RHOA / RHOP The struggles over race are real!

AshleyandHusbandThe Real Housewives of Potomac is beginning to feel more like equal parts serious business and guilty pleasure.  It is quickly becoming a Rorschach test on race and racism in America, while sneakily exploring the complexities of perceived race in the African-American community.  The more Real Housewives of Potomac (#RHOP) airs, the more I love the show and its contrast with the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I am still a proponent who believes there is more than enough room for both.  At this time, I am simply more fascinated with the Potomac crew.  Fans have commented on the ” color struck” nature of the Potomac wives.  The point is well taken with the introduction of Ashley Darby (@_AshleyDarby) and Katie Rost’s (@KatieRost) immediate questioning of the race of Darby’s husband and whether Darby, herself, was biracial.

I have been to my fair share of social events, with friends and with strangers.  I have never heard a single soul ask about the race of another person’s spouse or significant other at an event.  I couldn’t tell if the two women knew one another, if only by reputation, and this was Rost’s clumsy way of introducing the fans to another housewife with a White spouse/boyfriend.  Maybe the outburst was simply indicative of Rost’s standard way of introducing herself to others.  Color struck?  Maybe, but my question to you is: “How do the issues regarding race in the Potomac differ from the issues of race being raised by the #RHOA?”  The difference I see is that race is partially weaponized by the #RHOA while the #RHOP use race for the purposes of identification and asking the “big” and “small” questions.  Evidence?

The short list for #RHOA

  • Phaedra Parks refers to Apollo’s preference for canned vegetables as a product of growing up with a White mother.  She has made a couple of references to his childhood that are rather racially charged and inappropriate – at least her comments are ones that I think most individuals (not just viewers) would find inappropriate.
  • Phaedra also claims that Kenya Moore is so full of “—-” that it made her skin brown. (Uh, that is one damned low blow in any context).  Whatever you think of Kenya Moore (@KenyaMoore) please give her credit for her role in African-American history.  Kenya Moore’s participation in the Miss USA pageant was more more step forward in America’s realization that brown skin is beautiful.  Brown skin is NOT the color of “—-“.
  • Phaedra comparing the Glen Rice Jr. incident to tragic loss of innocent young lives (Michael Brown (age 18), Eric Garner (age 43), Treyvon Martin (age 17), Tamir Rice (age 12), and so many others).  To my shock and sadness, Kim Fields co-signed. Parks even invoked the name of #BlackLivesMatter (@Blklivesmatter), adding insult to injury by stating that Kenya Moore behaved like some “old white lady in the suburbs” who, because of racism, was needlessly afraid of black men.  I watched the after-altercation video posted by Kandi Burruss Tucker as a counter to Parks claims.  They were all hiding in a bedroom, the night of the incident.  No one ran to embrace Rice or his “Aunt Tammy” when they returned to the house that evening.  Suburban hysteria? Nah.
  • Nene Leakes referred to Claudia Jordan as a “half breed” last season.  I don’t think anyone needs help understanding why this one was 100% rude and cruel.
  • Nene Leakes accused Kim Zolciak of treating Sweetie like a “slave” and not respecting black women.  For my money, Kim treats everyone who works for her like a slave. I  don’t see a problem with race, in that regard.  I think the attack was used to stoke the flames more than register a serious complaint about the treatment of  women of color.  Did Nene somehow miss Kim’s treatment of Sweetie when they were great pals?  It didn’t seem to bother her, then.  It only became a weapon when she seemed to grow tired of Kim’s friendship (or became jealous of Kim’s unlikely/undeserved chart topping success).
  • Phaedra’s focus on race as a social issue (onscreen) happened only recently, to my memory, after Apollo Nida’s conviction.  Referring to brown skin as the color of human waste is, in my book, inconsistent with a genuine concern for equality.

#RHOP’s approach

RHOP_Photo ShootI am not always happy with the approach taken by the #RHOP when talking about race but I appreciate the fact that the discussion is deeper than assuming  it is acceptable to treat race as an insult.  I have already challenged my own ideas about race (and religion) watching this show.  Unlike Gizelle Bryant (@GizelleBryantand Robyn Dixon (@robynbdixon), I don’t have a problem with Katie Rost’s identification as a Jewish woman.  Her choice to practice Judaism is not, and should not be, about how many other people of color choose Judaism.  Her choice is about her relationship with God and it is personal.  I don’t mind the fact that Katie’s knowledge of African Americans who  have practiced Judaism is so limited.  Here is some light reading regarding African-American Jews/Judaism:

