The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Guys, we’ve been watching this show for more than half a year — long enough for me to start and quit a Ph.D. program, start and quit a new job, and apparently start and quit an early-onset mid-life crisis. It feels like we’ve been watching these six women yell at each other forever, and that’s because we have been watching them yell at each other forever. But last night, as the season came to a close, one thing became abundantly clear:
These emm-effers hate each other.
That might not be entirely fair; I’m sure Kandi and Phaedra can sit in a room together without wanting to poke their thumbs through each other’s eyes. But the theme of last night, and most of the season, was definitely screaming your throat raw and “Can I trust this bitch?” The fact that half of the cast has had one-on-one Watch What Happens Live interviews with Andy is enough to prove that most of the cast has no chemistry, and isn’t even interested in pretending to make it work. Atlanta needs a New York–style reboot — they need to get rid of the sour apples, or just turn over the barrel for a whole new bunch.
NeNe and Kenya hate each other most of all, and spent most of last night shouting over each other to the point where neither of them made sense. It sounded like a chorus of porpoises every time they opened their mouths. They fought about Marlo, Cynthia, and Kenya’s charity ball; they fought about whether or not Kenya said NeNe was on drugs; they fought about the Mike Tyson/Buster Douglas boxing match from 1990 and New Coke and whether or not M&Ms should get rid of tan and add blue. They fought about everything under the sun, and it was an exhausting mess. Kenya repeatedly called NeNe out for her issues with control — namely, that she needs to have it at all times — and NeNe took low-blow pot shots at Kenya in an attempt to shut her down.
NeNe is a monster at this point. She spent most of the night acting like a petulant child, and her refusal to apologize or own her role in any of the cast’s dysfunction makes me mad enough to want to turn over a car. Kandi went Berserker on her for that comment about Mama Joyce and the gutter and was well within her right to do so. Even though Kandi explicitly laid out the ways NeNe was being hypocritical (no one can address her family the way she talks about everyone else’s family), NeNe still deferred to “I said what I said and I’m not changing it,” and refused to apologize, which she then commented on in a mocking tone for the rest of the show (“Oh, I never apologize!”). Cut the shit, Lenethia — your ego has consumed your ability to be a decent friend, so now you’re grandstanding in an attempt to retain even a little bit of your original acerbic spark. The only cool and funny thing NeNe did last night was challenge Kenya to match a $20,000 donation to the charity of Kenya’s choice after it was revealed that for all the drama of the charity ball, Kenya only raised $500 for them. I will always laugh at anyone pointing out Kenya’s brokeness, because she makes such a big deal about her lavish lifestyle, which doesn’t seem to exist. A rented Bentley and a closet full of maxi-dresses does not a millionaire make, Kenya.
When Cynthia said that she was grateful to Peter for not having sex with someone else while she was laid up with fibroids, I gasped. Someone needs to smack this woman in the face with a copy of This Bridge Called My Back or paraglide in to recite the entire Seneca Falls Convention treatise every time she even looks at Peter. I keep fluctuating between sadness and contempt when it comes to Cynthia; she’s married to a terrible person, but she acts like she’s as dumb as a box of rocks. She avoided the question about whether she and Peter were really partners in their relationship, probably because she knows the answer is “no, of course not, he stomps all over my bank account and life like Godzilla and I’m too co-dependent to stop him.” I mean, how is it even possible that she’s in talks to purchase BarOne, a business that loses money so fast you’d think money was made out of wishes? Something is broken in Cynthia, and she makes me sad. When Peter came out to chomp on a peach and talk about his “four baby mamas and five kids,” he seemed just as unapologetic about his role in all the fights and arguments as NeNe. No one wants to stop the man from having an opinion, but he doesn’t have to insert that opinion in every scenario. I think part of the reason he pipes up so often is that Cynthia is such a wilting flower about everything, like a baby waiting to imprint on the nearest adult. Sit down, Peter! No one cares about your peaches or your disgustingly macho schtick.
I sort of died laughing when Apollo, who may or may not spend $5,000 at a time on strippers, came out and said he was personally responsible for sustaining Kenya’s career these past two years, since without him she wouldn’t have a story line. You ain’t lyin’, Apollo! But you’re also forgetting her attempt to get pregnant and all of the twirling. Also, why is he even there? Apollo, why are you even at this reunion when you have federal charges against you for fraud and identity theft? God bless the caller who said that Phaedra might be tired from parenting Apollo all day; she’s right, even though Phaedra will never admit it. Kenya eventually stops talking to Apollo, and when NeNe chimes in about all the ways she’s done them wrong, Kenya screams my favorite thing I’ve ever heard at a Housewives’ reunion:
“Send a cease-and-desist letter to America!”
I laughed so hard I thrashed all of the pillows right off of my couch.
Phaedra was rightfully called out for her inability to blame Apollo for his role in talking to Kenya, and when he tried to show a text Kenya apparently sent him the week prior to the taping, she said, “You’re a criminal, you can make up anything.” Um, he’s not a criminal mastermind — he’s more of a worker-bee criminal, not really responsible for reconfiguring physics or working with chemistry. I really didn’t like the horrible comments Phaedra made about Kenya exploring sperm banks as an option to have kids; it showed her ugly side and made me feel bad for Kenya, which I hate. Apollo thought he made a clever joke about Kenya’s dirty toenails, but it just made him look like an overall-wearing, straw-chewing rube banging around on an overturned bucket.
Andy made everyone rehash the “darkest moment in RHOA history” and talk about the couple’s night that turned into a brawl, and the only new thing we learned was that NeNe doesn’t think she should have to apologize for offending the entire gay population for the derogatory way she called Brandon a queen, smugly asking Andy if she needs to kiss his ass or throw a parade as her mea culpa. I was hoping they would unleash Mama Joyce on her like the Cloverfield monster, but Andy just sort of laughed her paltry apology off, once again reinforcing NeNe’s bad behavior.
In the final moments, Cynthia said that the fighting this season is not what they represent. What do they represent, then? A group of tired former friends brought together in the name of television? A few women just in it for the paycheck? Andy asked NeNe point blank if she still wanted to be part of the show, and she hemmed and hawed with a 50/50 answer, not really committing either way. We all know the answer is no, and she just doesn’t have enough jobs on the horizon to admit it.
Unlike Andy, I didn’t think this was a “dramatic and entertaining season.” I thought it was an uncomfortable slide into normalizing violence between women, and an unfortunate turn towards the boring. They need fewer trips, and more new blood; less antics, and more women who can actually be in the same room together. I’m going to send a cease-and-desist letter to America; let’s see if we can’t get a fresher show next season.
As always, the best part of this show is you guys. Thank you for your comments, for your community, and for making this band of fools a little more tolerable in their last few dismal displays. I’m recapping a lot of stuff for Vulture this summer (Louie, Orange Is the New Black, Orphan Black) so I hope I’ll see you around. Have a wonderful summer!