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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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...
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...