as to somewhat convincingly act surprised when Ashley Darby revealed the news pre-barn brawl. Monique clearly operates under the “Snitches Get Stitches” code of ethics and that has served Ms. Darby well in the past. Now, she’s returning the favor. The Sopranos could learn a thing or two about loyalty from these women.
We wave goodbye to Monique and head to the airport. Suffice it to say, I love the shaky cam, night vision airport footage that we get on trips! Truly can’t get enough of the stuff. Karen’s MANIC “grin and bear it” smile at the camera when it’s revealed that Wendy is sitting next to her on the flight. I’m sorry but what on earth could possibly be better than this image:
This is all of us whenever Wendy brings up her degrees. Elsewhere on the plane, Sleepy Robyn made the flight (a win in and of itself) and looks wide awake at 4:30 a.m. pre-take off. This has been a big week of vindication for people formerly referred to as “Sleepy.” Happy Robyn can finally see herself represented in the White House. #SleepyRepresentationMatters.
Nineteen hours later, we’ve landed on the tarmac in Madeira, Portugal. It’s so windy exiting the plane that Gizelle’s hat flies off but her track stays in, which is what’s really important. Candiace has brought no fewer than 12 bags of what appears to be brand new luggage (thank you, Cliff). Even for a housewife it seems a little excessive, but who knows, maybe Candiace is planning to flee the country to avoid getting countersued by Monique? Karen Huger hits her head real hard on the car door. From the slithering to the fake fainting after bumping her head, Karen is a true queen of physical comedy a la Lucille Ball. Give us a pratfall next, Karen, we know you have it in you.
Ashley as pseudo-host of the trip gets to announce what the producers have decided they will be doing, so she says the ladies will be having dinner at the hotel that evening. Unlike on other franchises, when they arrive at the hotel no one bosses around the staff or refers to anyone as “servants” because potentially, maybe, in general, on average Black women have more respect for service workers than (some) of their (white) compatriots? I don’t know, just a thought. The biggest gaffe that happens is that Ashley says “Bon Dia” when she arrives at the hotel, which is Catalan and not Portuguese, obviously. Rookie mistake. I must say, Dr. Wendy is quite smart, I do have to hand it at her. Breaking out the Portuguese was a flex.
Other than blatant classicism, another thing missing from this episode that is a Housewives trip tradition that I do not miss whatsoever is the drama surrounding who gets the nicest room. All the ladies had perfectly lovely rooms in the hotel and went to their assigned room without any arguments. Wow, the Biden-Harris era really is already off to an amazing start. Once in the hotel rooms the ladies get ready for dinner. Robyn calls Juan Dixon, whose chyron still reads “Robyn’s ex-husband,” which is so shady considering the fact that her main storyline this season is about them getting remarried. But, hey, Facts is Facts America. In her room, Candiace can’t tell if she’s received lipstick or complimentary chocolate and decides to fully take a bite and see, leaving viewers in suspense. Which is it: chocolate or lipstick? The world demands to know. Karen checks in with the Black Bill Gates and reveals in confessional that ever since their session two weeks ago with life coach Avalaura (who I hope is flooded with business because of this) they’ve been in a much better place. Karen called Ray “Ray-Ray.” They’re back, baby!
The ladies all reconvene for dinner, where they all get fancy cocktails except Karen who drinks whole milk because she has “an ulcer.” Gizelle says in confessional that she wants to make sure Candiace has a good time on the trip, so that they can get past this “dumbass” fight. So you agree, Gizelle? The fight was “dumbass” so no one should go to jail for five to 12 years because of it? Hoisted by your own petard, much? After the drinks start flowing, Dr. Wendy starts referring to herself as “Wen-Day” and seems to almost be a little fun, before having to ruin it all by bringing up her degrees and the Karen issue from last episode. I actually blacked out the second Wendy said the word “degree” again and didn’t fully come to until she said “It’s been fastened,” and then made a fastening motion that was cute, but clearly rehearsed for the show. You’re on the road to something there, Wendy, but you’re trying a bit too hard for the GIF. Let it happen naturally, your time will come.
The ladies have a glorious conversation about “poonani” which instantly made me sad that we were robbed of seeing these ladies out at a function dancing to “WAP” this summer. COVID-19 has taken so much from us. Messy Gizzy comes out to ask Ashley Darby about the state of her marriage, which ticks off Karen because she (correctly) notes that Gizzy is prying for no good reason. Robyn shows support for Ashley by talking about her own experience with infidelity. In her confessional, Robyn says that she gave birth because she was too tired to care about Juan Dixon was up to. There’s definitely a Sleepy Robyn joke somewhere in there but I’m gonna let it pass because she’s being vulnerable. Thank goodness Dr. Wendy is there to lighten the mood and announce to the group that she’s quite literally named after the fast-food chain Wendy’s, because her father was a manager there. A truly shocking, hilarious, sweet revelation. That’s the Wendy I want to see at the dinner table. More drive-thru energy, less dissertation energy, please.
Karen, who is riding high off her two-week love fest with “Ray-Ray” and is the only one that isn’t drinking at this dinner and is already somewhat annoyed with Gizelle, decides to come for Messy Gizzy and ask her why Jamal is never around. Now, I love Karen, but I do think she was on a wee bit of a high horse given the state of her marriage, demanding answers from Gizelle about Jamal. Yes, you’ve got two solid weeks under your belt Miss Huger, but that doesn’t make you a relationship expert. However, the question clearly strikes a nerve with Gizelle as she immediately gets defensive about why Jamal is never around, saying very specifically that he lives “eight states away.” Gizelle was looking for support from Robyn, but Robyn seems to echo Karen’s sentiment. “We share our men with each other,” says Robyn, whose wording could have been better in that moment.
After dinner, Gizelle and Robyn have a post-mortem to discuss what went down with Karen, while Ashley Darby calls to check in on little baby Dean. It’s 7:11 so Michael must be home considering the only thing she asked him to do was be home by 7 p.m. to put the baby down, right? Wrong. After not picking up his phone, Ashley Darby finds out from her friend Eve that Michael is not home yet and Dean is getting fussy and wants to go to bed. When she finally gets him on the phone, it’s not pleasant. Michael claims he’s been in a meeting and that he’s almost home. When Ashley Darby points out that he’s not holding up his end of the bargain by being late and that he also didn’t inform their babysitter that he was going to be late, Michael pejoratively calls Ashley Darby “babe” three times in a row and says he feels “molested” by her line of questioning before hanging up the phone, leaving Ashley in tears. Again, molested isn’t exactly the word choice I would use if I had been accused of sexual assault, but what do I know. Temperature on Michael Darby has returned to subzero.
The next day the ladies take a cable car to a market and the whole thing is positively stunning. The second Miss Rona is gone for good I’m booking a trip to “the City of Portugal” as Karen calls it, because advertising works. Once we get to lunch, Karen prods the bear again re: Jamal and Gizelle, but not before Wendy brings up her degrees for the fify-leventh time. The whole thing is kind of tiring because these storylines truly played out the night before, with Wendy even bringing back her fastening metaphor to justify bring up those damn degrees again. Honestly, I don’t think Gizelle is intentionally hiding her man from the ladies, but rather Jamal is intentionally hiding himself from Gizelle. However, Gizelle ultimately gets the last laugh by getting Jamal on FaceTime right when Karen is accusing her of hiding him from the group.
Things are only picking up steam in Portugal, and next week it seems we get a double dose of drama and costumes from the girls as Ashley Darby breaks rule number one about the Portugal trip: don’t talk about Monique.