Ashley Darby’s Storyline Falls Flat on ‘RHOP’ without Michael

The Big Picture

  • Ashley’s divorce from Michael has left her without much to discuss with the other ladies, making this season of RHOP dull for her and her storyline.
  • Ashley’s attempts to create drama and relevance by stirring up trouble with new cast members have fallen flat and have been called out by audiences.
  • Candiace’s accusations that Ashley offers little substance to the show are proving to be true, as she is struggling to find her footing now that Michael is no longer the central focus of her narrative.


Ashley Darby’s dysfunctional May-December relationship with wealthy restaurateur Michael Darby has been the lion’s share of her RHOP storylines over the years. Whether the ladies were gossiping about Michael’s marital indiscretions gossip about his sexual preferences or Ashley admitting to enjoying threesomes with her husband early in the relationship, there was enough meat in the toxic relationship to keep audiences satiated with Ashley’s relevance to the wives. As Season 8 unfolds, Ashley’s divorce is still not final, but the divorce waters are calm and Michael is a non-factor. Ashley admits Michael’s coins are still the engine behind her new-soho-chic mini-mansion, but his absence in her life and the show leaves her without much to discuss with the ladies. Subtracting Michael from Ashley’s equation, divided by the fact that Candiace Dillard Bassett refuses to go back and forth with her equals a very dull season for Ms. Darby and her boys.

The Ashley vs. Cadiace shade and banter has provided great content for social media clips and memes, but this season, Candiace’s music career has kicked into high gear. She is enjoying having a successful career in music, carving out a lane her cast mates can’t duplicate. Without her arch nemesis, Ashley has been reaching for opportunities to create relevance and coming up so short that audiences are calling her out on some very obvious attempts to stir up trouble falling flat. The most obvious reach was her meeting with RHOP newbie Nneka Ihim, trying to create dissonance between the new Nigerian boss chick and the resident Nigerian boss chick.

The Real Housewives of Potomac TV Show Poster

The Real Housewives of Potomac

Release Date
January 17, 2016

Cast
Gizelle Bryant, Karen Huger, Robyn Dixon, Ashley Darby

Main Genre
Reality TV

Genres
Reality TV

Rating
TV-14

Seasons
8


Ashley Admitted Lying To Spark Drama Between Wendy and New ‘RHOP’ Cast Member, Nneka Ihim

Ashley Darby RHOP
Image via Bravo

Mixing old blog posts with a bit of irrelevant shade, cultural symbolism, and a pinch of untruths, Ashley attempted to concoct a feud between Nneka and Wendy Osefo. For Ashley to try to weaponize Nigerian cultural myths against Wendy was painful to watch, mainly because it’s clear she doesn’t have a clear understanding of the culture or the definition of “osu” yet she was determined to create dissension between Nneka and Wendy. In a recent interview for Roling Out Magazine, Nneka admitted that Ashley was attempting to be messy but refused to allow her to take responsibility for the rift between her and Wendy. “As the season progresses, you’ll see any issues I have with Wendy aren’t because of Ashley, it’s because of Wendy,” she said confidently. Even if she was unsuccessful, Ashley went out of her way to create distrust between the two women and attempted to pull Karen Huger in as an ally. Karen is known to enjoy giving advice to the younger ladies on how to handle their issues, but even the grand dame didn’t find enough ammunition in Ashley’s claims to give the feud any energy.

RELATED: ‘RHOP’ Wins the Award for Worst Husbands in Any Franchise

Ashley has also attempted to throw embers in the smoke with Robyn Bryant and the rest of the cast. She joined Gizelle Bryant and Charisse Jackson-Jordan for a weak attempt at a friendly intervention for Robyn, but her advice was hard to digest considering she hadn’t practiced one iota of what she was preaching during her ordeal with Michael a few seasons ago. Ashley seemed more excited to be included in the scene than she came across as sincerely concerned for Robyn and her contribution was washed out by the reality of Gizelle and Robyn being at odds for possibly the first time and Charisse’s relevant real-life experience dealing with a philandering husband that she completely divorced herself from.

Candiace’s Accusations of Ashley Not Having Any Substance Is Proving True This SeasonCandiace Dillard 'WWHL'

Candiace has accused Ashley of having nothing to offer, and this season audiences are seeing the validity of her accusations. Ashley admitting to lying to Nneka about Wendy in the third episode of this season is a foreboding sign that she is desperately attempting to get her footing now that her relationship with Michael is no longer the focal point of her narrative. In a scene with Karen, Ashley goes to a modest clothing store to find something to wear to Wendy’s children’s first communion. She picked a dress that covered her breasts and behind, but when she showed up at the communion, she’d found another option that allowed her newly enhanced breasts to be on full display. Karen and Candiace both remarked that Ashley doesn’t wear anything that covers her body even if it’s inappropriate and her wardrobe at the church verified both their claims. This further validates Candiace’s suggestion that Ashley offers little to the franchise other than a pretty face and half-naked body. “She is a bold-faced liar,” Candiace accused on last Sunday’s episode. “That’s why her forehead is so big because it is full of lies.”

While Ashley scrambles to find a connection with viewers, she isn’t alone in her frustration. Outside the breakdown with her BFF Robyn, Gizelle isn’t producing much that audiences are excited about either. Ashley and Gizelle are both going to need to share more of their dating lives or at least let the cameras in on their attempts at re-entering the dating world. Ashley’s ill-fated claims of dating other Bravo celebrities are as believable as Gizelle’s wanna-be December-May romance with Jason Cameron. Both ladies need life breathed into their love lives in order to re-establish their individual narratives on RHOP.

Ashley is fairing far worse than Gizelle this season, because her connection with the other women feels flimsy and not based on trust and real sisterhood. The ladies offering Ashley big sisterly advice about Michael’s past infidelities felt genuine, but she made it clear time and time again that she didn’t really trust anyone in the cast. She came clean about her open marriage after the fact and even when the women warned her about having Michael’s name on the deed to her house she remained tight-lipped about their arrangement. Now that she no longer needs advice and is not able to lean into the “overwhelmed, single Mother worried about finances” role, Ashely’s position in Potomac is shaky to say the least.

Ashley Doesn’t Trust Any Of Her ‘RHOP’ Cast Members

Mia Thornton, Ashley Darby, Wendy Osefo RHOP season 8
Image via Bravo

Hopefully, as this season moves forward, Ashley will stop reaching for drama and will instead work on being more open with her family and whatever is happening in her love life. Her friendship with Nneka could blossom into something real, but knowing that Nneka realizes she attempted to trick her initially could prohibit that relationship from blossoming. As a former beauty queen who married a wealthy man early in her twenties, then ceremoniously birthed two children before filing for divorce, it’s clear Ashley has a firm understanding of using what she has to get what she wants. RHOP fans are hoping those hypergamous instincts will kick in soon and bring a little more substance to the party. She’s a beautiful girl to look at, but the Real Housewives franchise has proven that wives don’t retain contracts by beauty alone.

Season 8 of The Real Housewives of Potomac is currently airing on Bravo every Sunday at 8 PM EST, with next-day airing on Peacock.

Watch On Peacock Now

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