The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Andy Cohen referred to this episode as the “explosive conclusion,” but it felt more like a candle wick finally drowning in a pool of its own wax.
In Kim’s shellac-scented wake, Andy was kind of incredulous that all of the participants took it easy on her. I could tell by the waxy sheen coating his eyeballs that he really needed a good setup for the Real Housewives of the MMA season premiere that is surely coming down the pipeline, and was hoping for a good wig-pulling slap fight, but NeNe chirped up to remind him that she has told Kim on dozens of occasions that she cannot stand her, and they have recently exchanged text messages wishing each other well. If you follow NeNe on Twitter, you know that they are friends again, or at least resigned to keeping it civil so Kim can deflect the hatred and gain some viewers for her Don’t Be Tardy series.
Kandi’s seasonal retrospective focused on her love fest with Todd, including a flashback to their Africa trip last year that held prophetic information. Todd used to work for the show, and during that trip a bone doctor told Kandi that “the person you are going to be with is with you now.” Theirs is a mystical romance, and apparently powerful enough to deflect the shade NeNe tried to throw at Kandi’s engagement ring. Kandi thought that the way NeNe talked about the price of the ring was shallow, but NeNe shot her with an Urkel-ism (“Did I say that?”) and stared her down until Andy moved on. When a viewer tried to scold Kandi for mixing sex toys with God, Kandi asked if she should “keep her prayers secret,” which was a boss way to rep Team Sex. Do not try to slut-shame Kandi Burress, she is NOT THE ONE. Cynthia stood up for Kandi when another viewer commented on how and when Kandi introduced her daughter to Todd, and for the rest of the episode we mostly hear from Kandi in the form of her Wonder Twin powers: one-liners and eye rolls.
Kenya finally gets a chance to shine in her flashback, but Andy asks the one question we all really want her to answer: Was her relationship with Walter fake? Did you bring him on the show to portray your boyfriend? Kenya twirled up a storm of denial — she absolutely did not pay him to be her boyfriend on the show! She would not “waste her time” when she has the “worldwide stage to find a man”! No one in the room believed her, and Phaedra again called her a whore and accused her of being entirely too flirtatious with other men during their trip to Anguilla as proof that she was not really with Walter. But like my grandma and Kenya always say, “Flirting with someone does not a whore make!” Andy accurately brought up how hypocritical it was for Kenya to accuse Walter of being gay and simultaneously call Phaedra a hypocrite, but Kenya thought she was justified because Walter “was a different person behind closed doors.” He could straight-up turn into Don Draper behind closed doors; her attack on his character in light of their breakup was just dirty, and there was no way to spin out of that one. She did reveal that they have never had sex, not even when they dated previously, and referred to her vagina as an unbroken cookie jar — easily the year’s most terrible imagery. Just so we’re clear: If you are Kenya, you can date someone on and off for years, choose to not have sex with them because they haven’t “earned it,” but reserve the right to be upset when they won’t have sex with you on a nationally syndicated television show and retaliate by questioning their sexuality. Every date with Kenya is a Choose Your Own Adventure story, and every outcome is insanity.
When defending her own behavior proved to be too Sisyphean a task, Kenya turned the attention to Phaedra, saying her “you can’t turn a whore into a housewife” comment was the most disgusting thing she’s ever heard, and tried to attack her for marrying a convicted felon. Phaedra rolled her eyes, rubbed her belly, belched, and continued to give zero shits about Kenya. She could not even be bothered to fart in Kenya’s general direction, preferring to speak out of the side of her mouth instead. Phaedra throws PROFESSIONAL shade, punctuated by her “You didn’t send for me and I still came for you” lazy threat. Say what you will, but Phaedra is the master of casual rage. When Andy butted in to ask if anyone thought Kenya’s relationship with Walter was genuine, everyone looked at their shoes, while Kenya prattled on about not caring what they think anyway. She would not spit on Walter if his toupee were on fire, people! But she WILL sneak a peek at his passport to see if he was telling her the truth about his age! Kandi jumped in to say that Walter did ask her out shortly after she got together with Todd, so perhaps he wasn’t really with Kenya during that time. When Andy asked how her love life was going how, Kenya giggled hysterically and then broke out into tears in the span of seconds, saying that she doesn’t want to talk about it but “she’s in a good place.” CLEARLY.
Next is the parade of significant others — Gregg as a walking commercial for Just for Men hair dye, Peter dragging bottles of vodka behind him like a newlywed’s limousine, Apollo just as bewildered and happy to be out of the house as always, and Todd, visibly wishing he could retreat behind the cameras again but happy to “support his lady.” Noticeably missing was Porsha’s husband Kordell, who was apparently at work, but also filed for divorce the following week. Whoops! Andy asked the guys how they felt about Walter, and Peter led the charge by taking his side. They kept inviting Walter to events because he was “part of the team,” and none of the guys were friends with Kenya. When Kenya said, “None of my exes would speak badly about me,” Andy butted in with, “Yeah, but you spoke badly about HIM.” Kenya, now getting it from all sides, protected herself like an animal in the wild infused with the spirit of Little Edie Beale by standing up to twirl and sing her song. Peter couldn’t believe it! “You’re spazzing out whenever it doesn’t go your way!”
