The Real Housewives of Atlanta - Season 11
Credit: Annette Brown/Bravo

Some people might come to the Housewives franchise to watch Porsha pick out a diamond engagement ring the size of a walnut with a man she’s been dating for five months at the same jewelry store where she got her last engagement ring from a man who made her pretend like she was starring in The Preacher’s Wife, sure…

But me? I come to The Real Housewives of Atlanta to watch Cynthia inexplicably load up a fishbowl-size wine glass to the brim with frozen grapes, and then sprinkle a thimble’s worth of prosecco over them before setting merrily about on her afternoon tasks. I am here for Cynthia responding, “Oh, just having a glass of wine” to her new boyfriend, who is clearly inquiring as to why there is a visible stem sprouting out of whatever concoction is taking up the entire FaceTime screen. I keep coming back season after season to watch women act in ways that they believe to be completely normal, but leave us screaming, GRAPES DO NOT ABSORB FLAVOR, NOR DO THEY EMIT FLAVOR, THEY ARE SELF-CONTAINED FLAVOR BAGS, WHY HAVE YOU CHOSEN THIS PARTICULAR FROZEN FRUIT FOR YOU WINE, CYNTHIA, AND WHY MUST THERE BE SO MANY OF THEM???

RHOA’s best drama may come and go, there may still be a Kool-Aid-Man-style hole in the shape of Phaedra Parks, and I might still wake up in cold sweats hearing “joggers” over and over in my head. But it is this bird’s eye view on the behavior of America’s most absurd women that brings me coming back for more. And on that front, the season 11 premiere of RHOA delivered.

But given that there were two new boyfriends, one new baby, an engagement, a lifetime achievement award, and a very scary health battle also contained within this premiere, it seems possible that I’ve buried the lead behind Cynthia’s unique cocktail stylings.

The Real Housewives of Atlanta - Season 11
Credit: Jason Koerner/Bravo

First, we catch up with Porsha who says, “The power of the tongue is real,” and doesn’t even try to turn it into a double-entendre, so you know she must be distracted by something. That something is Dennis McKinley, her new boyfriend, and that tongue-power is not his, but a reference to how Porsha spoke her newfound love into existence when she declared at the last RHOA reunion that she would be the next Housewife to get married.

Now Porsha and Dennis are shopping for engagement rings, and hey, is five (alleged) months a little quick to be getting married? Maybe. But I also think Porsha is one of those people who does better the busier she is, so if planning a wedding means that she’ll be distracted enough not to falsely accuse any of her co-workers of drugging her, or to ask a man she barely knows to sign a “baby-nup,” then sure, let’s get this lady down the aisle. That is if she can lift her hand up off the ground…

Dennis and Porsha preview diamonds ranging from 6 karats to 10 karats (and $145,000 to $552,000), but don’t worry about the price tag because Porsha tells us Dennis is “the boss of Atlanta.” And by that, she, of course, means that Dennis owns a Hukkah lounge and a hot dog restaurant. Perhaps not quite as glamorous as Porsha is trying to sell us, but I did like when Dennis told her there was no budget because he sold “like 2,000 hot dogs this week.”

I also enjoy quantifying value by hot dogs, for example, I would pay 1,000 hot dogs to never have to see Gregg be sad again. The Leakes family has had a go of it lately, and we open on NeNe bringing a fruit bowl full of prescription pill bottles up to her husband. Last year, Gregg had an issue with his heart that doctors were able to get on top of, but when he went to the hospital with stomach pains, Gregg was diagnosed with stage-3 colon cancer. “When they cut my colon out, my heart got bigger,” Gregg says like the corny, sweet old man he’s become in recent seasons. NeNe does a lot of rolling her eyes at him, but she says to herself, “I put on a brave face, but I have my moments … If my car could talk, my car would probably be like, This bitch cries too much.” She’s back, baby!


And she’s still running that boutique called “SWAG,” spelled out in Old English on the front door like it’s 2013. I’m not sure what era the tie-dye, two-piece set Porsha tries on for her upcoming trip to Miami is from, but she just hopes that making her butt cheeks clap in it will put a smile on NeNe’s face during this difficult time. And since it turns out NeNe is going to Miami this weekend too, Porsha decides two things: 1. not to tell her recently regained friend NeNe that she has a boyfriend who might propose this weekend, and 2. to gather all the other women to go see NeNe’s comedy show in Miami.

Listen, I love each of the Housewives branches individually like my children (New York, the eldest over-achiever; Beverly Hills, the youngest skating by on her looks; New Jersey, understood by the whole family to be the least favorite, etc.), but could any other city already be headed out on a group trip in the season premiere? I think not. Atlanta is the wild child.

As she begins issuing invitations, Porsha says she and Kandi don’t have a relationship right now, they have an understanding. That understanding presumably includes Porsha not calling Kandi, but I did think it was funny when Porsha invited Kandi to come to support NeNe in Miami, got her all nervous that it would just be the two of them, and then started cackling about how she was just kidding. Watching Porsha in a good mood is like watching a sack full of bouncy balls that just took a pull of laughing gas and rolled around in glitter — she’s too much, but a little too much is okay.

Cynthia and Eva have agreed to go to Miami too, but first Eva has to take professional photos with her precious new baby Mikey who looks exactly like her (and her new engagement ring that looks expensive), and Cynthia has to make 100 phone calls in her Pier 1 showroom of a den.

“What are you drinking on?” Mike, Cynthia’s new boyfriend and a sportscaster for Fox Sports, asks her on the video call. “I’m just having a glass of wine,” Cynthia replies, holding up a glass full of 40 floating orbs. Mike asks no more questions because it’s time to get to flirtin’, perhaps my least favorite thing to watch Cynthia do. Mostly because Cynthia being coy involves her saying things like Mike “has definitely swam in the cool waters of Lake Bailey.” The cool waters?! CYNTHIA! Is this what you think passes for sexy language?!

The Real Housewives of Atlanta - Season 11
Credit: Annette Brown/Bravo

Oh well, Cynthia is gorgeous so she can get away with just about anything. With her suitors, that is. With NeNe, she stutters out, “I have to hop on a conference call!” rather than attempt to lie about the Miami surprise. I’m sure the flaccid waters of Lake Bailey would have been a touch less convincing.

Before heading to Miami herself, Kandi first has to pick up the Golden Note Award that’s being presented to Xscape by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Nice!

Less nice, but also kind of funny: Riley telling her mom in her signature no-nonsense monotone that Kandi and Todd should by no means have any more children because they barely have enough time for the children they already have. But this is The Housewives! You’re not living until you have a team of nannies, a child chef, and maybe a child psychic for good measure. Kandi isn’t going to start working less anytime soon, so something tells me this won’t be the last we hear of Kandi and Todd’s two leftover embryos. (The previews — the previews are what tell me that).

Finally, Porsha and Dennis make it to Miami where they joke about how he could propose to her this weekend in a way that suggests Porsha really thinks they’ll be getting engaged this weekend, and Dennis is just playing around. It is, as always, the RHOA editors who deserve the largest diamond though. As Dennis and Porsha pull away from the airport in their car, we hear the GPS say “Hazard reported ahead” as she squeals about their looming engagement.

And what of RHOA season 11, dear reader? Shall we expect hazards ahead with so many of RHOA’s most hazardous players off the call sheet? Do you agree with Porsha that she “should have kept [her] little titties because these big titties sweat too much?” Does anyone else in the world still have a singing ringtone of their own voice like Kandi apparently does? Hit me up with your best guesses on Twitter, and all your own burning questions in the comments below!

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