The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Fellow saints and sinners, we have finally arrived at the finale of one of the most befuddling seasons of Real Housewives of Atlanta, wrapped in a bow with a lackluster concluding episode. Between haphazard production, editing, and Drew revealing her Holy Roller predilections in the final stretch of her inaugural run on the cast, I have made it to the finish line about as satisfied as Kandi’s appetite at most Housewives events.
The overlords at Bravo made poor Cynthia earn her paycheck by throwing a Friendmas dinner and White Elephant party, only her co-workers reward her by tearing up Lake Bailey. But before we get to the unraveling of Drew Sidora, let’s rank the white elephant gifts.
Marlo: $1,000 cash and her absence. I respect nothing more than someone who will give me money and leave me to my own devices.
Kenya: Diamond earrings allegedly valued at $5,000.
Kandi: A 256 GB iPhone 12. If there’s ever a moment that will remind you of your humbling class differences, it’s the faint recognition that Kandi Burruss casually paid cash to buy a device that I patiently wait to upgrade every 15 to 18 months on a payment plan.
Porsha: A bottle of Baccarat perfume and mini Gucci bag, which doesn’t quite make up for her being over three hours late to the evening’s festivities, but certainly helps take the sting out.
Latoya: A Gucci Bag which costs about as much as, if not more than, her alleged per episode rate.
Shamea: A Chanel brooch and scarf, which is beautiful but has a little more auntie taste that I would have expected from the longtime friend of the show.
Cynthia: A Tiffany bracelet charm set that screams “every girl on the Upper West Side’s sweet 16th-birthday present” and matching white-diamond necklace. Mrs. Hill meant well, but it’s a charmingly dated sense of style.
Malorie: Twelve bottles of Veuve Clicquot Champagne that she pilfered from the stockroom at Bailey’s wine cellar.
Drew: Nothing but tricks and stunts.
Drew, instead of adhering to the accepted premise of the event, chooses to launch into a one-woman Tyler Perry production, bringing out the used and matted wig of constant ridicule and a cassette recording that she believes will prove that her insistence that Latoya is manipulating a man of the cloth with her feminine wiles was not in vain. Unfortunately for her, nothing of the sort is revealed in the audio, irritating the women and viewers across the nation with her refusal to accept when she was unsuccessful in convincing the general public to care for her Biblical conspiracies at the hand of Latoya. Porsha’s look of concern when she asks Drew for the true timeline regarding the Prophet’s engagement resembles a pre-K teacher trying to convince a toddler to take a nap before they get too cranky, but it’s absolutely deserved — her undercutting Drew’s hyperbolic slutshaming rant with “Well, all of us done had a little fun now” completely encapsulates the walking contradictions not just of Drew but of this entire season. Her final altercation with Latoya is a haphazard mess that takes the air out of future “I’m from Chicago” threats for at least the next six months.
Since this will be my last episode covering RHOA, the following is my roundup of everyone’s season in review:
Kenya Moore: Kenya has long secured her position as the bottom bitch of the RHOA empire, willing to lean into villainy with her co-workers to get the plotlines moving. Unfortunately for her, Bolo Court and all of the subsequent events took her judgmental tactics a stretch too far and generated little entertainment value in return. Her family saga with Marc Daly their daughter Brooklyn is more confusing the more she continues to expose us to it, and between that and the ongoing questioning of Porsha’s motives, she desperately needs to add more lightness to her performance before it wears thin. 6/10
Porsha Williams: The main conflicts this season — both on and offscreen — have centered on a seeming obsession with Porsha’s behavior and intentions among a group of similarly self-interested individuals. This cements her position as a centerpiece in the franchise, but her interest in participating in the greater theatrics of the show seems to have waned. Perhaps, as she recently stated in a recent IG Live, it is due to her personal focus on criminal justice work offline, but her refusal to engage will only hold muster for so long; Nene had also taken this position before her ultimate downfall with the network. 7/10
Kandi Burruss: Despite being pivotal to arranging the bacchanalia in South Carolina, Kandi spent most of the season riding the fence and popping in between bookings to eat other people’s food (or lack thereof). We even had to recycle discussions around Riley’s father Block, which came and went faster than Falynn’s Halloween sprint. I know she commands a lot of capital in the Bravo industrial complex, but in terms of actual story and entertainment value, all that seems to be keeping Kandi on the show is the opportunity to promote her seemingly endless businesses. Unless she brings more, people will start to home in on her habit of feeding into the mess and trying to hide her hands. 5/10
