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'Real Housewives of Atlanta' recap: 'Ms. Parks Goes to Washington'

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The Real Housewives of Atlanta

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Reality TV

Real emotions… social justice issues… complex family dynamics — what is happening on RHOA this season??? Listen, every Real Housewives franchise usually gets a little dicey around the midseason point when they’ve already taken two group trips, had a couple hundred huge fights, a dozen or so make-up lunches, and at least one on-camera colonoscopy. But Atlanta is taking the midseason shift to a whole other level: This is like a twilight zone where very real issues are being taken on by a barely real show.

The fact that Nene returned tonight with hair past her earlobes, teeth whiter than The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and mostly nice things to say only furthers the conspiracy theory that we’re experiencing some kind of bizarro RHOA world. Shall we expect Porsha to begin pursuing her doctorate in anthropology next week? Perhaps Kim Zolciak will return with all her real hair? Hey — maybe all the ladies will go without makeup for the week?! (No, that last looks like it’s going down in mascara-streaked flames next week, for realsies.) Freaky or not, the show took on some complex subject matter this week — from psychological to social — with Phaedra and Kenya’s story lines, and it likely provoked a more complicated variety of emotions.

Phaedra’s story line followed her from Atlanta to Washington, DC to participate in the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. While there, she intended to meet with various congress members to talk about her organization Save Our Sons, so she invited Kim and Sheree, fellow mothers to young black sons, to attend with their children. She also invited Porsha, presumably in an ongoing educational effort to make sure that she never again thinks that the Underground Railroad was kind of like an old school Thomas the Tank Engine situation.

So here’s the complication: Having The Real Housewives of Atlanta take on a serious issue like the prejudices that young minority boys face in our society feels a little bit like Barbie trying to take on the issue of body image in young girls: not bad, just not exactly on the typical brand either. But hey, if Bravo wants to spend an episode shedding a little light on a very real issue, it’s like mother of future 2056 presidential candidate Ayden Nida, Phaedra Parks said: “If not now, when? And if not me, who?”

Plus, Phaedra spends most of her time in the episode trying to make herself seem like a big deal and saying things like, “One of my friends in the White House introduced me to congresswoman Wilson,” anyway, so there’s not much time for her go too off the mark. Said congresswoman, Frederica S. Wilson founded the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project that Phaedra hopes to model her own organization after. She’s also a bit of a character — in their meeting she’s wearing Cynthia’s 4th of July outfit a sequined red cowboy hat, a rhinestone studded American flag bow tie necklace, and says things like, “People really do not like African-American boys.” The latter makes Kim a little uncomfortable as she has her 8-year-old son Sebastian in the meeting with her and doesn’t want him to be exposed to concepts that he can’t fully comprehend yet. Phaedra says she doesn’t have “the luxury of sugarcoating reality” with her sons.

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Later, Kim excuses herself from another luncheon to take her boys back out to the car and says that she’s frustrated with the situation because it’s not kid friendly. My question is what was Kim was expecting out of this weekend? Was it pitched to her as something else, and then she showed up and realized she had to wrangle two kids to a bunch of luncheons? Or is she just not down to politically clown? Something about the Kim stuff this episode was just off. I can understand a parent wanting to preserve her child’s innocence at a young age, but from what we’ve seen on the show, the sheltering of her family seems to interfere with her being able to relate to anything outside of that four-person family unit. She ultimately leaves before the main Million Man March event, citing an engagement she was already signed onto back home. I’m sure that engagement was real — but I’m also sure by now that Kim is not cut out for this show.

[Sidenote: Why was no one trying to Save Sheree’s Son from Porsha???]

NEXT: Guess who’s back… back again[pagebreak]

And then there’s Kandi, whose entire family was made in a RHOA character generator. Todd and Kandi choose this week to reveal to her family that they want to open a restaurant. And the Old Lady Gang is a key part of that restaurant, you see, because as Todd says, “Kandi has a book of recipes so my thought was, why not open a restaurant?” That’s the kind of solid business foundation that might one day earn you a mid-range sports bar in Charlotte, Todd. Mama Joyce is, uh, flying high and agreeable off the giddiness of having a new grandchild on the way, but Auntie Bertha tells them she has no intentions of cooking for the public. But Todd assures her they just want some input on the family recipes from the Old Lady Gang — coincidentally, that’s also what they want to name the restaurant. I’d do just about anything in the name of good collards, but let’s not quickly forget the last Burruss-Tucker collab that was based on Kandi’s family…

Speaking of family: Kenya caps off her family reunion story line this week by talking to her Aunt Lori about why she disappeared last week and it’s… complicated. Aunt Lori and Cousin Che stop by “unannounced” and Kenya pours them something that looks a little bit like port mixed with whiskey dirt — I don’t know, but my confusion quickly turned from libations to Kenya’s mother when Lori tells her that she left the family reunion because her family called to ask her to please tell Kenya to leave her mother (Lori’s sister) alone. Lori says that it was her sister’s right to give Kenya up when she had her as a teenager and that Kenya needs to move on. Kenya says she doesn’t judge her mother for giving her up, but it’s what came after that is unacceptable — from what we hear, it seems like because Kenya was still involved with her mother’s family, she was frequently around her mother, but her mother would act like she didn’t exist, ignoring her completely. That’s bound to do something to a child.

They argue about who has what right to do what with whom, but Kenya tells Lori that what she missed learning by leaving the family reunion was that she did feel like she could move on after that final visit to her mother’s house. The bottom line is that Kenya’s mother may not be in her life, but Lori is and always has been; plus, she’s now closer to her father than she’s ever been, so things are looking up for ol’ Kenya…

Now, if someone could just take a pressure washer to the outside of her “house,” she might be in business. We get a brief look into how a house gets renovated without the involvement of Jonathan and Drew or Chip and Joanna when Cynthia stops by Kenya’s under construction compound in sparkly flats, a floor-length skirt, and a coordinating sweatshirt, all in a drab green hue. They talk briefly about Kenya’s mother and Cynthia says it makes her think of last season’s reunion when Nene broke down about her broken relationship with her own mother. And you know what that means…

THE QUEEN IS BACK. Those are Nene’s own words about her return, but with the Maserati and the 6-inch heels, and the slow pan up to that signature ‘do, it’s hard not to believe her. I haven’t been one who’s missed Nene too much from week to week, but after a pretty heavy episode, those last few minutes with RHOA‘s original alpha did feel pretty electric. Apparently Cynthia and Nene have managed to mostly make up over text, and thought it was time to get together in person. Nene says she had to take some time away because she was really broken by their break-up, and you know the make-up is just as important to Cynthia, because she has Nene and Gregg over for hors d’oeuvres and there’s not even a Tostitos Scoops bag in sight. They laugh; Nene’s breasts look like a Magic Eye puzzle in her interview outfit; and if you look close enough, you can see the slight quake of fear in Cynthia’s eyes as she slips back into her place. As Nene says herself, “The Queen is back… it’s going to be a problem with someone that thought they were the queen.”

But at one point she also said, “I haven’t pooped in three days — I’m pregnant like hell,” so who knows what that woman is talking about. Are you quaking in fear or excitement for Nene’s return? Did you find this episode as complicated as I did? And how long can we all look at Nene’s interview outfit before we go blind? Sound off in the comments!