After much speculation, last Fall saw Bravo officially announce the newest instalment of its Housewives franchise – ’The Real Housewives of Potomac.’
Based in the bespoke Maryland town, the series is particularly noteworthy because it’s the first series to feature a cast compromised of women of color since the debut of the Atlanta branch eight years ago.
The gargantuan success NeNe Leakes and co have enjoyed with their show (which is the highest rated in the Housewives portfolio) meant comparisons would be plentiful and that the proverbial bar would be set sky-high.
Now, with the premiere episode having aired last night, debate has turned to whether reality TV’s newest divas delivered.
Of course, the length and breath of the season will bring with it the definitive answer. However, per the first taste, the signs are potently promising. And here’s why…
Affluence Over Attitude
Routinely in the media, depictions of Black-ness tend to be muddied by stereotypes, cliches, and caricatures. However, with the ladies of Potomac, there is a purposeful air of “achieved.” The houses are lavish, the gowns gorgeous, the faces snatched, and the successes real – rather than fictional works-in-progress. What’s more, even the ladies that married into wealth come from a rich cultural heritage, which – even on a Bravo reality show – goes some way to help dispel the linear, rigid depictions of “Blackness” that tend to pervade the media scape. As Gizelle summed up so eloquently, the ladies have “legacy and pedigree.” Come through!
Sassy On Their Own Terms
Shade comes in many flavors, a fact the premiere episode highlighted hilariously. Yes, we all love the in-your-faceness of Kenya and co, but if last night proved anything, it’s that sprinkles of sass can be just as entertaining as the full on splashes we’re used to seeing on its sister show. Though arguably petty, it was refreshing seeing the shade grenades being thrown over who was showcased “etiquette” and who didn’t posses enough of the stuff. Karen’s catty clash with Gizelle, as well as Gizelle’s crab-boil beef with Charrise being two of the prime examples. [Editor’s note: notice which name keeps coming into the conflict mix. Hmm]
Perhaps a benefit of the show’s freshman status, however there was something quite warming about seeing a group of women who actually know each other. The “real” in reality TV has always been questionable, but surely we speak for most when saying that it at least needs to seem authentic. Thankfully, with this Potomac quintet, their relationships with one another have a history that precedes the arrival of the camera crew. The result makes watching the show feel like we’re stepping into their world, rather than creating it via social media (see: the various calls for who should comeback, who should switch shows, so on and so forth).
In many media arenas, being older tends to have negative connotations. Yet, in this show, age is celebrated almost as a means of OG divadom. Karen, the resident Queen Bee, asserts her status by way of being the most seasoned. She assumes the character of the sun almost, behaving as if she gives life while also being able to burn a rival on cue. All in all, the ladies skew a little older than their ATL counterparts and it – as we’re sure producers intended – makes for a “different” dynamic and ultimately a “different” watch.
Potomac presents a group of women with engaging stories and vivacious, yet varied personalties. The premiere episode did a commendable job of drip-feeding us what each lady is serving up, while leaving us hungry for more. And though, it’s quite clear (at this junction) who the shade throwers and the care-free kittens are, we’re excited to see how the season plays out because it’s apparent (by way of their juicy backstories) that none of the ladies are one-dimensional.
By no means a televised revolution, The Real Housewives of Potomac is absolutely built around the same wire-frame of all of the Housewives franchise. As such, it won’t escape the critiques levelled against such shows. That said, it brings with it a fresh perspective – one that we feel has an overflow of potential.