The Real Housewives of Atlanta
This one is a toughie. We do get some preposterous scenes like the Treaty of Marlo tea party, but most of this episode is centered around Kenya’s PSA about domestic violence. It’s hard to snark on domestic violence when it’s very clear that so many of the women on this show have been affected by it. And black women tend to be affected by domestic violence at a rate higher than other populations. So … let’s do this, I guess? Real Housewives!
Kenya is going to see a photographer who she’s worked with before to set up some ideas for the PSA. There’s a little montage of the other work this photographer has done for the ladies of Atlanta and it’s … interesting. Mostly Kenya imitating big cats and NeNe on a stripper pole. Kenya says her goal is for the PSA to air on national TV. I feel like we need a primer on exactly how PSAs are made. Are they commissioned? Do you just send them to the TV station in an envelope? As a Google Drive attachment? This feels a bit like “Michael Scott making a commercial” and I want this to work out for Kenya. Even though she got married this year, she needs a win.
Shereé shows up to help Kenya with her project and she’s wearing a satin tracksuit and another blonde wig. I’m very interested in Shereé’s athleisure makeover, but I’m going to need her to upgrade this blonde wig. She looks like she can’t come within 30 feet of an open fire with the wig standing up on its own. Kenya has recruited all the women plus Cynthia’s mother and Shamea to be in the video. Shereé wants to take a more involved role in the video but freely admits that she doesn’t have any experience. Say what you want about the Real Housewives, but they are the only women who carry themselves with the confidence of mediocre white men. Kenya offers Shereé a role as her intern and Shereé does not want to be an intern. Of course, Shereé has the experience and relevant skills to get a job as an intern, but this is a reality show, so she’s going to create a role on set for herself.
Later, NeNe is struggling with her ice machine when Marlo arrives. They’re having a relaxing midday cocktail and shoe-comparison session. NeNe is really enjoying hanging out with Marlo now that they’ve started talking again, which is such a Real Housewives friendship sentence. They should make greeting cards for Real Housewives dramas. “Sorry I told the producers that I refused to film with you! Here’s to our new contractually obligated friendship!” Marlo is convinced that if she and Nene can get over their issues, there’s no reason NeNe and Porsha can’t get over their issues. Marlo even goes so far as to suggest having a tea party with NeNe and Porsha, with Cynthia acting as an intermediary for the whole thing. NeNe just wants Porsha to take full accountability. Bitch, for what? I’m unclear what slights NeNe is holding Porsha accountable for now. It seems like it’s still some combination of what Porsha did to Kandi, plus something else. NeNe seems to think that Porsha should be grateful to her and she’s not grateful so she must be punished. SET THE TEA!
Cynthia is at home cooking when Noelle comes home. Let me tell you that Noelle looks positively stunned that Cynthia is cooking. She looks downright concerned that her mother has figured out how to turn the stove on. Will calls Cynthia and Noelle says hi to him. Will and Cynthia chat for a little bit and Will says if there were some turkey in the pasta that Cynthia is making, he would come over. Cynthia says, “We can get a whole Thanksgiving turkey if you want.” Cynthia, please stop being so thirsty. You are literally Cynthia Bailey. You’re what I imagine Cleopatra looked like. You can play it cool. She wants to introduce Will to Noelle, but she doesn’t want to until they become exclusive.
Meanwhile, Kandi heads over to OLG to check on the restaurant. She talks about how it’s a family business, and at this point, it seems like almost half the staff is related to Kandi in some way. The titular OLG shows up to talk to Kandi. Here is the mistake that Kandi made: She gave these women power. That’s not how you set up a restaurant like this! You say that you’re gonna use their recipes, put up their picture in the dining room, and let them talk to the patrons every now and then. Don’t let these maniacs have input. What are their complaints? The hostess stand is in the wrong place and the chefs have baggy pants. Kandi, don’t listen to them! But of course, Kandi is ruled by her family, so she says she’s going to figure it out. Kandi and Todd still need a general manager.
Porsha runs into Rickey Smiley of The Rickey Smiley Morning Show and they stand in the hallway and smell each other like dogs in heat. This is a very strange mating ritual and I would like it to stop, please.
Shereé is sitting down in her kitchen and very naturally says out loud to no one, “I gotta write a grocery list!” when the doorbell rings. It’s Kandi. She’s there to ask Shereé if her jailhouse boyfriend is a con man. Shereé deflects by saying, “Well, NeNe and Gregg both have mugshots so who are they to judge?” Well, Shereé, that may very well be true, but is your boyfriend a con man? I would like to know, Shereé, even if I had a criminal record. Also, “It’s no one’s business” or “He’s paid his debt to society” would both be acceptable answers, but Shereé didn’t go that way.
Cynthia arrives at Marlo’s house for the tea that everyone watching agrees is a terrible idea. Marlo is wearing a nude illusion gown and there’s a huge spread of petit fours. It’s an irresponsible amount of tiny cakes for four people. Porsha arrives and when Cynthia goes to hug her, Cynthia’s entire nipple falls out. She jokes that she should call herself “Titty Cent.” Marlo serves them vodka cranberry out of tea cups and Cynthia doesn’t notice. NeNe and Porsha attempt to heal some old wounds. NeNe is mostly furious that Porsha didn’t text her back like twice. How old is everyone? You can’t be mad at someone not texting you back after age 23. If you are mad, you have to say that you’re having “problems communicating.” Dress it up a little bit. Porsha calls out the fact that NeNe doesn’t look like she gives a solitary fuck and she’s right. NeNe is willing to pretend the fight is over so she can move on with her life. We did good work here.
Then it’s time for the PSA. All of the stories that the women share are moving. Watching Cynthia watch her mom talk about her abuse is heartbreaking. I can’t snark on any of that.
But then there are the lines that Kenya wrote for this PSA. It appears she just looked up “domestic violence” and “abuse” in a dictionary and copied and pasted it into a script. The other Housewives line up and recite paragraphs of text about what abuse is. It’s … rough. Plus, the concept is like a parody of a PSA. “We’ll all dress in white and talk solemnly to the camera.” Then there’s Kenya’s directing style. It looks like she’s doing an imitation of a director, perched in her chair with her hand on her chin, while looking like she’s trying to look thoughtful. She has to probe the women to tell their stories, but it just ends up with Kenya shouting questions like, “HOW WAS IT ABUSIVE?” She’s not great at this.
Oh, and that tagline? “Leave now.” Really? Could have used a couple other options. That’s all I’m saying.
Kenya is upset that Shereé is running so late and when she finally gets Shereé on the phone, Shereé tells her she was in an accident. Someone rear-ended her and she already has a bulging disc so it aggravated her back. My mom has chronic back issues and sometimes just sitting wrong in the car for a few hours can set her pain off, so I can’t imagine how getting in a car accident on the highway felt for Shereé. And she still winds up going to set with tears in her eyes. I can’t exactly tell if Kenya is frustrated with her or relieved to see she’s okay. Shereé should have gone home or to a hospital. She pulls herself together to record her lines, even though she’s in extreme pain and is having trouble talking. Shereé is happy she’s able to open up about her experience and that’s actually great and I’m happy for her.