First Contact: The Real Housewives of Potomac, Season 1

That’s right; the smash hit franchise that somehow equals or surpasses RHONY in viewership. I don’t know who in the cast has dire enough material on Andy to get Bravo to fake those numbers, but here we are regardless. Below, meet the women whom I’ve grudgingly agreed to watch because Tracey and Taylor have already been saddled with enough shitty seasons.

Ashley

ashley

Main Storyline: The ingenue of the group, who seeks entry into Potomac society but is oft-derided for “thottish” indiscretions like, uh…drinking…whiskey…and dancing…?

Pros: Ashley is, by leagues, the wittiest, best-spoken, and most telegenic member of the group, which makes the ridiculous social (*cough* AGE) imbalance of the cast slightly more palatable. She’s also very good at playing the game; watch her rev Karen up into righteous, passionate rage about *sigh* etiquette, then tell her to calm down and enunciate. Truly artful passive-aggression, it is.

Cons: I *deeply* admire everything about the Darby marriage, from the truly dizzying age differential to the bizarre (and bizarrely public) commitment to the pullout method to Michael Darby’s Aussie-meets-aspie buzzsaw approach to social interactions with the other women. However, its very existence occasions some of the stupidest conflict I’ve seen on one of these shows. HEAVENS FORFEND that Michael change into his bathing suit…on a yacht.

Charrisse

charrisse

Main Storyline: Her husband doesn’t live with her and she might divorce him. That’s it. That’s the story. (What if I told you this is only the second most boringly weird marriage this season? No, I—please come back—)

Pros: *Interrupts Andy in the middle of the reunion-ending toast* to inform him, in the eeriest, most uncanny, blankly smiling manner possible, that her husband has stopped speaking to her.

Cons: Boring. Also I could do without the weird sinusy voice.

Gizelle

gizelle

Main Storyline: Not so much a storyline as feverishly running a yellow highlighter over passages from Bethenny Confessionals for Dummies.

Pros: I do somewhat appreciate that there was someone thirsty around to get the proceedings going; Housewife kindling, if you will. Gizelle’s first episode antics, scouring through Charrisse’s kitchen drawers, smarming all over Karen’s etiquette bullshit…it perked me up for the program ahead, I admit.

Cons: From there on, though, it was a slow descent into The Tryhard Zone. Even that I could handle, because at least she’s a good sight wittier than your typical obnoxious narrator, but when she proceeded to use her tired, z-snap-style drama girl fakery to support the stiflingly lame Potomac etiquette bullshit…no thank you.

Karen

karen

Main Storyline: Karen fell off the turnip truck and married into Potomac society, and damned if she isn’t gonna gatekeep others from doing the same through a rigid and, of course, entirely arbitrary enforcement of inane etiquette. (See featured image of this post…)

Pros: I guess the rose to my many many Karen thorns would be everyone just fucking dunking on her in the reunion, Andy included, and yet she appeared to think she was doing a standout job holding her ground. Enjoy the view from your cloud, Karbear!

Cons: I. do not. FUCKING. care about Potomac etiquette. The “Etiquette Rule No. XX” bullshit was both a terrible gimmick and supported some of the silliest, most protracted microaggressions ever. Now I’m all for micro social terrors on this show, but in truly great Housewives seasons you can roll through sequential faux pas from, oh let’s say, Ramona, Kelly, and Sonja, and before you blink an eye there’s some horrendous horror being dropped about somebody’s parenting skills and everyone moves on. This season is all stupid micro shit about beach house room assignments and party venue selections and nobody ever moves on and Karen is by far the most to blame for the sheer torpor of it all.

Katie

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Main Storyline: Katie is trying to coerce her boyfriend Andrew into marrying her by any means necessary. (Most of those “means” involve simply demanding that he propose to her, in fairness.)

Pros: Oh man, what isn’t there to like about Katie? Emotionally blackmailing her clearly terrified boyfriend into marriage. Getting hammered (and probably hopped up on a whole bunch of other shit let’s be real) and feeling him up for hours at a friend’s party. Turning his gym into a “Mrs. Room” dedicated to their love while he’s away on business.

katie

Accusing Gizelle of wandering through hotel lobbies wearing lingerie and seeking out public sex. Trying to impress her rabbi before realizing that she never goes to synagogue and forgets the Hebrew alphabet (fun fact, the same thing happened to me when I shopped a Yiddish course in college; bless you, Katie Rost, relatable queen of secular Judaism).

