Real Housewives of Atlanta Review: Leaving on a Jet Plane
This week’s Real Housewives of Atlanta is kind of like a collection of bonus footage from other more interesting episodes. Most of it deals with the cast’s preparation for their South Africa trip, which is about to get way more real than anyone could have anticipated, and the rest features Kim doing another wacky thing to her body in an attempt to avoid working out.
For some stupid reason, NeNe believes Marlo merits immediate biffle status on account of the fact that they both like labels and shopping. I’ll admit, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for a vain reality show star to find friends who share her crazy niche interest in expensive shoes and clothes, but isn’t it a little early to be cozying up like this? By all indications, Marlo is nuttier than Skippy Super Chunk, and that’s before you factor in the multiple mug shots. For now, NeNe doesn’t care. Showing up at Marlo’s place to squeal at her full closets one afternoon, NeNe receives a new Chanel bag as a gift upon admiring it. As her mind is flooded with visions of the future- a movie titled Marlo and Me and a jointly-owned shoe store called Sole Mates- NeNe imagines a life with her new best friend and embraces her over-sized Chanel with a grin.
Is it standard to require your at-home personal chef to wear his official white uniform while on duty? I feel like the other women haven’t been doing it, but Marlo’s staff is all decked out and probably terrified to look her in the eyes, so they mostly stay silent as NeNe discusses the Africa trip with her new bestie in the kitchen. Marlo, tactful as always, pretty much invites herself along when NeNe complains that she doesn’t want to travel with Phaedra or Sheree. This scene is supposed to convince us that the decision for NeNe to “surprise the girls” with Marlo’s presence on the trip is totally organic, which is not likely.
Both Kandi and Kim want to slim down and tighten up a bit, so the editors have spliced together scenes of the two women illustrating their different approaches to the task. Silly Kandi goes the exhausting route and does actual physical exercise with her trainer in a gym before an intense outdoor obstacle course, while Kim is smart enough to pay someone a buttload of money to wrap her entire body in some kind of white gauze and anti-aging minerals and have her hop on a trampoline a few times. Doesn’t Kandi know rich people aren’t supposed to break a sweat? Besides, Kandi’s trainer is all mean and stuff, advising her not to eat deep-fried foods anymore if she wants to lose the weight. At home in her own backyard, Kim teases her husband even as holds their baby and watches her slowly turn into a walking mummy, and we know they’ll order pizza afterward. For Kim, there’s no one to be accountable to, no one who offers a challenge or any measure of discipline, and isn’t that the point of having lots of money, after all?
At Casa de Peter (and Cynthia), the happy couple is talking about the trip. Cynthia tells us she can’t wait to have the full Africa experience, with authentic food and dancing and clothes. Yeah, that sounds pretty full to me, since my mind is blanking on anything else she might encounter on the continent. Next to Peter at home, she can’t stop beaming about her 10-day vacation with her friends. Peter is upset that they never had a honeymoon and tries to guilt Cynthia about leaving her “husband and kid” alone. I admire her for not hiding her excitement about escaping for a little while. She’s positively glowing, and Peter claims he’s never seen her this happy. Unfortunately, Cynthia thinks the trip will do some kind of voodoo magic, making her thrilled to see Peter again when the plane lands in Atlanta. I’ve always wondered, what exactly does absence do to the wounded narcissist’s ego in lieu of a heart?
Over at Phaedra’s place, Apollo promises unconvincingly that he can take care of their toddler while the woman of the house is gone for more than a week. While knocking around in the kitchen, Phaedra brings up Marlo’s seven mugshots to Apollo’s shock and tells the camera she doesn’t typically hang around women with long rap sheets, so she’s scared the gold-digging socialite might try something sneaky. But she still obliviously thinks NeNe will be their biggest problem, since Marlo’s invitation is a secret. Joking that maybe they’ll luck out and NeNe will be kidnapped by an assailant from the brush, Phaedra hides her seething resentment under a layer of strong desire to witness some drama, which is thinly disguised by good-natured quips. It’s what any decent Southern belle would do.
The NFL lockout is over all of a sudden, and Family Man Kroy has to haul ass to training camp in the morning. Kim wasn’t prepared, so she’s emotional over their final dinner together before a month-long separation. That sounds horrible following the recent birth of a baby. Drinking margaritas (supposedly Kim’s first dose of alcohol since before the pregnancy), the lovers lament their predicament and move on to debating about Kim’s assistant Sweetie. Kroy isn’t so hopeful that Sweetie will help hold down the house while he’s away, confirming my long-held suspicion that she’s less than competent in her role. Kim trusts Sweetie to “step up her game” and contribute to the mission of averting chaos, but I think even she knows what a tall order that is. Before they head home for a surprise Kim has arranged on Kroy’s last night home, Kroy explains how he’s got the mansion’s security cameras streaming to his phone, laptop, and iPad, so he’ll be able to keep an eye on Kim whenever he wants. Also, there will be no naughty Skyping, since he’ll have roommates. Wow, this all sounds really fun for his wife!
Could somebody please explain how it’s not humiliating for Kim’s parents to be working alongside Sweetie back at the house, helping her prepare a romantic sex sanctuary for their daughter and her jock husband by filling the tub with bubble bath? Of course, by the time the happy twosome returns, Sweetie is still not done lighting candles and tossing flower petals around, so she makes them wait outside at the door, even though Kim tried calling thrice to warn her to be ready. Having had his surprise totally ruined, Kroy now realizes he is to wait patiently while Sweetie and the ‘rents finish readying the scene for his entrance. I imagine it’s considerably less sexy, especially when Kim’s father decides to greet Kroy and warn him about safe sex before awkwardly slinking out the bathroom door to leave them to it.
For the women who aren’t playing housewife with quite as much zeal as Kim is lately, it’s flight day. Phaedra and Kandi are the first to arrive at the airport after saying goodbye to Apollo and Mama Joyce respectively (with inappropriately lusty tongue kisses and warm hugs, respectively). As on her blind dates, Sheree arrives with an absurd amount of baggage in tow, with sunshades and a whining complaint to get things rolling. She hopes she doesn’t “run into a mosquito,” she says, because that’s a reasonable request in her mind.
Cynthia arrives with no-muss, no-fuss braids for the trip, which is wise. Just when the women are wondering who else will actually show up, NeNe enters the building and dramatically tells them to wait a moment so that Marlo can make her climactic entrance from the limo. As the group takes turns greeting her, they do very little to conceal their revulsion. No one looks remotely happy to see Marlo, but she decides to make it even more weird by asking them to assure her that they’re glad she’s tagging along. Phaedra introduces the latest in a long line of food-related colloquialisms in a talking head, where she smiles and refers to the surprise as “a little more spice for the gumbo,” but Kandi’s assessment is positively eye-opening. “Last year, NeNe brought Diana to Miami, and this year she’s bringing Marlo to Africa,” she reminds us. “She needs her muscle with her, and with Marlo’s record, she’s good muscle.” Kandi has never been more insightful in her life.
NEXT WEEK: The safari animals aren’t the only ones on a rampage as dancing, drinking, and good cheer devolve into screaming matches and hurtful insults between the women as they enjoy the Motherland.
Season 4, Episode 11: “Shaping Up and Shipping Out” (original airdate January 22, 2012)
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays at 9/8c on Bravo.
Images courtesy of Wilford Harewood and Bravo.