In the latest installment of international Housewives, Bravo is bringing The Real Housewives of Auckland stateside! After causing quite a splash in their native New Zealand late last year, the network will be airing the inaugural season with the Kiwi ladies every Saturday at 12 p.m./11 a.m. central. In the series premiere we meet the six 'Wives at the top of Auckland's elite and the drama that follows them. Read on for a full recap of the tears shed, gossip spilled and personalities that are sure to clash...
Opening taglines are the first way for these new Housewives to make an impression, so let's see what they have to say, shall we? My vote for best tagline far and away goes to Louise Wallace with "I made my money the old-fashioned way...I inherited it." I honestly can't remember the last time a tagline made me laugh so hard. It's cheeky, witty and instantly establishes that Louise is old money in Auckland's high society. Amazing. Quick thoughts on the others: Julia Sloane's "If people are talking behind your back, then you're the one in front" comes across as nothing short of idiotic. While it implies that Julia may be the topic of gossip this season, the tagline misses the mark by making a blatantly obvious point. Maybe the humor is lost on me. Michelle Blanchard has lifted the model archetype straight from Joanna Krupa's lips while I had to do a double take when Angela Stone's first name was not, in fact, "Stone." Gilda Kirkpatrick's stone-cold face and "I never start a fight I can't win" announces she's clearly not one to mess with and Anne Batley Burton is giving me some serious LVP-meets Heather Dubrow-meets Jody Claman of RHOV vibes. The woman clearly loves champagne.
First up, we're introduced to Louise Wallace, who seems to be the actual Lisa Vanderpump of Auckland (sorry Anne). Apparently Louise is famous for hosting New Zealand's version of The Weakest Link, having spent years delivering the line "you are the weakest link, goodbye" that was pervasive in the early 2000s. Now, the former TV host runs her own theater company and lives on the most prestigious street in all of Auckland. It immediately becomes clear that Louise is the 'Wife who will connect the rest of the women - she knows everyone in society and hand out invites for three of the other ladies to attend the prestigious TK Fashion Show with her.
Gilda Kirkpatrick is Louise's neighbor and the Persian princess at the heart of Auckland's social scene. Apparently, Gilda earned her place in society by marrying one of the richest - and oldest - men in Auckland when she was in her early 20s. She eventually divorced her 70-something-year-old husband and has been a socialite ever since. Gilda is also an architect and runs her own advertising/marketing agency, Us&Co, and comes with a serious - though welcome - case of resting bitch face. Do not mess with this Iranian ex-pat.
Also invited to the fashion show is Julia Sloane, a newly married former model and art collector who unabashedly loves being the center of attention. She was Miss Universe New Zealand back in the 80s but nowadays claims to fill her time with "appointments" for waxing, getting her hair done and getting mani/pedis and Botox. You know, regular appointments like that. At first impression, Julia is coming across as an unexpected combination of RHONY's Alex McCord and RHOM's Adriana de Moura of RHOM. Jury's out on what that may mean, though.
Last to arrive is fashion stylist Angela Stone. Louise describes her to be "like a ship in full sail" when she walks into a room, which I can't decide whether that's a compliment or a brilliant insult. Angela comes bearing gifts for the women in the form of a style guide/coffee table book she wrote, which seems to be a visible turn-off for Gilda. Right away, Angela comes across as a talker; she provides running commentary during the fashion show and talks about herself and her career non-stop as the other ladies look on in bewilderment. The incessant chattering is a second red flag for Gilda, who bluntly advises Angela to talk less about herself when meeting new people if she really wants to become the Oprah of New Zealand.
The next day, Gilda meets her best friend Michelle Blanchard to rehash the fashion show from the night before. British-born Michelle is a stunning former model-turned-housewife who lives on a country estate filled with horses, chickens, a dog and two kids. Venting to Michelle, Gilda tells her bestie all about Angela and it's clear she's not a fan of the aspiring multi-hyphenate. Hmm...do I sense the first feud of the season brewing?
Last but not least, we meet Anne Batley Burton, an old friend of Julia's known to Auckland as the Champagne Lady. The pint-sized champs importer loves to dance, has been engaged seven times and is clearly giving Heather Dubrow and Charrisse Jackson Jordan a run for their money in the bubbly department. Also, Anne is to cats as LVP is to dogs, complete with a custom-built "pussycat sanctuary" on her property for innumerable stray felines. The Champagne Lady seems quite quirky and over-the-top - in fact, she wastes no time launching into a lecture to Julia about how to properly hold a champagne flute. (But does she know the appropriate temperature at which to store red wine? Actually, probably yes...) The two 'Wives also spend time gossiping about both Angela, whose grating behavior didn't go unnoticed by Julia at the fashion show, and Gilda, whom Anne claims has the reputation of being a gold-digger because of the 40+-year age difference with her ex-husband.
To get all the 'Wives together for the first time, Julia hosts a birthday luncheon for herself in a private dining room at Ostro. Angela is wary of seeing Gilda again after their dust-up at the fashion show, but Michelle is eager to meet the stylist her best friend has complained about. (Strangely, Michelle has never met Julia before either, but comes to the luncheon as Gilda's plus-one anyway.) However, when Angela reveals that she's still modeling in her 40s, Michelle insults her by asking if she's plus-size. Yikes...talk about getting off on the wrong foot. Former Calvin Klein model Michelle insists she didn't mean to offend, but soon enough Angela bursts into tears (after yet another dig from Gilda) and excuses herself from the table.
Both Gilda and Michelle feign ignorance as to why Angela might be crying, but when she comes back to the table and tells them point blank that the "plus-size model" dig offended her, they refuse to apologize. Naturally, an argument ensues with Angela calling the pair's comments "disgusting" and Michelle firing back "sweetie, with tits like that you're not a normal-size model, get over it." Michelle angrily reveals that Gilda already warned her about Angela, and accuses her of putting on a performance for sympathy with the tears.
Angela then turns her attention to Gilda, calling her out for her rude behavior and icy demeanor at the TK Fashion Show. When Michelle steps in to defend her friend, Angela tells her point blank to mind her own business, reminding the former model that she wasn't even invited to the fashion show. Gilda, who claims not to be a "very judgmental person," goes off on Angela and her constant, full-toothed smile, and calls her new nemesis "delusional" at the table. The entire exchange is positively dizzying but all Julia wants to know is why no one is paying attention to her at her own birthday party. The premiere ends with Julia blowing out the candles on her cake as side eye is thrown across the table by the bickering 'Wives. As Anne says in her confessional, "who would want a birthday party like that?"
What did you think of the RHOAKL premiere? Are you Team Gilda/Michelle or Team Angela? And why wasn't anyone paying attention to Julia?? Leave your thoughts and opinions - as well as your votes for favorite tagline - in the comments below!