Before I dive into the chaos of tonight’s episode, we have some housekeeping to do. For the past few months, I’ve been rewatching RHOA in its entirety, and I’m finally at season 13. In a turn of events that I wasn’t expecting, I’ve found shaky evidence that Drew may not have been lying about LeBron. At the season 13 reunion, Drew reveals that she met Bolo (I think we all remember who that is) before the South Carolina trip … with LeBron? If walls could talk. Speaking of the trip, guess what song was used while the ladies surprised Cynthia in their lingerie? Legs and hips and body, body, body. I love a full-circle moment.
Watching seasons 13 and 14 simultaneously shows how glaringly different the cast’s chemistry has become. LaToya, Shamea, Falynn, Porsha, and sometimes Tanya brought a certain youth and unpredictability to the show that’s no longer present. As messy as those women were, the energy was fresh and felt like a new generation of RHOA. Now, as my friend Mauryawn said, this season’s cast kind of feels like leftovers in comparison, which may contribute to why I feel that tonight’s episode comes off tactical and calculated. However, that’s not always a bad thing.
The lengthy and tumultuous history between the ladies makes it compelling. Shereé’s an OG, Kandi and Marlo knew each other before the show, and Kenya has been on since season five. Out of all the Atlanta vets, these four were never really known for being close, though that doesn’t make their relationships any less nuanced. Part of the core ethos of Atlanta has always been “sisterhood,” or the lack of it. Now that they’re forced to interact without other cast members like Nene, Porsha, or Kim Zolciak, we’re starting to see why these four don’t mesh. With Marlo and Kandi in particular, the jabs are personal.
None of them, except perhaps Kandi and Kenya, would naturally hang out outside of the show. This isn’t uncommon for Housewives, especially for the franchises that have lasted over a decade. When this dynamic occurs, the bones of reality show production are more visible: meeting up only for staged events, conversations starting off manufactured, and the ladies’ alliances and attacks are more strategic. There are pros and cons. On the one hand, it makes it obvious that these are coworkers on a television show, creating a flimsy fourth wall. On the other, it breeds desperation within the cast to make the season work. With desperation comes great television.
Tonight, the ladies are choosing teams and firing their first real shots. So far, there are two main camps: we have Kandi, Kenya, and Sanya versus Marlo, Shereé, and Drew, with some infighting and neutralities between the two groups. Sanya’s next offensive move against Drew is disinviting her ex-friend from a photoshoot. Instead, she chooses Kandi and Kenya to model merch from her Mommi Nation brand. Hitting two birds with one stone, she aligns herself with the top dogs of the show and gets a Grammy-award-winning artist and previous Miss USA to model her clothes for free. And for a Black Friday sale of all things. She’s lucky they didn’t send her an invoice — which Kenya honestly may have.
Marlo and Drew don’t take being excluded well. Drew is feeling the sting of Sanya’s quick switch-up, something I’m here for because the veteran Housewife usually goes on to treat the newbie like Judas. I found the disinvite to be professional (“let’s connect” sent me) and direct. However, Drew is downright distraught that she was not present, and Marlo is severely triggered about her lack of an invite. Marlo’s dramatic reaction is somewhat unexpected, but not really. Now that she has a peach, she’s trying to find her place in the group outside of her previous supporting role.
For the first few episodes, Marlo has strangely been the voice of reason — a position I never thought she’d fill — delivering great one-liners and funny confessionals. At the beginning of tonight’s episode, Marlo’s sweet side is fully displayed. She plans a night of cocktails and conversation for the heartbroken Shereé, complete with an in-house Fendi shopping experience, junk food, and a masseuse. The two have come far from their iconic incoherent altercation in South Africa during season four, and I love that they recreated that moment. Marlo and Shereé make a sweet pair with the former reminding the latter of her worth. Seeing Marlo uplift Shereé in her time of need brought that element of sisterhood we’re used to, and Shereé deserves it.
Even though the moment was cute, the alliance between Marlo and Shereé comes off circumstantial. As soon as she establishes a bond with Shereé and Drew, her other faces start to come out. More on that later, though. Shereé is moping around her house in silk pajamas and a beat face, eating potato chips, and yelling for her dog Gatti (another reminder that she’s from Cleveland). Not only did Tyrone stand her up, but he called her the next day as if nothing had happened? To make matters worse, the paparazzi captured pictures of Shereé crying alone. Sadly, I know how that feels, and it’s not a good place to be in, hence why Marlo plans a night for her.
Drew may have lost Sanya from her team, but she’s gained Marlo and Kenya. Kenya and Drew are attempting to bury the hatchet after a rocky last season and even have a kiki tonight. I appreciate this duo as their marriages are similar to each other and they both have young daughters. Drew also halfway extends an olive branch to Shereé, something Marlo respects, by helping set up for the evening. This is when Drew tells Marlo about feeling slighted by Sanya. Marlo hypothesizes that Kandi and Kenya must have only been invited because of their platforms and vast Instagram followings. Here, Marlo’s insecurities leap out. To even bring up Instagram follower numbers screams that Marlo is jealous of the reigning queens of Atlanta and Sanya’s budding relationship with them. She further proves this at Sanya’s Jamaican cooking dinner with her outburst, showing the other side of Marlo that isn’t so loving.
Sanya’s dinner starts clouded by her rift with Drew, who uninvited herself as a countermove to Sanya’s original disinvite. Not that her initial absence makes an impact; we get a Mama Joyce appearance, some Caribbean culture, a little whining, all good things. But, as the night progresses, things start to go left. Shereé confronts Kandi and Kenya about their lack of support following Tyrone’s misstep since neither of them attended Marlo’s get-together. Kenya canceled at the last minute since she was “sick,” and I’m not sure why Kandi wasn’t there.
Shereé is still mad at Kandi for her lack of communication, but what does she expect? I almost forgot Kandi was in the episode; she might’ve said four words. Once Drew’s name comes up, Marlo questions why Sanya only invited Kenya and Kandi to the photoshoot. She literally leaves the room with Shereé to talk shit and drop her first real bomb against Kandi. Marlo’s mouth quickly starts running, calling Kandi a selfish “money mom” who was a “hoe” that “fucked everyone for free” and “dates below her tax bracket.” Kenya doesn’t have immunity from the attack; Marlo goes on to say that Kenya’s a “video hoe” that’s been ran through by every rapper in America. Sheesh.
The episode ends with Drew pulling up unexpectedly on the ladies, clearly looking for a moment. Next week, the dinner explodes with a battle between Drew and Sanya that’s been culminating for the past few episodes and apparently continues into another meal. It’s go time.
Peach Tea To-Go
• What is going on with Tyrone and his living situation? I was under the impression he was living in a halfway house, but Kandi keeps hinting about some other woman? I’m lost.
• One thing Marlo is always going to do is remind us that she’s an Aquarius. As an amateur astrologist myself, I think I need to do a Twitter thread exploring each of the times the ladies’ exuded their sun signs. Comment below if you’d be interested!
• I can’t confirm or deny if Kenya was actually sick or not, but she could’ve at least peeled off those lashes and put on a show over Facetime. She did look ashen, but that’s not strange for Kenya.
• Sanya’s Jamaican accent coming out heavy tonight is so fun. As much as I love the Caribbean presence on the show (Gal ya betta can cook!), Sanya, why would you hire a white steel drummer? I’m sure he was talented but come on!