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Real Housewives

Filtering by Tag: karen vs. ashley

RHOP S2/Ep 11 Recap - The Grande Dame Sham

Glenn Rowley

rhop-recap.png

This week on The Real Housewives of Potomac, the battle of the hostesses comes to a head in Bermuda and the women strip Karen of her grande dame title upon learning she's moved out of Potomac. Read on for a full recap of all the drama...

We're back in Bermuda and the tension is thick. Charrisse Jackson Jordan is livid with Karen Huger for secretly hosting an exclusive sailing excursion on the day she was supposed to plan for the 'Wives. Under the guise of fixing the bad blood between Gizelle Bryant and Monique Samuels, it was surely an underhanded move on the grande dame's part and Charrisse is ready to confront her rival on a sunset cruise. Unsurprisingly, Karen refuses to apologize for her sneaky power play and the conversation quickly devolves into a verbal sparring match between the two. Karen calls the sunset cruise her nemesis planned just "OK" compared to her "fantastic" event and Charrisse fires back that she spent more on the yacht than the Hugers' net worth before telling the grande dame to take a swim off the side of the boat. As Gizelle points out in her confessional, Charrisse lives for a good Karen fight and she's definitely winning this one. 

Later that night, a defensive Karen vents to Monique about her fight with Charrisse, declaring their friendship officially done regardless of how genuine it was in the past. At the same time, Charrisse off-handedly drops a bombshell that the Hugers bought their Potomac mansion when it was in foreclosure, adding fuel to the speculation that all isn't what it seems when it comes to the finances of Black Bill Gates and family. Maybe this is another reason why Karen is being so cagey and secretive about her move?

The next day, the women soak in Bermuda by attending a traditional game of cricket. It may be one of the island's most popular sporting events, but the game goes entirely over the ladies' heads. Charrisse and Karen spend the afternoon giving each other the cold shoulder, but it turns out that Robyn Dixon is one hot commodity on the island. The men of Bermuda seem to flock to her, entranced by her exotic features and bright green eyes. Yet, despite her therapist's assignment to go on a date with someone other than Juan, she's not feeling it with any of the guys and realizes that this trip is making her reevaluate what she wants back home with her ex-husband. Robyn loves Juan and that's that, homework assignment be damned. 

On the last night in Bermuda, Karen does a complete about-face and comes to Charrisse's hotel suite to offer an unexpected apology. Claiming the two "got off on the wrong foot" in co-hosting the trip, Karen now wants to make up and claims she and Charrisse need to provide a "unified front" in being the alpha females of the group. This is all well and good, but one has to wonder how Charrisse would be taking this mea culpa if she knew all the nasty things Karen said about her that were caught by a hot mic at the end of last week's episode...Either way, the trip ends with an impromptu pajama party in Charrisse's suite and the women even get competitive in a hilarious freestyling rap battle led by Monique. Cheers to Bermuda!

Finally back in Potomac, Ashley Darby is forced to confront the issues with Michael she was running away from by going on the girls trip. The couple's restaurant remains the giant emu-shaped wedge in their relationship. However, Michael reveals that he's already made changes to Ashley's role at Oz while she was away in Bermuda. Without consulting her. Once again, this move by her husband leaves Ashley feeling disrespected and undermined, but the good news is that she'll no longer be in charge of managing the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. Michael's made her just an owner with the hope that this decision will eliminate some of the tension in their relationship and honestly, Ashley doesn't seem too upset about the change.

Charrisse has finally completed the renovations on her brand new champagne room and all the women gather at the Jordan mansion for the room's grand unveiling - complete with a white-gloved butler answering the door and fancy ribbon cutting ceremony. However, a huge piece of gossip is on everyone's lips at the party: word on the street is that Karen came back from Bermuda to a new house in Great Falls, Va. That's right, under the cover of darkness, the Hugers have moved out of Potomac and left the prestigious 20854 zip code behind. This is certainly a far cry from what Karen told the ladies while they were in Bermuda and now the grande dame is going to have some serious explaining to do. 