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Some of the biggest moments of the season involved Cynthia in one way or another — the Bolo bachelorette party and her wedding — yet sadly, I feel like her life cycle in the series is coming to a close. She is happy and in love, and we love that for her, but her presence on camera has been providing increasingly little with respect to engaging material. At the very least, it may be time for her to become a friend of the show. Maybe she can start a Lake Bailey BnB program on HGTV or something, but this is no longer the proper dynamic for her. 5/10
Drew Sidora: Her maiden run the Bravo universe has been erratic, at best, with her seemingly throwing everything at the audience to see what would stick. We were introduced to a concerning dynamic between her and her husband Ralph, with his controlling ways and impromptu trips, pivoted on to an uncomfortable amount of visibility with regards to the uneasy reunion between her son Josiah and his incarcerated biological father, and then took it on home with a beef with Drew that she took to the pulpit and back. Assuming she comes back next season with a new and improved wig game, she needs to leave the Christian hypocrisy to Phaedra Parks. 5/10
Latoya: While the young YouTuber ensured that times around her were never boring, the chaotic energy she brought to Atlanta frequently bordered on the tactless and harmful. We were never quite introduced to her personal life outside of being of Trinidadian descent, and she instead had to take her moments by instigating conflict at cast events, running back and forth between friend groups that were at odds, and enmeshing herself as a trophy in the ongoing feud between Kenya and Porsha. While she definitely had a few standout lines and scenes, particularly in her dynamic with Drew, the extended Sapphic siren song that the show was trying to sell between Kenya and Latoya was worn out, with very little upside in the way of titillation or entertainment, particularly within a season rife with slutshaming. 4/10
Falynn: Although we didn’t get to see much of her, her run around the river bend is forever etched in RHOA lore. Hopefully she is invited back to film a few more episodes with the cast next season and we can see how she develops within the group dynamic. 7/10
Shamea: Beautiful and loyal to a fault, her tête-à-tête with Marlo was the most action she really got this season. With that in mind, it is time for her to start having some content to offer on the series that extends beyond her fealty to Porsha, and hopefully she gets an opportunity to show that off in the coming seasons. 6/10
Marlo: As much as I may have a distaste for it, Marlo maneuvered the game well this season, maximizing her screen time and enmeshing herself in unnecessary conflict at the expense of a friendship she had been building with Porsha. While it all may result in booming sales for “Le’Archive,” her reasoning for her behavior with respect to Porsha is about as sensible as the spelling of her showroom. I don’t mind a Marlo–Kenya reconciliation, but we would hope that it would amount to more positive and genuinely entertaining scenes such as the get together in Moore Manor — instead, we are forced to endure her continuing to inflate the importance of having a full audit of Porsha’s ho-fax. 7/10
Lastly, Production and Editing this season gets a 3/10. Between the disjointed story lines, clearly omitted narratives that have had to play out in the media, and unoriginal plot devices for tension, the team responsible for bringing a fully realized season to life left a lot on the table, and the remainder was jumbled and inconsistent.
Thank you all for coming with me on this ride, as bumpy as it may have been. The reunion looks like it will be a cacophonous mess as usual, and you can catch me commenting about it live on Twitter when the time comes; in the meantime, keep your Halloween costumes culturally sensitive and make sure to lock down your group of friends that can keep an after-hours Bachelorette Party as discreet as plenty of heterosexual men are with theirs.
• Kenya ends the series by yet again being on the outs with her co-parent and sometimes on-again husband, this time with Marc having blocked her after she rejected his request to withdraw the terms of the custody filing. Despite her characterization and behavior on the series, watching this public humiliation gives me deep secondhand embarrassment, and I sincerely hope that her therapist helps ensure that we are not on this same merry-go-round next season.
• In that same breath, Kenya Moore explaining to Latoya what a narc was in an insult to Drew was a stunning lack of cognitive dissonance with her behavior over the course of this season. The woman literally held mock open court — that is top-tier narc behavior, right under “wears a wire to record for later” and above “screenshots text messages without provocation.”
• Cynthia … what, pray tell, do llamas have to do with Christmas? I am not a Christian so maybe there is a Bible passage that I just don’t know about, but I truly do not understand the choice to turn her house into a petting zoo for the holiday.
• Porsha and Shamea’s running commentary during Drew’s back and forth with Latoya was full of gems. “They finna fight. And you not finna knock my curls out” is both hilarious and reflective of Porsha 2021 — walking away from throwing hands at provocation, yet comfortably discussing her lack of underwear on camera.