Real Housewives of Atlanta Review: Copper Sun or Scarlet Sea
On the Real Housewives of Atlanta this week, we learn: 1. Girls like pink, 2. Attempts at forced reconciliation can really go either way, and 3. There should have been a sexy “Men of American Slavery” photo calendar, but it’s probably not too late.
At the outset, we join Kim and Kroy at a firing range; the former is reluctant about the latter’s insistence on her learning how to operate a gun for the sake of her own safety when he’s not around. After a bit of prodding and some practice shots at the man-shaped cutout (And why they always gotta be black, anyway?), Kim picks out her soft pink gun because “it’s cute,” though she still has no interest in weapons. Indoor shooting range scenes are among the most over-used and underwhelming in the history of moving pictures.
Over at some posh-chic restaurant for lunch, Apollo and Phaedra sit down for a nosh with Peter and Cynthia. In an attempt to re-erect the bridges Peter set aflame, Cynthia forces conversation until it becomes less awkward and more natural. Desperate for validation about her failing marriage, she asks Apollo how he and Phaedra keep it together without wanting to kill each other and then themselves. (I added that last part, which is technically unfeasible.) He says that fights are normal, but communication is key, and everyone wants to bail sometimes. Cynthia sighs with relief and laughs in gratitude, saying she’s happy to know she and Peter aren’t so weird, after all. The difference seems to be that Phaedra is a master manipulator who has her hubby permanently lodged under her thumb even as she pretends to be servile in the name of God, while Cynthia is barely tolerated and might as well be deaf and mute as far as Peter is concerned.
Apparently, Phaedra has planned an elaborate trip to South Africa for all of her RHOA girlfriends, and she’s super excited to invite everyone. Though we’re to believe this is Phaedra’s pet project since she once went to Ghana and takes African dance lessons, I’m thankful to the producers for realizing we need a break from the scenery in Atlanta.
Somewhere across the city, NeNe meets again with John, her Italian lothario and business partner. After NeNe describes her vision for the high-society nightclub and lounge that will bear her name, she negotiates 60% ownership of the place and receives an expensive pair of high heels as a gift from John. Claiming she feels uncomfortable with this sort of romantic overture in this professional context, NeNe tells us she ultimately can’t do anything about the fact that John seems crazy about her. Right. I’m not sure her squealing and bouncing and grinning did much to convey her discomfort, but maybe John will catch a hint at some point.
After some intense African dancing in a pristine studio, Kandi and Phaedra step aside to gossip about Marlo. Kandi found Marlo’s mugshots in the blogs, and it seems she’s been arrested for bad checks and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. It seems Marlo’s testimony over wine with NeNe was missing a few colorful details. Kandi has found a treasure trove; she probably stayed up late into the night reading every available account of every scandalous thing Marlo ever did, just so she could make snide comments later in her talking heads while simultaneously claiming to be “above all the drama.” Phaedra gets the vapors and starts fanning herself. Though her own husband has had his brushes with the law, Phaedra explains, there’s something much scarier about female criminals. I can’t begin to try to understand her logic, but I love Phaedra for always finding a way to pass judgment, no matter what the circumstances.
Over at the quarters of her favorite psychic life advisor, Kim sits with Kroy and the baby to discuss their future as a family. Flashbacks to Season Two remind us both that the psychic predicted Kim would have a baby boy soon and that Kim once possessed somewhat of a healthy glow and a pretty face free of injections and enhancements. The psychic predicts another baby girl, a lifetime of love and togetherness for Kim and Kroy, and a long phase of playboy antics for their son. She also adds that lots of people around Kim are jealous and spiteful. When Kim corroborates, the psychic assures her this is for the best. The older you get, the more you realize how few friends you really need, she explains. Geez, how much does Kim pay this woman to tell her exactly what she wants to hear? “People are haters, you and your perfect, pretty family is going to be perfect forever, and friends? Who needs ‘em, right?” That old lady must be raking it in!
On a field trip to Atlanta’s Apex Museum, Sheree and Phaedra start checking out a slavery exhibit, complete with lean, muscular wax figures of shackled male slaves. Because they’re mind-bogglingly superficial, and because they realize they’re still on TV, the two ladies preoccupy themselves with loudly cackling and slapping high fives while taking turns peeking under the figure’s loin cloth like girls in a schoolyard who have heard about those penis things and want to see how icky they are in person. All of this takes place in the lobby, from which a tour guide then guides them into more private areas of the exhibit. She seems less than amused by Sheree and Phaedra, who continue commenting on the “fine” wax men and huddling to giggle at their misbehavior instead of allowing the history and gravity to wash over them in a humbling wave of sorrow and gratitude. Eventually, they slap on a couple of near-sufficient looks of reserved reverence for the sake of the incredulous tour guide, who had a great story to tell when she got home that night.
Kandi, having agreed to join Phaedra, Cynthia, and Sheree on the Africa trip, gathers all the women (with Phaedra inexplicably missing) for a fancy meal in a private room at a restaurant. Also in attendance is her mom Joyce, who immediately starts drinking a beverage she incorrectly assumed to be nonalcoholic. This probably explains her behavior over dinner, which consists of her asking all the young’uns why they can’t just get along after so many years of friendship. Noticing the icy tension between Kim and NeNe and NeNe and Sheree (if I’m keeping track of the feuds correctly), she tells them bluntly that their behavior is petty and childish, and they should be more mature than that by now. Her advice goes in and out of a few ears; the women smugly resolve to stay prideful and stubborn for as long as they like.
When Kandi tries to feed off her mom’s optimism by asking Kim and NeNe to come to Africa, Kim uses her new baby excuse to get out of it, but NeNe can only decline in a bratty tone and claim to not be interested before returning to texting under the table. Sheree tells the camera NeNe should get herself out of the country, since she probably doesn’t have any stamps in her passport. “Get some culture!” says the woman who spent a recent afternoon acting a damn fool at a museum.
By the end of the night, Joyce has tried to force a conversation between Kim and NeNe and failed miserably, with Kim responding that the two of them are divorced for good by now. Outside, Kandi and Cynthia have successfully persuaded NeNe to come on the Africa excursion, because her insecurity prevented her from agreeing until she was specifically told that her presence was desired. I guess we all just want to be wanted, don’t we?
NEXT WEEK: The dangerous outlaw Marlo worms her way into the ladies’ trip to the Motherland.
Season 4, Episode 10: “We Come in Peace (and Packing Heat)” (original airdate January 15, 2012.)
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays at 9/8c on Bravo.
Images courtesy of John Amis and Bravo.