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Real Housewives

Filtering by Tag: gizelle vs. katie

RHOP Season 1 Wrap-Up

Glenn Rowley

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Word on the street...is that Potomac is officially on the map! As the first new addition to the franchise in over five years, the stakes were high The Real Housewives of Potomac and the show delivered. In fact, before the two-part reunion had even finished airing, Bravo announced that RHOP had officially been picked up for a second season. For this week's feature I'm breaking down what made the Potomac 'Wives such a hit with viewers, as well as what could (and should) change for Season 2 next year.

WHY IT WORKED

  • Potomac's unique POV: Each city in the franchise has its own unique vibe. In order to be a successful addition to the Bravoverse, any new Housewives show must bring a strong sense of unique identity to the table - and the RHOP ladies pulled it off. As Andy Cohen promised when the show was announced, the women in the cast had a strong sense of (and loud opinions about) what it meant to be part of Potomac society. Some viewers expressed annoyance at the ladies' constant preaching about the importance of etiquette, but it gave the show its own identity to build upon and helped fans see how Potomac stood out from the likes of Orange County, Atlanta and Beverly Hills. 
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  • Feuds and fights galore: The debut season started strong out the gate with the crab boil clash with Gizelle Bryant on one side and Karen Huger and Charrisse Jackson Jordan on the other. However, the drama didn't stop there with Gizelle and Karen both facing off against Ashley Darby throughout the season over THOT-ish behavior and the great Bethany Beach blowup. Even Robyn Dixon and Katie Rost, the two 'Wives who came across as quieter personalities jumped into the action, with the latter becoming the dark horse of the season when it came to throwing shade and feuding with her cast mates over the season's hottest topic of racial identity. Basically, everyone showed up ready to play and didn't disappoint when it came to engaging in classic Housewives warfare.
  • The issue of race: Speaking of racial identity, the feud between Katie, Robyn and Gizelle over what it means to be a black woman in America was the storyline that dominated the end of the season and bled into the reunion. No, as Gizelle stated at the reunion, a Housewives show doesn't need to become the poster child for race relations in America in 2016, but it's a real issue that is constantly addressed around the country and I for one loved that the Potomac Housewives added to that conversation using a national platform like Bravo.
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  • A memorable reunion: I personally found the reunion wildly entertaining. As a two-part special, it didn't run the risk of feeling overly long and Andy covered a plethora of hotly contested subjects with the ladies on the couches. There were standout moments - from Robyn calling for security and Katie revealing she'd broken off her engagement less than 24 hours before to Charrisse's 11th hour bombshell regarding the state of her broken marriage - and the reunion left me craving a little more time with these 'Wives. Plus, considering that my question being read from Andy's lips to throw shade at grande dame Karen automatically puts the reunion filed under "unforgettable" to me.

WHAT COULD CHANGE

  • More, more, more for Season 2: Dear Bravo, now that we know the Potomac recipe works, it's time to turn up the oven. Next season, let's have a full 22-episode order, a more glamorous vacation destination than Bethany Beach and a Secrets Revealed episode. The time for prototyping and truncating a first season is now behind us and RHOP should run with the big dogs of the franchise.
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  • The last stand of Charrisse Jackson Jordan: Described by the network as "Potomac's self-appointed social director," Charrisse started the season strong by hosting the crab boil at her home in the series premiere and immediately locking horns with Gizelle Bryant. From there, Charrisse opened up about her failing long-distance marriage to (now former) head basketball coach of Rutgers University Eddie Jordan and showed her vulnerable side. However, her storyline basically fizzled out by season's end and she was left to play peacemaker at the "come to Jesus" lunch in the finale because she simply didn't have anything to discuss with the women. As such, she found herself on the far end of the couch come reunion time. While she made a valiant effort by revealing in the closing moments on the couches that Eddie hadn't spoken to her since the show started airing in January, she needs to be willing to open up even more and engage with the other women should she be invited back for Season 2.
  • Cast shake-ups: The one constant from season to season on every Housewives show is the rotating door of ladies who make up the cast. And since we know the show is a lock for Season 2, the question on everyone's mind is inevitably who will be asked back next year. As I alluded to above, the most obvious choice to get the boot would be Charrisse, since she was the least integral member of the group, but I actually think all six original Housewives should return for Season 2. In my opinion as a resident expert on the franchise, the smartest move for Bravo would be to follow the pattern set by the second season of RHOBH: have all the OGs come back, add in an official Friend of the Housewives or two (sorry Brynee) and keep the show growing...

OVERALL GRADE

Since I don't have any other seasons of RHOP to rank this rookie year against, I'm going to give it an overall grade of a solid B+. While it never quite reached the iconic level of, say, RHOBH or RHONJ's first seasons, Season 1 in Potomac was a solid entry into the Housewives canon and better than many other debut seasons in the franchise (looking at you D.C. and Miami...). All in all, I already miss my time with the ladies of Potomac every Sunday night and can't wait for the show to come back even better next year. Till then, dust off your etiquette books and never forget: wherever Gizelle is sitting is the baddest place in the building! May people never be able to find you when they're coming for you...

