The Real Housewives of Atlanta recap: 'Livin' La Villa Loca'
The online hospitality marketplace is not RHOA's friend
Sunday’s episode of RHOA started out quite tediously with Cynthia in full chaperone mode, hustling everyone around Barcelona, and perhaps my least favorite Housewives trope: the Real World-style picking of rooms during a group trip. But boy did this sucker ever rev up in the last act, hunny. To quote Porsha (and, yes, please do imagine me wearing sunglasses at midnight): “Muy bien nachos!”
As you may have noticed by Porsha’s masterful linguistics, the RHOA ladies have arrived in Barcelona, Spain. And from the moment Cynthia says “the fabulous villa” that she booked can’t accommodate them until later that evening, you know this is headed nowhere good. Now let me be clear: My happy ass would stay in that Airbnb gladly, and I would think it was nice — but I would also sleep in a stand-up shower if it meant partying in Spain with my friends and all of our fanciest pajama sets. These women, however…these women need to be a-com-mo-dat-ed. That is why they stay in five-star hotels, not character-rich villas managed by a lovely local woman who had no idea she was about to get shaded on American television for her fully staffed Spanish villa being “cute.”
The women of RHOA are not interested in culture — they’re interested in king-size beds, and room service, and sleeping until 3 p.m., and bathroom counter space, and blindingly white linens, and vanity lighting that facilitates a poppin’ highlight. Cynthia says the house — which I would like to reiterate, once more, is a very lovely establishment — doesn’t look anything like the pictures online. But when I think of Cynthia using the internet, I think of that Parks and Recreation scene where Tom discovers that Jerry goes to AltaVista and types in “please go to yahoo.com” to check his email. I imagine Cynthia fires up her MSN homepage, types “the blogs” into the search bar, puts on her readers, and that’s about the extent of it. And now she wants to book a vacation home for eight of reality TV’s most high-maintenance women? Let’s just lift our hands in Phaedra-style praise that this didn’t happen on RHONY.
But we’re not even to Cynthia’s eight-bedroom, six-bathroom disaster yet. As always, the dramatic foundation of this hour is laid on the Mercedes bus ride from the airport (at least Cynthia didn’t try to make them take a Lyft). Cynthia presents the crew with an honest-to-goodness hard copy of something called “50Cynt’s #bucketlist,” which is actually pretty cute. It includes tasks like taking a shot with a stranger, dancing in public, and “trading personalities” with someone else. This leads NeNe to do a fairly accurate Kandi impression, which leads Marlo to tell Kandi that she needs to give her an etiquette class because “friendly is a part of etiquette.” Which, sure, Kandi has never been a fountain of warmth and welcome, but the idea of Marlo teaching an etiquette class is truly, gloriously laughable.
The conversation naturally turns to the frenemies who couldn’t make it to Spain, Kenya and Kim. And Kenya needs to send Kim a mini-muffin basket because only their ire for Kim could inspire this crew to resist an opportunity to roast Kenya. Most of that ire comes from NeNe, who can’t get over Kim’s inability to be away from her husband, which somehow turns into NeNe saying that Kim “is the only person [she knows] that has had cancer, thyroids, blood clots, a stroke, and is still walking around here being negative.” Now the actual content of that statement is mostly fine — but the implication is clearly that NeNe doesn’t think Kim has really suffered through all the ailments she says she’s suffered through.
Speaking of suffering, we have to sit through another round of Cynthia defending Will, whom she’s not even dating anymore. The women head to an actual fancy hotel for lunch since their Airbnb isn’t ready yet, and Eva takes the opportunity to apologize to Cynthia for how messy things got at Kandi’s party when she spoke up about Will having a girlfriend in the recent past. Eva says in her testimonial that modeling has prepared her for dealing with catty women because she can simply serve them a Zoolander face: “I just look at them and try to stay beat at the same time.” Oh sweet, flawless-faced Eva. If you try to maintain face every time your new co-workers turn up for no reason, you might actually give yourself a wrinkle.
Cynthia repeats that she thinks Eva’s heart was in the right place, but she also says that she believes Will over the women trying to tell her that he’s an opportunist. She seems particularly annoyed with Porsha having told her that she heard Will had a girlfriend and was perhaps just taking the opportunity to date her for exposure. Cynthia is right that it would be perfectly reasonable for her not to believe something Porsha has “heard” from someone else, considering that last season’s story line revolved around Porsha spreading that she “heard” from “someone” that Kandi tried to drug her. But — shockingly — Porsha is also correct that Cynthia explicitly asked for her friends to tell her if they knew of Will having a girlfriend after she heard Eva’s story. And then Porsha explicitly asked if she really wanted to know, and Cynthia said yes. So…only on the Real Housewives do two rights make a wrong.
