The Real Housewives of Atlanta
The rest of Ross’s 40th-birthday party opens this episode instead of the greatly anticipated season-15 taglines, which is unfortunate because the drama’s climax doesn’t quite meet what the teaser promised. Martell’s messiness and Courtney’s irrelevance were all predictable and cringe inducing, regardless of how activated Kandi got. And honestly, what activates Kandi isn’t so much the content of the “beef” Courtney has but how Courtney approaches the situation. After the infamous Pillow Talk fight, we all know what happens when fingers start waving in Kandi’s face, and the whole group agrees that Courtney can be a bit “animated.”
Things between Courtney and Kandi simmer down just as quickly as they escalated as the spotlight remains on Kenya, Martell, and Shereé. Shereé brings Martell into the conversation about the possible other women and the message in Kenya’s inbox, and he’s quick to defend himself. The man is slithery, to say the least, with the quick-footedness of a person who is well versed in having a camera document sticky situations. He jokes about the alleged woman he’s seeing in Atlanta, saying he’s with Shereé every time he’s in the city, so the other woman must be getting the short end of the stick (I’m not sure how that joke helps his case, but alrighty then).
It’s easy to imagine Martell going back and forth on his own television show, spewing excuses and deflecting from his behavior. I went back to the petition to get Martell axed from his show, and the comments are concerning; I know internet comments can be dramatic, but the claims of him harassing, stalking, and abusing his ex-wife are enough to make Ralph look like a saint. Martell’s quickness makes him a worthy opponent to Kenya, though I never think husbands/boyfriends should raise their voices or throw petty shade at their partner’s friends. Upon being shown the message, Martell tells Kenya to pull up all her DMs, remarking that she probably responded to all of them. This roundabout way of calling Kenya hoe-ish sets her off, and now it’s Kenya who is activated.
Martell continues to deny the message (that literally everyone just saw) until he finds a loophole: He sent the DM two years ago, way more than the “at least six months ago” timeline Kenya initially proposed. Like any great toxic man, he holds onto this discrepancy to continue to discredit Kenya and then says, “I don’t care if I was trying to fuck two years ago. Why are you talking about it?” Kenya gets up out of her seat, daring him to be forward with his offhand comments. Shereé stands between her man and her friend as Kenya yells, “You did it to your ex-wife, and you’re going to do it to Shereé. Once a cheater, always a cheater, you fucking piece of shit.” She warns her friend that the way Martell talks to her is eventually how he’ll be talking to Shereé. But Shereé stands by her man and leaves the party with him on her arm. In the car, he doubles down on his comment, saying if they’re queens, he’s a king and should be treated as such. Okay, Martell.
Later, Kenya comes to the She by Shereé distribution center to hash things out. Dealing with Kenya in situations like this tends to be murky; throughout her tenure on the show, she’s had a pattern of getting in explosive fights, with her opponent often saying she instigated them. Like Kim Fields once said, Kenya likes to shake a hornets’ nest and then act surprised when she gets stung. I’m saying this not because I felt she was in the wrong with Martell but because it’s easy to paint her as the villain in any confrontation, which is precisely what Shereé does. However, she’s unable to provide a valid reason for Martell to have spoken to Kenya that way, and she tries to brush the situation under the rug, saying that she already knew about the DM. She also claims not to have heard Martell’s shady comment about Kenya answering every DM request, sticking to her story that Martell is completely innocent while Kenya remains adamant that she was defending herself against an aggressive man. Then Shereé leans into a bizarre attempt to make Kenya’s actions seem racially motivated. She says in her confessional, “What is your issue with calling Black men aggressive? Are they public-enemy No. 1 because you don’t have one?”
Before the meeting at the distribution center, Shereé and Sanya somehow turn the confrontation into something about race, expressing the importance of not “labeling” Black men, stating that after Ross stood up for his wife last season, Kenya also called him aggressive. It’s true that Black men, and Black people in general, are disproportionately and falsely labeled as aggressive and threatening, but comparing that very real issue to what occurred between Martell and Kenya is a false equivalence. As a longtime fan of the show, I’ve tended to side with the party that feels instigated by Kenya (you can’t get in people’s faces, run your mouth, and expect them to do nothing), but in this scenario, I feel that though Kenya may have been messy bringing up the DM, Martell’s response was unjustified. It’s similar to the Miami fiasco in season eight with Tammy’s nephew, whose feathers were definitely ruffled by Kenya, but the reaction was out of control. The DM wasn’t salacious or overtly flirty, so why would Martell flip out like that instead of saying he was being friendly? Going from zero to slut shaming was a bit much, and his reputation already precedes him.
