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The Real Housewives of Atlanta Recap: If Mama Ain’t Happy

I’ll have to say this gingerly, because she seems like someone who is both possessed and unhinged, but Mama Joyce is definitely drunk all the time, right? The two most important things I learned last night are that Kandi has no idea how to deal with her emotionally manipulative parent, and everyone on the show drives a white car.

The show kicked off with Phaedra giving a master class in How to Professionally Ice Out Your Partner™. She was headed to Alabama for her mortuary study group; after her nannies and assistants packed her white car, Apollo, dressed like a Target employee — which would explain his exhaustion and crankiness, since working a secret double retail shift is difficult! — rolled out to say goodbye, prompting Phaedra to look him dead in his eyes, smile sweetly, and with a lilting, gentle tone, say, “You know I’m not speaking to you,” and slam the car door directly in his face. I appreciate her industrious spirit, but she should shut down all of her other businesses and head directly to the Learning Annex with this — if Ramona Singer can do it, so can she!

Apollo drove his white car over to the Bailey Agency Modeling School and House of Doughnuts to interrupt Cynthia’s modeling class and ask Peter for some “brotherly” advice. Cynthia was dressed like Bret Michaels circa 1986 and very busy passing along sage advice, like “stop sucking those lips,” “be more relaxed,” and “keep it together when you come back,” so she vaguely pointed to some back corner of the building. Peter sat on his white car, had delusions of grandeur about buying an Aston Martin, and doled out advice to Apollo, who keeps saying smash instead of sex, like Gretchen Weiners trying to make fetch happen. Peter only tolerates people he feels superior to, so he’s happy to tell Apollo precisely where he messed up, like not acknowledging that Kenya was using him to embarrass Phaedra, and not telling Phaedra that “the only person I want on my dick is you.” I guarantee this disaster of a man will turn to Cynthia on their 25th wedding anniversary, eyes misty with glaucoma, balls withered with age, and drop a banner from the ceiling of the downtown Hyatt conference room that says “I Still Want You on My Dick, Always and Forever.”

Todd is coming home and Kandi is excitedly getting the house ready with her AssistantFriendAssistant Carmon. These relationships are always so dubious, and I can’t believe Bravo hasn’t had a show called Don’t Hire Your Friends and Relatives yet. They seem to get along, though, as they prepare a tower of cupcakes that mysteriously disappears by the time Todd actually comes home, even though Carmon gets very stone-faced when Kandi tells her Mama Joyce once made a comment about Carmon and Todd being together. Carmon has known Kandi and Mama Joyce for a long time, and basically tells her “people will only do what you allow them to do,” which is code for “you need to tell your crazy mother to sit her ass all the way down.”

Kenya, proving her worthlessness week after week, was only on the show for ten seconds to show off the new house she’s renting. Miss Lawrence comes over, parks his white car next to her white car, and looks shocked when one of the movers hands him a bag to carry inside. I do not care about Kenya at all and spent the entire time wondering who was watching her dog while that front door was wide open.

NeNe took a trip to the farmer’s market with Cynthia, who is trying to eat healthier now that her operation is done. Apparently they both agreed to cut down on their drinking, but NeNe said, “I know, but I really am … an alcoholic.” They rolled around the store marveling at frozen pizzas and talking about what it’s like to raise a teenager. NeNe thinks it’s crazy for Noel to be dating, and that’s enough for Cynthia to raise a red flag and make it a big deal, too, even though she was previously okay with it. Remember a couple of seasons ago with Cynthia gave NeNe a note that said something like, “Are you my friend, check yes or no?” It’s not surprising that NeNe says jump and she says how high. This entire scene was about NeNe and how much I’d love to see her have an advice segment on a talk show. She kept putting carrots in the shopping cart for Cynthia to see what was going on better, tasting vegetables that were packaged, and advising that instead of supporting your daughter to have a boyfriend at 13, “You need to support her in not having a goddamn boyfriend.” I have never seen anyone react so violently to the name Arthur (“Nuh-UH!”) or seeing a Hot Pocket in the wild (“Ooooh, I ain’t seen these in YEARS!”), and I am ready for someone to bring NeNe to my television every single day. I love her and I can’t help it.

Kandi hired a personal chef to cook for Todd’s homecoming. When Todd arrives, he rubs her butt and stares at her tits until she starts talking about her mom, who, in his absence, has been saying that Todd is an opportunist. When he expresses his frustration, having turned down jobs to spend time with Kandi and overall feeling like he’ll never be good enough for her, Kandi laughs, which Todd points out is also irritating — this is not funny, and she needs to deal with her mother. He is very calm and forthright when he tells her she’s about to lose a good man because of this bullshit, and insists she call her mom to set up a talk. Chef David stands around, awkwardly stirring a risotto that no one is ever going to eat. If Mama Joyce is so worried about Kandi’s money, you’d think she’d start by counting how much of it is wasted on personal chefs.

