The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Good evening, fellow heathens. My name is Shamira and I will be taking on the Herculean task of filling Chris Murphy’s shoes for the rest of the season. If you’d like a sense of how serious I take this reality-TV business, the very first piece I ever wrote for New York Mag was honoring the archival greatness that was our original Black Bachelorette, Tiffany Pollard’s I Love New York — any excuse to quote “when I make these motherfuckers cum I do it with my heart!” is a commission well earned by my book, and I’m equally excited to go on this journey with you all.
Now that we’ve gotten the introductions out the way, let’s dive straight into this lady pond. This season has progressed at a rate akin to my attempts at cooking plantains with my mother in my childhood: a slow burn, followed by me impatiently kicking up the heat on the oil and charring the outside. Our Georgia Peaches have gone from starting the season with yet another wig drama to fighting superspreader reports, arguing about having sex with strippers while wearing offensive Halloween costumes, and grabbing golf clubs to settle scores — and none of the women involved were Porsha! We are truly in a new era of this series.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We start the show with Marlo, who smartly chose to avoid the upcoming Halloween melee at Falynn’s house and instead has her and Kenya over to her new venture, which Kenya has thankfully chosen not to grace with a marching band in honor of their newfound truce. Marlo’s named this Rent the Runway-style showroom — a terminology I’m not entirely clear on, considering she also states that this is from her private collection, and not coming directly from brands — “Le’Archive”, which, as a French speaker, pleases me immensely. I can only imagine how many heads exploded at the cast’s absolute disinterest in accuracy in their Francophilia for the second episode in a row. Who needs Emily in Paris when you have Marlo and Le’Archive???
Marlo is playing a dangerous high-wire game, trying to stay in everyone’s good graces to maintain relationships and maximize her camera time to promote her business ventures. As the grand dame of RHOP, Karen Huger, will tell her, this is a fraught path, and it’s not clear how long this will last. In real time, Porsha has already blocked her, and in semi-scripted land, Kenya’s reactions to a misunderstanding of alliances with Toya — the Cardi B to her Megan the Stallion — should clue her in to the inevitable doom of this venture, but hey, Le’Archive certainly won’t sell itself. In the meantime, in the latest rendition of “The Song That Never Ends,” Kenya finds yet another occasion to inject a conversation about how having consensual sex in South Carolina makes her co-workers disgusting people. The space for understanding the dual role of villain-slash-producer and girl code is increasingly eroding here — why is Kenya Moore, who just insisted that she wasn’t trying to ruin anyone’s marriage, continuing to make negative comments about people’s bodily fluids? First of all, if The Sweetest Thing has taught us anything, it’s that you can just take the clothes to the dry cleaners. Second, her taking issue with Toya spreading her business, which I appreciate on a basic communication standard, becomes difficult to honor when these conversations also all happened on camera, and her maintained justification for continuing to harp on this topic pre and post-#CHILLnuptials is the fact that it occurred during filming. Kenya’s knack for self-victimization is quite masterful.
Falynn’s Halloween party, on the other hand, seems more haphazard than scary. Personally, I feel that as a rule of thumb, if you state the word “party” at any point in time, it implies more than the cast and recurring friends. Did COVID prevent Bravo from offering the go-to extras package to shuffle around the house for filler shots? Inquiring minds would like to know. In any event, the girls all arrive with lower-thirds elaborating what their costumes are, which illustrates the quality and level of effort put into the ensembles. Cynthia is in a white leotard that says “hand sanitizer” on it, which is kind of like the year I decided to go to my friend’s house party on Halloween weekend last minute and had box braids, so I just threw on a black crop top and said I was Poetic Justice Janet. After previously expressing concerns to Falynn about disrespecting(?!) her husband, Kenya decided to go a different inappropriate path and sport indigenous headdress, which she is calling “warrior princess.” Everyone is surprised that there is very little food, which … does Falynn look like someone who has much of a relationship with complex carbohydrates? I definitely would have stopped by a Zaxby’s on the way.
Limited nourishment accelerates the emergence of Toya Tequila, who at this point has established a brand as a chaos agent with no sense of couth or boundaries, including towards the host, who she seems to have mistaken for her personal barmaid. I am almost impressed by the systemic manner in which she essentially ran through house like a tomb raider and dismantled the girls night gathering (I am sorry, I cannot in good conscience say “party” lest I be cursed with terrible shindigs for seven years post-pandemic), confronting Kenya, Porsha, Drew, and Falynn to different degrees. Kenya takes Toya outside to … break up with her? For someone who has refused to quit shaming the Nieces’ alleged activities, Mrs. Daly has absolutely been leaning into a bi-curious storyline that has been circling the drain. All I will add is, “a Native American and a Sea Mermaid are sitting on a porch” is probably a Madlib in a 1998 joke book I read at Borders.
Porsha, whose Party City costume of a corset, paws, tail, and ears is specified as a “domestic cat” (I am assuming that Garfield is not public domain), continues to disengage from Latoya’s desire to wade through gossip, which is wise considering Kenya just called them some “fucking tramps.” Falynn, however, still has a score to settle over the disrespect of her house and marriage, to which LaToya promptly threw a verbal Molotov cocktail at. Listen, if Mrs. Cynthia Bailey-Hill is saying that your behavior would have put you in the bottom of her Lake House, perhaps some people need to come to the Red Table. (Somewhere in Maryland, Monique Samuels and T’Challa are screaming into the void from one of her four homes at the entire RHOA cast empathizing with Falynn’s reaction to being antagonized.)
The next thing we see are strobing lights and Falynn rounding the curve to grab a golf club like she’s running the 4x100 relay, with a single (quite realistic) serpent from her Medusa costume forlornly left on the ground in her wake. Now, I’m not saying that production should have chased after the girl with a boom mic and handheld camera setup à la Maury Povich, but we got more footage peeking through the blinds with night vision camera lenses in South Carolina than we did of this altercation, and they were actively filming this scene, so color me as confused as Kenya’s divorce lawyer.
Next week, we find ourselves in a group trip led by Drew to The Big Easy, where apparently Toya will be trying her hand at sobriety in a city with open carry laws. This will surely go about as smoothly as Drew finding out whatever happened in Tampa with her husband, but let the good times roll. See you all next week!
• It’s been three episodes now since we’ve seen Tanya on the show. I think it’s safe to say she’s not coming back. Who would’ve thought we’d see a return appearance from Eva Marcille and a guest shot from Southern Charm New Orleans’ Tamica Lee before hearing another word from our Canadian castmate? Nevertheless, I’ll keep a candle out for our sister from the North.
• Cynthia and Mike are in postnuptial bliss and looking for a new house. I support Black love and all, but I don’t really know if we needed five minutes of them just making puppy eyes at each other. I feel like you could have swapped that segment out for a highlight reel of a Tom Joyner Cruise and gotten the exact same vibes with at least a line dance or two out of it, but I’m happy she’s happy.
• Drew and Ralph try to have a conversation with their nonplussed 9-year-old son about reconnecting with his biological father, who has recently been released from prison. I won’t weigh in on the particulars without context, but I’d rather they focused more on the relationship with the adults preparing to reintroduce a child back into his life after incarceration more so than us watching them negotiate Josiah into a reluctant “maybe” with about the same enthusiasm as I had with going to dentist visits as a child. Then again, I’m now grown with crowded bottom teeth due infrequently applied retainers so maybe I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.
• I appreciate them showing Kandi Burrus going through a tried and true pandemic tradition: trying and failing to maintain a home gym routine. Celebrities, they’re just like us! Too bad I can’t fly Chloe Ting to my one-bedroom in Brooklyn.