It seemed as though a lot of people were displeased with last night’s debut of Real Housewives of Atlanta, but I’m not ready to predict that this is going to be a bad season. In fact, quite the contrary; the Atlanta girls have always been my favorite (probably because Atlanta is my hometown), and in an odd way, the season’s debut felt a little like seeing old friends that you haven’t thought about in quite a while.
We also met one new “friend,” with another on her way next week, and we got a quick refresher on where things stand after a few months of off time: everyone hates Dwight, and Nene is not far behind. She’s still eight feet tall, though, which just proves the old cliche – the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The episode started with Sheree arguing over divorce with some old white guy in her kitchen, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out almost immediately that Sheree now fancies herself an actress instead of a fashion designer. It must be nice to have a big enough divorce settlement to follow your silly whims instead of having an actual job, and Sheree now wants to be an Oscar winner one day. Maybe she’ll move to LA and we’ll all be rid of her, although she’s probably delusional enough to convince herself that she can be an award-winning actress in suburban Atlanta, just like she thought she could be a major fashion designer there.
Thankfully, in walked Nene to interrupt all that foolishness with a completely different kind of foolishness: that whole thing about Kim’s “girlfriend” that happened a while back. Nene came bearing tabloids, at which point the two of them made fun of Kim’s former ladyfriend for being butch and Kim for being a media whore (talk about the media-whoring pot calling the kettle black…). Credit where credit is due, however: Kim’s dip in the “ladypond,” as Bravo’s Gay Uncle Andy Cohen would term it, seems to have inspired Danielle Staub’s recent publicity-hounding foray into the sapphic arts. Also, Kim was the first Housewife to drop a track. Kim Zolciak: Real Housewives trendsetter.
Despite being more than willing to talk smack about her on camera, Nene was back to being friends with Kim for this episode, and her estimation of Kim seems to be mostly correct: Kim’s big fun, but you can’t really go deep with her. They got together to have a salad (prepared by a chef, salads are SO DIFFICULT) and show Kim Nene’s new house, but naturally, talk turned to Kim’s former girlfriend, Tracy. Kim confirmed that she had been involved with Tracy, but at the time of the salad-eating, Kim was still wearing Big Papa’s ring and had left the ladies behind.
After Kim made a few crude declarations about dick-chasing, it was Nene’s turn to complain about her relationship. Tabloids have said a lot of things about Nene’s marriage over the past few months (they’re currently divorcing), and it seems as though Greg’s real estate business had gone downhill and he had borrowed some money from Dwight. Unable to keep his mouth shut about it, Dwight blabbed to Kim, who told Nene. Naturally, she expressed incredulity that he would be discussing her husband’s private business, and in the next breath, retaliated by making fun of his, uh, overly enthusiastic nose job. This is why you’re our favorite, Nene. You don’t have the good sense to shut your mouth.
It was time to catch up with Kandi next, and her primary news consisted of the advent of a new man. She went over to Kim’s house to tell her all about Willis McGahee, her brand new football-playing man of interest. After some declarations about Willis’s physical appearance (and some wig-straightening on Kim’s part), conversation moved back to Nene, as conversation on this show is wont to do. Kandi couldn’t believe that Kim was still giving Nene the time of day, so obviously relations between those two haven’t improved since we last heard.
Afterward, we got to meet Willis for ourselves over some casual rock-climbing. I’m not an outdoor girl, not to mention an athletic-activity girl, but it actually looked sort of fun. They climbed the wall without much trouble, and then they sat down to discuss, uh…celibacy? I’m not sure why Kandi chose that moment to unveil her plan to stay celibate until the end of the year, but Willis’s only follow-up question was whether or not that precluded oral sex. Apparently not. I think that whomever Kandi made that bet with would beg to differ, but perhaps Kandi saw that flash of panic in her new man’s eyes and didn’t want him to run screaming from the building right there in front of the cameras.
