CultureMap is thrilled to offer weekly recaps of all 10 episodes of Married to Medicine Houston. Here's what happened on episode 1.
Quick! Think of a phrase that has to do with Houston and could be applied to a dramatic reality show.
If you thought “Houston, we have a problem,” then, congrats! You are on the same page as the producers of Bravo’s newest installment of catfighting reality television, Married to Medicine Houston, who bestowed that title upon the new series’ first episode. The thing is, so far, I don’t really see a problem here.
Unlike some of Bravo’s other popular franchises, Married to Medicine Houston features five smart, educated women who seem to pretty much have their $hit together. With the exception of one woman who’s in nursing school, the first episode introduces us to successful female doctors, none of whom are Caucasian trophy wives with drinking problems. Though initially this show was touted as an extension of Bravo’s inexplicably popular Real Housewives franchise, the “Real Housewives of Houston” this is not.
The creators of the show did well to choose Houston for this installment of Married to Medicine (a previous series featured women in the medical field in Atlanta), highlighting our amazing medical center, as well as the diversity of this great city. Of course, it’s a Bravo reality show, so they have also highlighted the ridiculousness of the premise by immediately introducing viewers to the cast with a title sequence that seems to be taken from a porn film, with the women (again, these are highly educated doctors) airbrushed and filtered and posing seductively with medical equipment while a sultry voiceover purrs, “Paging Dr. Sato.”
Title sequence aside, this show has promise. First off, we meet Dr. Ashandra Batiste, a dental surgeon who proves that a lady can have it all: She has a hot, charming husband (whattup, Rich!), two adorable children and a pretty tasty looking stew on the stove for dinner.
Next, we meet Dr. Erika Sato, who, right out of the gate, mentions that her parents were both pro wrestlers, and then BARELY ELABORATES AT ALL. Girl, right now, this is the most interesting factoid about your life. It’s awesome that you’re 37 and landed a 29-year-old doctor who desperately wants to put babies in you. I’m thrilled that you’re a successful plastic surgeon specializing in boobs. That’s all great. BUT I MUST KNOW MORE ABOUT THESE WRESTLERS. (Sidenote: Don’t Google “Erika Sato wrestling.” Erika Sato is also the name of a Japanese porn star, evidently.)
Over at Mercantile in Montrose, we’re introduced to Dr. Monica Patel, who is a sassy Indian cardiologist answering to the overly familiar Dr. Monica. She’s quadruple certified (whatever that means) and likes to sashay through the halls of the hospital with a gaggle of men trailing behind her.
The odd woman out among the group of doctors is Rachel, who’s married to the trauma surgeon in Houston, Dr. James Suliburk. She is in nursing school, though, and she’s busy babysitting her mother, Maribel, who lives with the couple. Maribel is loud and Spanish and has no filter, and I predict she will be the breakout star of the season. You heard it here first.
The storm called Cindi Rose
And then, a chill fills the air. The barometric pressure drops, and the sky darkens. There’s an ominous heaviness in the air, and a storm forms on the horizon. That storm is named Cindi Rose.
She’s introduced as the “Queen Bee of Houston.” Have you ever heard of her? I’ve never heard of her. But I have heard of her daughter, Erica Rose, former villainess on The Bachelor. So, yeah, they’re a big deal.
Cindi mentions that her husband is a plastic surgeon, which we could have guessed because her face no longer moves. She seems to be slowly morphing into one of the paper silhouettes she snips into unique likenesses in record time, frozen in a state of anticipation of the next social function. Which, it turns out, is to be held at her house in a matter of days.
Rachel has joined Cindi to co-chair the fundraiser for the Holly Rose Ribbon Foundation, but they have some differences of opinion. Cindi thinks a fabulous event needs a string quartet, while Rachel suggests a DJ will suffice. You can’t tell from Cindi’s face, but the notion of a DJ horrifies her.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sato’s husband, Derek, sets up a surprise picnic for his wife and gifts her some baby toys, which Dr. Sato isn’t thrilled about. She wants to focus on her career and have kids later, or maybe never.
Rachel and Dr. Ashandra convene to discuss the meeting with Cindi, during which Dr. A calls Cindi, “Messy, mean and nasty, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” At last, the latex gloves are off!
More Beaumont, not Houston
Back in party planning land, Rachel tries to make nice, but is clearly having a difficult time picking décor with Cindi (now wearing a crop top, fur vest and stiletto heels accented with a single bedazzled crutch that’s necessary because of a skiing injury) and her daughter, Erica, who can’t stop petting her own hair. Cindi and Erica encourage Rachel to dress “va-va-voom,” explaining that her current wardrobe is “more Beaumont, not Houston.” Rachel tries to diffuse the fashion conversation and the décor disputes by removing herself from the equation, but still ends up getting called rude and tacky by Erica, whose last desperate grasp at reality TV fame is a worse look than her neon green dress slit up to there.
Before the fundraiser begins, we meet Dr. Monica’s long distance (San Antonio) boyfriend via Skype and get the same striptease that he does as Dr. Monica prepares for the event. Long distance is great for them because they both work all the time, but it’s also frustrating for Dr. Monica who, based on season previews, wants to settle down, like, yesterday.
Finally, it’s time for the party, and with it the glorious, glorious drama we’ve come to expect from Bravo-lebrities. Rachel vows not to make a scene, the eminent Dr. Frankin Rose asks Dr. Sato to “scrub with me” (which sounds far more like a proposition than a mentoring moment), and Dr. A delivers the best line of the episode, “Who the fuck has a harpist?” Only every classy fundraiser in Houston, Ashandra. Duh.
In the midst of Rachel’s rehashing of the Roses’ fashion critique, Dr. Sato drops a wisdom bomb: “I operate on people for a living. I work 80 hours a week. Who cares if one lady doesn’t think you have good style?” Of course she’s right, but without the “she said-she said” surrounding such inconsequential conversations, Bravo as a network would cease to exist.
Back in the living room, Cindi is making silhouettes of her guests, and I’ll admit she’s very good at them. She’s not so great at conversations, though, as she later tells Dr. Sato she’s part Asian on her dad’s side of the family and presents her “yellow” skin as evidence.
Angel in white
Then, as if scripted by the reality TV gods, an angel in white appears. To be fair, it’s a white bodycon dress two sizes too small on a woman (I later found out she’s Houston stylist Leslie Tyler Fink) wearing so much eye makeup there are just black dots where her eyes should be. With Erica and Cindi looking on in glee, she offers Rachel a “head-to-toe” styling session. Rachel, dumbstruck, replies, “I’m not really interested,” then walks away with the wannabe stylist still mocking her outfit.
Cindi follows after her to apologize, which is surprising based on her previous penchant for laughing off insults not directed at her, but even more surprising is Rachel’s response. “You need to check your friends,” she tells Cindi, whose only defense is that the style ninja is Erica’s friend, not hers. Dr. Monica and Dr. A jump in then, too, telling Cindi she really should have backed up her co-chair on this one. #squadgoals
After this, Rachel and her hubby make a swift exit, but not before we get a parting shot of Erica and the style ninja cackling in a corner like cartoon villains. They seem every bit the wicked step sisters straight out of a fairy tale infused with Pinot Grigio, abysmal traffic and the kind of wealth only breast implants and butt lifts can create.
In the next episode, we’ll meet Dr. Elly Pourasef, a Persian audiologist — but is she a real doctor? — who is sure to bring even more drama to the mix. Stay tuned.
Kaitlin Steinberg is a Texas writer who admits to watching Bravo reality series all the time. Here's a link to her recap of episode 2 of Married to Medicine Houston.