The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Call up your therapist, because we’ve got inter-generational family trauma to unpack! While this episode mostly served as a launchpad for the season’s obligatory Girls Trip, we delved into some legitimately complicated and fraught territory about fathers and families. But before we dive headfirst into the daddy drama, we dive into Kenya Moore (Daly) working on her natural hair-care line at brunch with a marketing VP named Germain (a perfect name for a marketing VP) while wearing one of those clear, plastic face shields that give us all anxiety because they don’t properly cover your mouth. Bottomless brunch and bottomless masks: both perfectly designed to make you sick!
Meanwhile, Cynthia is back to planning her dream COVID wedding, and she’s run into a little bit of a snafu. Randomly, when you ask people to attend your wedding, they generally say yes. Cynthia apparently didn’t know this and is surprised at the number of people who have RSVP’d yes to her gorgeous, plantation-adjacent COVID wedding. “Even though Mike and I sent out 250 invites to our wedding, due to COVID we didn’t expect 250 people to come,” Cynthia says, somewhat shaming her wedding guests for accepting her invitation. Now how in the hell does that make a lick of sense??? Cynthia, did you not see Field of Dreams? Babe … you built it … so they’re coming. I know my boy Kevin Costner did NOT build that baseball diamond out of popsicle sticks and tinfoil (I’ve never seen the movie) for you to blame your guests for RSVPing yes to YOUR invitation.
Mike Hill tries to feign surprise that 167 guests have agreed to attend their wedding, and tries to bump that number up to 168 by asking Cynthia if they can invite his “boy” Dennis the Hot Dog King, even though the Hot Dog King and Porsha are currently on the outs. Cynthia pretends to care about that request for 18 seconds before launching into the far more pressing issue of whether or not she should invite her semi-estranged father to the ceremony. In the ten years since Cynthia’s father walked her down the aisle, their relationship has deteriorated due to Kenya Moore’s domestic violence PSA from 2018. It’s not lost on me that even when Kenya is doing something legitimately positive, she leaves drama in her wake. Basically, Cynthia’s mother, Barbara, participated in the PSA, sharing that Mr. Bailey would get “insanely jealous” and that once they had an altercation which required Barbara to “grab a knife.” Cynthia says the PSA caused “a huge rift” in her relationship with her dad and that while she hasn’t seen him in a couple years, she still wants him at the wedding because “he’s not going to be here forever.” She wants to give her father the option of coming to the wedding, but is obviously worried about how her mother will react. Heavy stuff.
We head on over to Drew’s house — oh, I’m sorry, you look confused. Drew Sidora. Still not ringing any bells? She’s the new housewife with a disappearing husband and, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances that are beyond her control, was not in the last episode and is basically never around. Well, now Drew’s back, and she’s got a new blonde wig (take THAT, LaToya), and she’s packing boxes in a full beat and a fun top. If there’s any silver lining to be found in the unexpected passing of Ralph’s father, it’s that Drew and Ralph seem to have a newfound appreciation and respect for each other. Right when Ralph is about to open up about losing his father before they were able to get to a good place, the kids start jumping on the bed upstairs and the conversation is effectively shut down. It’s okay to be vulnerable, Ralph! We actually love to see it. We also love to see Ralph apologize for the “agony he caused” as he and Drew release balloons on their porch in memory of Papa Pittman. While it is definitely bad for the environment to release balloons into the air (umm sorry, birds), the sentiment is nice.
Next we see Kandi, who says the best thing about the pandemic is that she gets to spend more time with Ace and Blaze as she’s sitting in hair and makeup with Ace and Blaze nowhere insight. Look, she’s still working, she’s just working from home. This week she’s working on a food drive via her charity Kandi Cares, which is giving out free groceries to single-parent families affected by the pandemic. We get an update regarding the missing child-support situation from Riley’s dad, Block, who apparently used to have a few millions (!) and still owes Kandi a small fortune in unpaid child support. Obviously, Kandi doesn’t need it (she rich, rich), but Riley has recently moved to NYC and realizes it’s expensive AF and she wants that check. We also learn that Kandi retains the legal services of former housewife Eva Marcille’s husband Michael Sterling, and that these days Eva “be cooking,” and I realize I don’t miss Eva’s presence on the show in any way whatsoever. Anyway, Kandi’s hair and makeup team (who are all appropriately masked, btw) point out the fact that Kandi is rich and the judge may very well not side with her (“You have enough”), but Kandi wants what she’s owed. “If you had your money and you did not give it to your child, now that’s where you went wrong,” Kandi says. No lies detected.
