The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Brrr, it’s cold in here. There must be some Kenya in the atmosphere. We’ve entered a winter wonderland to celebrate #CHILL brought to you by the depraved mind of Kenya Summer Moore (Yes, Summer is Kenya’s real middle name. How ironic!). We finally get all* the ladies in one room (cue me screaming into the void in COVID), and it’s a reminder that when they’re together, they’re definitely more than the sum of their parts. *Okay, Drew doesn’t go to Cynthia’s engagement party because she’s presumably still out of town attending to the passing of Ralph’s father, and while it’s certainly a shame she isn’t there, her presence is not really missed.
But before we get to the main event, we’ve gotta find a way to fill the first third of the episode, so the producers tell Cynthia to go lingerie shopping with KenToya. Our favorite new relationship, KenToya is stronger than ever, with Kenya going so far as to send LaToya a tasteful nude of her derrière. It must be said: Miss Kenya Moore’s got cakes galore! Seriously, I’m happy that Kenya is taking tasteful nudes and loving herself because she’s been struggling with her body image all season. She’s beautiful and should share it with the world! What’s not beautiful is Kenya’s reaction to getting disinvited from Porsha’s surprise party. It’s quite clear that she isn’t over the slight when discussing the matter with Cynthia, but Kenya claims she’s taking the high road. Kenya Moore saying “When they go low, I go high” is kind of like me saying, “I’ve actually been reading a lot during the pandemic” — it simply isn’t true. Speaking of Michelle Obama, Cynthia is under the impression that the all-white party is a political event with Joe Biden, which couldn’t be a worse lie. Methinks she’s going to be quite disappointed when she arrives at the party, the president-elect isn’t there, and it’s just Kenya standing under a banner that says “I’m sorry I (almost) ruined your engagement.”
Elsewhere, pre-party, Porsha is taking a trip down memory lane because apparently she’s writing a book, The Pursuit of Porsha (great title), that’s set to hit Hudson News stands everywhere in 2021. As such, we are treated to an emotional conversation with Miss Diane and “Lauren Porsha’s Sister 2019” as Porsha reminisces about her past and her relationship with her father, the late Hosea Williams II. While this scene could definitely be classified as “filler,” Porsha’s ability to effortlessly careen from dramatic emotional moments to full-fledged physical comedy is unmatched in the Housewives universe and makes it genuinely worth watching. One moment we’re laughing along as Porsha raises her leg an inch for every reason why the Hot Dog King was a perfect baby daddy candidate (on paper), and the next we’re welling up watching Porsha confront the trauma of growing up as a child of divorce without her father in the house. I also had no idea Lauren and Porsha were half-siblings, which is a testament to their closeness. But Black people know that we don’t really do half-siblings. We’re kind of like Olive Garden: Once you’re here, you’re family. Anyway, Porsha Williams has the range, and even though I famously have not read enough during the panorama, I will be contacting my local Black-owned bookshop and purchasing The Pursuit of Porsha.
At long last, we’ve arrived at Kenya’s Surprise Pandemic Engagement Party for #CHILL With Your Host Kandi Burruss. When we arrive at the winter wonderland all-white venue filled with ice sculptures despite it being mid-summer, we’re treated to an obligatory scene where Monet the party planner ensures Kenya that “everyone has tested negative,” and as such the event is “COVID safe,” so no one needs to wear any face coverings. Ummmm?!?!? I simply don’t have the emotional bandwidth to explain all the reasons why “everyone tested negative” simply doesn’t justify holding an indoor event during a global panDemi Lovato, so I’ll search for any sort of silver lining and say at least they were able to do away with the fallacy of pretending like those clear open face shields were doing literally anything for one night? IDK, shit’s fucked up man. “I didn’t have an engagement party. Don’t cry for me Argentina,” says Kenya Eva Perón, revealing that maybe this whole party is a little more about Kenya than it is about Cynthia, if you can believe it.
The whole episode, Kenya was extremely vocal about how important it is that all the guests arrive before Cynthia gets there, which gave me the sneaking suspicion that many of the guests would not arrive before Cynthia got there. And, spoiler alert, that’s precisely what happened! Porsha FaceTimes Kandi fully bald, saying her wig is not ready and she’s still an hour and 15 minutes away from the venue. Canadian Tanya is actually the first to arrive and thinks that she’s fashionably late when in fact she is painfully early, which kind of feels like the story of her entire life. The mental gymnastics it takes to give coronavirus air hugs as you take off your mask at an indoor dinner event where you are about to be seated shoulder-to-shoulder with 20 other people is truly Simone Biles-level impressive to me, but I digress. Kandi, a visibly unhappy Todd, and Joi (?) also make it in time for the festivities. The timing issue would not be a big deal, except Poor Cynthia is being extra prompt because she wants to get a selfie with Ol’ Joe. Yet another reason why the Joe Biden coverup was a completely avoidable misstep. But some of that is on Cynthia for believing the lie in the first place, especially after her and Mike find out that Biden is literally in Michigan mere moments before they leave for the party. Make it make sense Cynthia!
