When Washingtonian.com spoke to Mary Amons on the eve of the premiere of the Real Housewives of Washington, DC back in August, she was nervous but excited about the opportunity to showcase her charity, Labels for Love. Two months later, Mary, Lynda Erkiletian and Cat Ommanney held an impromptu get-together to watch themselves on Bravo for the last time—at least this season. We spoke with Mary about surreality television, whether she'd do a second season and what she hopes for it, how she and Lynda are supporting Cat post-divorce, and reality television and drinking.
So it's over. How do you feel, having survived your first season?
Oh my goodness. We survived. Wait ‘til you see the reunion, it’s going to be fun. We had a really fun, impromptu finale viewing. Cat called and said "get over here, the TV’s on." We had a really fun, fun spectating party. It almost turned into ballgame. We were hooting and hollering and cheering and high-fiving each other.
Did you get close to the other women who were on the show? No matter what happened during filming, it's quite the common experience to share.
I have this experience, even with Michaele. I don’t hate her. I really don’t. I have no animosity for her. It’s a disappointment to watch. But we’re in the same lifeboat. We’re going through the same experience. There is this affinity to one another. We’re in this together. How do we navgate this? One of the biggest blessings of the show for me is my friendship with Lynda has grown stronger and stronger, and my friendship with Cat, she’s become one of my dearest friends. We’ve come to understand and love each other so much. We’re going to be life-long friends.
Was there anything about the show that disappointed you?
There is some disappointment because my Labels for Love event that was filmed for the show was not included, and from what I was told, it was because they had to lead up to the White House incident and cut some of our good, core stuff for our storylines. My charity event was cut, Stacie’s charity event was cut, Cat’s book reading was cut. All the stuff you see in our trailers, you see me at my charity event, Cat at her book reading, that’s been a disappointment.
In a way, the show's focus on the Salahis was boring. Everyone knew what happened. The matter's basically closed.
Personally speaking, I was really curious about what transpired that night, so that was important to include. But the focus should have been on the five of us, not just on the Salahis. It was a lot of time spent with the Salahis, us accusing them of things and them defending themselves. I’m hopeful, going forward, that if we do do a second season that I get an opportunity to really showcase my charity.
And in a way, Cat ended up being the hero. She was criticized for being outspoken all season, but she's the one who tells the Salahis what everyone thinks.
I love that. I love that whole beginning, middle and end for Cat because she really is an exceptional human being. She got thrown under the bus, but she ends up the hero. They just posted some clips of our reunion on the website, and a lot of it is Cat. She had a lot to say, and so did I. Little, passive Mary came out of her shell. I kind of shocked myself.
It was a huge growing experience for me, in my ability to express my feelings. . . . I should have spoken up when Erika was attacking Cat, because these are my two friends. . . When I sat back and look how I leaned back in complete shock, having seen it, having witnessed myself being passive, actually it’s a gift to be able to see yourself and to be able to adjust.
Should Erika join you for a second season? She definitely got people talking.
She did stir the pot! I don’t know. I have no idea. We haven’t even talked about a second season yet.
How do you feel the season went for your family? And for Lolly in particular [Mary's daughter moved home during the season, and ended up a significant minor character in the show]?
That was really tough for us, and for Lolly, I have to say. More so on Lolly. She got thrown under the bus a bit, and she was a little bit skeptical of getting involved at first, and I just encouraged her, said "Lolly, this is your time, you're a major character, and this is your opportunity to do what you want. You can do whatever you want in this. If you want to further your career in art, this is it." I was really proud of her for checking her attitude at the door and really just jumping in with two feet. She got cast a little sideways with the Salahis and the whole closet issue, but overall, I think she comes out shining. . .In those times when things really went sideways last fall, it was really stressful on her. It was like "Mom, look what you did. Look at the risk you put us in." I just had to say, "Lolly, it’s up to you to turn it around. Just stay positive, use it what you need to use it for."
How did you feel about the editing?
Well, they have to tell a story. That’s the bottom line, and it has to be entertaining. I know that’s the process. I know what we signed up for. I knew it wasn’t going to be this beautiful tale of this beautiful family and lalalala. . . Overall, I’m pleased with how it all came out. One thing that does bother me, though, and I have to take responsibility for it, is the amount of wine I drink in the show. I don’t really drink that much. When cameras are rolling, they encourage you to have a glass of wine and unwind. That’s one thing I’m going to watch next time, the amount of alcohol I expose people to.
How's Cat doing? Are you helping her figure out life post-divorce?
She’s doing great, actually. She’s getting her book all squared away with the publisher. I’m encouraging her to hunker down and figure out a way to monetize this, because I know that Charles has not been very supportive financially. We’re all trying to work as a team. We’re all trying to figure out how to navigate this next phase, and this lull. She’s doing great, I’m really proud of her. She’s a survivor, and she’s on this planet to live and enjoy life.
Are you talking to any of the other Housewives on other installments of the franchise about how to kickstart business opportunities? I know Bethanny Frankel from New York's done very well.
That’s a brilliant idea. There should be some kind of clearinghouse for Housewives. I think that should be a book. I have met Caroline Manzo who I just thought was a phenomenal person. And she’s basically said “Are you ready? Are you ready for this?” . . .It has encouraged me to consider possibly gong forward with maybe a talk show or a book, and to continue learning about people and sharing my story, not that my story is all that interesting. There are many families in this country and the world that are going through some of the same struggles we are.
And you've got the move coming up too, right? [The Amonses put their house on the market recently.]
We’re not necessarily moving. We’re just giving the market a little test to see if our house is going to sell. The main motivation is to get a little privacy. We’re very exposed on a corner. We’re not bound to any area. We want to get into the city, we want our kids to be city kids. I wanted to have some options, and I think it would be fun to have a different experience. We’ve been in that house for 16 years. I had two kids there. I think it’s important for kids to get pushed out there.