We rejoin the ladies of Atlanta one year after Phaedra Parks was revealed as the Ultimate Despair and the mastermind behind the killing game. Now, the five survivors face a brave new world. They’re joined by a prodigal NeNe Leakes, hard up for some pocket change after burning her bridges with Ryan Murphy and, allegedly, the IRS. We’ve also got Eva “Marcille” Pigford and a wax figure of Kim Zolciak coming down the pipe. Why stop there? Bring back Kris Kelli. Are Chuck and Mynique busy? What’s DeShawn up to these days?
But there’s one person who won’t be attending our big inclusive party. Let’s take a moment of silence for Phaedra Creonta Parks. You can say a lot of shit about Phaedra. She never quite lived up to the charm and sparkle of her early days cruising around the funeral homes of Atlanta making gauche embalming jokes. She got consumed with slut-shaming Kenya and, later, perpetuating her salted earth vendetta against Kandi. But for my money, Phaedra is one of the most complex, fascinating individuals on any of these programs, and one of the most Machiavellian and literary villains in Housewives history. RHOA without Phaedra is like an infant’s first birthday party without twelve cakes. Raise a glass.
As for the rest of our peaches:
6. Cynthia: Poor Cynthia. This wasn’t even a bad hour, by Cynthia standards. She was breezy and charming. She hosted the premiere party. Hell, the episode was even named after her. But… it’s Cynthia. You know? In order to bake a cake, you need a bag of flour. Cynthia is the flour. Imagine if Kenya had hosted a party where all the guests had to dress like her, what a narcissistic shit show that would be, and you’ll see the difference (that said, Cynthia is maybe the only Housewife who could have hosted a ‘dress like me’ party without inviting a tidal wave of shady costumes, so checks and balances).
5. NeNe: I’ve rewritten this paragraph five times now trying to pinpoint what I didn’t like about NeNe’s return performance, but succinctly: I’m just not feeling it. After the Shakespearean climax of season nine, entering season ten on a penny ante NeNe-Porsha beef seems, frankly, bizarre. Who cares? Were they ever friends? I want to know if Phaedra is sending mail bombs to Kandi’s house.
4. Kenya: I love a good Kenya Moore fake relationship: Walter, the fictional African prince, you name it, I’m there. So obviously I’m compelled that Kenya enters S10 having allegedly eloped with a man who refuses to appear on camera, whom Kenya will only call “Baby” (no word on whether the dog and the kittens also share that name). Now, the guy exists — he’s outed as a dude named Marc Daly by the end of the premiere — but as with all of Kenya’s romances, something will eventually come up dirty in the wash. I’m guessing, and this is a hunch, that we’ll find out by the reunion the documentation wasn’t in order and the marriage isn’t legit. In the meantime, it should be a delightful season of Kenya at her most evasive so stay tuned.
3. Porsha: Given that everyone else enters S10 with a clean slate and Porsha is already under fire from both NeNe and Kandi, it’s safe to guess we’re looking at Porsha as the season villain. This makes sense but is also like eeeh, really? In a cast well-stocked with complicated and interesting characters, Porsha stands out as the most simple. It’s dangerous to put the role of season antagonist on that kind of person because she’s not going to do anything terribly interesting with it and she won’t learn or grow as a character because she’s honestly probably too dumb. It is a miracle that Porsha is still on this show and, if I can deploy another one of my hunches: I bet after this season, she won’t be.
2. Kandi: I was prepared to drop Kandi to the bottom of these rankings when she didn’t even show up until the last fifteen minutes of the ep (correction: apparently she started the episode, which my jacked up copy omitted), but then 1) she looked amazing and 2) she spent the whole party glowering at Porsha like this:
And I was won back over. Can’t wait to see what her storyline for the season is; I assume Mama Joyce killed a drifter or something.
1. Shereé: The Bone Collector has dusted off her shovel and returned to the graveyard. The subject of the latest Essential article was in fine form: dragging people hither and yon in her talking heads, running back and forth between NeNe and Porsha stirring all kinds of nonsense, and perhaps most gloriously, revealing that she used to own a boutique? When the hell did Shereé own a store, you guys? Was it pre-Housewives? During her time off the show? Would that cameras were around to capture that disaster on camera.
Next time on The Real Housewives of Atlanta: Porsha attempts to meet with Shamea to apologize for season nine, only to arrive at an empty table, thwarted by her inability to tell time.