First, I’d like to begin by eating a little crow. A few weeks ago, when I said that Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was the apotheosis of everything that is Real Housewives, I clearly had no idea what the Real Housewives of Atlanta were about to unleash on the world. These women may not be nearly as rich as their West Coast counterparts, but I’m pretty sure that Phaedra Parks has more crazy in her little finger than all of the Beverly Hills housewives have, combined.

It says something about a reality TV series when the most outlandish moment of what should be an average mid-season episode isn’t a longtime cast member undergoing three simultaneous plastic surgery procedures. Somehow, Phaedra managed to throw a baby shower (a baby shower!) that made me forget all about Nene’s stint under the knife, and I had to be alone with my thoughts for an hour before I even began to process everything that Bravo managed to stuff into 44 minutes of television. This episode seems to have melted a very important part of my brain.

As we saw in the previews for this week, the episode started with Nene at the plastic surgeon. She was there to talk about her boobs and her stomach, both of which she wanted reduced. To her credit, she didn’t do the full-on, robe-open-to-the-camera bit like Danielle from New Jersey did last season, which resulted in none of us having to deal the mental image of Nene’s blurred-out nipples for the rest of the week our lives. Thank you, Nene. From the bottom of my heart.

Over at Kim’s house, we met her parents! I feel like Kim and I have progressed to the point in our reality TV relationship where I should be meeting her family, so this was the next logical step. Next week, we’ll meet my parents (don’t be nervous, my parents are awesome). Kim went on and on about how she’s so much like her dad, but based on the ice cubes in her mom’s wine, there’s clearly a few similarities there as well. I didn’t know that tacky alcohol habits were a genetically passed trait, but I guess you learn something new from Real Housewives every week.

The interaction with Kim’s family was kind of fascinating because the origins of Kim’s delusions became starkly apparent. Her parents not only like Big Poppa, but they think Kim is a very classy, professional individual, not to mention a talented singer. Her dad said all of that directly to the camera with a straight face, which I took for seriousness, but for the sake of my sanity, I prefer to imagine him collapsing into giggles as soon as the producers had their shot. No one can believe that those things are true about Kim. That’s why she’s fun.

Sheree, for her part, spent the beginning of the episode with her personal trainer. You remember the one – we saw him oiled up in a leather vest and bikini bottom last season. They talked about Sheree’s romantic challenges and her excitement over The Love Doctor from a few episodes back – there will be a second date. I had jokingly called him Doctor Love in that episode’s recap, but apparently I wasn’t all that far off from the truth. And that’s what I like about this show – every time I think I’ve made a silly joke, the Atlanta housewives manage to get even sillier.

Speaking of which, it was time for Phaedra, who has managed to out-crazy the entirety of the cast in the span of just a few short episodes. She and Dwight were headed to the Atlanta Steeplechase with Cynthia and her boyfriend, but before the limo came around to pick them up, Phaedra managed to make herself look insufferably insecure and possibly blind by doubting whether or not Cynthia is actually a model and implying that she isn’t particularly pretty. Neither of those things are true, but her assertion that everyone in Atlanta claims to either be a model, producer or rapper totally is. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

On the ride to the Steeplechase, not only was Phaedra wearing an absurdly enormous hat and babbling about being brought up in church and having prayed to find a clean man, but she couldn’t even manage to shut her mouth after Cynthia reminded her that her boyfriend, who was sitting in the limo with them, had five kids. Nope, she just went right ahead with how awful she thought it would be to marry a man with children. In some ways, Phaedra may be the ultimate Real Housewife. She has absolutely no concept of social graces or tact, and yet she appears to think she’s an absolute expert in both. She is walking, talking, tacky-dress-wearing irony.

Things didn’t improve any when the group actually got to the Steeplechase, but instead of knocking Phaedra on her pregnant ass, Cynthia and her boyfriend helped the crazy lady down to the event and listened to her squawk about her equestrian expertise and her degree from the London School of Economics and how she’s been in Atlanta forever. Since like 1995. Did you know that Atlanta was founded in 1995? Someone should tell my parents, since they seem to be under the impression that I was born in Atlanta in 1985, which clearly cannot be true. Phaedra has four degrees and is an equestrian, she would know.

Sidebar: as far as the veracity of Phaedra’s claims go, it’s kind of hard to say. Wikipedia lists her as a Wesleyan grad, and Wesleyan’s website notes that she got her law degree at Georgia. As a Georgia alumna, I’m appropriately mortified. Just when I thought Ryan Seacrest was the most embarrassing former UGA student… Anyway, I can’t find any indication that Phaedra did anything at the London School of Economics other than take a guided tour, which sounds about right. Also, I lived in Athens for six years and I don’t remember any horse parks in town. Considering how many bad dates I went on in college (oh, there were so many), if there had been one, I probably would have been taken to it at some point.

Back at the plastic surgeon, it was time for Nene to undergo her various and sundry surgeries. She was kind of whiny about the needle for her IV, which I think all of us could have predicted based on our previous knowledge of her personality. Once doped up, Nene repeated the word “boobies” over and over again to hilarious effect, but then she started asking for Gregg, which was kind of sad and way less funny than “boobies.” It’s screwed up to skip out on your wife when she’s having surgery, even if it’s voluntary surgery and you guys are having a disagreement. Surgery is no joke. Total party foul, Gregg.

