The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Throw on your sequined face shield, because there’s one day until Cynthia’s Pandemmy Weddy! Thirteen episodes into the season and I am still bowled over by the absolute depravity, shamelessness, and gumption of Cynthia to throw a 250+ person wedding in the middle of a global pandemic and put it on national television. What started out as righteous anger for me has circled around to something more akin to a cold, bitter respect. Despite the humongous obstacles in her way and the large red flags waving in her face, Cynthia remained undeterred and ultimately had her dream wedding on her dream date — pandemic be damned! That takes a level of moxie and self-possession that I simply don’t have. Cue the Lucille Bluth “good for her” meme.
I found it truly hilarious that Cynthia’s biggest concern one day out from her big day is not her guests potentially contracting and spreading a life-threatening disease, but rather the weather. “My biggest concern has been going back and forth about the weather,” she says while getting a massage. Worrying about rain on your pandemic wedding day is kind of like getting dropped into a den of hungry lions while wearing Lady Gaga’s meat dress and fretting over whether your shoes match your outfit. I think there are bigger, more pressing issues for Cynthia than whether her wedding photos will be slightly overcast. Porsha tells Lauren that she’s nervous about having to see The Hot Dog King at Cynthia’s Wedding, so she intends on pulling a Khloe’s Revenge Body and being the best dressed at the wedding. Drew, rocking a new platinum bob wig, is in her new house with Ralph and the kids playing happy family. I don’t know who told Ralph that he needed to be on his best behavior for the rest of the season after his Tampa indiscretion, but he seems to have taken the note.
And then the 24-hour countdown to Cynthia’s wedding begins with a rehearsal dinner at Chateau Bailey. Through gritted teeth, Cynthia gives a speech to her guests explaining that hurricane Delta would not let them be great and that’s why they are
trapped in a COVID-19 incubation hotbed forced to eat pizza inside Chateau Bailey. Alexa, please play Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic.” All of Cynthia’s closest loved ones are indoors at Cynthia’s house breaking literally every CDC guideline in the book and wearing those plastic face masks created by the devil himself. Mal says she needs to talk to Cynthia again privately, and the worst part of me secretly hopes that she’s gonna play hide-and-seek with Cynthia’s marriage license like she did at Cynthia’s last wedding.
RING RING RING, we’ve got a former housewife alert! America’s Last Ex-Housewife Eva Marseilles shows up at Cynthia’s rehearsal dinner looking great and wearing a fashionable mask, which is rendered pointless because she kisses and hugs Mike Hill when she arrives. Anyway, it’s sweet that Cynthia made Eva a bridesmaid. They’ve come a long way from the days when Eva was constantly shading Cynthia for being old and a worse model than her. Love to see models coming together because their lives are famously very hard. “Everything that could go wrong has pretty much gone wrong in the past week” Cynthia says, which sounds hyperbolic but is sort of an understatement.
Apparently, Wendy Williams has been slamming Cynthia’s decision to hold her dream Pandemmy Weddy and she’s had enough of it. In confessional, Cynthia says her and Mike have done everything in their power to make their wedding as safe as possible, providing sanitizer, temperature checks, and “encouraging” everyone to get COVID-19 testing before the event. It’s not the flex she thinks it is and the whole thing has big “private island everyone tested” vibes, but still a small part of me feels bad for Cynthia, who is clearly stressed and upset over the negative press she’s receiving. But Kenya is right when she says in confessional that no one’s forcing Cynthia to have this wedding and she’s gonna have to be prepared for people to talk about it and to suffer the consequences. In short, if you build it they will come (for you).
On the porch outside the rehearsal dinner, Kenya seems intent on talking about Bolo Court even though the Cynthia and Kandi are over it. Girl, that was like two episodes ago, it’s time to move on. Kenya is running her mouth to Eva about what went down at the bachelorette party, spreading rumors about Tanya and Porsha kissing and maybe implicating Shamea as well. A clearly annoyed Kandi sets the record straight and says that Shamea was not involved in any Bolo activity and gives a demure answer about respecting people’s right to have fun. “That’s their business. Leave them alone,” Kandi says in confessional, and I realize in that moment I would vote for Kandi in an election on the strength of that political slogan. Leave Them Alone 2024. Mal mentions that she felt left out of the fun and I immediately feel bad that they didn’t invite her. Mal loves shenanigans and mischief (see: her hiding Cynthia’s first marriage license)!