RHOP Ssn 1/Ep 12 - Reunion Part 2

Glenn Rowley

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After last week's call for security, the Season 1 reunion continues as The Real Housewives of Potomac revisit the feuds, fights and personal dramas that made up the debut season's storylines. Plus, some of the husbands join the melee as the infamous girls trip to Bethany Beach is rehashed and beaten to a pulp.

Checking the Racial Box

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The reunion picks up right where we left off at the end of last week, with Katie Rost and Robyn Dixon battling it out over the subject of race. Katie feels she can't do anything without the other women criticizing her for not being "black enough," while Robyn doesn't understand why race is such a sensitive topic to discuss. As Gizelle Bryant asked, who made RHOP the poster show for racial relations in America? I, for one, am of the opinion that the complex discussion of race is one of the reasons the season has been so fascinating and sets Potomac apart from the other Housewives shows. Robyn claims she doesn't care how Katie chooses to identify, but the model finds that hard to believe considering she was questioned about it all season long. Charrisse Jackson Jordan chimes in that she found Robyn asking Katie which box her children would check to be offensive, but Robyn doesn't understand why asking a polite question in a social setting would be so insulting. However, Katie simply refuses to label her children into a box. After so much back and forth, the two 'Wives are eventually able to reach a resolution on the topic, with Katie apologizing for taking her frustrations towards Gizelle out on Robyn. All we needed was Rachel Dolezal crashing the reunion to put this heated discussion about race in America in 2016 fully over the top.

The Butt Grab Heard 'Round Potomac

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Andy Cohen redirects the conversation to Ashley Darby, asking her to weigh in on the racial argument and the butt grab between her husband and Katie's fiancee that sparked the entire controversy. Ashley says she's confused why it became everyone's prerogative to gossip about that moment on the dance floor at Charrisse's birthday party and why it got turned into an issue of white people vs. black people. Robyn, however, is quick to defend her comment, insisting that she was merely wondering whether it was some form of endearment she wasn't familiar with. If you ask me, this (biracial) horse has officially been beaten to death and it's time to move on to other topics.

The Mysterious Case of Charrisse & the Invisible Husband

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Next, Andy puts Charrisse in the hot seat by addressing her crumbling and confusing relationship with her husband of 18 years, Eddie Jordan. According to Charrisse, Eddie is still living in New Jersey despite being fired from his coaching job at Rutgers University, and the two don't discuss the show...or the status of their relationship...or the possibility of divorce. Charrisse does a fair amount of backtracking over the big, bad d-word, saying she was acting impulsively when she texted Eddie that she wanted out of the marriage. She also maintains that if the couple gets divorced, the decision to file won't be coming from her. Huh? Out of all the 'Wives, Charrisse claims that, to her surprise, she's become closest to Katie and gets into a somewhat confusing tiff with grande dame Karen Huger, who calls her a "snake in the grass." Honestly, I just wish I had more context for why Charrisse seems so angry and passive-aggressive towards some of the other women. What happened?

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When the topic of Eddie not showing up at her lavish 50th birthday party, Charrisse admits she was disappointed, but claims he didn't come because Bravo was filming. She goes on to explain that the reason she decided to do the show was to serve as a voice for other women who were going through similar struggles. Andy admits that, as a producer, he felt most connected to Charrisse's story when she was being vulnerable about her relationship with Eddie - which is why he finds it so frustrating that she's being so closed off and emotionless about the whole situation on the couches. (He even goes so far as to accuse her of being "blasé" about her seemingly crumbling marriage.)

Katie's Broken Engagement

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After teasing it in the opening moments of the reunion, Katie finally gets the opportunity to explain what led to her breakup when Andy shows a package of clips all about her and Andrew. As it turns out, Katie broke off the engagement and gave Andrew the ring back literally en route to NYC for the reunion taping. She reveals that the couple had actually called it quits once already months before and when she asked Andrew whether he really wanted to marry her, his answer was noncommittal enough to prompt her to end things. Katie readily admits she was running a kind of campaign for Andrew to finally put a ring on it in an effort to make up for her previously failed first marriage, and recognizes that perhaps Andrew wasn't ready to step up to the plate. The other 'Wives speak up in support of Katie, saying there wasn't anything she did to necessarily scare her fiancee off - that was on him. All Katie knows is that she'll be more hesitant before bringing another man around her kids in the future.

