Don't Forget The Kids
The cast members’ kids get some love, but to hell with all the rest.
Cynthia's engaging with her 15-year-old Noelle, who's getting ready for homecoming. Her seemingly remedial parenting exercises involve asking her daughter what her date's like and what school he goes to. Since the dance is that very night, these seem like the kinds of questions that should've been asked long in advance. Kenya stops by to feed off the life force of this poor, unsuspecting child, bragging, "Young girls live for me, you know!" The two women channel Amy Poehler's "Cool Mom" from Mean Girls as they give Noelle lessons on how to make a grand, hair-flipping entrance, be fabulous, and show as much skin as possible while wearing the loosest possible definition of formal wear. Leon, come get your baby girl.
NeNe and Gregg are getting in on the whole parenting gig, too. They take their teenage son Brentt for lunch at Sardi's because "We're real New Yorkers now." Over quesadillas and club sandwiches, they explain that he needs to have parameters, which includes a roaming range no farther than a city block. Either it's all an act for the cameras, or NeNe and Gregg have deemed their oldest son such a failure that they're trying for a do-over with their youngest. Gregg announces his new self-elected role: "I'm gon' manage the two of you!" As he goofily coaxes them into raising a french-fry toast to him, we see Gregg displaying far more charm than NeNe seems capable of lately. Maybe he should be the one on Broadway.
Riley's Not Having It
Kandi and her assistant are having a tête-à-tête about her company's new remote-control panties -- which I won't justify with a comment (but might be willing to sample, if forced) -- when her stylist stops by. He's got a garment bag full of body-con dresses for Kandi to sport on her hot date with Todd, who's been away from home for two weeks. "Distance makes the panties get hotter, honey!" Kandi hoots. Wait. Does she mean the remote-control panties? If so, that overheating may be the result of a product malfunction and they should really have someone look into that. Riley slumps in just as her mom is modeling a too-small animal print tube dress. The Queen of the 12-year-old Haters deadpans, "Too much cleavage. Can't you put a button on it?" Tossing the evening's leitmotif on its ear, the child's doing the parenting this time around.
Phaedra the Philanthropist
Mentorship and inspiration. Those are Phaedra's new hot-button issues. Well, first she wants to bend her assistant's ear about the plethora of butt-cleansing experiences she had in the Philippines. But once that's out of her system, she immediately pivots and dives headlong into planning an empowering rally for young men. She wants it to be an uplifting event wherein strong black role models reach out to at-risk inner city kids. Seems noble enough. So much so that I'll forgive her that gratuitous string-pulling phone call to her "friend who works in the White House." Phaedra's so legitimately (and not in anyway dubiously) well-connected, you guys.
Kandi and Todd are going through the motions of following their couples therapist's instructions. He meets her out for dinner and, though she hasn't seen him in weeks and he does look pretty good (poofy Special Ed fade notwithstanding), the mood is flat. She complains that they were together all the time before the wedding, but now she's not sure they'll even make it to one year. A boring couples argument ensues (it's one we've heard repeatedly from them). The only conversational stand-outs are Todd unceremoniously asking, "You ovulating?" and later suggesting that Kandi move to Los Angeles. He's got more work lined up there, and that's his solution to them being separated for long periods of time. She's not down with moving Riley until Todd points out one simple truth: If Kandi were asked to move to L.A. for her work, like to star in a movie, she'd do it. This is logic even she can't evade. So, now the notion of relocation has taken root.
Cynthia wants to give credence to her buffoonish bit part as a stereotypical Jamaican in Cynthia's sitcom pilot. So, she enlists help from her husband (sorry, "her dark chocolate Jamaican king"), hoping his island heritage will rub off on her and put her performance over the top. Peter's rather horny, so he's down to help her with pretty much anything, regardless of its potential for offense. After they go over her lame-ass lines a few times, he starts sniffing around for "poom-poom" and it's all just as gross and greasy as can be.
Life Twirls On, But Not Nearly Fast Enough
Kenya wants everyone to know she's running this pilot from soup to nuts. This is clear because she keeps randomly reciting her laundry list of credits every second her mic's on. Cynthia wants everyone to know she's "more than just a pretty face." This is clear because she walks onto the set looking like a straight-up clown. After a few performance hiccups, the ladies eventually "nail" their scene together. Later, the final scene is filmed, which involves Kenya running around in a wedding dress screaming and brandishing a chef's knife. We'll never learn exactly why, because there's no way this pilot's ever going to get picked up. The Empire effect is not that potent.
It's time for Phaedra's "Save Our Sons" rally and, man, did she whip this one up fast! After sitting through more than a few of her events, it's safe to say this is the most subdued one yet. Sure, she does make her entrance flanked by a marching band. But there were no interpretive dancers, no elaborate theme cakes, no flower petals strewn on the floor and no Dwight anywhere to be seen. I admire her newfound restraint. Instead, what we do get is a multi-purpose room full of sweet but bored young faces who seem to barely tolerate being talked at by the likes of local TV personalities and Judge Mathis. Bless their little hearts. According to Whitney Houston, the children are our future, so you'd figure Phaedra could at least hook them up with a pro athlete or two. I mean, what's her alleged White House connect good for?
NeNe returned to Atlanta just to attend the event…she says. She coolly breezes in and all the other Housewives in attendance whisper that they hope she won't spoil the good vibes they've forged in the past few weeks. Of course, it's a foregone conclusion. By design, Phaedra and Porsha duck out to serve lunch to the kids, leaving known enemies Claudia, Cynthia, and NeNe alone to plate the food. Claudia pokes the bear by bringing up the failed group therapy session and a shouting match quickly erupts. Their voices get so loud that they can even be heard outside the kitchen. The kids go hungry because these two broads can't get their acts together.
NeNe announces she's trying not to turn into "Nay Nay," and seeing that she's losing that battle, she just grabs her clueless husband and rolls all the way out. Claudia is in hot, finger-wagging pursuit until Kenya steps in to hold her back. "We all know NeNe's not a saint, but chasing her out the door? That's not the way to go." You're absolutely correct, Kenya. Will wonders never cease?
There's no such thing as peace in a Housewives franchise, regardless of how much Claudia claims she wants it. She went from being the zen master last week to the fire starter this week. "I want answers and I think I deserve them!" she whined. Even if that's true, I think we can all agree that a charity event is not where that discussion needed to happen. Except, with this group, charity events are always the perfect place to act a fool.
That same spotlight lust that Claudia displayed in her tiff with Porsha reared its head again here and it very nearly designated her the bad guy. Not quite, though, because NeNe remains the "Captain of the Ship of Doing Wrong," to use her own words. True, her bad mood was unrelentingly provoked, but was it so hard to just swap volunteer chores with Porsha in order to escape her persecutors? I mean, those little dudes didn't care who was handing out the baked chicken and rolls. NeNe could've gone on sweet tea duty, or passed out extra napkins or something! Did she really have to bail on the kids completely just because of Claudia? Especially after she reportedly flew all the way from New York just to show her support. Failing marks for them both.
Otherwise, this episode felt like all of the moms abruptly realizing, "Oh, snap! We've been so busy globe-trotting and focusing on our relationships with other random adults that we forgot we actually have offspring who deserve far more of our focus and energy!"