You’ve got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.–Tina Fey in Mean Girls
You know how some classic musicals start with an overture? A musical introduction that previews a medley of all the numbers the audience is about to hear? Well, RHOA had one of those tonight. In the preview package before beginning this hour of television that challenged my sanity and up-till-now lack of inclination to spew hate on any of the cast members on Twitter, there was a clip from last week that summed up what we were about to witness:
Cynthia: “Phaedra… is having an affair… with some African man named Chocolate?”
Peter: “Apollo read it to me—I see it. ‘Can’t wait for you to spank me… I miss you, I love you.’”
Cynthia: “This is crazy!”
The false sense of shock; Cynthia’s dilated pupils as she attempts to remember her lines; Peter’s tendency to sound like he’s putting his sentences together using those refrigerator magnet word sets; the disregard to apply any sort of logic or reality to the situation… this is the RHOA Overture. The horror of the hour you’re about to experience is all previewed in these clueless, senseless, fake, damaging handful of sentences. If I were going to name the Overture, I would call it, “Everyone is Horrible and I Can’t Take It Anymore.”
Just as a warning, I’m going in on tonight’s disaster of a plot. I’m so mad. I’M SO MAD! For the most part, I enjoy watching RHOA—I laugh at these women with glee. At them, I laugh at them; because we all understand that the point of reality television is not to be real, but to represent reality. It’s not really okay to laugh at other people in real life, but it’s fine to laugh at a campy representation of it. These women are literally dressed in costumes, wearing stage makeup, and playing a part. When Nene dresses like a character from Clue in her one-on-one interviews, I can laugh at her terrible style. She has more than enough money to pay me to shut up if she wants to. So, let’s lay into these shameful, hypocritical asshats, shall we?
The episode opens with Apollo recording a video of himself right before he goes into prison: “Well everyone, I have finally arrived at the penitentiary. I’m about to go asunder. Thank you for the support and prayers. Stay tuned and you’ll hear form me shortly.”
Two things quickly become clear: Apollo thinks that “asunder” is just a fancier way of saying “under” and he still thinks that he is someone to feel sorry for. Let’s take a quick moment to reflect on who Apollo is, or at least, who has depicted himself to be to the public. He is a felon—not someone done wrong by the law, but someone who intentionally committed many, many crimes against many, many people. Beyond his lawful misdoings, he has been shown as someone with a tendency toward threatening behavior and a liar: His main narrative on this show has been talking loudly and often about Kenya offering him fellatio in a series of text messages that he admitted two years later were a lie. Whether he was lying about the original text messages, or lying about them being fake, he has been proven a liar, both by this stupid TV show, and by the very real federal court system. In the next hour, he will go on to be defended, even held up as a person deserving of respect and trust, by many women who should, by all means, hate him… gird your loins accordingly, everything after this is the worst.
NEXT: A few non-whore-related storylines…[pagebreak]
Okay, not everything. Real quick: Todd returns from the trip to L.A. that had Kandi questioning their relationship, especially how little sex they’ve been having lately. Her employees make sure to let Todd know that they know all about that when he comes into the office because nowhere needs an H.R. Department quite like the Kandi Factory. In an attempt to express her emotions without acting like she’s joking the whole time, Kandi suggests they do a mock Kandi Coated Nights to discuss their relationship. She still laughs nervously the whole time, but Kandi tells Todd that they’re not having sex enough for her, sometimes he acts too much like “Business Todd” with her when she just wants him to be regular Todd, and she thinks it would help if they went to counseling. At first Todd kind of pulls a Peter and starts to blame their lack of sex on Kandi wearing her bonnet to bed (hey remember fibroids—ah yes, the good times), but then he says that marriage is about compromise and he’s fine with trying out marriage counseling. Todd is the only man worth sticking up for on this show. (Gregg obviously doesn’t need sticking up for because Gregg is kind of like the personification of a choo-choo-train.)
Now that Apollo is in prison—for real this time—Phaedra is returning to their home without fear that he’ll come in and start randomly picking up power tools. But she’s convinces he might have left behind evil spirits, so she invites her pastor and his wife, Apostle Thaddeus and Chanda Canada, to come over and bless the house. Mostly, they walk around, while the camera zooms in on holes that have been punched in the wall, passes over photos of Apollo with Dylan and Ayden, and lingers in the garage where we last saw Apollo, unhinged and erratic. We all know that Phaedra is an unreliable narrator, but no one has more power over the way their story is portrayed on this show than Phaedra. She keeps a tight lip and somehow manages to get the editors and Apollo’s complete lack of self-awareness to most of her dirty work for her. Which leads us to the second act of our story.
“Stop being a big ass whore and calling everybody else a whore.” –Kenya Moore
Earlier in the episode, Cynthia took Kenya and Claudia to a wine tasting where they all talked about how much they love moscato, which is a fact that is so obvious about them, they might as well be saying, “I’ve been known to dabble in fake eyelashes.” Once they’ve gotten that out of the way, Kenya asks if they’ve seen all the stuff about Apollo going to jail and supposedly being on the run or something, to which Cynthia says he wasn’t, but, “Matter of fact, I got a little tea on that situation.” This is the first—but not last—time I scream at the television, “Honestly, Cynthia, have some respect for yourself!”
Cynthia tells Claudia and Kenya all about what Apollo told Peter about Phaedra’s alleged text messages with an African man named Chocolate. Kenya immediately gets emotional and starts screaming in the restaurant about how Phaedra has been calling “every name in the book… and [she’s] the main one.” Kenya briefly questions the “proof” for this supposed affair, to which Cynthia says she didn’t see the texts, but Peter did. You know… the texts that Apollo showed Peter on his phone. You know… Apollo who has already admitted to lying about a different text scandal. You know… the lie he told about the very person who is currently bawling over a fish bowl of moscato?