Ultimately, after giving Shereé a lesson in “bros before hos,” Kenya agrees to disagree about the situation. Still, there’s so much irony in Shereé’s chosen form of deflection because, in the same episode, she cackles at Courtney’s insinuation that Kandi is ghetto. I guess her concerns about stereotyping in the Black community do not extend to her castmates. Courtney, whose dad’s sister is Ralph’s great-aunt, proves just how annoying the family tree is when she takes another random jab at Kandi. We find out that she had much more to say about the mogul while meeting with Shereé and Sanya than was first relayed back to Kandi. This tea is much stronger than the “I heard you said we weren’t friends” bullshit — Courtney tells Shereé and Sanya that after Kandi posted herself at a restaurant the girls frequent, a new “ghetto” crowd started to populate the hangout. Now, we are in the year 2023, and we should know better than to call each other ghetto, especially in front of a white audience, but here we are.
Yes, technically, Courtney called the crowd that followed Kandi ghetto, not Kandi herself, but the implication is there. To make matters worse, thanks to a producer breaking the fourth wall, Kandi is forced to talk about the shooting that occurred in her restaurant. In her confessional, she explains the restaurant is situated in a more “urban” area of Atlanta, which has especially suffered from the rising crime rates in the city. At first, Todd says they can’t speak on it too much as it’s a legal matter, but they cover the gist of the situation. A disgruntled employee came to work inebriated and fought with Kandi’s cousin Melvin, the kitchen manager, escalating with the employee shooting Melvin. Why Kandi and Todd would have Melvin on-camera with his arm in an impossible-to-ignore sling, then say they can’t talk about the situation, makes no sense to me, but it’s great to see that Melvin is okay. Sadly, this is the second shooting at one of Kandi’s restaurants after an incident occurred at Old Lady Gang in 2020, prompting Shereé to say, “We don’t know when we go to Old Lady Gang if we’re going to get biscuits or bullets.”
Thankfully, Kandi reports that her restaurants haven’t been hurt by the unfortunate events, but it’s not helping the “ghetto” narrative that Courtney has brought into this season. As we see in the promo for next week, Kandi responds to Courtney’s claims about her “bringing the hood out,” and we get some fierce neck veins popping as she reminds Courtney that she’s Mrs. Worldwide. Next week’s episode seems way more exciting than tonight’s; we get an RHOP Candiace Bassett appearance, a Marlo outburst, and a musical performance from Drew. Hopefully, it’ll make up for this somewhat lukewarm episode.
Peach Tea to Go
• Sending the DM six months ago versus two years ago is a huge difference, but I’m pretty sure Kenya always said it was before they started dating. I’m more curious about the timeline of his divorce, getting the mistress pregnant, sending the DM to Kenya, and starting to date Sherée. This man has a lot of time on his hands.
• Seeing Drew’s dad light up after hearing her song brought a tear to my eye. I’m sending love to her whole family during this time; it’s a shame her husband wasn’t able to support her in person.
• Drew’s music career is … interesting. I gave her song “Already Know” a listen, and I couldn’t get past the knockoff Travis Scott ad-libs in the background. She has a beautiful voice, though! It’s awkward watching her and Ralph talk about their marriage being in the best place it’s ever been. It makes me wonder if the demise of their relationship was a buildup of what we’ve all seen or the result of an isolated event.
• Marlo has been giving very much friend-of-energy in these first two episodes. She hasn’t really brought anything but that hilarious eavesdropping meme, but clearly, that’s going to change next week.
• Sanya straight-up lying about standing up for Kandi was funny with her little excuse about interpreting the ghetto comment differently. If you’re going to play with the big dogs, you gotta learn to own it, girl!