On “Real Housewives,” there’s a tendency for the old to get eaten by the young. Look at what happened to Ramona in New York when Leah stepped on the scene. Look at stalwarts Vicki and Tamra getting fired in one fell swoop after anchoring Orange County for over a decade. Once a veteran cast member has been around for a while and they get dragged through the mud year after year, it’s very hard for any sort of redemptive arc. That’s why the story of Karen Huger on this season of Potomac is so unexpected and, dare I say, inspiring? Karen has found her voice, both in her marriage and with the other women. She’s letting her husband know what she wants and she’s not letting the intimidating aura of newbie Wendy tell her how to act, think or feel. It’s a beautiful thing to see and should act as a lesson about old dogs and new tricks.
We kick things off this week with Candiace doing odd vocal exercises in her living room with her friend Cliff, whom she referred to a couple of weeks ago as her “nurse.” There is no explanation given as for why she’s practicing her vocals in her condo in the middle of the day. The reason, of course, is obvious. Candiace will break into song at the sight of any camera, especially when she gets to talk about how music heals her during difficult times. Candiace called Nurse Cliff and said “get over here with that electronic keyboard because I have a storyline to produce!”
Gizelle, who has never met a disgusting faux fur vest she hasn’t loved, and Robyn, who is wearing a suit that looks like a cowgirl got high and started using a bedazzler, are hosting some kind of bizarre lunch at a teahouse. Gizelle, who I cannot stress enough is wearing SANDALS, says she’s been trying to get a reservation at this place for months. I’m convinced she just doesn’t know how to use the Internet, because this establishment is empty and looks terrible. The menu is written on a chalkboard. Gizelle and Robyn are convinced that Karen’s mental state is in shambles, so they’ve decided to confront her over cucumber sandwiches on national television.
Before they pounce, though, Robyn tells them she wants to set up a photoshoot for her hat line Embellished, which Gizelle calls Embezzled. Gizelle, girl. Isn’t this your friend? You’re wearing open-toed shoes while drinking out of a teacup. I’m not sure we should be taking digs at anybody. Karen addresses the tax elephant in the room and offers her support to Robyn, who explains “I was paying taxes but clearly not enough!” Did she just, like, pick a number? Why are these two grown women so messy and odd?
Moments after Karen extends her goodwill to Robyn, the other green-eyed bandit pivots and essentially asks “what’s wrong with your marriage and why aren’t you being honest?” Why, in God’s name, are Robyn and Gizelle harassing another woman about her relationship, especially when it comes to money? It’s truly shocking. Karen, being the nonchalant queen that she is, essentially brushes it off and uses it as an opportunity to do an impression of Wendy slinking down the stairs. It’s uncanny and beautiful. Karen isn’t afraid of Wendy and she sure as hell isn’t afraid of Gizelle and Robyn. Good try, ladies. Next!
We visit Wendy at home where, shockingly, she’s talking about herself. It’s easy to poke fun at Wendy, but I think it’s abundantly clear that she’s a great mother. I really enjoy seeing Wendy at home because her sons don’t care about her degrees and dissertations and TV appearances. When she’s with her family, we get the real Wendy. I think she’s still feeling pressure to be something else when she’s around the women and, especially, in testimonials. There’s so much power in being all of the things that Wendy is, while not feeling the need to talk about them all the time. That’s the Wendy that I like.
Ashley is in therapy again, which has been her second home this season. She’s not with Michael, thankfully, and we get to hear Ashley open up on her own. She’s been so honest throughout the entire process of figuring out her marriage and her postpartum depression. At times, it really feels like she forgets the cameras are there. Or she just doesn’t care. Either way, I appreciate it. I hate how much of Ashley’s self-worth is tied to Michael. He’s an ominous, looming figure in her life and it’s obvious that he’s able to control her. I applaud Ashley for her willingness to address these issues in a public way, because it really will help people feel seen. For as raw and real as the therapy scenes have been, though, it’s also hilarious how they were able to weave in Ashley saying “I’ve been thinking about a vacation.” That’s Housewives language for “a vacation has already been set up by producers and I’m bringing it to the table!”
