By Jodi Walker
November 19, 2020 at 01:46 AM EST
Credit: Bravo

Ah yes, when you think of a universal hand signal for f--- you, we all think of the… thumbs up, don’t we? What about the double thumbs up? According to the women of RHOSLC, that’s definitely a f--- you. So, either I’ve really been miscommunicating with kids for the last decade or so, or the girls are just doin’ things different over in Utah. I know I could never handle living among them — mostly because I can’t ski and my toes are always cold — but I sure do love watching them.

Because on The Real Housewives of Potomac, the stakes are low, the elevation is high, and the drama is just right. But before we get into a very earnest argument about thumbs up emojis, as is tradition, we must rank the new Housewives’ taglines in order from worst to best:

WHITNEY: “This rose isn’t scared to handle a little prick.” Whitney!!!! Do you know… what you’re saying here? Is everyone else… hearing what I’m hearing??? I know that Whitney’s last name is Rose, but her husband’s last name is also Rose, which is going to make the suggestion that she’s “handling” a “little,” ahem, “prick”… tough to hear week after week.

MEREDITH: “Jealousy is a disease, to which I say: get well soon.” In a batch of mostly good taglines, lack of originality is the only sin, and this line just isn’t telling me much about Meredith. I would much rather her allude to her unique family dynamic.

JEN: “In this town, I’m a queen bee and MVP.” Similarly, I want to be mad at this lack of creativity from Jen… but then I realized that she is simply speaking the truth.

MARY: “I love God. But I will read you like a scripture.” This tagline is just as wild and disconnected as every single thing Mary says, which means I love it and hate it in equal measure.

HEATHER: “Just like my pioneer ancestors, I’m trying to blaze a new trail.” And speaking of wild…Heather simply went for it, and we have to respect it.

LISA: “When you take cheap shots, always expect a hangover.” Unfortunately, this is so good. It’s specific to Lisa, it makes logical sense, and it is a perfectly coherent pun. Lisa is shady, shady, shady, but hot damn, can the woman turn a phrase. Not only is her tagline flawless, but she’s giving us at least one more line each week that the other franchises need to be scribbling down in their little Notes app and saving for a rainy day.

This second episode picks up right where the premiere left off, with Jen storming away from Mary and refusing to apologize for saying she smelled like hospital while her aunt was in the hospital having both of her legs amputated. It really is wild to me, and it says something about Jen — though I’m not sure what yet — how calm she’s able to stay in front of Mary, considering how absolutely buckwild she goes once she gets into her bathroom and starts screaming about Mary to her hairstylist. She is cursing up a storm, and slamming her hands, and giving real RHONJdon’t you ever talk about my FAMILY” vibes. But then as soon as Mary comes into the room, Jen mostly zips it back up, and once Mary finally kind of apologizes for hurting Jen’s feelings, she agrees to move past it because she’s being “Zen Jen.”

I am glad Jen at least got one good burn off on Mary’s ensemble though, which again, is one of the whackiest outfits I’ve seen a Housewife ever wear. Not even mentioning the green tulle dress, Mary is wearing towering black Louboutin pumps with opaque white tights. I didn’t even know they made those in adult sizes! (I also appreciated Heather upgrading Jen’s Christmas tree comparison to, “No, she’s a loofa, baby, a loofa.” That’s a real friend.)

Outside at the actual party, things are much less zen. As the night is wrapping up, Lisa checks in with Whitney about how her vow renewal went last week. Whitney says it went well, and that the drinks were great because Lisa apparently gave her a bunch of tequila and two bartenders to serve it as a gift. It’s clear that something else is on Whitney’s mind though, and then she tells Lisa that the bartenders apparently got really drunk while they were serving, broke a bunch of glasses, and then served (or drank) liquor they weren’t supposed to.

It’s an awkward conversation because I think Whitney is telling Lisa that her employees are poorly representing with good intentions, but Whitney is not a very confident communicator, so she just keeps adding on one more little thing, like that the tequila Lisa sent had already run out by 6 p.m., or that her bartenders got into their “top shelf” tequila. To which Lisa offers a perfect line in her testimonial: “What Whitney does with the gift I give is up to her — if I give you a Chanel necklace and you choke on it, that’s your problem, not mine.”

She really is so good. But then she goes and ruins it with her… y’know, personality. Because after Lisa walks away from Whitney, she storms over to Meredith to relay what just happened, seething, “I don’t want trash telling me something’s not good.”

