Five episodes to watch while embalming your frenemies.
Welcome back to The Essential…, where I propose five episodes that embody the perfect madness of one special Housewife. Phaedra Parks is one of the richest characters in the Housewives canon: quick with a devastating one-liner, up to her neck in madcap schemes, and always at the head of some kind of Machiavellian smear campaign. Phaedra’s tendencies toward vengeance-seeking eventually claimed her soul and her spot in the cast, but we’ll always have her back catalogue. Here are five episodes that will have you begging Jesus to fix it.
S03E08: “Is There a Doctor in the House?”
When we’re first introduced to a pregnant Phaedra via the shambling corpse of Dwight Eubanks, she propagates the first of her many great lies: a series of marblemouthed half-truths about her due date to disguise the fact that she and Apollo conceived their first child out of wedlock. In this season three cut, Phaedra is literally in her labour bed when she’s outed by her doctor for giving birth full-term, not at six months like she was (badly) pretending.
S04E02: “Surprisingly Rich”
In possibly my favourite solo storyline ever, Phaedra embraces her macabre fascination with the dead and looks to supplement her law career by dipping into the mortuary industry. Fans of dark comedy will appreciate this hour of Phaedra purring orgasmically about caskets and attempting to strongarm a green Apollo into accepting her vision of a family business chock full of corpses.
S05E11: “This Donkey Kicks”
The feud between Phaedra and Kenya starts in earnest. Phaedra brings Kenya onboard to produce her “donkey booty” fitness DVD, then tries to cut her out of the back end profits (pun intended). Always ready to seize on an opening for pettiness, Kenya cuts ties and proposes a competing “stallion booty” DVD. Here is a Housewives rivalry with a healthy heaping of high concept absurdity.
S07E14: “Hello Mr. Chocolate” / S07E15: “Chocolate Does a Body Good”
I’m cheating my own concept a bit by proposing this S7 double feature. Season seven charts the decomposition of Phaedra and Apollo’s marriage as he heads back to prison for white collar crimes. In these two episodes, Apollo accuses Phaedra of cheating on him with a mysterious man named “Chocolate,” before menacing her at their home hours before his imprisonment in a legitimately tense and disturbing scene (Phaedra, true to character, is frightened but never loses her cool). Later, Phaedra holds her former bestie Kandi to the fire for abandoning her in her hour of need, starting the ball rolling on their fateful feud. Together, these episodes paint a complete picture of Phaedra the woman: strong, tenacious, resilient, full of grudges and secrets.
S09E24: “Reunion Part Four”
I hunted up and down for a season nine episode to illustrate the particulars of Phaedra’s war on Kandi, but her tactics involve scumbagging Kandi from the shadows and using Porsha as the brainless vessel for her acts of social terror. Ultimately, Phaedra’s sinister and tragic S9 is best illustrated by the reunion’s unprecedented fourth part, where all of Phaedra’s chickens come home to roost at once. In a tearful spectacle, every piece of malign Kandi gossip — the gay rumours, the drugs, the rape, the sex dungeon — is traced back to Phaedra. A group meltdown ensues, and we never see Phaedra again.
S03E04: “Petty Boughetto”
Phaedra hosts a perfectly down-to-earth baby shower.
S04E07: “The Error Apparents”
Phaedra hosts a perfectly down-to-earth birthday party for an infant.
S06E13: “Pillow Talk or Pillow Fight”
Phaedra hosts a perfectly down-to-earth
birthday party inauguration for an infant.
S08E11: “Ms. Parks Goes to Washington”
Phaedra attends the anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.