Listen closely and you can probably hear Jill Zarin pacing the floor in the foyer of her New York City apartment.
A new group of manicured, outspoken and short-tempered women are about to take over Bravo. And based on the first episode of The Real Housewives of D.C. (premiering August 5 at 9 P.M.), they make all the other stars of the franchises look like junior high girls whispering by the lockers.
We're not just talking questionably shady ex-husbands here. As anyone with half a pop-culture brain knows by now, housewife Michaele Salahi and her husband, winery owner and America's Polo Cup founder Tareq crashed a White House state dinner in November and are still being investigated by a federal grand jury. The woman was lampooned during the cold opening of Saturday Night Live eight months before her show debuted. Poor Teresa Giudice had to put her mahogany poker table and chairs up for sale in a bankruptcy auction to get even 35 percent of that publicity!
But first things first. (After all, partycrasher-gate is only teased in a promo and won't even air until the end of the season). Let's meet the cast of characters.
Mary Schmidt Amons — She's 43 and looks about 18. She grew up with the Kennedy kids and played in their pool. Her hair has serious volume. The clothes in her walk-in closet are so chic, she needs to put her thumbprint on the lock for entry. Wait, it gets worse. Mary has six lovely children and her husband is completely adorable. On the other hand, she's in serious need of on-camera charisma lessons and she's not even that fun when she drinks. So there!
Lynda Erekiletian — She's a modeling agency owner and employs a Madonna-like "I'm American but speak like I grew up in Sussex" accent. Even though she looks about 5-foot-4, there's something intimidating about her. Maybe it's because she breathes fire.
Stacie Scott Turner — She's the tough-talking real-estate bigwig — and the only African-American in the cast. She also lives in Washington D.C. (read: not in the suburbs) and is proud of it. She has a hazy connection to Barack Obama and he's one of her heroes. File that for later.
Catherine Ommanney — She's a British native who just moved into town with her new-ish husband (the two are now split). A shy English rose she is not. Oh, she's an interior designer too.
Salahi — She comes off a little ditzy and desperate to be accepted by the rest of the gang. Also, there's something a bit off-putting about the way she worships her smarmy husband. I dare you not to be blinded by her shiny, pin-straight blonde hair.
Full disclosure: The first half of the episode is maddeningly slow and hopelessly contrived. First, we see Mary and her perfect family arrive to a photo studio to take professional shots for their Christmas card. They're all dressed alike in their shirts and jeans. Isn't that precious? Back at the tony homestead, she and her eldest daughter playfully argue over clothes. Fast forward.
Meanwhile, Lynda is concerned. She thinks her reed-thin friend (and client) Michaele is too underweight and maybe possibly has an eating disorder. But instead of confronting Michaele about the concerns, she confides in her fey male assistant. Who then blabs to Michaele. Who then gets ultra-defensive and denies it. Been there, done that on The Hills. In fact, even a Salahi-hosted Polo match lacks serious fireworks (not to mention celeb wattage. Wasn't Andy Cohen at least available?)
Then things gets…interesting.
Stacie, who's been a wall flower until this point, hosts a brunch for a few of the women (along with her pal Erika.) Michaele is MIA. That's the bad news. The good news? There is alcohol.
The ladies are on their best behavior until the chef reveals that he's also prepared food for Tyra Banks. Mary is impressed. Catherine isn't. The Brit immediately launches into a hilarious impression of the America's Next Top Model host, complete with the diva-like hair flip. Okay, that's fair. Not everybody has to be a fan of the woman who once walked around NYC in a fat suit for her daytime talk show just to illustrate the shocking fact that people pay more attention to skinny models.
But. A buzzed Catherine then goes completely off the rails and shockingly insults Obama because he didn't have the time to RSVP to her wedding. On the other hand, George W. Bush did follow through. Therefore, in Catherine's mind, our past president is a better man than our current one. Stacie and Erika are visibly aghast. I won't spoil the verbal insults here, only to say the brunch quickly escalates into a heated talk about politics, power and race. And at no time do you get the sense that they're playing up the drama for the cameras.
No wonder Michaele barged into the White House. These women won't be satisfied until they conquer the capital and reality TV — and aside from a few secret service agents, who's going to stop them?
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