10 Celebrities you didn’t know were Jewish

15 Celebs who are Black and Jewish


African-American Converts Finally Recognized as Jews in Israel

Black Synagogue Takes a Big Step Forward

Chicago rabbi set to become chief of black Jews group

I don’t find the fact that Rost doesn’t speak Hebrew to be particularly disconcerting nor the fact that she attends Temple only on the high holy days.  CEO Christians (Christmas and Easter Only) get that.  I have Jewish friends who are not people of color and are no different from Rost.  My problem with Katie is that her biracial and Jewish identities seem to come from a place of rejecting the notion that she has African/African-American heritage, as well, instead of a fully inclusive embrace of her diverse identity.   I suspect that Dixon and Bryant have the same concerns. Rost has seemingly found every way possible to reject African-American identity and anything associated with it:  she loves the White boys and the Jewish boys, she is biracial – without references to her African-American heritage.  I don’t want Rost to be any less of the things she loves and values.  I just want to see evidence that she values all of the pieces that make her who she is, not that she owes that to me.  I even question myself in regard to why it matters to me that she embrace her African-American heritage.  Do I, or does anyone else, have the right to tell her that being African-American helped shape her character?  Do we have the right to tell her that her children should be asked to embrace their African-American heritage as well?  I am landing on the side of the fence that says that she should want that, but I don’t believe it is my decision, as a viewer, to make.  My only hope is that if she chooses to ignore her African-American heritage, it is not another “#RHOA brown skin moment”.  African-American heritage is not inferior or ugly.  It is complementary.

Charisse KarenAdmittedly, Rost is not the only person I question.  I view Charrisse Jackson-Jordan and Karen Huger’s pretense that they understand and fit in to “high society”, instead of being hoi polloi , as an unconscious defense against stereotypes linked to African-American identity.  If they feel like the genuine article, to you, I apologize, but nothing rings true about them, for me.  The pretense, as I see it, reads like a barrier against the racist charges of being “nothing more than a poor girl raised on a farm” or a “section 8 recipient”, stereotypes which confuse issues of race with issues of socioeconomic status.  Neither of those descriptors deserve to be treated as badges of shame.  Ashley Darby understands that and it makes me admire how much she embraces her past – a past which shaped her and motivated her into becoming the person she has become.  She is definitely hoi polloi (as I proudly am) and she is worth a dozen of the self-proclaimed high society mavens.  Far from inoculating them, the pretense of Jackson-Jordan and Huger makes me wonder all the more about their pasts and what they appear to be running from.  Poverty is not race.  It is not shameful.  It is not to be mocked and maligned.  It saddens me when those who are directly or indirectly impacted by those stereotypes use them to attack others and to establish self-serving hierarchies.

Oddly enough, while I disagree with the exception they  Dixon and Bryant take to Rost’s self-identification as a Jewish woman,  they are the only two wives, so far, whose voices about African-American people, and especially African-American women, feel and sound authentic.  It will be heartbreaking, enlightening, and enriching when the epic fight about racial identification with Rost takes place.  Rather than shut their voices down as belonging to silly women, stuck on color and fighting dumb fights on a reality show, I hope the scenes end up challenging us to talk about race in a meaningful way.  I hope the show challenges us to think about culture, cultural appropriation, self-identification, and the true beauty and diversity of the African-American community.  We are Lauren London, Craig David, Lisa Bonet,  Amar’e Stoudemire, Sammy Davis Jr., Nell Carter, Jackie Wilson, and Drake (African American and Jewish).  We are Ne Yo, Tyson Beckford, Denyce Lawton, Kelis, LeShonte Heckard and  William Demps (African-American and Asian).  We are Laz Alonso, Judy Reyes, Tatiana Ali, Gina Torres, Kid Cudi, Maxwell, Zoe Saldana, and Victor Cruz  (African-American and Latino).

We. Are.

I appreciate the fact that #RHOP is pushing the envelope of understanding with regard to race and identity. I plan to keep watching, keep thinking about my own views, and continue questioning.  I will see you around if you plan to do the same.

Catch my review of the second episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac at All About the Tea.


