The Real Housewives of Atlanta recap: Common-Law Shade
Kenya makes moves toward becoming both a mother and the worst person on the planet, and it’s all just a waiting game until next week
This episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta left me very confused and a little riled up. These unnecessary and unnatural storylines of women going after other women’s marriages are a tricky road to travel and Bravo might be wise to tread a little more lightly. Because no one, and I mean no one, is buying Kenya’s shtick. I’m not here for this. I’m not here for bringing new people in just so there’s a chance for conflict. I’m not here for hangers-on. I’m not here for reality stars creating their own storylines to keep a paycheck.
I’m here for Kandi being a boss at business and not being apologetic for it. I’m here for Nene somehow getting a semi-reasonable IMDb page. I’m here for Mr. President. Hell, I’m even here for occasionally honest showings from Porsha as she tries, maybe not hard, but at least her version of hard, to become an autonomous adult. And, finally, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m here for just some little glimpse into the humanity of these people. And Kenya’s actions in this episode, and plenty of others, are inhuman.
I don’t believe for a second that Kenya is motivated by anything but stirring up a little storyline. That woman is too smart to act like this in any sort of actual reality. And if I’m not watching her reality, then what the hell am I watching? If I wanted to watch sociopathic fictional television, I’ve got a Netflix account, and, word on the street, that Breaking Bad is pretty good. If Kenya isn’t interesting enough to have a storyline that doesn’t involve toying with people’s marriages – first Sextgate, now CommonLawMarriagegate, all in the first half of one season – then get her out of here. I’d rather watch three more hours of Phaedra at Embalming Study Group than one more second of watching Kenya’s eyes light up as she realizes she’s earned herself two more minutes of screen time.
All of those grievances aired, however, this is maybe the second time all season that I’ve been emotionally invested enough to laugh, shout out, or feel any real emotion about this show at all. The first was of course with Mama Joyce, who I truly believe is that crazy; and now with Kenya, whose motivations are crystal clear: just make it to season 7.
I’ll just give you a very brief recap of anything that happened pre-vineyard and then get right down to it, because heaven knows that’s what these women did. Cynthia and Peter are celebrating (I use that term loosely) their third anniversary, which inexplicably includes another couple, singer/actor Christopher Williams, and his wife Natalie, the second woman to be officially auditioned for season 7 via a whole created narrative arc. What I can’t understand is why Bravo keeps trying to bring these women in via drama that revolves around their husbands. The husbands are the worst part of RHOA (‘cept you Gregg, you got yourself straight, Gregg).
Natalie’s friend dated Todd over 10 years ago and she says he “knows how to find himself in situations to better himself,” which Peter immediately follows up with, “To hear you say he’s an opportunist…” (drink!). This is a joke, right? I’m not saying Todd couldn’t very well be an opportunist (drink!), but everyone always twisting him not having as much as money, or him being a hustler, into him being a gold-digger is plain tiresome. Cynthia ends the evening by saying, “No matter how bad it gets, I wouldn’t trade Peter for the world.” It’s a terrible plan, and I’ll hold her to it.
NEXT: Kenya redefines the word “definitely”
Kenya invites over her Aunt Lori and cousin Che, and her Aunt Lisa and Uncle Marc, who are in from out of town, to tell them she’s “definitely going to have a child.” To which Aunt Lori replies, “Can you be a little more specific?” Ha! Very reasonable request for clarification, Aunt Lori.
Specifically what Kenya means is she’s made an appointment to see about in vitro fertilization, that she’s tired of not having her own family, and she feels that having a child of her own will in some way repair the void that not having a mother has left in her. I feel for Kenya’s neglect by her mother, but I also feel that wanting to have a baby to repair something from your childhood is not a healthy maternal goal. Aunt Lisa is on my side and tells her maybe she should give being committed to the family she has a whirl first. She says it only slightly more gently.
Kandi and Todd go out to scout venues for her passion-project-musical. I have no reason to doubt the validity of Kandi’s venture (except that everyone around her seems to), but she seems very out of her element here. Hopefully, Todd being back on board after turning down his other job offer will help the production flow. Although I feel a little hesitant about his, well…hesitancy.
