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Mariah Smith is a comedian, writer, and producer in Los Angeles. She's written for, or has been featured in, The New York Times, vice, The Cut, Allure, Cosmopolitan, and more.
“How would you describe last year in one word?” a producer asks in this eerie start to Season 6, putting respect on the name of The Real Housewives of Potomac Season 5.
"Toxic," one half of the green-eyed-bandits, Gizelle Bryant, responds.
“You never know who may be plotting around your back…[you] never know who your girlfriends are...don’t listen to them. Watch them,” Professor Wendy professes.
And like a cherry blossom bursting out of its pod in spring, just like that, they’re back.
We open on a peculiar scene of Dr. Wendy Osefo strutting through the halls of her faraway home in a fur coat as she transitions to the nightmare of a TikTok trend drenched in red light as her body is silhouetted in a doorway, while being filmed by her husband Eddie. It’s shown that this is all for an invitation to one of the most explosive opening dinners we’ve seen this side of a Housewives season premiere… but we’ll get to that.
First, we gotta set the scene. We gotta go through the Houses of each of the Wives and hear a little about what they’ve been up to since last season, see where their relationships are, and lay the groundwork for the big fight at dinner.
So, to that end, we find Gizelle sitting in the closet of the West Wing of her fixer upper, and the decor doesn’t make me feel like I’ve been food poisoned (that’s some foreshadowing right there for you all). At Karen Huger’s home, she waters and kisses a plant, while Robyn Dixon shows hints of the home she’s breaking ground on with her ex-husband/fiancé, Juan.
We then see a flash of Candiace Dillard Bassett and her husband Chris’s former home that was, technically speaking, shared with her mother, and the good news there is that the house has been sold! Even I feel a sense of relief from this news. Candiace and Chris have now moved on to their own home that they own, just the two of them, that’s nearly 10,500 square feet, a far cry from their town home with no sign of Dorothy.
Finally, we reach the extraordinarily pregnant Ashley Darby. Ashley's penthouse is of course also home to Michael Darby, the man who put her through a difficult Season 5 and who she now calls an "incredible father." Just 10 days away from her due date, Ashley admits that she and Michael haven't had sex since she was five months pregnant, aka four months ago.
Typically, I wouldn't bat an eye at this, but given his infidelities and extra-curricular activities of the season past (oh god, now I'm picturing that photo of him in his underwear), my eyes are batt-ier than a cave.
Ashley says she can’t imagine having sex at the moment, though she wouldn’t mind trying just to give the baby an extra reason to come out. During this conversation, Ashley checks in with how Michael’s feeling about this next go-round of fatherhood, and all he has to say is that he’s in a better place (not a stripper’s hotel room), and that he’s looking forward to “it.”
Back at Candiace’s home, Gizelle, whose personal style hasn’t advanced as much as her interior design skills, drops by. It’s her first time seeing both Candiace’s new house and her “bonus” kids Naia and Mateo. (Nice kids!) Candiace gives Gizelle the grand tour, which includes a look at her office/salon, which is just that: an office slash hair salon. Another important room is Candiace’s mother’s Dorothy’s. It’s even outfitted with a lifesize cutout of Dorothy that she finds appealing to sleep next to each night she visits.
Once Gizelle and Candiace take a seat on Candiace’s enormous couch, they get to the real meat of the moment: How Are Things With Gizelle And Jamal Bryant, aka her ex-husband/boyfriend.
Gizelle is surprisingly frank, and tells Candiace that things between herself and Jamal are not great!!! I hate to celebrate the dissolution of an already dissolved marriage, but God is in control! Citing the pandemic as the reason behind her relationship’s downfall, Gizelle says she wants someone who lives eight minutes away, not eight states. Plus, she could only see him about once a month during the height of the pandemic, which was already pushing it since he was seeing EIGHT THOUSAND people a week, presumably due to his church duties, or the amount of women he’s allegedly stepping out on Gizelle with. Hard to say.
While Gizelle recaps why her relationship with Jamal may be on its last leg, Candiace has one lucid and valuable thought: Perhaps it was Monique Samuels’ book of texts, receipts, and other documents that painted Jamal out to be a cheater and a liar that affected the status of their relationship. Not only that, but hmm, could Gizelle and Jamal be crumbling because of the multiple insinuations by Jamal himself that he’s single? Could that have anything to do with it? Shout out to whoever in this moment flashed headlines and Instagram posts across the screen that showed Jamal basically saying he was single and ready to mingle.
