Last week, your reviews of The Real Housewives of DC were decidedly mixed, but after last night’s episode I’m not afraid to admit that I love it. Yes, “love” is the appropriate word here. Something about the contrast of proximity to power and total idiocy is just delicious, particularly when compared to the eternal trainwreck that is Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Compared to the ladies of Jersey, our DC women might as well be philosophers. Well, maybe not Michaele, but I’m not entirely convinced that Michaele knows where she is at any given time, so she might as well be a Jersey housewife. And Cat. Is it too late to deport her? But as always, if we didn’t have those two, I wouldn’t have a recap to write, so in a weird way I owe both Michaele and Cat a solid.
We started with Michaele. Of course. It was Michaele’s 44th birthday, and at the very least I’ll admit that she doesn’t look 44. I would have pegged her at about 39, so good for her. Tareq brought in an array of random Jimmy Choo stuff from which she could pick her birthday present, which seemed like the least thoughtful, laziest way to go birthday shopping for a gift ever. Then Tareq took her outside and, uh, there was a horse. Michaele doesn’t ride, but it doesn’t matter, because she still thinks like a five-year-old and ALL five-year-old girls love horses. She named it Sparkle. Really.
Even Paul, the Dwight of DC, thought the name was almost stupefyingly immature but he managed to keep a straight face (well, mostly) when she told him. He seems to know that Michaele is either a moron, a pathological liar or both, but either because he’s a very nice person or the producers put him up to it, he agreed to let Michaele throw him a birthday party later in the episode.
Out in Virginia, Mary was giving instructions to her maid in Spanish about pee on the carpet and dog-hair tumbleweeds. The big fuzzy dog belongs to her grown daughter, who apparently broke up with her live-in boyfriend, spent all her money, and is now living at home again. Personally, I was just kind of shocked that any Real Housewife knows even a few words of a foreign language.
After dealing with the dog hair issues, Mary got together with Cat at a coffee shop (A coffee shop at which Mary’s daughter works! Hooray Mary for making her broke behind get a job!) to discuss Michaele, since Michaele appears to be the only thing that anyone on this show ever discusses. Cat said that she intended to honor last week’s commitment to go horseback riding with Michaele even though Michaele can’t ride a horse, and when she asked Mary if she’d come along too, Mary pretended like she didn’t even hear the question. Between that, how drunk she got at fancy her birthday party and the biometric lock on her closet, I think I might really like Mary. Even if she is a Kennedy name-dropper.
Cat, on the other hand…well, she has daughters who are in elementary school and she says she can’t wait for them to go to college, which must be a truly fantastic attitude for a mother to have when her kids are, like, eight. She followed that fabulous display of warmth and maturity up by being rude to Mary’s daughter and complaining when Mary tipped her too much at the end of the meal. Cat is just a ball of sunshine, and by sunshine, I mean negativity and condescension. That would be irritating enough by itself, but on top of it, she doesn’t seem all that clever or quick. In contrast, Bethenny from Real Housewives of New York also tends toward negativity and condescension, but she does it in a way that’s witty and oddly charming. Cat is just flat and patronizing, which means I award her no points. Try harder next week, Cat.
It wasn’t long before she and Mary traipsed out to the country to pretend to ride horses with Michaele, who was dressed in full riding regalia despite asking the other girls to come in jeans. Her husband managed to mention Prince Charles before Mary even had her boots on, which filled the Salahi name-drop quota for the first half of the episode and signaled to everyone that it was time to get on the horses. In a further attempt to give credence to my cocaine suspicions from last week, Michaele completely ignored all the polo instructions and rode directly away from the group, polo mallet in the air, screaming in delight the entire time.
After they rounded up Michaele, who had wandered off into the woods on her horse and was attempting to converse with a tree, everyone dismounted and Tareq managed to do the only redeeming thing he’s ever done by pissing off Cat. How did he piss her off? He gave her free alcohol, that bastard. It wasn’t the right kind of alcohol, you see, it was beer. You can’t expect her to drink BEER. How common. He told her it was chardonnay at first as a very obvious unfunny joke, and apparently she didn’t realize from the fact that it was dark and had foam on the top that it probably wasn’t grape-derived. Also, I think it probably smelled like beer, and beer and wine don’t smell the same. But how would someone as lovely and refined as Cat know what BEER smells like?
Refreshingly, it was time for Stacie. She was supposed to have friends over (and by “friends,” I mean Housewives) for dinner on Sunday, but since she didn’t have time to cook she decided it would be fun to have her friends over to her Aunt’s house for a traditional family dinner. Surely, Cat wouldn’t make a racist fool of herself at all…of course not…
Her Aunt Frances seemed like a total gem, and Lynda at least was very excited to go over to her house to have real southern food. I had no idea that she was from Georgia, but now that I know, I like her by default. Things I also like: peach cobbler. Fried chicken. Everything on the table for dinner. I could practically smell it through the television, and this may have been the only Real Housewives party to which I would have gladly gone.
