The Real Housewives of Atlanta Recap: A Master Class in Gaslighting

The Real Housewives of Atlanta

All Aboard the Gaslight Express
Season 14 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

The Real Housewives of Atlanta

All Aboard the Gaslight Express
Season 14 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Bravo

Things have come full circle for our favorite Atlanta ladies. One of the most surprising things to come out of the latest cast shakeup seems to be the budding friendship between the Lady of Moore Manor and the matriarch of Chateau Shereé. I was delighted to see the duo team up and poke fun at their real-estate feud for the RHOA x Dr. Strange commercial and tonight’s episode proved that the two may work just as well as allies as they do enemies.

We get our first look at the completed version of Chateau Shereé, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how beautiful it came out; Kenya herself even gave it a bravo. We even get to see the two kiki in Shereé’s (finished) basement about Marlo’s Lé Archive event/gala/museum.

Shereé tells Kenya the tea about what Marlo has apparently been saying behind her back. We get a wonderful call back to the white refrigerator era (which has permanently ruined the apartment searching for me), and there are claims that Kenya rented a Range Rover from Lisa Raye. Kenya swaps her tea, laying the tracks down for an interesting storyline, relaying that there’s drama with Shereé and Drew’s shared assistant. Allegations of owed money and overall messy behavior. All typical RHOA drama but enough to start stirring the pot. If Shereé and Kenya are going to be friends, I’m happy to get Kenya versus Marlo early in the season.

Speaking of Miss Marlo Patrice Hampton from St. Petersburg, Florida, this season, we see an actual storyline and character development for one of the franchise’s most well-known friends. I, for one, love seeing her as a muntie (mom and auntie). The way Marlo is with her nephews humanizes her and brings a sweet element to the show. I’m always a sucker for the kids on Housewives, so seeing her taking care of the boys and sending one of them off to homecoming put a smile on my face.

Now that Marlo is a full-time cast member, I’m interested to see her relationships with the other ladies develop. She and Kandi got off to a rocky start when Marlo was first introduced as Phaedra’s friend in season four. Kandi was actually one of the first to address Marlo’s status as a sugar baby/escort. Marlo then fired back with claims that Kandi herself was a sugar mama. Turns out, as we learn at Kandi’s Halloween photoshoot, they knew each other before the show, with Marlo dating Kandi’s god-brother. But, it seems like the two want to put the past behind them as Marlo voices her desire to get the families together.

I especially like their scene together because they touch on an interesting conversation happening within the Black community. When Marlo says she worries about spoiling her nephews, Kandi pushes back and reminds Marlo that it’s okay to give them a good life. She says: “Why does being Black always have to equate to struggle?” She elaborates in her confessional, saying, “People always feel like they gotta come up from the gutter. And that’s not necessarily true. I think we can still instill a work ethic in our children and still have them set up for greatness.”

She points out that the other kids at Marlo’s nephews’ school are pulling up in Mercedes, so why should her boys not have the same standard. Let’s be clear, I have my own opinions about lavish displays of wealth in the times we’re in, but I’m not looking to Housewives for commentary on late-stage capitalism. What I can say is, as an off-brand nepo baby myself (thank you for the free college tuition I received due to my father’s job at the university), I agree that there’s nothing wrong with using your privilege to set your kids up for success.

Speaking of getting a bag, Kandi is possibly the poster child for multiple streams of income like the Taurus queen she is. I literally had zero idea that she was producing a Broadway play, but shout out to her since the Amsterdam News reported that it was “one of the most important plays of the 21st century.” (???) I guess we’ve come a long way from A Mother’s Love. Regardless, Kandi’s bag chasing continues to put a strain between her and Todd. We find out that Todd has a leftover condo in New Jersey from a previous relationship. I’m a little bored with Kandi’s storyline so far, which is par for the course in the past two seasons. But the word on the street (a.k.a. Real Housewife Twitter) is that Marlo will make Kandi Yams work for her peach, so we’ll see.