While the aunties are at the rehearsal dinner, Shamea throws a party for all the nieces. Shamea even has a banner made for the event, “A Night in Niece,” which is a reference to both nieces (the daughter of your sibling) and also Nice (a city in France but spelled incorrectly), which automatically makes it the funniest thing I’ve ever seen until I see Porsha trying to speak French in confessional. “Oui Oui Niecees” she says. Make Shamea head writer on SNL and let Porsha host every episode. Marlo gets the niece party invite even though we all know she’s really a cool auntie, but that’s okay. Porsha and Drew arrive and everyone puts on matching customized T-shirts with their South Carolina alter egos embossed on them and that’s when I realize that I love this party so much because it feels like a slumber party. They keep up that sleepover energy by gossiping about Cynthia’s Pandemmy Weddy. Apparently Marlo and Kenya used the same hashtag #itwasntme to defend themselves against claims that they leaked the Bolo news to the press. Porsha thinks Kenya is using Marlo while Marlo says Porsha can’t regulate who she is friends with. Both of them are ultimately correct.
Marlo claims that the similar hashtags are just a coincidence and that she still has Kenya blocked on all her socials. Well, so much for that reconciliation in South Carolina, I guess. LaToya arrives and takes off her shirt in front of the ladies (they are very comfortable with each other) revealing some nude boob tape that makes it looks like she doesn’t have nipples. The nieces begin niecing. They play truth or dare Jenga, which reveals that Toya would smash Drew and gets Marlo to run around Shamea’s basement topless. I’ve gotta say, her boobs look amazing and she definitely still has some niece energy left in her. Congrats to the whole team. Speaking of body parts, Toya does an incredibly accurate impression of Porsha walking. We’re all having fun until Toya decides to bring up Bolo Court and the Kenya of it all. Sigh, even when she’s not present, Kenya finds a way to ruin a party. LaToya says that she thinks Kenya leaked the story, but Porsha accuses Toya of leaking the story. “What you’re not gonna do is come with some weird energy because you’re being two people,” she says to Toya. Latoya tries to change the subject when the girls give her more heat, but they won’t let her they are holding her feet to the fire.
LaToya says she doesn’t care who may or may not have bopped Bolo, but Drew says no, Ellen that’s not true and brings up one comment LaToya made at dinner two weeks prior shaming Drew for what she did with Bolo. Jeez Louise, these women truly remember everything. I don’t remember what I had for lunch today, but these women remember throwaway comments made at dinners from weeks ago. Their minds. Toya doubles down on the “honoring marriage” fight which is dumb because 1) everyone’s marriage is different and 2) what does that even mean? Drew goes back to throwing LaToya’s separation from her husband in her face, saying that LaToya’s husband is trying to “cancel her ass,” which is the funniest euphemism for a divorce I’ve ever heard. Drew also says she has “a perfect marriage, a perfect hairline bitch, and three perfect children,” and I can say with confidence that at least one of those things is not true. Marlo, sensing a fight brewing, runs around the room to the other side to get a better view of the drama, like so:
It’s a little sad because Drew and Toya were getting along at the beginning of the evening, yet once again they are at each other’s throats. I will say, Drew is a good fighter and when she’s pissed the Chicago really does jump out. “Play with your makeup dress up on YouTube but do not play with me,” she says in confessional. Wow, Drew really grew a backbone over the course of her first season, and all it took was her husband to disappear for three days to make that happen. I think she has officially earned another ride (read: season) on the crazy carousel that is RHOA. Porsha calms everyone down and lets Toya take the floor and explain herself. Toya shares that Kenya is having issues with Marc re: divorce and alimony which was an unwise decision on her part. As Porsha eloquently stated in confessional, “she better be glad I’m a good bitch honey cuz I don’t go around telling people stuff but ooh lord she sure gave me the ammo.” Yes, niece!
Finally, it’s the day of the show, y’all! And by show I do mean Cynthia’s Pandemmy Weddy! Cynthia is getting ready at Chateau Bailey and got some Playboy bunny ears for her wedding night that she shows off to her mom, Barbara, before realizing what she’s doing. Cynthia’s mom seems less than thrilled about the whole occasion. Honestly, Cynthia seems less than thrilled about the whole occasion. Come to think of it, only Mike seems genuinely happy right now. Barbara says you done everything and “got into it with me” regarding whether or not Cynthia should invite her dad to the wedding. Cynthia ultimately did invite her dad to the wedding, but it turns out he didn’t feel comfortable going anywhere cuz COVID. Gotta say, COVID was a great excuse to get out of things you already didn’t want to do. But, hey, at least Cynthia and her mom are good. “I’ll always treat you like you’re 3 years old” Barbara says, before giving Cynthia great marriage advice. “If you gotta cuss somebody out, just make up the next day.” Words to live by.
