‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ final season 12 reunion recap: ‘Snakegate’ resolved?

Gail "Yovanna" Momplaisir was a mere side note during a season of major squabbles and major life changes for women of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

But she became front and center for a good portion of part three of the virtual reunion.

Why? 

She had become friends with NeNe Leakes and then entered the lives of the other women while season 12 was happening. At some point, NeNe claimed someone had audio of her former best friend Cynthia Bailey talking smack about NeNe.

In a way, this was a non-starter of a controversy because Cynthia had already talked smack about NeNe on the show and in media interviews so this was not exactly a revelation. 

But the “Real Housewives” producers flogged this so-called “Snakegate” pretty hard. Was there an audio tape or not? And who did it? 

Eva Marcille thought it was recurring cast member Marlo Hampton. Others fingered Yovanna, who denied multiple times on the show she had taped anybody.

Eventually, Yovanna went away and the so-called controversy died.

But during part two of the reunion, when host Andy Cohen showed a video of Kenya Moore and Cynthia Bailey, NeNe left her computer and didn’t come back. 

At the time, Yovanna had gone on Instagram to tease she was about to spill some tea. 

So when Yovanna did come on the reunion with NeNe absent, she offered up a bombshell claim: She said NeNe had directed Yovanna to tape other cast members and catch them making negative comments about NeNe. “A snitch” is how Kandi Burruss described it.

Yovanna claimed on the reunion that she never taped anybody because it wasn’t in her morals to do so. But she also lied to NeNe, never telling her the truth that she had no actual audio receipts. 

Some of the women scoffed at Yovanna’s claims. Kandi found her actions reprehensible because she felt Yovanna had befriended them under false pretenses. Yovanna said  her interactions were genuine and that she did not meet up with any of the women except Cynthia after NeNe made the request. 

Cynthia decided Yovanna had more credibility because NeNe had left the virtual building. 

Right now on the cast, NeNe only has Porsha Williams as a good friend with part-timer Marlo on her side as well. 

NeNe told Wendy Williams iin January after the season’s taping ended that she didn’t want to be on the show anymore. (NeNe had actually left the show once before and came back.). So it’s unclear after this reunion debacle whether a season 13 is in the offing for NeNe, the only original “housewife” cast member left on the show.

***

The other big story line for this final reunion episode was the complicated history of Cynthia and Kenya.

Let’s address some of Kenya’s shady actions this past season one by one:

1) Kandi told Kenya ahead of time that Mike Hill was going to propose to Cynthia as a surprise. So what did Kenya do? At the party, she came right up to Cynthia to tell her she believed Mike was going to propose, effectively blunting the surprise element.

Kandi was appalled and Cynthia wasn’t too thrilled either. 

Cynthia forgave Kenya but still called it “shady.”

Kandi did not really apologize on the show, saying she didn’t think “it was a big deal.”

2) During the trip to Greece, Kenya began grilling Cynthia about her knowledge of wine, basically implying that Cynthia had no right to be selling wine given she was no sommelier. 

In this case, Kenya didn’t dispute that she looked like she was needlessly berating Cynthia. “At some point, I should have taken the cues of it being uncomfortable and just stopped,” Kenya said. “I stand by the fact that I wasn’t coming for her business.” 

Cynthia: “It did start off as a joke and went too far.”

3) Kenya ambushed recurring cast member Tanya Sam by bringing Shiana White (who sells cookies so they call her “the cookie lady” on the show) to a lunch. Shiana allegedly flirted with Tanya’s husband. At the time, Kenya said it was Cynthia’s idea for “the cookie lady” to confront Tanya, basically throwing Cynthia under the bus.

Indeed, during an earlier scene, Cynthia did casually invite “the cookie lady” to Kenya’s baby shower to confront Tanya but Cynthia said she wasn’t really serious about it. If she knew something was really going to happen, she would have warned Tanya.

Tanya in the end had no problem with Cynthia: “I respect Cynthia. End of story.”

Ultimately, NeNe felt that Cynthia consistently gives her friend Kenya a pass but cuts NeNe no breaks.

NeNe was not around to answer questions this episode so Cynthia and Kenya were able to provide their viewpoints.

Cynthia said while it seems she forgives Kenya too easily, that’s not the case. Off camera, she said she will often give Kenya the business. 

“Cynthia is no yes man,” Kenya said. “She will call me out. But she doesn’t try to embarrass me in front of other people. That’s what friendship is about.”

Cynthia also said Kenya does apologize when she does something wrong. NeNe? “Not so much.”

***

NeNe over the season made some attempts to reach out to Kenya for a reconciliation of sorts after years of acrimony.

But Kenya would have none of it, feeling it was all phony. 

“I can see a fake from a mile away,” Kenya said. 

When NeNe felt rejected, she went back to hating on Kenya. 

It’s a complicated situation because host Andy Cohen said NeNe had advocated for Kenya to return to the show season 12 after skipping season 11 in part because Kenya makes good TV.

While they were friends many years ago when Kenya first joined the show, they have been at odds for a long time.

“They’ve been arguing so long, I don’t know where it started,” said Kandi. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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