Photos: Wilford Harewood / Bravo

Of Prom Gowns And Beatdowns

The reunited Atlanta Housewives dress like teen queens, but brawl like Mean Girls.

Part I of the RHOA Reunion is hair-pulling, histrionic history, and the second helping of crazy is being served up this Sunday. I'm not here to speak on last week's fake African boyfriend accusations, butt authenticity allegations, or judge what qualifies as appropriate dead dog etiquette. And I'm especially not here to talk about the now infamous on-screen violence that rounded out the episode. (While watching, the angel on my right shoulder condemned it, while the devil on my left belted out a Nelson laugh, then quipped, "For real, though, that weave held up surprisingly well in combat.") Nope. In the spirit of keepin' it cute, I'm just here to talk about dresses.

If previous Atlanta reunions have had any sort of informal dress code, Season 5 would've been "Diaphanous Divas," while Season 4 went more for a "Try-Hard Cougar" vibe. (All I can recall from the Season 3 reunion was Kandi and Phaedra dressing like Flintstones and Jetsons extras, respectively.) For this season's gathering, they appeared to go with a "Prom Court" theme, which befits their teenage behavior. The ladies' looks seemed to be plucked from dog-eared pages in Seventeen's special prom issues (or, in Phaedra's case, back issues). Overall: a failed attempt at glamour. I prefer my Atlanta Housewives with more bold, brassy looks -- and, of course, those insane eyeshadow combos that resemble Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper flaps.

Photos: Wilford Harewood / Bravo

Cynthia

Indulge me a little with this "prom night" theme I've got going here, won't you? Cynthia would've been that one senior who went the slinky seductress route -- the one who seemed completely "over" the evening's proceedings and went along (with her older man!) just to look down her nose at everyone else. As looks go, I can't really hate on her ensemble, a sort of revealing menswear ode. Thankfully, she's rotated her more ridiculous hairpieces to the back of her wig vault and wisely opted for this inoffensive middle-parted situation, very ably giving us "former model." And, what with that severely plunging neckline, she's the only one of the bunch who's not in danger of suffering from a serious case of the boob sweats. (Porsha doesn't count because there no longer seem to be any organic sweat glands left in that region.)

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Kandi

At first glance, I thought this is a surprisingly staid look for Kandi, who usually likes to serve her curves up on a platter. But what appears to be a relatively modest black column dress from the front actually features flesh-flashing cut-outs on the back and sides. Now, that's the Kandi I've grown to know and tolerate! It's good to see that she hasn't completely ditched her "up in da' club" style simply because she's finally become an actual "housewife."

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NeNe

NeNe has the worst hair of the evening, can we all agree? That mumsy-looking platinum chignon leaves me longing for her old clip-on bangs. Likewise, her stuffy velvet-accented gown is bright but bland, and actually makes me miss her old bandage dress addiction. It is, however, the perfect look to suit her officious, tight-lipped attitude. Who even is this person? Bring back the "Bloop"!

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Kenya

After apparently winning Andre The Giant's watch at auction, then stopping by Dick's to pick up every girl's must-have accessory for 2014 -- a megaphone -- there clearly wasn't enough time left for Kenya to pick a new gown. So, she ended up settling for one of her old Miss USA looks. While she was digging in the recesses of her closet, Kenya also stumbled across an old pageant queen scepter and decided to bring it along for the ride. This proved to be every bit the button-pushing move she hoped it to be, with her enemies threatening to either wrap it around her throat, or shove it up her ass. Damn. Maybe she should've stuck with last year's fan, or maybe even a nice clutch...you know, the kinds of accessories that don't incite World War III.

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Phaedra

I promise this is the last mention of prom that I'll make. [Full disclosure: I didn't even go to my prom and all parallels I've drawn herein are based purely on conjecture and plot points pulled from various teen movies.]

Everybody knows it's 2014...except, apparently, for Phaedra's stylist. Ms. Parks earns a center spread in my burn book for this dated lacy ballgown and its accompanying stale prom updo. All that's missing is a pair of white satin gloves, some rhinestone jewelry, and a little tiara. What she's decided on, instead, is a pair of lobe-torturing earrings and a couple of matching bracelets. Is it just me, or do those baubles look like the kind of cardboard-backed matching sets you find marked for quantity discounts at swap meets?

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Porsha

My notes on Porsha are a short, alliterative list: Brows; Boobs; Belligerence. That about sums it up, right? And, since Andy Cohen had sent her to the Time-Out Corner by last episode's end, there's no need to keep an eye out for potential nip slips this weekend.

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Coming Up...

Sunday night promises Kenya licking her wounds, a showdown between Cynthia and NeNe, and an overdue therapy session for Kandi and her manipulative mother. Not for nothing, Mama Joyce looks like she's been spending her daughter's money in all the right ways; judging from the episode trailer, she's never looked better. If she can muster up some emotional maturity to go with that relatively age-appropriate hair and dress, she may, indeed, be on the road to recovering from that "conniving, controlling MIL from Hell" storyline of hers.

Looking beyond, to the third (!!!) reunion installment, the husbands and Kandi's fiancé take the stage. A sneak peek shows the latter, Todd, looking like one of those dapper Congolese sapeurs. It works. NeNe's husband Greg and Cynthia's man, Peter, aren't too shabby themselves. Both pull out all the GQ stops in suits that are far too sharp for the tomfoolery that will surely take place. Lastly and leastly, there's Phaedra's husband, Apollo, who looks like he took an unexpected detour on his way to a hot date at The Cheesecake Factory. There's probably nothing as disappointing as setting yourself up for Tex-Mex egg rolls and Pink Lemonade Cocktails, but getting pointed questions about your alleged criminal activities instead. What a waste of a pair of studded high-top sneakers!

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