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When Mia Thornton signed onto The Real Housewives of Potomac three years ago, she committed to showing her reality — the good, the bad and the ugly. Season 8‘s explosive finale — which saw her in a heated exchange with estranged husband Gordon Thornton about the state of their marriage — only proves her commitment.

“We wanted to be transparent with you guys,” the reality star, 39, tells ET over video chat. “We have an obligation to share with you all what’s really going on in our real lives.”

Mia asked to separate from Gordon, 71, in July of last year, not long after cameras went down on season 8 of RHOP, which documented the pair’s marital strife in the wake of Gordon’s decision to take legal action against his family, with whom he and Mia were in business on a chiropractic clinic franchise. Months later, cameras went back up to capture a conversation between the two about their split.

“I didn’t expect Gordon to necessarily be that mean, per se, but you know, that’s how he is when the cameras aren’t up,” she quips. 

Their chat took over the final 15 minutes of the season finale, which aired Sunday on Bravo. In it, Gordon laid into Mia, accusing her of carrying on extramarital affairs over the course of their 11-year marriage and questioning the paternity of their 8-year-old son, Jeremiah. Gordon alleged that Mia’s now-boyfriend, a radio personality who goes by the name Inc, believes himself to be Jeremiah’s father. He also threw jabs at Mia for being a “gold digger,” despite her now being the bread winner in the relationship.

“I think it was nasty for him to do that, to prove a point,” she says of the paternity claims, which are discussed further at RHOP‘s three-part reunion. “Had he not taken the opportunity to publicly shame me, we probably could have worked it out.” 

Shannon Finney / Bravo

“The accusation that I have been cheating for 10 years, that’s not exactly true,” she goes on to say, noting Gordon was aware of a brief affair she had with Inc early on in their marriage. She says she and Inc only reconnected recently, after, she claims, Gordon gave her permission to enter into a romantic partnership outside their marriage, as he felt he could no longer sexually provide for her. 

“He’s my best friend,” Mia says of Inc, whom she considers her first love. The two dated before Mia met Gordon while working at a gentleman’s club. 

“He understands me,” she continues. “He knows me like nobody else in this world knows me, and there was a period [of time] where he and I did not see each other, out of respect for my marriage, because we understood that our connection is deeper than anything that we can even understand.”

Gordon put Mia and Inc on blast in October, laying out his frustrations with his wife to TMZ. Mia says that interview, recorded without her knowledge while she was out of town, was the final straw for her. 

“I would never do that to him,” she declares. “And had he been very firm in saying, ‘You know, I don’t want you dating anybody,’ then that conversation would have looked a little different.” 

Mia says she never hid what she was doing with Inc from Gordon, and she would’ve called things off with Inc to pour back into her marriage had Gordon asked her as much. 

“Now what really aggravates me through all this is I’ve given her permission [to have relations outside the marriage], but yet she still continues to sneak around, chooses to lie, chooses to continually change her story about what’s going on and why she’s leaving me and this, that and the other…” Gordon said at the time. “I’ve said you can see someone, just don’t make it public.”

“He did give me a ‘hall pass,'” Mia reiterates. “So, for it to be headline news is beyond me. That’s not fair, because if you have these conversations with me, then don’t flip the script because you don’t like the person who it’s with.”

Inc was also just a “hall pass” until Gordon gave that interview, Mia says. She did not enter into a full-blown relationship with him until after she decided to officially end things with Gordon. She did not publicly share him on her socials until December, and even then was concealing his identity.

“We didn’t have an open marriage,” Mia continues, noting they did invite others into their marital bed from time to time. It was only after Gordon lost his libido, Mia says, that he floated the idea of her getting her needs met elsewhere, while remaining a couple. She says the idea came to Gordon after Mia’s RHOP co-stars questioned castmate Karen Huger over her alleged extracurricular activities with a man known as “blue eyes.” Karen, who is 18 years her husband, Ray’s, junior, has denied any dalliances.

“[Gordon] was the one to put into perspective that sometimes older men, when they know they can no longer please their younger wives, they love them so much that it’s OK for them to go out and  just be free a little,” Mia shares. “And for him to say that, but then less than 24 hours later it’s a different story? So, it make almost makes me feel like, was he just saying it? Just kind of testing me? And that’s not fair.”

“You say your word is bond for me,” she adds. “So, if you say it, I’m gonna believe it.”

Now, months removed from their tense finale talk, Mia hints at a changed Gordon. He sat down to tape the all-cast reunion alongside other husbands of the ensemble. 

Jocelyn Prescod / Bravo

“He’s feeling really remorseful,” she notes. “He’s very sad that he said what he said, that he has publicly decided to shame our family, because, if you shame me, you’re shaming our family.”

“He really has taken some time to himself to really reflect,” she adds. “Sometimes you don’t really know what you have until it’s gone. So now that he’s moved out, and he’s in his own space, and he realizes that, oh my gosh! Like, who’s gonna feed me? Who’s gonna cook for me? Who’s gonna help me buy my toiletries? For Heaven’s sake, he hasn’t had to purchase his deodorant for 10 years, and now he’s like, ‘What type of deodorant do I use again?’ You know, things like that.”

