“R&B Divas” (2.8): Joy and Foolishness

But then. But then Brownstone comes on. And hahaha. Haha. It is bad. Ouch. That is all I can say. The looks on the faces of people in the audience are rough. Nicci implores Keke and Mo to come up on stage at one point and help save them, which they do, because they are good people.

RIP Brownstone.

I just really don’t know if we’ve ever seen a Nicci Gilbert event go smoothly. I’m glad the woman has so many ideas, and the motivation to try to put them together. But she either needs to have more people working for her, or better people, or maybe she has to take some business classes, or maybe just learn how to be professional? I don’t know. She’s just a hot mess. Compare her events to, say, Syleena’s events, which always feel so wonderful and positive. But hey! At least this charity shebang is over!

As the episode moves on, however, there are still hyenas out there on the prowl. In particular, a young, foolish hyena named Akemi.

Akemi is also in Atlanta, and Monifah is giddy to share her Big News with her. While she knows that Akemi won’t approve of it, she at least wants her to be happy for her happiness. Because her happiness is glowing! “I mean, look at me,” she tells Akemi, practically jumping up and down in her kitchen. But Akemi does her Akemi thing, just rocking her clearly uncomfortable laugh, her overly forced smile. Monifah explains that she’s fully aware of Akemi’s views and supportive of her as a mother, but she still wants to share her happiness. To which Akemi replies, “There are a lot of things that make us happy…but that doesn’t mean they’re good.” OH LAWD. LAWD LAWD LAWD.

“Maybe if I am smile a lot, it will make my words sound less hateful!”

Monifah, still patient and understanding, says that something so genuine and pure as her and Terez’s love can’t be against God’s will. And then Akemi says, “But homosexuality…it’s a perversion.” At this even Mo loses some of her respectful motherly cool, and throws her hands up in the air, proclaiming, “Oh God, I’ve raised a fanatic.”

Accurate body language is accurate.

She immediately apologizes for using the word fanatic, but says she looks forward to the day 20 years from now when they can have this conversation again. She tells the camera that she knows Akemi is just a 21-year-old who has a lot to learn. Which is an amazingly level-headed way to look at it. But the kicker for me is when Monifah says that, while she doesn’t expect her to come to the actual ceremony, she can at least count on her to be at the celebration with them afterwards, right? RIGHT? An exceedingly thoughtful compromise, I think, even knowing how much it must hurt to not have your only daughter at your wedding ceremony.  Akemi does more uncomfortable laughing/grinning, and says, “I’ll let you know.”

I’LL LET YOU KNOW? Oh, Akemi, girl. I have tried to be patient with you. But “I’ll let you know” to your MOM, who is A WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING, who is GLOWING WITH JOY, who has just invited you to the happiest occasion in her life? Nah, child. Nah. Monifah said over and over that all she wanted was for you to be happy for her, even if you don’t understand it. But you couldn’t even give her that. Do you know how many neglected, hurt children would love to have a mother like Monifah? Someone who’s warm and genuine and patient and wise? So many kids. Akemi also did this bratty thing before the marriage conversation even started where she was like, Mom, have you been checking my online grades every second of the day? No? What’s wrong with you?

Over it.

Moving on, it is time for the finale of this symphony, where everything goes kaboom. Monifah brings all the divas together to surprise Keke for her birthday. She also wants to share her marriage news with all the divas. So happy occasion, right? Birthdays! Gay weddings! Hurrah! And it starts off decently. Keke arrives and is real happy. Yay! But then things get weird.

Keke says she needs to address something with Angie. Angie’s like, okay. Keke says, you really made me question Nicci during Leena’s thing the other day, and that’s not right. Angie’s like, okay. Nicci sits quietly on the other side of the table, all smug like. Keke says, and what you said wasn’t even true! Angie’s like, well wait a minute. Because well wait a minute, nothing Angie said was untrue. Wait, Keke, how did Nicci get you around her finger like this? You thought her event was a mess, too! You’re saying Angie talked negatively about Nicci, but weren’t you there for that shitfest at Monifah’s?

And from that point on, Keke works herself into a frenzy. Nicci yells a little and leaves the table. Keke keeps crying and hollering. Sweet LaTocha speaks up and says, well, why don’t we let Angie tell her side? Keke touches her hand and LaTocha pulls it back because she’s upset, which offends Keke and then Keke starts yelling at LaTocha. Being as everyone keeps yelling at Angie to talk and then yelling over her when she tries to talk, Angie Stone peaces out of that joint. Nicci returns and says something rude to Syleena, and then Syleena is OFF. She lets out a fierce stream of insults at Nicci, a lot of which are entertaining while below the belt but I mean whatever at this point. Nicci also at one point keeps yelling, “You work for me!” Which I guess she’s saying because she’s a producer on the show. Speaking of which, why the hell is Nicci a producer on this show?

The dinner is left in shambles, with Keke crying over the mess she started herself on her birthday. The saddest part of the whole thing is that Mo didn’t even get to share her happy news. Way to go, team.

We then cut to very dramatic clips of each diva saying individually, in one way or another, that they are done. D-O-N-E. Monifah says she doesn’t even want to be called an R&B Diva anymore. And…that’s a wrap? I guess? For the season? For the series? I don’t know.

Here’s where I stand on the whole thing: pretty angry, actually. There was so much potential in this show to just be about strong, talented women of color, supporting each other, loving each other, something so refreshing from other reality TV, and something so IMPORTANT. But something this season just went wrong. Nicci acted like such a cartoon villain towards the end that I started to wonder if the entire thing was scripted, which is something I had never, ever believed before—something about the women always rang so true.

But what was the point this season? Did they know they wanted a dramatic swan dive so as to set up R&B Divas LA to move into the spotlight? So why not create fighting about a tour that everyone knew wasn’t going to happen? Purposely make Nicci a mess to create bitterness between all the women? I don’t know, man. It could all be real, but I’m left feeling kind of cheated.

Except for the Monifah and Terez part. That part was awesome.

There will be a two-part reunion special with all the divas starting next Wednesday. The way I’m feeling right now, I’ll have to wait and see if it will be interesting enough to recap; otherwise, I’ll try to get the answers from Mo myself.

What I do know is this: Keep an eye out for Monifah, Keke, and Syleena. They’re making new music in a serious way, and doing it right.

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