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RECAP: Real Housewives of Potomac “Mind Your Manners” [Episode 1]

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I’m an exasperated soap fan who keeps hanging on – waiting for the daytime I once loved to return to its former glory! Hey, it doesn’t hurt to have a dream. I learned to love soaps thanks to my wonderful mother and grandmother. I’ll always have fond memories of daytime, most especially of ‘Another World’, my first stoap love. The ever great, but sadly defunct, daytime shows like Ryan’s Hope, Search for Tomorrow, The Doctors, Loving, and many others keep a special place in my heart, as well. ♦ Norrth Cafe's BlogTwitterFacebook

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If the new series, The Real Housewives of Potomac, is Andy Cohen’s and Bravo’s way of apologizing for the #RHOA, #RHONJ, #RHOBH (The Glanville years) and the #RHOM, I accept. The show opens to a series of scenes of the rich and (not yet) famous housewives at play on golf courses, tennis courts and lounging around in their spa like mega-yards.  Big money, big lives, big attitudes.  I think I love this show.  

We land on Gizelle Bryant, who is home cooking with her three girls, 9-year old twins Angel and Adore, and 10-year old, Grace. I keep searching for the maid who probably handles the meals but has been squared away to make us think that this is a regular routine. Gizelle’s father was one of the first African-Americans elected to the Texas legislature, and he worked with MLK, Jr and Andrew Young. I’ll bet she can answer questions about the Underground Railroad and won’t search for train tracks under church floorboards! She doesn’t think so highly of her ex-husband, Pastor and civil rights leader, Jamal Bryant, who relocated the family to Baltimore during their marriage.  He, as she put it, was a cheater who loved to hide his salami.She lives by the “rules called Gizelle” and she does it damn well. She is clearly going to be the season’s firecracker!

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I am immediately less intrigued by Katie Rost, who is having lunch with her boyfriend, Andrew Martin. If the caption attached to his name hadn’t informed us that they were dating, I would have assumed  they were friends meeting for lunch. During a talking head, she grins wide enough to knock her own ears off while telling us that she loves the “white boys” and the “Jewish boys.” I have to think that they are not waiting around for Katie to festishize them, as if they are toys. She has three children who are three and under, all of whom appear to be children with her ex-husband. Walking out on a husband while four months pregnant is a story that casts a much bigger shadow than the odd vibe Katie and Andrew give off as part of their current story. 

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Robyn Dixon, ex-wife of former NBA player Juan Dixon, is nothing like the first two wives. She, too, is from a prominent, high-achieving, well-educated, family, but she takes pride in the PR work she does and would rather do that than become a stuffed shirt. Gizelle stops by as Robyn is getting her wedding dress together (she is selling it on ebay).  Gizelle is trying to talk her out of it, but Robyn has no sentimental attachment to it and no daughters to pass it down to, later. P.S.  While it was very clever of Bravo to bring Nene back on the day it launched this new housewife franchise, the network should have thought about how ragged Nene’s wig would look compared to Robyn and Gizelle’s graceful blond locks. They are rocking the look.  Nene looks rocked by her look. Gizelle comments that their light skin and green eyes have often led others to ask if they are sisters.  They are just great friends. The two women were just talking about the feelings Robyn still has for him and would be devastated if he was dating and not telling her.  Both Robyn and Katie like to avoid riding the C-L-U-E bus.

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I think most American’s homes fit in Karen Huger’s great room!  As she descends the staircase calling for Ray, we hear him before we see him and when we do? WTH?  He reminds me of an older (more successful) Peter Thomas. Karen calls him the “Black Bill Gates,” since he is the President/CEO of a successful IT company. Hopefully his company has developed software which generates ironclad prenups. Queen Karen tells us that it is as easy to marry a rich man as it is to marry a poor man but she’s never met a happy poor man.  Poor men everywhere breathe a sigh of relief that she is off the market. While standing in a kitchen that needs serious updating, the queen sends her manservant, Ray, to fetch a bottle of wine to take with her to Gizelle’s. Married 19-years, he seems to still be infatuated with his wife. She wants to make sure no other woman becomes infatuated with him. She is a farmer’s daughter, she tells us in an earlier scene, who does not want to return to the farm.

