The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Although this episode is sorely lacking in NeNe, we are gifted one of the other institutions of the Real Housewives franchise: the taglines. I would like to be in the room when these taglines are pitched because they are always simultaneously bonkers and absolutely perfect. And this year? Real Housewives of Atlanta did not phone it in.
First up is Kenya with “I was Gone With the Wind but I’m back and twice as fabulous.” Somehow managing to include one of her many catchphrases while also meaning absolutely nothing: nine out of ten twirls.
Up next is Eva with “I’m living my dream, not above my means.” Bitch. We all know you still are. I’m still unclear exactly what your husband does and you’re buying a new house. Seven out of 12 bounced checks.
Cynthia says, “The only time I look back is to see how far I’ve come.” Did my mom write this without fully understanding the sexual innuendo? Wouldn’t have this been more appropriate for the season when Cynthia was buying Lake Bailey? Her begging her boyfriend to propose doesn’t feel like a “look how far I’ve come” moment. Three out of five CHILLs.
Porsha’s is, “This phoenix has risen. Bye ashes.” Brevity is the soul of shade. Ten out of ten lace fronts.
Kandi’s is, “Don’t check for me unless you’ve got a check for me.” ARE. YOU. SERIOUS. THIS. IS. PERFECTION. I require this on a sweatshirt in that curly cursive font that’s all over Etsy IMMEDIATELY. Twelve out of ten nipple clamps.
Finally is NeNe’s tagline (with no appearance by the actual NeNe): “I’m on a spiritual journey and I’m still traveling first class.” As someone who loves to fly first class and admires a good … well, it’s not exactly a pun, but it’s pretty good. I think because NeNe isn’t exactly associated with extravagant travel? There’s room for improvement but it’s pretty solid. Zero out of TWO EPISODES WITHOUT A NENE APPEARANCE!
Whew. Let’s get to it. It’s going to be positively impossible for me to be objective about this episode and the women’s struggles within. (Because I know you all come to me for my objectivity. It’s my best quality.) Why is it going to be impossible? Because I, like any other woman over the age of “an actual infant,” have had my life negatively affected by ain’t-shit men. There is only so much media that I can consume where I’m not constantly thinking, Wow, women sure are expected to deal with the fallout from the decisions of men who make the worst decisions at the worst possible time. I guess the only thing I can watch without thinking that is The Great British Baking Show if I completely dissociate and replace Paul Hollywood in my head with a stocky British snowman.
The real emotional thrust of this season appears to be watching Porsha pick herself up after Dennis “the Hot Dog King” betrayed her. What I didn’t realize before watching this episode is that Porsha didn’t even know what Dennis had done. Well, I’m sure she knew, but he hadn’t fully come clean with her. Plus, the girls are trying to sort out what’s real in the blogs, so they can know exactly how many rocks they should tell Dennis to kick. Most of the people in Porsha’s life seem to be telling her that one little extramarital affair can be resolved. They can patch it up if all he did was have sex with another woman while she was carrying his child. Only if the drugs and bestiality stuff are true would that be an issue. I mean … if any level of bestiality rumors were true, that would definitely be an issue, but that’s the level of transgression a dude’s gotta cross?
Porsha is committed to not depriving PJ of time with her father and is making PJ available for Dennis. Even going so far as starting a new text thread specifically for cursing him out so they can figure out baby logistics. Also. ALSO. DENNIS TOOK THE RING BACK. I’m sorry … WHAT? In what universe does he get the ring back? Porsha should have sold that thing and bought herself a houseboat because doesn’t that sound nice?
So what are the other women up to? Well, Kenya’s husband is just not around. He hops on FaceTime to tell her that he doesn’t like how Kenya styled the baby’s hair and that the dogs shouldn’t get too close to the baby and that Kenya shouldn’t be so competitive with the other babies at swim class. Kenya says that even though he has other children, he’s “forgotten” how to take care of baby Brooklyn and finds every opportunity to criticize Kenya. He makes her feel like she “can’t thrive.” She has to pick her battles when it comes to, y’know, talking to her husband about how he makes her feel. She asks when she’s going to see them and he answers with “We’ll see.”
Throw the whole husband away.
In a moment that passes the Bechdel test, Cynthia is talking to Noelle about her time in college and how Noelle, in Cynthia’s words, “is out there being fluid. Flowing.” Noelle resists labeling her sexuality and remains the coolest person on this show. She also reminds Cynthia that the only relationship she saw modeled for her was Cynthia and Peter and she’s not going to accept … any of that. Cynthia clearly has little to no idea how to talk to her daughter about her sexuality but is supportive and appropriately momish about it.
Kandi meets up with Marlo and discovers that for the last five months, Marlo has been taking care of her sister’s kids and has become their “munty” or “mom aunty.” Terrible word, truly awesome act. They also talk about how NeNe’s relationships with everyone are a little tense, but Gregg is cancer free so she’s ready for a comeback.
Porsha has Shamea over for “mommy cocktails.” What. Are. Those. Apparently, Dennis went with Porsha to one of PJ’s doctor’s appointments, suggested they buy some liquor and watch an entire Netflix series. So obviously, they banged. Porsha said it was because she’d passed the six-week mark and she could have sex again and she’s a human person. I love Porsha. She’s confused now because she doesn’t want Dennis to think this problem could be solved by sex. He’s suggested they go to therapy and Porsha is still on the fence.
Meanwhile, Kenya is shouting at Cynthia about Eva? For Eva accusing Kenya of having bad energy? That lady has bad energy. Eva says that she doesn’t trust Kenya’s energy because she doesn’t know Kenya, and I can’t argue with that. For some reason, Cynthia has been defending Eva over Kenya and defending Eva to Kenya’s face. This can only end terribly.
A couple days later, Porsha heads out to therapy in SWEATS and calls her sister, Lauren. She’s so nervous to sit down with Dennis and find the truth that she hasn’t prepared anything to say to him. Have you ever been to therapy without going over the outline of what you’re going to say? It’s chaos. You wind up talking about a moving episode of Law & Order: SVU instead of whatever your boyfriend said to you that week.
Thirty-five minutes later, Porsha leaves therapy and, my dear friends, she is wrecked. After she cries in the car, Lauren meets her at her house and tries to talk her through what just happened. Porsha says that there isn’t even a chance of reconciliation without Dennis being completely honest, but she found out that him being honest felt terrible. He had sex with someone while she was pregnant and she can’t stop replaying all their happy moments in their life, and wonders which of them have been tainted by his actions. All of them?
Lauren takes the tactic of, “Just find a way to forgive him,” with the subtext being, “I’m a single mother and it’s hard. It’s so hard.” She tries to say that people do stupid things, and Porsha says, “Nope. That shit was calculated.” And above all, it doesn’t matter if Dennis is human or did something stupid. He hurt her and betrayed her trust. Isn’t that enough to leave him?
Seeing the pain in both of their eyes in this moment is rough because Lauren is trying to give the advice maybe she wishes someone had given her, or that she had the power to carry out. “Forgive him. Have him around. It’s better than being alone.” Porsha is trying to imagine a world where she’s worth less than a man who is faithful and a family that’s secure. She tells Lauren something that I need on a throw pillow: “You freed yourself from letting a motherfucker treat you how you knew you didn’t deserve.”
It’s a little convoluted, but damn does it capture something potent.