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Friday, September 17, 2010

RHODC Episode #6 Recap and Fact-Check

Article from the Washington Post.

For better or for worse: D.C. 'Housewives' recap and fact-check (#6, Sept. 16)
By: Roxanne Roberts And Amy Argetsinger

Welcome back to "The Real Housewives of D.C.," the episode in which Mary's daughter raids her closet, Lynda gets a new house, Stacie searches for her parents and drama erupts at Oasis Winery... Uh, is this a rerun?

No. It's not. It just felt that way. This episode magically avoided the season's two other repetitive obsessions ("Did Lynda call Michaele anorexic?" "Is Cat a racist?"), but it was otherwise almost nothing but retread -- not to mention rewind. Yes, this week we once again caught Bravo pulling off some more sneaky time travel. More on that later.

The episode opens at Mary Amons's (for sale!) mini-mansion in McLean. She greets Cat Ommanney at the front door with a little faux-British accent of her own. "Caaahhhtherine! Welcome, dahhhling!" (Seeing this now will make you feel a little less awkward later in the hour when she greets Stacie with "gir'frien!") Glasses of white wine. Talk about marriage, mothering. Cat tells the camera that "the fact that Charles travels so much and has left me alone so much, sometimes I felt like a single mom again, except seven thousand miles away from everyone I loved." (Does she mean, in London? Because that's only about 3,700 miles away from Washington. Give her a break, though; it's tricky converting from kilometers.)
(Also, note that Cat, in her camera moment, is bangs-less -- unlike her moment in Mary's house, where she has bangs -- which means that she gave this interview just recently, after her split from Charles Ommanney. Note the past tense slipping in. Also note that Bravo has given her subtitles! Can the average Bravo viewer really not understand the accent?)

Mary says she struggles with "mother's guilt." And -- have you heard? -- "I've had a big struggle with Lolly staying out of my closet." She's installed a biometric lock to keep her out! (We knew this! From the first episode! And assumed then it was just supposed to be a one-shot joke, not a damned story arc.) She tells Cat that her mother had a baby after Mary had Lolly, and that she and Rich lived with her parents for the first year of their marriage. "My sister and my daughter are the exact same age. Because I was young and naïve, it skewed the boundaries."

(Can we stay on this topic? Please? Thus far we can count three things we'd rather be watching a reality show about: Mary and Rich's first years together; Lynda's career as an R&B backup singer; Cat's brief snog with Prince Harry. And we get this instead. Bravo just showed up at the wrong time in everyone's life.)

Stacie Turner, at home in D.C.'s 16th Street Heights, gets a call on the speakerphone (reality TV dictates that this is the only way to answer the phone) from Michaele Salahi -- who wants Stacie to help her search for a house in D.C. Stacie brags to the camera about her real estate business (a Sotheby's agent at the time of this taping, she has since returned to Long & Foster where she began her real estate career): "I'm the person to call because I know D.C., and I'm the best at what I do." (Other D.C. Realtors, please take this to our comments thread.)

Lynda Erkiletian, at home in Georgetown, meets with her new German shepherd puppy, in anticipation of her move to McLean. She explains that when she last lived in McLean, her house was broken into. She doesn't think Ichiban, a stout little pup that resembles Churchill, is up to the job of watchdog. (WASHINGTON INSIDER ALERT!!!) Lynda announces that Dawn, the dog trainer, "trains the White House puppy, Bo." (This is actually true: Dawn Sylvia Stasiewicz of Merit Puppy Training got the coveted Bo assignment, and has reaped a nice publicity bonanza ever since.) "I was impressed by your training at the White House," Lynda gushes. Says Dawn, "It's a very bright dog. And they're a wonderful family." Then Dawn takes the name-dropping to the next level: Bo "is related to Sen. Kennedy's dog Cappy." (True.) Ichiban meets the German shepherd, and there is sniffing of butts. Lynda says something about how men need training too, and maybe women, and... whatever. Next scene!

The Four Seasons in Georgetown, where Stacie is meeting Tareq and Michaele. They are, believe it or not, staying in the "Royal Suite." (This is the Four Seasons' top-end suite, where Oprah is widely assumed to have stayed during the Obama inauguration. 4,000 square feet, massive private terrace. Goes for about $15,000 a night. How can the Salahis afford it, you ask? Well, the Four Seasons is a discreet place, and we'll never know for sure, but one can speculate that for the amount of camera time lavished upon the suite, this was a promotional arrangement for the Four Seasons, agreed to at a time before the Salahis were known for showing up uninvited to the White House with a trail of debts in their wake.)

