I don’t want to paint The Real Housewives of Atlanta as more than it is (I would never!). This isn’t Chaucer, I get that. It’s not even Nora Roberts. That said: The writers and editors did mess with some interesting themes this season, my favorite being the forced dichotomy of our main women. All at once, we're asked to take them supremely seriously and laugh at like the court jesters they are.
That the show may have done this on purpose is probably more continuity than it should be given credit for. Still, the fact that it was able to bring that contrast to a thematic head in the finale -- I’m thinking specifically of the Kenya scene, which had my emotions and conscience on a Juan Pablo-level roller coaster ride -- did make me wonder if there might actually be more to making this show than just sitting down with a bag of Baked Cheetos and a ¾ Ocean Spray, ¼ Moscato cocktail and thinking, "All right, what do simple ladies like to watch on the TV these days?" and "How can we make Atlanta look like a city full of industrial warehouses turned into temporary restaurants?"
Eh, probably not.
The season finale opens on the prom king and queen of RHOA, Kandi and Todd, gearing up for the big opening night of A Mother’s Love. Todd walks in on Kandi rehearsing her vocals, and I just cannot get over the men on this show wearing backpacks in everyday life. As if Todd didn’t already have a baby face, he needed to throw in an accessory that goes with a Scooby Doo thermos. Of course, I find it entirely endearing on him because I love Todd. Once Kandi spots her little guy, she starts singing the lyrics to him – “Oh, we gon’ last forever." It is just precious, and considering the marriage retention rate of the Housewives franchise, entirely foreboding. He tells her ticket sales have been a little slow because “I guess people like ratchet more than what you think.” Honestly, how has this man been on this show a full season and still kept his childlike wonder? I would like to see the world the way Todd does. (This will break him. Andy Cohen has his ways.)
Soft music starts playing, and I already know I’m about to be six different levels of uncomfortable for the next 10 minutes. It’s time for the funeral of Kenya’s dog, Velvet. Cynthia arrives with a funeral-appropriate hairdo and her own very much alive dog, which is either sweet or highly insensitive, depending what Kenya asked her to do. In addition to Aunt Lori, there’s only one other friend there; I think it’s less that Kenya wanted to keep it a private affair and more that not a lot of people are willing to put on their formal Uggs and trek out to a vacant field to go to a dog funeral. Kenya arrives with a tiny urn, wearing what can only be described as a formal version of Carrie’s opening credit tutu outfit from Sex and the City. I guess she only had one black mourning suit, and she used that up last episode.
Here is where things get weird. You could watch this scene one of two ways -- or, as I did, with a very emotionally confusing combination of both. The editors have put together the funeral to cut between Kenya -- weeping, falling apart, professing her love for Velvet and hope for God’s plan -- and Cynthia, who is physically manhandling her dog for the entire dog-eulogy. There are just so many shots of Cynthia comically wrestling that dog that the editors must be trying to detract from the gravity of this dog funeral, which we're also supposed to take seriously. I can’t be the only person who felt the urge to laugh here...but I also can’t laugh in the face of a beloved dog's death.
If you think the producers are taking any part of this seriously, note how they air the part of Cynthia’s prayer where she accidentally calls Velvet a "he" and sounds like she's totally winging it -- and maybe even get a little high before delivering it. Velvet does get a sweet video montage, and it is clear she will be missed.
NEXT: All Ayden, all the time...