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The Real Housewives of Atlanta Recap: Pure Pageantry

The Bailey Agency School of Fashion House of Stealing Your Money pageant is all systems go this week, and Cynthia promotes it by erecting giant banners of her face all over her modeling school while Rodney looks on skeptically. Kenya stops by with a bright, pretty young woman, calls herself a mentor, and pushes the teenager into a corner so Rodney can pat her down for a pageant entrance fee, bus pass, and library card. When they sit down on the couch, Cynthia tells Kenya she cut ties with Porsha (“It’s not even shade, it’s just TRUTH”), and Kenya volunteers her services as judge. Cynthia is reluctant, having already lived through Coochie Crack Gate 2012, but relents and brings her onboard. Her brush with cancer has given Kenya a new lease on life, so as her little dog marches all over Cynthia’s lap, she promises to be on her best behavior.

Porsha meets Kordell for dinner at Chuck E. Cheese’s for My Dinner With Misogynist, only to have him change her Sprite order to wine and demand that she spend more time at home. He’s so progressive! Even though her charity is not full-time, Kordell “does not seem to want her away from the house at all,” probably to spare the world the inane mouth sounds she tries to pass off as words, but Porsha is a modern woman! She does not want to put her career on hold when she has her yam baby, even though Kordell refuses to get her a nanny. Desperate to prove to Kordell that she can do it ALL, she proposes a plan to “borrow” her niece to see if she can handle babies in general. Let me break the tension right now and tell you that she cannot handle it at all, and the baby was endangered on multiple occasions.

Deep in the bowels of her home, Phaedra and Apollo are hosting a dinner party for Kandi and Todd with special guest chef Robble Robble, flown in all the way from New York to make sexual innuendos about mussels. “They look like something, don’t they?” he inquired, before coming right out and saying, “Every time I eat one I think about a vagina. LABIA MAJORA.” So suave and appetizing, that chef Robble Robble! Phaedra drinks some “devil water” and flicks her tongue at Apollo while Kandi talks about her gospel song, subtly reminds Apollo that he was once a criminal, and discusses the upcoming ladies’ trip to Las Vegas to visit with Nene, who cannot come back to this show soon enough.

During the daylight hours, Kandi is back in the studio explaining to her producer and audio engineer that her grandfather was a bishop so she’s, like, totally spiritual and allowed to record this gospel song, “Prayed Up.” Gospel singer Marvin Sapp walks in with his finest tweed vest and tightest S-curl and pledges allegiance to XScape, having flown in all the way from Michigan to record his portion of the song. When Kandi’s father, Titus, stops by, even he is questioning why she is recording a song for the Lord. Sapp says he’s just “glad to be the bridge to take out the hedonism,” and Kandi defends herself by saying that many of her Bedroom Kandi clients are church people! Sapp tells her not to make excuses for herself, and then they listen to the song, causing Titus to burst out into tears of pride. Kandi is happy they are close now, even though they haven’t been for most of her life, but Titus clinches it by saying, “That song is going to bring a lot of young folk to Christ.” Way to stay on message, Titus! Praise God.

Speaking of which, thank that very God that Nene came back to Atlanta for a couple of days to sort through her mail and liven things up a bit. Cynthia, having outfitted Nene’s house with motion-sensor cameras, shows up on her doorstep and they start squawking about Cynthia’s upcoming pageant and Nene’s annoyance at learning and memorizing her script. When she tells Nene that she has agreed to bring Kenya on as a judge, you could feel all of the air getting sucked out of the room as Nene reared back and said, “Reeeeeeeeeeeally?” She thinks it’s a mistake, but she’s been out of the gossip loop so she doesn’t know that Kenya has promised to leave the “coochie crack” nightmare version of herself locked in a closet for that day. Cynthia promises that it will be cool, and changes the conversation around to the upcoming girls’ weekend trip. Nene is not as excited, already throwing down the warning for them to “pull their shit together” and not act out in L.A., as it is her peaceful place.

If you thought that leaving Porsha alone with a baby was as smart an idea as leaving said baby in a room full of open bear traps, then pat yourself on the back and collect your prize. She finally has her niece, Jaydnn (whose name is actually spelled like that) for a few days all by herself. Ugh, this one. First she bumps the baby’s head taking her out of the car, then she makes the kid (who is 1 ½ years old) pull her own little suitcase, then, when the kid can’t drag the suitcase up the small stairs, picks up the baby with one arm while the kid is still holding on to her suitcase and swings the whole lot into the house. Can you retroactively call Child Protective Services? The next few minutes are a veritable shitshow (literally – she changed Jaydnn’s diaper and got shit all over her fingers), wherein the baby plays with dog food, eats a Twizzler handed to her by her aunt, is left on a bench and a high bed, and dangles from a footstool before walking away when Porsha is at the kitchen sink preparing dinner. I mean, just got off the footstool and straight bounced. I thought for sure we were witnessing the first baby cognizant enough to realize that her handler cannot manage her and make a break for it, but she was just in another room exploring the sharp edges on the tacky furniture. When yam baby is born she won’t need a nanny — she’ll need a team of nannies and full-service exorcist priests to keep her alive under Porsha’s care.  