Defending Bravo TV, Andy Cohen, and the Real Housewives of the Potomac

Post the Amandla Stenberg fiasco, defending @Bravotv and Andy Cohen () is an action I NEVER thought I would take, and right now I am seriously hoping there is a reality show detox program I can put on speed dial (one that will help me win back my sanity).   That said, the launch of the Real Housewives of the Potomac leaves me feeling compelled to applaud the efforts of bringing the #RHOP to canvas, as well was the results.  Despite its relative success, the real housewives franchise has struggled in offering diverse views of women of color.  My hackles are still raised when I think of the ill treatment of the first Latina housewife to join #RHOBH, . Despite being constantly attacked and maligned, handling the pressure with more grace than I think most of us could muster, Joyce was dismissed after one season – while Brandi Glanville and her defender-in-chief, Yolanda Foster, were permitted to stay on.  In a just world, the person who made the decision to keep Glanville and Foster over Giraud is now spending their days clipping coupons while hoping to turn 5 dollars into $800 worth of processed foods and assorted junk on a TLC special.

I was astonished, and frankly a bit gutted, that despite filming in Miami, the network seemed unable to find engaging Latina women to open viewers up to a new world – one that didn’t treat Latinos/Hispanics as “the other” but showed the beauty and complexity of the various cultured communities.  We have yet to see the successful integration of Asian and Asian-American women who, like Latina women on the other series, are often treated as bit players in the lives of the housewives. Even #RHONY fan-favorite scene stealer, Sakoto Yamazki (@Satokonyc) is only referred to as “Sonja’s facialist” by nearly every site that mentions her.  The one series that is given credit for bringing diversity to Bravo’s HW franchise, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, is the franchise I often find the most troubling.  #RHOA fans may disagree, but I view the show to be one that is long on racial diversity but short on dispelling the negative stereotypes that have, for far too long, dogged African-American women.  So far, the #RHOA has worked to seemingly confirm the big four (as I view them):

1 – The stereotyped angry black woman.  This myth looms large in the entertainment world, but no where is it as heavily and predictably cast as in reality television.  If asked which reality show maven best exemplifies this ugly stereotype, I would have to say that  Nene Leakes tops the  list.  From the ear piercing tantrums not welcomed in a preschool classroom -much less a room full of professionals, to altercations that border on verge of being considered a criminal assaults, Nene’s behavior has been so outrageous that she became the punchline on UnREAL, a show that takes a swipe at the seedy side of reality t.v..  On the show, an African-American producer encourages two remaining African-American contestants on a dating show to “go big”. He tells them to become a Nene Leakes or Omarosa, or get ready to go home.  One of the contestants calls him an “Uncle Tom” for asking them to lower themselves into that gutter.  The other takes his advice, accuses an innocent contestant of making a race-based insult, and attacks her.  I will leave it to you to determine the full implication of false accusations for profit… yeah, thanks.  Add that to the fact that Leakes’ antics have landed her on THR’s top ten disliked celebrities list and the clips below that highlight (or lowlight?) “not ready for prime time” behavior will make perfect sense:

There are times when Leakes has been genuinely funny, and presented a portrait of a strong, not necessarily angry, woman.  Those instances of strength, which feel too few and far between, are overshadowed by the all too frequent moments of poor behavior similar to the clips above, in my opinion.

2 – 3 The Thought-free Princess of Thotlandia –   In three short seasons, fans have had the curious experience of watching Porsha (Stewart) Williams transition from a wife who was grateful to her husband for “letting” her spend time with her cast mates (groan) to a self-proclaimed “twerk-a-holic”.  I am glad to see the stepford wife go.  I am not so happy to see the twerking twin that showed up in her place!  Is there no in between?  While every woman has the right to own her sexuality, it would be nice if more women who are given such a huge public platform would define their sexuality in a way that wasn’t so consistent with the “fetishized”, highly-sexualized and demeaning, images of women of color that are already in place.

This housewife gives us a “two-fer” – This particular stereotype links the “Thot” image with the “thoughtless” meme (as in void of thought).  It is a stereotype which portrays women of color, in particular, as “poorly educated”.  Sadly, Porsha also transitioned from hosting fundraisers for her grandfather’s illustrious civil rights foundation to looking for the underground railroad train tracks beneath church floorboards .

I can’t help but believe that Unground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman wouldn’t mind coming back to punch Porsha’s ticket for that one.  Haven’t most of us been learning about the underground railroad since kindergarten?

4 – Propensity toward criminal behavior.  Apollo Nida.  Enough said?  Fans still debate the veracity of Phaedra Parks claims that she knew nothing of her husband’s illicit activity – despite supporting his claims of spending thousands a dollars a night in strip clubs.  She told us that she was ok with is as long as the money wasn’t hers.  It was apparently a hobby funded by money that he  earned in his difficult-to-define “asset recovery” business (a business that led to another major stint in prison for the fallen reality star).  Add to that Phaedra’s own alleged past misdeeds and we are talking full on cluster pluck.