After the grand unveiling, Karen finally reveals her move to the 'Wives, trying to couch it in "I live in Great Falls now, remember?" No, grande dame, they don't remember. Because you never told them where you were moving. Karen provides yet another cockamamie story about her "private sale option" that's really just code for the fact that she's renting the new house in Great Falls. Naturally suspicious, the women are quick to question the inconsistencies: if Monique could purchase a $5 million mansion in Potomac, why are the Black Bill Gates and the grande dame renting? Ashley gleefully points out that this means Karen will no longer hold the title of "the grande dame of Potomac" but everyone knows Karen won't be giving that title up until someone pries it from her cold, dead hands. Karen argues that the only way she can be stripped of the title is if she chooses to bestow it on someone else but as the conversation turns into a full-blown confrontation, Robyn takes charge and jokingly dethrones the grande dame, tossing her imaginary crown to the ground. Karen doesn't take well to this unceremonious dumping and fires back at Ashley by snapping that she refuses to listen to the opinion of "the idiot on the end of [the couch]." And with that, we get a "To Be Continued..." placard leading into the season finale...

What did you think of this week's RHOP? Has Karen been dethroned as the grande dame of Potomac? Did Charrisse win the battle in Bermuda? Who's the real alpha female of the group? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

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 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 9 - Fifty Sense

Glenn Rowley

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It's the penultimate episode of our first season in Potomac and we're celebrating with a major fight at a Housewife's birthday party! In one of the strangest turns of events in Housewives history, all the drama blows up over racial identity and...butt grabbing between the 'Wives men?

Besties Gizelle Bryant and Robyn Dixon kick off the episode with a good old-fashioned girls lunch at The Tavern. Over a meal of tuna tartare and deviled eggs, the BFFs toast to new beginnings, mostly in the form of Robyn's will-they-or-won't-they relationship with her ex-husband Juan. It turns out that Gizelle takes her duties as a best friend quite seriously and cornered Juan a few days before in an attempt to coax the relationship along. As a friend, Gizzy simply wants the former lovebirds to figure out in which direction they're headed - preferably in the one that ends with "and they both lived happily ever after..." However, Robyn explains that she's actually the one with her guard up when it comes to rekindling the flame. Since the couple divorced because of Juan's infidelity, Robyn is understandably cautious about opening her heart completely back up to him again. The pair genuinely love and care for each other, but the trust simply isn't there yet.  

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Meanwhile, we get a rehash of last week's O Gala when Katie Rost invites her friend T over for some wine and spilled tea about Karen Huger's event. According to the socialite, the grande dame's "gala" was pretty much anything but. You can't just throw some meatballs into serving trays and turn a "Podunk cocktail party" into a launch party for something that doesn't exist yet. Needless to say, Katie was not impressed. And she's not done either. She tells her friend that she finds Gizelle to be the most annoying person she's ever met and finds the women to be "obsessed" with the topic of race. Further, she claims that Gizelle is probably a good person, even if her frenemy "dresses like a prostitute sometimes and can be a little bitchy." The shade, Katie, the shade! I am living for her fake smile at the end of that barb.

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Next, Ashley Darby is picking her mom up for a lunch date out in Westminster, Maryland. Having not grown up in the lap of luxury, Sheila isn't used to Ashley's Porsche shutting off at every stop and thinks the car is breaking down. Don't worry Sheila, I thought the same thing about my dad's new car. Over lunch, Ashley decides to bring up her mom's bankruptcy and far-reaching financial issues stemming from her purchase of a condemned house. Now, Ashley is doing this under the guise of wanting to help her mom out, but all I know is that I would be furious if my child was bringing up my personal financial issues on national TV. Ashley ends the conversation by telling Sheila that she and Michael want to buy her a new house, which is a really nice gesture. I'm still bothered by the scene though.