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On a different note, Andy reads some of Katie's recent tweets and the model confirms that she identifies not only as biracial but as bisexual too! Ever the diligent host, Andy asks whether any of the other women have ever taken a dip in the lady pond, and Little Miss Ashley reveals that she actually had a serious girlfriend back when she was 18. Katie jokingly claims that out of all the 'Wives, she would definitely go for Charrisse and Ashley, and have raging hate sex with Gizelle. We also learn that the budding philanthropist has yet to throw her casino royale charity event that she pushed back during filming. The women briefly rehash the drama surrounding Katie's host committee for the event, and it looks like the self-proclaimed ball and gala girl will have quite a bit to prove in this arena come Season 2.

The Grande Dame vs. the Spring Chicken

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Next up for discussion is the season-long feud between frenemies Karen and Ashley. While Potomac's grande dame started the season determined to take the younger 'Wife under her wing, but that changed indefinitely when Ashley let Michael crash the girls-only trip to Bethany Beach. To provide back-up for their wives and weigh in on the drama themselves, Ray "the Black Bill Gates" Huger and Michael "Crocodile Dundee" Darby join the reunion as well. To kick things off, Andy gives Michael one simple rule: pants must be kept on at all times. Add this to the short list of reunion rules like no props (post-RHOA Season 6) and no physically assaulting other cast mates (also post-RHOA Season 6). Right off the bat, Andy questions why Karen seems to look down her nose at the Darbys, and the grande dame cites Ashley's youth as the reason for their differences. 

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Of course, this leads directly into a rehashing of the drama from Bethany Beach - Karen tries to take Michael to task for showing up unannounced AT HIS OWN HOME and Ray alternates between looking generally befuddled and accusing Michael of trying to create a titillating "male fantasy situation" with seven women. Clearly, there's no love lost between the two couples but in my eyes, the Darbys come out on top in this argument as Ashley defends Michael by repeatedly exclaiming that she loves her man just the way he is - butt grabbing and all. (Note to all, according to Michael, butt grabbing is actually an Australian thing, so take that black, white and biracial!) Yet, Karen is far from finished, and Andy puts her on the spot about her "ejaculate" and "procreate" comments about Michael and Ashley. I, however, don't have much to say about that particularly situation beyond that it was vulgar and inappropriate. 

Define "Narcissism"

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When Gizelle finally gets a package dedicated to her hilarious dating life - Herman included - the conversation gets hijacked by Charrisse, who accuses Gizelle of getting in the middle of everyone's business out of sheer narcissism. Naturally, Charrisse denies having a narcissistic bone in her body, but defines the term as both being obsessed with yourself and taking pride in tearing down others in order to make yourself feel good. No one on either of the couches - Andy included - has ever heard this particular definition of narcissism, and Roybn eventually has to pull a Lisa Rinna by reading the actual meaning of the word off her phone to prove Charrisse wrong. The fact of the matter is, however, that every single one of the Housewives is borderline narcissistic. They have to be to succeed on reality television!

Gizelle vs. Katie, Revisited

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Next, Gizelle puts Katie on blast for her odd behavior throughout the season, particularly at Ashley's birthday party. Katie denies being on any type of substance, but Gizelle still calls her out for being too inebriated to engage in front of the cameras. Both women start slinging mud at each other, and the argument somehow devolves into accusations of inappropriate bodily functions on both sides, slut shaming and allegations of scandalous scenes being edited out of the show. Dear Bravo, WHAT WAS EDITED OUT? I need to know. Katie claims that Gizelle's narcissism is on a whole different level from the other ladies, and alleges that she constantly works to position herself to look as good as possible in front of the cameras while putting down everyone else. 

Final Thoughts & One Last Bombshell

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Andy wraps up the reunion by asking each of the ladies if their experiences as first-season Housewives was positive. All of the women assert that being on the show has been a good thing - I mean, obviously - and Andy invites Karen to give one final toast after passing out champagne. However, before the grande dame can get a word out, Charrisse interrupts to drop one final bombshell that she held back earlier in the day: since the show started airing, her husband won't even speak to her. Andy is visibly stunned and empathetic to this revelation, while none of the other 'Wives so much as flinch. Seems like everyone but Andy knew what's really been going on in Charrisse's marriage. Karen still gets the final word and toasts to the ladies' friendship while calling for them to move forward in friendship and peace...with a little bit of fighting. Potomac is officially on the map!

Unfortunately, that's the end of the first season of RHOP - for some reason we aren't getting a Secrets Revealed episode to finish off the season. However the good news is that just this week, the show was officially renewed for a second season by Bravo! Cheers to The Real Housewives of Potomac and look for my Season 1 Wrap-Up as the next Feature Friday!

RHOP Ssn 1/Ep 11 - Reunion Part 1

Glenn Rowley

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After a debut season that feels as if it went by in the blink of an eye, it's reunion time for The Real Housewives of Potomac! In the first hour of the two-part reunion, Andy Cohen pressed the ladies of Potomac on everything from humping and THOT-ish behavior to Googling gossip and being biracial. Oh, and I unexpectedly became part of the reunion myself! Read on to find out what I mean...