Nene came out of surgery just fine, asking if she was still a pretty little flower and requestion to call Kim and Sheree and God knows who else. Last time I had anesthesia, I came out wanting to talk to the nurses about mascara, so I can’t really make fun. Anesthesia makes you really consider what’s important; for me, it was Chanel Inimitable Waterproof. For Nene, it was telling Sheree that they could now wear the same bras. Don’t judge.

As we were all promised, Phaedra was to have the baby shower to end all baby showers this episode (really, after this one, everyone else should be legally barred from ever doing anything of the sort ever again). She wanted to do a dance for all of her guests, but instead of doing it with her husband, she decided to dance with Dwight. Her husband wasn’t such a fan of the idea, and really, she should have listened to him. A pregnant lady waddling around with a gay man in a burgundy lace suit really shouldn’t be allowed to happen in public, let alone in front of cameras.

But before we could see the rest of Phaedra’s baby shower, we had to drop in on Sheree to watch her potential boyfriend lecture a bunch of black women on why men don’t want to marry them. Apparently it has something to do with hair extensions and dirty dishes, which seemed a little reductive to me, and thankfully Sheree didn’t seem to be buying it either. He (I can’t remember his name, so we’re going to stick to pronouns here) called Sheree up to be part of a spontaneous panel at the lecture and asked some moronic question about who should open the ketchup bottles in a relationship, which seemed to be a badly forced metaphor for manliness. Sheree said that she could open her own ketchup just fine, thank you, but he still asked to cook her dinner later. So I guess it doesn’t really matter who opens the ketchup…

On the other side of town, Kim went to visit Nene to check on her, post-surgery. Nene complained that Kim hadn’t brought any wine, but believe me, when you’re on post-surgery pain killers, you don’t need any other substances to have a good time. While they wandered around the house, regarding their visages in any available shiny surface, Bryson chimed in to complain about Nene’s nose job, which didn’t seem like that serious of a thing to me. They didn’t break her nose, it hardly even counts. Gregg, for his part, was still nowhere to be found.

And finally, it was time for the main event. The baby shower’s hour was nigh, and Dwight was in charge of the whole thing, of course. The event’s setup seemed fairly reasonable (for a wedding reception), but then we saw Dwight in a tiara and Phaedra having giant rhinestones glued over her eyeliner, and it was clear that things were about to go off the rails. And then, AND THEN (and then!), as if the Wal-Mart silver rhinestones on her eyes weren’t enough (we passed “enough” several shades of eyeshadow ago), she attacked what was surely a lovely bouquet of flowers and ended up with at least seven (7) (yes, I paused and counted) white roses in her hair.

Apparently she meant to look like that, against all odds and in violation of every logical thought I’ve ever had in my entire life, and she strutted into that event space proudly on Dwight’s arm. With her eyelids droopy from too many giant rhinestones and her hair full of flowers from a leftover centerpiece, Phaedra was like that chick at the club whose gut is hanging over her pants and whose wig is on crooked, but who had still left her house earlier that night, absolutely positive in the knowledge that she looked great. She was That Girl, except she was That Girl at her own baby shower.

Phaedra wanted the shower to be a “Southern” event, so she required attendees to wear large hats and everyone was greeted at the door by a male attendant to escort her in to the shower. In an effort to make sure that Phaedra doesn’t single-handedly set back Southern stereotypes by 50 years, I’d like to make clear that I’ve never been to any kind of party in Atlanta that required a hat or gloves, and if someone wanted me to wear one or both to any kind of party, I wouldn’t go. Homie don’t play that.

Some people did show up, however, and most of them even played along with the moronic dress code. Cynthia and Kandi arrived on time and begrudgingly wore the required hats (Kandi popped the tag on hers in the parking lot), but our girl Kim walked in late, dressed in a black jumpsuit and no hat. She also had one of her best wigs on for the occasion, and when Cynthia and Kandi complained about wanting to blow that popsicle stand, she encouraged them to get drunk instead. That’s always an appropriate solution in an open-bar situation where you were required to bring a gift, which only further cements my love for Kim. I’m like two episodes away from getting her name tattooed on my backside.

Unfortunately, no one got drunk enough to yank those obnoxious flowers out of Phaedra’s head, and I don’t even want to think about how intoxicated you’d have to be to think that the ballerina backup dancers for Phaedra and Dwight’s waltz made any kind of sense. That’s go-to-the-hospital, stomach-pumped type drunk. That’s white boy wasted, frat house wasted, in the parlance of Gucci Mane. (Yeah, I listened to a lot of Gucci Mane on the plane last week, so you’re going to have to put up with this for another week or two.) That’s Ramona Singer, Turtle Time slizzered, and this is not the right season of Real Housewives for that.

Kandi accurately described the entire scene as “boughetto,” and if you’re not familiar with that particular term, the best way to learn about it is probably to listen to this:

If you look closely, one of the women in the beginning of the video even has the same eye makeup as Phaedra. I didn’t think it would be possible for Bravo to find anyone to add to this cast who would make the rest of our Atlanta ladies look positively sane and classy by comparison, but somehow, the network managed to build a better idiot. I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Real Housewives of Atlanta. I hope you’ll accept my apology.

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