It seems like we’ve seen it all, thanks to Bravo. A franchise that started with that fountainhead of fakeness, Orange County, then tackled the wanna-be socialites of New York, the sassy sisters of Atlanta, and the Sopranos-like squabbles of New Jersey.
What more could the The Real Housewives of D.C. contribute to Bravo’s stunning portfolio of domestic hyper-reality?
Plenty it seems: the power brokers and the lobbyists, the secretive and the security-minded all gather in a town in which there’s a bureaucrat behind every bush. The fascination of what’s boring seems to be a major theme in a place where proximity to the White House means you don’t have to be interesting at all.
The show is just getting off the ground and around it swirls the controversy that just won’t quit. Months ago, Michaele and Tareq Salahi allegedly crashed a party at the White House. They’ve already pleaded the fifth throughout Congressional hearings on this apparent breach of security.
And the controversy managed to renew itself this week on The View with already debunked charges that host and comedian Whoopi Goldberg assaulted Michaele as the hosts grilled her about Party-Gate.
But the more things change as we relocate to the high-tension power corridors of the nation’s capital, the more they stay the same. It seems each franchise develops two things: A scapegoat and a cardinal sin.
In New York, the greatest sin is social climbing and the scapegoat has shifted from Alex and Simon to Kelly to Bethenney to Jill and back again. In New Jersey, being outside “the family” is unacceptable, especially if you’re a “prostitution whore” like Danielle Staub, who may be the greatest scapegoat in the history of the Housewives.
Clearly for D.C., “party crasher” Michaele and hubby Tareq are the scapegoats. Michaele seems to have galloped in on a polo pony from the fresh groves of Orange County, where she might be more comfortable than in the aggressively generic and austere environs of D.C. And it turns out, at least among these housewives, that race is a source of tension even amidst Barack Obama’s “post-racial” presidency.
Michaele is definitely the fly in the ointment, but we’re not sure she realizes it yet. “People have a hard time saying no to me,” she insists. Co-housewife Catherine (Cat) Ommanney pegs her immediately: “Michaele is 5,000 miles an hour with the attention span of a gnat.”
Certainly cast-mate Lynda Erkiletian, owner of T.H.E. Artist Agency, isn’t buying whatever Michaele’s selling. In reference to the event Michaele throws for the U.S.A. Polo team, captained by hubby Tareq, Lynda flings the first and perhaps best verbal dagger of the evening, saying, “I have no desire to go back to that little goat rodeo.”
For Lynda, Michaele is nothing more than “second tier” and it would be “unnatural” to co-mingle.
Lynda reminds us of so much of Kate Jackson that we can’t help imagine her kicking ass with aplomb, Charlie’s Angels style. Of course, Michaele could easily do a turn as Farrah Fawcett, but she was always the least convincing ass-kicker of the Angels. Our money’s on Lynda, but in any case, fasten your seatbelts, readers. This is going to be one bumpy ride.
For real-estate mogul-in-the-making Stacie Scott Turner, D.C. is “chocolate city.” Lynda seems to agree, for though she refuses to ever marry again, she’s seen everywhere with her tall, dark, and handsome boyfriend, the classy Ebong. But it’s a different story in the ‘burbs.
Mary Schmidt Amons, the snooty daughter of Arthur Godfrey, lives in McLean, just across the way from Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. How comforting to live so near the headquarters of the CIA for someone with a biometric lock on her wardrobe to keep her feisty teenage daughter from snitching her high-fashion clothes.
At her birthday party that night, Mary makes a point of seating Stacie next to Ted Gibson, celebrity stylist to the stars. Our jaws dropped as an obviously drunk Mary exhorted the African-Americans about the need for salons to finally integrate even though, as she put it, “we have different hair, different needs.” And then she has her “Yes We Can” moment, suggesting “a new administration of this beautiful country” could inspire such change.
Gee, Mary, can’t we all just get along? Most Americans weren’t thinking about those annoying segregated hair salons when they voted for Obama.
Mary, we have some advice for you: White fascist chic doesn’t go down in D.C. any more. And apparently we don’t have different hair and subsequently different needs. Every time stylist Paul Wharton appears in a scene, he has a different hair-do, from Whoopi Goldberg’s dreads to Cher’s classic ironed-down locks.
At a gathering given by Stacie we get more face time with Cat, who turns out to be yet another clueless white chick. Just in from London, Cat, the self-celebrating spouse of White House photographer Charles Ommanney, begins her entry into D.C. high society by insulting Cheo, a celebrity chef with clients from Janet Jackson to Tyra Banks.
“Poor you!” she tells Cheo in reference to Banks, adding, “She’s beautiful but she’s hideous.” Oh no, she didn’t!
After a crude impersonation of Banks having a diva-fit, Cat goes on to tell the women, most of them African-American, that Bush was a better man than Obama. She’s got good reason to believe it, since Bush had the courtesy to RSVP to her wedding and Obama didn’t. Wow, I’m sure that “Respond to Cat’s wedding invitation” was at the top of his To-Do list, right after “Get elected” and “Attend Inauguration.”
And in the understatement of this new century, Cat reluctantly admits that she’s aware of the mistakes Bush made. “I never talk to him about Iraq,” she explains.
We were left as speechless as the incredulous Stacie, who admitted in her video diary: “I damn near choked on my food.”