(February 20, 2012) – One of the best parts of last night’s episode was seeing how well the Real Housewives of Atlanta can get along when no one is triggering them and they want to make the effort. And they definitely did try to be gentle and kind with one another when they returned from the orphanage visit.
Almost straight across the board they expressed how good it felt to help the children and how appreciative and grateful they are about their own lives of relative affluence. That is everyone, expect Marlo, who seemed chiefly concerned that her shrimp was undercooked and beckoned for the waiter to take her dish back as the rest of the group was remembering how poignant it was to meet the orphans and to give much-needed supplies to the women in the village who were clamoring for things like soap and towels that most of us take for grated.
Mercifully, Bravo did not ask us to spend too much time thinking about which of Marlo’s needs were not being met to a tee as we did when they checked into the hotel in Cape Town and Marlo fixated on getting the best room in the suite, or when they checked into the Shamwari Game Reserve and Marlo shrieked in horror that she’d have to stay in the colonial-era room, rather than the modern suite the smalls won in the random drawing.
Marriage and the Medicine Man
After seeing an exhibit in Port Elizabeth’s Sakhume Museum and Xhosa Culture Centre, the ladies meet a medicine who calls himself an herbalist. If this group thought it was disturbing to learn that Xhosa women have no choice whom they marry and are simply fetched by the family of a man who is attracted to her, they certainly weren’t going to like this shaman who told them, “woman doesn’t touch my medicine. Only men.” Offering a variation of that time-honored Housewives tradition of a trip to a fortune teller, the medicine man gave the ladies readings based upon rolling dice and a collection of sea shells. And all of his predictions focus on whether or not they will marry or remain married. I wonder if the Xhosa culture is as fixated on marriage as much as these two scenes make it appear. All of the women take his readings lightly except Shereé who is rightfully insulted when the shaman says she is too old and will not remarry and NeNe who takes exception to his observation that she is not happy in general. She quips, “not happily married! Excuse me, you and your rocks.”
Kandi loves to be mounted, but not designer label name dropping
Later that night, Marlo and NeNe invite the other girls to a pajama party in their suite which looks like a designer showroom with dozens of shoes and hand bags on display. Someone counts it up and reveals that Marlo has brought 29 pairs of heels on this trip. I think I blocked out the identity of the shoe accountant because I think the only thing odder than traveling with that many pricey stilettos is taking the time to point out the precise number. As much as I am no fan of Marlo, I think it is just silly to make fun of her for her shoe wardrobe when you’re dealing with a woman who moments later will be simulating a sex act on Kandi Burruss. Call me too conservative, but I think that was truly bizarre, especially on camera, especially when Mama Joyce will be watching later.
Despite how strange I found this entire scene, these ladies were getting along. NeNe acknowledges they are having a good time and Cynthia told us she thinks this is the first time the women are actually bonding. Kandi tells us that despite the fact that she and Marlo have nothing in common, she is enjoying the sex talk (and apparently being mounted by Marlo), but then Kandi has to mention that she thinks Marlo talks too much about designer labels like Kim Zolciak. NeNe has a big problem with that comparison. She thinks Kim is materialistic and superficial. She doesn’t think Marlo is superficial. Then like Mount Vesuvius, Marlo loudly erupts in defense of her wardrobe. Cynthia tells her she’s screaming and they all file out of the room as Marlo mentions that they’re leaving her with a mess to clean up, but she’s still laughing as she closes the door in their faces. So clearly this evening was a big success.
Cynthia breaks ranks with the talls
When they all wake up the following morning, they discover Marlo is ill and will not be able to join them for another day on safari. NeNe decides to stay behind to take care of her, but nurse NeNe doesn’t seem like an ideal bedside caregiver as she’s a germophobe and has to wear rubber gloves when tending to Marlo’s hair.
Their guide, Julius, picks up the smalls & Cynthia and off they go on safari again. Kandi is happy to have her there because she likes Cynthia when she’s not with combative NeNe and Marlo. Kandi thinks Marlo talks about money and material things too much. Cynthia offers her theory that some people use expensive clothing to validate themselves. I could not agree more, but the guide couldn’t care less. He is getting annoyed that they do not care about the animals or his tour.
Breaking ranks with the talls, and echoing her husband’s comment before they left on this trip, Cynthia mentions that she cannot imagine Kim in an African village, holding orphans with snot running down their noses. Kandi says she couldn’t imagine Kim coming to Africa on this trip with them. When I saw this for the second time, my impression was that Kandi was saying that Kim would not have gone on a trip with this particular group, not that she had something against Africa or orphans, but her words could easily be misunderstood or interpreted any way you want to hear them.
Worried about losing Cynthia to the smalls, NeNe arrives to keep her loyal to the talls
For the record, I am not a fan of this talls vs. the smalls rivalry. I think it is stupid and undoubtedly manufactured by those geeks at 30 Rock who love pitting women against each other, based on silly physical attributes, but I’ll use their asinine words for simplicity sake, though I am bugging myself by doing it.
After driving around and missing almost every opportunity to see wild animals, Julius brings the girls to a picnic table in the middle of the bush, complete with Champagne, a chef and a luncheon buffet. Suddenly NeNe rolls up in a Land Rover and tells us she ditched a napping Marlo because she’s worried Cynthia will be convinced to join the smalls team if she’s left alone too long. Then unattractively, NeNe immediately begins to complain about the flies. Hello? We are outdoors. There are insects outside. What’s more there a mosquitos and South Africa does have a malaria problem. Flies should be the least of this girl’s worries.
