She did it. Shereé Whitfield, of Shaker Heights, Ohio, mother of Tierra, Kairo, and Kaleigh, genius behind “Who gon’ check me boo?” — the Shereé Whitfield executed a fashion show with fashions. No, it’s not spring, but technically it is still summer and we are in September so we have to give it to her. And she presented us with this gift on Beyoncé’s birthday, of all days. I want today to be a national holiday.
I’m so honored to have the responsibility of writing about the actual debut of She by Shereé following years of waiting and wondering. This season has been a long 17 weeks of gritting our teeth through Marlo’s yelling, yawning through filler scenes, cleansing our eyes and ears after listening to Ralph, and wondering if Sanya qualifies for a gold medal in the reaching Olympics. I truly enjoyed recapping this season and following along with you all, but overall this year’s Atlanta episodes felt slightly banal, like a shell of a Housewives show without the meaty substance. We went through the motions of cast trips, dinners, and some shade, but it felt like something was missing the entire time. It’s almost hard to believe this is the finale. I have the feeling of looking around and saying, “wait, that’s it?” So I am grateful for the messiness and madness of the finale. It’s not the strongest RHOA ending — I think it would have fared better as a midseason moment — but seeing Shereé present finished garments at a pulled-together event is a feat that could only be achieved by Housewives producers … and Rawan.
When we last left the Atlanta ladies, Shereé was clamoring through the days leading up to her presentation and prioritizing her time by meeting with felons. Now, one week before the show, she’s doing a walk-through of the space and still waiting on her clothes from New York or Alaska or Genovia or wherever they’re coming from. She says she has no idea how many or even which garments she’s receiving in time for the event, but even if she has five pieces the show must go on because this is “the point of no return.” This seriousness is emphasized by abundant flashbacks and frequent playing of the “fashion show without fashions” sound bite. Dwight’s iconic phrase is used so much this episode it could be the basis of a drinking game.
While Shereé is hustling around the city preparing for her presentation, the rest of the women wrap up their storylines before supporting their girlfriend on her big night. I almost forgot about Sanya’s back-and-forth with Ross about a second baby because yawn, but she reveals during a kiki with Marlo at her house that she’s getting her IUD removed. Her reasoning is that she felt supported and united once they made a joint decision not to have a child, which was enough for her to want to have a child. I don’t get it but I like to mind my own uterus. Marlo brought the nephews over to Sanya’s house for some guy time changing tires with Ross and is anticipating seeing her mother for the first time in three years. She tells Sanya she’s worried the meeting won’t be productive since her mom is an addict, but she’s open to rebuilding a bond, especially because of Michael and William.
Marlo’s mom Emma is both not at all what I expected and everything I ever imagined. Marlo — or should I say LaToya Hutchinson — has always reminded me of the girls I grew up with in the hood who had dreams of getting out and living in luxury by any means necessary. Some of them had moms like Marlo’s, who abused drugs or left them in less-than-safe conditions or were struggling with mental-health issues of their own, adding to their hunger to build a better life but also hardening them. Emma loves fashion like her daughter, even if she lacks the specific aesthetic achieved through wealth and status, but she still shines.
Due to their tumultuous and sometimes volatile past, Marlo flew Emma in from Arkansas to stay at a hotel instead of in her home. She picks Emma up from the hotel and learns that her mom accidentally threw out her dentures before making it to Atlanta, forcing me to make this tasteless joke: Emma may be toothless, but she is not homeless.
They go shopping and visit the Le’Archive showroom, bonding over their love for fashion and rehashing trauma from the past, with Marlo revealing things were so bad that she didn’t feel comfortable leaving Michael and William with their grandmother. The whole situation is uncomfortable; addiction, poverty, mental health and neglect are heavy topics, and it’s very hard to watch as a Black woman who knows how hard it was for the Black women who came before me, especially those from the South. We have no idea what trauma Emma may, or may not have, experienced, and it really isn’t our business. Family dealing with shit of this magnitude is not entertaining to me, and I prefer this type of “drama” to be left out of Housewives, since we only see a sliver of the narrative. But it did give us another peek at Marlo’s history.