Finally, it’s time to keep the tiny-black-bus-with-tinted-windows industry alive and well in Atlanta and take a producer-mandated trip to Wolf Mountain Vineyards. Cynthia says she’s arranged this trip to introduce Natalie to the ladies, but for some reason Natalie doesn’t ride on the bus with everyone else (or the other bus that takes Kandi, Phaedra and Porsha, aka The Cool Bus + Porsha). I can’t even explain how much I wish this wasn’t an audition for Natalie, but rather for Extra Friend Lexus, who later answers a question about stealing a bottle of wine, “Y-Y-A-A-A-S-S-S, yaaaaas!” #teamlexus
On the ride to the vineyard, Cynthia decides to tell a bus that includes Kenya, Nene and Marlo, notorious troublemakers, that Natalie – the woman this whole trip is centered around introducing to her friends, mind you – told her Todd was an opportunist (drink!). There’s a charming little in-between-commercials segment where the women in the big bus talk trash about the state of the bodies of the women in the smaller bus. It sets womankind back about a century and is just delightful. Please cease doing that, cast and producers, alike.
Both buses and random solo act, Natalie, arrive at the vineyard to begin tasting Georgia’s finest wines. They take a detour to the beautiful chapel, which cues Kandi to say she’s thinking about just marrying Todd in a courthouse ceremony. Mal and Natalie both tell her they eloped in Las Vegas and have been happily married ever since. All that talk of happiness leads Kenya to zero in on Natalie and scoff, “That’s not the story I got.”
NEXT: Common-law marriage: It’s what’s for lunch!
Apparently, Kenya and Christopher Williams once toured in a play together and at the time, he told Kenya that Natalie was his “common-law wife.” And this is what she tells Natalie. Unprompted. In front of the entire group of women. Actually, first she says he used to call her his “girlfriend” and then she clarifies that it was “common-law wife.”
Phaedra, our resident “legal eagle” (that was my LOL moment of the night) says that means two people have decided they’re married, but haven’t been wed in front of an officer of the court. I looked it up on Wikipedia; it checks out. After bringing this up in front of everyone and basically ruining a woman’s whole day (and possibly her legal or non-legal marriage) Kenya demurs, “but I really just want to stay out of it.”
Natalie mostly manages to keep her cool, she just seems confused about the accusation, and everyone heads in the direction of a breadbasket to soak up some of that Atlanta pinot grigio. But not in time enough for Natalie to avoid disturbing the hornet’s nest. When Kandi brings up Todd at lunch, Natalie starts into her little story about him breaking her best friend’s heart a long time ago. I don’t know why she brought it up, but my judgment of her really hinges on how far she was planning to go with the story. Simple anecdote? Opportunist (drink!) accusation? We’ll never know, because Kenya then reveals the bomb that she’s been sitting on all day: “She told Cynthia your man was an opportunist!”
And then it’s just Excuse-ville as Natalie tries to explain that she simply said Todd was a hustler, which is different. I have no idea what type of person Natalie is; if she told Cynthia what she did merely to be dramatic; or if she planned to say the exact same thing to Kandi at the lunch table. I have no idea if she is legally married to her husband or if he used to say they weren’t.
What I do know is that what Kenya did and what Natalie did were two totally different things: Natalie told one friend that she trusts something about that friend’s friend, with unclear intentions; Kenya said something very personal and insulting to a woman she barely knows, in front of a bunch of other women that woman barely knows, with very clear intentions: just make it to season 7.
The only one who comes out of this looking good is Kandi, who handles herself like the boss that she explains she is (and semi-insults Peter at the same time – score!): “Bottom line, for you to say that he wants to date up, you just letting me know that you think I’m a hot bitch. And I am! And it’s all good, and the buck stops here! It don’t get no hotter, you’re right. Give it up for Todd – he came up!”
Long live Kandi! Well, until she maybe goes to jail for beating someone’s ass in a nightie next week. But it looks like everyone else will be there right along with her.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta