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Real Housewives

RHOP Ssn 1/Ep 2 - Divas, Queens and Bubalas

Glenn Rowley


Well, well, well. We're only in week three and it would appear that the ladies of Potomac are already raring full speed ahead with their drama. First thing's first: Ashley Darby made it into the credits this week. I'm not sure what's going on with her fake laugh in the intro, but her tagline ("Throw this spring chicken into the cougars' den and let the games begin") gets points for referencing one of her lines from the season's supertease. On the other hand, by using the animal analogies Ashley seems to be setting herself up as the victim to her cougar castmates, which is not something I'm in love with. Basically her tagline breaks even for me.


Right away, we jump back into Charrisse's crab boil, where Gizelle is in the red corner and Karen and Charrisse are tag-teaming in the blue corner. Both Karen and Charrisse are angry at Gizelle over her apparent lack of the all-important etiquette - first by taking the center seat at the former's birthday party and then for bringing her hairstylist to the latter's house to help prep for the party. These women are taking themselves way too seriously. #Chairgate was idiotic the first time around in the OC, right? An hour after Karen walks away from their conversation in a huff, Gizelle pulls Charrisse aside to try to clear the air. I have to say, one thing I do not understand is these women referring to each other as their "dear friend." You're clearly not very dear if your entire friendship is crumbling over walking up a flight of stairs. In all their years as friends, Gizelle and Charrisse have never had a problem, but the chat quickly turns sour as Charrisse claims Gizelle's "very cute" hair is anything but. The hostess is still offended by the way Gizelle entered her home, but Gizzy insists that the entire exchange was in jest. Of course, Charrisse doesn't see it that way even though she started with "I'm only letting you in if you're cute." Once Charrisse also walks out on her, Gizelle sees that she's clearly not welcome and makes her exit with Kal in tow. As they make their way out the door, Karen dramatically calls for security, accusing Kal of threatening her, but c'mon honey - he was referring to you being the muscle when he flexed. With that, the first blow-up of the season has come and gone, leaving an unaware Katie and Robyn baffled at the drama.


The next day, Katie's making some iced tea for a visitor when we learn a very interesting fact about her: not only is Katie biracial, she's also Jewish! The visitor she's waiting for happens to be Rabbi Mark, who's coming over to help plan her twins' informal Hebrew naming ceremony. However, right at the start it's clear that Rabbi Mark isn't there to play, as Katie's joke about being a good or bad Jew falls flat. The rabbi questions what exactly Katie's connections to the Jewish community are, and she explains that her mother converted to Orthodox Judaism when she was just 10 years old - which is when Katie converted too. However, when it comes to other Jewish rituals Katie only really goes to synagogue on the high holidays, much to Rabbi Mark's obvious displeasure. The full-time philanthropist clearly seems to be failing this test on Judaism. Oops.


Next, we're treated to a really fun lesson on the Huger family dynasty courtesy of Grande Dame Karen. Via confessional, Karen explains that the Huger name is very influential and "elitist" in the community, and when she upgraded from her life on the farm to marry the black Bill Gates, there were certain expectations she had to learn to live up to. These lessons came courtesy of Ray's Aunt Dot, who apparently wrote the Huger family book of etiquette. Rule number 13? Lipton tea must be served piping hot, not this warm drivel that Ray tries to serve her. Once her tea is sufficiently hot, Karen tries to press Aunt Dot into bestowing some pearls of wisdom on 17-year-old Rayvin about the legacy of being a Huger lady, but Aunt Dot will not be put on the spot. I'm sorry, but Karen's pretentious attitude is quickly grating my nerves. 


Meanwhile, Katie, Gizelle and Robyn arrive at The Graham Georgetown for a Sip with Socialites charity function benefitting the Touching Heart organization. This type of event is socialite Katie's bread and butter, which becomes evident as she starts working the room and is quickly introduced to 26-year-old Ashley Darby, who is hosting the event. The other women, particularly Gizelle, seem threatened by Ashley's giant afro and bubbly personality immediately, even more so when she explains that her husband is 55. This is the Potomac version of Erika Jayne and Tom Girardi, with Gizelle playing the role of LVP by asking about Ashley's sex life. Ashley's response that no, her husband isn't on Viagra and he has a remarkably big...member has Gizelle declaring her to be "THOT-ish." You know, "that hoe over there," which isn't a particularly kind judgement to make after meeting the younger woman for all of two minutes. Once the cocktails have kicked in, Ashley tries to get the party started with some booty-popping music, twerking and humping Robyn's leg. Katie likes Ashley's energy, but Gizelle declares that one thing is clear: this new girl is not from Potomac, Maryland.


In an attempt to move on from the Gizelle drama and show that she's not just a cold-hearted etiquette snob, Charrisse takes her daughter and her friends to gymnastics class. However, the effort isn't entirely successful as she informs her daughter that she'll be forced to get a summer job and threatens to make the girls walk home if they can't stick their landings. She also manages to bring up Gizelle in her confessional, showing that she's very clearly not over the crab boil yet. I don't know how I feel about Ms. Jackson Jordan yet, but so far the impression she's giving isn't great. 


