Catherine Ommanney, Stacie Turner, Mary Amons, Lynda Erkiletian, Michaele Salahi

The following is a special guest review by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd

The fantasy cast of The Real Housewives of Washington D.C. would feature Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and the fearsome Cheney sisters. Not only do these women wield real influence in the capital, they're also the ones you'd want on your side if you ever found yourself in a knife fight in a Hong Kong alley.

But on Bravo, connections are less important than claws. So instead, interspersed with shots of the Washington monuments, we 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.

Who's sari now? Not Michaele Salahi, the notorious blonde Skeletor and faux socialite from Virginia wine country who crashed the White House Indian state dinner with her polo-playing husband. 

Other brushes with power are more oblique. Cat Ommanney, a saucy Brit, shows the group a picture of Joe Biden on her cell, taken by her husband, a Newsweek photographer. Mary Amon boasts that as a child she went swimming in Ethel Kennedy's pool and that she now lives in McLean, Virginia, near Dick Cheney, the C.I.A. and Colin Powell (I'm sure Powell appreciates the shout-out). Her grandfather, the legendary TV star Arthur Godfrey, was pals with Lyndon Johnson. Stacie Turner, a down-to-earth Sotheby's realtor who is the only black Housewife in what she calls "Chocolate City," shows off a grip-and-grin photo of herself with Barack Obama. Lynda Erkiletian, who owns a modeling agency, says she caters to dignitaries and ambassadors, leaving one wondering why, precisely, such VIPs need to rent models.

The sketchy Salahis are shown hosting a skimpy polo party near the Washington Monument; going to the Ralph Lauren store in Georgetown would probably provide a more authentic polo experience. Absent power, the ladies end up scrapping over race. Michaele, Mary and Cat inartfully imitate the black sisters. Fizzy with champagne at her birthday dinner, Mary takes a bold civil rights stand on integrating beauty salons. A skeptical Stacie stares back.

It's thin gruel, managing to be insular with no insiders. The highlight is when Mary shows off a biometric fingerprint lock on her closet designed to keep out her daughter, who wears the same size. Pretty soon, you're wishing Caroline and the New Jersey babes would show up with their stripper poles and toss over a table. Or two.

The Real Housewives of Washington D.C. premieres Thursday, August 5 at 9/8c on Bravo. — Maureen Dowd

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