For a season finale, this episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta sure did feel like it was starring a whole bunch of new chapters in the face; or at least its characters were. Tonight, everyone is so especially inspired by how great they are that they just can’t help but look forward to the future: Nene is the real life Cinderella—from screaming in absurd wigs on reality television to screaming in slightly less absurd wigs on BROT-way; Kandi’s mother finally apologized to Todd for calling his mother and father a prostitute and pimp, respectively, and only used six “ifs” and nine bogus excuses while doing so; Peter is buying up properties faster than Cynthia can say, “Sure, I’ll take that disaster of a story line, whatever it takes to keep the checks coming, I have baristas to pay”; and Kenya… well Kenya is just following her passions. I’d like to quote one of the summer’s most promising television pilots when I say, “You only have one life, and when it gets difficult, you just have to say to yourself: Life twirls on.”
Sike, Kenya’s show unsurprisingly looks crazy bad, and no matter how difficult my life gets, I will never have to say, “Life twirls on.” I’m not even fully comfortable typing it. But hey, if a TV show that was shot on an iPhone 4 and is 50 percent voice-over, 50 percent Kenya running around with a butcher’s knife is what it takes for these women to end a season with smiles on their faces and almost all in the same room, then I will surely take it. I will also take all of the leftover Life Twirls On footage that didn’t make it into the pilot episode for my own personal enjoyment.
I’m not really sure how things took such a drastic turn for Atlanta’s most dramatic work and unmarried housewives in the last few weeks. One day everyone was at each other’s throats, exposing fourth-hand gossip at group dinners and talking trash about one another’s whorish spaghetti straps, as is standard RHOA protocol; but sometime around Kandi pounding Dr. Jeff-provided chicken nuggets and Porsha riding a donkey in a bikini, everyone except Nene put in the work to come to some mutual understandings. Which leaves us with the group we’re faced with in this season finale: six women (plus Demetria—still here, still silent) getting along better than ever, and one woman living her very own Funny Girl story in New York, narrated by one Gregg Leakes. It is truly a bizarre time to be an RHOA fan/tolerater. Surely the upcoming reunion holds many gems.
Since everyone is everyone is currently all friendship bracelets and clowning around in evening gowns, I don’t know exactly what to expect out of the reunions, but I’m sure we can count on plenty of Phaedra and Apollo talk. I had almost forgotten how tiresome that story was for the first 16 episodes of this season, but they came in one more time here at the end with a little Serial-themed reminder—Peter played the part of Sarah Koenig, obviously.
You see, the lease is finally up on the old Bar One, so Cynthia and Peter can finally move into that trash heap that they scouted out for the new location awhile back. For some reason they’ve waited to start renovating it until the old Bar One closed, but that’s okay, because Peter went ahead and spent some of Cynthia’s money to rent a new space for a coffee shop—Peter’s Brew—without asking her first. Cynthia is worried about Peter being able to focus on getting all the broken toilets and syringes off the patio of the new Bar One if he’s distracted by this café endeavor, but he’s got a partner who “knows the coffee business,” so it’ll be no problem… except that nobody wants coffee that smells like failure and tastes like beard trimmings.
NEXT: Ring, ring, ring, ring—prison phone![pagebreak]
While Cynthia and Peter are figuring out where to put all the non-dairy creamer, Peter gets a phone call: “You have a prepaid call from… Apollo Nida.”
“Oh my god, Apollo is calling Peter from prison.” —Cynthia Bailey, plot driver, tension builder
Apollo is mostly calling to tell Peter (and the national television audience) that Phaedra hasn’t brought the boys to see him in prison yet, but the most frustrating part of this whole scene is listening to Cynthia act like it was anything but her ole triflin’ ways that got her in hot water with Phaedra originally. She’s all, “the last time we got mixed up in their business, wah, wah, wah,” like the mere fact that Apollo printed out some PowerPoint slides of Phaedra’s text messages with some other guy is what almost got Cynthia whacked with a pocketbook. No, I think it was that she accused Phaedra of cheating on her husband who had just gone to prison hours ago in front of six of her coworkers while a producer whispered in her earpiece, “Don’t you stop, Cynthia, don’t you dare stop. Peter just called and said he bought a bubble tea shop, you need this.”
But even though Apollo is having a hard time not seeing his sons, Cynthia vows that she’s learned her lesson, and she won’t be relaying any of this information to Phaedra. She says Phaedra has other friends who are also mothers like Kandi and Nene that might be able to talk to her about taking the boys to see Apollo. It’s a question that Phaedra seems to be struggling with mightily on her own—or at least pretending it’s a decision she still has yet to make, rather than a door that closed the second Apollo crossed the Kentucky state border.
