The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Friends, did you have a good week? Are you dealing well with Jermaine changing his name from “Jackson” to “Jacksun”? Do we really believe Cynthia thinks “beauty fades, but class is forever” after her antics this week? Let’s get to it.
I think we’re contractually obligated to start each show with Nene, and so we do again this week. She’s in L.A. for a pride parade with her son 13-year-old son Brentt, who I hope one day starts a band with his father, Gregg, called Double Gs and the Double Ts. Nene is proud to sit in The New Normal convertible while Brentt blows a whistle and walks along, gliding past Mick’s Flaming Gay Bar. In her voice-over, she informs us that gay people invented nail polish, weaves, and earrings before weirdly (offensively?) calling gay people “half man and half lady.” Like all Real Housewives, she finds a way to turn the pride parade around to herself, openly weeping about how cool it is that fans recognize her; it’s a little selfish but oddly sincere, since people are legitimately genuflecting as her car rolls past. Gregg shows up, Nene says she’s still proud to share her big moments with him, and it really seems like they’re going to work it out. I’m a little bit concerned that no one is wearing sunglasses but everyone is staring directly into the sky – they know that the sunshade Mr. Burns created on The Simpsons was fake, right?
Back in Atlanta, Kandi and Phaedra meet for lunch at Bottle Bar Buckhead, and invite Kenya along. I’m starting to feel like when it comes to naming bars and restaurants in Atlanta, the owners just pick three or four alliterative words and move on with their day. There’s nothing terribly interesting about this meeting; they rehash the JET magazine casting fallout from last week, and revisit Kenya’s love life. The very best part happened when Kenya mentioned that she is originally from Baltimore, and Phaedra said, “Oh, so you will go ham-and-cheese on somebody.” I took that to mean that Kenya can really fight, but trying to interpret Phaedra’s Southern Cockney is like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube with your toes.
Next we find ourselves in Kim’s palatial estate. She hands off her (adorable) ginger baby to the in-house babysitter in order to have more time to walk around with Sweetie the Useless (her Viking name), complaining about having to move. When they land in Kim’s office, she says she hasn’t found a house, she doesn’t want to find a house, but she is considering renting a penthouse for a month while she figures out her next move. She simply cannot live in less than 75,000 square feet, so Sweetie’s attempts to talk her into moving back to the townhouse she already owns are falling on deaf ears. Throughout this whole conversation I’m annoyed that Kim has an office outfitted by Liberace down to her filigreed desk when she is not even employed, but I, a part-time college instructor, have to take turns grading papers in shifts in a closet masquerading as an office with five other people.
Since this episode is a particular form of torture, the next segment features Kenya again, this time at her new house. Her Aunt Lori, who raised her, comes over to bring her flowers, only to have Kenya immediately rag on her for leaving the price tag on the cellophane, calling them “Walmart flowers.” At this point in the series, I really cannot tell if she’s turning this attitude on for the cameras or is actually this awful. Aunt Lori gets a jab in by quickly calling Kenya out for her narcissism, and then they cry about Kenya’s old boyfriends over strawberries and Champagne. Apparently she has been dating Walter for two years but has not introduced him to Aunt Lori, and her aunt is hurt. The sight of people crying usually makes me break down in tears myself, but I couldn’t muster any to give a shit about Kenya.
Next, Phaedra and Cynthia hit a local gym, where the first point of action is Phaedra forcing the trainers to look at and comment upon her ass; she flexed for them and said her ass was “winking.” People, help me understand her simultaneous Southern religious modesty and gross oversharing. Nene shows up to work out in harem pants and bare feet, complains about lifting a kettle bell and sits down; Phaedra shows some impressive, LL Cool J, “Mama Said Knock You Out” at MTV Unplugged underarm deodorant chunks, and Nene wears the Technicolor Dreamcoat in her confessional while she talks about overtaking the party Cynthia is trying to throw. They all talk about Kenya; Cynthia says she’s not invited back to the Bailey Agency and School of Modeling and Hot Dog Factory, while Phaedra says she really didn’t have a problem with her. Nene says it’s okay to invite Kim to the successful-women party, but she is not going to invite her personally, so Phaedra will have to do it. Cynthia reluctantly says Kenya can come to the party, too, but her eyes bug out like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall, so you just know something crucial had to fracture inside her brain for her to find the energy to be the bigger person. The trainer wanders by to say, “Social time is over.” Sir, when someone in the group shows up to work out looking like Fred Flintstone, social time is all it ever was meant to be.
