It would be an understatement to say that Galentine’s Day is a big deal in my friend group. It’s a day to celebrate friendships, new and old, without the overbearing presence of cis-heteroxual male energy. It’s a day to turn an absolute look, because you cannot spell “lifelong friendships’”without “photo shoot.” And it’s a day to drink prosecco. So much prosecco. Scholars and theorists alike might even say too much prosecco. Galentine’s Day is always one of my favorite days of the year, but when I think of Galentine’s Day 2020, it can be characterized by one defining moment: the day my friend Danny and I reached peaked anti-social status, and left mid-party to start watching The Real Housewives of Potomac. (Also, it’s the day I discovered what a ring light is, and that I firmly believe that access to free health care and an affordable ring light are basic human rights).
If you’re like me, The Real Housewives are your lifeblood: you breathe Herman Munster Louis Vuitton; you bleed SHE by Shereé Joggers (release date: tbd). You would never accept a stuffed bunny for your grandson unless it had the right energy. You meet the knowledge of someone being engaged 19 times with the flip of a table. You know every franchise inside and out, which means you also know there is currently an opening for the best Real Housewives franchise.
It’s an unfortunate, yet known fact that previous Real Housewives front runners are, frankly, losing their elite status. New York is currently in a transition period, still trying to find its footing without Bethenny, while our usual favorites (Dorinda, Ramona, Sonja) are growing less and less lovable. Beverly Hills is begging for plotlines—making an entire season not even about an actual threesome, but the mere discussion of hypothetical threesomes, and bringing back Brandi Glanville in what can only be described as an act of desperation. Atlanta is a close front runner, but current speculations of a future without NeNe Leakes create an air of uncertainty surrounding the strength of the franchise. This all leaves the perfect opening for The Real Housewives of Potomac to take its rightful spot as the supreme Real Housewives franchise.
As we watched in our too-much-prosecco hazed state in the aftermath of Galentine’s Day, my friend and I immediately realized that The Real Housewives of Potomac wasn’t like any other franchise—and that’s what made it so hard to look away. While all of the ladies of Potomac are Black women, their lives are diverse in ways that make for excellent TV. Of course you have the women who are uber rich, with mansions galore and glam-squads at the ready (Karen, Monique, Katie), but you also have women who are just, dare I say, middle class—they’re doing well, but also have to go to work to pay the mortgage, and in some cases, the rent (Robyn, Gizelle). You have women in happy marriages to lifelong sweethearts, and you have women who are divorced, dating, and thriving—and you have one woman who is divorced from, but still living and sharing a bed with, said lifelong sweetheart. The women of Potomac also widely vary in age, with Karen Huger, the self-proclaimed Grand Dame, who began her Housewives tenure at the age of 52, and Ashley Darby, who made Housewives history as the youngest Housewife at the age of 27.
Potomac is also different from any other franchise because it takes place in, well, Potomac. Andy Cohen is known for giving us inside looks into the lifestyles of the rich and famous with women reigning from notable, big-named cities like Beverly Hills, New York, and even Dallas. But, he took a sharp left turn in choosing to establish a franchise in a place like Potomac, a small town in Maryland that, while boasted as one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country, very few people could place on map. In short, I will boldly claim that The Real Housewives of Potomac reinvents the wheel and challenges what it means to be a Real Housewives franchise in new, exciting, and unique ways.
That’s not at all to say, however, that Potomac doesn’t know how to deliver classic, Housewives-defining elements that every franchise is required, by Bravo law, to possess. You have your overbearing mother (à la Atlanta’s Mama Joyce and New York’s Dale) in Candiace’s mom, Ms. Dorothy, who never provides a dull moment in being both a therapist but also someone who hits her daughter with her purse at social events. You have sightings from random celebrities you have not thought about in years (à la Fetty Wap in New Jersey) in Macy Gray, when she appears in season 4 to teach Karen’s daughter, Rayvin, how to sing. And of course, you cannot have real Real Housewives drama without the husbands getting involved. Much like PK and Ken in Beverly Hills, and the New Jersey Joes, the husbands of Potomac also reluctantly become roped into plotlines, most notably with “Did Michael Touch That Man’s Butt-gate”—a fascinatingly complicated plotline that transcends season lines.
