VH-1 is widely known as a repository for "celebreality" and all the foolery that we've come to associate with that particular sub-genre of TV entertainment. In fact, someone on Twitter joked that it was like the “National Geographic for sassy Black women.”
The network is undoubtedly at the top of the trash heap with its sports and Hip-Hop centered series, detailing the lives of thewives/ex-wives/girlfriends/groupies/bed-warmers/long-term fiancées/jilted former fiancées of athletes and rappers who fund the lavish lifestyles of women (most of whom are of color) who present the demeanor of tawdry street toughness dipped in the finest linens and jewels. It’s not difficult to see beyond the impeccably lacquered lips, high-quality sew-ins, and sky-high $1,000 Christian Louboutin heels, because more often than not these women deliver the goods right off the bat as soon as they grace our TV screens. And boy do they deliver the ratings goods. Whether they’re screeching vulgarities at one another across a table at some posh restaurant, throwing drinks, or clawing at one another’s weaves, these women of dubious status and leisure draw in millions of viewers and become hash tagged on Twitter before the hour is even up. The allure of these quasi-reality shows present a weird dichotomy of love and loathing… they’re guilty a pleasure viewers love to pontificate about or skewer on social networking forums (the skewering especially done by folks who like to feign as if they never watch).
Shows like Basketball Wives and Love & Hip Hop generate interesting discourse about the portrayal of Black women on reality shows, across the blogosphere and among social media journalists. The word Angry Black Woman meme gets tossed around a lot.
Each week there is some sort of online poll asking viewers if the (insert reality fight here) make Black women look bad. Somehow, whenever NeNe Leakes of Bravo TV’s Real Housewives… franchise engages in a verbal meltdown with a fellow cast mate or Tami Roman of the Basketball Wives: Miami cast punches someone in the teeth, all Black women in the United States of America are held accountable for that behavior. We’re prodded to explore why Black women act likefoolios on network TV, for a check. However, there was little tsk-tsking after the group of mega-wealthy Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (all of whom are Caucasian) imploded during a game-night hosted at the home of a cast member, where sisters Kyle and Kim (who happen to be Paris Hilton’s aunts), verbally smacked down newcomer Brandy Glanville, calling her a “ho” and a “slut pig.” Daytime talks show hosts and Bloggers chuckled about it and called the finger-jabbing duo feisty… they ate it up in fact. White women in general weren’t taken to task as an entire group, for the brash televised behavior of a few. Unless obvious ethnic stereotypes are somehow thrown into the mix, as was the case with VH-1’s Mob Wives, (where the group was asked if they considered their aggressive behavior and mafia ties to be offensive to all Italians), they rarely ever are.
Needless to say, VH-1 is taking viewers to the brink of nonsense again with their new offering, Baseball Wives, which premiered this past Wednesday night. This particular group is predominantly comprised of White women. The gravelly voiced, ex-stripper wife of one retired player said, “We are not like Basketball Wives, we are classy.” This claim is debatable considering the legacy of VH-1’s sports wives series and that said ex-stripper wife is already mired in controversy for reportedly menacing a fellow cast member with a 12-inch dildo during a taping.
If anyone bothers to watch Baseball Wives (if only for the dildo incident), I’ll be interested in knowing how these women’s behavior will be received and if they’ll be accused of making the entire population of White women look bad, or whether the entire population of White women will shoulder the burden of the Baseball Wives’ behavior. Just a thought.