Cons: Uggggh the race shit no please stop. Granted that Robyn’s and Gizelle’s fixation on policing race is reeeeallly deeply neurotic and weird, but…please don’t go there. It’s not fun hun. Not on Bravo.

Robyn

robyn

Main Storyline: Divorcée Robyn and her ex-husband still live together, still sleep together, and have yet to inform their children that they’ve gotten divorced. Yes, it’s bizarre, yet it’s also deeply boring?

Pros: She’s…chiller about etiquette than Gizelle and Karen? (I’ve seriously typed “etiquette” enough in this post that I’ll never again forget how to spell it, but it really is that unbearable a force on this show, and it isn’t even balanced out by someone being told that their etiquette world is going down the toilet what the heck.)

Cons: Join Robyn as she spends an agonizing nine episodes wondering if Juan will move out, and then, he doesn’t. Cool.

Next season: eh you’ve already stopped reading haven’t you.

6 thoughts on “First Contact: The Real Housewives of Potomac, Season 1

  1. Potomac was my first franchise so I have a soft spot for it and I think season 2 is a lot better. With that being said, revisiting this reminded me how *bad* season 1 really was and devoid of drama. I think like Dallas, it was cast and not supposed to be a real housewives show and focused on etiquette and it showed. Thankfully it’s dropped in season 2 for the most part.

    I think the biggest obstacle holding Potomac back is that the cast just really isn’t that stand out. Charrisse, Robyn, Gizelle (why does Andy show her off at every chance) don’t really do anything for me. Although Charrisse markedly improves in season 2 but Robyn has the WORST solo footage ever and Gizelle’s antics and try hardyness just don’t sit well with me. That isn’t to say awful cast members can’t suddenly become great. After hating Karen throughout the entire season 1 (except for the reunion, because alol) I’m not an unironic Karen fan in the present age? I think given time this franchise will improve and the trailers get better and better and for what it’s worth, I think there’s real animosity between the cast (while still filming together because they have too).

    Also the franchise needs a few marquee storylines but I think those are coming in season 3. I hope you stick with it for season 2, since it is pretty enjoyable! It’s not great or anything but I didn’t find it tedious viewing.

    1. Oh i’m in this for 2 and 3, trust me. I’ve watched the complete Lauri Waring Peterson main cast experience; nothing fazes me now.

      I don’t even know that I’d say this season was baaaad per se. It wasn’t good, mind, but it didn’t tax me, perhaps because I marathoned it. But as you say it’s definitely a major misfire of a cast. Katie and Ashley worked out perfectly, and then…you sort of drop off a cliff. I see where they *thought* Karen could be a Luann, or like…a Victoria (apologies to those who haven’t had the pleasure of viewing Sydney). But she was like…the worst of Jill or Jeana in reality. Gizelle too seems good on paper, but yeah, all sizzle no steak. Total paper tiger who can barely defend herself against *Charrisse* at the reunion, never mind Katie and Ashley. And speaking of…Charrisse and Robyn. Wow. Somebody thought these sub-Chyka frumps would make good telly. Lawd.

      I’ve been thinking about it, and I’d recommend this season, honestly, but only with heavy ffd-ing. I do trust that it improves, though, because the cast is already deeesperately thirsty by the first reunion, and I think none of them have ANY real loyalty to one another? It’s both disorienting and exhilirating.

  2. for some reason, i, too, believe that potomac will eventually deliver. these women are all just so grimy that something HAS to explode after three years of filming a reality show together. hopefully this is the year.

    looking forward to the next entry in this, though, because s2 ashley was riveting and i would like to relive it without having to watch real housewives of potomac.

    1. I’m happy to help you relive RHOP without actually reliving it! I consider it a public service (see also watching early RHOC).

  3. I LOVED KATIE ROST. Distraught emotions was all I felt when it was announced she wouldn’t be in S2. Katie was the burning star of S1 for me. Liked Ashley too while the rest of the cast was kinda bleh.

    Karen and Charrisse do much better work in S2, while newcomer Monique is excellent. Robyn lasting so long grates me but I see on the Bravo reddit (a hell hole full of anti-Erika fanatics) that she’s “down to earth and relatable in her struggles” … so I see why she stays around to some degree?

    1. Yeah, it’s tough going into 2 knowing that Katie won’t be there (well, mostly; looking forward to the Casino Royale punchline). But like you, most people reassure me that 2 is an improvement regardless, and I do really love Ashley as well.

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