No, no one seems to question these text messages. Cynthia and Peter have a little discussion about it before Cynthia heads to a dinner that Kandi has arranged for all of the women since she’s been M.I.A. from all of them lately. Cynthia tells Peter about Kenya getting so upset about the Chocolate text messages and Peter, in a single moment of clarity, says, “Why is she emotional about what Phaedra is doing?” But then he quickly recovers when Cynthia briefly questions the validity of the texts and—I kid you not—says, “I don’t know why he would make something like that up.” YOU DON’T KNOW WHY HE WOULD MAKE SOMETHING LIKE THAT UP? The man going to jail for fraud? About his wife? Who has been a little less than supportive through the process of him going to prison? Who is clearly trying to write him out of her life the second he’s behind bars? YOU DON’T KNOW WHY HE WOULD MAKE SOMETHING LIKE THAT UP?
I don’t know if he made it up or not. I certainly see it within the realm of possibility. All I know is that what comes next is possibly the most infuriating contractually obligated group dinner in RHOA history. Ironically, it’s the first one at which I’ve ever seen any of them eat a single bite of food. Things start off pleasantly enough; Kandi has included the Greek chorus, Demetria and Porsha, and everyone sits in almost the exact same dinner seats they did the last time they were all together in Puerto Rico. Kandi starts asking everyone what they’ve been up to: Nene says she’s studying up for Broadway, and Phaedra pointedly says she’s been “just living.” The woman does not want to talk about her husband just going to jail. Because the woman is sitting at a table of seven other women, half of whom, she openly despises.
NEXT: Cynthia wants to be a Marsha, but Cynthia is forever a Jan…[pagebreak]
But Cynthia can’t sit idly by and watch that happen—not when this is the year she’s decided to play with the big dogs. And the big dogs are always “putting things on the table” and “clearing the air,” so surely that’s what she must do. I can just imagine a tiny producer hissing in her ear, “You’re gonna be a star kid!” Watching this all get away from Cynthia, who was only ever meant to be a bit player at best, is one of the more pathetic things that’s ever happened on RHOA. But she stutters her way through her big moment: “Actually, Peter talked to Apollo. He had a lot to say about your… situation. How he felt going in and the whole leaving the kids and all that stuff. And there was a lot more said but… I mean I could just put it on the table, but if we’re not really going to put it on the table, it is what it is.” (NO WE’RE NOT GOING TO PUT CHEATING ALLEGATIONS THAT EVEN YOUR HUSBAND SAID YOU HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ON THE TABLE IN FRONT OF SEVEN OTHER PEOPLE. WERE YOU RAISED IN A BARN?!?!?)
She puts it on the table. While Phaedra pretends to be typing on her phone, Cynthia stumbles through it: “There’s been a lot of talk about, y’know, calling folks whores and all that stuff, which I think as women it’s just unfortunate.” Then Cynthia’s favorite phrase, “It’s just really crazy because,” and her second favorite, “Peter told me,” spit it out, kid: “that he found out you were dating some guy.” Phaedra darts her eyes up and seethes, “Is that what he told you? Well, it’s a lie,” and you know it’s all downhill from here. Cynthia starts stuttering through the text message story that we’ve heard 100 times, and Phaedra is starting to get revved up, “Really? Just like he showed the text messages with Kenya and then that supposedly didn’t happen either?” And this is when Kenya decides to chime in, insisting that it didn’t happen, not realizing that she’s proving Phaedra’s point.
They’re all proving Phaedra’s point! Or at least stooping to her level. Cynthia and Kenya—who at this point is chiming in about the information that she heard from Cynthia, who heard it from Peter, who heard it from Apollo, who read it on Phaedra’s phone—are so delighted to “put it on the table” that Phaedra is having an affair because they just can’t wait to prove that she’s a whore. Because they’re mad that she called Kenya a whore. Everyone loses in this situation. Everyone is a huge loser. Case in point: When Kenya finally directly says that Phaedra has been “going around having an affair as a married woman,” Phaedra pops out of her seat like she’s about to hit Kenya. She stops herself really before anyone else does, but that’s enough for everyone to cement their convictions, no matter how far-fetched.
Everyone on this show thinks they’re Amber Rose of this situation, but they’re really all Khloes—defending the exact thing they’re railing up against. (And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I commend you on avoidance of the kind of reality that impersonates reality television.) I hope I haven’t painted Phaedra to be an innocent victim in all of this; she’s not. She did every single one of the things Kenya said, except (allegedly) the one thing Kenya attacked her for, the thing that Kenya will tell anyone who is listening actually makes Phaedra the “whore.”
The worst thing these women do for humanity is proliferate the idea that, as a woman, being sexually promiscuous is the worst thing you can do. It’s worse than even—I don’t know—being an actual criminal. I know I’m supposed to watch this show with the understanding that it’s scripted and that everything that happens within the confines of the RHOA editing room is really of no consequence. But if women were constantly judging each other like this on a fictional television show, I’d be just as annoyed. That it’s somehow based in reality in even more frustrating. None of these women are whores. They don’t sell their bodies for sex. And if they did, I’d hope that they could come up with a more useful response to address that than just screaming, “WHORE!” at one another.
Whether it’s scripted or not, the people on this television show, holding peaches and talking about how rich they are in the introduction, are women; and I am a woman, too. When they shit all over one another, at some point, it can start to feel like they’re shitting all over me, too. So, cut it out, ladies. Find a different story line. Support one another. Have your dildo parties, and make terrible music videos, and have competing ass-exercising DVDs. But for goodness sake, stop calling women whores all the time.