Dysfunctional Relationships On Display On “RHOA”

By Terrance Turner

May 22, 2022 (updated June 5)

Tonight, the cast members of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” traveled to New York City to support Housewives star Kandi Burruss in her Broadway producer bid. But dysfunctional relationships between the housewives and their husbands threatened to derail the trip — not least because of some messy assistant drama.

The episode opens with cast member Marlo Hampton meeting with a developer to review the plans and architecture for the new house she’s building. Hampton reviews the floor plans, which are laid out on the hood of her car. We learn that she’s invited cast members Kenya Moore and Sheree Whitfield — whose house wars were a storyline years ago. (The construction of “Moore Manor” and “Chateau Sheree” were a major plotline in season eight.) Marlo sardonically remarks that she invited Moore and Whitfield because ‘one took 20 years to build her house, and the other one still building”.

Kenya and Sheree (newly “friends”) arrive at the development site and begin discussing the floor plan with Marlo and her developer. We learn the home is roughly 1500 square feet — and that Marlo’s closet is somehow bigger than her bedroom. (A closer look at the floor plan reveals that Marlo’s home actually contains three closets — appropriate for the notorious fashionista that Marlo is.) They discuss the layout of the house before the three ladies talk amongst themselves. Marlo and Kenya briefly argue over what appears to be fallout from Marlo’s Le’Archive event in a previous episode. But Kenya turns things around by complimenting Marlo’s house floor plan. “I love when you give me compliments,” Marlo tells her.

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The conversation turns to an upcoming trip that the ladies will be making to New York City. Sheree asks if Kenya will be seeing estranged husband Marc Daly, who lives in NYC. “I don’t think so,” Kenya answers, saying that she plans to have someone drop off their daughter Brooklyn. Kenya asks if Sheree intends to bring her boyfriend Tyrone (who just got released from prison and is on house arrest). Sheree says that Tyrone’s only allowed to travel 100 miles from his home (which apparently allows for a trip to New York?). In a confessional, Sheree says she can’t wait to introduce her man to her friends (why?) and that she hopes he can make it because “I’ve been riding for this man for years”.

In the next sequence, Kandi and her husband Todd Tucker go for a walk. Kandi’s focused on the upcoming New York trip and wants Todd to come; Todd brings up a condo in New Jersey that he has. Todd thinks the space would be a good getaway for them to stay in whenever they’re in New York; Kandi has reservations about the condo because that’s where Todd used to live with his ex. She feels like Todd’s “re-wrapping a gift that he gave to an old girlfriend”.

As the discussion continues it becomes clear that Kandi doesn’t want to stay in a house that Todd once lived in with his ex. But Todd pushes back. “Why does it always have to be what you want?” Todd complains. “What about what I want?”

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The focus turns to cast member Drew Sidora – and her troubled marriage to husband Ralph. A lavish date night (complete with roses and fine dining) turned sour last week when trust issues and unresolved problems reared their ugly heads. Now Drew and Ralph are seeking marriage counseling with Dr. Ken. (He’s counseled them virtually before, but today he’s marking an in-person visit.)

The couple prepare for their meeting by coordinating with their multiple assistants (what do they need all these assistants for???). Drew reveals in a confessional that the last date night went so badly that Ralph chose to sleep in their son’s room; she says Ralph doesn’t do that often, but it’s a sign that their marriage is in “a dark place”.

During the counseling session, Drew and Ralph review their date night gone haywire. Ralph complains about not feeling appreciated, commenting that he brought her steak and lobster — but that after her behavior at the dinner, “she deserved a Lunchable”. Drew was aghast at the comment, and Twitter was too:

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Ralph brings up the fact that Drew quoted Dr. Ken as saying Ralph was a “maniac” during the date night argument. Dr. Ken reminds the couple that this is their marriage and tells them to leave his name out of it when they argue. He calls out their toxic communication: “Do you two realize that you attack each other?” he asks. He challenges the two of them to go 30 days without having a “combative conversation”.

Dr. Ken has recommendations for enforcement of the 30-day rule. If Drew becomes combative, she has to fulfill whatever desire Ralph has — like “sex five times a day”. If Ralph is combative, he has to do whatever Drew wants. (Dr. Ken suggests he help out with household chores or taking care of the kids — things he should already be doing as a husband and father. “I’m committed to this,” Drew says, as the camera zooms in on her bare hand. (Ralph is wearing his wedding ring; she is not.)

