The producers of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" this season have figured out an interesting strategy to keep the show interesting: find folks who used to know (or better yet, sleep with) members of the cast and bring them in to create some mayhem. Family members, too, can bring the drama. (See Mama Joyce or Cynthia Bailey's sister Mal.)
Recently, former NFLer and radio host Chuck Smith generated a couple of episodes' worth of laughs with his inconsistent characterizations of his past relationships with both Kandi Burruss and Phaedra Parks.
Now, RHOA has shipped in Natalie Williams, a friend of Cynthia and her husband Peter Thomas. She said she's married to Christopher Williams, an R&B singer. She knew Todd, Kandi's fiance. According to Natalie, Todd dated a friend of hers many many years ago and broke her heart by cheating on her. She also said that Todd was able to find ways to better himself (without calling him an "opportunist," as Mama Joyce has, it sure sounds like it.)
We see Natalie at the third anniversary party for Cynthia and Peter at Bar One, his bar. He surprises Cynthia by taking her to her new agency spot called Industry where he has a private table set up. Christopher sings a song for her. She's surprised and happy.
Later, Natalie joins the ladies (plus Marlo Hampton) at the Wolf Mountain Vineyards in Dahlonega for a wine tasting.
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Some of the women are late but NeNe has gotten used to it. (They just started the tour without them.)
When Natalie mentions during the tour that she had eloped with Christopher 18 years earlier, Kenya Moore, resident troublemaker, piped in and said she had heard they had a "common law" marriage, not a real one. (Kenya and Christopher hard worked together many years earlier in a production.) Natalie, acting like a child, said Kenya shouldn't have an opinion about marriage since she's not married. (Huh?)
Kenya is bemused that Natalie is calling her out about talking about someone else's marriage when Natalie herself made a recent judgment call about Kandi's fiance. Natalie argued she never said "opportunist" but her elongated explanation is basically the definition of "opportunist."
Kandi handles it about as well as she could. She said emphatically that she's fabulous and glad Todd nabbed her. The only problem: she said she knew about Peter's past and never talked about it. But just bringing that up begs the question and sows the seeds for future conflict.
In other story lines:
- Kenya, at age 42, wants a baby! After seeing her dad in last week's episode, she gets several of her relatives together to proclaim she will try to have one asap. She isn't sure if she wants to have one with her supposed oil tycoon African prince boyfriend we know nothing about. (NeNe Leakes rolls her eyes when referencing this.)
- Kandi checks out the Rialto for her musical. At first, Todd bowed out, wanting to take an out-of-town job. But he changes his mind at the Rialto.
- NeNe visits Porsha Williams in her new 8,000-square-foot home in Duluth. Porsha said she decides to take NeNe's words at heart and not be defensive. She has not been a good friend and admits her pending divorce has made her even more self absorbed as usual. She isn't quite ready to date but she can't wait to show off a new man toy in front of Kordell down the road.
A big fight happens among some of the guys over Kenya's allegations that Natalie and Christopher have a "common law" marriage, not a legal one. Kenya also visits a sperm bank and wonders if Michael Jordan has any sperm there. Hah... hah.
Last Sunday, the show's 11th episode competed against the Golden Globes but still held up with one of its stronger ratings: 4.2 million viewers. That's down from the peak of 4.5 million a week earlier but was impressive nonetheless. The show is now averaging more than 3.6 million viewers in its original viewing, up from 3.1 million last year and by far its best season yet.