Real ones know that Bravo refused to film Cynthia’s Pandemmy Weddy due to safety concerns. So Cynthia did what any sensible person would do and hired her own production crew to film her wedding. And you know what? I thank her for that. If it is gonna go down then I want to see it. And the footage is actually pretty good! It definitely lacks the Bravo sheen, but it gets the job done. The first thing Cynthia’s home footage captures is a FaceTime from Drew. Drew was supposed to sing at the wedding but has basically lost her voice, which definitely sounds raggedy AF over the phone. I’m no college a cappella music director, but did Drew maybe lose her voice because she was drinking and screaming at LaToya the night before the wedding? In any case, it’s too bad that Drew can’t sing at the wedding, but maybe Cynthia can fly RHOP’s Candiace Dillard in for an encore performance of “I See You (Remix).”
Despite that minor setback, Cynthia’s mood is starting to improve. Her jeweled wedding dress looks gorgeous, and ultimately she really does love Mike and is excited to marry him. We flash back to Cynthia’s doomed first marriage to Peter and the difference in energy is palpable. “I just like everything about him,” Cynthia says. “I like his lips. I like the way his skin smells. I even like the little spot at the top of his head where his hair is receding.” If that’s not love, what is? Okay, let’s do a rundown of some of the famous people and Bravolebrities Cynthia had at her wedding:
Shereé Whitfield, wearing a black mask but no joggers
Is it crazy that part of me is so sad that NeNe wasn’t present and that their friendship has completely disintegrated? Anyway, the wedding is gorgeous and everyone looks amazing. I honestly love weddings and I love Black people and I love Black weddings, so pandemic aside I really did love this event. Cynthia and Mike wrote their own vows, and I must say I was kind of nervous Cynthia was going to throw in a Hamilton “not throwing away my shot” reference after talking about what a great shot she had with Mike at finding true happiness. “Long story short I love you, so… you know what it is,” she said at the end of her vows. Hey, Cynthia never claimed to be a poet. They almost jump the gun on the kiss because they’re so excited. It’s all lovely, but didn’t feel official until Bravo changed Mike’s chyron from “Cynthia’s fiancé” to “Cynthia’s husband.” That’s when you know it’s real. Over footage of guests laughing and dancing at a wedding that looked really fun and normal except a lot of people were wearing masks and face shields, Eva Marseilles and a (gay) unidentified wedding guest gossip about Bolo and the bachelorette party. God, I can’t wait until I can be a messy gay at a wedding again this summer.
Instead of ending on the joy of matrimony, the episode ends with the pain of breaking up. Porsha and The Hot Dog King get dinner after Cynthia’s wedding to hash some things out. It seems the Hot Dog King went on socials and declared that he was “Single ASFK” (read: single as fuck) right after the Bolo news hit the blogs, which makes it look like Porsha wasn’t single when the Bolo stuff went down. The issue is that Porsha has been broken up with Dennis and he, obviously, wants her back and won’t accept the fact that she’s moved on. Dennis has what I can only describe as “Future meme” energy and he simply won’t take no for an answer. I had no idea that “yack” was was short for “cognac” until he ordered their drinks, so I do thank Dennis for that kernel of wisdom, but beyond that I really don’t see what romantic purpose he serves in Porsha’s life. In a hushed argument, Porsha asks Dennis straight up, “is you fucking” and Dennis says “nah” with a smirk that translates to “yes, but I’m not gonna tell you about it.” Dennis also seems to suffer from amnesia and says that he doesn’t even remember why he and Porsha broke up. Hmm, perhaps it was because you cheated on her, Hot Dog King?
Porsha clearly wants out of the relationship and Dennis is holding on for dear life. She starts crying as she assures Dennis that she would never let their issues keep him from seeing their daughter, PJ. She then goes on to say the most powerful statement I’ve ever heard uttered on a Housewives franchise: “I’m not a bitch, I just have to act this way sometimes to protect myself.” Porsha knows that PJ is the only thing that’s keeping this Dennis merry-go-round spinning. She literally screams at him to move on, but still I don’t think he fully gets the message. He says he wants her to be happy and I hope that is true, but I feel like he may want her to be with him and unhappy more than he wants her to be happy. But, that’s okay, because Porsha is free.
And so, we’ve reached the end of Cynthia’s Pandemmy Weddy and, coincidentally, the end of my time recapping The Real Housewives of Atlanta for Vulture. It has been an honor to spend time with these ladies, and I truly love them all (even Kenya). I know I’ll be back recapping the Housewives one day in the future, probably more September, that is spring, summer…uhh… September show spring, summer.