Real Housewives of Atlanta: African Queens

By Brigette Flood and Sandy M. Tyler

This week’s episode is mostly a tease for the upcoming Atlanta Housewives trip to South Africa, “hosted” by Phaedra. Normally, an international trip with a group takes weeks of carefully planning. Being connoisseurs of the Real Housewives franchise as a whole, we know the real host is Bravo, looking to mix things up with a big trip. Likely along with the South African Tourism Bureau, looking for a promotional tie-in. Who doesn’t like a school of fish out-of-water story? We’re totally on board. Could there be a better cast of housewives for an international travel disaster? Last night, Phaedra called the Vice-President of Ghana to talk about her visit. Problem is: Ghana is nowhere near South Africa, so we’re not sure what the point was. Also unfortunate for Phaedra, her mobile phone was nowhere near a cell tower, introducing His Excellency to the American tradition of dropping your call in mid-sentence and ending your chat.

Travel “planning” gives Phaedra a great opportunity to spend some time with the other housewives, spreading the word about the trip and soaking in a little “culture” along the way. Things start at a dinner with Peter and Cynthia at Café Circa, giving Peter and Apollo a chance to start over with their friendship. Phaedra was able to dine on Edgewood Avenue without any comments about being in the ghetto, and things went well, other than Peter asking Phaedra about her age.

Cynthia is all about the trip to South Africa. Already been and can’t wait to get back. After the meal, she gives NeNe a call and mentions the plan. NeNe is sporting her usual negativity, slamming Phaedra and saying she has no interest. We assume she’ll change her mind because it’s the trip of a lifetime and the more you’re in the story, the more likely you are to land those other gigs – like Glee and Celebrity Apprentice – NeNe seems to dig so much.

Later, Phaedra takes Kandi to an African dance class to start their cultural preparations. The class looked incredibly fun, but it’s not an activity for the inhibited or uncoordinated. Kandi’s excuses about being a singer and not a dancer seemed silly. She might not be as ready for an episode of So You Think You Can African Dance? as Phaedra, but it looked like a sweat-inspiring workout.

Phaedra also takes Shereé on a tour of the Apex Museum, where they seek to “interpret and present history from an African-American prospective.” Phaedra and Shereé seem more interested in the physical attributes of the exhibit mannequins than the museum narrative. Normally, we appreciate ATL Housewife frivolity, but sometimes it’s just tacky and mortifying. This was one of those times. They’re not going to South Africa because Apartheid cracks them up. They take things seriously for a bit, but then the petty drama begins again. NeNe is the subject, and so far, she’s the most divisive part of the trip planning.

NeNe meets with John Kolaj from Famous Famiglia Pizza again. They‘re planning a chain of upscale lounges that NeNe says should appeal to business executives earning $200K and up. We’re not sure what’s more ridiculous, NeNe thinking her “brand” appeals to this demographic or her “business” partner saying the lounges could run somewhere between $750K and $1.8 million to build. Let’s hope the project manager at the meeting is better at budget planning and tracking than John because that’s quite a wide range. Even if NeNe and John’s relationship is as fake as their lounge business plan, at least her wardrobe of Louboutins continues to grow. Maybe that’s why there’s such a budget discrepancy.

Kim, Kroy and baby KJ enjoyed some key “first” outings this week: first trip to the gun range and first trip to the psychic. While most of us can’t cross those off our list before our 1-year birthday, at least KJ will be comfortable handling a plastic GLOCK, a toy 9MM and asking his spiritual medium when he’ll beat his diaper rash or cut his first teeth. We wonder how many babies need sitters at Sharp Shooters USA. Do the hearing protection headphones at the gun range come with SpongeBob SquarePants on them? Let’s hope so.

The last scene provided much ado about nada. We’ve all experienced awkward dinners. They come in many varieties: family, friends, business, romantic, reality TV, etc. Kandi and Miss Joyce hosted one of the latter last night. They invited all the women to Straits, Ludacris’ soon-to-close restaurant. Kandi’s trying to make peace and build excitement for the South Africa trip. Minus Phaedra, all the ladies were in attendance, but there were too many flavors at the table that don’t mix well.

In the same sense that Phaedra & Apollo and Cynthia & Peter might not make any sense together (as Cynthia pointed out), the Atlanta ladies have too much bad history for things to be easily smoothed over at a dinner. Even though Mama Joyce and Kandi try to restart friendships, it’s not working. The once-close pals are now emotionally divorced from each other.

Shereé wisely declares that you can’t make people be friends. We agree. The good news is there’s an unspoken truce happening. It’s not good for TV drama and the embarrassment Bravo likes, but it seems good for Shereé, Kim and NeNe. No wig pulling, no face-to-face combat, no scene-stealing, verbal abuse. Kudos, ladies. You might finally be maturing before our very DVRs. But the housewives need each other to keep entertaining the masses, so we’ll see how long it lasts. Irreconcilable differences happen, no matter how many times Miss Joyce tries to dictate otherwise.

Speaking of Miss Joyce, will someone please help her pick a more flattering wig? She is an attractive, smart, inspiring woman, so let’s get some hair on her that reflects those aspects of her amazing personality better. She’s making Andy Cohen’s late night job too easy.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is the editor of Atlanta Intown.