“We’re all friends here …” [long pause] “… We wish we were all friends here … at the end of the day, what difference would it make if someone decided to fuck a stripper? ” – Kandi “Speak On It” Burruss
It might have taken six long episodes, a Halloween party gone awry, an abandoned snake tentacle, some booty-poppin’ potatoes, and a partridge in a pear tree, but at long last the cast of RHOA has finally confronted the most obvious question that has been burning since details began to leak about that ill-fated evening in Isle of Palms: Why are we still discussing this?
When you run down the range of reasons that the most vocal participants — namely, Marlo and Kenya — give for prolonging the events at hand ad nauseam, they get escalating-ly inconsistent and ludicrous, to the point that the dead horse simply screams “alright!” All would be well and good if it made for high drama, but it is neither entertaining nor believable anymore. Marlo works herself up into a frenzy about a friend triangle of her own creation, insisting that knowing the truth about where Bolo laid his infinitely heavy burdens that evening — you know, discreetly, on camera — would somehow prove one friend is worthier than the other, as opposed to being an obvious setup that Porsha would avoid. Watching Marlo then play a game of “Who’s on First” with Big Freedia while she tries to run down a hypothetical of the standoff at the dinner table in the front of the other girls is as subtle as Shaq riding a bike and about as comprehensible as Ryan Leslie’s “Gibberish” (coincidentally, in both scenarios, sex is the implicit subject matter at hand). As Kandi astutely pointed out earlier, “Y’all act like Porsha is y’all girlfriend or something,” and truly, the fixation with discussing O.P.P has crossed over from the invasive to the truly absurd. Big Freedia’s Greek chorus role couldn’t have resonated louder when the New Orleans bounce legend herself stares across the dinner table and announces, “I’m very lost.” Everyone claims to be embarrassed but, peculiarly, no one actually stops their behavior. In fact, Marlo storms out — twice, since she stomped in the wrong direction the first time — calling everyone out by their name along the way.
Kenya’s rationalizations for clinging to this storyline have previously ranged from her daughter’s presence in South Carolina to insisting that she would be dragged if it was the reverse, and most dominantly, “I am not going to be made a villain because I spoke the truth,” positioning herself as some sort of brave voice for the voiceless in the suppressed category of slut-shaming, in these oh-so-feminist times. Kenya plays the villain role quite well on this show — she hits the right level of camp and drama in most instances, and there is clearly very little that she is unwilling to do to make a storyline move forward — but it is these moments of blatant logical inconsistency where she falters. You can’t call people tramps, admit that you believed they would insult you in kind if you were in that room (and she’s probably right, to whatever extent that is), and then insist that you are just remarking on innocuous happenings that were never intended for the public without malicious intent. It takes a while, but Porsha eventually gives the interrogation of her sex life as a single woman by a co-worker the level of respect that it deserves, showing just how childish it is to feverishly report the ins and outs of a person’s actions behind a closed bedroom door at a table of adults. Kandi had expressed this to Kenya when she tried to bring up the topic to just her and Marlo, but it is painfully clear now: There is no value or need for Porsha to even speak on this.
This continued attack reveals no one at the table’s emotions more than Kenya. She mutters that the issue is that this situation is affecting other relationships, but everyone else who remained at the table post Marlo’s conflict and Big Freedia’s departure — Shamea, Cynthia, and Kandi — has been equally invested in dropping the story and moving on. Kandi has her acting gigs and her food, Cynthia has her marriage, Porsha was Snatching folks for Social Justice (although I hope she rethinks her fealty to Tamika Mallory), and they were all gearing up for Election Day, Kenya included! There were clearly other things Kenya could have occupied her time with that did not involve anyone with the last name Daly, and yet we continue to orbit around this same narrative with ceaseless temerity. My own mother would tell her she needs to learn to let go of a grudge, and I still get berated about $200 retainers I never wore in middle school. The questions “why on earth does anyone care” or “why are we still discussing this” are addressed with a royal “we,” but if everyone is asking the same thing, who is the “we” being referenced? It’s a clever sleight-of-hand that Kenya continuously plays as she abruptly declares an end to all discussion of Porsha’s affairs under the pretense of no longer being dragged into her rabbit hole, a pun which she surprisingly chose not to make and so I am choosing to instead (although I may have cribbed it from the name of a bar in the Lower East Side, I’m unsure).
Despite eventually reaching a détente, Porsha ultimately absconds under cover of night — which I understand because I would rather be anywhere else than trapped in a hotel talking about my vagina for yet another night during a vacation with my co-workers, that sounds like the plot of a Judy Blume book book from hell — leaving Shamea behind to film more “friend of” scenes at the Bravo daily contract rate, as a hurricane makes its way through Louisiana and the hotel loses electricity.
We find ourselves back in Atlanta at the opening for Kandi and Todd’s new restaurant venture Blaze, which for some reason they have emblazoned “Kandi & Todd presents” on the storefront as if it is a theater revue. I am unclear what restaurant tasting invitation would have people wearing cocktail dresses, jean jackets, blouses, and a suit jacket to the same event, but I also remember what l considered to be semiformal in 2009, so maybe some of them are going for the cringe vintage look here. Either way, next week Marlo is back in the hot seat and getting confronted about some alleged stories about her from the operating table — and I will be Googling “liposuction holes” ad nauseam in preparation — while Drew and Latoya finally open up further about their big church clash. See you then!
• I sincerely hope that embedded in all of that drama was a backdoor pilot for Cookin’ With Big Freedia, because I deserve some proper booty-bouncin’ potatoes in my life, but also I selfishly would like to find a new cooking community that has a lower likelihood of falling apart due to racism and politics.
• There are few things more attractive-sounding a proper New Orleans accent. There are few things less attractive-sounding than a mangled New Orleans accent. I wasn’t going to comment on this, but Cynthia has attempted a NOLA inflection for two episodes in a row and it sounds like that accent was chewed up by an alligator.
• Marlo drunkenly insulting the women as she was taking their pictures for the sponsored Instagram post was so hysterically out-of-pocket for a situation she placed herself in. As Porsha said to Cynthia, “These girls so damn painful after they hurt somebody else I can’t even stand it!” It reads as yet another season of a woman hitching her ride to the wrong antagonistic horse and not realizing it until entirely too late.
• Kandi being confounded by the ingredients that go into a classic cocktail has me concerned about the bar situation at the OLG franchise and her new Blaze venture, but maybe she’s very hands-off with the menu.
• Kenya saying that her trip beats Drew’s because at least in South Carolina the women had fun — the very fun that she refuses to escape this cloud of disgust about and was in fact coordinated by someone else — is some of the most impressive logical gymnastics I’ve seen in a long time, and I have several Gemini friends and a Leo ex.