Capping off a disjointed season of Real Housewives of Atlanta is a finale that is no better. Granted, it’s a palette cleanser for the inevitable Porsha Stewart vs. Kenya Moore battle. Their physical altercation has galvanized the tabloids and who isn’t dying to see it. However, knowing Bravo, it will air in the third part of the reunion but will be in every single reunion promo.
It’s weird to center an entire episode on Kandi Burruss’ musical A Mother's Shame: Public Embarrassment Edition. Sure, Kandi is a great musician, producer, businesswoman, and reality personality. Plus, with NeNe so self-obsessed, Kandi is a refreshing dose of realness. However, she needs to stop selling things. Bethenny Frankel is the only Housewife to establish a brand and sell a product on Bravo without feeling so tacky. Everyone else tries but it just gets sloppy and excessive. The Kandi Factory was not entertaining and left Kandi with a poorly designed studio. However, she lucked out and Bravo will be paying for her wedding in her spin-off, Marital Warfare: My Momma Be Crazy.
Had they aired Kandi’s full musical with a higher production value in its entirety, it would have added a sense of legitimacy to the production. It’s great that Kandi and new husband Todd Tucker successfully produced a musical, even though he spent the whole episode asking questions. But airing parts of the musical out of context with a very shady audience cam was just boring. The reaction cam pointed at Kandi’s mother Momma Joyce was downright uncomfortable. Sadly, Momma Joyce hated the whole show, but suffered through. You don’t have to be a body language expert to read that smug smirk. However, she said she enjoyed it. She also admitted they can “agree to disagree.” Sorry, Todd. But, hey, Tyler Perry showed up so all is right in the world.
Kandi did have a conversation with Todd about a prenuptial showing she has her stuff together. Her father, Titus, is such an amazing gentleman, congratulating her with an inspiring speech; he is by far one of the best men on the show. It looks like the only opportunist in the family is Kandi's mother, because she was quick to shut up once she realized Kandi is definitely marrying Todd. After all, she wants to keep getting those checks.
Porsha wasn’t the best in the musical but did manage to make peace with Lark, the stage manager (our favorite part of the episode). She lays it out for Porsha because Porsha needs to be more professional. If only Lark could yell at her about her divorce. What is interesting is despite getting an expensive house and having no real source of income she refused to fight for alimony at all. Kordell must have some dirt on her because she opted out of the fight pretty easily.
Kenya Moore had a memorial service for her dog Velvet. It was a little dramatic to see her lose it but it felt very genuine. Sadly, Cynthia was the only one who showed up. She embarrassed herself by trying to hold her dog the whole time and calling Velvet male. To further embarrass herself she planned a bizarre seduction scenario. What better way to be sexy than to involve your sister, fill the apartment with votive candles, and smoke a Black n’ Mild cigarillo? Luckily, Peter Thomas laughed as much as we did.
Phaedra Parks got a cake decorated by her son Aiden. It was to celebrate her graduation from mortuary school. Maybe Aiden will decorate a cake for his dad when he goes to trial for criminal fraud charges.
NeNe wasn’t really in this episode. According to her, she had multiple blood clots in her lungs. It seems strange to have a pulmonary embolism and a collapsed lung and then enter a dancing competition.
To appease absolutely no one for the lack of NeNe, Andy Cohen had a one-on-one interview with her. In it, she discussed what we all know: She has absolutely no loyalty. She turned on Cynthia, the last of her remaining friends. Cynthia honestly took a lot of abuse this season. She must have seen it, questioned their friendship, and brought it up at the reunion. NeNe, in true puppet master fashion, did not answer any questions directly but did imply Cynthia should be fired.
Best Lines of the Finale
"Honey, try having a vagina for one day." – Phaedra’s answer to feminism
"All I need now is my sexy Jamaican coffee with no cream. Well, maybe a little bit of cream." – Cynthia is really bad at pillow talk
"The geritol gang." – Phaedra’s great name for Momma Joyce and her sisters
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
A stage parody of the 1970s sitcom Three's Company has been stuck in legal limbo ever since the original copyright owners of the ABC classic filed a lawsuit, but now the playright is striking back, and he has the support of the theater community.
The original sitcom starred the late John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, and Suzanne Somers, and centered around Jack Tripper, a straight guy who pretended to be gay so he could live with two women (which is about as close to a real live gay person that 1970s network television allowed). Like all things gazed at through hindsight, we realized that the premise of a straight man pretending to be gay so that he could stay at an apartment with two women is silly, and the fact that he kept this charade up for seven whole years, and between two different landlords, and seemingly endless clones of Suzanne Somers (how many cousins could Chrissy really have?) is beyond preposterous.
As such, Three’s Company was in need of a good dissection, and playwright David Adjimi stepped up to the call. Adjmi intended to unwind the cultural knots and kinks at the heart of the show's premise. His play, titled 3C, intended to a cast a dark shadow over ABC's original perma-sunny Santa Monica. This time, the Jack character ("Brad" in the play) would still pretend to be an openly gay man in order to live in the The Wickers' apartment (the play's version of the Ropers, who were very conservative concerning co-ed roommates and yet surprisingly tolerant of homosexuality, huh?). This time around, though, the lead isn't straight, but a closeted gay man... pretending to be a straight man pretending to be a gay man. Hm.
Adjmi's play 3C ran for two months off-Broadway, and sought to open in even wider distribution, but the play was hit with a cease and desist letter from the copyright holders of Three's Company, who considered the parody to be too similar to the original version. Adjmi shelved the play after threat of legal action, but has since thrown caution to the wind and is attempting to publish the play in an anthology of his own work.