At Grand Dame Karen’s home, in the midst of spring cleaning, we find her sitting in her closet as her husband, who last season said he didn't know if he still loved her, looks on. (For those keeping track at home, that’s two Housewives in this one episode who we see sitting in their closets.)
During the Season 5 reunion, Ray Huger announced that he wanted to renew his vows with Karen for their 25th wedding anniversary… which, while a thoughtful thought, is absolutely chaotic and has a less than stellar track record in the Real Housewives universe. So, to combat that, Karen’s daughter suggested they call it, “So nice, we had to do it twice.” Which, tomato/tomato, sorry in advance, La Dame and Black Bill Gates. That’s a no from me.
Moving on from the vow renewal conversation (thank god), Karen tells Ray that she no longer considers Gizelle a friend, considering that every time she turns her back, Gizelle is saying or doing something negative. On the other side of town, Gizelle is on that damn couch talking to Candiace about Karen. She claims that Karen can’t help but spread lies about her and Jamal, while Candiace claims there’s a lot of negative things that could and should be said about Karen. None of those things are said at the moment, but if I know my Potomac women, they will be said eventually. Oh, they will be said. And when they are said, Candiace admits she wants to be there with a helmet on.
While the former friends lament about one another to their loved ones, Wendy presses send on her Nude Interlude video, which everyone in the greater Potomac area pretends to be scandalized by. Wendy’s party is a way for the friends and former friends to reconnect (and for us to be introduced to a new Housewife) but… it’s also for Wendy to show off her new boobs.
As Wendy and her new boobs (which she calls Happy and Ness) are given the go ahead by the doctor to resume normal life, Robyn is being told to get one by her ex-husband/fiance, Juan. At a juice bar, Robyn toasts to a successful basketball season for Juan. Then, when asked by producers when she and Juan are going to get married, Robyn lists extensive and exhausting reasons why they can’t, including the new home being built and COVID-19. Juan on the other hand isn’t pressed about a wedding, he’s pressed about Robyn’s sleep to wake ratio. He complains that she doesn’t wake up until 2 in the afternoon and she needs to do better as a mother, calling her habits a “turn-off.” He also wants at least one baby girl from Robyn after they wed. Not sure why they chose a juice bar to have this very blunt and likely very hurtful conversation, but maybe kale smoothies bring it out of them.
At long last, it’s time for Wendy’s Nude Interlude dinner party. At her home, Wendy’s got chefs cooking away and nipple cupcakes for her guests. The first to arrive at the party is Gizelle, who calls Wendy’s home location “Nigeria,” because it’s so far. Once Robyn arrives, she and Gizelle make like the green-eyed bandits they are to scope out the dinner table scene and this is where they first encounter the name Mia on a placecard. Mia, we soon learn, is a friend of Karen’s and a new Housewife joining the fold. She and Karen met through their many business endeavors, and Mia owns a chain of chiropractic studios on the East Coast.
Karen and Mia arrive together, and Gizelle is pressed and pissed that Karen didn’t immediately apologize to her for her wrong-doings upon immediate entrance to the party. Speaking of entrances, the only Housewife who didn’t make one was Candiace because she claimed to have had food poisoning, but word on the street is she just wasn’t ready to face Karen.
Without Candiace we do have a bit more time to learn about Mia, who is the mother of three and after some math that shouldn’t have been that hard, we find out she’s married to a man 32 years her senior. She’s also a grandmother to some of his children’s kids at the special age of 36. After learning more about Mia, Wendy takes it upon herself to discuss why she got her breast enhancement and a few other tweaks that she refuses to mention.
After her monologue about self-enhancements, Wendy becomes frustrated with Mia for asking follow up questions and asks what Mia has had done. Mia’s honest and says she’s had fillers, botox, implants and even her clit worked on. Yep. This is just at the dinner table that quickly becomes a boxing ring thanks to the blowout fight that begins between Gizelle and Karen. This is why we’re here!!
After Wendy suggests that the group collectively come to a good place, Gizelle tells the table that that’s impossible because she will never be in a good place with Karen and she’s not afraid to say that. She’s also not afraid to broadcast Karen’s wrong-doings over the course of many weeks because she’s that fed up. Fed up as well, Karen calls Gizelle a “fiery box,” which is why she can’t keep a man. Gizelle claims she has a “WAP box,” or vagina as it were, and can keep a man. Karen counters that Gizelle is simply a “broke whore from Hampton University,” and then we’re hit with a good old “TO BE CONTINUED…”
Was it worth watching the women sit in closets for the first 45 minutes in order to arrive at 60 seconds of excellent footage at the end of the episode? Of course it was. Which is why we’ll be back next week for a recap of Episode 2 of RHOP.
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