Are Gay Men the New “Mammies” of Reality Television?

June 27, 2012  |  


So I finally got around to watching the pilot episode of “Hollywood Exes” and let me say, zzzzzzzzzz.

Bore-ring! This show lacks all the waywardness and flat out ratchet-ness we have come to associate from a reality show on VH1. There are no fistfights. There are no petty fights and name calling (thus far). No former strippers turned bougie housewives. And more importantly, the show has yet to exhibit the negative stereotypes of us that many black women have cried foul of as of late. That might be a good thing. For the most part, Nicole Murphy and the crew are pretty tame and chill. Yet, strangely I don’t care about any of these women – well, not enough to watch their boring lives play out for an hour on television.

Anyway, I’m like five minutes into the show and Kells’ (R. Kelly) ex-wife is in her bedroom, talking about her big move to LA. She’s meandering about with her personal assistant – a bald headed gay black man. As they fold clothes and pack stuff in suitcases, the man listens to how Andrea wants to start over and get an image away from Kells and how excited she is about…zzzzzzz.  Now there is nothing out of the ordinary about two people sharing a heart to heart with one another, even if it is with a “personal assistant.” But I’m sitting here, watching their interaction, thinking to myself: Why does everyone have a gay black man BFF? And why are all of their gay black BFFs in service to them in some way?

I mean, am I the only one who has noticed that most of these women-led reality TV shows features the quintessential gay manservants?  These men do everything: furnish apartments, do hair and makeup, personal shop for clothing, carry purses and luggage and act as a shoulder to cry on.  In most of these situations, we know nothing about the gay black man other than that he is sharp-tongued, stereotypically effeminate, and basically says “Gurl” and “Chile” a lot. Oh, and he is a loyal worker to his woman. Evelyn Lozada had one to help run her TV shoe “store.”  Tyra Banks had an army battalion of gay men to help her weed through her search for the next top model. And on the “Housewives” series (pick one, any one), there are like 2.5 gay sidekicks to every female character, doing makeup, training them at the gym and tossing their wigs for them. It’s like the gay sidekick has become hot new accessory on reality TV – like the new pocket dog or a Louis Vuitton knockoff.

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