People have been petitioning to have TLC’s new reality show “The Sisterhood” removed from the air, citing complaints that it doesn’t represent the real lives of first ladies who carry themselves with discretion and grace. But can’t this be said for just about any reality show? Beyonce could be an example that love and hip hop aren’t what Mona Scott Young portrays weekly in her hit show. Many true wives of basketball players have said that show is not representative of them. Is this show so sacred and set apart because it challenges the church?
What do you think? Will you or have you signed the petition? Why or why not?
Ever since America was forced to suffer through three seasons of Flavor of Love and Ty Ruff from the Real World: DC showed his tail, it seems like “unscripted” television has had it out for Black folks. The only “real” depictions we get of ourselves are loud, foul mouthed, feisty, angry, ghetto, whorish and utterly shameless folk who will do just about anything for a quick dollar and 15 minutes of fame. But last night’s airing of The Best Funerals Ever on TLC took this level of debasement to a whole ‘notha level! (I would have given you a link to the show but hilariously and ironically The Learning Channel doesn’t even have the show listed on their website. SMH)
Once again, my homegirl Lesley got on the phone and besought me to tune into this show that I had already said I wouldn’t watch. And my dumb self listened… again! Now let me preface my comments by saying I have been to a few fooly funes (say that fast 3x) in my lifetime and it’s always a topic of conversational whispers and side-eye when somebody rolls under a casket, shouts, acts a fool and tells the deceased to get up. But what was displayed on that show was beyond ridiculous. Never in all of my funeral attending days have I ever seen a Christmas pageant acted out, a barbecue sauce fountain or taken the deceased on carnival rides. The whole show had my mouth agape. I was in the purest form of awe at the antics that these people displayed on national TV. Don’t they realize they risk a LOT of business by doing this? People don’t play about funes! Homegoing services are a special tradition in Black families. We usually take them seriously as they are a part of our grieving process. And even though we tend to act out of character from time to time, they are never to be mocked.
But it seems like cable networks are making a mockery of Black folks in general these days. Whether it’s the basketball wives who have never been wives and don’t show anything related to the lifestyle of being a wife of a basketball player, washed up record producers who drive busses of women, churchless and classless first ladies, a man with ten babies’ mamas living under one roof or in this case, families memorializing their loved ones with audacious displays of foolery, Black folks just can’t get a break! The question in television is always similar to the chicken-egg conundrum; who is at fault for these continuously and increasingly negative displays, the audience or the networks? After all, I’m 110% certain a network would never take a chance on shows as bold as these if they didn’t do the research and have a basis for assuming they would garner ratings. There is a method to the madness. Are we so attracted to watching these train wrecks that we throw all caution and morality to the wind? Are the networks so money hungry that they will pay people mere fractions of what they make in ad revenues to air their filthy laundry and foolishness so that they don’t have to pay real writers and actors for good fiction? Are these reality “stars” so thirsty for attention they will do anything on television? It’s hard to decipher where the wreck begins and how everybody got involved in the pile up.
Sound off. What do you think? Do you watch reality TV? Why? Do you draw a line at what you’ll watch and what you won’t?
After 2012 proving itself to be the year of ratchet reality TV, 2013 kicked off strong with a new reality show on TLC documenting the lives of four pastors’ wives in Atlanta. When the show was initially announced it was met with much criticism. After all, we’ve seen how cameras following people around documenting their “everyday lives” (or what the producers stage) can turn anybody into a beast. So of course the black church was fearful of how this show would represent the women who are supposed to set the highest standard in the church – the most revered first ladies. I wondered too if the show was going to represent a true sisterhood of unity and fellowship or just another gang of feisty women thrown together who wouldn’t be friends in real life that TV producers dressed up in Sunday go to meeting clothes just to create onscreen controversy. My initial impression was that I wasn’t going to even watch the train wreck. I’d rather turn my eyes away and love my first lady from afar without being confronted with the thought that she too could be a ratchet housewife in a church hat. Then enters my friend Lesley who nearly bullied me into watching and my life got flip turned upside down! LOL
So here are my initial thoughts…
I think the transparency of the show is what makes it REALITY TV and that’s what is going to eventually bring a lot of issues to light that the church has hidden or swept under the rug for so long. First, the interracial couple who relocated from LA to Atlanta to take a preaching assignment but was fired from the church after six weeks of being there. There’s obviously a back story here to be explored. But the way the others respond to them after they are transparent enough to reveal this as well as the struggles they’ve had as an interracial couple gives me pause. My first thought was, “why are they judging them so much?” Then I had to revert back to my own thinking and realize that I too have cast judgments on others from initial impressions without getting the full story. Then the sex talk the one pastor has with his teen daughters. I’m sure many church folk cringed at this because we’re taught to be abstinent until marriage. But again, we all know of PKs (preachers kids for those who aren’t well versed in church lingo) who are having sex, doing drugs, hanging with the wrong crowd and being scrutinized because we think they should be perfect. Next is the pastor who had a church but it flopped. Now he wants to open another church but it appears his wife isn’t so supportive of it and she even seems a little jealous of another family’s growing church because its everything she thought her church would be. We’re taught to love and support others in the Kingdom, right? So why is she coming off as jealous?
There’s so much to be explored in this show. So much to be uncovered. So many chances for the cast to be real and represent the Kingdom in an honest way. My initial impression may have been premature, but we have to see how these stories will play out. One thing I did learn from the first show is not to judge a book by its cover. It caused me to think about my own reactions, the way I may misjudge others and my own shortcomings as a Christian. And if this is to be the evangelistic tool the church is afraid it won’t be, I think the first episode proved us wrong. It offers an opportunity for believers and unbelievers alike to confront what separates us. That is the grace, forgiveness and honesty that we all look for.
So what do you think? Did you watch the show? What was your take-away?