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Shaunie O'Neal

Source: VH1 / Viacom

So episode four of Basketball Wives was pretty dry. In between Malaysia going back and forth with her feelings about Jackie, the veterans trying to get Liza drunk so she could lighten up about Lamar, and OG’s heavy story about the racist comment from her elementary school teacher, I found myself struggling to pay attention. But one random but telling moment that did have my attention was a comment Shaunie made in reference to Jennifer.

Jenn, who as of episode four was only friendly with Kristen in the “popular girls” house, was invited by Kristen to come over and hang out. She told Jenn that Evelyn had no beef with her, nor did Shaunie, but Jenn was understandably skeptical and felt unwelcome. The last time she was in the same room with both Evelyn and Shaunie, they were all going back and forth at the Season 8 reunion and calling her a liar (in reference to alleged comments she made about how Evelyn’s daughter was being raised). In regards to Shaunie, she noted that the show EP said during the reunion that she didn’t want Jenn invited along on any more cast vacations and that she could co-exist with her, but from a distance. With that in mind, Jenn didn’t feel comfortable interacting with Shaunie, no matter what Kristen said.

When Kristen ran back to Shaunie and co. with this information (because of course she did…), Shaunie acted like Jenn was being ridiculous.

“So we are only cool based on if she can go on vacations?” she flippantly asked Kristen.

“I said I’m not going on vacation with Jenn in the heat of the moment a year ago and here we are still talking about it,” she added in her confessional. “So when are we going to move past that because at this point I don’t have a problem with Jenn. I would love for her to come over and everybody have a good time, but I’m not going to beg anybody to do something they don’t want to do.”

I get that in the midst of a pandemic, it can seem awfully petty to feel like people are holding onto issues with you over trivial remarks you made more than a year before, but Shaunie still said it. She made it clear that she didn’t want to have to deal with Jenn, so how was Jenn supposed to receive that? As a joke? She never clarified after the fact that she didn’t truly mean what she said or that she was ready to move forward, and considering that she was throwing threats about Inglewood coming out of her in Season 8 over those comments about Shaq, Jenn isn’t wrong for believing she needs to keep her distance.

To me, that was a small example of a larger issue the women in the group have, which is being accountable for the things they say and do and how they make others feel. I could talk about the Evelyn and OG situation, or Jackie and Malaysia, but Shaunie is perhaps the strongest example of that. Though she doesn’t tend to have drama centered around her in the way her co-stars (and employees) do, she has a penchant for saying and doing problematic things and not really apologizing for them (at least not publicly), and then expecting the ladies to just move on.

For instance, when the Miami cast merged with the women from Los Angeles, Shaunie definitely did come off judgmental in the way she looked at and talked about/to the LA cast, calling their issues and conversations “petty and childish.” She told Malaysia that she had no “substance.” When she was calmly confronted about that by Brandi Maxiell, she seemed unbothered. She told Brandi that she only kept coming around to deal with the ladies because they were “her” group and that she brought Brandi into the picture (aka, got her a spot on the show). When Brandi told her that she would “belittle” them, that’s when things escalated and Shaunie became annoyed at her feelings.

“Girl, please! Ain’t nobody belittled you,” Shaunie said. “If you wanna be sensitive that’s fine. G–t damn! I don’t have time to put diapers on grown women.”

Her response led to Brandi getting angry and calling her a “b—h” twice, and we know how that turned out for sis (she was isolated and then gone by Season 5).

And then there was the time she was caught laughing at her own friend, Tami Roman. While Shaunie wouldn’t laugh at a joke Tami did about Evelyn at her comedy show, she admittedly laughed at Evelyn doing a less than flattering impression of Tami. While Shaunie didn’t apologize for laughing at her friend, she did tell Tami that she would support her and the jokes she tells by being more expressive in her laughter in the future. That was actually the first sign that Shaunie’s relationship with Evelyn and the devotion to her was going to have a negative impact on her relationship with Tami, as Tami said she felt there was a line being “drawn in the sand” regarding where they stood. Fast forward to the present and the two are no longer friends with Tami claiming Shaunie wasn’t reciprocal in their friendship.

And then there’s Shaunie’s own comments to and about OG. She was the first one to call her “aggressive,” and while she apologized for OG feeling like she had an experience of colorism on the show, she never said sorry for the role she played in isolating her. She was fine with putting her in a separate room for the reunion (as an EP who would assumedly have some say on such matters) but told Marc Lamont Hill that she wasn’t intentionally isolating her. She also didn’t have a problem rolling her eyes and not caring very much for anything OG had to say during the reunion but then playing damage control when social media called out her and the ladies. Despite that, and despite saying that she would be interested in speaking with OG and OG sharing that she would be interested in and open to the conversation, four episodes in, it still hasn’t occurred. In fact, Shaunie side-stepped the need for the conversation after hearing how Kristen’s talk with OG went.

Shaunie, who admittedly is a fan of favoritism, has a tendency to say and do mean girl things and when she’s ready to move on from it, it’s expected that all involved parties move on. When she’s mad about something, it’s known where she stands. But when she’s over it, she’s befuddled that anyone else feels a way.

Life is not a TV show you’re a producer on, though. We take people for what they say at face value (as well as how they treat us) and we move accordingly, the same way they took OG’s comments as evidence of a possible propensity for violence and made her the black sheep. Just because one comes in saying they want peace and good vibes because #pandemic, that doesn’t do away with the work necessary to make all that happiness and kumbaya happen. If there’s no accountability and understanding from the leader, the popular girls will continue to act just as they have all this time with no checks and balances, baffled by those who want to make amends with their nemeses, and everyone else will continue to be on the outs either trying to find their way in or trying to get off the show.

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