#RHOA is a show that is supposed to highlight the lives of people who are living well, far exceeding in what we aspire to as part of the American dream.  Is there any wonder why so many fans see light at the end The Real Housewives of the Potomac tunnel?  While they are not perfect, they add new and refreshing images of women of color. Women like Katie Rost and Gizelle Bryant are full-time linked into the Potomac power structures.  Rost’s family is, reportedly, obscenely loaded.  Both women are from prominent families and have a history of rubbing elbows with political movers and shakers.  Charrisse Jordan-Jackson and Karen Huger don’t seem, to me, to have the same sort of connections, but are women who (so far) seem to have access real wealth and their own highly regarded social circle.  Charrisse’s estate is huge, and we have since learned that the Bravo photo shoot for this season took place in Chateau Charrisse (see what I did there?)  Robyn Dixon appears to have had access to wealth, at one time during her marriage, but is now a working mom who takes pride in the accomplishments of her distinguished extended family as well as the choices she’s made for herself and her children.  So far, there doesn’t appear to be a angry woman in the group, no twerk monsters, not a thot, not the thoughtless, no reported criminal records, and most appear to be well educated and hard workers.  My only regret is that Kenya Moore wasn’t cast on this show, instead!  These are her housewife soulmates!

For every #RHOA twerk session, there is a #RHOP etiquette lesson.  For every #RHOA explosion of child-like anger, there is a #RHOP stomp off.  I think my heart is FULL, people!  There is finally a little more balance and a hell of a lot more nuance in the portrayal of the African-American community – for as much as a true portrayal can happen on a reality show.

To be clear, I don’t think there is an argument to be made about whether the #RHOA or #RHOP should be the standard bearer for African American women and their families. If an argument is to be made, the answer for me is that neither can represent us all.  There is yet more complexity in the African-American community to show, but I like where this is headed, so far. I think the two housewife shows are nice complements of one another. There is something for everyone, just as #RHOC, #RHOBH, #RHONJ, and #RHONY offer different views of women who are not minorities.

You may want to turn away at this point, but to @Bravotv and  I say, Job Well Done!  I hope #RHOA and #RHOP both stand the test of time, though admittedly, I hope the presence of #RHOP helps the women of the #RHOA up their game and pushes them away from the stereotyped images which become more extreme every year.  I want more of who the Real Housewives of Atlanta use to be – before the fame turned them into what they are now.  A new housewife or two, to add more balance to the current group wouldn’t hurt.  As for the #RHOP?  So far, so good.

Read my review of the first episode  of the series at All About The Tea and check the site for future reviews of the show.

RHOA: The Brawl of Shame, Part II

Where to start?

Kenya and Brandon –  These two have shown far more compassion toward the housewives than any of the housewives have shown to either of them in this matter.  I am willing to admit that I’m completely #TeamBrandon and a bit biased, I’ll put that out there.  I don’t think it’s biased to cheer on a man who was a victim but cared more about the children of his attacker than seeking revenge/justice.  I’m sorry to learn that neither Phaedra nor Apollo called to talk things out or apologize.  Not surprising, just sad.

It feels, to me, as if Kenya and Brandon have grown up lives that some of the other women and ATL husbands don’t have (and no, I’m not treating Brandon as a househusband — but he is Kenya’s friend and business partner).  I think Kenya and Brandon were just different enough to be considered a “threat” to the ATL housewife order.  This ridiculous brawl allowed some of the HWs to  unload their own issues onto Kenya and Brandon.  Faulting them almost exclusively for this brawl is all the evidence I need that this group is busted and needs a bit of recasting — with adult women who express adult emotions.

As for the rest of the group?

Nene – Has Nene ever referred to Ryan Murphy or Andy Cohen (the men she relies on for employment) as “Queens”?  Would she ever DARE do such a thing?  Why is it ok for her to say such things about Brandon DeShazer?  For Nene to also blame Kenya and to tell her she was lucky to not have her “ass beat”?  Jeez.  I hope every Abuse Survivor organization she’s ever been affiliated with or hopes to  ever be affiliated with is watching.  I am done with Nene.  I don’t care to see her on this show another season. I also  don’t care to see her on any other show, film, play, soundtrack, straight-to-dvd project… you get the point.  I’m done.  I hope others beyond this show are done with her as well.

