“Someone knocks you down, you get back up with shade.” –Porsha, still not a cast member
Claudia may not have had much of a story line in her premiere season, but along with her addition to the cast has come a weird upswing in Bravo-level psychological analysis on RHOA. I halfway expected everyone to sit down in the middle of tonight’s episode to take a Myers Briggs test so they could better understand why they keep feeling the need to have group dinners where there’s zero percent eating and 100 percent screaming. Sure, it was Nene (an ENTJ if I’ve ever seen one) that enlisted Dr. Jeff for the most traumatic counseling session of his life, but it was Claudia who followed up with an entire trip to the Philippines to “do the work.” The “work,” of course being as many “drip drop in your butt” coffee enemas as Phaedra could handle.
Listen, if Nene had a real emotional breakthrough tonight, then I am happy for her mental health, and hopeful that Gregg can shuffle a little more confidently knowing that his wife might loosen up his leash now that she’s free of some of her baggage; but tonight, when Dr. Jeff said, “The bottom line is, we need to listen to what Nene has to say right now,” I about spit out the double whiskey I’d enlisted to help me get through the third reunion installment for this show’s most trying season. Is that what the bottom line is, Dr. Jeff? Making sure that Nene feels comfortable enough to find some sort of excuse for her frequently toxic behavior? No. They’re there to get their check, clear their names, and maybe open another sports bar in Raleigh, or whatever.
If you looked at season 8 alone, it might be possible to think that other cast members do come for Nene pretty frequently, and whether they were justified in that or not, that it might eventually bring Nene to a point where she just walks out of rooms any time a co-worker speaks to her. But in the last three Sundays, this is what Nene has told me about herself: She’s actively not giving money to Detroit Public Schools after promising to on national television, she made light of Kenya’s lack of relationship with her mother, and she won’t apologize to Claudia for calling her a “half-breed” because they “were in battle.” I’m all for Nene showing her vulnerable side, but she’s shown her ass one too many times for me to forget about it after one trip to the Bravo women’s restroom for a touch-up.
This reunion installment did its best to make “whore” and “some African guy” a little smaller on the RHOA season 8 word-cloud by replacing them with words like “sisterhood” and “respect,” but it’s all a little too late when you realize how much this season’s story lines have boiled down to showing off just how much these women can be ugly toward one another and still bounce back, as though strength of character is in the bouncing back. At this point in the series, the assembled cast has almost nothing in common beyond owning haircare/sex toy/HSN tent lines, so I guess it makes sense that the only thing left with which Andy Cohen can tie them together are their past traumas. Because we all started watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta for its deep, emotional impact.
Many of us did, perhaps, start watching RHOA (or any of the original Housewives programming) for its “real” look at female friendships. And in that way, RHOA has really shit the reality TV bed. I see nothing familiar in listening to episode after episode of apologies with more ifs and buts than Peter explaining to Cynthia how it’s totally fine than he bought yet another property with her money without telling her. I know I’ve had plenty of female friends for eight years and I managed to go all eight without calling a single one of their husbands’ a bitch, publicly judging their parenting on “the blogs,” or accusing them of adultery.
You guys—I think RHOA might just be bad for women. But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to listen to what Nene has to say at all costs. So let’s get on with it…
NEXT: The return of Dr. Jeff (spoiler alert: he still has his license)…