Kroy takes Kim to a docked boat for her birthday, where they eat all of her favorite foods (including something called a Million-Dollar Cake) but drink Dr. Pepper straight from the can. He gives her a diamond bracelet that she had originally borrowed to wear at their wedding, and these two are so boring I cannot even finish typing this sentence. Kroy wore a tuxedo shirt with a bow tie and legitimately looked like a monkey butler, so that was fun, at least.
Ugh, we’re back to Kenya again, this time at dinner with the elusive Walter. She drops thinly veiled hints about wanting to get married and have babies, which at this point is just a recording she should have on a loop to play at will. She talks about her “old eggs” while Walter sucks down a triple shot of tequila; Kenya thinks that being halfway to Drunktown is the perfect time to drag “skeletons out of the closet,” but only wants to know about the stuff that could one day embarrass her, so Walter comes out of the gate with his previous attempt to date Kandi. Apparently he asked her out years ago and she said no, but that won’t stop it from ruining Kenya’s present-day life. At first she tries to deflect by pointing out that Kandi has a “big ass,” and she knows he likes that, but then we watch her unravel like an old sweater as it really sinks in that he was attracted to someone she now has to pretend to be friends with on a regular basis. She says she lost her appetite, asks for her food to be packed up to go, and runs to the bathroom for an extended amount of time. Yep, I’d say she is 100 percent ready for the trials and tribulations of parenting, where nothing dramatic or unexpected ever happens. When she comes back to the table, Walter placates her by telling her she’s smart and beautiful; Kenya turns on like a flashlight, and they keep doing shots until they kill any remaining natural feelings of love they may have for each other.
At Kim and Kroy’s house, they talk about how they trade random chores for sexual favors in front of Sweetie, who looks like she wants to throw up the entire time they’re talking. Kroy makes it weird by recounting how many blow jobs Kim “owes” him while he is simultaneously cooing to his ginger baby over a monitor. Is that house built on the Poltergeist lot? I feel like they’re possessed by the spirit of Too Much Information.
Kandi and Todd are unpacking their new house, and Phaedra comes over to visit, where she exhibits the exact opposite behavior of Kim from last week – gracious, no racist statements, and quick to point out that the neighborhood is filled with doctors, lawyers, and judges. We learn that Phaedra is afraid of “living pets,” and is responsible for introducing Kandi to Todd. She also referred to their situation as “cohabit-tatting,” and I swear she is a Cabbage Patch Doll come to life. Kandi agrees to go to the successful-ladies party that Nene is throwing, even though she cannot understand how Phaedra and Nene are such close friends now.
At the Successfully Empowered Women Brunch Dinner Event, Cynthia is handed a “success martini” that is as deeply red as the blood of virgins; Kandi color-blocks a fuchsia top with a purple bottom for the win; Kenya brags about being invited to all of the parties because she’s new to town; there’s a joke about the White House and Phaedra’s “black house”; Nene is late because her dress is completely see-through; and Cynthia hangs around like a wet mitten. Kim and Sweetie have been there for five minutes, so naturally they’re bored and ready to leave. As they’re leaving they run into Nene, who seems to have finally found a slip, and Nene shocks us all by asking Kim to stay for just five minutes more. Kim says yes, and as soon as Nene turns away she and Sweetie leave, because they are graceless hags.
Back at the party, Cynthia grabs the mike, thanks everyone for coming and calls Nene a “grinder,” which is, what — an insult? A compliment? A regional name for a hoagie? Kenya, after saying that she is going to throw a party for Nene and Kandi next week, pulls the ultimate power-bitch move, takes the mike from Cynthia, says, “enough of this clown show” and proceeds to make HER OWN SPEECH before pulling Nene to the side to discuss a possible friendship. Cynthia, watching her best friend talk to her mortal enemy, wobbles over like a toddler hopped up on Pixie Stix, declares herself a “talking pretty head” when Kenya asks why she’s butting into their conversation, and then asks Kenya if she was Miss America before or after Vanessa Williams. In her confessional, Nene says that Cynthia can read (i.e. the documentary Paris is Burning or any season of RuPaul’s Drag Race), but that she can’t read (i.e. open a book). The episode ends on the highly ironic note of Nene commenting on women uplifting each other, and even though we’re only two episodes in the cast is already divided by petty fights and a mild hatred for one another.
Did I miss anything? Are you about to go ham-and-cheese on somebody? I cannot wait for next week – Gregg literally kisses Nene’s feet, Kandi unpacks her Grammys, and we finally get to meet the other new housewife.