Cynthia and Porsha get dinner to discuss whether or not the Hot Dog King should come to the wedding, and due to a waitress with incredible comedic timing, it takes the whole meal for Cynthia to pop the question. Porsha clearly and definitively tells Cynthia not to invite the Hot Dog King, going so far as to ask Cynthia to use her “coochie credits” to ensure that the Hot Dog King will not be present. This is probably not what Cynthia wanted to hear given Mike and Dennis’s friendship, but the (former) Hot Dog Queen has spoken. We then get a little scene with Cynthia on the phone with her daughter Noelle, who is gorgeous and sexually fluid and has moved to L.A. to join the family business by becoming an influencer, which is the 2021 equivalent of being a runway model in the ‘90s. Did anyone else find how Cynthia said the word “influencer” weird? Like, she pronounced it in-FLU-en-cer instead of IN-flu-en-cer? No? Just me? Cool.
It’s time to get to giving! The ladies all come together to volunteer at the Kandi Cares drive-through food drive, and it’s honestly wonderful to see them all coming together to help out the community. Giving free groceries to 549 families is an incredible feat and shows that Kandi really does, in fact, care. Canadian Tanya shows up first (of course), fulfilling my prophecy that she is destined to always be the first to show up to any event whether she wants to or not. Porsha shows up on time and is sunny and bright even though her daughter PJ (that’s Pilar Jhena, not Porsha Junior, btw) is sick. Not only did Porsha show up on time, but she also donated $5,000 to Kandi Cares, which the producers smartly dropped before Kenya arrived and accused Porsha of only being there for the “photo opp” of it all. Kenya, I don’t know how many times to tell you, but you clowning on Porsha and her activism just makes you look like the clown. Girl, you played yourself. Kenya keeps playing herself by criticizing Porsha for not wanting the Hot Dog King to come to Cynthia’s wedding. Kenya, those in glass houses (and broken marriages) should not throw stones.
During their lunch break, the ladies convene at a picnic table where Cynthia quickly FaceTimes Drew, who isn’t there because she has to quarantine, missing another crucial opportunity to film with the girls. After Marlo shrewdly donates $5,000 to KandiCares on camera (clearly she learned a thing or two at the Garcelle Beauvais School of How to Give to Charity), Kenya reveals she’s been chosen by producers to host this year’s girls trip, which is ironic considering the fact Kenya just made Kandi pretend-host Cynthia’s surprise engagement party because the girls hate her so much. The ladies begin crowdsourcing ideas of places to go (North or South Carolina) and ways to get there (Falynn’s private plane), and I’m so starved for any semblance of collective group drama this season that I momentarily forget about the novel coronavirus and am genuinely excited for the trip. But then I remember and make the following face:
We end the episode with Cynthia and Noelle driving to Barbara’s house to ask her permission to invite Mr. Bailey to the wedding. In the car on the way, Noelle takes approximately 1,000 selfies, and it dawns on me that she’s like bizarro-world Olivia Jade. Proud of the Cynthia for not illegally buying Noelle’s way into college. Once we get to Barbara’s house, we find that Mal, dressed in a black jumpsuit and looking like a bank robber, has eaten most of the meal Barbara cooked for dinner (which looked delicious), because Cynthia and Noelle were late. Mal may not have actually robbed a bank, but she certainly robbed Cynthia of some pork chops, and I don’t fault her for that.
Now, I don’t think it’s wrong for Cynthia to want her father to be at her wedding, but I do think it’s naive of her to think that her father’s presence at the wedding wouldn’t upset her mother. When Barbara says, “I’ll just put my mask over my eyes” re: the attendance of her ex-husband, she effectively communicates that she’d be upset if her ex-husband attended the event. I have to be honest: Barbara reminds me of my grandma and all of her friends, so I love her unconditionally and am biased to be on her side no matter what. Barbara is upset that Cynthia posted an Instagram about her father, with the caption: “Thank you for bringing me into this world & giving me so many wonderful childhood memories.” Barbara clearly doesn’t have wonderful memories of Mr. Bailey, who she divorced when Cynthia was four, and doesn’t understand why Cynthia would either. She was effectively a single parent to Cynthia and Mal, and doesn’t understand why Cynthia’s father would get special treatment when he wasn’t really present in Cynthia’s childhood. “I didn’t say I hate him,” Barbara says of Mr. Bailey. “I just don’t like the way he treated me when I was younger trying to get child support and everything for you all.”
Noelle, for what it’s worth, is completely on Team Barbara. She agrees that Cynthia’s father has been mostly absent (Noelle’s only met him once in her life) while Cynthia’s mom has been constant, so it’s really a no brainer for her. “She always puts every single one of us first,” Noelle says, “so why not put her first this one time.” While 98% of Cynthia’s wedding woes I have no sympathy for, this issue is the one exception. Being a child of divorce is tough at any age, and Cynthia is truly between a rock and a hard place on this one. Sigh, Alexa, please play “Daughters” by John Mayer. Thank goodness there was an adorable little fluffy dog sleeping on the floor to help us through this scene. And thank goodness that in the coming weeks we’re getting all the ladies under one roof, so the games can really begin.