Vocal chanteuse Candiace is paying a visit to music producer Chucky Thompson, who looks like a Sesame Street character come to life, in the studio. The two of them sit and listen to the remix of Candiace’s song “I See You” (which, let’s just be honest, DOES SOUND GOOD). Candiace lip syncs to her own song while Chucky wonders how he went from working with Mary J. Blige to…this. In spite of that, Chucky invites Candiace to sign to his record label, which is kind of a big deal. With that being said, it does not appear that their working relationship has led to any new music, so uh, I’ll keep my eyes peeled.
Back at Monique and T’Challa’s house, it’s pure pandemonium. I hate that this is what we’ve been reduced to seeing from Monique. It makes me anxious watching somebody argue about macaroni and cheese at 7 in the morning. There’s not much else they can do at the moment because Candiace has filed her lawsuit and most of the women want nothing to do with her. Lord knows what goes on in that house when it’s just Monique and the bird. I bet T’Challa has secrets. More on Monique momentarily…
Speaking of unfortunate situations, Ashley visits Gizelle at her disgusting home that’s somehow still under construction. Gizelle’s house looks like Claire’s outlet. It looks like the lobby of a 12-year-old dentist’s office. As Ashley breastfeeds her baby from underneath a turtleneck, she brings up the totally random and totally spontaneous idea of a vacation! Gizelle, of course, refuses to go on the trip if Monique is invited. For somebody who loves instigating drama, Gizelle sure is hell-bent on making sure Monique and Candiace are never in the same room together again.
Robyn, who has somehow found an even uglier bedazzled jacket than the one she wore earlier, is getting set for the Ebezz, er, Embellished photoshoot. Gizelle and Wendy are the first to arrive so, of course, our bandits waste no time in getting Wendy up to speed on everything Karen has been saying about her. As the women pose in an abandoned alley in these two-cent hats, tensions are simmering between Wendy and Karen. It’s very clear that Wendy is not used to failing to get the final word in an argument.
Before things boil over again, travel agent Ashley breaks out a flag in celebration of the girls’ upcoming trip. It was an odd sequence of events. Ashley very casually suggested that she wants to travel again, vaguely intuited that she wants her friends to come along and then Candiace mistook the Portuguese flag for China’s. Soccer-loving Wendy guessed correctly and, in due time, the women will be packing their bags. But first! Wendy wants to “clear the air” with Karen, which really means “attack Karen’s intelligence because she dared to call me out.” Immediately, Wendy ridicules Karen for not having a degree. Wendy HAS FOUR. If you HAVEN’T HEARD.
This entire thing is wearing so damn thin. Wendy is a walking contradiction and God BLESS Miss Karen Grand Dame Huger for putting her in her place. For the second week in a row, Dr. Wendy tried to come for Karen and Miss Huger took over the office. The entire idea that education is the only measure of one’s worth, that the concept of higher learning gives you the permission to walk all over people….no, ma’am. It’s tired and it’s basic and it’s not right. Instead of preaching about her doctorate, Wendy should learn a little about decency and decorum.
Karen, being the queen she is, takes control of the situation by saying her peace and then turning it around by making everybody laugh with her impression of Wendy. It’s masterful, it’s luminous, it’s iconic. She is the moment. Take notes.
And then…two days later. Candiace receives word that she’s been counter-sued by America’s favorite disheveled bird mom. In a bathrobe, Candiace is livid as her husband Chris, trying to be some kind of barefoot shaman, talks her down off the ledge. She says she has never met anybody as “arrogant and evil and sociopathic” as Monique, which is interesting because I do believe Candiace has met her own mother. As Chris says, Candiace knew this was coming, so spare me the theatrics. The victim narrative is worn out and the only reason for this mess is staring at you in the mirror. Either own the consequences or don’t step into the ring.
I’m sad Monique won’t be joining the ladies in Portugal because, outside of maybe Ashley, she’s the one who really needs a vacation. Until she’s welcomed back into their good graces, she can confide in T’Challa. And, one day, I’m going to find a way to get that bird to talk to me.