As Stacie wonders to the camera where the money is coming from, Tareq explains that they're tired of staying in hotels when they come to D.C. for business, that they want to buy their own place. What kind of place? Michaele winces at the word "condo." Tareq says they need to "have 200 to 250 guests on a regular basis." What's their price range, Stacie asks? Says Michaele: "It could be the $100,000 home, or it could be the $12 million home." (Quick and sloppy D.C. real estate tutorial: $100,000 gets you a one-bedroom in Anacostia, the city's poorest sector. $12 million gets you an embassy. A NICE embassy.) Stacie wonders how they intend to finance this. "Through the business," says Tareq. Stacie tells the camera, "The winery is defunct. Do they think I'm stupid?"
At Cat's home in Chevy Chase, Md., she is doing the dishes, and explaining to the camera that she learned that morning that one of her friends back home had taken his life. "The girls woke up to hear me crying." Mary consoles her over the phone. Lots of "love you, love you" back and forth.

Lynda goes to check out her new McLean mini-mansion with Mary and a woman named Deborah, identified as her designer. (This is Deborah Kalkstein, a Georgetown-based decorator -- at one point, an early contender for a larger role on this show -- and owner of Contemporaria, where Mary, Cat and Jason Backe drank-and-shopped in episode four.) "Mary and I are going to be neighbors!" Lynda cheers. "We're so close, we're a stone's throw away." (They're just under a mile away from each other, in fact -- well, until Mary moves. Lynda actually now lives much closer to Colin Powell, whom Mary bragged in episode one lived just down the street. As the crow flies, Lynda's about 200 yards away from the former Secretary of State's house... Is this stuff interesting to you? Let me know and I'll keep going.) Lynda says that the house needs a lot of work, and "that's where astrology becomes of value." She never makes any big decision without consulting an astrologer. She burns a bunch of sage and smudges it around the place: "Whenever I purchase a new property, I think it's important to clear the energy." (Bravo plays whimsical music over this -- your cue to go ahead, laugh!) Lynda explains that she was raised Baptist, converted to Judaism at 20. She sprinkles holy water outside the house and declares "I love everything holy!"

Michaele and Tareq pick up Stacie in a white stretch limo. (Remember: They operated a limo service for a while, which explains all the limos in their life). Stacie takes them on a tour of Washington real estate. Spring Valley, the far western corner of D.C.where, says Stacie, "a lot of politicians live" (sure, some do); then, without announcement, an area that looks more like Foxhall or Embassy Row. Michaele sighs over a home that Stacie pegs at $20 million and not for sale. Stacie tells the camera she wants a bank statement or other evidence that the Salahis can afford this kind of real estate. Then she asks him straight out what the deal with the winery is. "Most of the rumors are true," he says, explaining that his mom sued him (true; as we've discussed before, she sued alleging he ran their business into the ground, he countersued; the winery and Tareq's businesses based there both filed for bankruptcy). "She came back after never being in the winery at all and really made a mess of things." Adds Michaele, "It became where the mom was wanting to push Tareq out." (Note: "the mom"?) Stacie offers that maybe they'll patch things up, and Tareq says no, "that chapter is closed." Stacie is horrified. The limo pulls up to the Four Seasons and Michaele exclaims, "we're home!"
Back in McLean, Mary interrupts Rich watching an unspecified sporting event on TV to complain, again, about Lolly taking clothes from her closet. Again. Apparently, "I forgot to close it." Says Rich (sounding like a man who has already seen season 1, episodes 1-5) "Do I need an Internet counter on my forehead for the number of times we're going to have this exact same conversation?" Mary tells the camera she doesn't like his sarcasm.

Back at the Turner house, Stacie is cooking dinner when Jason comes home and, apropos of nothing (or, perhaps, as if nudged by an invisible hand, perhaps belonging to one of the many Bravo/Half Yard personnel hanging around the family home but unseen by us the viewers -- and do you ever stop to think how weird that must be?), asks when Stacie is ever going to find her birth father. "It's been two and a half years!" Stacie tells the camera (for those of you who missed episodes 3-5), "I was surprised to find out my mother was Caucasian and my father was Nigerian." Jason says Stacie's birth mother will never help her find her father, that they need to go to the next level and confront her son -- Stacie's half-brother -- on Facebook. (This seems kind of drastic. It's also the most intriguing plot development on this episode. So of course, they drop it for the rest of the hour.)

Lynda, back at her Ritz-Carlton apartment, getting dressed, in a poufy silver trench-coat-style dress. (Familiar? For a while, one of the few photos we had of Lynda was in this dress. It's what she wore in Washingtonian magazine when they put her on their best-dressed list last year.) She calls to K.C., who is both her assistant and her son's girlfriend, to ask her for help buckling her shoes. Then she sweeps off to a gala with two of her sons, Sam, 16, and Mihran, 19, and boyfriend Ebong. (Leaving poor K.C. behind. Cinderella!)