When Apollo insisted that he didn’t like Kenya “from a business perspective,” Kenya quickly said, “Maybe you should stop texting me then.” Even Porsha admitted that we’ve now gone to a whole new level. Apparently there has been some texting since Anguilla — Apollo says that Kenya is texting him, and Kenya says that Apollo is texting her. Phaedra said that Kenya’s texts to her husband were the reason she called her a whore in the first place, and Apollo reenacted scenes from the Beatles’ Help! to prove his point — she chased him out of the Beverly Hilton! Out of the Lux Hotel! He can’t get away from her texts if he tried! But he did try to be polite — “When she texted me after the Wendy Williams show to say I looked nice, I said thank you.” Aw, Apollo. Simple, simple Apollo. Phaedra made a comment about Kenya having breasts like banana boats, and Peter wanted to know why Kenya was chasing a married man to begin with. Woo! I feel like Apollo wouldn’t give up his life on Easy Street with Phaedra so easily, but is it possible he is that obtuse?
Finally, Porsha the “pampered princess” brings the house down in the most unexpected way: with passionate, unbridled honesty. When Andy asked how things were going with her, Porsha talked about building a foundation and making her family work, but she really got worked up in trying to explain her relationship with Kordell. Essentially, she looked up to her castmates, and as a newlywed and a new cast member she expected some support from them. Instead, she felt like all of the women on the show judged her and “knocked her down instead of pulling her up.” No one asked for her opinion, or was real with her. NeNe said you would only get support from this group “if someone died, and this is not the place to come for support,” but Porsha broke into tears when trying to explain how much she wanted to emulate their independence; she wanted her career, and to be a good wife and mother, just like them. It was unexpectedly touching, and when she told everyone how much she admired them and begged them to be real with her as she has been with them, it really gave me pause. There is no way Porsha is that good an actress, and it felt quite sincere, especially in light of her impending divorce. This was the first time I felt like she had some self-awareness, or was at least willing to acknowledge that she has led a sheltered life, and I was really touched.
She then immediately changed her tune when Andy asked her to sing a few lines of “Amazing Grace,” but it was heartfelt while it lasted.
Kandi apologized for commenting on Porsha’s marriage, but NeNe and Cynthia held fast to the idea that when you come on the show, you need to support yourself. NeNe in particular said that at least Porsha had a model in having four seasons of the show to watch; when she started the show, all they had “was Orange County, but they were white with blonde hair. We opened up this door so you can sit on this couch.” It didn’t seem like the right time for the “we paved the way” speech, but I understand where she was coming from — had Porsha never seen the show before? Was she so naïve to think that this group of grappling, screaming women could be a source of support for her?
In the final moments, Andy commented that this season he, at least, thought they supported each other more, since they were happy and having a good time more often. NeNe said that the negative energy from the show is gone without naming Kim specifically, and Phaedra honestly said she did not enjoy the season at all. Kandi asked if they needed a new housewife, or to replace one, and NeNe said “replace,” but would not say who. When it was mercifully over, everyone kicked off their shoes and dimmed the lights.
This was a great season. I laughed more than ever, and cringed only slightly. How did everyone measure up?
Meaner than expected but funnier than usual: Phaedra. She was the comic relief we all needed this season, but I have just about had it with her business ventures.
Draining your children’s college fund to make herself look better: Cynthia. We learned a lot about Cynthia this year (mostly that she knows how to “reeeeead”), but I’m still skeptical.
A bit of a liar, a bit of a star: NeNe. I cannot take much more of this “Hollywood!” business, but I am genuinely impressed with NeNe. I’m happy to see her back with Gregg and hoping she doesn’t decide she is too big for the show now that she’s in Ryan Murphy’s pocket.
Laughing all the way to the bank: Kandi. I can’t help but laugh at and with her, and not because we will all be working for her one day. Even her deplorable behavior on the night they showed up to dinner three hours late is passable in light of her happy, stable life. Good for her.
Hopefully taking the summer for a full psychiatric workup: Kenya. Clearly the most entertaining part of the season, but dangerously close to actual breakdown.
Surprisingly thoughtful but still as dumb as a box of rocks: Porsha. But I think a fresh divorce from her controlling husband and a library card will do her a world of good.
Thank you all for being brilliant and hilarious commenters. It makes me 1000x happier to share this show with you each week. I am going to be recapping Scandal through May, moving to a new state to start my Ph.D. in September, and then hopefully back here for more housewifery next season. Feel free to follow me on my website, or on Twitter, @knottyyarn.
Have a wonderful summer!