On the Couches

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Seating arrangements for any first-time reunion are always interesting to me, because it's our first glimpse at what Bravo and Andy Cohen himself think of the ladies' pecking order. I'm happy with this arrangement - Gizelle Bryant, Robyn Dixon and Ashley Darby occupy the right couch, while Karen Huger, Katie Rost and Charrisse Jackson Jordan are on the left. In fact, when I tweeted my prediction for where the ladies would be sitting before the reunion was filmed last month, I was almost spot-on and only swapped Katie and Charrisse. Naturally, Karen the grande dame occupies the hot seat next to Andy. However, it's logical that Charrisse would be relegated to the end of the couch - she started the season memorably but had faded into the background by the finale, while Katie made a strong showing for herself in the season's final episodes. 

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On the opposite side, Gizelle - who was arguably Potomac's breakout star - graces the seat of honor, with her bestie Robyn next to her and Little Miss Ashley down at the end. Sticking Ashley on the same couch as the dynamic duo who accused her husband of grabbing another man's butt may seem like an odd choice. However, when you consider her season-long feud with Karen it was really the only viable option. Karen and Gizelle were locks for the center seats on the couches and there's no way Ashley would've been placed on the same side as the self-proclaimed grande dame of Potomac. 

Ranking the Housewives' Looks

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The dress code for this reunion was clearly "Shiny Sequin Realness" and some of the 'Wives shine brighter than others. My vote for best dressed, surprisingly, goes to Charrisse. I say surprisingly because I didn't get a good first impression of her this season, but I'm loving the liquid metal of her pewter gown and she is slaying the new dark hair. Katie comes in a close second though. While I'm not in love with the vertical sequins on her vintage Bob Mackie gown, her hair and makeup is simply flawless. Rock that high pony, girl! As for the others, I love Gizelle in gold, but the gaudy turquoise earrings ruin the look for me. The silhouette of Robyn's gown is lovely (and bonus points for the long hair), but as my friend said, the fabric looks like it came from a 90's prom dress. Out of the whole bunch, Ashley's look is the most basic and forgettable, while Karen's is a total fail. The golden zebra stripes make her boobs look like a giant, misshapen blob. Not cute. 

Taking Down the Grande Dame

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After a few thoughts about how the show has turned them into overnight TV stars, the importance of etiquette in Potomac, and the revelation that Katie called off her engagement on the way to film the reunion, the first package is all about Karen. This was the highlight of the reunion for me because. You guys. ANDY COHEN USED MY QUESTION AT THE REUNION! I repeat: ANDY USED MY QUESTION AT THE REUNION. I've officially made it. The question was, and I quote, "Glenn from Utah said 'Karen, who pronounced you the grande dame of Potomac? Shouldn't you remember that before you were sitting up on that pedestal you came from a farm in Virginia?'" Andy Cohen has said my name and now I can die a happy man. 

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While I'm reeling from this greatest accomplishment of my life, discussion turns to the shade Katie threw at Karen's O Gala "Podunk cocktail party."  Expecting a full-blown gala, Katie claims she could've thrown Karen's party together in about four days, while Gizelle reminds her that she didn't actually throw anything together this season. Weirdly, Karen claims that the real O Gala won't happen for two more years, which seems an absurdly long amount of time to put together a charity event. Maybe we'll see it in Season 3? The women each take turns throwing darts at Karen, taking her to task for her haughty arrogance as the self-proclaimed queen bee of Potomac, and Katie eventually calls out Karen and Gizelle's sense of entitlement over "absolutely nothing." According to Katie, there was no ticker tape parade when Gizelle triumphantly returned to Potomac and Karen certainly isn't the grande dame. All I have to say to that is amen, Katie, amen. 

The Humping THOT of Potomac

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Next in the hot seat is Little Miss Ashley, as we are treated to a package featuring the antics of our favorite humping poodle of Potomac. Ashely is quick to defend everything from her use of the infamous pull-out method to her relationship with her mom, but I was happy to see that other viewers were as uncomfortable as I have been with her bringing her mom's financial issues up on national TV all season long. Even at the reunion, the 27-year-old manages to mention that she paid off her mom's car and gives her money every month, which continues to rub me the wrong way.

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Ashley also stands by humping Robyn upon meeting her at the Sip with Socialites event, saying that no one should be allowed to dictate how she should behave. Robyn, however, maintains that it was a highly inappropriate introduction and suggests that Ashley learn proper social decorum. Naturally, the younger 'Wife dismisses Robyn's argument as a moot point (note to Charrisse, it's "moot" not "mute"), and conversation moves on to Gizelle calling Ashley a THOT during the event. Gizelle differentiates between THOT and THOT-ish, and points out that she specifically called Ashley's behavior the latter. However, Ashley doesn't take kindly to either option, and claims that using that terminology in any context is the "most divisive" thing you can do as a woman. Katie chimes in that the other woman are probably just threatened by Ashley being young and pretty. After all, Robyn did say in her interview that Gizelle gets jealous when there's a younger, prettier woman in the mix...