Sadly, Cat arrived first and felt completely awkward around…well, around the people who were there. Take that as you will (“Cat is unable to interact with black people” is how I took it). She also wasn’t pleased with the drink options presented to her, but Aunt Frances seemed to be enjoying her scotch just fine, and somehow I think Aunt Frances has better taste than Cat does.
When Mary and her husband arrived, things became a little less awkward upstairs and Rich, Ebong and Jason retired to the basement to discuss their penises. Well, not theirs, I guess, but the fact that Jason holds the patent to an invention that can measure body parts by volume, and of course the first and best thing to measure with that is dicks. Naturally. It’s called the “penile volumetric measuring device,” and mentioning the name made the white guy in the room very, very uncomfortable. It also made Ebong uncomfortable simply because he’s a gentleman, although he said we’d have to defer to Lynda for more information on his, uh, situation.
Thankfully they all shut up about the penis measurer and got down to eating, and as if on cue, Cat became totally disgusted by the way that southern food is prepared (yes, yankees, traditional methods reuse old cooking grease). She managed to excuse herself as soon as her plate was cleared and run out of there, presumably to eat a salad with the dressing on the side in order to feel like herself again. As a southerner from a southern family, I can tell you that Cat clearly doesn’t know what she’s missing. The party at Aunt Frances’s house looked like every Thanksgiving I ever had as a kid, except the cobbler looked better. I need to move on from this subject before I drool on my laptop.
After Cat made her escape (before dessert!), Stacie got together with part of her family and Paul to apologize for Cat’s abrupt exit and talk a little smack, which she was certainly justified in doing. I’m not sure if it was the preponderance of black people or simply the unfamiliar food that made her uncomfortable, but I think you’d have to be seriously freaked out to be so blatantly rude. Whether the problem was based on race or class, Cat is very clearly not used to being around people that aren’t exactly like her. It’s kind of astounding that she can’t figure out that when you’re on television, you should at least pretend.
On a different night, at a different party, everyone was getting ready to celebrate Paul’s birthday. Paul was expecting to meet up with Michaele to get ready for the party but she was nowhere to be found and not answering her Blackberry, and she also hadn’t showed up by the time that guests were arriving. Reminder: she had volunteered to plan and host the entire party. When Michaele and Tareq finally arrived, they were in an eternally out-of-style white limo with a police escort and barely beat Paul to the party. Decent people would have given some sort of sincere apology, but Michaele and Tareq are clearly not decent people by any definition.
During the dinner portion of the evening, Lynda and Cat’s husband were seated next to each other and they actually managed to have a far more intelligent conversation about his work than Cat had conducted last week at Stacie’s house. He explained working with two very different presidents in a diplomatic and thoughtful way, and even though we only saw a snippet of the conversation, it was easily the most intelligent exchange I’ve seen on Real Housewives in, uh, forever. No wonder he’s divorcing Cat.
In stark contrast to the erudition on display at the dinner table, Michaele and Tareq got up and made some noise in order to play another round of “Look at Me, Look at Me,” which is clearly the couple’s favorite game ever. Despite the fact that they hadn’t bothered to actually play host or show up on time to the party, they didn’t think twice about taking the spotlight away from the birthday boy by opening a bottle of champagne with a sword. Yes, the brought a sword in anticipation of this moment. Tareq launched a spray of champagne and broken glass directly at Lynda, who I hope wasn’t wearing anything that required dry cleaning.
When Paul was allowed to speak for himself, the things he said about growing up awkward and insecure and turning his life into something great were actually really sweet and a nice birthday message. He thanked everyone profusely and teared up a little bit, and I found myself again thinking that I wouldn’t mind being at that party. Twice in one episode. Kind of amazing.
Well, almost. After everyone ate and the party was winding down, Lynda made a rather snarky comment about Michaele’s winery (which, admittedly, is probably awful). I was ok with that since Michaele is perhaps the most cluelessly narcissistic person on television and has offered herself up for criticism, but then Lynda made some even worse comments about Michaele’s weight. I’m a big believer in the idea that you don’t really need to comment on anyone’s weight, ever, and the sort of faux concern that she was showing based on Michaele’s “health” is doubly annoying.
Hey, Lynda. Telling someone that she needs to be force-fed a cheeseburger is not concern, it’s a Mean Girl tactic to make someone feel beneath you because of her appearance. About 700 words ago, I said that I liked you. Don’t make me take it back. Although if you called her a crackhead instead, I would find that totally acceptable. That might not make any sense, but I stand by it.