The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere, both narratively and physically. We finally get some forward momentum this episode, which begins with the ladies hurtling toward Isle of Palms, South Carolina, in that busted bus of theirs. Seriously, I’d rather take a ride on the bus from Speed than get on any sprinter van organized by Kenya Moore. Speaking of Miss Moore, Porsha is still upset at Kenya for not sharing that Brooklyn was coming on the trip, but Kandi makes the salient yet depressing point that Kenya doesn’t really have anyone in her life that can watch Brooklyn. It takes a village to raise a child, and Kenya’s village currently has a population of three: me, myself, and I. Porsha concedes, saying, “Well, if she ain’t have no help, she ain’t have no help,” which is basically a nice way of saying “Sucks to suck.”
Back at the ranch in South Carolina, KenToya is kicking off their honeymoon — er, I mean, the girls’ trip — by organizing a murder-mystery night that literally no one asked for. Ummmm, throwing a murder mystery when you’re already crossing state lines to party during a pandemic? The real murder mystery is the unknowable amount of people you’ve infected along the way. Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, the murder-mystery coordinator, Whitney, assures KenToya that the party will be super-fun and that it’ll begin with gun-toting white men bursting into the group of partying Black women masquerading as detectives, kicking off the festivities. Wow, truly can’t think of a worse idea, @Bravo. Kenya and LaToya make it very clear that they don’t want any guns pointed in the housewives’ direction, which, while absolutely necessary to bring up, is deeply sad to me. Whitney assures KenToya that they have nothing to worry about, as the murder part of the murder mystery is clearly fake. Okay, way to drag the talents of South Carolina regional-theater actors in between gigs.
Despite not being on the bus, Cynthia arrives before the rest of the ladies, leading me to believe that she flew commercial to get there, but who knows. Cynthia gets a great room with a Jacuzzi bathtub because she has the KenToya stamp of approval, which rubs me the wrong way. Imagine you’d been on RHOA for almost a decade and a “friend of” LaToya had any say in your sleeping arrangements. Maybe my inner high-school-senior theater-club president is jumping out, but I think not.
The rest of the ladies finally arrive and are clearly ready to turn up, turn out, and let loose after an eight-hour bus trip that was supposed to take four hours. Yeah, definitely the vibes with which you want to enter a surprise murder-mystery party. In an effort to hide the surprise, Kenya makes all the girls come up with “alter egos” for the trip. Let’s run through ’em:
• Tanya is DYNASTY (eye roll). The emphasis is on the nasty, which makes it a little better, but she’s still trying too hard for me. 3.5/10
• Shamea is VAGENA DRIP (hard G, long E). Clearly this trip happened during “WAP”’s big moment, and I unabashedly love it. 9/10
• Kandi is ANGEL. This is boring, but it’s a reference to her appearance on The Masked Singer, which she won, so she gets points for excellence. 7/10
• Drew is MISS LICKETY SPLIT. It’s a li’l corny and a li’l childish for me, which feels fitting for Drew but ultimately not exciting. 5/10
• Kenya is CHOCOLATE. Yawn. Completely uninspired, and this whole event was her idea? I expected more, to be honest. 1/10
• LaToya is TRINI GYAL. Equally as uninspired as her girl Kenya’s alter ego, but at least it’s kind of fun to say and spell. 4/10
• Marlo is DIVA. “A diva is a bitch … what else can I be?” says Marlo, and who can argue with that? Sometimes a classic name is the best of all. 10/10
• Cynthia is 50 CYNT. While I’m sick of this bit, I finally realize CYNT is short for CYNTHIA, which sort of blew my broken mind .50/10
• Porsha is PEACH JUICE. Tropical, sexy, and original. I don’t think peach juice actually exists, but I bet it would taste like Porsha! 11/10
Obviously, the murder mystery is an unmitigated disaster. For a second, the producers cut the episode to make it look like the murder mystery was real, with the murder victim giving a semi-convincing performance and dropping to the floor covered in blood. Give my regards to
Broadway South Carolina summer stock. However, a second version of the footage reveals that the whole thing did seem fake as hell, but that didn’t stop multiple ladies from screaming at the top of their lungs and Porsha from literally diving behind a couch when the strange men ran in waving toy guns in the air, because trauma is trauma, even if it’s a joke.
Anyway, after the shock wears off, the festivities begin, and some of the (boring) ladies are into it (Kandi, Tanya, and Kenya), while the rest are not and do precisely what I would have done: ignore the game and get properly wasted. “I don’t understand what’s happening. I just came to drink and dance,” says Porsha, speaking from the deepest depths of my soul. Sorry, Ken, I don’t want to watch the gals sitting in a circle going over “clues.” I want to watch them inebriated and tripping over themselves trying to out-twerk each other.