Three Crabby Divas and "the Help"

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Putting a pin in that argument, Andy moves on to the drama at Charrisse's crab boil in the show's very first episode. Charrisse insists that she never actually said Kal could do her hair, she was just deflecting and it got misinterpreted. However, she insists that Gizelle and her hairdresser barging up to her bedroom is a whole other matter. Gizelle is still confused where Charrisse's aggression came from, since everything was happy and copacetic when she left to get ready. However, to Gizelle, the real offense came when Karen referred to her hairstylist as "the help." I mean, is this the segregated South in the 1950s?

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Karen tries feebly to defend her use of the term, but the argument that she could've called him much worse than "the help" doesn't fly with me or any of the other ladies. Robyn jumps in to point out that the term would be offensive to anyone, regardless of their station in life. Karen maintains that she knows what "the help" means, but refuses to give Robyn a straight answer, saying she doesn't need a lesson from her fellow 'Wife. Besides, her first job was as a cashier at Taco Bell and Burger King, OK? Like Katie, I would pay money to see Karen Huger in a fast food chain uniform. (Quick aside: kudos to Andy for calling out Karen's classic Housewives "non-apology apology" to Charrisse for causing a scene at her party.)

Robyn & Juan 4Ever?

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Next up for discussion is the complicated relationship between Robyn and her ex-husband Juan. Andy presses for details about Robyn's feelings, and she surprisingly admits that she loves Juan but isn't in love with him...yet. However, there's still a chance that they could get remarried. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a little bit obsessed with these two and would be over the moon if they officially got back together. The pair got divorced because of lots of infidelity on Juan's part and Robyn chalks it up, in part, to his being a professional athlete. However, she also admits that they're having sex weekly, so there's still hope for the former lovebirds.

Google, Gossip & That Russell Simmons Blog

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Robyn also addresses the Dixons' financial scandal, explaining that their former best friend stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from them before committing suicide by jumping off a bridge. This was a man who was in the couple's wedding and whom their kids called "uncle." It's just heartbreaking. However, Robyn has a bone to pick with Ashley for Googling and spreading gossip about her financial situation, saying the younger 'Wife had some sort of sick satisfaction in relaying the scandal to Katie. Ashley shoots back that, up to that point, Robyn had been rude and standoffish to her and deflects by pointing out her past financial hardships including being evicted and relying on the food back for groceries. Katie and Gizelle jump in and the conversation devolves into an argument over gossip and finding things online (i.e. Katie's Russell Simmons blog), but none of this excuses Ashley digging for dirt in the first place. 

The Great Racial Divide

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Finally, Andy brings up the feud between Gizelle, Robyn and Katie over racial identity that dominated the tail end of the season. Gizelle admits that she may have generalized the stereotypes of black people, but refuses to apologize for it. Katie says she's continually surprised by how obsessed Robyn and Gizelle are about skin color and accuse them of constantly trying to make her feel like she's "not black enough" as a biracial woman. Gizelle explains that she cares about race because, with her father working in the civil rights movement, she had the KKK burning signs in her yard on a weekly basis growing up. She also throws out that Katie made demeaning references to her black heritage at her twins' Jewish naming ceremony, and accuses the model of not being proud of her ancestry. Katie shoots back that Gizelle doesn't know anything about her family heritage and slams her and Robyn for questioning what box her kids will check when they're older. Now officially worked up, Katie calls Gizelle and Robyn "dumb and dumber, " which sets the latter off, eventually calling for Bravo to get security if she gets any angrier.

And with that, the reunion ends until next week! What did you think of Part 1? Are you on Team Katie or Team Gizelle/Robyn in the great race debate? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

RHOP Season 1 Finale - Rules of Enragement

Glenn Rowley

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After just 10 weeks, we've reached the end of our first season with the 'Wives of Potomac. Make that the end of the narrative portion of the season - we still have multiple parts of the reunion to look forward to. In this final hour, the season's multiple storylines come to a head as the ladies sit down for a final summit meeting to air their grievances with each other and one 'Wife's dreams finally come true with a giant engagement ring...

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While Charrisse Jackson Jordan is sleeping off the effects of her grand 50th birthday party, the episode kicks off with Gizelle Bryant and Robyn Dixon taking their kids to the stables for some horseback riding lessons. Seeing the BFFs' kids together for the first time makes a lightbulb go off in my head: at least one of Robyn's boys needs to grow up to marry one of Gizelle's girls! It would be a match made in Bravo heaven. As the kids trot around the stables, the two women rehash the racial drama that dominated Charrisse's birthday from the sidelines. Reflecting on the struggle to raise black kids in today's society with a strong sense of identity, Robyn took issue with Katie Rost and Ashley Darby's assertion that she's biracial because it simply wasn't true. Gizelle is feeling uncomfortable with how things left off between the ladies, and decides to put together a "come to Jesus" lunch in an effort to work out the group's various issues. Hmm...any bets on how well this plan will go over with the 'Wives? 

