It was the first day of school yesterday in my area, and undoubtedly thousands of kid teetered nervously off to school make new friends, learn new things and discover their places in the world. We did the same last night with the Real Housewives of DC, just with less learning and more gauche name-dropping.
I’ve watched too many episodes of too many kinds of Real Housewives to be surprised by anything at this point, but we did get one unique thing (and lots of schadenfreude) out of last night’s premiere: Michaele Salahi, a woman who many of us already disdain for her tabloid-ready uninvited romp at the White House (and more recently, for falsely claiming that Whoopi Goldberg “abused” her on The View). Most housewives become famous for their lying, scheming and relentless social-climbing after they make their Bravo debuts. So far, Michaele is the first (and hopefully the last) to do it before the show ever airs.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We can’t make fun of the housewives without meeting them first.
Mary: Mary’s a native Washingtonian born of lobbyists (aren’t they all) who made sure to mention her familial friendship with the Kennedys within the first three minutes of the show. After that, her first order or business for this episode was a family portrait. She claims to have five children, but they didn’t sit still for long enough for me to count, so I can’t verify that. She also has a husband who is badly in need of a haircut.
Lynda: Lynda runs the top modeling agency in DC, which sounds suspiciously like running the top surf school in Cleveland. She spent most of her intro lusting after male models, and then we met her boyfriend Ebong. He’s 6’5, half her age, and seems like a sweetheart. Good for her. I don’t remember how many kids she has, only that she says deliciously awful things about the other housewives, which is all that’s really relevant anyway.
Stacie: Stacie’s a Harvard grad who’s now a very successful Sotheby’s real estate agent, and she’s also the only non-white housewife on any of the shows except Atlanta, despite the fact that all of the shows are filmed in diverse metropolitan areas. She has two kids and a husband named Jason, and the entire family appeared to be reasonably sane and intelligent in the short time that we saw them. Another first, eh?
Cat: Cat’s only been stateside for two months as a result of her marriage to a husband whom she is currently divorcing (although that tidbit won’t come about until later in the season, if at all). Her accent is splendiferously indeterminate, but she claims to be from London and I have no reason not to believe her. Her then-husband is a White House photographer who has worked with both the Bushes and Obamas, and he’s barely allowed to utter a word for the entire hour. For her part, she is “writing” a book.
Michaele: Well, well. What can we say about Michaele that isn’t painfully obvious or just plain painful? In her short minutes of introduction, she managed to refer to the Oval Office as the “oval room,” remind us that she used to be a model, and tell us that she really, totally has, you know, substance. She and her husband run a (failing) vineyard and do something (sketchy at best) with polo, but mostly she found it important to tell us how much she likes staying in hotels, ordering room service and having her face-spackle professionally applied. Incidentally, it would appear that no one actually knows how to pronounce her name – it was said two, possibly three different ways during the show.
So, on to the story lines. Michaele and Tareq are in charge of “America’s Polo Cup,” which I put in quotes because I’m not sure if it actually matters or not, although I’m guessing not since it appeared to be held on a rather scruffy public soccer field encircled by a chain-link fence. They had Michele Jones speak, who we now know they tried to use while crashing the White House, and then we had a montage of Michaele hugging people while extolling the philosophical virtues of the embrace. Except she didn’t use words that big, because I don’t think it occurs to her to do such a thing. I’m not sure that much occurs to her at all. Also, she takes the pinky-swear very seriously.
Lynda had a bit of insight on Michaele and the legitimacy of the polo event. She said that in the past when she had a business relationship with the Polo Cup (which includes a fashion show at some point), no one from her agency ever got their paychecks. She then referred to the cup as a “goat rodeo,” which means I’ll love her forever. Based on my crack Googling skills, it appears as though Lynda isn’t the only person that Michaele and Tareq never paid, including the charity which is supposed to benefit from the event. You can read all about that here.
Soon we found out that not only is Michaele a tireless striver who puts first-season Alex McCord to shame, but she also doesn’t know the definitions of words like “lobbyist.” But that doesn’t stop herself from telling actual lobbyists that she, too, is a lobbyist! Lobbyist! Lobbyist! Maybe if we say it enough times it’ll sound like jibberish, and then we’ll know what it’s like to be inside of Michaele’s head!
