That Is Not Normal! Why Do Shows Like Love & Hip Hop Glorify Dysfunctional Relationships?

September 4, 2012  |  

Source: Examiner.com

Lately I’ve been bothered by the plethora of dysfunctional relationships being paraded about like they’re normal.

I was thinking about this last night when I turned to the Love and Hip Hop Atlanta reunion show. Between the Fredericks of Hollywood teddy that Erica was wearing as a dress and then her cussing out the other girl (Shay?) over this clown with tattoos on his face, I didn’t last five minutes before changing the channel. I was certain the show would end in a fight, but apparently it ended with a marriage proposal. Are you kidding me?

I am in awe that this foolishness is not only on television, but it’s popular too. I like a drama-filled TV series as much as the next girl, but my problem with LHHA is that it’s supposed to be reality. This type of drama is supposed to be their real life.

And for some unfortunate people, that is reality. I know that there are women who waste large chunks of their lives on men who subject them to the entire book of sexually transmitted diseases by creeping with random women all over town. Some of these couples even bring children into that dysfunction. I realize that it happens every day.

I also realize that images are important and putting this trash on television is making it seem as though these types of “relationships” are common. In fact, I would argue that these types of portrayals attempt to desensitize the viewers and make them believe that these types of relationships are normal. It’s that normalization of dysfunction that is problematic and something that I cannot tolerate.

Of course Mona Scott-Young isn’t inventing anything new under the sun. Dysfunction is a staple when it comes to romance in televisions and movies. Most of our favorite fictional couples’ relationships are defined by conflict. Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big are only one example of a relationship that would never survive without a script to sustain it. After watching a few reruns, I was shocked that the Everybody Loves Raymond season finale wasn’t held in divorce court. The other day I watched Love and Basketball and couldn’t even be happy that Monica and Quincy were together in the end because of so much mess that went on throughout. Not to mention that “Tamar & Vince” promo. Either they were faking that drama or this season will end with divorce papers.

Of course there are those who would say that, without the drama, television shows would be boring. I will give them that, but this LHHA drama is excessive. Who gets engaged after all of that? These two haven’t had a functional relationship for a day, yet he saw fit to pull out a ring and ask her to marry a N***a. If I was in that audience, I would have been booing and throwing tomatoes.

All of their drama was probably all part of gaining viewers for the show, but when that drama leaps off the screen and into the lives of people we know, it needs to be recognized as problematic and uncommon. It’s not recognized that way though. For some odd reason, a couple getting along without copious amounts of fights, breakups and makeups every day is seen as an anomaly and only to be expected for the first few dates.

Think about the terminology we use to describe different couples:

When a couple is happy together, we call that the “honeymoon phase”: A timespan during which problems known to exist are either not manifest or are ignored, much like the newlywed period during which spouses are most cordial and passionate with each other. In contrast, when a couple is constantly bickering, we say they fight like an old married couple; therefore implying that all of the fighting is not destructive to their relationship and is just part of their lasting union.

I’m not even sure where these definitions came from, but the “despise that I adore you, hate how much I love you” relationship model is accepted as normal. It’s not normal. If you’re fighting, cussing and slamming doors everyday, that’s not love, that’s dysfunction and a clear sign of incompatibility.  Sexual chemistry is great, but if a couple hates each other outside of the bedroom it’s time to go their separate ways.

The reason we don’t say that though is because many of us have never experienced nor observed a peaceful, loving, romantic relationship in real life or on TV. You don’t have to be the Huxtables to get along. Plenty of women are out here having serious, lasting relationships with men they can trust. They’re marrying men who don’t headbutt them or have other women on the side.

It ticks me off to listen to people who have no common sense in matters of their heart excuse their ignorance with the fallacy that their experience is common and all women are dealing with the same thing.

This is how we get the stereotypes that all men cheat, all men watch Adult Videos, all men go to strip clubs, all women don’t want to have sex, the first year of marriage is the hardest, etc. When I hear it, I want to say: “Nope that’s not everybody, that’s just you.”

While it’s important not to sell each other pockets full of sunshine because sunshine doesn’t pay the bills, it’s also important not to wave off inexcusable situations with the thought that everyone is dealing with the same thing. The other day, Mimi posted a video hollering about all women have been cheated on. First of all, that’s not true and even if it were that doesn’t justify the deplorable things she has put up with from Stevie J. Just because there are women who have been cheated on doesn’t mean women should accept or tolerate that. Just because there are men who won’t discipline themselves to be faithful and committed in a relationship doesn’t make it okay. These people trying to normalize their dysfunction need to have as many seats as possible preferably in the nearest therapist’s office.

I really hope that our expectations for our romantic relationships aren’t guided by what I witnessed on LHHA last night. Healthy relationships don’t just exist in 80’s sitcoms or when someone in the relationship is wearing a mask.  Men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus. We’re all born on this Earth and should expect positive dating relationships. If a couple cannot peacefully coexist then that’s a clear indication that the relationship needs to be ended. If respect, trust, honesty, loyalty, fidelity, kindness, and consideration have already made their exit then it’s a fair assumption that love is not in the room either.

And despite trying to convince us otherwise with “love” in the title, Stevie J, Lil Scrappy and their sex triangles are not true representations of relationships in this country. That life is not normal, it’s sad.

What do you think? Do you think that dysfunctional relationships are too often seen as normal and functional relationships are seen as uncommon?

Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink or check out her blog This Cannot Be My Life

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