“I feel like he really realized he had a good thing,” she says. “Like, why publicly make it a bad thing? I was always willing to support him and to show up for him, and he went public.”

Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Mia claims Gordon has a pattern of acting out when her star shined too bright for his liking, alleging he “interjected himself in every aspect” of her life. She realized he was often the root of her problems with others, including fights seen on the show. 

“[Wendy Osefo] and I fought in Miami. Why? I was defending my husband,” she rattles off. “[Jacqueline Blake] and I fought. Why? I was defending him. I felt like, I love him so much, and I’m so sad that he’s no longer able to do the things that he wants to do with his male parts, but I don’t feel like anybody has the right to ever address, or attack, or try to use that against me, when especially they know what’s going on.”

Mia acknowledges that trust had been lost in her marriage for some time, eroding further when Gordon decided to sue his family over their business dealings without Mia’s knowledge.

“When you lose trust inside of a marriage, you really don’t have a marriage,” she says. The two are now working through divorce proceedings, which Mia hopes will be resolved sooner than later so that she and Inc can plan their “forever” together. 

“I will say that co-parenting is going very well,” she offers. “We are doing our best at putting the kids first.” 

In addition to Jeremiah, Mia and Gordon share daughter Juliana, 6. Mia is also mom to Joshua, 16, from a previous relationship. The ex-couple will share more insights into their new normal on the reunion episodes, which start airing this upcoming Sunday on Bravo. The three-part special sets the tone for where RHOP goes from here after a season that’s divided fans, thanks in large part to an extremely divided group. Multiple members of the cast refuse to speak to or interact with others. 

“I’m not exactly sure what happened at the reunion,” Mia cracks. “There’s a lot of tears. There’s a lot of F-Us. There’s a lot of, you need Jesus. I was like, well, maybe we should all go to church next season!”

“I just don’t know if the girls really came together,” she laments. “I feel like there was some type of understanding, you know this whole ‘we can agree to coexist…’ I’m like, I don’t know. What is that?”

“I don’t even know why some of the girls are even upset with each other,” she adds.

Jocelyn Prescod / Bravo

Mia and Karen have largely served as the bridges all season long, communicating between both cast factions — Wendy and Candiace Dillard Bassett one one side, Gizelle Bryant, Robyn Dixon, Nneka Ihim and Ashley Darby on the other. Mia’s willingness to engage with everyone, and share so much of her personal story, earned her an unofficial MVP title from the fans after two prior seasons spent working to win them over. 

“It feels great,” she admits. “I was able to authentically be me, and the world loves it, so it is a great feeling.”

Mia capped off her most successful season yet by inviting her co-stars to take part in a photo shoot for Monarch Magazine, celebrating iconic, history-making Black women.

Monarch Magazine

“I told myself, when I came to this platform, I was gonna do a cover of a magazine. I did it!” she exclaims. “I’m just so happy that I was able to share that moment with these girls.”

Some of the women, however, voiced their frustration over the final images selected for the spread, over which Mia had some editorial control.

“You can never please these Potomac ladies,” she cracks. “I did have a little bit of a final say. Some of them did come across, and I said, ‘Send it back, that ain’t it.’ The ones that you saw were 20 times better than the originals, and I’m like, are you trying to set us up? And so, the ones that you guys saw, I thought the girls did a fantabulous job. I think everybody slayed the photo shoot. It was so much fun to shoot …it was an all-day thing. We came together for once. We did something that was powerful and impactful, and I was really proud of us, and, you know, to be able to celebrate the women that have paved the way for us, and to honor them, especially during Women’s History Month, is just such a win for me and win for our group.”

The cast’s issue of Monarch Magazine is out April 5.

That group will look different headed into season 9. Candiace announced her exit from the show this week, after six seasons as a ‘Wife, a decision Mia says left her feeling “so, so many emotions.”

“That’s my Sag sister,” she says, referencing their mutual astrological sign, Sagittarius. “I’m sad that she’s not gonna be coming back. Like, she’s funny, she’s hilarious. I just think that whatever comes out of her mouth, sometimes I’m like, did you just say what she just said? And I think it’s great.”

If Mia had to guess, she surmises Candiace’s growing music career and wish to start a family with her husband, Chris Bassett, were the main driving force in opting out of the show. 

Clifton Prescod / Bravo

“I know she’s trying to have a baby, so maybe she feels like she’ll take a break for that,” she says. “I’m sad that she’s not coming back, but I also get it, and I respect it. This thing that we’re doing, it’s not forever. So, if you feel like it’s time for you to focus on you and really get to living life, then go have them babies, girl. Go thaw out those eggs and get ready, and then come back with this beautiful baby.”

There are rumblings out there that Candiace’s departure is the first of more to come, with Robyn’s name floating around the social media rumor mill.

“These are my girls, so I would like for everybody to like stay in formation,” Mia pleads when prompted about more changes. “I don’t know what’s going on. It’s like, the [Potomac] river girls are floating down the river, and we don’t know, are you gonna sink or are you gonna swim, OK? I know how to swim. So hopefully, I’m swimming.”

The Real Housewives of Potomac airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo. Episodes stream next day on Peacock. 

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