The Real Housewives of Atlanta Recap: Kenya vs. Everyone

The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Episode Title
Reunion Part 1
Editor’s Rating

This entire episode evoked the feelings of sitting too close to a movie screen — everything happened too fast, most of the conversation was blurry, and in the end I felt nauseous. Subsequently, this can also pass as a description of the entire season alongside these shit-stirring weirdoes. During the dizzying overtalk of last night, one thing was abundantly clear: Kenya has crossed every single person in the cast, and they all jumped at the chance to let her know about it. Andy Cohen said the season was “more epic than a donkey and stallion booty combined,” but realistically it was more exhausting and dramatic than a back-to-back reading of every Shakespearean work under the sun.

I love this cast, but I’m starting to question the effectiveness of their formula in light of the fact that most of the cast barely tolerates each other. There used to be camaraderie (remember NeNe and Kim sipping drinks in a convertible as they were shopping?), and the overlapping friendships provided a necessary buffer for the moments of epic screaming. Now we just have six women sitting on a couch throwing each other the stink eye, which is decidedly less fun.

Last night, an eight months pregnant Phaedra was subtly charming and handling jokes about her due date nicely; Cynthia shared her cleavage in a dress with a keyhole exposure that was working overtime; Porsha wore the dead horse she has been beating since the finale; Kandi wore the engagement ring she picked out in Las Vegas; NeNe wore an equally dazzling engagement ring and all the body glitter Los Angeles had in stock, and Kenya borrowed a fan from Karl Lagerfeld to add emphasis to her yelling with a *s n a p*. The room was eclipsed in darkness from all of the shade they were throwing at each other.

Like any other reunion, the opening montage featured clips from the season that reminded us how often these ladies got drunk, took trips, fought, and yelled at each other. Phaedra answered questions about her well-known Anguilla bathing suit cover-up by talking about oversize penises and celebrating the human body before talk turned to Kenya twirling her way into our lives. Kenya laughed about “white people” thinking she looks like Beyoncé, and argued with Phaedra about flirting with Apollo. Phaedra insists that she and Apollo had a talk about how inappropriately she had behaved while on vacation, but still set her hate lasers on Kenya for the rest of the night. Andy mentioned  Kenya’s cancer scare, which Kenya took as a chance to run the other ladies over for not showing enough concern. It was really strange to me that she admitted that no one knew about the cancer scare during the filming, but she expected everyone to call her after the show aired to genuflect and show the appropriate amount of caring. I’m not saying it was right of them to ignore her, but by the time the show ended she had burned not only bridges but basically drove to each of their hometowns and set fire to the hospitals where they were born. That she expected their kindness says a lot about her delusion. Porsha called it correctly, saying, “If you want support, you better reach out and support others,” to which Kenya flipped her fan open and looked the other way.

NeNe and Kandi mixed it up a little bit after talk turned to the Los Angeles dinner party where everyone showed up three hours late. Kandi had worn a permanent mean mug (frown, half-closed eye) and explained that her relationship with NeNe is fraught owing to the fact that NeNe publicly reveals things about Kandi’s life that have nothing to do with the show. There was no backing down on either side — Kandi said she acts like a dick in retaliation, and NeNe said, “Yup, I talk about you.” Somehow this ended up being the most mature exchange of the night.

The rest of the night boils down to what happened next — the drawn out, back-and-forth, talk over each other, everyone loses fight between Porsha and Kenya. When someone wrote in to ask why Kenya thinks mispronouncing her title is such a big deal, she immediately turned it around to Porsha, saying it only matters when people are intentionally disrespectful. Porsha said Kenya has been jealous since the minute they met, Kenya says Porsha is “unrefined and not sophisticated,” Porsha talks over Kenya, Kenya talks over Porsha, and the bickering goes on and on until Kenya flips her fan and refuses to speak. I’m not sure there will ever be a winner or a truce here; both women are correct, to an extent. Kenya seems to hate anyone on sight that doesn’t bow down to her, and Porsha is entirely too immature to navigate a world where she isn’t put on a pedestal. When a viewer question referenced Porsha’s annoying habit of making cracks about Kenya’s age, Porsha said she did that in retaliation since Kenya always talks about Porsha being young. That’s not how I remember it — even in the flashbacks, we’re shown Porsha repeatedly making digs about Kenya’s age for no reason, both to her face and behind her back. Kenya agrees, and says Porsha is a “revisionist historian.” The sad truth is that neither of them are secure where age is concerned — Porsha, because she is a sheltered thirtysomething who acts more like a teenager, and Kenya for feeling inadequate about where she thought she would be versus where she is with her love life. Their insecurities seem to play off of each other like the opposite poles of two magnets. 