I’m sorry, did Kevin Hart and Regina Hall film a segment with future Oscar award winning Nene Leakes?  No?  K.

Kandi – “Cynthia won’t bust a grape”… so funny, because I was thinking of another fruit analogy — the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.  I applauded both Carmen and Kandi for admitting that fact.  I do understand the frustration Kandi must have been feeling that the constant attacks on her relationship with Todd by people who seems to have shadier histories than anything we’ve heard about Todd.  I hope that from now on, Kandi ignores them and never lets them drag her down to that level.

I wish Kandi success, away from this show, because RHOA appears to be in a downward spiral and I would not want to see her taken down with it.

Cynthia – the mocking of Kandi, even after she apologized, was inappropriate from where I stand.  For someone who tolerates a great deal of the garbage she tolerates, otherwise, I find it amazing that she did not graciously accept the apology from Kandi and leave it alone.

Phaedra.  I am disgusted. I have nothing more to say.

To have these women fighting, in the middle of a spa, where others are paying a fair amount of money to relax is embarrassing to me as viewer.  Is the season nearly over yet?

Christopher Williams?  Take my advice — HERE.

RHOBH: Kyle Richards, my new reality TV bad-ass housewife fave!

For me, the “Real Housewives of…” series has become an interesting study in the de-evolution of women who, at one time, must have considered themselves rich, powerful, or at least in control of their lives in some way.  Women who started out having conversations about their children, marriages, and power business moves in earlier seasons later behaved as if they were auditioning for positions with the World Wrestling Entertainment organization! Marvelous?  That is left to be decided by individual viewers.  I only know that I’m more fascinated by the transformation, than the hot mess that comes along with it.

Each episode I expect the housewives to stand just a little farther apart from one another, just in case a random slap, kick, or hair pull takes place.  If I lived with the RHOA, RHONJ, or RHOM crews, I’d walk around in a suit of armor (in the event that someone broke through my line of bodyguards).  These three franchises are, in my unscientific review of prior seasons, the three which are most likely to break out in a physical fight no matter what the location or seriousness of the event.  They put the “K’ in Klassy!  For RHONY and RHOC – I’d carry aspirin and earplugs – the screeching and verbal intimidation would be enough to push me over the edge.  Sure, they spell classy with a “c”, but my guess is that while they can spell it correctly they can’t define – pardon the few exceptions in each franchise. (I hope we get to a point where none of the RH of any franchise uses the word “class”. I am of the Anderson Cooper school of thought, if you’re using the word and not referring to your children in school – then you shouldn’t be using the word at all.)

RHOBH is a completely different animal.  Even with the introduction of Brandi Glanville, most of the RHOBH have maintained their dignity and not fallen too far over the Bravo cliff.  There have certainly been tense moments and raised voices in Beverly Hills, but the larger Beverly Hills game seems to be stealth set ups, angry aggressive glares and angry confessional interviews talk.  VIEWER.HEAVEN.!

Kyle Richards has become my new fave RHOBH housewife.  She is working on becoming my fave RH, across franchises!  Of sure, she is not living her life to make me or any other viewer happy, I get that, and it’s what makes her pure GOLD this season.  While some housewives are trapped by the cycle of drunken debauchery and permanent snark (fun within limits), Kyle opened the door to the life she seems to live outside of the show. While Carlton Gebbia dreams of Kyle (or has premonitions, intuition, and other psychic connections), Kyle is busy hosting a fundraiser with Jamie Lee Curtis.  Brandi Glanville is breaking her hand, Kyle Richards is turning that broken hand into psychological insights and emotional breakthroughs for Brandi.  Yolanda Foster is pruning lemon trees, Kyle is snarking Carlton’s bitter nasty attacks into comedic GOLD!

I honestly expected Kyle to let it all go when Kyle began ranting during Mauricio and Ken’s joint birthday party (Klassy move, Carton).  Kyle tried keeping the peace with Carlton all season.  Instead of expressing her displeasure with the constant “tits on an ant” attacks, she unloaded on Carlton during the confessional interviews.  The worm turned at the dinner party.  Kyle refused to allow Carlton to spew odd accusations that she’d been attacking her.  She did not save her displeasure for the confessional, well done.  It seems, to me, that rather than confront Carlton directly, the other housewives have turned away and ignored her actions for the sake of a false peace (Yolanda in the lemon grove with the women, painting lovely pictures for her daughter while Carlton ruined that moment with antagonistic talk).  I knew Carlton was in trouble then.  Yolanda tried to ignore her and the BFF/crush Brandi thought Carlton was a bit over the edge.

