The Real Housewives of Potomac has gained a lot of steam as its seasons go by, but for this season in particular, it undeniably the hottest Housewives show overall, thanks to the wig-tugging moment between Monique Samuels and Candiace Dillard Bassett. While RHOP may be the current “Grand Dame” of the franchise, interestingly enough, the original concept for the show may not have been based on the model for other Housewives shows.
RHOP was seemingly originally envisioned as a show about “Jack and Jill moms.” The show was to focus on women who were part of Jack and Jill of America, a membership-based organization founded in Philadelphia in 1938 for the mothers of African American children ages 2 to 19.
A leaked description for the show at the time, then-tentatively titled Potomac Ensemble: Six affluent African-American women with ties to Jack and Jill of America, a historic social club that “becomes a playground for gossip and cattiness among its members.
Per a 1992 Chicago Tribune report, “In its heyday, Jack and Jill was a prestigious club for those then considered, almost literally, the cream of black society. Through its emphasis on mainstream social and cultural activities, Jack and Jill indirectly helped black children, many from lighter-skinned families, to fit into white America.” (A verbatim quote).
The organization remains highly vetted for entry, so much so that a referral is needed to even apply to be part of the group if you are not a legacy member. It was not happy when rumblings of the show started and its president sent an email to its members about code-of-conduct. There was even a Change.org petition started. In response to this pushback, Bravo said at the time, “To clarify, the Jack and Jill organization is in no way featured on this show.” It is unclear which members of the cast had ties to Jack and Jill, but the Washington Post’s coverage of the show’s early days confirmed that multiple members of the season 1 cast had ties to two local chapters.
All of this is to say, if the first half of the first season seems to be in a different vein and tone when compared to the rest of the show, this is why. Reportedly, the show sometimes still films under the code name Potomac Ensemble when it films around the DMV area. Now, it’s hard to exactly confirm whether or not RHOP was actually supposed to specifically be about Jack and Jill moms. Perhaps it was always intended to be a Housewives show and filmed in this code name for season 1 to not tip people off, and Jack and Jill was just a temporary selling point. Still, the RHOP of early season 1 is very different from the buzzy, trending show of today, so regardless there were some format tweaks made. Was that because it was supposed to be a totally different show? Who knows!
RHOP airs every Sunday on Bravo at 9 p.m. EST.
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