Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
It’s an adage that applies to many instances in life, but none greater than this season of “The Real Housewives of Potomac.” Prior to this year, I didn’t really have an opinion on Monique Samuels. I thought she was beautiful and charismatic, if not the most integral or interesting part of the show. Now? I would die for Monique. I would take a bullet straight to the heart. I would adopt her children and T’Challa if anything were to happen to her.
Monique’s absence on the girls’ trip to Portugal was felt with such magnitude that, rare to form, I was ready for the vacation to be over from almost the moment it started. We had our fun, but it’s time to get back to business.
As the ladies return to life in Potomac, Karen is greeted at the door by a man in sunglasses carrying a bunch of wigs, which is the only way strangers are allowed into my home. We’re graced with a little flashback of Karen’s wig history prior to this man (a god named Steven) came into her life. It’s easy to forget how, well, bad Karen used to look. Steven is an artist, Steven is a scientist, Steven is the moment! The wigs, of course, are for Karen’s new wig line, La’Dame Wigs. Karen says she’s building a House of Beauty, and baby, just tell me how much to pay for utilities, because I’m there.
I do love that, in the midst of her husband telling her that he wants her to spend more time with him, Karen has started another business. On the topic, Karen gives us the unfortunate news that Ray likes to pull on her hair during sex, but I don’t think those blow jobs are coming anytime soon! Sorry, Ray! The launch of the wig line will go hand-in-hand with a wig party, because it’s not a poorly-executed, ill-conceived Housewives product launch without a party that immediately puts the company in the red.
Ashley is off to lunch and…JUST LIKE THAT, THE QUEEN IS BACK. Our curly-haired, breast milk-pumping, stroller-pushing maven wheels her way into the restaurant to meet Monique. It’s a breath of fresh air. I feel alive. Monique gives some details about son Chase’s birthday party, which wasn’t filmed for some reason. She reveals that Karen got turnt up at the party. WHERE WERE THE CAMERAS? I NEED DRUNK KAREN. Monique says she’s been invited to Karen’s wig party, despite Karen telling the rest of the group that she wasn’t. Rather than hem and haw about what’s really going on, Ashley gets Karen on the phone. That’s how it’s done! No more dragging this shit out. Just call her up! Karen gets caught in a bit of fraudulent behavior here, as she definitely made it seem like Monique was never invited to the party when the girls were in Portugal. She’s forced to backtrack on that during the phone conversation, but listen. If it’s all in the name of getting Monique and Candiace in the same room, be as fraudulent as you want! I don’t care if you’re caught red-handed, just as long as those hands are pulling the right, messy strings.
In the middle of being investigated for tax evasion, Robyn is looking for a new home. And not just any home. A home valued at $1.6 million. Where is this money coming from? I know Juan made bank in the NBA, but isn’t that all gone? I know people aren’t buying that many bedazzled hats! Regardless, it’s just a bad look for Robyn. Get your shit in order before you do something like this, girl. It’s weird! I support Robyn and Juan together, because they clearly love each other. But it feels like they’re just destined to repeat mistake after mistake. There’s no hindsight with these two.
Gizelle and her daughters are out to celebrate Grace’s birthday. Gizelle must have paid upwards of $12 million for that ponytail because she wears it literally everywhere she goes. And, uh, let’s just say it’s not up to La’Dame Wigs standards! Gizelle’s two 13-year-old daughters ordered off the kids’ menu, which I find to be incredibly odd. There’s a whole theory to get into about these three girls being stuck in childhood because of their parents, but that’s FOR ANOTHER DAY! As they dig into chips and salsa, Gizelle says “Grace turning 15? I didn’t see this coming.” Gizelle either thought her daughter would be dead by now or doesn’t understand how calendars work. As most conversations with this group go, the girls talk about how much they hate their father and never want to see him again. Gizelle thinks her daughters are just being “protective,” but it’s obviously more than that. They know their dad is a slimy, untrustworthy guy. He doesn’t know how to spend time with them and they don’t care to try. The girls aren’t quite at the age where their words and feelings will cut Gizelle as deeply as they need to. But trust, despite ordering off the kids’ menu as TEENAGERS, they are smart and intuitive and they’ll be heard eventually. The storm is coming.