Positively obsessed with getting the women to discuss Marlo yet again, Kandi tells NeNe that they’ve been talking about how over the top Marlo can be. NeNe thinks Marlo is fashionable and wants to know if they have a problem with that. Cynthia says she does not and that she loves Marlo’s fashions, after mere minutes before suggesting that Marlo may be one of those insecure people who use expensive clothing to define herself. Phaedra and Kandi notice immediately that Cynthia is being two-faced and is now singing a different tune after NeNe’s arrival. NeNe denies this. She tells us Cynthia has a mind of her own, but that is clearly not true and NeNe knows it. If she didn’t think Cynthia was easily influenced, she would not have thought Cynthia was going to jump ship and realign herself with Kandi, Shereé and Phaedra.
Shereé Tells Kim that Kandi is talking smack about her
Later that night, the smalls decide to call Kim. Kim sounds upbeat and happy. She says the baby slept for 7 hours the night before and feels rested. Not having Kroy there is difficult because taking a shower, doing her hair and putting on make-up now takes four hours. Kim is surprised that Marlo is on the trip and notes that it is more than slightly odd that NeNe invited her. Kim remembers how NeNe got upset when Kim brought Sweetie to Miami last year. Housewives sure love to point out each other’s hypocrasies; don’t they?
Out of nowhere Shereé mentions that Kandi said she couldn’t see Kim in an orphanage holding little black kids. Kandi corrects her and says Cynthia said that. Kandi thinks Shereé was throwing her under the bus and I have to agree. Kandi underscores that she cannot see Kim in Africa on this trip period. Phaedra wants to know why they all can’t get along. I know why.
It is because these women think there is something very lofty about speaking to other people with zero filter. I believe Shereé did think she was telling the truth. I think she’s mistaken, but I do not think she’s lying. Still, she should just keep her thoughts and observations to herself. There is nothing to be gained by making Kim feel badly, or from suggesting that Kandi thinks Kim is a racist who would have a problem holding black orphans. That’s just not true and what’s more it’s inflammatory.
Later last night on Watch What Happens Live Shereé defended herself by saying that she would want to know if one of her friends talked about her behind her back. I suppose I would, too, but I do not think this is what Kandi said. Shereé went on to say that Kandi said things that did not make it onto the episode, and I am sure that is true, but I do not believe the gist of what Kandi was saying that Kim was not there in Africa because she’s more interested in white countries and white people, as Peter Thomas suggested before they all left on the trip.
A South African Barbecue
On their last night in South Africa, the ladies go to a barbecue and Gunther, the game preserve manager, has traditional African clothing for them to wear and painters are on hand to dot the women’s faces with white make-up. Kandi asks Cynthia about Shereé telling Kim that Kandi couldn’t see Kim holding little black babies. Cynthia agrees Kandi didn’t say it.
Trying to antagonize Kandi, NeNe asks if the phone call was an example of the smalls all having to go back and report to their boss, Kim. Kandi says they’re all bosses. NeNe thinks the smalls shouldn’t be offended at the idea that Kim is their boss because that is what the smalls do when they say NeNe is the leader of the talls. She says that Marlo and Cynthia are hurt when it is suggested that NeNe is their leader and that Cynthia is her puppet. Sheree says that “as usual” NeNe has to make it all about her.
But to my ears it is Marlo who has to make it all about her. She says she is her own boss and that her labels are her fashions and that she always gets dressed nicely, even to go to McDonald’s. Kandi gets incredibly angry at this. She nearly screams that she thinks Marlo overdoes the label dropping and that she thinks it’s a bit obnoxious. She says that even Cynthia notices the bragging. Cynthia doesn’t like that she is being dragged into this.
Phaedra wishes they could have remained friendly and grateful. The dinner is now a total downer and Cynthia mentions that as quickly as their attitudes toward each other changed while they were visiting the orphanage, they’re back to squabbling about things that do not matter even slightly, like Marlo’s labels and Kim’s absence.
Why can’t they all get along?
I do not like to believe this is true, but it sure does look like these women have no trouble getting along with each other, as long and neither Marlo nor NeNe is there. The safari was going along swimmingly until NeNe arrived. But this is not 100% NeNe’s fault. For whatever reason, Kandi seemed obsessed with getting the ladies to discuss Marlo’s behavior. I really get why she is so annoyed with Marlo. Marlo is vulgar, no question about it. All I have to do is think about her verbally throttling Shereé during the first episode of this trip and then tossing that money in the air in that nightclub during the second installment, to know Marlo is off. But I do not get why Kandi has to confront her about designer label name dropping.
In my opinion Marlo is extraordinarily insecure. Not just regular insecure as you and I are at times. I am talking about nervous wreck insecurities. I think that is why she has such an elaborate security system in her town house. I think she is weak and terrified. I think she wears those designer clothes like armor, out of sheer terror that someone won’t accept her. And I think that is the sole reason she flipped out when Shereé did not invite her to her friend’s party. I think Marlo has been rejected incessantly throughout her life and she’s determined to gain access to a segment of society that has overlooked her in the past.
All photos are courtesy of BravoTV, unless otherwise indicated.
About the Author (Author Profile)
I am a New York City publicist who specializes in promoting luxury products and experiences and occasionally moonlight as a journalist.
Relatively new to the world of blogging, I have watched and enjoyed Bravo’s Housewives shows since the first season of the Real Housewives of Orange County. I created this blog over the 4th of July holiday of 2011 because I enjoy writing and love to figure out how to blend images and words to create something that is both visually compelling and interesting to read.