Originally posted Sunday, September 15, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
“Married to Medicine” has entered season seven with largely the same cast it started with and while it doesn’t draw the rating of “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” it has become a reliable draw in the Bravo reality show line-up.
This season is being billed as the year Dr. Jackie Walters breaks out of her shell. Revered as the most sage and least confrontational of the ladies, Dr. Jackie - as she’s known on the show - will, as Mariah Huq said, “take off her mask and show the world who she is and who she’s always been.” (To Mariah, that is not a compliment: “The audience will be flabbergasted.”)
Dr. Heavenly Kimes, an ally of Dr. Jackie, is kinder: “She speaks up more than she ever has before. I think she got fed up with things and people expecting too much of her. She snapped a bit. She’s human, like everyone else. She has feelings, too.”
The show this season has split into two very distinct “friend” camps. Dr. Simone Whitmore, Toya Bush-Harris and Mariah are on one side and Dr. Jackie, Quad Webb, Dr. Contessa Metcalfe and Dr. Heavenly are on the other.
“It’s not as much about camaraderie,” Mariah said to me in an interview last week. “It’s more about alliances. What’s convenient, what’s easy. You’ll see divisions. But as the season goes on, we still have fun. We take trips.”
Here are highlights from my talks with Huq, who helped create the show six years ago; Dr. Heavenly and Toya . (And a few bits from new “friend” Buffie Purselle.)
Why most of the original cast is still around: “It wasn’t that everybody had the it factor. It was that everyone was so different. People have evolved and transcended into the things we’ve been on TV. We’ve gone through phases. Everybody’s in a different place in their lives and relationships”
Who has changed the most: She thinks Quad, in part because she’s the one divorcee in the group. “Even though we don’t talk and we aren’t friends, we see her evolve and grow up.” She and her ex husband were newlyweds when Mariah cast them and she felt like they never established a solid foundation under the spotlight.
Reality shows are dangerous for relationships of all types: “It can tear relationships apart. It does. I’ve seen it time and time again. People are reborn on these shows. They create new identities. It’s one thing to deal with something in your own household. It’s another when your personal relations are shown to the entire world.”
Still the same for Mariah: “Even with all the bad stuff, my life has not changed at all. I live in the same house, drive the same car. I’m the same person, same friends, same phone number. People just recognize me more. We take more pictures more.”
Bitterness toward Dr. Jackie: “We put her on a pedestal. We called her Mother Theresa, Gandhi from day one. We cast her in this angelic light. She’s the oldest. She should know better. But she’s never been the voice of reason for me at all.”
Looking on the positive side of the show: “I have my days I get a little bit angry, but this show is a lot of fun. I have made some great relationships. It helped my business tremendously. Of course, there are some ladies I don’t care for. I have a group of ladies I’m very close to. Dr. Jackie, of course, Quad and Dr. Contessa. We uplift each other. We challenge each other. We’re on the same side of the couch [during the reunion shows.]”
Mocking the three “on the other side”: “Simone has a semi practice. Toya doesn’t have a lot to do. The other lady whose name I refuse to say out loud sits around and hates on stuff. [Mariah, ahem.] They are honestly jealous of the accomplishments on this side. Dr. Jackie has a new book, a new practice, a new building. Quad has a new book and her own talk show. Contessa is getting doctor boarded.” And, about Mariah: “I’m not even speaking to her at this point. It’s too dangerous. People make stuff up. She was the one doing cocaine! She lied about people. People tell the truth about her.” [Mariah has denied ever taking cocaine.]
On her husband Dr. Damon Kimes: “I don’t have any complaints. He works hard. I work hard. We meet in the middle. I still respect him. He’s the leader of the household. We have a great relationship. We understand each other. We’re opposites. He’s really calm.”
Supporting Quad: “She’s the life of the party. We love Quad. She made decisions others were unable to make like Simone. She made a decision to make herself happy. I have respect for her for that. She’s happier than I’ve seen her in a long time.”
On Dr. Contessa, the relative newbie: “I have grown to really love Contessa. A great gal, very motivated. She’s now double board certified in different areas of medicine. She’s a go getter, great personality.”
Semi-retired: She said she only works three days a week now as a dentist. “I have no overhead. Everything is paid for. I go in there, do what I love, not get burned out. I do mostly cosmetic work, same day, implants, dental makeovers. We’re doing some amazing things.”
Tough season: “This was the most emotional season for me and my husband and for my family. We went through a miscarriage... We had to live that out on television. It was very difficult. Thank God for friends and family.”
Building a new 9,000-square-foot house was a welcome distraction: “It kept me busy. I had to stay focused. My husband had to work a lot of hours. It was me and the builder.”
Her relationship with Eugene, her husband: “We’re closer than ever. We’re attracted to each other more. We hang out more. He is literally y best friend. You would have thought television would have brought out more stress but it opened us up and made us work on things even more.”
Dr. Jackie (despite being characterized as being on “the other side” by others): “She’s my big sister. I love her dearly. I’m not going to let that go by the wayside.”
On Dr. Heavenly: “She just doesn’t go away.”
On Dr. Simone setting up the girls trip: “I do a lot of research. I blog and write about different hotels where i travel with my husband. I communicate with different travel agencies. I’m very knowledgeable when it comes to five-star hotels. Simone is familiar with three-star hotels.”
Tease for this season: “There’s probably the same level of conflict but the resolutions are a lot better. And Dr. Heavenly doesn’t let you down this season.”
Who? A tax and personal finance professional , Buffie is married to David Purselle, a well-known psychiatrist. She helps her husband run his offices. She enters the show as a long-time friend of Dr. Simone.
Friendship building exercise: She said she works so much, this show gives her an excuse to work more on friendship. “This shows even professional women have the same struggles as every-day women to maintain friendships. We get our feelings hurt. Sometimes, we’re salty and shady with each other but we come back together.”
The show’s genuine, y’all: “Now that I have been through the process of filming a season as a friend, they’re all real to who they are. It’s very refreshing.”
Tease for herself: “Buffie Purselle makes her mark and shakes things up!”
“Married to Medicine,” 9 p.m. Sundays, Bravo (Show returned on September 8.)
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