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In the second half of the episode, the cast travels to the Big Apple to support Kandi Burruss for the play “Thoughts of a Colored Man”, of which she is a producer. Keenan Scott II’s play follows the lives of seven nameless Black men as they go through a day in Brooklyn. The men are named according to their dominant emotions — like Passion (Luke James), Anger (Tristan Mack Wilds), and Happiness (Bryan Terrell Clark) — according to The Guardian. The idea is that all seven of them can add up to one Black man. As Scott told the New York Times: “These are, these could be, seven parts of the same man. We can all be some of these things. We can all be all of these things.”

The characters range in age from 18 to 65; the play itself is a “slam narrative”, which blends spoken word, slam poetry, rhythm, and humor, according to its website. It played at the Golden Theatre in New York through Dec. 22, 2021. Kandi Burruss was among the show’s producers.

“To be a part of the first production starring all Black men, a Black writer, a Black director, a Black lead producing team, it’s an amazing feeling because throughout my life, I want to know that I’ve been able to make a difference and help people be seen,” Kandi exclusively shared with E! News. “This is our opportunity to mix it up, make people smile and bring people to the theater who haven’t always felt that they were represented.”

The gang decides to join Kandi as she and Todd explore Todd’s new condo. Kandi is still cagey on the idea of having a condo that Todd shared with his ex. “I just don’t see what would be my purpose of trying to come stay here,’ she says during the tour. But Todd wants his wife on board.

During a conversation on the bus earlier, he explains why this means so much to him. “I’m from here. The thing is, I’m always on your turf. I’m in Atlanta with you, your family, and everything that makes you comfortable,” Todd says.

“He wants you to live in his world a little bit,” Sanya’s husband Ross says. Todd instantly appreciates Ralph for seeing his side. So does Kenya.

“I think Todd is very supportive. Kandi’s a very strong woman, but she’s also very spoiled,” Kenya comments in a confessional. While they tour the condo, Kenya has a million and one suggestions – add a fireplace, open the kitchen up, put in tons of light, change the doors, take out the staircase, add an elevator…

But Kandi’s still not convinced. And that makes the following scene of particular import. Hours later, at a restaurant, the group dine out and Sanya notices that neither Kandi nor Drew are wearing their wedding rings. Kandi says, “I don’t really wear it like that.” Drew explains that initially the ring wasn’t fitting during her pregnancy, then afterward she and Ralph were having problems. So she just never put it back on. 

Ralph mentions that he fired his assistant. Drew says, “Emotionally I’m still dealing with the fact that we were even dealing with another woman.’’

“But I guess the question is how do you finally get over it and say, ‘Okay, you know what? This is something that happened in the past. Now we can move beyond it’?” Ralph asks. 

“Time,” Kenya says. “Time and reassuring behavior.” 

“You knew it looked real crazy,” Kandi said. “It could,” Ralph admits, “but things could look crazy if you don’t understand the context behind it.” 

“Ralph, you remind me so much of Marc, it’s crazy,” Kenya says, referencing her ex-husband Marc Daly. She tells Ralph: “She doesn’t want to feel invalidated; she doesn’t want for her to say something and you get defensive and say that you’re crazy for thinking that.” 

“Now that we’ve had a chance for a do-over, I’m really trying to see Drew for who she is and what I see is someone who is really hurt,” Kenya says in an interview.

“We were having some extremely bad growing pains,” Ralph insists. “We were in a dark place.” 

“With that being said, that’s even more so what would make it even worse for you to have a woman that’s around that’s working closely with you,” Kandi opines. “I don’t understand how you don’t see how she would feel a way [about it].” Drew echoes that point in her comment to Ralph. “My thing is this,” Drew says. “Why now are you making me wrong in some way, or making it like it’s a figment of my imagination?’

It becomes evident that Kenya is triggered by Ralph because he reminds her of her ex-husband. “I’ve seen the way he speaks to her and it reminds me of times when Marc would speak to me like that.” The producers play a montage of communication issues between Marc and Kenya in previous seasons, in which Marc’s pattern somehow mirrors Ralph’s.

“Why are we even recounting this anymore? It occurs you one way occurs to you a different way,’ Ralph says. Kenya interrupts to check him.

“Let me say this to you right now: If my husband said that to me, ‘I would flip this table over, because that is so disrespectful. You just said, basically, she’s lying [that] how it happened is not how it happened. that would piss me the f**k off if somebody said that to me to my face especially if I’m hurting. Do you not understand that you’re tearing her down?” Kenya asks. 

“Kenya is actually communicating exactly how I feel. I hope Ralph hears,” Drew says, “because he could be doing some of the same things she experienced with Marc.”

