“New Attitude, Same ATL” The Real Housewives of Atlanta recap/opinion poll

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Welcome back to The Real Housewives of Atlanta, where silk plants are tres tres tres déclassé and verbal throwdowns are ended with “yo mama.”

Let’s jump right in to the recap and my first weekly assessment of the ladies’, ahem, performances.

We open with Dwight visiting NeNe at her new home in the same country club resort as Lisa (St. Marlo in Duluth). Mr. Eubanks, naturally, is there to assess NeNe’s décor and immediately nixes the silk plants and declares NeNe’s ten-year-old’s karaoke machine as “dreadful.” Then he proceeds to give NeNe a lap dance to lyrics of “sweet like a Georgia peach.”

And where is Kim? She’s filled her car full up to the brim with shattered dreams and delusions in order to make it all the way out to the backwoods suburban Atlanta home of her longtime psychic, Rose. Kim reveals that she’s (for the moment) not with Big Poppa anymore (there was some betrayal of a vague kind that included him talking to people he shouldn’t have or some such—I’m guessing that’s what got him in trouble with his wife, too). And then Rose predicts a baby boy in Kim’s future to which Kim declares she’s going to go get on birth control and everyone watching declares the antichrist has been foretold.

Sheree is moving into her new home after her ex, Bob Whitfield, failed to make his obligatory mortgage payments without telling her and their former home went into foreclosure. Then she brags to her children about her cart-wheeling and says to her son, “Kairo, your mama got skills.” Then her friend Tania comes over at which time it’s revealed that she’s planning an Independence Party to celebrate her freedom from Bob.

Lisa, meanwhile, is playing with her youngest son, adorable EJ, with her equally adorable husband, Ed, as they discuss adding to the family. Lisa’s concerned she’s getting older and that might make getting pregnant more difficult, but Ed, six or seven years her junior, says, “I don’t have a problem with that … We can do it right now!”

Back to Sheree, who tells her party planner how she wants to arrive to her party: Nevermind foreclosure, “I want a helicopter.”

And finally we meet Kandi, as she comes to Lisa’s to convince her to partake in a Vagina Monologues-esque play centered on black women called The Pocketbook Monologues. What follows is some of the best/worst dialogue ever. Lisa: “What if they give me an angry vagina?” Kandi: “Well you don’t want to be the goodie-two-shoes vagina!” Then Kandi reveals her mother doesn’t like her fiancé, AJ, because he has too many kids. “How many is too many?” asks Lisa. “Six.” Cut to Lisa in a confessional afterward: “That’s a lot.”

Oh boy, it’s time for Reno 911 star Niecy Nash’s birthday party. I can’t tell where this is taking place, exactly, but it looks like somewhere Downtown. NeNe comes with Lisa and just as they arrive, Kim sidles past them into the party without a word, calls Niecy Nash a bitch (as she apparently does to everyone), then almost immediately leaves. Commence the gossiping once Sheree arrives—Oh ho, what is this? Sheree has lost her taste for Kim as well and is commiserating with Lisa and NeNe about Kim’s trash-talking.

Onward: Kandi—“an original Georgia peach”—is in the studio with mega-producer Dallas Austin (or, as she called him earlier, “Dallas Awesome”). And we get the first glimpse of her precocious daughter, Riley. She talks about how she’s invested in property over the years, owns a modest home, and is thinking long-term. She also laments the fact that she’s “become part of the cycle” of single-motherhood. Later, she asks Riley how she feels about her marrying A.J. “Well, I’m not excited,” admits Riley, then goes through all of A.J.’s kids, counting them off and saying they would all be her “friend.” It seems she doesn’t want to have to share her mama.

NeNe and Sheree meet to make up over their differences last season while Kim visits Empire Beauty School to learn more about hair for her proposed new wig line. After one class she’s clearly bored. Wait—after one sentence she’s clearly bored and says she’ll just pay someone who knows what they’re doing to make the wigs. As she looks at the textbook, she tells the instructor, “Nobody wants to read, really.” “Not in this industry,” replies the instructor with a soul-deadened laugh.

And finally. Finally! The moment they usually make you wait till the end of the season to see: Sheree shares a verbal explosion with her unhelpful party planner, Anthony, after her Bellogique stylist, Lawrence, encourages her: “That’s some bullshit . . . You’re the boss bitch.” So after pretty much keeping her cool as Anthony has a meltdown when confronted about his party-planning shortcomings, Sheree fights back—the “Cleveland girl” comes out screaming and a vein as thick an index finger pops from her throat. Things fizzle out once Anthony’s staff restrains him and he gets in a final “Yo mama” comment. Sheree slumps back in disgust. “Who says that?”

So now that we’ve all been eased back into the lives of the Housewives, we’ll travel down from the rottenest peach that should be thrown to the shed floor to the ripest fruit at the top of the bushel:

ROTTEN –> RIPE

Kim: Was there any doubt? She ignores the other women at Nash’s    party and sloughs off the work the other beauty school students are doing as not worth her time or brainpower. Plus, when Rose tells her she sees a business in her future, Kim says that’s the first time Rose has “seen” that, then goes, “I didn’t have to go to work before [when with Big Poppa]” as she rattles her diamond bracelets and jumps back into her luxurymobile, and a giant “SLAP” is heard as every unemployed Atlantan watching throws their stack of want-ads at the television.

Sheree: You know, I almost wanted to say she was the “ripest” one for at least providing the most entertaining moment of last night’s show by way of her volcanic eruption at Anthony, including threatening to bring in someone named “Pookie.” But then I go back to her helicopter and say, Um, nope. But points to Sheree for making me like her a lot more than she did last season; she was pretty gracious in her reunion with NeNe and sweet with her kids. Keep it up, Sheree, and you’ll be ripe by season’s end, I just know it!

NeNe: For stepping up an initiating the powwow with Sheree, you deserve kudos. It seems that all everyone needed to come together was a common person to detest: Kim. You lost points, though, for letting all of us know that your too-short-for-Dwight’s-standards drapes cost $15,000. You could have lent that to Sheree for her mortgage payments!

Lisa: Could she and Ed and EJ be any cuter? Plus, points for the “angry vagina” comment, which made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it. However, she doesn’t quite win for the simple reason that she let producers (I’m guessing) talk her into that contrived first meeting with Kandi at her house.

Kandi: The newbie comes in with the win for coming across as sweet as her name, down-to-earth, ambitious, and sincerely concerned about how her daughter will transition into a new family situation. Of course, we see previews at the end of the episode of her and NeNe getting into it, so I suppose I should say, Enjoy your ripeness while it lasts.

Other pretty peaches:
The kids and husbands: The only heartwarming moments of the show come when the Housewives are interacting with their generally sweet families
Tania: You manage to keep a straight face when Sheree tells you about her “Independence Party,” for which we applaud you.
Dwight: For just being you. And for that exotic dance across NeNe’s home theater stage.

The pits:
Rose: How dare you predict that Kim will be a mother once more?
Anthony the party planner: I never thought I’d type this in seriousness, but sir, I don’t think you’re going to be able to work in this town ever again.

What do you think? Do you agree with my assessments? Who was your favorite (or least favorite) from last night? Did you watch Sheree’s Q&A with Andy Cohen at midnight? (I had to go to bed.) And who is “Pookie”??

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