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Real Housewives

RHOP Ssn 1/Ep 8 - All Shades of Shade

Glenn Rowley


This week, RHOP is all about business and charity as Gizelle Bryant attempts to add "entrepreneur" to her resume, Charrisse Jackson Jordan tackles her fears and the feud between Karen Huger and Ashley Darby does nothing but intensify. Can we just all agree that the Bethany Beach drama is officially a dead horse?


Gizelle is putting her boss lady pants on this week by meeting with a skincare chemist to begin developing a specialty makeup line for women of color. While some haters may argue that Gizelle can't understand the struggle to find black beauty products because of her caramel skin and green eyes, she is determined to meet the need of all women of color, no matter what shade their skin may be. According to the chemist, in order to provide for every skin tone, the makeup line will need a minimum of at least seven different shades, and the best way to get feedback on what consumers will use is to put together a focus group. Good thing Gizelle knows just the right group of ladies...


One 'Wife who most definitely won't be attending Gizelle's focus group is Katie Rost, who's still smarting over being picked on during the trip to Bethany Beach. Instead, she's choosing to focus on the celebrating her twin girls' second birthday and organizing her casino night fundraiser for the Rost Foundation. Scratch that. Katie's actually decided to postpone her charity event for a few months since few of the other women were willing to help her, and is now hosting a fashion show for D.C. Swim Week instead. Her gala may be postponed, but the work of a full-time socialite is never done.


Grande dame Karen, on the other hand, is still moving forward with her own charity function. She's calling the event the O Gala, which will raise money and awareness for Alzheimer's victims in honor of her recently deceased mother-in-law, Odessa Huger. Considering her own mother was also recently diagnosed with early dementia, this cause couldn't be any closer to Karen's heart. She wants to make it a grandiose spectacle, with cherry blossoms, praise dancers and live entertainment, but her husband Ray quickly nixes the glitz and noise and asks her to scale the event down to a more intimate level. After all, Ray and his sisters are still grieving the loss of their mother - it's not exactly the appropriate time to put on a show. And since the trip to Bethany Beach, there are some invited guests Karen would rather scratch off the RSVP list, but in grande dame style, they shall remain nameless (cough, Michael and Ashley, cough).


While Katie's off doing "actual work" hosting the fashion show for Washington Life Magazine, Gizelle holds a focus group with the rest of the 'Wives for her makeup line at The Park at Fourteenth. As the women arrive, it becomes clear that Gizzy knows how to throw one heck of a focus group with samples, makeup artists and even chicken wings! Within moments, Gizelle's hairstylist/friend Kal is apologizing to Karen and Charrisse for the crab boil blow-up from the premiere episode and things are off to a copacetic start. Gizelle sits everyone down and opens the focus group with an introduction about why she's creating this makeup line in the first place, explaining that from a very young age being "pretty" was a problem for her. It was almost impossible for women of color to find makeup that worked for their skin that wasn't chalky, ashy or caused breakouts. As the women test the makeup samples, they can't help but be impressed that Gizelle has managed to develop a product that doesn't seem to come with any of the problems typically plaguing similar lines.


Following the makeup testing, the 'Wives sit down for lunch, which gives Ashley the perfect opportunity to pull Karen aside and try to put the Bethany Beach drama behind them. Conversation starts off politely, but it quickly becomes apparent that Karen isn't letting go of this grudge any time soon. In fact, to appropriately settle the tiff, the grande dame suggests that hash it out as husbands - a suggestion which leaves Ashley visibly baffled. What does Karen want Michael and Ray to do, have a duel? The younger 'Wife likens the grande dame's behavior in Bethany to that of a five-year-old throwing a "tantrum" and finds her perception of the entire situation to be outdated and antiquated. Karen thinks Ashley is immature. I have to say I'm siding more with Little Miss Ashley on this one. This is taking the Potomac Rulebook of Etiquette to a new extreme, even by Karen's outrageously high standards.