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Meanwhile, Karen Huger is helping her daughter pack up her room to leave for college. The grande dame of Potomac can't quite seem to accept the fact that her precious Rayvin is leaving the nest and she launches into protective mom mode by offering the teenager some last-minute advice. Between regaling Rayvin with tales of the devil working within teen boys and wondering how the girl will possibly celebrate her 18th birthday without her, Karen makes plans to come visit after one month at the most. Rayvin's not so sure she agrees with that plan, but something tells me the grande dame won't be swayed from pulling a Vicki Gunvalson and surprising her in her dorm room during Parents' Weekend.

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Katie and her boyfriend Andrew are escaping the city for a romantic weekend at her farmhouse. Out in the Virginia countryside, the farm is where Katie goes when she needs some good old-fashioned peace and quiet. The couple also reminisces about the fun they had at Charrisse's party, with Andrew pointing out that "Bug-Eye Weirdo" Gizelle and "Stick in the Mud" Robyn were the only ones not out on the dance floor. Just as Katie is saying she doesn't understand why the pair made such a big deal out of the butt grab heard 'round the world, her phone rings. Speak of the devil, it's Gizelle herself, calling to invite Katie to the come to Jesus lunch. At first, Katie is hesitant to accept the invitation. After all, why would a good Jewish girl like Katie want to go to a lunch to come to Jesus?

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Back in Potomac, Ashley's ready to have a serious heart-to-heart with her hubby Michael. In the throes of opening Oz, their Australian-American fusion restaurant, Little Miss Ashley's maternal clock has started ticking. Saying it's become a "biological imperative," the youngest 'Wife tells Michael she wants to start trying for a baby roughly a month after the restaurant opens. Unlike some other Househusbands in Potomac, Michael's perfectly keen on that idea, and promises that once Oz breaks even, the Darbys' failproof pull-out method will be no longer employed as a form of birth control. Ashley isn't too sure what to think of Gizelle's lunch invitation considering that Karen will be there as well. Regardless, the 27-year-old won't be backing down from the other women any time soon just because she's the youngest 'Wife of the bunch.

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Katie and Andrew arrive at her farmhouse, which turns out to be a charmingly idyllic little piece of perfection. By no means am I a country person, but this farm looks gorgeous. Where has Katie been hiding it all season long? (Oh right...in Virginia.) Wandering the grounds, Andrew suggests they go visit the vortex - the farm's mystical energy center - and Katie is surprised to find it decorated with a ring of flower-adorned hay bales. Next thing she knows, Andrew is down on his knees, pulling an engagement ring out of his pocket, and the proposal she's wanted so desperately is happening! Katie obviously says yes when Andrew asks for her hand in marriage, and she seems genuinely stunned and overjoyed at the surprise.

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After watching her father, Curtis Graves, be recognized in Congress for his civil rights activism with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gizelle gathers all the 'Wives at Old Angler's Inn for her long-awaited come to Jesus luncheon. As all the ladies (minus Katie) arrive, Gizelle tries to set some ground rules for the meal, explaining that the only 'Wife allowed to speak is the one currently holding the table's "Reserved" placard. Until you have the sign in your hands, you wait your turn. Mhmm, we'll see how this goes. First up on the agenda is Karen, who isn't done picking a bone with Ashley over her residual anger from the O Gala. Within seconds, an argument has broken out as the grande dame not-so-politely makes it crystal clear that her daughter's name is to be kept out of the younger 'Wife's mouth from now on.

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To be more specific, she told Little Miss Ashley to let Michael "ejaculate, procreate and get a baby of your own" rather than focus on Rayvin. This rather vulgar moment from the self-proclaimed queen bee is horrifically amusing and the look on Robyn and Gizelle's faces say it all. Did she really just go there?? Stifling her laughter, Gizelle quickly takes back the "Reserved" sign and puts a stop to Karen's tirade. Not only are parts of the grande dame's argument utterly offensive (i.e. Ashley can't be a "real woman" until she has a child), her vitriol toward the younger 'Wife is entirely misplaced. Ashley didn't really do anything, at the O Gala or otherwise, to warrant such an aggressively rude reaction. Plain and simple, Karen's venom was an uncalled-for low blow. Not a good look, grande dame. Ashley hits back that the issue at hand isn't Rayvin at all - it's about Karen's general treatment of Ashley and her relationship with Michael ever since he crashed the trip to Bethany Beach. 

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Thankfully, Katie's fashionably late arrival to the lunch puts a pin in that unnecessarily nasty conversation as she reveals her engagement ring to the other women. For a brief moment, the 'Wives become a true sister circle as Katie relates her proposal story and everyone seems genuinely elated at the news. However, the good vibes last for all of five seconds as Robyn decides to move the conversation along by confronting the bride-to-be about their argument over race at Charrisse's party. Robyn claims they need to have a "black history lesson" but Katie still doesn't see how a butt grab on a dance floor turned into a confrontation about race. Further, if Robyn really wants to know if said butt grabbing is a "white guy thing," Katie says she should find a white man and ask him herself. 

