“R&B Divas” recap (Ep. 6): “We’re not having this conversation with cocktails!”


So this episode is called “A Time to Heal.” An alternate title could be, “Let’s see how long it takes Jill to cry.”

Another quick thing: I have yet to mention how great the theme song is. The theme song to Braxton Family Values is a prime example about how a theme song sung by a bunch of divas can turn awful, but this R&B Divas theme is my jam! Wait, I’m the only one who has ever watched Braxton Family Values? OK, moving on.

This episode’s heart wrenching moments start with Syleena, who’s rehearsing at the studio when she starts talking about her dad, Syl Johnson. Turns out he was a soul singer in the ’60s and ’70s, and has always been, obviously, an influence on Syleena’s singing. Yet it sounds like Syleena’s own success has apparently turned into a threat for Syl (OMG! I get the Syl thing in all their names now!) instead of a source of pride. As she says “He treats me like an opponent, as opposed to his child. And this is a problem, unfortunately.” Um. You think?

In slightly-uncomfortable moments, we then transition to Bible study in Keke and Michael’s church, to which Michael has invited all the girls to come. Sounds like his theory is that since a lot of the divas are new to Atlanta it could help connect them to the community. Since I know church can in fact be an important part of community, I’m reserving judgment of him for now. Syleena’s showed up, but Michael, of course, is concerned about where Monifah is. Keke, once again, is SO. GOOD. at calling him on his shit immediately. She says, “What is going through your head? Oh, she’s gay, so she needs to be in church?” He stutters a little, then says something about how no, the pastor was just talking about how no one’s perfect and stuff. Or something. Ahem. Because there’s something wrong with gay people that we can’t be perfect, huh, Michael? Huh? Raising an eyebrow at you, sir.

Still, I know Michael’s heart is in the right place; he’s just been filled with the rhetoric that he’s been raised with. As is the case with so many others. I feel like especially with Keke around, Michael is the kind of person whose heart could be changed, and actually getting to know Monifah might be a huge moment in his life. And Monifah does indeed show up to church. She says that while she was hesitant because she didn’t want Michael to “Bible thump her,” (seriously), and that she remains leery of a lot of religious situations — don’t we all, Mo— she did feel immediately comfortable in Michael and Keke’s church. They end up talking with the pastor about the hurt and legacy from generational problems that get passed down in families, which seems oh-too-relevant for Mo with substance abuse and for Keke with domestic abuse. Man, this show gets REAL, y’all.

I would go to church just to admire your accessories, Monifah.

After this day in church, Keke stops by Mo’s apartment just to hang. And by “just to hang,” she really means, “share a whole lot of heavy shit that I am going through right now, so that you can give me the last push I need to go to therapy.” Remember when we learned that Keke stabbed her last husband? Listen, it sounds like he really deserved it. As in, Keke probably would have died if she didn’t defend herself. The source of her issues is no joke.

The most interesting part of this conversation was when Monifah talked about how she used alcohol and partying to numb herself and block out the pain of dealing with her issues, to which she followed up with, “And people use all different types of things.” After a few moments, Keke says, “I think mine is having babies.” She covers up her mouth like she can’t believe she’s admitting that, and questions how awful that makes her. What she needs, she knows, is unconditional love, and she gets that from children: they enter the world already devoted to her.

Here’s the truth: While I’m no psychologist, I believe this is the reality for so many women. Yet instead of reaching into the roots of these issues, we have reality TV shows treating families that have 11 kids or whatever like it’s pure entertainment, instead of the deeply disturbing situation that it in reality is. This is not to say, of course, that every mother who wants lots of children is not well mentally, or that mothers with lots of children don’t truly love their babies. Of course not. What I’m saying is there are often issues that have to be dealt with, which are either completely ignored or treated with in a way that ostracizes the mother instead of helps her. I have no doubt that Keke absolutely loves her children, and I in no way think she’s a bad mother. What I do think is that her admitting this, and realizing it outloud, is incredibly brave and remarkable. And I am so, so glad. And I am a crying, a little. So, 20 minutes. Not bad.

Monifah once again stresses this about therapy: “It’s not taboo. They’re there to help us. And it works.”

Next up in truly disturbing moments, the ladies have all gathered at Faith’s apartment for some cocktails, massages, and super fancy food. You know, just a normal hanging out with the gals. Faith seems like she’s super busy but shows up every now and then to lavish the ladies with awesome stuff and basically I wish I knew Faith because I want a massage. One of the first stories we get to hear during this bonding session, though, is from Faith herself, about those massages. Turns out she knows the massage therapist because she helped Faith heal after she was thrown through a window by the police.

Sixteen years earlier, she was apparently standing in the wrong place at a party of Puff Daddy’s and the police up and threw her through a glass window, you guys. Because this is what they teach you at the police academy, right? To throw women through windows? I have no words. Furthermore, the hospital then sent her home with a bunch of glass still in her back, some of which this massage therapist then helped remove and heal. Since AfterEllen.com is a respectable site I’ll keep most of my words to myself right now, but know that there is a long string of expletives running through my brain in capital letters with lots of exclamation points.

Calming down from my rage, though, we’re back at heartwarming moments. Keke arrives, without Michael, again!, and it’s the first time the five divas have been together in a while. Accordingly, Keke views it as as good time to share with everyone that she’s officially going to try therapy. Yay, right? Faith and Monifah are at least full of yay; their eyes are pretty much glistening with pride and happiness for her.

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