Last week, we fired up our time machines and headed back to the ’70s for Thelma’s Soul Train party. This week, we’re going back to 2008. Hold onto your subprime mortgages.
Watching RHOA this season, you get the sense that the producers know we’re reaching the end of the road with this cast. Firing rumours have been swirling around Kenya, Porsha is obviously being ostracized from filming, and no one else has much going on. The returns of NeNe and Kim are meant to evoke some fondness for the show’s glory days. In episode four, the show doubled down on the nostalgia push. We saw Derek J, Marlo and Lisa Wu. We got flashbacks featuring DJ Tracy Young and DeShawn. Hell, we even got a visit from the woman we’ve all been waiting for, the elusive Mynique:
(I’m mildly obsessed with Mynique, a season six rando whose entire existence I blocked out and was startled by upon rewatch, so her unexpected return delighted me more than it should have.)
Point being, the show knows it’s gotten a bit long in the tooth, and hopes that by bombarding you with familiar faces, you might not notice the cracks in RHOA’s elderly foundation. It’s a temporary solution. Atlanta has always been the franchise most resistant to change, rolling with the same cast of regulars + one or two short-lived interlopers since season three. But it’s time to turn this batch of peaches into preserves and start looking into some new talent.
This week’s episode gave us two minutes of a Kim/Kenya showdown before promising more next week. Who gave us enough to talk about until then?
6. Cynthia: Beautiful wallpaper, as per her custom. I do appreciate her bringing Derek J as a plus-one. I’ve always liked him, and I like him even more for explicitly calling out NeNe’s “bring your gays as accessories” white party. RHOA has always had a tangled relationship with homophobia (as does every franchise in its own insufferable way, to be fair), and NeNe in particular talks out both sides of her mouth on the gays constantly. It was nice to see her held accountable for it, even if I suspect her teachability on the subject is long expired.
5. Kandi: Did a magazine cover shoot. I think this is going to be a real low-key season for Kandi. Like so low-key as to be inaudible. She’s spread thin between this and the Xscape reunion, and no one in their right mind would come for her after season nine. I think she’s going to cruise through on the bare minimum this year, which… good for her, and she’s earned it, and she’ll be back for season eleven, but doesn’t make it interesting to watch. I hope Mama Joyce keys someone’s car to liven things up a bit.
4. Porsha: Couldn’t help but ring untrue when she insisted she was thrilled not to be at NeNe’s party. Like obviously no one wants to be at a NeNe party, but Porsha is an island. It’s starting to feel like end of days for Porsha Williams, the time when a woman takes a moment to mistily reflect on her legacy. When all is said and done, here is what people will remember about Porsha: she was violent, she was Phaedra’s pawn, and she thought the Underground Railroad was an actual train. I wonder how she feels about this chapter of her life now that it’s likely drawing to a close.
3. Kenya: The problem with petty is sometimes it’s too petty, and Kenya’s transphobic gender reassignment jokes were too petty. Still, Chrissy Teigen’s gotta be thrilled that her and John are now actual factual Housewives canon. Hope they split a bottle of Dom over that reveal.
2. NeNe: I’m holding off on my appraisal of NeNe’s All White Never Forget Girls And Gays Shirtless Men Stitch and Bitch Toddlers and Tiaras Blooooop party until I see how intertwined she becomes with the drama. Right now, it seems like she’s saving her bullets for Porsha and merely providing the staging ground for other people’s fights, which hey, fair enough. Set up your ludicrously themed party, hide the good glasses and dive out of the way.
1. Shereé: For the hair alone, my God. Shereé looked radiant as she carried her bones this week, and she gets bonus points for reintroducing Kim to the mix. I haven’t yet decided if I’m down for Kim’s return — she brings a very distinct tonal shift, and the rumours of Kim’s desperation to return to the show seem urgently true because she came weaponized with drama — but I’ve always loved the Shereé and Kim friendship. They’re both such duplicitous phonies and completely untrustworthy, yet their improbable bond has stood the test of time for, what, almost a decade now? It seems so random that Shereé of all people would ride hard for Kim Zolciak, but I guess ascending from the same pit of Hell forges a bond between demons.
Next week on The Real Housewives of Atlanta: a five-minute solo segment of Kandi answering emails.