Next we get a cute moment between Robyn Dixon and her ex-husband Juan as they take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about the early days of their relationship. Juan claims Robyn was stalked him at a basketball game before they met, but Robyn insists she actually had her eye on another guy. Once the pair did meet, they bonded over The Young and the Restless (shout-out to Eileen Davidson!) and went on a date to see a movie I have never heard of called The Last Dragon. When Robyn wonders aloud how Juan could possibly remember these details, he sweetly and tentatively admits that she's the love of his life. How could he forget? Out of all the Potomac couples, I have genuine heart eyes when it comes to these two and am crossing my fingers that they can work their complicated relationship out and end up together again. 


Turns out that what Karen had in mind to settle her dispute with Little Miss Ashley was a more modern version of a duel between husbands: a double date on the golf course. The stakes of the date are high, as Karen explains in her confessional that if Ray and Michael can't settle the issue between their wives, Ashley won't be invited to the O Gala. Dressed in their best polo shirts and visors, the couples battle it out over Michael showing up unannounced on the girls trip in Bethany Beach. Old-school Ray claims he was uncomfortable with Michael's surprise arrival because he expected that the women would be lounging around in skimpy outfits "because they're girls," but Michael doesn't see what the big deal is. Never mind the built-in misogyny of that statement, I am tuning out because I honestly cannot hear about this for one more second. The foursome reach an yet another impasse, with Karen calling the Darbys a "tactless duo" in her confessional, and it's clear that there will be no couples' weekends happening in Bethany between the Hugers and the Darbys any time soon.


Over at the Jordan residence, Charrisse has enlisted a private teacher to help her learn how to swim. On the verge of turning 50, Charrisse is ready to embrace a new chapter in her life and confront her fears. However, I can't help but think: wouldn't this swim lesson have been more effective before she went off to Bethany Beach with the girls? Charrisse is very much starting at square one in the water, as her lesson consists of a lot of blowing bubbles and learning the basics of kicking and paddling. But when a horsefly lands on her, a frantic, shrieking Charrisse is officially done for the day and ready to get out of the water. Baby steps, right?


The night of Karen's O Gala kickoff arrives and the only thing missing is the cherry blossoms she so desperately wanted for the decor. (Turns out they only bloom in the spring...) All the 'Wives arrive at Karen's home looking fab, though I'm particularly in love with Katie's black midriff-baring gown. Katie however, is less than impressed with the cocktail party being held in the Hugers' living room. This is why Karen refused to be on the host committee for her Rost Foundation event? Upon arrival, Gizelle confronts Katie about missing the focus group, and the socialite feigns an "I'm sorry I missed it" while admitting in her confessional that she honestly couldn't care less about bailing on the makeup party. (Also awkward that this conversation takes place in front of non-official Friend of the Housewives Brynee Baylor who didn't seem to get so much as an invite to the focus group.)


Before the Darbys arrive, Karen fills the other 'Wives in on the conversation between Ray and Michael on the golf course. Well, on her perception of it anyway, which is that Mr. Huger laid down the law and gave Mr. Darby "the business." Naturally, Michael and Ashley arrive in the middle of Ray and Karen's toast about his late mother, and have to awkwardly walk through the five-piece jazz band that will be providing the entertainment for the evening. When Ashley finds out what Karen told the rest of the women about their golf course argument, she claims that it was Michael was the one who shut Ray down, not the other way around. Tired of jumping through hoops to appease the grande dame, Little Miss Ashley starts throwing shade left and right about everything from Karen's hair to her comment on the way to Bethany that she didn't want any of the women around her daughter Rayvin. 


Obviously this is a (deliberate?) miscommunication on Ashley's part, since that's not exactly what Karen said. However, the women are offended nonetheless and call Karen over to clarify her comments. Immediately, Karen denies saying any such thing and pointedly explains that she was referring specifically to Ashley being the person she didn't want Rayvin around. Appalled that Little Miss Ashley would have the audacity to try to throw her under the bus at her own event, Karen proclaims herself "done" with the younger 'Wife before angrily storming off. According to the grande dame, her one-time mentee has racked up a litany of offenses over the past eight episodes, but talking about Rayvin was the last straw. As Ashley leaves the party, a hostile Karen theorizes to the other women that the youngest 'Wife officially has an agenda. What that agenda may be she doesn't know, but she has no intention of finding out.

Next week, things get ugly over race during Charrisse's 50th birthday party!