Phaedra reminds us that where Apollo is in Kentucky isn’t close to Atlanta, and that prisons have particular rules about babies and leaving the premises once you’ve entered. By her logic, if Dylan dirtied his diaper, the trip would be over, but by my logic, if you changed him right before they went in, I’m sure Dylan could handle a 20 minute visit. Unless he has in digestive capacity what Ayden has in brain capacity. But she can probably just stick with the truth, which is that this is a very complex situation to navigate with two young children who need to be protected, but also need to be told the truth.
Speaking of telling the truth… Mama Joyce is ready to tell her very unique version of it. After Kandi bought her an entire house three months ago, their communication became a little sparse, probably because Mama Joyce didn’t like her free house, or didn’t like her husband, or didn’t like how Kandi kept trying to expect her to not let her boyfriend demolish her old house right before Kandi was going to try to sell it. You know, the little things that drive subtle wedges between people. But now Mama Joyce is ready to reach out has and invited both Kandi and Todd to her housewarming party. She doesn’t, like, smile or anything when they arrive, but she also doesn’t pull out a loaded gun or chuck a clog at anyone, so it’s an improvement.
Kandi, because she has the emotional comprehension of an ottoman, decides it would be a good idea to share with her entire extended family over dinner that Todd’s show was picked up for a second season and she’s thinking of going to L.A. with him for a while, seemingly before she ever mentioned it to her pre-teen daughter, Riley. But she comes by it honestly, because then Mama Joyce decides the best setting to apologize to Todd for years of emotional abuse and attacking his character is in front of 20 other people. She tells Kandi that she hopes this year will be a better year for them, and then swings her empty gaze to Todd—and I have to say that the music and editing are just perfect in this scene—and tells him “if” she’s done anything to offend him or his mother, she’s sorry.
If. If! IF?! If it was offensive to your mother that I called her a prostitute on national television; if you were offended that I called you a lazy gold digger to every person with ears in the tristate area; if you didn’t like the time that I paid someone to try and entrap you in a cheating scheme… Anyway, there’s more to this heartfelt apology: “And anything that I’ve said against your mother, it was something that someone told to me … and my biggest problem is repeating what someone had told me.” Yeah, Mama Joyce—that’s your biggest problem. It’s not your seething rage, emotional manipulation, or inescapable need to be your daughter’s only source of happiness. It’s the rumor repeating. And everyone knows if your biggest problem is repeating what someone told you, then you basically shouldn’t have to apologize at all. Todd calls bullshit, and I call Todd right.
NEXT: Kenya and Nene make their debuts…[pagebreak]
The happiest event that these more peaceful last few episodes have been leading up to though—and actually the plotline that started from the very beginning of the season and first gave us Roger Bobb, who gave us Roger Bobb’s glasses—is Kenya’s TV project, Life Twirls On. After a few hours of recording in the sound studio because “it’s really heavy on the voice-over in the beginning” (always a sure sign of quality), Kenya’s pilot is ready to be viewed and she invites all of the women who aren’t named Nene to come view it together.
I’m not big on surprise parties, but I do love throwing parties for myself where all of the guests are confused because they were told they were going to a television premiere and to wear their most nipple-y evening gown, but when they show up they’re pelted in the face with rice and then I scream at them from a balcony until they laugh in nervous submission to my lunacy because this all seems like it might end in homicide. No, wait—that’s not me that loves that, that’s Kenya. So, the women arrive to what they think will be a screening of Kenya’s pilot, but instead find what appears to be a wedding. There are invitations and signature cocktails, and a woman singing “life twirls on” over and over again with an operatic lilt to her voice. This seems like it might all be because the main setting of Kenya’s pilot is at a wedding that ends in disaster, but as soon as Kenya shows up in a wedding dress, it’s clear she went with this theme for exactly one reason.
But still, the ladies have a good time, laughing at how Kenya uses the pilot to make fun of herself even if it is kind of shoddy looking. She still has gourmet popcorn and a photo booth with props, and those are two things you really can’t go wrong with. The best part of this janky premiere with friends though, is how it’s intercut with Nene’s glamorous Broadway premiere that only Phaedra sent a congratulatory text about even though everyone was technically invited. It’s lonely at the top when you frequently act like a nightmare.
And yet, there’s no discrediting Nene for this accomplishment. It may have been a short run, it may not have taken Broadway by storm, Nene may have used seven different unapproved accents… but a girl from Athens who used to strip to support her family has found herself bowing at the curtain call of a huge Broadway production, and that’s pretty cool. Love her or hate her, it’s moments like that one that keep me engaged in the Atlanta franchise. Whether they’ve really got another season in them, whether Nene can ever get back in the fray, and whether these tenuous bridges the others have built can last will only be told at the reunion. Andy Cohen, help us.
What did you think of RHOA’s season 7? With so much peace among the ranks, what’s left to talk about when Andy sits down with the women on what are sure to be velvet couches? Will Porsha be there? Will Demetria? ROGER BOBB??? Discuss in the comments and check back next week for a recap of part one of the Reunion!