Hey Global Grinders, I’ve been catching up on all these new reality TV shows and I’m in overload! Besides the fact that Ocho Cinco only has two black girls on The Ultimate Catch, Al B. Sure is tryna get with Omarosa on The Ultimate Merger and we clearly see that Brandy likes to cry on A Family Business – what have I missed?
I can remember when the only shows I had committed to memory was Real World because Karamo’s sexy chocolate ass, Eva’s season of America’s Next Top Model, Flavor of Love and of course College Hill because I was on it. Until I recently sat down to clear my TiVo to make some space for new shows did I realize 70% of my space was taken up by various reality shows.
Four years ago I could count on one hand how many black reality shows there vs now we have: Basketball Wives, What Chilli Wants, From G’s to Gents, Tiny & Toya, Monica: Still Standing, Keith Sweat’s Platinum House, Fantasia: For Real, Daddy’s Girls, For the Love of Ray J, Trey Songz: My Moment, I Want to Work for Diddy and I’m sure I’m leaving a couple out. With all these shows for many of us, these are our prime time guilty viewing pleasures.
Me personally, black reality TV has created some interesting dialogue between my friends and I. I know I wasn’t the only one who watched Ray J play Mz Berry on the For the Love of Ray J 2 reunion, watched Sheree check her event planner on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and witnessed Que and Dawn fall in love on Making the Band.
I know I’ll never forget watching Justin and Seiko on Baldwin Hills getting baptised and BET leaving us with a clif-hanger since they didn’t return for a fourth season. With watching these shows and the dialogue it has created, you have to ask is black reality programming a good look or not for us as a people.
With the popularity of reality series at an all time high, networks seem to be sticking with the forumula of getting high-profile black celebrities and their families to live a scripted and sometimes not-so-scripted life in front of the camera which has proven to be successful for Gotti’s Way (VH1), Run’s House (MTV), Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood (E!), Lisa Raye: The Real McCoy (TVOne), Being Bobby Brown (Bravo) and The Family Crews (BET).
Though these shows don’t get as much mainstream attention as Keeping Up with The Kardashians, I find it alarming that Blacks buy into the obviously false lifestyle portrayals in which the fantasy of effortlessly acquired wealth and material excess yields a loyal following on TV, turning nobodies into red carpet somebodies. It’s no shade to Kim and her booty, but I’m just being honest.
With the success of black reality shows, the question is often asked – when is it real and when is it scripted? Depending on the show, sometimes situations and characters seem fictionalized. On College Hill: Virgin Islands when Krystal attacked Vanessa with her shoe – that was real, you can’t fake getting your ass kicked and bleeding from your head.
When we saw Buddah head-butt Tailor Made on I Love New York 2 that was real – we all saw how scared that white man was! Now on Bad Girls Club with Natalie Nunn running around screaming ‘I run LA!’ we clearly see that was a gimmick for marketing purposes. It was alarmingly real on The Way It Is when Keyshia Cole discussed her hurt and pain of childhood neglect with her mother Frankie.
Many blacks, who watch these shows in record numbers,