Back at Kim’s house, Kim’s oldest daughter Brielle seemed to be quite a bit older than she was last season, and now she likes boys. She had a crush on a French foreign exchange student at school who Kim agreed is pretty hot, and Kim gave her some pretty sage dating advice: don’t chase a man, let him come to you. Also, quit it with the Facebook stalking. They know. I don’t know how they know, but they know.
Finally, we got to meet the first of two new Housewives: Phaedra Parks, a prominent (really, she is) Atlanta entertainment attorney whose husband, Apollo, is a convict. He’s hot, though, and they have a prenup, so good for her. She’s pregnant with their first child and seems to be just batty enough to make for a good cast member. She’s also friends with Dwight, which makes her an easy addition to the show.
She and Dwight sat down to talk trash about Sheree, and he claimed that he had spent $30,000 to get She by Sh,eree off the ground. Surely he would know that Sheree’s crappy clothing line would never turn into a money-making venture, right? So how could he casually sink that much cash into it? He never managed to address any of those questions because, again the topic moved to Nene. Phaedra knows her from childhood in Athens, and apparently they don’t get along, which seems to be a running theme in this show. If we get a new Housewife, she can’t stick around unless she picks a fight with Nene.
Speaking of which, Nene invited Kim to a preview for a brand new shoe boutique and they weren’t sure if they wanted to attend if Dwight was going to show up as well. Nene’s husband denied taking a loan from Dwight when confronted, but Nene eventually pried some information out of him. According to Greg, he and Dwight had each put in $500 on an “investment opportunity” and Dwight was upset that it hadn’t turn out as planned, but I think that the truth probably lies somewhere between his version and Dwight’s version. Since it seems like there’s no way that Dwight could have spent anywhere near $30,000 on Sheree’s rinky-dink fashion show, Dwight may have the tendency to add zeros to the end of the debts he’s owed.
Over at Sheree’s house, she and her Hair Gay were readying themselves for the shoe show (Side note: was that Birkin fake? Hermes isn’t my specialty, but it gave me the heebie jeebies) and partaking in the unofficial theme of this episode: smack-talking about Dwight. Sheree claims that he never spent a cent on her fashion show, and again, I think that the truth is probably somewhere in between. The Hair Gay called him a Stunt Queen, but Dwight’s salons seem to be at least reasonably successful, so I think it’s more likely that what we see here is producer-constructed drama to get the season’s story lines off and running.
On the way to the party, Kim and Nene talked about the impending dissolution of Nene’s marriage and the conflicts with Dwight. Nene decided to make out a check for $500 and present it to him at the party, since Greg insisted that was all Dwight invested, and of course that went over fantastically. But first, let’s talk about what was really important: shoes! Bourgeoisie Shoes, which is a New York-based store, threw the kind of generic hotel suite party that has become a staple of the Real Housewives franchise, but I’d rather look at a bunch of hot shoes than Kim’s wig line or whatever else these ladies usually throw parties to promote.
All of the Housewives complained that the shoes at the party were too old, but with a probably-fake Birkin on her arm, I’m not sure why Sheree felt the need to chime in. By the time Phaedra and Dwight graced the party with their presences, Nene was already good and liquored up and clearly feeling a little punchy. She bitched that Phaedra wasn’t fabulous enough to be at the party, and then she refused to hug Dwight in favor of getting up in his face and waving her half-full wine glass at him.
Just like last season, the producers chose to start things off with a fight. Dwight ripped up the check and said he wanted cash, and Nene lost her mind. She was about three inches from his face, chasing him around the hotel room and out into the hall, at which point all of our veteran Housewives made their exit. Dwight and Phaedra stayed back to apologize to the party, and Kim stood on the sidewalk and genuinely looked quite glad that she wasn’t involved in this particular kerfuffle. After all the crap she’s pulled, I think I’m starting to find Kim oddly lovable.
We didn’t get any immortal one-liners out of the fight on par with “Who gon’ check me, boo,” but really, those things only come along once in a Real Housewives lifetime. We didn’t have a great debut last night, but I’m still hopeful that this season will be great. And even if it’s not, it can’t be worse than the crap that the Jersey Housewives were slinging a few months ago.