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At this point, Gizelle chimes in, insisting that she brought the issue up in the first place because she thought Michael grabbing Andrew's butt was disrespectful to Ashley. According to her perspective, Katie was the one who turned it into a racial conversation by calling Robyn biracial. Katie shoots back that she was merely trying to point out Gizelle and Robyn's hypocrisy - they get offended by anything slightly inflammatory, yet are the ones constantly bringing race up to her. Katie finds it offensive, and rightfully so, that Gizelle and Robyn don't seem to think she's "black enough." Let's get it straight: Katie Rost is part African-American, but she's also part Caucasian. That's the definition of biracial. For some reason, this comment sets Gizelle off, and she gets up from the table and starts pointing her finger, claiming that Katie's acting like it's a problem to be black. Yikes. This "come to Jesus" lunch is definitely headed in the wrong direction. 

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Katie reacts, calling Gizelle a "stupid woman who says stupid things" and accusing her of being "self-obsessed" and "taking all the air out of the room" just because she likes to hear herself talk. Before things can get any worse, Charrisse attempts to mediate between the two parties, delicately explaining to Gizelle and Robyn that they do tend to bring up race quite a bit in ways that can sometimes be offensive. However, the heart of all these issues is a failure of the women to respect each other's boundaries. All of a sudden, calmness prevails and tempers seem to dissipate as the 'Wives all agree that they need to do a better job of accepting each other's differences. Apologies are offered and accepted all around and the ladies agree to let their issues go and move forward...at least until the reunion.

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The finale ends with the women toasting to their budding friendship as their "Where are They Now?" cards flash across the screen. Charrisse's husband is still living in New Jersey, but she's learned to doggie paddle on her own. Since their engagement, Katie and Andrew have broken up and gotten back together at least once, with no firm wedding date in sight. Karen managed to wait one whole month before visiting Rayvin at college and is still adjusting to her new empty nest. Gizelle finished developing her makeup line, which is called EveryHue Beauty, and she remains single despite her daughters' hope for a new boyfriend. (Poor Herman is still waiting for date number 4-ever...) Ashley and Michael successfully opened OZ in October 2015, but despite their best efforts the stars have yet to align for a Darby baby. Lastly, Robyn and Juan continued to face financial setbacks, including their home going into foreclosure, but remain divorced sometimes-lovers/co-parents. With that, the first season in Potomac ends on a surprisingly, and somewhat suddenly, positive note. Now who's ready for the reunion?

Were you satisfied with the season finale? Whose side were you on in the many "come to Jesus" confrontations? Leave your comments below and don't miss part 1 of the reunion next week!

RHOP Ssn 1/Ep 8 - All Shades of Shade

Glenn Rowley

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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?

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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...

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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?

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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.)

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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. 

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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!


RHOP Ssn 1/Ep 7 - Reading is Fundamental

Glenn Rowley

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It's part two of the Potomac 'Wives trip to Bethany Beach, Delaware and we pick up right where we left off last week - right in the middle of the Sister Circle. To refresh your memory, Karen Huger revealed that her mother was recently diagnosed with dementia and Charrisse Jackson Jordan opened up about her struggling marriage before Robyn Dixon dropped a shocking, emotional bombshell: her and Juan's former best friend had stolen money from them for how long they don't even know. According to Robyn, this friend put the Dixons' money into a small Ponzi scheme and by the time they realized what was going on, the money was gone. This heartbreaking deception perpetuated by someone whom Robyn and Juan trusted is what contributed to both Robyn's emotional walls as well as the couple's financial woes. Upon learning this, Ashley Darby admits in her confessional that she feels guilty for spreading the gossip about Robyn's bankruptcy earlier in the season. Guess regret is better late than never.

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Next, Gizelle Bryant points the attention of the Sister Circle squarely at Katie Rost - first by asking about the Rost Foundation charity event, (Katie's found new host committee members thank you very much). Then, by once again questioning her publicly sloppy displays of affection and seemingly strange behavior at Ashley's birthday party, asking flat out if Katie was on any type of drug that night. Visibly (and rightfully) annoyed, Katie informs the women that she only had too much to drink that night as stone-cold daggers shoot from here eyes aimed straight for Gizelle. Feeling judged, Katie icily storms upstairs and shuts herself in her room for the remainder of the evening.

