The Real Housewives of Potomac is still in its infancy, and already, viewers are upset about its handling of race, religion, and anything resembling “reality.”
Twitter is not happy with the RHOP, which is saying something, because this is only the second week of the show. We’re not at Farrah Abraham levels of hate yet, but things are not good. There are so many things to be annoyed by: the constant harping on “etiquette,” the mentions of “Potomac,” (in case you were unclear about the name/location of the show), the references to “section 8”, “ghetto”, and “the help”, the confusion over how people could have so much money and such crappy countertops, and so on. There is already such a sad drinking game to be made from this show.
On Sunday’s episode, there was all this, and more, when Katie Rost invited the ladies over for Shabbat lunch. Katie is biracial and Jewish — she and her mother (who is African American) converted to Judaism when she was 10. Gizelle in particular asserted that one “cannot be a black Jew”, which is such a level of nonsense that it’s hard to type that sentence. (I am Jewish. I know black Jews. They exist.) Not knowing any black Jews is one thing, but asserting that they don’t exist is another, and this whole “plotline” — if that’s what we’re calling it — is a mess. Fortunately, to her credit, Katie seems not to care what the other women think of her identity and religion, but it’s yet another thing to pile on top of Mount What is Wrong with this Show, which viewers on Twitter are more than willing to discuss.
Let’s be clear — people of color talking about race isn’t racist. The problem with RHOP isn’t that it talks about race and class, or that it shows black folks talking about these things in ways that expose complexities and challenges with communities of color. But one has to wonder if Bravo is even interested in complex conversations or if it’s just interested in ratings. (We all know the answer to this, right?) There isn’t exactly productive learning happening here — although, tonight I suppose some people learned about the existence of black Jews. One Twitter viewer zoned right in on what’s wrong with RHOP and, in particular, what makes it different from The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
If Bravo’s motivation to keep things controversial on RHOP is to boost the ratings, (which it of course is), it’s working, because apparently the ratings are super high. How long will that last though, and what will Bravo do to attempt to assure those ratings? We shall see, intrepid viewers.