The Real Housewives of Auckland is an underdiscussed treasure, partly because of its Oceanic remoteness, partly because of the unjust likelihood that it will remain a one season wonder. Fortunately, Bravo is airing it stateside anyway, and today marked the debut on American television of the Auckland housewives’ most infamous moment—the incident that we wordsmiths here at The Bitchy Witches LLC refer to as Racism Boat. Join me, won’t you, for an aquatic adventure through antiquated racial slurs, thrown prosecco, and unrelated fake tan mishaps?
To set the scene: apex predator Louise charters a boat for the ladies during their vacay to Port Douglas (which I believe is something like the Cancun of Australia, but if any of our thousands of Oceanic readers wants to chip in I’d appreciate it). A series of ominous camera angles lets us know in advance that this is no ordinary boat, but a Racism Boat.
Louise sits inside the cabin with Champagne Lady/Cat Lady/immortal Victorian vampire Anne and chats about finding and purchasing the blood of the young for rejuvenation purposes. Meanwhile, Persian RBF-wielder Gilda, constant-recipient-of-questionable-Naomi-Campbell-comparisons Michelle, and human-stoat hybrid Julia sit on the…hood…of the boat? I don’t know I’m not rich I don’t boat. The front thing you know what I mean. Anyway they’re having a grand old time when, in Michelle’s words, “it all turns to custard” (forgive her, she’s British). Julia elaborates: “I said something to Gilda about Michelle not being her boat n*****…but it came out wrong.” Yeeeah…hate when my n-word-invoking jokes go south. Julia proceeds to explain that the offending phrase is merely an “old boating term,” which I actually believe, as my sense is that most people who boat regularly are nightmare WASP bigots.
To examine the episode-long aftermath, let’s take a look at the ladies separately.
Part of what makes this episode extraordinary, rather than just a blot on the franchise (although it’s still that, lol, I mean it probably got this shit cancelled) is Michelle’s reaction to it all. She handles it about as graciously as possible, but she also never forgets to keep housewiving as she does, which is what elevates the true greats on this show in times of crisis. She screams through a glass partition that Julia *is* a gold-digging whore after all, she’s decided! She throws her prosecco in Julia’s face, then shatters the glass on the ground!
Having worked out her justified anger, though, Michelle consents to meet with Julia for a dinner, a scene beautifully wrought with screw-turning righteousness on Michelle’s part. She’s still angry, and bats down literally everything Julia says that isn’t an apology (“Don’t lecture me!” “…I’m gonna lecture you…”), but also gives a heartfelt explanation of why she’s proud to be black, and why Julia’s, er, “boating term” isn’t acceptable. Then she delivers possibly the greatest (non-cocaine-related) Housewives episode closing line of all time: “Ya gonna go home and watch Roots? Twelve Years a Slave?” Gorgeous.
As the counterpoint to Michelle’s grace, Julia serves an iconically tone-deaf performance. Gollum-in-a-blonde-wig that she is, Julia fumbles through at least half-a-dozen bad takes on the controversy. She attempts to pass the phrase “boat n*****” off as a terrible joke, which…what…would a functioning joke have looked like, that contains that phrase…? You’re not Richard Pryor, hun. But that’s just the beginning of the cringe!
Snap Ranking: The Five Most Embarrassing Julia Sloane Statements Related to Her Use of a Racial Slur on a Boat
5. Julia: “I am the least racist person you could meet!” Michelle:
4. Julia: “It’s such a good thing to be able to forgive.” Michelle: “I didnt say I forgave you.”
3. Julia: “I grew up with Maoris, Polynesians…”
2. Julia: “I wrote three children’s books to teach the Maori language.”
1. Michelle: “You’re gonna call me a house n*****?!” Julia: “A boat n******, but…”
So did Julia learn from this experience? According to the show, maybe sorta. According to the news, she and her husband filed a complaint with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission complaining that the Racial Relations Commissioner defamed her by discussing the issue, sooo prooobably not.
As Michelle’s best friend, Gilda alternates between having heartfelt walks/emotional hugs with her and ranting about Julia being a fucking idiot. Anne and Louise, meanwhile, spend the hour giving endless talking heads about Julia being a fucking idiot. The true B-plot star of the episode, however, is Angela Stone, acclaimed author of Being Real. Angela is the omega of the group, meaning she’s all Julia has left once her stock tanks. Angela dispenses advice,
forces the ladies to grit their way heals the ladies through an improv yoga session with her Life-and-Laughter Coach, and just generally revels in the fact that she’s FINALLY POPULAR ^_^ with the group. Because we’re watching a Housewives program, this of course all merely serves as setup to the punchline of Angela getting fake tan all over the crotch of her white one-piece.
Her name may be Stone, but everything she touches turns to gold.
If you’ve not yet watched RHOAKL (…I know), I hope this has whetted your appetite to check it out. I promise you’ll get used to their weird fucked-up Kiwi vowel sounds eventually.