The Real Housewives of Atlanta
So first things first: We need to address current events. Kenya Moore has, in a reaction that should surprise no one, received significant pushback from the indigenous community for sporting a Party City headdress on Halloween. Her initial rebuttal was that it was her heritage (a comment I saw coming a mile away) but she has since apologized, as has Bravo. Let’s break this down, shall we?
Kenya’s statement wasn’t out of left field — many Black Americans are raised to believe that they have some sort of perceived Native American heritage in their family, particularly if they have lustrous, long hair like Kenya, who has long made a point of flaunting her tresses, making into a business, and even going into a frenzy if someone so much as makes an allusion to any of her U-part wigs whose tracks are as visible as Porsha’s version of the Underground Railroad. While it’s not meant to be malicious, it does have harm because there actually are Afro-Indigenous communities, such as the Chickasaw Freedmen, who fight to be properly recognized within tribes, in ways such as receiving the same access to COVID-19 vaccines. Now I don’t think Kenya would have expressly known all this, but I hope in the future she can extend a little more grace to people’s knowledge gaps without being vindictive, and if she wants to be a warrior princess, stick to Xena! It would have even kept in line with this quasi-sapphic storyline that refuses to be put out to pasture.
Bravo’s apology, however, rings hollow to longtime franchise fans who have watched a series of racist incidents pass by without any accountability — one of the most egregious being Luann’s blackface on RHONY, which Andy asked her about on Watch What Happens Live but the network never apologized for, but even recently platforming QAnoners and Trump supporters on RHOC without addressing significant fan pushback. For a while now, the network and production has reaped the benefits of the sensation without owning their complicity in bigotry, engaging in the TV equivalent of white people thinking it’s “allyship” to report what their friends say about Black people when none of them are around. Newsflash: It isn’t if you keep hanging out with them. In any case, PBS isn’t paying me so let me quit my Skip Gates cosplay and get back into this week’s episode.
We are spending time in the Crescent City this week, and the girls hop on Drew’s as-promised private jet to New Orleans, head to the hotel, and are immediately greeted by a brass band and po’ boy sandwiches. All is well until the dreaded gladiator games that is the Bravo Cast Trip Room Assignments rears its ugly head, and Kenya decides she is above “degrading herself for a room” — which, listen, I can’t begrudge anyone for not wanting to shake their ass on an empty street (although, I mean, it’s New Orleans), but she literally put the cast through these same paces last season in Greece, so she really just means, “I don’t like you Drew and I’m dedicated to making everything you put together look unimpressive.” Somehow, her resulting smallest room assignment is a slight, even though she chose to opt out (and was going to have a separate room for her nanny anyway), so she goes out of her way to upgrade to a suite, an action that is both deliciously petty and also proves that many of these room shenanigans are intentionally constructed for maximum chaos (and I wish they would stop).
I must say, Drew is my kind of trip planner. A good mix of activities — the bike ride was cute enough that even Kenya couldn’t complain — but willing to go with the flow and roll with the punches when circumstances arise. No one likes someone who has a strict itinerary planned down to the minute that people can’t diverge from, because they make vacations unbearable, but no structure is just as frustrating. We even got to see what she would look like with a properly applied lacefront! Wins all around. I do have questions about that zydeco class, however. Zydeco music is very accordion- and washboard-heavy and the dancing is partnered; how, then, does it devolve into a shaking class without the Triggaman bounce beat? I am never one to judge folks for dropping down and getting their eagle on, inquiring minds would just like to know.
The class also serves as a backdrop for the inevitable confrontation between Marlo and Porsha on the state of their friendship since Kenya has reconciled with “her new bestie.” Porsha is wary about the circumstances of their reunion and Marlo is hurt, reminding her that she stood by Madame Social Justice Snatch when she briefly mended fences with Kenya despite her own misgivings. Marlo seems to have successfully staved off the pending explosion … until she makes the unforced error of resurrecting the corpse of Bolo, unsolicited, and responding to the angry barrage by capitulating to her abandonment issues and, bewilderingly, Black Lives Matter? Porsha ultimately acquiesces: “We are in this space, it’s a healing twerk center, and we done figured this shit out.” They dance, they laugh, they scream, they cry, and they hug it out. If only this lasted.
Unfortunately, the other attempts at conflict resolution don’t fare better. Porsha, Latoya, and Kenya continue their Devil’s threesome, with Porsha and Kenya debating over side chick status with Latoya, a competition I don’t quite understand because the prize is being attached to the Toya the Tasmanian Devil. Nevertheless, we find ourselves at dinner, where the women finally confront the Tito’s-size elephant in the room of Toya’s behavior and drinking in between fried gator and oyster bites. Toya expresses a lack of remorse for her behavior at Falynn’s house, at which point Drew chooses to interrogate her over her sobriety during this trip, revealing a separate private moment involving them, Drew’s driver, a church revival, and a commitment to fasting and sobriety that happened off camera. (At this point I’m unsure if I’m recapping the show or doing a Stefon bit.)
This scene can be taken one of two ways: shaming Latoya for her consumption of alcohol, or holding her accountable for her onscreen performance of apathy. If you are Kenya, who believes that Drew’s mere carbon footprint is an inconvenience, you select the former, and allow Latoya back into your good graces for a little while longer, apologizing on the girls’ behalf for the “bullying” she just endured, while she unironically continues on week three of the Porsha Pussy Report.
Next week, we get an appearance from bounce legend Big Freedia, and Hurricane Zeta makes landfall, which seems like an apt metaphor for Latoya’s presence in this group. Hopefully a natural disaster that left 2.1 million without power can reset the priorities for these women and focus on things more important than taking each other down for camera time, but considering the tenor of these upcoming scenes with Marlo *Freedia voice* you already knowwwww!!!!!
• I have never seen a seasoned performer resent dancing the way that our series OG Kandi does. Even our Queen of the Lambs Mariah Carey would attempt the four-counts, but if it does not involve food or sex this season, she truly cannot be bothered, and honestly, a mood.
• Kenya’s arc with the personal life she wants to present to us and what we are allowed to weigh in on has put us in an impossible position as viewers. She is not the first or the last housewife to have her children be blocked from on-screen viewing while custodial agreements are negotiated — Latoya is in a similar position, which she is quite aware of — but she is the first to continue to make her child an essential part of her storyline. We have now escalated to blurred-out shots of Brooklyn — which are about as comfortable to watch as scenes of Kandi’s dancing — just so that she can stick it to the rest of the cast, who offers to logistically help her at different points, proving why they don’t all bring their children on cast trips. We get it, Kenya you are a doting mother. Now give Brooklyn back to the nanny so that we can get back to work.
• Do Kandi and Cynthia even want to be here anymore? At this point this show feels like a promotional pit stop in between bookings for Mrs. Burruss-Tucker, and Cynthia, who to be fair is a newlywed, clearly could not care to be anywhere other than right besides her husband. Happy that both of them have found their bliss, but soon enough we might as well swap them out for paint cans so that we can watch them dry.
• Shout out to Porsha deciding that vegan rules don’t count in New Orleans. As someone who has stayed there (and would desperately like to return soon), I empathize with her resolve falling through immediately. Diet or not, I am getting me some Café Du Monde beignets, Dooky Chase, and Willie Mae’s.
• Every time I think we’re out of ways to point out that Marlo only entertains senior citizens with a nine-figure net worth, along comes an innocent po’ boy sandwich to hammer the metaphor home yet again.
• #TanyaWatch: four Episodes and counting. Things are looking bleak, but hope is everlasting.