Real Lessons on Friendship, Love and Money from the Real Housewives of Atlanta

I love Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta, despite the fact that only two of the six cast members (Phaedra and NeNe) are wives and NeNe is the only “housewife.” Not to mention that it is both comical and astounding in that “what is the world coming to” sort of way how the term “housewife” has taken on a new and ever-changing definition that encompasses everything from a wife who does not work outside the home, to fiancé, girlfriend, even mistress, and ex-wife or baby momma of a professional athlete – irrespective of whether the woman actually works. Be that as it may, I tune in religiously every Sunday night to be entertained by all of the melodrama and tomfoolery that is The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Never to disappoint, last night’s episode was full of high-octave drama and we almost saw NeNe strangle Kim – again. Despite its entertainment purposes and scripting, the RHWOA has a few things to teach us about friendship, love and money.

“Haters” Are to Dreamers What Kryptonite is to Superman

We knew that the peace between frenemies Nene and Kim couldn’t last for too long. Old habits die hard, and NeNe’s habit of going off on Kim reared its ugly head like weave tracks on a windy day. When Kim pointed out to NeNe that she and Kandi were coming to Miami to work rather than to only hang out with the rest of the girls for Cynthia’s bachelorette party, NeNe loudly told Kim that all Kim does is go out and sing one song, that she doesn’t consider what Kim does to be “work,” and that Kim is only fit to be second-best to Kandi. During an interview with producer Jermaine Dupri that had aired the previous night, NeNe poked fun at Kim’s late start in the music industry with her single “Tardy for the Party,” which Kandi produced. To say that NeNe’s behavior was disrespectful, low-class, hateful, and indicative of a very jealous and miserable human being is an understatement. Kim may not sound like pre-crack Whitney Houston (heck, even Whitney doesn’t sound like pre-crack Whitney), and Kim may be a little (okay, maybe completely) tone death. But, 98% of the “artists” we hear on the radio wouldn’t have careers if it weren’t for auto-tune and tracks, and the other 2% who can actually sing are grossly under-promoted and underappreciated. More importantly, Kim is living her dream, she looks good doing it, and she has fans. So, here are some important lessons for all of us:

 1) Anyone who belittles your dreams and what you are doing to pursue those dreams is not a real friend. Such a person is not worthy of your attention, conversation, time, or friendship. Run away from them as fast as you can, like Don King runs from a comb! Such people can only do one thing for you: drain you of positive energy. Let them go, and wave at them when you reach the mountaintop.    

2) Do not piss in the gardens of other people’s dreams; it’s not nice to litter. Honesty is not always the best policy and you do not always have to say what’s on your mind. I can guarantee you that the Earth will continue to rotate on its axis around the sun if you choose diplomacy or silence over honesty and hurtful words. The phrase “keepin’ it real” should be changed to “keepin’ it classy.” What your momma and granny told you as a child has not changed:  “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”   

Love Does Not Pay the Bills

The wedding and financial woes of run-away bride Cynthia and her fiancé Peter also provided much food for thought. After “loaning” Peter a lot of money for the restaurant he owned, Peter revealed to Cynthia that his restaurant wasn’t doing well. Although Cynthia had given Peter a lot of money, she didn’t know anything about the financial health of the business and just blindly handed over her money to Peter. Peter subsequently told Cynthia that he had closed his restaurant and that he had no idea where they were going to get the extra $20,000 they needed to pay for their quickly-approaching wedding. When Cynthia suggested the possibility of postponing the wedding, Peter told her not to panic. He got upset with Cynthia for asking him where they were going to get the wedding money from, told her he didn’t want to talk about the matter, suggested that there was no need for her to know how he would fix things since she wasn’t the one who was going to solve the problem, and then told her that this was the last time he was going to tell her anything because she doesn’t know how to handle bad news. Despite being able to “barely pay their bills,” as Cynthia put it, they continued to plan a big wedding they could not afford. In addition, Cynthia worried that the recently unemployed love of her life was not going to repay her. There are just so many things wrong with this picture, and Peter and Cynthia are perfect candidates for the Suze Orman show. Why make certain mistakes when you can learn from other people’s experiences?

1) Do not invest your money in new ventures without knowing the details. If you are going to pour a lot of money into someone else’s business and you expect to be repaid, take the time to research the health and viability of the business. Your bank account will thank you later.

2) Do not loan money to others that you cannot afford to lose. If you have no savings or are a couple of checks away from being homeless or destitute, keep your money to yourself.

3) Do not loan large sums of money to romantic partners before you are married. When it’s time to pay the piper, things will inevitably go wrong and become messy. You’ll either break up before the money is repaid, you’ll get married and then divorced without being repaid, or you’ll get engaged, the person will lose their job/primary source of income, and you’ll obsess about whether you’ll be repaid. You get the picture. 

4) If you do loan money to your significant other, then you should write a contract and both of you should sign it. The contract should spell out the terms and conditions of repayment, such as when the money will be repaid, whether it’s a “loan” or “investment,” whether repayment will be in installments or a lump-sum, etc. Judge Judy is not too kind to ex-lovers seeking to recover unpaid “loans,” so protect yourself.   

5) When the person you are dating is secretive and becomes defensive about money, particularly financial endeavors you have undertaken together, this is a red flag and you need to get gone like Jheri Curls and high-top fades. Marriage is a partnership in every sense of the word, including finances. That boyfriend who doesn’t tell you that the business you loaned him money for is doing poorly and that he’s going to close it, will turn into the husband who takes out a second mortgage on your home, maxes out all the credit cards, and runs the both of you into bankruptcy behind your back. 

 6) Live within your means, no matter the occasion. You do not have to be like the couples on Platinum Weddings or Bridezillas. In a rare moment of lucidity, NeNe said it best: “You can have your big wedding. Just have it next year.”  If you cannot afford to pay cash for a big wedding today, then have the type of wedding you can afford or wait until you’ve saved enough money to have a big wedding. If you are focusing more on the wedding day than on the type of marriage you will have, then you need to go back to the beginning and recalibrate your priorities.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta!

3 thoughts

  1. Valerie,

    Shout out to a fellow She-Writer! Thank you! RHWOA is my guilty pleasure. lol. As much as I love to fuss, I love ’em all. Did you see the reunion? Hot like fiya! Lessons are all around us. RHWOA Lesson #372: Don’t do free music production work for friends / don’t mix business with pleasure, because you’ll only end up being tardy for the party with a bunch of hurt feelings. lol.

  2. Found your site from She Writes…I too watch RHWOA on occassion…it’s like opening a bag of chips: you want one small peek (bite) but the next thing you know you’ve watched the whole show (eaten the whole bag). Alas.

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