The gala turns out to be the annual fundraiser for Men Against Breast Cancer. (And now... wait a minute! This event was held last Oct. 20 at the W Hotel. That was several days before Paul Wharton's birthday party, portrayed in episode two. And the gala was nearly three weeks before Oasis Winery grape-stomping party, of episode four. We know, however, that you, the sophisticated viewer, are up to the challenges of the non-linear narrative. I think Bravo enlisted David Lynch to direct this one.)
Mary and Cat are also there, and the highlight of the gala is a men's fashion show. "Women behave badly at men's fashion's shows," Lynda notes. "It's like they're at a strip club." Look, there's Paul Wharton walking the catwalk! (We missed our friend Paul the Plot Engineer the last two episodes; sadly we only glimpse him briefly this week. His hair is flat-ironed and somewhat longer than usual) Also: Fox5 anchor Will Thomas! (Will, you rascal you! No wonder you managed to break the story of the non-invited Salahis getting tossed out of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gala -- after, of course, we broke the White House story. Seems that Will was embedded with the Housewives!) Mary glares at Lolly on the far side of the room in a black bustier -- Mary's of course.

A man described as Lynda's ex-boyfriend comes by the table to say hi. (And this is true: Christopher Reiter, now 42, dated Lynda for a couple years. He owns Muleh, a furniture boutique and importing business in D.C. and is currently dating Juleanna Glover, the uber-hostess and GOP lobbyist who helped Half Yard Productions make some of the original introductions around town to find their "Housewives" cast.) Cat is struck by Reiter's groovy '70s Euro-chic style. "You dress absolutely identically to a very good friend of mine... who just died really recently, and it's like, whoa." She starts to cry, and tells the camera "it was just like a spirit or an angel coming to the table." Lynda tells the camera "it gave her the opportunity to just open up, let go, cry, and feel the pain." Lots of hugs.

Back at home, Cat tells 11-year-old Jade about crying in public and wrestles with her decision to skip her friend's funeral. "I think just go with your gut," Jade tells her. Cat tells the camera: "I know people say mothers shouldn't be best friends with their children, but we've been through a lot together."

In McLean, Mary and Rich have the Turners over to dinner. Mary greets Stacie with "my gir'frien!" (Producers decide not to linger on this; they hazed Mary enough in episode one, apparently.) Mary is a big fan of the Turners after they stood up for her at Oasis when Tareq started making bizarre charges about Lolly. Mary says that Jason's response "was a high five." And, "he definitely was the tender warrior in the group. His feather" -- at this, Mary wiggles her hand from behind her head -- "was like rrrrrwahahah!" Everyone smiles and laughs as if they get the references. (I don't.) Anyway, her point being, "you had our back." Stacie expresses surprise at the Salahis' recent behavior, having enjoyed them in Paris. Mary tells the camera "it's just a matter of time before Michaele and Tareq burn the bridge with Stacie and Jason, because they do that with everyone." She tells the Turners that she knows people who grew up with Tareq and that "there's a reason he was sent to military school." (In fairness, the Post in its extensive bio of the couple didn't find any noteworthy bad-teenager stories.) She adds that they have a "track record" of not paying their bills. (Post stories did find that.) But she defends Michaele, whom Mary sees as "lost" and trapped "in a co-dependent relationship."

Michaele and Tareq pull up to Oasis Winery, this time in an ordinary SUV. Tareq talks about "our family war" but his hopes for "a grand reopening, bringing it back to life." Michaele says she ran into Tareq's mother Corinne, who she said was mad that Michaele was talking to his father Dirgham, whom Michaele insists is a fan of Michaele. "Corinne, I don't know why she's so mean to me." Cameras pan over empty vines, shriveled fruit. Tareq talks about the "over-the-top designs for renovations." (It's one of those awkward reality-TV conversations clearly arranged for the sake of the cameras, otherwise, why would these two people deeply involved in the matter for so long need to deliver so much exposition to each other?) The two say Dirgham wants them to carry with the family business: "A new generation is here," says Tareq.

And then: Sirens! Sheriff's cars show up to the winery, and Tareq goes out to talk to them. Michaele tells the camera, weeping, that Corinne called the police trying to have them (and presumably, the production crew) removed from the place. Michaele gets very emotional: "It's affected my life greatly. It's affected my health, my well-being." (Note that the week this episode is airing is the week that the Salahis, in promoting a new book, announced that Michaele has multiple sclerosis.) She adds: "I've stayed because I love Tareq, and I got into it for better or for worse... Life's short and being cruel or making fun of someone or suing them or attacking your own child -- the whole thing is devastating."

Coming up next week: Michaele attends out at a Redskins cheerleader alumni event, and it's clear that Bravo will gleefully reveal what the Post months ago revealed -- that she never was a Redskins cheerleader, despite claiming to be one. Oh, and a big screaming match over whether Cat is a racist or whether Cat is simply a jerk -- yes, THAT old story.

Who won this round? We're no longer keeping score.

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