One of my favorite Housewives tropes is the classic power struggle between the queens of the franchises: Teresa Giudice and Melissa Gorga, Lisa Vanderpump and Kyle Richards, Jill Zarin and Bethenny Frankel. Potomac follows suit with the constant back-and-forth between Karen Huger and Gizelle Bryant. These women have a unique friendship, in that Gizelle’s achilles heel is not being able to recognize when she’s wrong, and Karen’s achilles heel is only being able to recognize when Gizelle is wrong. The women begin their tussle early on in season 1, and the cycle of “fight, no apology, fight, bad apology, fight, real apology” has, without fail, occurred every season since. However, what sets Karen and Gizelle’s friendship apart from other franchises is that it’s clear that there is genuine respect and love between them. We learn that the two have been friends for years, far preceding the Real Housewives cameras—and that is apparent. Yes, Gizelle hits below the belt when she wears a T-shirt that says “#FreeKarenHuger #TaxReform,” after Karen and her husband’s tax debts come to light, but she is also the first one to wipe away Karen’s tears when she breaks down at the season 3 reunion after the deaths of her parents. The ladies fight hard and love hard, a prime example of how Potomac gives you classic Housewives, while also pushing and redefining the Housewives narrative.
Past seasons have been nail-bitingly thrilling, but season 5 is where I expect The Real Housewives of Potomac to really come into their own, and secure the currently empty slot of best Real Housewives franchise. The season 5 trailer gives us broken wine glasses, the introduction of a new Housewife, and wigs both good and bad. But, I’m most excited to see how the fifth season of Potomac will handle and discuss our current social climate as it pertains to race. It is true—we are living in unprecedented times, and the culture we consume, especially culture that is centered upon the lives of seven black women, should reflect that. Simply going based off Instagram posts, the women of most other franchises (except, you guessed it, Atlanta) have missed the mark incredibly when it comes to the anti-racism discussion. But the ladies of Potomac have never been strangers to the discussion of race on the show, from season 1 when Robyn and Gizelle cling tightly and proudly to their blackness, despite the lighter hues of their skin, to season 4 when Gizelle hosts a trip to New Orleans and the women emotionally tour a slave plantation. I’m excited and optimistic to see how the ladies of Potomac approach the current racial movement and show the women of other franchises that posting a black square to the grid, or simply ignoring the movement entirely, simply ain’t it.
I was asked the other day who my favorite housewife was on Potomac, and I didn’t have a clear answer. Not because there are not personalities with a capital P within the franchise, but because these women are all connected, a cohort of women who pristinely works off each other to serve the plotline. You can’t have Ashley without Monique and Karen; you can’t have Robyn without Gizelle; you can’t have Candiace without her mom paying half the mortgage. The Real Housewives of Potomac is storyline-driven, which I think is where their lasting power lies. I simply cannot wait to see these women sweep the #1 Real Housewives spot with the premiere of their fifth season.
If you love RHOP, check out our video with Ashley Darby:
Photo by: Sophy Holland/Bravo
When Lisa Vanderpump essentially ghosted The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills halfway through season nine, it felt like a pivotal moment in the show’s history. With an OG gone, and most of the drama out the door behind her, would the group crumble, or come back even stronger? Well, I’m happy to report that thus far, season 10 has been a major return to form, after a few seasons that struggled to hold viewers’ attention. This week, we sat down with RHOBH star Dorit Kemsley on the Mention It All Podcast, and she shared her thoughts on Lisa’s exit, and why things have really clicked this season.
Going into the current season, Dorit says that “none of us really knew what to expect, because Lisa has always been there—she’s one of the originals.” But once filming got going, things progressed naturally. “There was so much going on that it didn’t feel like there was a missing part,” Dorit says, adding, “none of us probably thought it would’ve been that easy of a transition, but it really was.” Dorit credits this smooth transition with the fact that “the core group has definitely gotten stronger and tighter.” She’s now in her fourth season on the show, and she feels “comfortable and confident” around her fellow cast members, despite acknowledging that “you wouldn’t guess that in some of the episodes.” She also credits this season’s two new cast members, Garcelle Beauvais and Sutton Stracke, for “really making it fresh.”
While the show hasn’t suffered from Lisa Vanderpump’s departure, Dorit is still working through the loss of her long-standing friendship with her former costar. “As far as our relationship, sadly, we haven’t spoken. And that’s not because I haven’t wanted to, or haven’t made attempts, but we haven’t spoken since last season. So there really isn’t a relationship.” While Dorit still says she’s hopeful for a future with Lisa, she’s “not stopping life and waiting for it to happen.”