Here are my notes from when Cynthia and Mike Hill arrive at the surprise engagement party where there are only five (5) people present: Omg this is the worst surprise in the world. Cynthia looks upset and confused. God this is painful. So cringe. Why didn’t production keep #CHILL from going in! Hahaha this is an unmitigated disaster. Cynthia looks like she’s in a bad dream, like she’s sleepwalking. Every single event that is associated with Cynthia’s wedding is cursed in some way. So, obviously the surprise went off without a hitch! I will hand it to Cynthia and Mike for seeming genuinely surprised and excited once they realized that the party was for them. However, Cynthia did not cry upon entry, so per Kenya’s metric of whether or not the party was a success, she failed. Sorry, I didn’t make the rules — Kenya did.
As we wait for 75 percent of the guests to arrive, Cynthia asks Kenya and then Kandi to be bridesmaids in her wedding. It’s sweet, even though the idea of having bridesmaids at your third wedding (yes, I’m counting Cynthia and Peter’s vow renewal) does give me pause, panDemi Moore or not. Kenya cries, of course, while Kandi seems genuinely relieved when Cynthia says she wasn’t planning on having bridesmaids and then makes this face when Cynthia pivots and asks her to be in the wedding:
Ultimately, Kandi says yes because her and Cynthia are old friends, and there’s never been a gig that Kandi has turned down. She proves this by taking the mic and singing what I assume is an improvised song dedicated to #CHILL. Now, Kandi is not the best vocalist in the world, but goddamn it can she write a song, and no one can say otherwise. “No Scrubs.” “Shape of You.” “Don’t Be Tardy for the Party.” Wall-to-wall bangers. Exactly 24 minutes and ten seconds after the surprise, Marlo arrives, uttering this absolutely iconic line under her breath: “Why the hell are we all the way in the damn boonies for a little snowman?” I don’t have a good answer for you, Marlo. Next to arrive is Porsha, who is precisely 52 minutes and eight seconds late and loudly enters the venue smack dab in the middle of Kenya’s emotional speech about “her sister” Cynthia, completely ruining the moment. Leave it to Porsha to pull focus with nothing but a little small talk. A clearly drunk Kenya is still on a high after getting asked to be in Cynthia’s wedding and expresses this by singing her own improvised song for #CHILL. The lyrics are as follows: “Boo boo boo bah / bah bah bah boo / Yes yes yes yes / Chic chill chill chill / We love you … chill chill chill chill.” Yeah … Kandi Burruss she is not.
Not one to be left out, Porsha grabs the mic and sings a little duet with Kandi. Honestly, the musical stylings of Porsha Williams are broad and over-the-top and not very good, but I love them with all my heart. Also, not for nothing, Porsha is belting! She’s fully in the mask. Yes, it’s a little nasal, but she’s got a nice ping-y quality, and with some lessons I bet we could have have her on as Roxie in Chicago in three months. Look, I don’t think Erika Jayne is gonna be asked to reprise her role anytime soon. Also, there was a blink-and-you-missed-it moment where Marlo was slow dancing with a man a full foot shorter than her. Who was that tiny man dancing with Marlo? Huge Baker’s Wife/Baker energy in Into the Woods if you ask me. Anyway, I want a Dreamgirls revival starring Kenya as Deena, Porsha as Lorrell, and Kandi as Effie White. Wake up, Broadway!
Finally, we get to the dinner portion of the evening, where Porsha reveals that going vegan has turned her into a certified freak, seven days a week. Save a cow, ride a cowboy, Porsha. The last guest to arrive is Kenya’s better half, LaToya, clocking in at a stunning one hour, 22 minutes, and 39 seconds after Cynthia arrived. I’ve gotta say, showing up 90 minutes late to a surprise party for a group that you are on the fringe of is … a bold move, and I say this as someone who once showed up to a first date two hours late. The guy didn’t ask me out on a second date, randomly. But even though LaToya is late, she does bring the goods re: Kenya’s tasteful nude and shows it to the whole table without Kenya’s consent, but that’s okay because Kenya seems to enjoy the attention. The girls were not as big of a fan of the pic as LaToya, and honestly, I didn’t appreciate the way they shamed Kenya for the photo in their confessionals. Let Kenya be thirsty on main! Marlo does use the photo to expertly throw shade at Kenya, saying “You want to get your butt done as well” to Kenya as she talks about her fitness journey. I mean, it doesn’t get any better than that folks. Before Kenya has a chance to really pop off, Kandi chimes in and tries to keep the peace. “Trying to talk over these girls is like being Kamala Harris at the VP debate,” Kandi says in her confessional. Somebody send Kandi the information for how to send in a packet for Saturday Night Live ASAP.
As Todd literally watches a basketball game on his phone at the dinner table, Kenya says she would sleep with Kandi, LaToya, and Cynthia (duh) and then tries to pick a fight with Porsha regarding Lauren Porsha’s Sister 2019’s decision to disinvite Kenya. “I really don’t understand Kenya,” Porsha says in her confessional, completely bewildered. Girl, neither do we, and that’s why she’s such good TV. Ultimately, the drama remains on a simmer, and Cynthia and Mike seem to have a pretty wonderful evening despite being legitimately disappointed that Joe Biden didn’t show. Better luck next time #CHILL.
Did we need a countdown for Riley leaving for college? Probably not. But did I get emotional when Ace started crying when she left? Absolutely. We’ve really seen Riley grow up over the last 12 seasons, her send-off montage was appropriately emotional and fitting, and I will miss her dry sense of humor and wry intelligence. She’s got a great head on her shoulders, and that’s in large part due to the wonderful job Kandi did raising Riley primarily as a single parent. Good luck to Riley at NYU, and Godspeed to whoever drove that very precariously situated U-Haul into lower Manhattan.