Monday, December 1, 2008

Eff' Michelle-O! We're Setting Black Women Back 50 Years!

I pride myself on being the master of my domain, the head of my household.[1] That said, there are times when even I get caught slippin', and this past Thanksgiving would be such an occasion. At some point after dinner, one of our many female guests ended up commandeering the remote control and turned (away from football!) to Bravo where The Real Housewives Of Atlanta marathon was ongoing. I've tried my best to avoid this nonsense all year long, despite lots of commenters telling me I needed to check for it.

Call me elitist, snooty, or just plain uppity, but watching scripted reality shows just seems like the biggest waste of time. If I've got a spare 60 (and I don't often nowadays with 2 kids), I'm usually sneaking in a few matches of Wii Boxing. When I found out how overly orchestrated Flavor of Love was, it was like discovering Santa Claus was actually my Pops. The gig has been up ever since. If I wanted to watch some scripted nonsense under the guise of reality, I'd just turn on WWE. At least there's blood and violence on rasslin'.

Long story short, everyone ended up watching the show at some point and since I'm no killjoy, I joined in. And became instantly addicted. Because seriously, who can turn away from such a trainwreck? Note: these clips do the show no justice.

I haven't seen this detestable a collection of characters since the 96' Cowboys. Or the Bush Jr. administration.

The Real Housewives Of Atlanta is apparently the latest installment of Bravo's ongoing series that chronicles "real" housewives in cities like NYC and LA. How these are "real housewives" when half of them ain't even married is beyond me, but who's counting? The ATL show features five women of various levels of trifledom whom we're supposed to believe are lifelong friends, not merely cobbled together 12 weeks ago to shoot a poorly scripted reality show. Anyways, the "real housewives" are...

NeNe - The show's main attraction, a ghetto bird turned socialite who looks curiously similar to New York from the VH1 Celebreality shows. Married to a spineless man the age of my grandfather. And just for good measure, she's also an ex-stripper. Nice job old man, you clearly know how to pick em'. She loves going bra-less, and as straight a man as I am, I find this pretty disgusting. Ignorant and loudmouthed, it's amazing any of the other women can stomach her, yet alone consider her a friend. I suppose you could consider her the "realest" of the crew, but would you make friends with such a woman? I doubt it. She is the textbook definition of termagant.[2] Then again, that may be scripted too.

Sheree - The best-looking woman on the show (from the neck down at least), but considering the proliferation of weaves and botox, that ain't sayin' much. The ex-wife of an NFL player, she lives in a palatial estate that actually doesn't appear to be rented and spends her days on such vanity projects as a "clothing line" that's clearly concocted for the show only. Her main "job" is sitting around and waiting for her divorce settlement check. Just lovely.

Lisa - The wife of an ex-NFL player, and one of the few (the only?) women on the show with an actual Day Job. In one of the worst displays of marital discord ever aired on TV, Lisa actively roots for her husband's comeback (he was forced into early retirement by injury) to fail. Talk about having your man's back. I haven't been this disappointed in a black woman since Allyson Felix blew it in Beijing.

Kim - The token white chick who's got a married SugarDaddy named "Big Papa" that never appears on the show. Anyone with half a brain can easily surmise that there's no real "Big Papa", just a ruse for woman Bravo needed to include to avoid the show being classified as a "Black program". Kim is a collision of superficiality and bad blonde wigs. She's tone deaf, but fancies herself as a country western singer. The ex-stripper rides around in an obviously leased Porsche drinking white wine and smoking Newports. It's the sort of spectacle that would be amusing if no actual children were involved. Sadly, there are, which makes it simply pathetic.

DeShawn Ex-NBA player Eric Snow's wife, who is pretty sensible in relative terms, but that ain't sayin' much. To fund her "foundation" which serves a dozen or so "at risk, inner city girls", Snow decides to throw a black tie gala at her home to raise a million dollars. Why the ham sammich a dozen kids need a million dollars in funding is beyond me, but it doesn't take Miss Cleo to predict that the party will fail miserably (it does) and end up costing her coochie whipped husband a grip. Seriously Eric, get your house in order, bruh.

As I watched the final 6 episodes (yeah, I did) of this nonsense, part of me wondered exactly what the point of "reality" TV is beyond mindless entertainment. We all know the shows are rigidly scripted, which doesn't technically make them "reality" by even the loosest of definitions. That said, I wonder what effect watching such lecherous women, even under the guise of "reality" is on male viewers. There's nary a Day Job or career (except for Lisa's) to be had amongst the women. They mooch off their husbands and generally look at them as little more than ATM's. When the kids are shown (and thankfully, in a rare display of constraint they aren't much) they're little more than insipid extensions of their mothers. The blatant and repeated flaunting of very fleeting wealth (everyone's an EX-ballplayer) gives you the impression that these women would live very sad and hollow lives if (when?) the money somehow dried up.

Simply put, I loved watching the carnage, but I sure as hell hated what it represented.

This isn't necessarily a "racial" thing. I once caught a few episodes of the Orange County version of this show, and the women there were just as vapid, and probably even more obnoxious because they had "old" money instead of the first generation "blow a knee and it's over" variety seen on the ATL show. Still, I can't help but wonder if these women are the 5 steps back to counteract Michelle Obama's 2 steps forward. And why does it seem that every reality show just rehashes the worst stereotypes (sassy, mouthy, money-grubbing, oversexed) associated with Black women? I'm just sayin'.

Ida B. Wells is cying inside. And asking herself, "Seriously, I died for this sh*t?"

Question: Although they're clearly scripted, do you think reality shows send some potentially dangerous messages to their viewers? Do they reinforce stereotypes about minorities or are they merely mindless entertainment? What's your favorite "reality" show? Are NeNe and New York sistas from another baby daddy, or is it just me?

[1] And by "domain", I mean The Big TV. AverageSis runs errythang else, no need to lie.

[2] $50 word. Go look it up.

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