Real Housewives of Atlanta Review: She Works Hard for the Money
This week’s Real Housewives of Atlanta is all about career: personal aspirations, dream vocations and good old-fashioned werk. Except for Kim, who will never lift a finger for as long as she lives.
After making much of their mutual dislike, Cynthia and Kim decide to hash things out over a civilized lunch. Kim has the chutzpah to reprimand her tablemate for being much ballsier around NeNe than she is on her own. Cyn reminds Kim they don’t “know each other like that,” which is to say Kim has no right to evaluate Cynthia’s personality. Their status as mere acquaintances also explains why Cynthia never expected to be held accountable for her hateration in Africa. As soon as Cyn cops to, and apologizes for, a variation of the Black baby comment, Kim is eager to move on. When Cynthia suggests a “double date” with their respective men, Kim is all, “Yeah, totally, sounds super!” at the table before confessing in a talking head that she’d rather be wrongfully convicted and publicly executed following the massacre of a million Black babies than share a quick tea and cucumber sandwich with Peter. Her actual words were something like, “Hell, no!” but I read between the lines.
Ms. Leakes may have forever forfeited meal privileges with Kim due to her own unwillingness to hammer things out over a 30-dollar salad, but she’s too on her grind to care. That’s wise, since ladies who lunch seldom do much else. All the way across the country, NeNe checks into an executive suite at the Los Angeles Omni Hotel with her “verrry gay” sometimes-assistant Andre. (With a name like that, who needs a disclaimer?) NeNe’s in LA to meet with the Glee producers and consider a relocation, since she’s all famous now and can’t resist the allure of Tinseltown. By now, we’ve seen NeNe on Glee, and she’s been adequate at delivering lines without making them sound distractingly awful, which is the most we could hope for. “I’m aiming for that Oscar,” NeNe tells us with apparent sincerity. “I’ve got to get an Oscar.” As pie-in-the-sky as that goal may sound, it’s infinitely more realistic and attainable than Kim’s visions of pop stardom.
Also on a never-ending quest to monetize herself in any way possible, Kandi discusses her new line of sex toys over a video chat with an Amsterdam-based dildo craftsman. Bedroom Kandi is designed to look like makeup items; there’s a cute little black and pink lipstick tube and a chic, shiny powder thingy and it’s actually kind of smart. But I wish she didn’t find it necessary to describe in graphic detail the ways in which she plans to personally put these tools to use. Kandi manages to be both a total trip and an utter bore at the same time. That said, I’m inspired by her ability to materialize every one of her creative ideas almost immediately. The light bulb isn’t even done switching on before the first prototypes have hit her desk.
Cynthia is a significantly less confident, and less capable, one-woman brand than Kandi. But what she lacks in know-how, she makes up for in nonchalance and mandatory allegiance to her husband. The Bailey Agency is on the brink of its first stupidly lame model search, and there’s lots of planning to be done! Where should the judge’s table be? Over here or more, like, over there? How many folks should stand in the room at once? Cynthia couldn’t possibly work out such logistics on her own, so Peter is on-hand to make sure Mal has left the premises for good and to remind Cynthia that this is the first worthwhile thing she’s ever attempted and she’d better not screw it up.
Meanwhile, Phaedra has just one more test to pass for her funeral home apprenticeship. “I’m meeting with a real grieving family!” she gushes. “I’m sad for them, but I’m a little excited for myself.” A young man and his sister sit down with Phaedra at a conference table to discuss their father’s remains. I cannot stress how profoundly uncomfortable I feel while watching this scene. You see, Phaedra needs to obtain biographical information about this man, along with a valid credit card number to cover the $14,022.18 in fees after the selection of a frivolously lavish casket, while simultaneously feigning sympathy and genuine interest in what he was like. So she thinks she’ll sound natural and supportive if she just speaks slowly in creepy hushed tones, especially when referencing payment information. Instead, she comes off as opportunistic and hollow- a Stepford Wife chasing an ambulance. As it turns out, she was dealing with a mock family all along. The two pranksters give Phaedra a positive review and claim she passed with flying colors. And then they silently pray this is just a silly plot point because no one could be serious about her candidacy for this job.
Phaedra has a surefire knack for making everything about her, and that’s a fact. Case in point: The city of Atlanta has chosen to honor ole Willie Watkins for some reason or other with a lengthy formal event, and Phaedra pitches it to the ladies as her own personal coming out party. Everyone shows up decked out in their best Sunday threads, expecting something notable or at least faintly fabulous to occur. The moment never comes. For hours, they must endure droning speeches about Brother Watkins and how he does good things for the community and is a wonderful family man who’s lovingly buried a lotta folks. Phaedra’s girlfriends don’t have any idea who Willie Watkins is, nor do they know why anyone should care. “What a waste of an outfit and a wig,” says Cynthia to the camera.
Kim and Sheree sneak outside to chat, whining about how long and boring the program is. Kim can’t be feeling too crabby, though, since she’s now officially engaged. Sheree is very excited, mainly because Kim’s rock is roughly the size of that piece of toast I’m saving for when I can afford the butter to accompany it. And it’s sparkly, too. Also, Kroy proposed with rose petals. Eeeeee! Kim and Sheree hug and squeal and entertain the idea that they’ll be friends long enough for Sheree to act as a bridesmaid. Then they head back into the dreary middle school assembly that is their pitiful evening.
Inside, Phaedra impatiently bites her lip and taps her foot and looks at her watch and furiously repeats the universal “wrap it up” signal in her head while waiting for everyone to stop blabbering on about the guest of honor and get to the part where all eyes are fixed on Phaedra.
At long last, it’s Phaedra’s turn to take the stage. She announces her vague future plan to partner with Willie in opening a brand new boutique funeral home, where she promises they’ll orchestrate “funerals worth dying for!” Phaedra waited all night to deliver that line. She gives it time to land on the thoroughly underwhelmed audience, and Apollo’s face hangs drained and expressionless next to hers above the podium.
NEXT WEEK: In the season finale, Cynthia holds her model search, NeNe gets yet another gift from her Italian John, and Marlo shows up at Kandi’s sex toy party to cause trouble.
Season 4, Episode 19: “All Pomp But No Circumstance” (originally aired April 1, 2012)
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The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sunday night 9 p.m. on Bravo.
Images courtesy of Bravo.