While the murder mystery is a complete fail, there’s something very satisfying about seeing nine Black women “arrest” a large white man named Peter. Also, that one skinny white dude who sang “There’s some hos in this house” is officially nominated for Best Cameo Appearance of the season. In a legitimately fun twist, Falynn drops by the house, because apparently she took her private jet to South Carolina and is staying in the villa next door with her husband, Simon. When LaToya rightfully presses Falynn about why she brought her husband on the trip, she says, “Because he’s my best friend.” That’s not a legitimate answer to the question, but I suspect that Falynn isn’t allowed to go many places and/or do many things without Simon Guobadia’s permission. There’s huge short-leash vibes emanating off of that couple.
But thank God for Falynn, because the mere mention of a husband kicks off the first fight of the trip, started by [checks notes] Drew. Yes, Drew gets shady with the ladies, telling LaToya that she “doesn’t care about husbands” in a callback to their tiff earlier this season. Not one to shy away from conflict, LaToya responds, “Hey, Drew. Can we talk about your struggling husband?” “You don’t know nothing about my struggling husband, though,” Drew says, which is odd because she absolutely could have omitted the word “struggling” from her response and still made her point. Some light words are exchanged, and LaToya softly grabs Drew’s arm to grab her attention, which really upsets Drew, who is “from Chicago” and so is not to be messed with. Finally, two women who clearly don’t like each other are able to come toe-to-toe after eight episodes of talking about each other behind their backs.
The situation is ultimately defused by a drunken and not necessarily genuine apology from LaToya, so we’re able to (momentarily) move on to the next piece of drama, which is that Marlo hates the room she’s been given by Kenya. She hates the room so much she chooses to sleep in the living room, with two couches pushed together like she’s a philandering husband in the doghouse. It’s a bit much, but Marlo is a bit much. Factions have started forming between the ladies, resulting in two different clusters emerging at dinner. On the one hand, you have the Aunties (the older, more sensible ladies like Kandi, Kenya, Cynthia, and Tanya), and on the other, you have the Nieces (the younger, more fun, let’s-turn-up ladies like Porsha, Shamea, Falynn, LaToya, etc.). The producers lean into this divide because, despite the Aunties’ protestations, it’s both funny and true. Even though Marlo age-wise might technically be an Auntie, she gets to be a Niece for farting on Kenya’s bed and coughing out of spite.
The next day is uneventful and boring because Kenya is a bad fake-host who didn’t plan anything for the girls to do and refuses to let them eat until dinner is ready. While it’s not entirely Kenya’s fault (I’m sure there are fewer options for group activities during a pandemic), it was absolutely rude of her to order a crab cake for lunch without telling any of the other ladies. However, part of me feels like this is what you get when you sign up to go on a trip hosted by a sociopath. You don’t see me bending over backward to go on a vacation planned by Jigsaw, now do you? Also, it’s kind of insane how, in every franchise, there is always drama surrounding a crab cake. Just like New York is the fifth character on Sex and the City (RIP, Samantha), crab cakes are the unofficial sixth housewife on this show. During the day, we do learn that Dennis is down bad for Porsha (of course he is) and that LaToya bought a custom wig for Drew because she understands that she’s on a reality-television show and would like more screen time. Well played.
For dinner, Kenya organized a whole-ass pig roast by a James Beard award winner, and while I support the vegan Porshas and the Natalie Portmans of the world, I’d be lying if I said that pig didn’t look absolutely delectable. Kandi comes to dinner looking dressed to impressed, because she rejects the idea of being an Auntie and wants to be a Niece, even though Kandi is arguably the auntiest of all the potential Aunties in the cast. Porsha leads a prayer for the pig, which is unintentionally hilarious and buoyed by some incredible editing work from the RHOA producers, who interject gospel music and shots of the pig into the prayer. Great work, team. I’m siding with Kandi and assuming it was a happy pig.
Kenya kicks off dinner by calling Tanya spoiled (probably true), and Tanya counters by saying Kenya is a bad host (definitely true). LaToya thinks she has bested Drew by apologizing to her and offering to get her a brand-new wig, but Drew wins the day by noting that LaToya seems to be paying a lot of attention to her and giving her a signed headshot with her autograph. Wow, cue Mariah Carey’s “Obsessed.” It looks like The Game’s Drew Sidora has finally come to play this season.
Capitalizing on the messy energy of the room, Marlo decides to confront Kenya about the yearslong animosity between each other, which truly defies description but comes at it from a place of love, which actually warms my heart. “No matter how much we throw shade, this a sisterhood,” Marlo says, as I nod my head, vigorously agreeing with the sentiment. We end the episode with Marlo saying that she was hurt to her “core” about the rooming situation and wants to know why she and Kenya can’t settle the beef. The amazing thing about Marlo Hampton is that, in six seconds, she can go from making me feel nothing but compassion for her to cackling at her capacity for absolute savagery with lines like this: “I talk about your fake butt and your skin. You have injections. Something has been done to your body.” The ladies better keep those fake white detectives on speed dial, because the way Marlo versus Kenya is shaping up, there very well may be a real murder mystery to solve by the end of this South Carolina trip.