The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
Sometimes, as I watch Porsha scream “Take your pants off!” 20 feet away from two people joining their lives together in holy Maui matrimony, or as Cynthia complains about a speedboat outing not being a yacht outing when she was clearly told it was a speedboat outing, my mind will wander to why I mess around with The Real Housewives of Atlanta at all. But only on The Real Housewives of Atlanta can you find a harrowing and nuanced story of abuse survival and self-growth told alongside a woman asking to be “lifted in prayer” so that her “booty don’t keep eating this swimsuit.”
Sunday’s episode of RHOA was an emotional roller coaster. I mean, I cried! At a Bravo show. In an episode that started with Kandi calling Porsha a “lying, freak-ass hoe” as she was dragged away by her husband. And I can swallow my pride and admit that if it means never having to see Bob, his 24/7 front-neck sweat, or his nasty no-responsibility-takin’-trivializin’-jerk-face ever again. But to get to that heartbreaking and very real story line, we first have to get through the rest of Kandi’s 3 a.m. dinner: she’s running a special on seething rage, with a side of receipts.
Kandi later swears that she was planning on not even talking to Porsha on this trip, but she pulled those color copies of Porsha’s shady text messages out of her pocket mighty fast. She also went from zero to 100 in a way Todd says he hasn’t seen since Pillow Talk. I’ll wait while you cleanse yourself with sage and gargle some holy water at the mere mention of Pillow Talk …
… Where were we? Oh right, Kandi is telling Porsha that she damn near choked her, and Phaedra is telling Kandi that it’s not that big of a deal that Porsha told people she and her husband planned to drug her and bring her into their sex dungeon. Bear in mind, that is Not-Tiny-Todd’s 40th birthday, and he is celebrating by finding out that his girlfriend is a lying lunatic. (Porsha would want me to point out that she is now a lying lunatic who can refrain from wile’in out when called a “freak-ass hoe” because — character growth!)
Kandi leaves the dinner table in a screaming rage, but the editors do us the favor of calming everyone down with a quick voice clip of precious Ayden telling his mom, “You’re lucky to have this time all to yourself,” on the phone the next morning. Then Phaedra gets another phone call from Kandi, telling her maybe it would be better if Porsha didn’t go on their speedboat excursion. Porsha is fine with that development when Phaedra delivers the news to her wearing a one-piece that looks like she put a pair of suspenders on backwards. A swimsuit that she says she has had … since she was 18. The entire time they were bouncing around in that speedboat, I could not stop thinking about how unsupported she was. Like I said, this episode was an emotional roller coaster.
And here comes the first steep drop: As Shereé, Bob, Phaedra, and Kenya ride toward the water together, someone brings up how well Cynthia and Peter seem to be getting along. Shereé says she and Bob couldn’t have gone on a trip together at the same point in their own divorce, and Bob reminds her that they did — they drove to Vegas and he had the thought while she was sleeping that if he unbuckled her seatbelt and slammed on the brakes she would go flying through the windshield. This horrifying reveal then prompts Bob to say he’s never hit her, making Shereé increasingly uncomfortable: “Have I ever choked you? For real, have I? I might not remember.” Shereé whispers that he has, and Bob smirks, “Could you still breathe?” Kenya — dammit, I hate when I’m forced to like Kenya, and she is just full of uncharacteristic levelheadedness this episode — says that’s not funny to joke about.
And then this jackass says, “I don’t remember choking her, but if I did, I’m sorry … because maybe I didn’t choke you hard enough.” The rage that flowed through my veins, I cannot explain, but it immediately turned to sympathy as Shereé started quietly crying. Kenya, bless her heart — dammit! — leans forward from the back seat and hugs Shereé, saying she’s so sorry and putting her body in between Bob and Shereé. Because: Fuck. Bob. Phaedra hisses at Bob that he needs to apologize, and he spews something about not wanting to be the one to make her cry and this is why they’re willing to do this again, which is to say, something that is 100 percent not an apology.
Shereé says Bob has always been like Jekyll and Hyde: One side is a silly jokester, but on the other side is something dark. In her confessional she says she thought Bob had changed, but this takes her back to the cheating and the abuse: “And I don’t want my girls to ever be treated like that by a man. Then here I am thinking I’m going to give that person another chance … fucking stupid.” Y’all, it broke my damn heart.
So I sure hope that speedboating lifted Shereé’s spirits a bit because it looked real fun. And everyone makes it off of the boat without having any kind of throwdown, which has to be a RHOA first. Cynthia apparently got so soaked she had to stop by the nearest Tommy Bahama for some fresh khakis before dinner, but everyone thinks it’s actually because she and Peter were doing the laying-down-twerk, to which I say: hunty, you finally got rid of him, get rid of him.
But there’s just no getting rid of nasty on RHOA, which is why in the middle of everyone finally having a good time at a meal, Phaedra proposes that she move her “restoration service” to ASAP because “they need Jesus right now!” And while that may be true, I don’t think Phaedra’s knockoff restoration service in a Four Seasons hotel room complete with pinot grigio and Sharp White Cheddar Cheez-Its is going to accomplish much.
But dammit if Phaedra isn’t going to try because she wants everyone to be friends with Porsha again. But Porsha just wants to stir the pot, so when Bob’s comments from the van come up, she asks Shereé if she’s ever addressed what Kenya said about her being abused. Now, it’s clear in flashbacks that what Kenya was trying to say — when Shereé basically said that Kenya’s tendency to provoke people was reason for Matt to smash ever damn window in her house — was that having been through abuse in the past, Shereé should know that it’s never the victim’s fault. Shereé took her pointing out her past abusive relationship as her mocking it, and they agree that it was a misunderstanding that festered.
It’s now 12:08 a.m., and the fact that Porsha said Kandi planned to drug her and drag her into a basement full of sex swings has yet to be addressed. Kandi tells Porsha that for as much as she’s supported her, it’s crazy that she would throw her under the bus because Kandi said one (true!) thing Porsha didn’t like. Porsha very maturely says, “When you take low blows and say something about me, I’m going to say something about you.” So basically, if you said, “Porsha, you got a haircut,” and Porsha didn’t like the haircut you were observing, she would tell everyone you have an addiction to hentai porn, your husband can only climax if you tickle his belly button, and once, in college, you did bath salts and killed a guy. Listen, she’s just speaking her truth.
This woman’s head is so full of Pop Rocks, she either doesn’t know that she’s admitting that she lied, or she doesn’t know that lying is bad. Porsha finds this an apt time to say that she thinks Phaedra deserves an apology from Kandi for saying that she was cheating on Apollo before he went to prison. Kandi insists all she said was that Phaedra was talking to other men before Apollo went to prison, and Phaedra stumbles around so hard trying to get out of that statement, I’m surprised she didn’t fall over her own ass. It is now 1:08 a.m., and Cynthia makes the first correct assessment of the evening, saying this has been a monumental waste of time, and everyone excuses themselves.
The next day Bob has Shereé meet him in a jewelry shop so that he can laugh when she tells him that it hurt her to hear him joke about something that is still so painful to her. And then he laughs some more because this man is a sweat-drenched sociopath. Shereé storms out in tears, telling Bob not to follow her. In her confessional, she says she’s thankful she invited him, because this was a test, and he failed it: “I dodged a bullet.” And me? I cried for the second time during an episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.