Given rumored fan frustration with Carlton, I am happy to hear more of the HWs speaking out about her actions (Brandi in particular).

Tonight, I’m preparing to watch the Brawl of Shame, Part II, as I’m watching, I’ll be thinking about the snarkfest coming my way with the RHOBH and it will dull the pain RHOA will surely bring, even if only just a little.

RHOA: Angela Stanton Speaks out About Apollo’s Arrest

Sandra Rose has done it again!  SR is bringing the good stuff, posting Angela Stanton’s press release and it’s GOOD!  Stanton has criticized Parks for using her considerable wealth and access to try to silence her story.  She notes that another woman, vulnerable as she was, was recruited for the alleged new ring, and she feels vindicated though saddened by Nida’s arrest.  This court case should be interesting.

Read the entire statement by clicking HERE

Real Housewives of Whatever Survival Guide

pay attention2Read carefully.  The well kept secrets shared below could save your:  dignity, reputation, career, marriage, and/or  life  (I’m not sure, but I think that last one was a wee bit of an exaggeration).  There are just three simple rules for surviving the Real Housewives of Whatever:

1. Timing is everything!

If your friend/neighbor/family member/acquaintance has been cast on a real housewives show AND she invites you to stop by during a taping session, you know – just for drinks and giggles. For the love of trashy tv DON’T DO IT!  The more famous you are, the more likely it is that you have been made a sacrificial lamb. Did the invitation come wrapped in a tear-stained envelope?  That, my friend, is what is called a clue.  Those tears are yours.  You just don’t know it yet.

If curiosity about seeing how the sausage is made is killing you and you decide that you simply have to go, first ask yourself if you’ve ever shared a deeply private and painful experience with this person, swearing her to secrecy.  You did swear her to secrecy? The second step is to put your attorney on speed dial.  Ask if said shared secret is covered as part of a verbal non-disclosure agreement. If the attorney says no, then for the love of trashy tv DON’T DO IT!  If the attorney says that it is covered? DON’T DO IT.

Ok, I get it, I get it.  You are still not persuaded.  Then the only thing left to do is pray!  That secret is almost guaranteed to be exposed. It will happen as part of a drunken rambling, “slip of the tongue”, or it will be slammed down on the table like a winning hand of poker.  Count on it!  Word to the wise, drinks and giggles with a Real Housewife of Whatever are probably safest between hunting filming seasons.

Even between seasons, don’t tell a RH your secrets.  Seriously. Don’t.

2. Travel light OR Not at all!

You survived drinks and giggles.  To make it all up to you, the Real Housewives have invited you to take a vacation with them, and being a glutton for punishment you agree to go.  You’re traveling by car, you say?  If you have the option,  sit in the backseat!  Yeah, I said the backseat. Need I remind you?

Sure, they can still get to you when you’re sitting in the backseat, but at least make them work for it.

Ah.  You’re going boating?  You should be safe, you say?  You are ADORBS!  You won’t be swimming with sharks, you will be boating with them!  Don’t go out on the deck alone with a Real Housewife.  Make sure there are witnesses at all times, and don’t count on the production crew to save you – you don’t think they care about ratings?  Your humiliation (or worse) is golden on film!

“Aren’t you taking things too far?”,  you ask.  No.  No. Not really.  Well, maybe a little, but probably not by much.  Real Housewives of Whatever roll like that, I think.  I’ve heard. Well…it’s been said that they can be treacherous!  To be on the safe side, make your own accommodations and stay in an undisclosed location!  Taking vacations with Real Housewives may require you to keep your lawyer and your therapist on speed dial!

Am I the only one imaging RHOBH’s Lisa Vanderpump giving Brandi Glanville the “Fredo Kiss”?

3. The enemy of your Real Housewives of Whatever enemy is definitely your  friend!

 No?  Your friend/neighbor/family member/acquaintance would never betray you like that?  Cute.  I see you’ve never watched the show.  Awesome.  Well here’s one more piece of advice.  If you haven’t taken a self-defense class, give it some consideration. When you take that self-defense class, you might as well add your trainer’s number to your speed dial along with your attorney and therapist.  Running out of speed dial options?  Screw your friends and family, they can’t help you now.  You have willingly, and naively, entered into a fight for survival (physical, psychological, emotional).

