It had been a long day of hyping their new Bravo series, and The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C.'s Catherine "Cat" Ommanney desperately wanted to change the subject from co-star and alleged White House party crasher Michaele Salahi.
"Let's talk about racism!" Ommanney said, butting into an ongoing conversation.
But her castmates — Stacie Turner, Mary Amons, and Lynda Erkiletian — were grateful, explaining they had been asked quite enough about Salahi, thank you very much. (Salahi was absent during this chat two weeks ago, later explaining to TVGuide.com that she and husband Tareq had been busy hiring a lawyer, Lisa Bloom — and just in time, it seems.) Ommanney instead wanted to focus on the premiere, and specifically the questions she was fielding about her tirade against Tyra Banks and President Barack Obama. Indeed, last week's series opener had more than a few racially charged moments, edited together for maximum discomfort.
There was Amons' tipsy, drawn-out declaration that black and white women should be going to the same D.C. hair salons — "I had been drinking," she said during the group interview— followed by Ommanney's dismissals of Banks and President Obama.
Banks, Ommanney said in the episode, thinks she's "the most important woman on the planet ... beautiful but hideous."
And Obama, well, he didn't show up to her soon-to-be ex-husband's award ceremony and that didn't sit well with Ommanney. Photographer Charles Ommanney was feted last year by the White House News Photographers Association for his shot of Obama moments before he would be sworn in as president. "I'm sorry, I've been really impressed by you and all the hope you've given America, but you know what, Obama, you've just gone down in my estimation," she said.
Turner, the D.C. edition's "grounded" housewife, defended Ommanney. "I thought the scene with Cat and I was a little amplified and made to have a racial undertone to it, which really didn't exist when it happened," Turner said. "The reason we're reacting like this is because every single reporter has brought up the exchange between Cat and I — when it was happening, it was more of a healthy disagreement."
"In Washington, there are many different opinions." Amons added.
"The fact that I was putting Tyra Banks down and mildly disappointed with Obama, it has nothing to do with color," Ommanney said. "It just happened to be two people I mentioned on the same night. I despise racism and sexism."
Ommanney — who split with her husband after the show stopped filming — said that as "the shocking Brit" she's probably "too outspoken, but Stacie now says I'm quite refreshing."
Turner said the two have since become close. "If she did that today, I'd be like, 'Yeah, Cat, whatever.'"
Erkiletian summed up the feelings of the group: These Housewives want their show to be a hit — no matter the cost.
"There's always something that's going to be pulled for each episode, and we can only hope that it's interesting enough that people want to keep watching — whether it's true or misconstrued," Erkiletian said. "The fact is we want our show to be a success."
On tonight's episode, Turner invites Ommanney and the ladies to a big Sunday dinner with her family. Despite their protesting that there is no racial tension among the women, do you foresee more awkward moments? Do you think Cat might be racist?