'RHOA' Is So Underwhelming. It Needs To Be Revamped.

Invented beef is not that entertaining — and Bravo has two options to fix this show.
From left, Drew Sidora, Marlo Hampton, Shereé Whitfield, Kandi Burruss, Kenya Moore and Sanya Richards Ross of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."
From left, Drew Sidora, Marlo Hampton, Shereé Whitfield, Kandi Burruss, Kenya Moore and Sanya Richards Ross of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."
Bravo via Getty Images

On the ninth episode of this season of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Shereé Whitfield gathered most of her fellow OG cast members for a scene intended to stoke our nostalgia.

Whitfield, who was one of the original peach holders on the series, had been teasing this mini-reunion for some time in promotion of the show’s 15th season. But as nice as it was to see her, Lisa Wu, Kim Zolciak-Biermann and DeShawn Snow all together again, everything about it was underwhelming, much like the rest of this season.

Considering Nene Leakes filed a lawsuit against Bravo last year, no one expected to see her appear on camera with her fellow OGs. Still, because she is arguably the most famous Real Housewife of any of the franchises, her absence would be felt no matter how hard anyone tried to fill the gap. Not that anyone did.

Snow looked great, but after all these years, she remains as muted as ever. If not for the efforts of her co-stars, who tried to reel her into the conversation after a while, she would have completely faded away from the scene. Some things never change, but for her sake, I wish they had at that moment.

Wu at least tried to get to the mess when she asked Zolciak-Biermann about her rumored financial problems, but Zolciak-Biermann is incapable of being truthful about such matters — and especially not to someone who only minutes prior said she couldn’t tell if she wanted to hug or choke her.

Zolciak-Biermann tried to make her presence felt, taking shots at current housewives Kandi Burruss and Kenya Moore. It felt like she was trying to find a way back onto the show — something Whitfield has publicly pushed for in the past. Even Leakes believes she can still provide good drama for the show.

However, after hearing the way she asked Whitfield’s son if he gets along with his “baby mama,” I think the show should leave her where they left her in 2016.

The show doesn’t need to look that far back to fix its problems anyway.

Marlo Hampton (left) with Shereé Whitfield.
Marlo Hampton (left) with Shereé Whitfield.
Bravo via Getty Images

The point of this gathering, Whitfield said, was to show how in spite of all the years of bickering, everyone from that group could get together and be cordial with one another, unlike the women on the show now.

That might have been her stated goal, but by the end of it, the scene felt unnecessary and pointless. Wu and Snow brought not much or nothing, and Zolciak-Biermann was lying, so it felt like watching a rerun. Whitfield was playing the role of matriarch when she has traditionally served as “the bone collector”; she’s always been a disruptor more than a unifier.

If anything, those random minutes of airtime only highlighted what we already knew about the show then but more than ever in its present form: “RHOA” works best when it’s well-cast, ideally with people who actually happen to be friends.

Yes, people are still watching “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” but not with the same fervor they used to in its glory days. Much of the online chatter about “RHOA” in recent years is less about the drama found on the show and increasingly about its decline. A lot of it is also about how boring the show has gotten over the years.

I’ll take the word of “RHOA” cast members that Bravo executives are pleased with the ratings of the show no matter what the declining overnight ratings, admittedly a terrible barometer to gauge a show’s popularity in this decade, might suggest, but as far as the quality of the show goes, I would hope they see the clear problems.

Whitfield is right to want the cast to get closer. It shouldn’t have taken until the 10th episode to have this many group scenes on a given episode — and it requires an international trip. Then again, even when they are together, the moments are often joyless because they’re too busy beefing over issues that feel made up.

This is especially true of Marlo Hampton, who may be the best “friend of” ever on a Real Housewives show, but in her second year as a Real Housewife, is not working as well as she might have 10 years ago when she had more of a rapport with the women on the cast. For weeks now, she has argued with Burruss about the singer’s apparent poor handling of the death of Hampton’s nephew, who used to work at one of Burruss’s restaurants. Hampton has generated a lot of heated reactions from Burruss over an issue that prior footage has since shown didn’t bother her at all until she needed something to talk about on camera.

Invented beef is not that entertaining.

The same goes for contrived relationships like Whitfield’s newest, umm, special friend: “Love & Marriage Huntsville” star Martell Holt. It felt like the two found each other for careerist reasons, but even if that is not the case, how many times can we watch Whitfield date the wrong man?

Meanwhile, for someone who claims the women need to get along better, Whitfield did not follow her own advice with Drew Sidora, whom she brought to tears on Sunday’s episode after she refused to take ownership for her actions and apologize. I find that Sidora has a stage-play-like delivery in most of her scenes, but I felt her in that moment.

I, too, got sad over Whitfield’s stubbornness, which made the episode all the more unbearable.

I got even more sad once I realized we have several episodes left this season.

I say this as a fan who doesn’t want “RHOA” to suffer the same fate as the actual peaches in Georgia.

The network has two options.

The first is that it can hopefully reel in fan favorites like Porsha Williams Guobadia back to the show. The show needs levity, real relationships and, respectfully, people with money. Her solo show, “Porsha’s Family Matters,” was a disaster, but she will always shine in an ensemble.

Shereé Whitfield and Porsha Williams Guobadia on "Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen."
Shereé Whitfield and Porsha Williams Guobadia on "Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen."
Bravo via Getty Images

In that way, “RHOA” can enjoy the kind of renaissance that “The Real Housewives of Orange County” is experiencing. After the return of both Heather Dubrow and Tamra Judge amid another cast shake-up, it is its best in several years. I want that for "RHOA" — or at least cast members like Burruss and Moore, who deserve better than what they’ve been given to work with.

If that can’t happen, there is the other option: a total reboot, like “The Real Housewives of New York City,” which premiered with an entire new cast after "RHOA" on Sunday.

When it was initially announced that all of the women on "RHONY" would be replaced, I was a bit incensed. Now that I’ve watched the premiere with an open mind, I see the value of revitalizing a show with a fresh sweep. These women are more diverse, rich, not that different in age than the women who first launched the show when it premiered and, more importantly, have real relationships with each other.

When I watch Real Housewives, I want conflict, but I also want laughs, camaraderie and, respectfully, rich nonsense like arguing over cheese and restaurants as they did on the rebooted "RHONY" premiere.

As good as it can be to reminisce, when compared to the stagnant "RHOA," the new "RHONY" makes the better case for why, instead of looking back, sometimes it’s better to just start anew.

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