It’s not a Real Housewives of Whatever party until someone gets slapped, punched, kicked, threatened, intimidated, or arrested. Any and all of those events could happen over breakfast!

So friends, this is my last warning.  You can’t say I haven’t tried. If you decide to tag along with your real housewives pal, joining her for drinks and giggles, skip the drinks and keep a side eye on the giggles.  She could be laughing at you, not with you.  I think it’s safe to say that some of the Real Housewives are a cross between  Keyser Söze, Lucrezia Borgia, and Niccolò Machiavelli (Yes, the latter of the “Machiavellic” fame.).  In your shoes, I’d count on more  Keyser Söze than the other two:

If you fail to heed my warning, it was nice knowing ya’.  If you decide that I’m too cynical, and that you are perfectly ok in the hands of your reality show pal, well trash-tv god love and protect ya’. By the way, I have a real estate transaction I’d like to discuss with you when you have time – and don’t be alarmed, it only looks like swampland in the pictures.  It’s a grade A golf course worth millions, you cutie pie.

RHOA: The Brawl of Shame, Part I

You can alternately title this one, “No Sex in the Champagne Room”.  Wow, I hardly know where to begin, except here – What.The.Hell.Was.That?  We’ve been teased a full season about this episode and what did the wives deliver?  The most shameful display of inhuman behavior I’ve seen since the RHONJ Christening Brawl.  There were so many levels of wrong this episode, that I can only console myself by starting with what was right:


Brandon DeShazer

RHOA Brandon@BrandonDeShay is a stand up guy! Ugly rumors have dogged Christopher Williams since the 90s.  His relationships with high profile actresses of that time left him with the reputation of being abusive. To be clear, he has denied the rumors and I’m not aware of any evidence that suggests he is lying.  The problem, as you well know friends, is that no matter how hard you proclaim your innocence, the stench of those rumors is hard to clear.  I point that out to say this, that when Christopher grabbed Kenya’s arm, Brandon DeShazer most likely saw a friend in danger.

He did what any man/woman may have done under the circumstances.  He wanted to protect his friend.  This is a perfect storm situation in which not knowing someone’s intentions (and I don’t believe Williams was planning to hit Moore), being in the midst of  a heated moment, and only having a persistent rumor about someone you’ve just met joined forces and created a horrible mess.  Ultimately, trying to live down these rumors, I’d be willing to bet that Christopher Williams would have chosen a different action if given the chance to undo his behavior from that evening.  The problem is – he can’t.

Whatever the case, someone like Brandon DeShazer is the man I want calling himself my friend, or friend to someone I love.  The man is a true blue upstander, and Kenya is lucky to have him in her life.  Brandon stood up while everyone stood by, as if dumbstruck.  There is not ONE househusband I wouldn’t trade to keep this guy around.  In a heartbeat, I would take a 4-for-1 trade to keep him!

Kenya Moore

RHOA Do Not TouchAs @KenyaMoore  has said, don’t come for her unless she sends for you!  The other RHOA continue to underestimate this woman and they should stop. They approach her with weak taunts (looking at you Phaedra) and with half-wit plots and schemes (looking at you Nene) because they seem to expect her to fold.  Kenya’s  confessionals (the interviews between scenes)  show her to be a far more astute study of human nature than any of the other wives. Her confessionals have also become sharper and funnier.  She’s been asking the right questions all along (who WAS Apollo with in L.A.?).   She asked the question every person in that room should have been asking.  When Apollo was released from prison in 2009, where did he get the money to spend between $5 – 8,000 a day in strip clubs?  The year of his release is the same year the Feds are alleging his current enterprise began.  As far as I know, the guy has no family money.  I don’t recall hearing that he had money saved and was permitted to put it away before leaving for prison.  It has never been suggested that he’s ever held a high-powered white collar job.  

Kenya did part of the federal government’s job for them – with a HUGE assist from Apollo himself.  I can only imagine that Phaedra  was cringing watching that episode with a broader perspective, now.   If both she and Apollo claim the money was his, not hers, it also begs the question of what Mrs. Parks-Nida knew about her husband’s finances and his “Asset Recovery” job, and when she knew it.  Things don’t seem to be adding up.

Given how long ago the confessionals were taped, it’s clear that Kenya could have gone the low road many times by addressing, on air,  the rumors of affairs and of less than stellar activity on Nida’s part.  She could have dragged Phaedra into the hot mess of her husband’s rumored behavior, and has typically avoided doing so, unless Phaedra came for her, without being sent.