While the courts might find Adjimi at fault for copyright infringement in terms of the law, he is clearly within his rights culturally. Ever since the first stories was ever told, those first stories were mocked by the next batch of stories. Satire is a valuable piece of human expression, and it shouldn't be limited due to copyright claims since parody is already protected under fair use. Furthermore, several other properties, ones much more valuable than Three's Company, have received stage parodies that didn't cheapen the original brand, including The Simpsons (the play Mr. Burns) and Silence of the Lambs (Silence! The Musical). Beyond that, modern parodies often open the subject of satire to a new generation of fans. Three's Company doesn't resonate with many people under a certain age, but a new play examining the cultural mores of late '70s with regards to homosexuality might reintroduce the show into our current discussion of the topic.
This week the ladies of Atlanta prove that Self Respect is just a river in Egypt ... or however the saying goes, right, Porsha Stewart? Do these women (and men) not realize that they’re on television? It seems like everyone on the series has lost all self-respect and forgotten that their choices will live on forever in YouTube clips.
Kenya Moore begins the episode by showing up to lunch with her friend Lawrence Washington in a pair of high heels with graduation tassels. Then she proceeds to say with no sense of irony, “I’d like something light,” then orders a po’ boy. What comes next is the saddest of revelations. She gives the recap of the last episode ... like some sad extra. She's this season's Least Valuable Player. She can’t rely on an impromptu divorce to save her either. If Fashion Queens didn’t directly proceed the show Kenya might not have appeared at all. Keep Lawrence close, Kenya ... real close.
Speaking of brand synergy, fellow fashion queen Derek J is doing Momma Joyce’s hair. Kandi Burruss shows up and they discuss her misguided musical idea and ignore the fact her mother has wigtastic bangs. Joyce brings up their fight yet again ... then honestly, the rest is a blur because it's so boring you just fall asleep.
Chuck Smith invites NeNe Leakes and Phaedra Parks to lunch. They start to reminisce about high school in Athens, Georgia. You’re expecting Chuck to go off on Phaedra about the revelation that Chuck dated Phaedra and Kandi multiple times. However, he politely asks them both to speak at the Boys and Girls Club. Then NeNe makes a huge revelation: she was in 4H club. She knows how to milk a cow, y’all. They have a fun road trip. The ladies share their early jobs. NeNe worked at Sizzler and, like now, Phaedra had 15 jobs. The group arrives at the club and has a wonderful afternoon. NeNe twerks and plays foosball with children. Phaedra channels Animal from The Muppets and bangs on the drums. Plus, both Phaedra and NeNe score baskets on the court. If this whole reality TV thing doesn’t work, they have a future with the WNBA.
Chuck introduces the ladies and does not mind exaggerating. He introduces Phaedra as one of the “top lawyers in America.” Isn’t she the woman who accepted a cash payment for getting a ticket for tinted windows dismissed? Did she not allow said client to drive out of the parking lot with said tinted windows? However, Phaedra did have a very sweet and inspirational message to the give to the children. Chuck continued exaggerating by introducing NeNe as “one of the top actresses in America” ignoring the entire A and B-list. Nene did not deliver an inspirational message. Instead, she gave what sounded like an infomercial for dreams.
Cynthia Bailey takes her sister Malorie Bailey-Massie to a bead store as revenge for Mal almost ruining her wedding and starting a fight at her anniversary party. Mal reveals that she’s staying with Cynthia and Peter Thomas for two months. Despite rudely inviting herself over, Mal seems to be on her best behavior. Cynthia confesses things are tense and she and Peter are having carnal issues (that means sexy time problems). Mal recommends that Cynthia deal with her emotional issues with Peter first.
Porsha Stewart is living in a fool’s paradise. For those of you wondering, Fool’s Paradise is 10 miles away from Gangsta’s Paradise and down the road from Paradise City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. She is living with her mother and lets her mother buy her overpriced and superfluous dog clothes. Meanwhile, she has just moved into a huge house she can't afford! Her divorce settlement is still in discussion, her income is questionable, and her judgment is impaired. Rather than based in logic, her choice is based in her believing in herself. She doesn’t want a man to control her. If she’s going to get thrown out on her ass she wants it to be by a creditor.
After a great afternoon together, Chuck brings up Phaedra's discussion with Mynique. He alleges (that’s legal talk) that the he and Phaedra never dated that instead they were friends with benefits. When Phaedra argues she wasn't a hoochie-mama, Chuck tells her she was “part of the team.” He tells Phaedra, NeNe, and all of America that he’s a douche and is full of himself. He confesses to lying to Kandi about their relationship and “taking advantage of a young girl.” She was also part of this "team." He declares himself the “big homie.” If memory serves, is “homie” Hopi Indian for rectum?
Back in the Lifetime movie of the week, Mal and Cynthia check out the ratchet new Bailey modeling agency. Cynthia shows Mal Peter’s new car. Mal throws shade compliments the car and confesses she's staying over. Peter gets into a huff and storms out. Back at home, Cynthia approaches Peter to discuss their recent fighting. He voices his dissatisfaction with their lack of lovemaking and her sister staying over. He doesn’t like houseguests because if they have an argument it can't be a “full on blow out.” That sounds violent! Cynthia makes a valid point if she didn’t have to work to support the family and if Peter didn’t spend money without asking she’s be in a more lovey dovey place. He counters that he’d like to have a mancave and then proceeds to get precariously close to physically abusive without ever crossing the line. Looks like Divorcewatch has officially begun. Meanwhile, Cynthia may we recommend Sleeping with the Enemy, Enough, and What's Love Got To Do With It.
There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.