Reality TV’s Love Affair with Black Relationships
(The Root) — Last week marked the end of Season 2 of VH1’s catty Basketball Wives, and just when we thought the foolishness was over, the network debuted Love and Hip Hop, a “docu-soap” series on women who are connected to hip-hop, through either their men or their careers. The presence of the words “love” and “wives” in the titles of these shows is misleading — the programs are almost totally devoid of both. It’s no secret that in recent years, VH1 reality shows have started to skew more toward attracting (exploiting?) the black viewer. From women with nicknames such as Deelishis, Bunz and Thing competing for five minutes of fame on Flavor of Love to the mile-long list of high expectations of former TLC member Chili on What Chili Wants, black love and relationships are front and center on the network. With all of the doom-and-gloom media coverage of black women and marriage statistics in recent years, do shows like this reinforce stereotypes of commitment-phobic black men and desperate black women who settle for unfulfilling relationships?