Kenya maintained her cool for most of the pajama party from hell when it seemed clear that she was being targeted from the time she walked through the door until the time the bloody brawl began.

P.S.  When Moore says don’t come for her?  She means it.  Apparently Ms. Kenya has linked to a video of Christopher Williams’ sister referring to him as single (heard from off camera).  Well now.  He doesn’t correct her and states that he does have “someone special” in his life but doesn’t like her using his name.  His wife wouldn’t want her name uttered?


Nene Leakes

Admittedly, I don’t know anyone who is working, or has worked, as an exotic dancer.  I haven’t read much about exotic dancers.  I can’t tell you about the exotic dance culture other than the speculations I have about who gets into that industry and why.   Having disclosed that, I’m thinking about the comments Ms. Leakes made about the kinds of women she’s worked with and I have to say that it feels to me that while she has moved on, professionally – her behavior during this shamefest appears to be consistent with the old life she describes.

RHOA Nene Pajama PartyA number of housewives have repeated the phrase that they are being “paid” to behave the way they do.  My advice?  Just don’t do it.  There are some things you just should not accept money to do if for no other reason than being able to sleep at night.  Attacking your friends/cast mates (or “helping them” in the manner Nene has chosen)  is one of those things.   Nene dragged the audience into the champagne room with her this episode and it was scary. I could say that no one got screwed, and literally that’s true.  Figuratively?  Everyone got screwed, including the audience.  In the champagne room, Nene got a little too close, revealed a little too much, and now we’re uncomfortable and it doesn’t feel right. I can’t look my family in the eye, now, because I let her take me in there. I blame her for leading me there.  I blame myself for following.   Champagne room?????  It’s a Chris Rock reference, look it up, young one! 

Nene’s behavior toward Kenya had a definite “House Mother” vibe – a term I learned from Mob Wives’ Karen Gravano during her NY job search.  The HM is the strong arm who keeps the women in line.  I see Nene playing that role on the show.  Minus Kenya, they all appear to be intimated by her, most especially when she gets loud or physically aggressive.

Why was Nene pacing so wildly about the room?  Several of her guests commented or watched nervously.  Was she nervous, knowing what was planned for the evening?  I have a feeling that Nene knew she’d jumped the shark with this one but decided not to turn back.   I can’t imagine any other reason for displaying the odd energy she displayed during the Pajama Party billed as a therapy session, minus the therapist.  Surely she knew a therapist would never ask the sort of questions she asked, most especially not of  the people she’s called friends (and if not friends, at least co-workers).


Am I mistaken that Nene encouraged Porsha to contact Kordell Stewart while they were all together in S. Carolina?  Did Nene not persuade Porsha to talk to her then-husband to see if the marriage could be salvaged?  If so, what was the dig at Porsha for understanding the habits/preferences of bi-sexual men?  For all of her work with Ryan Murphy, and being on the set of the New Normal, I thought she showed a remarkable lack of sensitivity toward the LGBT community with her comments.  Another person’s identity is not a joke, it’s not meant to be used a slam, it should never be used to shame anyone, and certainly not used as an accusation.  Nene’s chickens came home to roost when she ended out being outclassed by Porsha!  PORSHA!!!!  The Porsha-sexual response to Nene’s comments was pitch perfect.  They may all believe they’re smarter than Porsha, but Porsha just proved, to me, that she has a bigger heart than at least one of her co-stars.

Christopher Williams.  What was the point of having him stand up, or allow him to cross the room for his attack on Kenya?  Why did Nene not scream at Christopher for getting out of HIS seat or starting an argument?   We, friends, weren’t in the room, so maybe the acoustics were bad – causing her to pace in order  to be heard by all and requiring Christopher to stand, but I doubt it.  They seemed to hear one another just fine, before that point.  The issue of Williams’ maybe-marriage had been resolved earlier, what was the point of bringing it up again?  Both Christopher and Natalie seemed primed for that fight, prepared for it, and all too willing to engage the fight at what was supposed to be a party.

Overall?  I believe that Nene grossly miscalculated fan support for her behavior and fans’ willingness to forgive any/everything she does.  There is such a thing as too far, and this episode passed it by miles.  “Too far” begins to look reasonable in light of the humiliating actions of much of this group that night.  Bravo producers should worry, at this rate, that we’ll be keeping our singles tucked in our pockets and go home.  The ratings will spike, for now, but this can’t and shouldn’t be sustained (see New Jersey).

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