By Terrance Turner
Feb. 19, 2023
Tonight, Bravo TV viewers saw cast members of the “Real Housewives of Potomac” gather for their reunion. Gizelle Bryant, Karen Huger, Ashley Darby, Robyn Dixon, Candiace Dillard Bassett, Dr. Wendy Osefo and Mia Thornton sat down with host Andy Cohen to discuss a tumultuous season seven, answering questions about their marriages, finances, and actions on the show. Some of the cast members looked crazy trying to explain the inexplicable, while others got tripped up on their own lies.
This season, Ashley Darby navigated a new normal, separating from her husband Michael after nearly eight years of marriage. In the season premiere, viewers learned that Darby was ending her marriage. The news left her cast members blindsided — and confused.
Darby revealed the news in a statement to Bravo’s The Daily Dish, saying: “Almost eight years ago, when Michael and I said ‘I do,’ we anticipated sharing every single day together from that moment forward. Unfortunately, that is not our current reality. We have decided to separate.”
“We are aware that there will be many speculative views as to why we have made this decision. People will be quick to assume that the causes were too much intrusion by reality TV into the most personal parts of our lives, age gap issues, cultural problems, or child-rearing differences. Pieces of all these may have affected our pure love for each other, but no one reason is the root cause of our mutual decision to go our separate ways,” she said. “We are now both at very different stages in our lives and have different goals for our futures. We both want the other to achieve true happiness and fulfillment and feel that we cannot do this together.”
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
Right off the bat, Andy starts interrogating Ashley about her marital situation. We learn that she and Michael remain close — literally. She says that her house is maybe 7 minutes from Michael’s. Each of them have a key to the other’s residence. But, Ashley says we have some stipulations in place. “He cannot just pop up. Surprise visits are a no-go. We have to give each other at least an hour’s notice” before coming over.
But clearly, a seven-minute distance is not enough space Ashley explains that her ongoing dynamic with Michael affected her relationship with Luke (from the Bravo hit “Winter House”). The two dated for maybe six months before breaking up. She doesn’t know if they’ll get back together in the future. “I don’t know I was really in love with the guy she said. But Michael was evidently bothered by the idea of her dating someone else so soon after the breakup (even thought he’s dating, too).
Let’s be clear: Ashley married a wealthy older man (young enough to be her father, to be frank) and stood by him even though he embarrassed her season after season. They have two small boys. We’ve watched Ashley negotiate her prenup (and postnup) on camera. The obvious assumption is that Ashley would be taken care of in a divorce.
But apparently that’s not the case. Andy asks her point-blank, “What is the status of the prenup?” Ashley answers, “It really just did not work out in my favor.”
She added, “Essentially, everything that Michael came into the marriage with is his. The money that Michael made — that he then put into other projects later — is all considered his because of the source of the money.”
“Do you know how much he is worth or where his money is and how much money he has?” Gizelle asks.
“No,” Ashley answers. Then she reveals: “According to the prenup I’m not allowed to get alimony.” The girls gasp and remark on how bad an arrangement this is. “Why would you sign that?” Wendy asks. “That was horrible,” Gizelle chimes in. (AND IS.) But there doesn’t seem to be much Ashley can do about it. She says the prenup was “pretty ironclad”.
Are you getting anything other than child support? Andy asks.
“Yes. I get my house. I also have some language in my separation and divorce agreement about some safety nets in case I have some financial difficulties.”
“So like spousal support?” Wendy asks. “Essentially,” Ashley answers.
As I’ve previously indicated, Michael and Ashley’s marriage had all the hallmarks of a sugar daddy arrangement: Ashley is 34, Michael is 63 (!!!) and apparently well-off. Ashley continued to defend this man even after he got charged with sexual assault (for groping a Bravo cameraman) and after he hit the town with strippers while she was on a cast trip. And we even saw her negotiating/reworking her prenup in season 3. Not to mention the “postnup” scene in season 5.
What was the point of doing all that if she still wound up with nothing?
It’s The Messiness For Me.
What makes this all the more galling is that Ashley has paid more attention to her castmates’ personal lives than her own. She delighted in stirring the pot for years — bringing up issues in Juan and Robyn Dixon’s on-again, off-again relationship, asking invasive questions about Ray and Karen Huger’s tax issues, implying that former castmate Monique Samuels had a drinking problem. Meanwhile her husband was groping every man he came into contact with and apparently pulling all her financial strings.
She also needled castmate Candiace Dillard Bassett for living in a home partially paid for by her mother Dorothy. The irony is that Ashley wouldn’t have had her home (or the condo, arguably) without Michael. And Candiace made sure to remind her of that:
It would take me all night to sort through the tangled web that Mia weaves about her business, so I’ll just let the tape speak for itself:
This story will be updated.