Back in the studio, Marvin Sapp follows Kandi’s instructions to “put some stink on it” and sings his heart out. When he’s done, he and Kandi do some light ribbing of crying Titus, and they high-five their normalcy with a stack of trillion-dollar coins.

Finally, we get to Cynthia’s Miss Renaissance pageant, which is a parade of misery from the moment it starts. Cyrus is back! People are practicing dances! Hairspray is being thrown around the room! Little kids’ feet hurt in their never-been-worn high heels and Cyrus tells them too bad, suck it up! Aaaaaaaaaaaand Cynthia isn’t even there; she’s picking up Boris Kodjoe, expressing disappointment that he’s wearing jeans and a wrinkled button-down instead of a suit. I get that Cynthia probably wasn’t paying him a lot … or at all … but he is a former model and surely owns one suit? According to the Internet, he also lives in Atlanta, so I’m wondering why she didn’t just drive his ass home and tell him to suit up.

Back at the pageant venue, Kenya has broken out her Miss USA sash, but left the crown at home because it’s a “bit much.” She drapes herself all over the semi-famous, like makeup artist Reggie Watts, who either ignore her entirely or turn in her direction only to give her the side-eye. Kenya, in typical delusional fashion, ignores it all, telling the world how happy she is to see all of her “friends.” Kandi saunters in with Riley and they scoot to the front row as Cynthia and Boris have a meeting with pageant coach Trish backstage. Let me tell you one thing about pageant coach Trish: She does not have any fucks to give. This was made clear when she handed them the script completely out of order, and just looked at them and said … nothing. Nothing! Get up there and suffer, pretty monkeys, Trish handed out her last give-a-damn in 1985 and you weren’t even in line.

I don’t know why Cynthia needed Kenya, since we can soon see there were easily 58 judges on the panel. Cynthia talks into a dead microphone before announcing the Fun Fashion category, where cute kids come out in glittery sneakers matching their outfits. When the names start getting out of whack (as they were bound to do, thanks to pageant coach Trish), Cynthia and Boris start babbling and flittering, not even considering that they should stop the show for a second, have someone backstage write down the names of the lined-up contestants on a piece of paper, and hand it to them. I came up with that in ten seconds having never even attended a pageant, but Cynthia dragged out the brutal flubbing until the end of the first category. Well, almost the end — she forgot an entire age group and left some teenagers standing in the back wondering what was happening, but she already had their money so too bad. Porsha shows up late with Jaydnn and her niece, Storm, whom I wish someone would develop a show around based on her name alone. Cynthia is convinced the role-call error is a “disaster of epic proportions,” and she’s right! This show is murked. An intermission is mercifully called, and, to my surprise, Kenya actually goes backstage to give Cynthia some encouragement instead of the brutal honesty she actually needs, telling her everything is going great. I’ll give Kenya the point on this one. Good for you, Kenya, acting human for an entire day!

Phaedra, in true Phaedra style, shows up about five minutes before the show is over. The pageant ends, and all of the tally sheets are sent back to a room where Peter can stand over the vote counters to feel like the powerful man he is not. Cynthia has absolutely nothing planned for this lull in programming, so she fills it the best way she knows how — by walking! I mean modeling! She modeled down the runway to much applause, and even though they only showed her taking one lap, I like to think that she and Boris were walking the runway for at least twenty minutes, back and forth, contemplating the futility of their existence.

The votes are finally tallied, just in time for Phaedra to stop telling people that her butt is eating her thong, and a very pretty kid named Selena is crowned the winner. She falls to the ground weeping, thinking about how many iPhone apps she could have purchased with her entrance fee. All of the ladies line up to congratulate Cynthia for pulling this off, and the minute Porsha starts talking, baby Jaydnn starts wailing, which seems about right. One of them had the nerve to call the pageant “seamless”; if you’re going to lie right to her face like that, your friendship card should be revoked.

Next time, they all go to L.A. to see Nene, who drives them around in a golf cart and commits vehicular manslaughter before refusing to let them in her house because they are two hours late to dinner. See you then!

Photo: Bravo