Marlo calls out Drew for allowing Ralph to treat her a certain way. The conversation turns to Drew and how she has difficulty letting things go. That spins out into a conversation about Anthony, the assistant that both Drew and Sheree have allegedly shared at some point. Sheree pulls out a text message from Anthony, who she says told her Ralph is gay. The conversation goes left, as Drew feels Sheree is being messy and Ralph wonders how his name got brought up.

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The conversation continues in episode five. The group agrees that Anthony was the source of that rumor about Ralph, and Sanya notes that Drew, by being angry at Sheree, may have directed her energy at the wrong person: “Even if that wasn’t true, you know that he’s messy.”

“I agree with that,” Drew says. “I apologize if I misstepped in how I brought the information.”

“But did you apologize for putting your hands in my face?” Sheree asks. Production flips back to episode 3, when Drew and Sheree argued at a birthday party, and Drew made aggressive hand motions near Sheree’s face. “Well, now, now I will apologize if I put my hands in your face. I talk with my hands and I will work on that,” Drew says, holding up her hand. “High five.” The two high five, prompting laughs from Kenya.

But Sheree isn’t mollified. When Kenya talks about a conversation she and Kandi had regarding the assistant, she calls Drew out again: “I didn’t do what you did to me, which is went to Kandi and told what you thought was my business.”

Sheree then calls out Kandi for repeating tea to the other girls instead of her: “You are my friend and you should have called me. That’s what was hurtful and disrespectful to me, is you telling these two and then it came back to me. “Well, that is true,” Kandi says. “It’s no denying, I was wrong. I’m going to own it. There’s nothing else I can say. I apologize because I was wrong.” Kenya abruptly gets up and leaves the table. Marlo goes to check on her and see what is the matter. As she predicted, it’s with Marc.

Kenya explains that she brought her daughter Brooklyn to see her father Marc in New York, where he lives. “You haven’t seen your child in three months. I bring her to New York; I bring her to you and then you want to complain like it is somehow my fault that you now have to go to work,” she gripes. 

“He’s just being evil,” Marlo says. 

“I dropped Brooklyn off earlier today tomorrow and we agree that he would bring her back by a certain time. now at the last minute, he’s asking me to go across the bridge, pick up Brooklyn and take her back home. This is the bulls–t I dealt with for four f*****g years,” she complains. “It’s just like, being crazy. “I’m just trying to let you see your child.” 

“At some point you going to have to pull back and just let him start reaching out,” Kandi suggests. 

“As a mother I can’t do that,” Kenya demurs. She later adds, in an interview: “Fathers instill self-esteem in their daughters. And for me, I want to make sure that Brooklyn knows that her dad loves her and that they spend time with each other so that bond isn’t broken.”

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The next day, Kandi has a production meeting with those involved with ‘Thoughts of a Colored Man”. She meets with a prooducer and publicity/merchandising staff. Kandi learns that Atlanta and Texas are responsible for the highest ticket sales for the play. “New York has not ‘come back’ until people come to see Broadway shows,” the publicist says. Kandi is delighted to learn that her promotional efforts are working.

Meanwhile, Kenya and Sanya go for a walk. Kenya learns that Sanya’s husband is a two-time Super Bowl champion. “It always makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. It’s just like, all this drama all the time. And it’s just really simple: When do you want to see her, and when is she coming back? It’s like, ‘Why do I have to be going through all this?'” She, too, feels gaslighted, just like Drew.

Kenya wonders if she was too hard on Ralph. Sanya opens up about her difficulties in her growing friendship with Drew, and Kenya opines that she feels like she’s not getting straight answers from her or Ralph. speaking of straight answers, Kandi has a call with Sheree and asks when the group is going to get to see Tyrone (Sheree’s just-out-of-prison boyfriend). Sheree says he won’t be able to make it, claiming that New York was just on the edge of the 100-mile radius he can travel in. (Tyrone can only travel 100 miles from his hometown of Philadelphia; NYC is 94.5 miles, and Sheree says he “just didn’t want to chance it” — a claim Kandi finds dubious.)

During another group dinner it is revealed that Marlo used to date music producer Jazze Pha. Kenya asks the group “Who’s the most famous person that ever hit on you?” Kandi reveals that she was in a full-blown relationship with the late R&B singer Gerald Levert and that they have a song together. “It’s just sitting on my hard drive,” she says in an interview. (Kandi released the song on her YouTube channel, she said today.)

Drew claims that a “king of the NBA” once approached her at a venue and invited her over for a drink. His name is censored by the production, but apparently it rhymes with “Laquon”. Sanya questions Drew’s story because the NBA player in question has been with his high school sweetheart since they were teenagers. So when, pray tell, did Drew have this drink with him?

Stay tuned for more updates.

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