The Real Housewives of Potomac premiere explores race & class in unique way

The Real Housewives of Potomac premieres, bringing drama of a predictable, yet entirely different, sort. 

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Image: Bravo

Oh, were you not looking to expand your Real Housewives viewing opportunities? Were you fine with the available Beverly Hills/Atlanta/New Jersey/New York/Orange County/Melbourne selection? Well, now you can enjoy another drama-laden location — Potomac.

RHOP is similar to the rest of the franchise — everything is expensive and shiny, the homes are lavish, and everyone acts like it’s normal to have a bajillion dollars. (Bajillion is a technical term.) Like The Real Housewives of Atlanta, the cast of RHOP is comprised entirely of women of color, each with a different relationship to money — some have married into it, some are new to it, others were born into it. RHOA often dives right into confronting issues of race, as they did on Sunday’s new episode with the Million Man March, and RHOP also seems to be revving up to talk about race, or at least making viewers talk about it.

Potomac, if you were not aware, is a super-wealthy suburb of Washington, D.C. It is also a predominantly white super-wealthy suburb (75% white, specifically). It took viewers on Twitter no time to latch on to the complicated race dynamics of the show — almost the entire cast, with the exception of one (Charrisse Jackson Jordan) is light skinned.

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Colorism is discrimination against individuals, often of the same ethnic group, with a dark skin tone. It’s pretty safe to say that this isn’t something we’ve seen on any Real Housewives episode — ever — and, although it wasn’t specifically brought up on the premiere of RHOP, it is certainly not something you’d miss if you were aware that it exists. In addition to the question of skin color, there’s the matter of Charrisse Jackson Jordan wielding the word “ghetto,” which brings up a whole host of race and class issues, and definitely isn’t getting Charrisse any love from viewers.

So, this is only the first episode of RHOP and already the stage is set for a whole different kind of conflict, which may or may not manifest itself, but is certainly present for viewers. The Real Housewives franchise, for the most part, hasn’t engaged with issues of race (although, remember that time Brandi told Joyce she was like a black person because she didn’t swim?), class (except for when people talk about how lucky they are to have tons and tons of money), and sexuality (except for brief forays into same-sex make-outs), but anyone watching who is well-versed in these issues — or who just pays attention to life on Earth — will notice what goes on below, and close to, the surface.

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What did you think of the premiere of RHOP? Will you be watching next week?

Image: Bravo

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