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Gizelle lovingly calls Karen a diva. I am guessing that the other wives have other words to describe her.  It is not clear that Karen knows about Gizelle’s father and her former life. Karen takes credit for introducing Gizelle into Potomac society and feels that it is her duty to usher in the next generation of African-American women.  She feels that Gizelle will take her place and hold the reins at some point, but she will probably be dead by then. Karen asks about  Gizelle’s children, but only to tell her how perfect her own daughter, Raven, is and that she did everything Gizelle is planning to do with her daughters (only better).  She throws a bit of shade at Gizelle about her failed marriage and her current dating life and the torturous scenes end there.

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The torture picks up when Gizelle and Katie meet for drinks and dinner to celebrate Karen’s birthday. Katie’s family has real money and through their charities they give away hundreds of millions of dollars a year.  They are later  joined by Robyn and Charrisse Jordan (wife of Eddie Jordan, Juan’s former  coach).  Sit down, folks… Charrisse did her own hair and makeup. She is getting big kudos for doing the work herself! They are waiting for the birthday guest to arrive to the party thrown by Charrisse, who recalls the strained relationship she initially had with Karen, one that has since turned into a great friendship.  

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When Karen arrives,  Gizelle upsets the apple cart by not moving out of the center position where Karen, Katie and Charrisse believes Karen belongs. The tension is broken by talk of the long distance relationship between Charrisse and her husband, who is the head coach at Rutgers and is living in New Jersey. More giggles happen over drinks, when the ladies finally toast Karen. It’s good that she is there to remind them of how “fabulous” she is and that their toasts are dead on.

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As she and her housekeeper, Lorna, are clearing the lawn for an event at her palatial estate, Charrisse tells us in a talking head interview that she was not well received in the community, at first,  and was perceived as being poor and possibly Section 8 (Section 8… in THAT house?).  When it was revealed that her husband was the, now former, coach of the Washington Wizards, the community fell in line and invited her to numerous events.  She turned them down, joking that she was “section 8” and couldn’t afford to go. She appears to have a good tight knit group of friends, including Gizelle, who has come over to cook for a big event at Charrisse’s home taking place later that day. Apparently, Charrisse doesn’t cook, either. Gizelle brings along her hairdresser, Kal, to Charrisse’s dismay because no one called to say he was coming. Free catering?If Gizelle brought an entire crew to cook, the response should have been, “Thank you!” Why didn’t she hire a chef, instead?

Katie, getting ready for the crab boil at Charisse’s, tells us that she loves that Andrew is good with the kids, but what she really loves is that he is good with money. Oh, she’s deep, folks. Robyn’s boys are running wild while she gets ready. Charisse insults Gizelle on several different occasions – by first claiming that Gizelle’s legs are always open, and by then becoming upset that Gizelle and Kal were calling out for Lorna.  (Think of how mad she would have been if she knew that they also riffled through her kitchen after being upset that they were treated like “hired help” and left behind to work while Charrisse was getting her hair and makeup done).  The pair called Lorna because they needed a pot for the crabs, which her highness, Charisse, did not leave for them.  It is an odd situation. Charrisse refers to Kal as an uninvited souse chef. She is also upset that the two are loud and refers to them as “ghetto” (yeah, the woman who was assumed to be a section 8 case is now casting racial/income based aspersions). She threatens to throw them out of her home, to their surprise, when they come up to ask if she needs help with other things.  Oddly enough, as Gizelle is greeting the guests when Charisse is still not ready, another friend, Byrnee, who is running through the home yelling out her name, does not draw the same insults from Charisse.

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Karen, who is upset with Charisse because she has to walk to the house from the end of the very long drive, decides to take on Gizelle, first, and confronts her about taking the center seat at dinner. Karen thinks Gizelle was wrong to bring the hired help to Charrisse’s home, and that Gizelle should read the book on  party etiquette she purchased for her (Camille Grammer/Kyle Richards). Someone should give Karen a book that explains when to give a book on etiquette. Giving such a book at someone else’s party is wrong, especially when it leads to a scene that draws negative attention.’

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Back inside, Charrisse suggests to Byrnee that Kal wandered her home and came up the stairs on his own.  Charrisse says that Gizelle should return to Baltimore and deal with the kinds of people she is use to dealing with there.  It is interesting (and read that as f**king sad) that the women who were born without money are the meanest and the most judgemental.  Gizelle annoys a harping Karen until Karen walks away.  It is a thing of beauty.  Karen says that everyone comes for her, but they just don’t find her… ok.  Keep steppin’ pretender to the throne, keep steppin’.  Gizelle reminds us that SHE has a legacy and a pedigree.  Karen is the one off the farm.  This show is GOLD for Bravo, pure GOLD.  

I will be back, next week, and bet you will be too.

 

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