Porsha shows for a second up to turn down a $4,500 per month apartment because she “still needs more nurturing” from her mother. Apparently “southern moms treat divorce like a death in the family,” so it’s not exactly like she’s being kicked out, but I’m with her sister, Lauren, who insists that being around them reminds her of the divorce and keeps Porsha from moving on. Realistically, Porsha is going to keep jumping from one pampered relationship to the next, whether it be with her mom, another husband, or that one baker who always gives her extra icing on her cinnamon rolls.

Noel worked up the nerve to ask Arthur to come over and meet Cynthia; even though she got dressed up, she was adorably too shy to answer the door when he and his mom arrived. Arthur is SO CUTE, with his braces and earnest smile and compliments, and his mom, Latesha, was super nice. Cynthia was wearing a silk pajama top in an attempt to convey the nonchalance she was so clearly not feeling, but was very welcoming. The only blight on this union was Peter, who went right for the intimidation tactics like the black-hearted asshole he is. Arthur called him Peter instead of Mr. Thomas, and based on Peter’s reaction, you would have thought Arthur said, “I come over and dip my wang in your milk jug every morning.” Arthur handled himself very well; he looked at Peter while talking to him (how dare he), and when Peter accused him of giving the evil eye, Arthur said he felt like “it was respectful to look at you while you talk.” I kept waiting for his mom to give him a hug or drag him out of there, but thankfully, Peter left instead. With a relationship like theirs, Cynthia and Peter should be taking advice from these 13-year olds, not giving it.  

Phaedra finally makes it to Alabama and her study group, where she distracts them from studying and instead makes the conversation about herself every chance she gets. She sees this as a chance to “get away from it all,” but everyone else is clearly trying to study, so Phaedra comes off as a little aloof and braggy. I’ll let it pass, knowing what she’s going through with that dolt back home. The only person that matters in this scene is study buddy Amber, with her razor sharp eyebrows and no-nonsense embalming advice.

Finally, Mama Joyce makes her way over to Kandi’s for dinner, and is a bitch from the minute she arrives. Todd asks her how she’s doing, and she turns to greet the dog, which would have been rude enough for me to flip a table onto her, but she has more in store. She starts spewing some nonsense about Kandi not being the “lady of the house” because her AssistantFriendAssistant Carmon is there everyday, which Mama Joyce and Melvin and Bertha and a whole bunch of other people no one has ever heard think is shady. Kandi actually sticks up for Carmon and Todd, but Mama Joyce presses on like a bear pawing her way to the bottom of a pot of honey. There are no pictures of her on the wall, but there are pictures of Todd’s family! Kandi’s engagement ring is too cheap, and Todd should have given it to her on Christmas Day! Kandi “stepped herself down” for Todd! If the lights get cut off at the Kandi Factory, can he pay to have them turned back on!? Her utterly confusing and aggressive questioning continued for a few minutes, and then Kandi got up and left the room, leaving Todd alone to deal with Mama Joyce.

It’s pretty clear that Kandi deals with her mother by ignoring the sides of her she doesn’t like, but that was shockingly terrible behavior, particularly in light of the conversation Todd had just had with her and how much he was voicing his frustration and discomfort. Mama Joyce kept going, talking about their prenup and asking if Todd could “keep them in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed.” After a few silent moments, Todd asks “Is this a work in progress?” Mama Joyce says “We’re working on it … even though I do feel you are opportunistic.” What the hell is she doing? He’s so clearly trying to make this work, and she just keeps dropping her pants and leaving steamy dumps all over their relationship. I started to think she was drunk when she was talking in song lyrics, yelling to Kandi that they were bonding, and slurring at Todd that she had her eye on him while barely getting a forkful of pie into her mouth. Is it possible that she’s just totally unhinged? This is beyond protective mothering — we’ve waded hip deep into Officially Crazy Bitch territory.

Next week, Leon and Cynthia try to decide which of them is best equipped to talk to Noel about sex, Kenya sheds some crocodile tears about how boring she is, Porsha is in the hospital, Phaedra starts talking to Apollo again, and Mama Joyce starts a fight with Carmon at Kandi’s dress fitting, because she is off the rails and needs a psychiatric evaluation. See you then!

Photo: Bravo