Though Dorit is positive about her relationships with the other women on the show, there are obviously some rough waters ahead on this season. When asked what we can still look forward to seeing, Dorit kept it vague, just saying, “There’s obviously drama. And then the drama gets bigger. And bigger. And then bigger. And then there’s a few bombs, so there’s a lot to look forward to.” Buckle up your seatbelts, because things are about to get messy.
To hear our full interview with Dorit Kemsley, check out the latest episode of the Mention It All Podcast:
Images: Eugene Powers / Shutterstock.com
On this week’s season finale of Vanderpump Rules, we were left with an emotional look at the journey we’ve all taken over the past eight years. We’ve been through a lot with this chaotic group, and this has been an intense season to say the least. This week on the Mention It All Podcast, we chatted with Vanderpump Rules OG Kristen Doute about her relationships, her thoughts on the where the show is at now, and her brand new book, which comes out next month.
Over the course of season 8, we’ve watched Kristen’s bonds with Katie and Stassi disintegrate, all while she struggles to figure out wtf to do about Carter. To put it simply, Doute said, “this season really sucked.” She continued, saying that in her friendships with Katie and Stassi, as well as her relationship with Carter, “we just couldn’t get it back.” Things with the Witches of Weho are still rough, but Kristen told us that she and Carter were “immediately done for good” after filming ended last year, and that she’s much happier now. (Check out her new boyfriend on Instagram if you want proof.)
Adding to an already difficult summer for Kristen was the arrival of a whole new set of cast members. From a viewer’s perspective, it seemed like the cast wasn’t very well integrated, and Kristen has no problem making her thoughts known. On top everything going on, she said, “we had 55 new cast members who I didn’t care about. I just didn’t care enough to get to know a lot of people that were thrown into my life when I had all these momentous moments going on.”
Speaking of momentous moments, Kristen can still appreciate her time on Vanderpump Rules, despite going through some particularly rough stuff in the past year. Asked what she enjoys looking back on most, she said, “it’s all the fun moments. Just being in friend-love with each other. That’s why the last few minutes were so gut-wrenching. Watching those montages and those flashbacks, it was really sad but also so wonderful.” Damn, why am I crying in the club right now?
But even though we all cried (no? just me?) at the season finale, we’ve still got a Zoom reunion to look forward to, and Kristen promises that it will be top-notch: “there were some tears, there was definitely a lot of yelling… it was interesting.” Specifically, she teases that there’s “a little nugget of truth” that becomes public, and it sounds like whatever it is will cause some major fallout in the group. Count me in.
To hear the full interview with Kristen Doute, check out the latest episode of the Mention It All Podcast:
Images: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com
Whenever a new woman joins the group on a Real Housewives show, it’s like a science experiment. There are a lot of variables, and you could end up with an amazing breakthrough, or something could go horribly wrong. While some Housewives have come and gone with hardly anyone noticing, it’s taken Real Housewives of New York newbie Leah McSweeney only a few episodes to become an integral part of the group. It looks like Leah is here to stay, so we sat down with her for the Mention It All Podcast to talk all things RHONY.
Like the rest of us, Leah has been stuck in quarantine since season 12 premiered, but she says she’s been getting lots of positive feedback on social media. “I’ve been received well, which is really nice, because I cannot imagine being hated by the world during a pandemic. That would be too much for me.” Speaking of not-so-positive feedback, Leah definitely pays attention to what’s happening in the world of Bravo, adding “I don’t know how Sutton is doing it.” Ouch.
While Leah has meshed well with the RHONY cast, not everything has been smooth sailing. She shared her initial reactions to the women, saying she was “surprised” at how much she had in common with Luann, but that with Sonja and Dorinda, “there was some friction,” and that it “took a few episodes to get on the same page.” On the show right now, Leah is in a pretty great place with all of the women, but it sounds like it won’t be long before things go south between her and Ramona. Leah says she “didn’t take any offense to it” when Ramona initially gave her a hard time on the show, “but that will change as the season goes on.” Needless to say, we’ll all be watching eagerly to see what happens.
Leah also shared some previously-unknown details from that night in the Hamptons. You know, the one with the tiki torches. We all saw the vibrator in the chicken, but what did the cameras miss? “I tried on Elyse’s like, 25-carat ring, and it got stuck on my finger. That, you didn’t see—we had to grease my finger up, I mean, it wouldn’t come off!” Someday, I’ll party with the RHONY ladies, even if it’s the last thing I do.