Oh dear god, Karen wants to fuck Ray in a bathtub. Don’t scare a 74-year-old man like this! He doesn’t want surprises, he wants to be left alone in the basement. In the absolute middle of the afternoon, Karen forces Ray to slowly climb a flight of stairs in search of her. It takes Ray about 45 minutes to ascend and find Karen covered in bubbles and drinking champagne. As Karen talks about having some of her holes unclogged, Ray the Plumber starts playing with her feet. I’ve seen sexier things on the National Geographic Channel. The entire charade is obviously very forced and for the cameras, but Karen makes it work because she’s a star. Ray starts to disrobe and closes the door as he gets himself ready for the bathtub, where I assume he remains to this day.
Wendy and her family, including her mother, are out picking pumpkins, taking hayrides and giving me a solemn reminder of what the world used to be like. What I’d give to be able to sit next to a bunch of smelly strangers as we bopped along on a tractor looking for gourds. TAKE ME BACK. Wendy says she could have played college basketball, but her mother said no. I don’t believe that for a second, just like most of the things Wendy says. As the boys split off, Wendy finally tells her mom that she doesn’t want to be a professor anymore, and instead wants to focus on being a professional political commentator. Or something. In reaction, Wendy’s mother calls her a “a spoiled brat” in the middle of a pumpkin patch, which is not something you ever like to see. Wendy’s mom, however, pivots very quickly and says she’ll support whatever her daughter chooses to do. Wendy can claim that this is all about being a political activist, but isn’t this just all about being famous? She’s on a reality show now and she wants to use that cache to grab bigger and better television bookings. “Screw being a teacher, get me on “Meet The Press””!” As far as I can tell, that hasn’t really worked out for her, other than a few random spots on Fox News. But that’s all I’ll say on that.
Gizelle and her daughters arrive at a…family…photoshoot…for…something? Gizelle is running around a salon giving beauty advice to the technicians, which is like me running around giving advice on how to hold down a man. Time to stay in your lane, Gizelle. Know your strengths. This ain’t it. As the group gets ready, Gizelle drops the news that Jamal has failed to make it to the photoshoot. WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING? These poor girls. It’s agonizing to watch their mother chase after this lying dirtbag who can’t make time for his family. Gizelle attempts to use some asinine reasoning about proving to her daughters that “the show must go on!” Girl, what show? This is a cheap photoshoot in a hair salon. Annie Leibovitz is not around the corner. This is now a family photo that’s missing one of its members, and if that’s not a metaphor for this disaster, I don’t know what is.
As Ashley absolutely mangles a red snapper and puts a few sad onions in the oven, her mother and absolute legend Uncle Lump arrive for dinner. They’re here to confront Michael. Ashley should have served popcorn instead. I’ve said this before, but the only thing I’ll give Michael any credit for is the fact that he’s allowed these very uncomfortable, confrontational conversations to happen on camera. I think it’s the only sign that he knows he’s fucked up and needs to pay public reconciliation. Uncle Lump is a very wise man. He doesn’t force Michael to apologize, instead he asks him to look inside himself to figure out what’s going on, because he’s been acting like a fool for far too long. We need to get Uncle Lump to sit down with Gizelle! Maybe he’d be able to get through to her. The dinner conversation is very direct, blunt and pointed, more than we’re used to from most “Housewives” dinner scenes. You can tell Michael is scared of Uncle Lump, and rightfully so. He could probably commit murder for Ashley. But he’d do it kindly!