Next, Mary, Lynda and Ebong got together to discuss Mary’s impending birthday party. They’ve invited Cat and Stacie to the event, but not Michaele because obviously they’ve met her before. And then, like magic, it was time to get ready for the party. Mary has a biometric finger-scanning lock on her closet in order to keep out her daughter, which is actually sort of awesome. What’s decidedly not awesome is that Mary grew a conscience at the eleventh hour and decided to invite Michaele.
Lynda went ahead and called Michaele “second-tier” on the record, which seems true no matter how mean it might be. She’s known her for fifteen years and has basically nothing positive to say about her, and she also seems to think she has an eating disorder. I think it’s far more likely that she just does a ton of cocaine, considering her manic coke eyes and her inability to sit still. But hey, that’s just speculation, in case the lawyers are reading this.
At the party, Mary thankfully managed to distract me from the social-climbing trainwreck that is Michaele by getting birthday drunk and sauntering up to Stacie and Ted Gibson (who does Michelle Obama’s hair) and extolling them with her ideas about salon integration. Mary seemed serious, but she also seemed three sheets to the wind, and they both did an admirable job of neutralizing the crazy lady.
Speaking of Stacie, she was up next. She was planning a cooking-class party at her house for the girls, and she actually managed to be an adult (sort of) and invite everyone the first time around. I have to add the “sort of” because she made a dig at Michaele’s weight and I’m generally against snarking on people’s bodies, but I think I’d probably be reduced to that sort of immaturity as well if I was forced to spend time around that woman. Since Stacie seems like easily the most intelligent and reasonable of these women, I’ll let that slide.
Things moved quickly on to Cat, the British expatriate who has that very British way of insulting people and getting away with it. Since most housewives on these shows use the in-your-face insult technique, this characteristic could end up being very valuable to her. She and her husband also don’t like the Salahis (knowing what we know now, these people all sound like excellent judges of character).
We didn’t spend much time with Cat, though. It was back to Mary, whose husband has been picked as a stylish dude by the Washingtonian because Mary’s BFF is the person that gets to choose who ends up on the list. Both Mary and her husband agree that he’s not actually all that stylish. Or stylish at all, if those pink paisley pants are taken into consideration. Although I’m not really sure how BFF-y Mary and the publisher are, considering that she mispronounced her last name at the awards ceremony.
Speaking of the ceremony, Lynda was also chosen as a stylish DC person (Stylesetter? What did they call them? Did they really make up a word?) and landed the cover of the magazine. She’s friends with the Dwight of the DC housewives, Paul, who gave Lynda another opportunity to talk smack about Michaele and her weight. She encouraged her gay bestie to confront Michaele about her weight by insulting how she looks in clothes while fitting her for an event the next day.
I think Michaele and her husband are likely some of the most loathsome people on any of Bravo’s shows, but Lynda’s preoccupation with her body seemed perhaps just a tad bit…envious. Besides, the owner of a modeling agency would be the last person to ever show genuine concerns over how thin someone has become. Paul, for his part, tried to be as diplomatic as possible while still continuing the drama, as I’m sure he was instructed to do by the producers. Obviously, Michaele denied having an eating disorder.
And then it was finally time for the cooking party at Stacie’s house that we had all been promised earlier in the episode. The party got together all of the newly minted Housewives to drink sake and then look at iPhone pics of Joe Biden. I wonder if Cat will ever go an entire episode without name-dropping everyone that her husband has every met; somehow I doubt it. Cat talked a blue streak about the Obamas and how close her husband is with them, and then she let it slip that, uh, she hasn’t actually met the president. Ever.
Cat managed to distract everyone from her lack of presidential face time by talking about her distaste for Tyra Banks, but then managed to show her hand by getting back to the subject of the Obamas and how the president didn’t attend her husband’s awards ceremony or RSVP to their wedding or ANYTHING, HARUMPH. No matter if you’re a republican or democrat, you have to wonder how wise it is to trash talk your brand new husband’s boss on television all the while insisting that your husband take partial credit for his election. Maybe that’s why he’s divorcing her. It certainly wouldn’t be a bad reason.
Considering that the woman has been married to this guy and in the country for all of two months, I’m not sure why anyone took her political opinions as anything beyond petty griping about social slights from a man far more important than she’ll ever be. That’s what this show is all about, really: the overwhelming desire to be someone in a city filled with someones, and that’s not something that appears to change on either side of the political divide.