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The next morning, the 'Wives wake to a downpour of rain pounding the beach, which leaves the women cooped up inside the beach house. Katie is still fuming about the night before while the rest of the women pair off to rehash the vulnerable and tense conversation. Over coffee, Katie explains to Charrisse and unofficial Friend of the Housewives Brynee Baylor that she felt attacked by Gizelle, whom she thought was being "bitchy and presumptuous" by leveling such an inappropriate accusation. With perfect timing, Gizelle comes into the room and hears her name, leading Katie to passive-aggressively insinuate that she doesn't go around spreading rumors about Gizelle's scandalous behavior before again storming off and declaring herself "done" and "emotionally spent" the situation. However, Brynee and Karen follow after her and encourage Katie do a little more to put Gizelle in her place. You better read, girl!

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Once the rain finally lets up, Ashley takes the girls to the boardwalk to do some bonding at an old timey saloon-style photo studio. Playing dress-up in corsets, boots and costume jewelry, the ladies finally seem to be getting along - well, besides Katie calling Gizelle a "bottom bitch" under her breath and the women being unable to say "Potomac" in unison on the count of three. After taking pictures, Katie decides to pull Gizelle aside and really give her a piece of her mind - informing Gizelle with no ifs ands or buts that insinuating she was on drugs at the party was disrespectful, inappropriate and an attack on her character. Katie is officially all business, stonily telling her frenemy that any further disparaging remarks will not be tolerated. Clearly taken aback by Katie's directness, Gizelle apologizes and promises it won't happen again. Now, this wasn't exactly a read, but Katie's straight-shooting method definitely seemed to get the job done. 

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After the disastrous private chef from the first night of the trip, Ashley decides taking the girls out to dinner is a safer bet before hitting up the drag show at Blue Moon. Over dinner, the women bond over marriage, relationships and prenups, with Katie in particular opening up about her future with boyfriend Andrew Martin, explaining what she would do differently from her first marriage and even touching on how people in her social circle react to black issues. One thing I particularly enjoy about RHOP is how integral the issue of race is to the show's unique identity within the Housewives franchise. After Gizelle praises her as a hostess, the women finally bestow their elusive seals of approval on Little Miss Ashley, officially accepting her into Potomac's most exclusive social circle. Just in time for the 27-year-old to blow everything up...

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Following dinner, the 'Wives hit up the club, dancing surrounded by gay boys and being read for filth by the queens during the drag show. All the ladies are having a fabulous time...until Ashley's husband Michael seemingly appears out of thin air. Immediately throwing a bucket of ice cold water on the night's festivities, grande dame Karen pulls Ashley aside to question where Michael plans on staying. When the young 'Wife states that he'll obviously be staying at his house, Karen turns into a pearl-clutching bougie biddy, telling Ashley she's simply too uncomfortable with the idea of a man staying in the house. The rest of the girls seem to agree with Karen, but Ashley promptly informs them that, while she hears what they're saying, she simply doesn't care if they have a problem. 

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As the women prepare to leave the club, the conversation escalates into an argument with Ashley in one corner and the rest of the women, led by Gizelle and Karen, in the other. Robyn points out that Michael's sudden arrival forces the end of the girls weekend, but Little Miss Ashley doesn't see any problem with her hubby surprising her. From the van, Gizelle shouts out that Ashley could have told Michael to come the next day, but both sides have dug in their heels and no one is budging. According to her confessional, Karen is rendered speechless by the audacity of Ashley to welcome her husband and feels disrespected by the younger 'Wife's refusal to immediately bow to her wishes. Never mind that Michael owns the very house in which the women are staying, this is a classic Housewives faux pas. Rule of etiquette number one: never bring your husband on the girls trip. Ashley should ask Aviva Drescher or Alex McCord how it worked out for them in seasons past.

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Back at the beach house, the argument isn't over. Karen and Gizelle are still infuriated at Michael's presence and Robyn's stuck in the middle, while Charrisse doesn't see what the big deal is. (Quick thought: is it possible that Michael showed up in Bethany Beach at the behest of production, who wanted to turn up the drama on the trip?) Karen apparently feels like she's been victimized while Gizelle insists that the Darbys have now disrespected every other husband in the group. Ashley continues to defend Michael, incredulous at the idea that the women would expect her to kick him out of his own home. She bluntly opines that Gizelle and Karen are blowing the situation way out of proportion but the grande dame gets the last word. At the end of the day, Karen feels uncomfortable by Michael showing up and disrespected by Ashley dismissal of her feelings, and goes full-on gangster by making a "note to motherf*****g self" about the future of her friendship with "stray dog" Ashley. 

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Bright and early the following morning, all the women (minus Ashley) pack up to head back to Potomac. As it turns out, Robyn, Katie and Charrisse had a great time with Ashley and Michael, playing beer pong into the wee hours of the night. Gizelle, however, is more than ready to get back to her adult-sized bed and air conditioning. Ultimately, the trip ends on a sour note, with all the bonding the ladies did with Ashley blown to smithereens. Queen bee Karen is particularly disappointed in how Little Miss Ashley handled the curveball thrown at her the night before. It looks like the grande dame's efforts to take the teenybopper under her wing and turn her into the Eliza Doolittle of Potomac were all for naught...