After making amends with Marlo, Kandi is the only cast member who had the opportunity to film with Emma, which is fitting because if anyone is familiar with mommy issues it’s Kandi. Tying up the loose ends on her barely-there storyline this season, Kandi discusses the future of the Burruss-Tucker clan’s trust with Mama Joyce. We haven’t seen a lot from Mama Joyce this season but she made up for her absence by messily suggesting that Riley get preferential treatment when divvying up the estate, while Todd should get little to nothing because “why you gonna set somebody up with a lavish life,” meaning whoever Todd chooses to be with next could benefit from Kandi’s empire. Kandi agrees to an extent — she doesn’t mind if Todd has a new woman, as long as the next woman is in no way legally bound to her earnings or her children’s inheritance. That’s fair. Mama Joyce goes as far as saying that in addition to Don Juan, she should have some control over the trust, which we all know is really her readying to kick Todd to the curb if her daughter dies.
Kenya overcomes her own business problems and successfully launches Kenya Moore Haircare, on shelves in five thousand CVS stores, a huge accomplishment. Surprisingly, Shereé also redeems herself and her business when the day of the show finally arrives, but not without drama. At the rehearsal the day before, Shereé is dealing with stumbling models and waiting on still-unfinished pieces when Tyrone decides to pop up “randomly.” He tries to defend standing her up, using his parole as an excuse, but Apollo, in his confessional no one asked for, assures us that “media contact and presence” is allowed. I didn’t fact-check this, but I guess he would know since he’s clearly been foaming at the mouth to be back on camera.
Apollo is one of many familiar faces in this episode. We got appearances from Bob Whitfield and Olive Oyl (Tammy); Dwight and the corner of Lisa Nicole from Married to Medicine’s face; OG Atlanta housewife DeShawn Snow; Peter Thomas with his pants unzipped and a red Solo cup; the landlord of Chateau Shereé a.k.a. Shereé’s mom, Thelma; and Tyrone with his Publix flowers.
The show begins two hours after the start time, but at least we got a moment of Dwight breaking the fourth wall by looking directly at the camera and mouthing, “This is crazy.” Finally, models parade down the runway dressed in Shereé’s creations. The looks definitely give “thrown together clothing line from a person who knows nothing about fashion but likes to shop,” however, everything is finished and looks wearable. There are 27 whole looks and the models are hot (specifically the one with the blurred face who did not sign the waiver to film). It wasn’t bad at all. Will I purchase something? Probably not. Will somebody? I’m sure. Fourteen years later, we have closed the beginning chapter of She by Shereé. Children have been born and started their periods in the time it took to get here but I’m genuinely proud.
We finish this season how we usually do, with updates from the cast: Kandi hasn’t finished her trust but is producing another Broadway show, Sanya is trying for a baby, Drew and her boot still haven’t read Ralph’s book, Marlo is moving forward with construction on her new house, Kenya remains the moment while traveling with Brooklyn, and you can place your She by Shereé order here.
Peach Tea To-Go
• Kaleigh’s face when she saw Tyrone in person for the first time was priceless. And her asking him his name when obviously she already knows was the cherry on top.
• Whenever there are more than three Black women in Atlanta in the same room who need reproductive health care, Dr. Jackie is contractually bound to appear. I love that she took out Sanya’s IUD, and it reminded me that though we only have the RHOA reunion left, we do have Married to Medicine Sundays.
• Let’s discuss the trailer for the reunion; I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments. I’m curious to see Sanya’s performance after what we witnessed from her this season. I hope Kandi lights Marlo’s ass up and someone asks Shereé what her main source of income is. I was at first put off by the seating arrangements (Marlo and Shereé as the first chairs seems forced), then I remembered how great it is to have feuding Housewives on the same couch.
• I want to thank everyone for reading along as I recapped my very first show for Vulture. We’ve survived yet another season and I can’t wait to see what the reunion has in store.