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Charrisse Jackson Jordan is getting ready to celebrate her 50th birthday and has enlisted Katie's help as the resident model of the group to help her take some pictures for the slideshow at the party. Charrisse admits that she's not the most comfortable in front of the camera, so Katie uses some of her modeling expertise to help the birthday girl feel like Naomi Campbell. And while Katie's not exactly used to working behind the camera, she sure is slaying in that navy jumpsuit. In the end, Charrisse feels great and even comes out of the photoshoot learning how to say "l'chaim!" To life!

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After a couple quick scenes of Karen getting teary during her daughter Rayvin's going away party and Gizelle sitting her girls down to debate the finer points of eHarmony and Match.com, Robyn and Juan meet for lunch at Cuba de Ayer. The ex-couple don't typically do things without the kids, but they have important business to discuss. During the lunch, Juan reveals that he didn't get the head coaching job he had applied for out of state and will be staying in Maryland for the foreseeable future. While it's disappointing news for him, Robyn is still at least a little bit relieved that they can put off making a decision about possibly moving with him and facing the future of their relationship for a while longer. 

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The evening of Charrisse's lavish birthday 50th birthday party arrives, and even though her husband Eddie is a no-show, he's still footing the bill for the event to the tune of $80,000. You only turn the big 5-0 once, right? All the ladies descend on the Carnegie Library with the rest of Charrisse's 150+ guests, and are blown away by the extravagance of the whole affair. Of course, with the party being the first time the 'Wives have all been in the same room since the O Gala, drama isn't too far behind. Karen spends the majority of the evening deftly avoiding Little Miss Ashley at all costs, even though the younger 'Wife wants to talk in a futile attempt to settle their differences. However, the grande dame simply isn't having it tonight and declares Ashley a lost cause in her confessional. It's clear to Karen that the Darbys will never fit into Potomac society and according to her, Ashley belongs in a zoo, petting cuddly animals. Bye Ashley girl, go pet a panda. 

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Next thing we know, a completely new feud arrives straight out of left field. While on the dance floor, Gizelle and Robyn apparently see Ashley's husband Michael grab Katie's boyfriend Andrew's butt. Huh? Michael has been the center of controversy a number of times this season, but this is just odd. It doesn't help that the footage that Bravo's cameras caught doesn't exactly lend itself to the story either...Naturally, Robyn and Gizelle make a beeline to Ashley to spill on the butt her man just grabbed that wasn't hers, but both Ashley and Katie shrug it off as a joke between the guys. However, the drama really turns up when Robyn jokingly asks if this butt grabbing is a "white guy thing."

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Both Katie and Ashley balk at this suggestion, failing to see what race has to do with grabbing butts. Ashley points out that race shouldn't factor into the conversation, considering that all four women are biracial. Gizelle and Robyn quickly shoot down this allegation, reminding Little Miss Ashley that they are both strong, confident black women without any direct white ancestors. This gets Katie fired up and she promptly tells both women to take another look at their genealogy - you don't end up with blonde hair and green eyes if you came "straight out of Africa." At this point, everything is starting to spiral out of control, with Robyn laughing off the suggestion that she's biracial, which in turn insults Katie that Robyn would think being biracial is a negative thing. Are you following? Robyn tries to get the conversation back around to the butt grab, but Katie shoots out that the alleged groping between her and Ashley's men sounds about as factual as Gizelle and Robyn being 100% black. An annoyed Katie storms away from the conversation in a huff, calling Gizelle and Robyn the most racially obsessed women she knows. In the end, the pair don't get the reaction they wanted out of Ashley and I am left failing to understand how this argument got turned into a racial issue in the first place. L'chaim?

Next week, the drama comes to a head in the season finale! Until then, let me know whose side of the biracial butt grab you're on in the comments below and share the recap on social media by clicking the "Share" button!

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!