It’s time for Karen’s “Wig Shift” party. It’s never explicitly stated why it’s called that. It’s also never explicitly stated why the party is happening in a very sad salon space in a dark alley called “The Hair Doc.” Monique arrives before the shindig really starts, which is great because I love seeing her, but disappointing because I want her to start fighting with people who aren’t in attendance yet. The two have a very quick chat before Karen hurries Moinque out the door. In this moment, Karen hates my happiness. I feel scorned. And just as I’m feeling betrayed, we get a bait-and-switch that tricks us into believing that Candiace and Monique will have a run-in at the door…but it’s just Karen’s overly-hair sprayed PR person. SCORNED AGAIN!
After Monique’s swift exit, the other ladies arrive. Karen, who went through heaven and hell to make sure Monique and Candiace wouldn’t cross paths, has no problem with Candiace and Ashley being in the same room. It’s almost easy to forget that the two of them are even fighting. What happens in Portugal, stays in Portugal, I guess. Gizelle, meanwhile, will not be in attendance because the aforementioned wig king Steven (who is apparently The Hair Doc himself!) is no fan of hers, and that runs both ways. Now this is what I’m talking about! If Ashley and Candiace aren’t going to throw down inside this closet of a salon, I need Gizelle and her ponytail to come for The Hair Doc! 9-1-1! Emergency!
As this odd party continues, Ray shows up looking like the Grim Reaper. He made it out of the bathtub! Karen gives him way too much credit for actually showing up, but it’s cute. As the night progresses, though, it becomes abundantly clear that Karen has very little to do with this wig line. It looks like she’s given the line her namesake and a little boost, but has zero to do with its actual operation. She’s like The Hair Doc’s nurse! And that’s fine! The other women can ridicule and shame her all they want, but good luck getting Karen to pay any mind. Not everybody has to be shipping floral-patterned hats from their living room, Robyn.
Looking like a Dollar Store Hannah Montana, Ashley gives a bottle of antacid to Karen as a gag gift. She’s poking fun at Karen for drinking at Monique’s son’s birthday party, but not with the girls in Portugal because of her alleged ulcer. Alleged ulcer is the name of my new heavy metal band, but we only play covers. As Karen says, whether or not the ulcer is real, it’s never cool to mock somebody for not drinking. Let people make up whatever excuses they want. The constant badgering of Karen for largely staying sober in Portugal was very fraternizing. Because, yeah, Karen probably was nervous about what she’d say after a few drinks. It’s come back to bite her with this group before! She’s smarter than that.
But then…oh Lord. LORDT. As the women start to close in on Karen, she says that Robyn wouldn’t want to know what Juan says when he’s drunk, either. My non-existent wig flew off my head. Karen drops the bomb and then slinks off, leaving the women to interpret her accusations for themselves. Robyn tries to pass it off, which makes me think that something has definitely happened and Karen knows about it. If your partner is accused of being messy when he’s drunk and you don’t think it’s true, you don’t think you’d cause a stir and ask for some receipts? Robyn stood there in her ABBA wig eating her cupcake and barely said a word. Hmmmm.
Ashley throws fuel on the fire and tells the group that Monique made an appearance at the party before everybody else arrived. Karen, gloriously failing to read the room even A LITTLE BIT, comes back and wants to show off the wig line’s packaging. Iconic. The women start to turn on Karen, in what Ms. Huger lovingly calls a “gangbang,” and rather than address the drama in the middle of this dingy hair salon, she and Ray leave everybody at the party behind and go to dinner. There’s running from confrontation, and then there’s hopping on a jet and shuttling straight into space. That’s what has happened here.
The unraveling of the party certainly wasn’t a great look for Karen, and you could sense that she was throwing stuff at the wall to see what would stick. Nothing really did, so she bolted. Karen playing the fence was always going to end in calamity because these women cannot, for a second, stand nuance or anything other than your 100% loyalty. There’s no reasoning with a herd mentality like that, even if you have to leave your wigs and party guests behind.
Karen needs Monique for the next gangbang.