On the opposite side of the feud, Gizelle enlists the help of her daughters, Grace and twins Angel and Adore to write letters to Karen and Charrisse. Was I the only one who laughed out loud at Adore's advice about how to handle the situation? ("Not write a letter to them, they're probably mean.") Gizelle's plan to move on from the drama involves inviting her two dear friends to lunch to clear the air and get their relationships back on good standing. Gizelle thinks that she's done her part by writing the letters, but 10-year-old Grace says her mom's part would be to watch her mouth in the future. These girls are full of truth when it comes to conflict resolution. Charrisse's letter gets a pearl of Girl Scouts wisdom from one of the twins: "a circle is round, it has no end, that's how long I want to be your friend." Gizelle uses the letters as a parenting opportunity to ask the girls what lesson they've learned. Their responses? "Always be nice to enemies" and "sometimes your friends can be your worst nightmare," which could never ring more true than in the land of Housewives.


Ashley finally gets a proper introduction, starting with her condo in Arlington, Virginia, which is about 30 minutes from Potomac. Ashley explains that she's most well-known for being a beauty pageant queen, being crowned Miss D.C. 2011 and competing in the Miss America pageant. Her husband Michael happens to be a prominent real estate developer in the D.C. area. Since Michael is a native Australian, the couple is currently in the process of opening up an Australian-American fusion restaurant. Growing up in a lower-income family, marrying Michael introduced Ashley to a more affluent lifestyle and she's not apologizing for it. Over drinks, she gives Michael a run-down of the Sip with Socialites event, including Gizelle's THOT barb, and explains in her confessional that she's going to work overtime to get these Potomac women to like her. Hmm, ask Danielle Staub how well that went for her. 


The day of Katie's twins' Hebrew naming ceremony arrives, with Rabbi Mike in charge and Robyn and Gizelle there to support their friend. Katie finally gets points from the rabbi for her Elijah joke and I must say, the entire ceremony was very interesting to me. After the girls receive their Hebrew names, the women move the party outside and conversation turns to the issues of race and religion. Gizelle questions what it must have been life for Katie to be the only black Jew in her congregation, but according to Katie, she was always the only black kid everywhere she went. Robyn asks what box the girls will check in the future, and Katie admits she doesn't know the answer. Yes they're black and yes they're Jewish, so they'll probably go with "other." Katie's all for the idea of creating a new box and rallying to make a change in the system as she explains in her interview that the other women sometimes fail to understand that she identifies as biracial, not just one or the other. Besides, with their blonde hair, light skin and green eyes, Gizelle and Robyn are the ones who constantly have to defend their racial identity, and not in a Rachel Dolezal way. 


Finally, Gizelle arrives at Capella for her sit-down with Karen and Charrisse, while the pair are driving together to the restaurant and wondering what's about to go down. Both women openly mock Gizelle's letters and it looks as though they'll be showing up to the lunch atop their high horses. Upon their arrival, Karen and Charrisse refuse to appropriately greet Gizelle or even make eye contact with her. High horses was right. Charrisse cuts to the chase immediately, demanding to know why Gizelle has called them to lunch. Gizelle starts with Karen and her birthday dinner, citing that her delivery of the gift at the crab boil came across as passive-aggressive and immature. Karen insists it was a joke (it wasn't), while Gizelle finds Karen's slightly askew wig to be the bigger joke at the table. Charrisse is appalled to discover that Gizelle doesn't think she did anything wrong and Gizelle reiterates that she still doesn't quite understand what Charrisse is upset about. However, the argument goes nowhere fast as it devolves into a round of she said, she said. Gizelle defends Kal as not only her friend but a nationally renowned hairstylist, but when Karen tries to correct her pronunciation of "renowned," all I can think of is how she mispronounced "Popeye" ten seconds earlier. In exasperated rage, (seriously, her "I'm a grown woman" moment was possibly the most immature thing I've seen on Housewives in years), Charrisse excuses herself from the lunch with a diss that the "presence of [Gizelle's] face repulses" her, leaving Karen and Gizelle to hash things out after she storms off. I think Charrisse was trying to go for the first iconic line of the franchise, but it came out a little forced and awkward. 


Once Charrisse is gone, Karen announces that this is the last time she's extending an olive branch to Gizelle. However, once she finds out that Gizelle's kids helped with the letters, Karen goes on the attack by throwing jabs at Gizelle's parenting and calling her a "hip-hop cliché." Gizelle calls Karen out on not accepting her apology, but the grande dame finds the apology as half-assed and not something of which Aunt Dot would approve. At this point, Karen just starts throwing out insults, calling Gizelle "fake and phony as a $10 bill," "a shell of a woman" and "a lost cause" before walking away from an argument for the second time in two episodes. According to Karen, if Gizelle can't follow her rules of etiquette, there's no place for her in the women's social circle. It looks like these dear friendships are far from being repaired any time soon. However, from my perspective, Gizelle clearly comes out as the winner of this feud. Whose side are you on?