This woman is so transparent! She can compliment as many hats and canes around this party as she wants to, but Lisa not only thinks she’s better than everyone, she’s the kind of person who preys on the weak and then insists that she doesn’t because she knows she can defend herself better than they can. But more on that later…

We simply must get to the darkness that belies the shiny, snowy exterior of this franchise. It’s reminding me of the early season of RHOBH, which certainly went off the rails with a quickness, but were electric while they lasted. First, we officially meet Whitney’s dad, he of The Hair that’s going to be a much more delicate topic of discussion now that we know his full back story. Whitney tells us that she and her dad were extremely close when she was growing up, but for the last 10 years, he’s been addicted to pain killers. It seems that he’s gotten clean fair recently, and Whitney has been a big part of supporting him in that. He comes over to her house where they talk about him getting back to his former life as…

You guys, a hairstylist. And I will leave it at that. I said I will leave it at THAT!

But somehow even darker than that scene is the dinner date between Meredith and her husband Seth, who takes any chance he can get to imply that he and his wife aren’t having enough sex. You know what always gets a lady all hot and bothered, Seth? Passive aggression. Mmmm.

Seth is plenty direct, however, about addressing “the elephant in the room,” when Meredith asks if he has anything he wants to talk about before they start having fun on their date. “Okay, who have you told that we’re separated?” he asks. Woah! We’ve seen clips of this dinner in the season preview, but I just assumed we’d be getting it maybe midway through the season. But no, this is RHOSLC, so we're two episodes in and Meredith and her husband are already separated, and he’s picking fights about how she would never let him read her phone even though he’s begging her to read his “only because it would make me think you care.” Yikes. And is it just me, or were these two trashed on this dinner date from hell? (For the record, I would not blame them.)

Finally, the ladies all come together to go skiing, and it’s fun to discover that the more stylish a Housewife’s ski outfit, the worse she is at skiing. But this outing is really less about the slopes and all about Whitney and Heather airing their shared grievances with Lisa over dinner.

They think she’s condescending and looks down upon them, which is a difficult accusation to tackle because someone thinking they’re superior to you is so easy to get away with. They simply deny it and go on thinking they’re even more superior than they did before because now they know you’re vulnerable to their opinions. But in Whitney’s case, I don’t think she really cares what Lisa thinks about her, so much as she wants Lisa to know that her game has been clocked. Apparently, after Jen’s party, Lisa and Whitney talked on the phone, and Whitney says that Lisa threatened to expose rumors she’s heard about Whitney being a swinger if she didn’t stop making Lisa’s tequila brand look bad.

Lisa denies making any threats to Whitney so quickly at the dinner that I am absolutely positive she did it. She just never expected Whitney to stand up for herself (however high into the rafters Whitney’s voice may have gone while she did it).

Heather, on the other hand, very much cares what Lisa thinks about her, and Lisa knows it, and she will never give Heather her approval until Heather stops wanting it. I appreciate that Heather is the rare Housewife who’s willing to show vulnerability onscreen. Lisa hurt her feelings when she acted like she didn’t know her in college, and Heather isn’t too proud to admit that. I just hope she doesn’t hold onto this for too long. Because at some point, caring about someone who doesn’t care about you (or who is too conceited to admit caring about you) gets a little sad.

Luckily, we don’t have to dwell in the sadness for too long, because things are about to get extremely silly again. While Heather tries to point out that Lisa clearly does not do everything out of love and kindness as she claims, Lisa finally gets annoyed with having to defend herself and says: “Until you figure out what it is that I trigger in you, we can’t have a solid conversation and move forward. Thumbs up. Thumbs up, f--- you!”

To which, I wrote in my notes: Well, this is something.

Everyone is confused about the thumbs up thing until Lisa explains that she texted Heather the night of Jen’s party, and Heather only responded with a thumbs up. And this is what Heather needs to hold onto because you simply cannot be superior to someone when you’re yelling the line, “You sent me a thumbs up, Heather, and you know that’s a f--- you!”

Heather disagrees: “Two thumbs up is eff you,” she says. “That’s universal text code!”

“I didn’t know that,” Mary says quietly from across the table. Mary is a loose cannon, but she is worth every bit of it for the faces she is making during this argument about emojis. And who can blame her when Lisa is earnestly arguing at Heather not to “diminish the thumbs up text.” Heather confirms to a producer in her testimonial that of course the thumbs-up response was a f--- you, but she’s not going to tell Lisa that. But, of course, Lisa already knows: “She knows what it meant, and she meant what she sent,” she says in her testimonial, and now I want a full book of Housewives quotes that sound like Dr. Seuss quotes.

Lisa yells at Heather and Whitney that she’s genuinely sorry if she made them feel bad, and you know what they say about a screamed apology: it’s definitely, always genuine. They agree to move forward, and I agree to meet you back here next week when Meredith’s son is getting testimonials??? I wonder what Gen Z thinks about thumbs-up emojis…

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