This is it!
The longest season is over!
As we enter the third and final hour of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” reunion shows for season four, we witness yet again what is considered a staple in the “Real Housewives” oeuvre: arguments where each woman is talking over the other one to the point where you can’t really follow what’s going on. It’s obfuscation via vociferous venting.
If there were a “Real Housewives 101″ course at the local community college, this type of argumentative style could take up an entire class. From a viewers’ standpoint, it’s like watching a wrestling match or a hockey fight: entertaining with virtually no actual nourishment included.
Marlo Hampton and Sheree Whitfield worked the verbal jousting quite famously in South Africa, adding in strange facial expressions, anti-gay slurs and juvenile imitations of each other. ( “I don’t even remember that moment,” Sheree said in retrospect.) Kim Zolciak and NeNe Leakes have talked over each other several times. Kandi Burruss worked it tonight with Marlo, as did Cynthia Bailey and Kim.
Host Andy Cohen, when this happens on a reunion show, is like a referee who lets the idiocy go on just long enough before he says, “Hold it!” and sends each woman back to their respective corners.
During the Kim/Cynthia jousting, Cynthia regurgitates an argument from season one’s reunion show, which we even get to see again featuring NeNe’s infamous line to Kim: “Close your legs to married men!” And Marlo must have seen that first season show as well, because NeNe used a nasty insult (”Hooker!”) to Kim that first season, which Marlo recycles using the even tawdrier “Whore!”
Watch the season one moment for nostalgia’s sake:
Kim once again defends dating Big Poppa, despite the fact he was still married. Why? He was separated and not living with his wife. Kim spent plenty of time with him. (Yet if things were so great, why did she never say Lee Najjar’s name on air?)
During this argument, a genuine snarky smile emerges from NeNe’s usual pursed lips. And Cohen utters, “I thought you two made up!”
Then we quickly segue to a classic Marlo vs. Kandi dust up.
Andy asks Kandi how she feels about Marlo calling her a “sugar mama” during an earlier taped party. Kandi says she thought that was funny. She was more annoyed by how Marlo was deliberately trying to rile things up between her and Kim by saying Kandi was like “big poppa” in earshot of Kim and her then boyfriend Kroy Biermann.
To back up her case, Marlo says Kandi is dating a Bravo production guy, who does not make nearly as much money as Kandi and drives Kandi’s car. Kandi said he has his own vehicle, a Range Rover, and owns his own place to boot.
Then Kandi goes for the jugular: “I don’t care if I took care of every mother-****** in here. I could!” (In other words, who’s really rich here, b****?)
It’s odd that Marlo, who has no problem dating rich men, is going after Kandi for being her own woman. Marlo also has an incredibly annoying argumentative facial expression, which usually features a very fake smile. At least Kim and NeNe “look” angry while they yelp at each other. Kandi flails her arms about and bugs her eyes out.
After mocking both Kim (”whore!”) and Kandi (”sugar mama!”), Marlo gives an odd summary of her viewpoint: “Bottom line. The girls are just worried what Marlo does. Who cares what I do? I don’t care what you do! I don’t care if Kandi takes care of 50 men or if Kim slept with 50 people. You have to get to know me as a person.” So she somehow claims to “not care” and then insult Kim and Kandi again. Impressive!
In other, less compelling, topics:
- The “Smalls” (effectively, Phaedra, Kim and Sheree) accuse of Cynthia of being two faced. “She changes when she comes around you,” Sheree said to NeNe. Then to Cynthia: “Your demeanor is totally different.”
Kandi adds: “You have one opinion one day. Then your opinion changes when [NeNe] is around.”
- NeNe accuses the Smalls of kowtowing to Kim and reporting to the “boss” whenever something happens. (They all say they’re their own boss – or more truthfully, given how much cash they get from Bravo, NBCUniversal is their boss.) And Cynthia noted how th Smalls grovel and seek Kim’s approval and apologies.
- Later, in a sort of farewell montage to Sheree, we see her arguing with Kim (pulling her wig), verbally rocking it with a so-called party planner (”who gonna check me boo?”), going at it with NeNe (”Your first car was repo’ed in the parking lot of Home Depot!”) and then parrying with Marlo. “I’m not proud of all those,” Sheree says afterwards.
- There is still tension between Kim and NeNe. Yawn.
- None of the Smalls admit to seeing NeNe on “Glee.”
- NeNe, who was already trying to get acting roles while “Real Housewives” season one was being cast in 2008, helped get both Sheree and Kim on board. She says the producers thought Sheree was “a tad boring” but NeNe went to bat for her. They didn’t originally think of casting a white person on the show but Kim was perfect, they thought. (I do recall NeNe saying at least some of this before the show had even aired.)
At the end, Cohen had each castmate summarize their current goings on:
- Besides “Glee,” NeNe has a new wine coming out. This was taped before we found out she was cast in an NBC Ryan Murphy pilot as a recurring role.
- Cynthia continues to run her modeling agency and loves teaching the classes.
- Kandi’s Bedroom Kandi is doing well and she’s in love.
- Phaedra wants to create a video to focus on creating a better booty as well as learning the funeral business.
- Sheree is hoping to revive She By Sheree with fitness apparel and shoes.
- Kim’s spinoff show is coming out April 26 and she has a new country song “Love Me First.”
“She was in prison for a reason. She’s crazy!” Kim, on Marlo
“I will watch myself on the show and bust out laughing.” - NeNe. (Kandi rolled her eyes.)
“The way you’re going, I’m going to have to give you some.” Kandi, referencing cash, to Marlo, who didn’t make it as a cast member of “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Somehow, she didn’t meet Bravo’s stringent high standards!
“My house is paid for!” – Kandi. Some other folks on the show? Not so much.
“She can be a baby NeNe,” - NeNe, about Marlo, in an oddly condescending way considering they’re friends.
“I will always have a lot because haters like you keep hating. Look at me!” – Marlo, the woman whose ego has no bounds. Does that even make any sense?
“Think before I speak.” - Marlo, noting the lesson she learned from using that anti-gay slur in South Africa that rhymes with “gag.”
“I’m always taught a man is supposed to protect and provide. I’m sorry. Some women have to protect and provide,” Marlo, justifying her own behavior while oddly belittling Kandi for being an independent woman.
The second reunion show on Thursday, which isn’t a normal night for “Housewives of Atlanta,’ drew 2.54 million viewers, slightly below average for the season as a whole and down from Sunday’s fireworks-filled reunion show. It’s comparable to what the second reunion show last year drew (2.65 million.)
UPDATE: This finale episode drew 3.23 million, up slightly from a week earlier and the best numbers for a reunion episode ever. So all the drama brought viewers back after ratings slipped in the second half of the season.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk