Housewives’ Are Barely Real and Hardly D.C.
Stacie Scott Turner, one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of D.C.,” wants would-be viewers to know that her show isn’t all about crashing White House state dinners.
It’s not about catty fights at cocktail parties, either. And unlike past “Housewives” seasons, there won’t even be any flipping of dinner tables.
“We have some real important, provocative, substantive conversations about issues,” Turner said in a recent conference call with reporters. “We think it’s going to get people talking at the water cooler.”
After months of gossip, endless hype and even a full-on Congressional investigation of one of the housewives, “The Real Housewives of D.C.” finally premieres tonight on Bravo. While Turner and her fellow cast member Mary Schmidt Amons insisted their show will make D.C. proud, it certainly has its skeptics among Washingtonians.
Many think the show will depict D.C. in the wrong light. Others are already exhausted hearing about the series and its lead star Michaele Salahi, who created a media firestorm after she and her husband crashed a White House state dinner in November 2009.
And that has left some wondering whether anybody in town will actually tune in.
“Honestly, I don’t think anybody cares about it,” said Gemma Puglisi, a former reporter and public relations strategist who now teaches at American University. “What I’m hearing is that nobody has any desire to watch it. It’s not our scene.”
Part of the problem, for Washingtonians anyway, is that it doesn’t appear the show portrays how real D.C. insiders live, Puglisi said.
When prominent Washingtonians throw a party, for example, they don’t host huge soirees and have cameras follow them around. Instead, they host small, intimate, exclusive affairs in their homes.
“Washingtonians are hardworking people,” Puglisi said. “We’re dedicated, we care about issues, we take things seriously.”
For their part, the “Housewives” insist they are also serious people. Amons and Turner said they decided to do the show to promote their charity work. They also argue that they hold a prominent spot in D.C. society: Turner is a real estate agent for Sotheby’s, and Amons, a mother of five, is the granddaughter of radio personality Arthur Godfrey and says she spent time with the Kennedy clan as a child.
And as proof that politics will factor into the show, Turner points to a scene in the first episode (spoiler alert!), in which she gets into a brouhaha with fellow housewife Catherine Ommanney, a Brit who’s recently arrived in town (and, on a side note, also claims to have made out with Prince Harry at a pub).
At a party Turner is hosting, Ommanney disses President Barack Obama and praises former President George W. Bush. That gets under Turner’s skin — and in true “Housewives” style, the claws come out.
“I didn’t realize that Cat is about as direct and opinionated as I am,” Turner recalled. “We went there.”
But not everybody is buying it. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, for example, wrote a scathing review of the show for TV Guide, arguing the women are just wannabe power players.
“[W]e get five women on the periphery of the periphery of power, so far outside the marbled inner-sanctum that it required a Watergate-caliber break-in — now known as Salahing — to breach the gates,” she wrote.
The “Housewives” stars already appear used to the criticism. Turner heard plenty of feedback from her friends about her involvement in the show even before she started filming, she said. About half supported her; the other half didn’t.
“They were probably thinking, Oh, I’m just glad it’s not me,'” she joked. “Other people were like, Just be careful, and develop a thick skin.'”
In the end, it might not matter whether the series accurately portrays D.C., is full of catty drama or ends up with the women having in-depth discussions about the midterm elections, some D.C. insiders said.
So long as it’s entertaining, people will watch.
“If it gets half the attention of the party crashers, it’ll do well,” one local public affairs professional said. “No doubt they’ll try to pull similar stunts, and everyone from Capitol Hill to K Street will be blabbing about each and every one of them.”
She adds, “If we’re lucky, one of them will even run for office.”