I admit it: I watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta. (On HD. Don't you judge me.) For a while now, I've been at a loss to explain why I watch, because I don't really like most of the women featured on the show on a consistent basis. Sure, they'll make me smile from time to time, but then they'll inevitably do something tacky that lands them back on my list.
But this week I realized that the best way to watch TRHOA is to view it not as a reality show (which is a total oxymoron anyway) but as a soap opera chronicling the platonic trials and tribulations between Kim and Nene.
Can this friendship be saved? Cue the organ! (Organ courtesy of Stick Figure Death Theatre)
Yes, Kim and Nene are the central relationship of TRHOA, like Sookie and Bill on True Blood or Beecher and Keller on Oz. (I only watch seminude soap operas.) Sooner or later, every episode comes back to: will this friendship survive, or will it be torn apart by misunderstandings and the machinations of others?
In this reading of TRHOA, I see Sheree as the Other Woman of sorts, the one Kim had a kind of friendship affair with in the first season. Now, Nene is trying to be friends with Sheree (or rekindle an earlier friendship or something), but I wonder how much of that is genuine and how much of it is trying to get back at Kim.
Lisa I liken to the wingman who's supposedly trying to help the main couple get together, but is actually whispering poison in everyone's ear for her own purposes. My favorite Lisa moment so far has been her meeting Kandi and talking trash about Kim to her. Kandi mentions that she's heard some things about Kim, and Lisa says to the camera, "I knew she was talking about Kim." Of course she was talking about Kim, you shit-stirring gnome, you brought Kim up!
And then there's Kandi, who takes on the kind of cautionary-tale role in these soap operas. She seems like a really nice woman and she definitely has the most impressive resume of anyone on this show, but I worry about her taste in men. Her fiance AJ has six kids by four women, and while that isn't the same kind of dealbreaker that, say, a history of stalking or a show on VH-1 is, it's not a mark in the plus column either.
Kandi's friend T-Boz described it perfectly when the two women chatted about it over lunch: "So Papa was a rolling stone, then." And here, I must approach the bench for a sidebar of the most shallow nature: Ms. Boz ... T, you are a gorgeous woman. I remember when People magazine put you in their "50 Most Beautiful" issue; I agreed then, and I agree now. But it's almost impossible to appreciate your sloe-eyed beauty when confronted with hair the color of Tweety Bird! Please talk to your colorist (and take Kandi along; those brassy highlights are doing her no favors).
Ahem. Moving on. While we watch the sad, sordid actions of the Real Housewives take their toll on Nene and Kim's friendship, there are some bright spots in the cast, some rays of hope. Lisa's husband Ed is the sort of romantic-cuddle-bear-meets-brick-house that so many women dream of, with the rose petals and the massages and the sheer linen pants. And Nene's husband Gregg is like the Dalai Lama of the show, advising his wife and her friends to put the past aside and not get so caught up in the drama of it all.
Oh, but that would take away the reason for watching. If these two crazy kids could actually put the past aside and not care who said what about whom... well, then, they'd be like relatively mature normal people. Who need to wear a goddamn bra.
What about y'alls? Do you watch any of the Real Housewives? (I won't judge, I promise. Except maybe that New Jersey trainwreck.) And if so, how do you rationalize it to yourselves?