Eventually, the women go to see an actual Barcelona sight, la Sagrada Família, but Cynthia didn’t check the operating hours, so they can’t go inside. Luckily, there’s a cultural exchange to be had inside the van, where the ladies discuss if they do or do not enjoy the testicle aspect of male genitalia. “I don’t understand why I need to put the balls in my mouth,” says Cynthia. “No, that’s too close to the a–hole!” says Porsha. “I think tea-bagging is a must,” says Kandi. All right Beverly Hills, your turn to weigh in! (Recap continues on page 2)
Villa Victoria is finally ready for its guests, and the crew heads over. And, honestly, they’re not total brats about what is obviously a perfectly lovely villa. They just say things like, “I mean it’s cute…it’s cute. It’s CUTE,” per Porsha, while Kandi and Sheree wonder why this is where they ended up staying for vacation. The last two also happen to be the most high maintenance, out scouting for the best room as soon as the titular Victoria welcomes them into her fully staffed home. And since this is my very least favorite thing that happens on Housewives, I will keep it brief: Kandi claims the biggest room with the best view and a private bathroom for herself.
NeNe says that’s fine, and very typical of Kandi…and then she corners Cynthia after all the rooms have been chosen and tells her they should call a group meeting to announce that “the older girls need to go up” and “the more middle-aged girls need to be in the middle.” She does not explain why to Cynthia, and she does not explain why to the rest of the group; she simply says that she and Cynthia, being the two oldest, should be in the two top rooms, which includes Kandi’s presidential suite. Kandi basically goes full King Curtis: She’s not listening to NeNe’s rules. “I’m not changing,” she repeats over and over until NeNe gives up. She also says that NeNe is the one who gets offended when people mention her age, so why is she using age now? This will come to bite her in her “middle-aged girl” behind.
The women retire to their originally chosen bedrooms to change into “pajamas” for a “relaxed” dinner at the villa. Sheree, Porsha, and Shamea hole up in a bedroom to call Kim and tell her everything she’s missed. Sheree barely lets the phone stop ringing before she tells Kim that NeNe brought her name up, saying it was dumb that she wouldn’t come on the trip without Kroy. Porsha starts to say something, then retracts, saying she’ll save it for another time, and Sheree chimes in, “No, that’s what we need to do.” Never change, Sheree.
Porsha gives perhaps the worst performance of her prestigious acting career when she says, “I didn’t know that you were a cancer survivor, and I was going to say that’s wonderful and a blessing because cancer runs in my family.” Kim shoots back that she’s not a cancer survivor (we’d already gotten the wonderful old-timey clip of her saying her doctor told her she could have had cancer) and wants to know why NeNe was running her mouth. Sheree tells her that NeNe “said something to the effect of” her faking her various health issues. Kim becomes furious, saying, “She’s f—ing scum and I won’t even acknowledge it.”
Reader: She acknowledges it.
The ladies sit down to the dinner table, where Marlo has placed a tiara in honor of Kenya and a wig in honor of Kim. Shamea brings up “the elders” situation from earlier, and NeNe briefly loses her mind — and apparently comes down with a temporary case of amnesia — fussing at everyone for continuing to talk about her age that she brought up. But she gets over it because she gets to say a shady blessing, which is NeNe’s love language: “Lord, please know that I am zero to 100, Jesus. I do not have a middle ground, Lord, and I have given out all the passes that you have asked me to give, Lord. And I have left zero, and I am very close to 100. Please, be with me Jesus.”
Unfortunately, Bravo’s lord and savior, Andy Cohen, was not with NeNe on that night. After some brief moments of shade, everyone is chatting happily around the table, as we see the women start to look at their phones. First Kandi; then Sheree; Porsha yammers on in the background. (I love it, and I hate myself for loving it.) Kim has texted the entire group: “NeNe is sick and disgusting. And I’m not just speaking on the fact that she made fun of a SERIOUS health issue I had. But I’m also speaking on the fact that she lives in a f—ing roach nest.”
Cue the video of Kim’s daughter Brielle being in NeNe’s home for some reason (maybe using the restroom while waiting with Kroy in the Escalade outside) and Snapchatting videos of roaches in NeNe’s bathroom. “Kim and Brielle are, like, taping videos in people’s homes and saving them for ‘mad day’?” asks Cynthia, incredulous. “But that’s a beat bathroom, though,” says Eva, having no idea what she’s signed herself up for. Kim’s text continues: “For someone that has two beautiful kids and an amazing husband, she should be worried about karma. But this is coming from the same person who takes handicap spots from a handicap person.”
Steam coming out of her ears, NeNe asks how Kim could already know what was talked about on the bus, and Sheree, whose photo could truly be under the definition of “shameless” in the dictionary, says, “How you think?” Of course she’s going to tell Kim the smack NeNe was talking, Sheree says in testimonial: “A bone carrier is never off her job.” For the most part, NeNe doesn’t seem too upset with the messengers, just the (text) message. She is…livid. Her eyes do not open for the next 10 minutes. Truly. For some reason, NeNe screams everything she has to say about Kim with her eyes closed, including but not limited to, “CAN’T NONE OF Y’ALL STEP IN MY HOUSE AND SAY A MOTHERF—ING THING,” and “ALL MY S— IS BRAND NEW WITH REAL TAGS AND REAL LABELS,” and “Y’ALL BITCHES AIN’T EVEN GOT POOLS!”
To her credit, NeNe does not walk back on what she implied earlier. She tells Shree she does think Kim is faking her illnesses — my other least favorite Housewives trope, coincidentally. As Eva looks on wearily at her first official Housewives group dinner, NeNe, with eyes-a-closed, spits, “She’s a trashy, no-good bitch, she’s always been trash, and she’s gon’ always be trash.” Buenos noches and muy bien nachos, everyone!