In the immortal words of the legendary Onika Minaj, "let's go to the beach, each, let's go get away..." After what feels like roughly one million years (thanks to last week's Academy Awards, go Spotlight!), we finally got a new episode of RHOP. And it wasn't just any old episode, either, it was a Housewives rite of passage. This week the ladies took their very first cast trip together to the Delaware shore.
The episode kicks off as Katie Rost gathers Gizelle Bryant, Robyn Dixon and Ashley Darby for a host committee lunch to work on planning the Rost Foundation's first ever Casino Royale fundraiser. Once the girls arrive, Katie explains that she'll need their help to pull the event off successfully in just a matter of weeks. Gizelle and Robyn openly balk at the idea that they can throw a full event to raise $100,000 in less than 30 days and immediately start peppering Katie with questions about the venue, theme, guest list and other logistics. However, when Katie doesn't have any of the answers they're looking for - opting for more of a "it'll all work out" attitude - the pair remind her that if she doesn't reach her goal, it won't be on them. Feeling unsupported by her friends strikes a chord in Katie, and she promptly disinvites them from being on the host committee. In the past, coming together to put together a charity event has worked well in the Housewives universe, as seen on both RHONY and RHONJ, but this host committee drama is giving me all kinds of vintage RHONY feels and I am loving every second of it.
In an effort to finally get into the cool girls' inner circle, Little Miss Ashley has invited the group on a girls trip to her and Michael's vacation home in Bethany Beach, Delaware. As the rest of the women pack, Ashley explains to her assistant and her stylist that she feels like a freshman being hazed by the clique of seniors, getting her proverbial underwear pulled over her head. All she wants is to do is infiltrate this exclusive group of affluent, powerful African-American women (she's even said so in her confessionals a number of times), and will be bending over backwards on this trip to get the ladies' stamp of approval.
The 'Wives head to Bethany Beach in two groups, with grande dame Karen Huger and Ashley in the latter's brand new Porsche and Katie, Gizelle, Robyn, Charrisse Jackson Jordan and unofficial Friend of the Housewives Brynee Baylor piling into Katie's SUV for the three hour drive. On the way, Karen lectures - I mean mentors - Little Miss Ashley on the many rules of Potomac society while the rest of ladies play a rather wild game of Shag, Marry, Kill involving Bill Clinton, 50 Cent and panties on the head. Eventually, conversation turns to Katie's history of rather well-known paramours and Gizelle presses her about her relationship with business mogul Russell Simmons. Katie explains that, while she still has him on speed dial today, their breakup was a messy one, with Russell dating a new woman while Katie was still living in his guest room. Katie lets it slip that over the course of the transition, she habitually blogged about the situation, which naturally leads Gizelle to find the blogs online and read them out loud to the car...in front of Katie. All the women have a laugh at what Katie wrote in the blogs, but the former model is sensitive about the situation and the jokes eventually cross a line for her. Going quiet, she pulls off to the side of the road and informs the ladies she's sick of driving and needs a break, leaving the rest of the group to realize that her feelings have actually been hurt.
Eventually, the women arrive at Ashley's beach house and are greeted by elderberry cocktails handmade by Ashley before sitting down for a dinner catered by a private chef. It quickly becomes clear that the women hate the food, asparagus roulade and all, but love the conversation as it veers between the blog drama from the way up (Gizelle insists she wasn't trying to hurt Katie's feelings) and the infamous "pull-out method" happening in the Darbys' bedroom (Ashley swears it's been working as effective birth control for the last four years). We also learn that 27-year-old Ashley is stepmom to Michael's 23- and 21-year-old children from his first marriage. If that's not awkward, I don't know what is. Even more awkward is when the chef comes to the table to give Ashley the bill right in front of the other women. Subtle, Asparagus Roulade, subtle.
After dinner, Ashley shows the women to their rooms and let's just say that most of them are less than pleased with the accommodations. While Robyn is able to laugh it off, Gizelle physically recoils upon learning that she'll not only be sharing a room, she'll be sleeping in a "kiddie" twin bed. Charrisse has a similar reaction upon seeing the room she'll be sharing with Brynee, while also managing to point out that Ashley spelled her name wrong on the name card she set out - it's two r's in Charrisse, boo boo. Immediately, both Gizelle and Charrisse start looking up hotel rooms on Google, but it turns out that pretty much everywhere is booked and they're stuck with the "kiddie" beds. (Random conspiracy theory: could it be possible that producers bought out every single hotel room in all of Bethany Beach just so the women couldn't jump ship? Maybe I binged too quickly on the first season of UnREAL...)
After the semi-rocky beginning the night before, the next day goes much better for Ashley as a hostess, with all the ladies (minus Gizelle) pitching in to make breakfast before heading down to the beach for a day of fun. The younger, hipper girls (read: Ashley, Katie and Robyn) opt to try out surfing with the "older, boring" women (a.k.a. Karen, Gizelle and Charrisse) cheering them on while sipping champagne from under an umbrella. However, Gizelle can't resist getting in another jab at Katie's expense when they hold an impromptu booty-ranking contest and she pronounces the former model in last place for her "flaticus butticus." Yet, even with a few verbal jabs, the ladies all seem to be having a relatively good time together for once.
Later that evening, Katie, Charrisse and Brynee go to the market to pick up a bushel of crabs while the rest of the ladies stay behind to fire up the grill. On the drive to the store, Katie fills Charrisse and Brynee in on the host committee drama from before the trip and explains that she's not really feeling all that supported by some of the women in the group. Meanwhile, Ashley is giving Robyn yet another TMI moment involving sweaty coochie and I just can't even handle it. Charrisse and Brynee provide an ear for Katie to vent, and promise that they are willing to help make her charity event for the Rost Foundation a success in any way they can.
During dinner that night, Charrisse proposes the women do a bonding activity she used to do with the NBA wives called the Sister Circle. First, the ladies are tasked with saying something they appreciate about one of the other women at the table. Most of the contributions seem genuinely kind - Robyn talks about her 13-year friendship with Charrisse and Karen compliments Ashley's spitfire personality, but tension fills the air when Gizelle rather backhandedly calls Katie "unassumingly smart." In her confessional, Katie admits that she doesn't even know how to respond to Gizelle's veiled barb. By this point, Gizelle has insulted her religion, racial identity and now her intelligence over the course of just six episodes. It seems there may be a passive-aggressive cold war officially brewing between these two.
Next, Charrisse invites the women to open up and get vulnerable about something in their lives and things get real all too quickly. When questioned by Robyn, Charrisse explains that she hasn't made any decisions yet about possibly filing for divorce from her husband Eddie - citing that he's a great father and provider, just not a very good husband. Karen opens up about her mom being diagnosed with the early stages of dementia, a problem that has put all the materialism and status in her life into perspective. Finally, Robyn decides to speak up, but before words even leave her mouth, she loses it. Through a wave of tears, Robyn admits that she and Juan found out that their very best friend was stealing money from them, for how long they don't know. This startling admission leaves the rest of the women shocked and sympathetic, but before we can find out the rest of the story, "To Be Continued..." flashes across the screen and the episode ends in a cliffhanger.
What did you think of the first part of the Bethany Beach trip? How many times would you guess I tried spelling it Bethenny? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!