“Hi, Shamea… yeah, it’s us again. NeNe won’t film, so… yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that’s fine. If you want to patch things up with — okay, sure. Yeah. A fight? Yeah, sure, whoever. How about Kenya? Sure. Sure. Okay, thanks again. See you Sunday. Bye.”
In the absence of actual drama, RHOA has turned into Housewives Give Back. In episode ten, Porsha and Cynthia headed down to Texas to do some relief work around Hurricane Harvey. Unlike with the domestic violence PSA, though, the women mined their charity efforts for TV conflict, with mixed results. Here’s how the rankings shake out this week:
6. NeNe: So NeNe once again was not in this episode, right? I was only half paying attention as I’d just had a Deep Conversation with the boyfriend and was emotionally scattered, but I don’t remember seeing her at all. Let’s call it what it is: NeNe is doing a high profile Friend Of stint with courtesy cast billing. She’s not a full Housewife, whatever the show is pretending. If she were a full Housewife, they wouldn’t need Shamea to be the Leanna Creel who pinch-hits during her weeks off. If she were a full Housewife, we’d occasionally see the inside of her home. I’m not entirely sure how Ms. Leakes is occupying her time, given that Fashion Police was cancelled, but if you’re not working for your paycheque you’re basically just Kim Zolciak circa season five.
5. Shereé: A convenient back injury relieved Shereé of the burden of giving back. Instead, she sat on her couch and purred gossip and innuendos about NeNe over the phone to Tyrone. The absolute bare minimum of effort but Shereé performs reliably so we’ll give her the week off.
4. Kandi: Kandi’s footage was about Block and Riley, which sounds like a snooze but was probably some of the most compelling stuff that story has given us. Riley is the least telegenic of the Housewives’ children, which is funny given that her mother is Kandi, who went to the high school from Fame or whatever the fuck. She always seems a bit pained to be on camera, and I can never tell if it’s because she genuinely hates the experience, or if she’s just a teenager who responds in one-word answers because that’s how teenagers are.
Either way, I was a bit surprised when Block called in to say hello, because I assumed he’d ghost out of her life after fulfilling his role as a one-season story contrivance, and I was equally surprised when the scene ended with Riley ducking off camera and instantly losing her shit in a hysterical weeping jag. I totally understood — family shit, even stuff that seems benign, can be really overwhelming! — and it really made me feel for the girl. I haven’t decided yet whether Block’s intentions here are noble or not, but hey. Better late than never.
3. Cynthia: On a point of technicality, Cynthia probably co-led the episode along with Porsha, and yet, in true Cynthia style, I’m not entirely sure I grasp her contributions. I thought the attempts to whip the Hurricane Harvey efforts into drama for the show were misguided — it doesn’t always need to be a fight; just take your charitable angel edit and go — and to that end, I thought Porsha coming for Cynthia for not attending a particular event was kind of silly. C. was also collateral damage in the Kenya meltdown, more on which below. I don’t know. Even when Cynthia headlines an episode, to steal an analogy from my fellow witch Ger, she’s very much the tofu that absorbs everyone else’s flavours.
2. Porsha: Realistically, this was as kind an episode as Porsha can expect in season ten. She did good, charitable work, and her motives were presented as purely altruistic. We were reminded that she’s actually a human being, and not a dimwitted monster Phaedra created in a lab to destroy Kandi. She was a bit petty in her spat with Cynthia, but I can imagine some viewers taking her side, and it was overshadowed by the Shamea/Kenya blowout that immediately followed. A rare (relative) victory for Porsha, though she’s still Kim Zolciak’s pocket ally so let’s not go nuts here.
1. Kenya: Okay, a lot to unpack. Kenya did all of her heavy lifting in the last ~ten minutes of the episode, but it was a #spectacle. I’m interested in Kenya’s meltdown, wherein she cussed out production, flipped off a camera and stormed off the set; it felt very pitched, very sincere, and didn’t seem like a rational reaction to the fairly lightweight sparring match she’d just had with Shamea.
I strongly believe there was some off-camera incident that presaged this meltdown. Kenya showed up to dinner, late and already agitated, only to find a closed kitchen and an ambush from Shamea waiting. Her angst was very much directed at the producers rather than the other women, and she repeatedly mentioned Marc not filming even though, as far as we can tell, no one else brought it up. When she rolled up the window on Cynthia (ouch, by the way), she said, “this is not going to be a moment,” which I took to mean, a moment of drama for the show. My theory is that she’d had some sort of altercation with production about Marc’s (non-)participation in the show that ended badly, then showed up to an unexpected fight and lost her shit. It’s the only way I can make sense of it all. Either way, another speedbump in Kenya’s rocky relationship with the show.
Next time on The Real Housewives of Atlanta: Eva Marcille returns to the genre that made her. No word on whether her spouse Ann Markley has given consent to film.