For more behind the scenes RHONY tea, check out our full interview with Leah McSweeney on the latest episode of the Mention It All Podcast:
Image: Sophy Holland/Bravo
It’s hard to believe that this season of Vanderpump Rules is already coming to a close, but we can’t watch Dayna go back and forth between Brett and Max forever. While the coronavirus pandemic has brought service at SUR and TomTom to a halt, things with our favorite crew of (mostly former) SURvers and bartenders are still heating up. Last week, the Pump Rules crew sat down to film their first ever virtual reunion, because no virus can stop Bravo from bringing us the drama we need.
This week, Vanderpump Rules OG Tom Sandoval stopped by the Mention It All Podcast, and he updated us on his furniture situation, how TomTom is handling the quarantine, and of course, all things VPR. There’s been a lot going on on season 8 of Vanderpump Rules, but one constant theme has been Tom and Ariana’s lack of furniture in their new house. Tom’s explanation? He and Ariana are “two extra motherf*ckers,” and they wanted to take their time to get their home exactly right. In what may or may not have been a dig at some of his costars, he said that “the last thing we would ever do is buy staging furniture with the house.” Catch that shade?
Nearing the end of a “really intense” season, one of the biggest storylines has been Jax Taylor’s inexplicable issues with Tom, and particularly his relationship with Ariana. Speaking on this, Tom says that he doesn’t understand “what his obsession is,” but that he “would never consider Jax a safe place.” I have a feeling these two won’t be patching things up at the reunion, as Tom noted that we’ll see some of his cast mates “continuing to not evolve as human beings.” Tom wasn’t about to spoil anything, but that has Jax Taylor written all over it.
Speaking of the reunion, doing things virtually turned out to be quite a production. Your glitchy company Zoom meeting, this was not. Tom says that production went to “crazy lengths to film this reunion,” delivering complicated tech setups to each cast member’s home, and spending hours remotely helping them set it all up. Tom promises that, despite the circumstances, “the quality is going to be good,” and I can’t wait to see how this season ends. You can listen to the full episode of Mention It All with Tom Sandoval below, and click here to subscribe to get all the newest episodes.
Images: Eugene Powers / Shutterstock.com
Last week, the new season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills kicked off, and it’s an exciting one for many reasons. It’s season 10, we’ve got some exciting new cast members, the return of some familiar faces, and—what I’m most hyped about—we’re finally going to get to the bottom of WTF happened between Denise Richards and Brandi Glanville. We’ve been hearing rumors about their alleged affair, and the resulting fallout among the group, for months, but now we finally get to see how it all plays out.
This week, Brandi Glanville sat down with Bari Rosenfeld and me for our brand new Mention It All Podcast, and she wasn’t afraid to spill some long-awaited tea about what’s going on. On RHOBH she was always known for telling it like it is with absolutely no filter, and it’s safe to say nothing has changed.
When asked about what it was like living through the rumors with Denise, Brandi stuttered before finding the right words to describe the situation. She says that when she was first brought on to the new season of RHOBH, no one knew anything had happened between her and Denise, and she didn’t plan on talking about it. “And then, a certain person changed,” she says. “It was brought to my attention some things were not what they appeared to be… and I just spoke my truth.” What could go wrong?
While Brandi admits that her commitment to speaking the truth has gotten her in trouble “a lot” over the years, she doesn’t have much sympathy for people who want to keep secrets from the cameras. Brandi confirms that Denise Richards sent her a cease and desist letter after their affair became public, but she’s adamant that she won’t be “bullied” into silence. She explains, “When you sign up for a reality show, you have to talk about everything. And if you think that you’re gonna have a secret and then piss on that person, your secret’s coming out.” Brb, grabbing the popcorn.
Clearly, there’s no love lost between Brandi Glanville and Denise Richards, and Brandi admits that this season “won’t be the easiest ride for her.” There’s some major drama brewing in Beverly Hills, and Brandi is ready to get some things off her chest. In the full interview, she shares even more about the situation with Denise, and also opens up about why she feels some of the newer housewives are less compelling. Hint: glam squads. You can listen to the full episode of Mention It All below, and click here to subscribe to get all the newest episodes.
Images: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com