Four of the ladies are back with NeNe Leakes out of the picture.
It’s a cliché now to say 2020 has impacted the reality of the world — and even reality TV.
For “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” the pandemic delayed the start of production by two months. The show is debuting later than it ever has on Sunday, Dec. 6, with four castmates from last year and one new person aboard.
The four returnees are Cynthia Bailey, Kandi Burruss, Porsha Williams and Kenya Moore. The two departed are NeNe Leakes and Eva Marcille. The newbie — actress Drew Sidora — will not officially appear until Sunday, Dec. 13.
The episode, which Bravo provided The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in advance, starts with the ladies doing one-on-one interviews with Bravo staff on Aug. 4 as the women individually discuss how they dealt with life in quarantine the first five months of the crisis.
And the episode leans into life in Atlanta during the protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
For both Porsha Williams and Cynthia Bailey, it meant hitting the streets to protest. “I was so furious,” Williams told Bravo. “I was so offended. The blatant racism happening to my people. We need to yell at the rooftops: ‘No justice, no peace.’”
Williams provided video from June 1 in downtown Atlanta getting pepper-sprayed then later getting arrested in Louisville during a protest supporting Taylor.
She, of course, has a special connection to civil rights: her grandfather is the late Hosea Williams, who was a major part of the movement in the 1960s and started his own non-profit Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless (now called Hosea Helps). Bravo even showed vintage video footage of her grandfather, who died in 2000.
Williams’ evolution into a social justice warrior reveals a woman who has matured considerably in her 30s. Bravo replayed that infamous time seven years ago when the other ladies had to explain to Williams that the Underground Railroad was not an actual railroad.
The first episode, set in the summer, also features Bailey planning her wedding and debating with her fiancé, Mike Hill, about how big the wedding could be given COVID-19. Burruss and her husband, Todd Tucker, are seen planning a new steakhouse and preparing for Burruss’ daughter, Riley, to go off to college in New York City.
And Moore continued to grapple with her crumbling marriage with New York restaurateur, Marc Daly, which was chronicled last season. The pandemic hurt his businesses and made him even more surly, she said.
“The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” returning for season 13 on Bravo at 8 p.m.
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.