Meanwhile, Drew reminds us that boring drama in your relationship is more desirable than egregious drama, at least when you’re living it. I would say that it’s better to watch the mess on the other side of the screen, but Ralph’s incel behavior is intolerable. The walking red flag is no better in the couple’s sophomore season, Drew even read the definition for gaslighting in her confessional and agreed that it mirrors her situation. She claims Ralph “puts her on tumble dry,” where he twists situations around so much she doesn’t know what’s going on. Sounds healthy.

It gets worse. Ralph plans a surprise anniversary date for Drew (at his tailor’s shop) that quickly unravels. Once again, Ralph gives us a master class in gaslighting that I will now break down step-by-step.

  1. To fully set yourself up for success, you need to paint yourself in the most positive light possible. That night, Ralph decides to be Prince Charming. Cue fancy date night and private dinner.
  2. Establish yourself as the alpha in the situation, and make sure it’s clear that you’re in control. This is where Ralph shines. As Drew attempts to bring up issues in their relationship, he reassures her, saying that in his life things go in this order: God, Ralph, then wife and kids. Then says he would like to use the night to enjoy each other’s company and not discuss their issues.
  3. Turn the tables and let your partner know that the issue lies with them. Ralph, the walking contradiction that he is, says that their therapist Dr. Ken says that Drew throws “zingers.” Drew replies that Dr. Ken says Ralph is a “maniac,” thus giving Ralph ammunition to turn the tables.
  4. Make yourself the victim, making your partner question their sanity. Ralph performs this final step beautifully: when Drew Googles the definition of “maniac,” he tells her to ignore Merriam-Webster, and the licensed therapist, as he is the authority on what is and isn’t a maniac. According to Ralph, the therapist said that merely because he’s from the East Coast, and it’s not fair even to bring that into the conversation (he brought Dr. Ken in first).

The gaslighting king shows us why he’s the master, triggering Drew to cry and even issue him an apology. He tells her he regrets the date and “doing stuff for you is not the move.” Let’s give Ralph a slow clap for his astonishing performance, as usual.

Thankfully, Sanya and her family make up for having to endure Ralph and Drew. We love a big Jamaican family fighting over beef patties! I’m a second-generation Barbadian, so the Caribbean flavor The Housewives has been providing is refreshing and reminds me of my own home. Garcelle from Beverly Hills and Guerdy from Miami are representing Haiti, and now we have Sanya from Jamaica. Love seeing this representation in the franchise.

Overall, the episode wasn’t explosive or insatiably entertaining, but it does a good job laying down the foundation for the season. Next week seems like the drama picks up, and I cannot wait to see that white woman yell, “this is a kid’s birthday party!”

Peach Tea To-Go

•My name is Ile-Ife Okantah and I am a journalist and cultural writer who studies the intersection of Black culture and popular culture. I’m a Real Housewives superfan, who has seen every episode across every franchise. For the next few weeks I’ll be recapping RHOA (my favorite franchise) and rounding up all the best moments from season 14, proving why Atlanta sets the standard.

• Tonight we saw the first Househusband link-up of the season. Todd, Ralph, and Sanya’s husband, Aaron Ross, meet at one of Kandi and Todd’s restaurants for a guy’s night out. I might be in the minority, but I find the men’s scenes boring and awkward across all franchises (yes, this includes Jersey). But watching Ralph attempt to explain this assistant situation is hilarious.

• Can we talk about how funny editing has been so far? The sequence of every time Ralph has gaslit Drew was a great touch. And I promise I don’t like the editing just because production shows how dumb Ralph sounds. Last week when they played the mock voice-over advertisement for Marlo’s archival fashion business, and she said, “I rode a lot of dicks for these pieces,” it gave me a good chuckle.

• As the story about Ralph and his assistant continues to unfold, it turns out he fired her but remains in personal contact. I don’t know about y’all but isn’t that worse? But, according to Ralph, there are soooooo many women he’s in contact with, so it’s okay.

• Surprisingly, I’m not noticing Cynthia and Porsha’s absence. Well, not too surprisingly regarding 50 Cynt. Honestly, I think bringing back Shereé and promoting Marlo, with Kandi anchoring the group, was an effective Hail Mary for the show. However, I won’t act like I don’t wish we could have gotten more of Falynn’s side of the Porsha x Simon situation, but we can’t get everything we want.

The Real Housewives of Atlanta Recap