Michaele Salahi joins the party on 'Real Housewives'

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Michaele Salahi greets her horse on the premiere Michaele Salahi greets her horse on the premiere of "The Real Housewives of D.C." on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010 on Bravo. Photo Credit: Bravo Photo /Stephen J. Boitano

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REVIEW

REASON TO WATCH: To see how the "Housewives" of Washington, D.C., measure up to their reality TV counterparts in New York City, Orange County, New Jersey and Atlanta.

WHEN/WHERE: Thursday nights at 9 on Bravo

WHAT IT'S ABOUT You know the routine - Bravo gets together several strong-willed or otherwise outrageous women and films what happens. Only this time it's a little different.

This is the show where two members of the cast - former model Michaele Salahi and her husband, Tareq - crashed a state dinner at the White House and could be in a lot of trouble for it, too.

Salahi founded America's Polo Cup with her husband, with whom she runs a winery. She is friends with Mary Amons, a mother of five who has founded two charities and grew up around Washington's elite, thanks to Amons' family (including her grandfather, 1950s TV star Arthur Godfrey).

They are joined by Lynda Erkiletian, who started one of D.C.'s top modeling agencies; Stacie Turner, who holds a Harvard MBA and sells $25 million to $30 million in high-end real estate each year (she founded her own charity, too); and Cat Ommanney, a writer and interior designer who recently moved from London.

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MY SAY What's different about these "Housewives" is that these accomplished and successful women already were stars in their own right before Bravo ever came knocking. No need to launch another jewelry, furniture or makeup line here.

But don't let their perfection fool you. Get deep enough into the premiere and you'll see that underneath their perfect careers, perfect physiques, perfect wardrobes and perfect routines they can be just as self-involved and maybe even more self-absorbed than other "Housewives" casts.

You'll see a little Jill Zarin and Ramona Singer (N.Y.C.) and a touch of Danielle Staub (N.J.) in Cat, the British gal who moved here to marry an old flame - a White House photographer who has worked for both the Bush and Obama administrations. In arguing who's the better of the two, she bases her opinion on who actually RSVP'd for her wedding.

Still, bringing the "Housewives" to the U.S. capital during Barack Obama's presidency is a brilliant idea. And including a black woman in the otherwise all-white cast - the well-connected Stacie - even more so (with the exception of Atlanta, there's very little diversity across the 'Housewives' brand - yawn). And while no one knows yet whether Michaele and her husband will serve time for their infamous stunt, it helps make it all into great TV.

BOTTOM LINE The "Housewives" evolve. Yes, watch what happens, if only for the richer plot lines, smarter dialogue and more pressing matters of the day.

GRADE A

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