After seeing the first episode of The Real Housewives of D.C., I say to Whoopi Goldberg: Congratulations to you, good woman. Who would not want to do a little cussing, a little turning on one’s heel, to get away from most of these dreadful people?
I saw the dust-up between Whoopi and Michaele Salahi on The View before watching the premiere of Housewives of D.C., but they were both of a piece: The “housewife” franchise and the constant clamor for public attention never stops. The Washington, D.C., version seems, if anything, more sweaty and desperate. Maybe it’s the town’s humidity. Lacking the sun ‘n’ fun ethos of The Real Housewives of Orange County, the gnarled garishness of New Jersey, the amiable animosity of Atlanta, or the hard-pavement huffiness of New York, Housewives of D.C. is filled with climbers on their way to… where? It’s not as though they’re striving to become Beltway power-brokers the way the careerists on New York strive (and sometimes succeed) in becoming Manhattan media figures.
Mind you, I was actually rooting for each of these women as they were introduced:
• Mary: She’s the granddaughter of Arthur Godfrey, for heaven’s sake — how could any TV critic not feel predisposed toward a woman related to a broadcasting pioneer? Yet by the time Mary was applying her fingerprint to a “biometric” lock that allowed only her, and not her daughter, into her closet, I thought, “What a drip.”
• Stacie: She referenced D.C. as “Chocolate City” in her first on-camera monologue: How could any P-Funk fan not feel kindly toward such a person? But by the time she was taking elaborate offense at another housewife’s dislike of Tyra Banks, I thought, “Oh, come on — you seem smart; you know that disliking Tyra’s imperious style isn’t inherently racist, right?”
• Cat: She had a British accent and spoke in complete sentences — you know how Yanks are suckers for that. Yet when she made fun of Tyra Banks, I thought, “Oh, man, do you have to try and imitate an American black person, complete with what you think are stereotypical gestures? Maybe you are racist.”
• Lynda: She owns her own modeling agency, seems to work hard, and is worried that Michaele is dangerously thin — she seems to have her wits about her, right? But then I realized that running a modeling agency in D.C. “catering to ambassadors” means you’re basically supplying escorts to parties, and when she referred to Michaele as “second tier,” the snobbery reeked.
• Michaele: Sorry, couldn’t even fake sympathy for this one. One half of the team that party-crashed that November White House state dinner? The other half being a husband so infatuated with his own nouveau riche overreaching that when he gave his wife a bracelet this evening, he made sure to tell everyone including the cameras how many carat diamonds were on it? Ick.
I quote George Clinton, “Chocolate City” (1979): “They say you jive and game and can’t be changed.” I have a feeling that’s the way it’s gonna go with these women, every week. “Up for the down-stroke,” as Parliament chants a bit later, “everybody get up” — and leave the room when someone tries to get you to watch another episode of this thing.