When Andy asks if it was necessary to have two bodyguards throw Porsha out of her party, Kenya says yes, DUH, since Porsha’s shirking of her assigned costume showed a defiance that indicated trouble. More pointedly, Kenya said, “Her existence on the show is about me, the most interesting thing about Porsha is me.” Kenya is smart in this way — she knows what to say to get Porsha wound up like jack-in-the-box. Porsha of course responded, calling Kenya “the most aggressive person” she’s ever met, and Kenya responds with a violent flip of her fan, showcasing her obstinance yet again. Later in the show, when Kenya is trying to make a case for Miss USA being far more important than Miss America, Porsha really takes her to task by mentioning Carol Gist, the ACTUAL first African-American Miss USA crowned in 1990. For all of my capping on Porsha, I loved this moment — you could see how hard she studied, how much she was waiting to drop this bomb on Kenya in an effort to take her down a notch.

Speaking of shitstirrers, a caller asked why Cynthia seemed so two-faced this season, like she was a totally different person. Was that one of you calling in? Have we not been saying that all season? Cynthia basically shrugged it off by saying she was “damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” and sat for the rest of the night looking like she had to take a dump. Andy complimented her on her ability to change up her look, and she mostly just sat on the couch and tried to keep her tits in her shirt.

Finally, Kenya and Phaedra stepped up to the plate in the final showdown of the night. They started with Kenya’s stealing Phaedra’s workout video idea and fought over who was selling better on Amazon; when Kenya insisted that her DVD was doing better in sales, Phaedra referenced my favorite Whitney Houston moment of all time — “Show me the receipts!” According to Phaedra, she has been a best seller on Amazon three times already, and really didn’t have time to feed into Kenya’s delusions. Kenya hit back by referring to herself as a “beauty brand” and talking about Phaedra’s body, which is terrible in general and downright monstrous when making negative comments about the BMI of a woman who is eight months pregnant. Phaedra didn’t do herself any favors by saying that Kenya’s body was “made of silicone,” so really, who can I stick up for here? Kenya countered with “what’s real about me is my heart,” but we’ve seen enough of her life to know that’s not entirely true. 

When talk turned to the issue of Kenya wanting a percentage of the distribution deal, the event that started Bootygate 2013, Phaedra insisted that she wanted to pay Kenya, but she just never asked for that kind of deal and wasn’t sure why Kenya pursued it in the first place. Andy quickly dismissed Kenya’s comment that Phaedra wasn’t relevant until she came on the scene, and then played a scene from the “Gone With the Wind Fabulous” music video that parodies Phaedra, who does not seem to care at all. Kenya flipped her fan for the last time, and Kandi dryly asked her to at least “flip that thing with your left hand,” probably so that she wouldn’t keep getting popped in her lip. Phaedra has the best comment of the evening in response, saying, “We used to have Single White Female and now we have Black Delusional Kenya.” When Kenya tried to insult Phaedra by saying, “I use the word attorney loosely,” Phaedra shot back with, “I’ve been a member of the bar for fourteen years, so use it TIGHTLY.” Seriously, she was on fire last night. It was wonderful to compare the twitchy, fan-flipping Kenya to the calm, I-could-barely-give-half-a-shit Phaedra. Kenya felt that Phaedra had started a smear campaign against her and “made a mockery of mental illness,” then went in for the kill, saying that Phaedra’s southern belle act goes out the window when she is angry, and that’s “the evil in her.” Then, just to really drive home the point that she is made entirely of garbage, Kenya said that she would knock the teeth out of a Phaedra’s head, pregnant and all. That’s it. She is officially the worst.

Next week, Porsha awkwardly defends her recently ended marriage to Kordell, Phaedra and NeNe spit some venom at each other, and Kim makes an appearance, even though Kandi is currently suing her about her lack of payment for “The Ring Didn’t Mean a Thing.” I’m sure that next week eyes will roll hard enough to cause an earthquake on set. See you then!