by Shari Wright
This is what everyone has been waiting for. And by everyone, I am only speaking about the critics that have denounced the show since the first 10 minutes of episode one of Love and Hip Hop ATL(LHHATL). Monday night we finally saw the “OMG look at how they are shaming our community” worthy footage. Because before this, the show seemed actually light to me. Yes, the triangles and personalities involved in LHHATL are wild and boisterous and sometimes perplexing and unbelievable, but as for specific embarrassing actions, the most we got was a sprinkle of an apple martini thrown on the back of the dusty jacket Stevie J was wearing. No bottles flying overheads, no slaps or punches, no weaves snatched (at least not literally), in fact there was barely anyone raising their voices. Of course, after Monday’s episode, all that is clearly out of the 15th floor window. So protesters, your proclamations of shame and distress that were announced weeks ago may now have credence. Or not…
First of all, I’m not making any excuses. The show might possibly be the most unhinged reality show starring black women, but I can’t forget the image of beautiful, vibrant women battling for the “love” of Flava Flav…so there’s that. I’ll say it’s a close second. Even with the jaw-dropping storylines and the scenes that induce heavy pauses and double blinking, I believe there’s a stint of purpose in the show.
Think about why we fall for LHHATL and subsequently all other reality shows. For one, it’s entertainment. For another, we can relate. We sometimes see ourselves, friends, or maybe work acquaintances reflected in these situations, and we are happy when we don’t see ourselves in this light; we get invested in characters that have a glimmer of the traits we admire. Sometimes it’s the loud mouth in the bunch, unafraid to stand up for herself regardless of the situation or person she’s facing, or sometimes it’s the quiet, loyal friend with the open heart that is simply longing for their love to be reciprocated properly. It could be reflections of self or associates… either way these people that are followed by cameras are not anomalies.
Take Emily from the original Love and Hip Hop, who was faced with the “I’m dating a rapper and I have his child but he won’t claim me publicly” life. I read several tweets and posts of girls saying they knew what she went through. They related and they identified with her pain. They needed to see her take that momentary step where she finally put her emotional care in front of her emotional longing and walked away. The cameras followed this woman and caught her not screaming or throwing her ex’s clothes out on a sidewalk, but caught her instead throwing herself into a place where her sanctity mattered most.
Stop for a moment and ask, who on LHHATL was truly being “ratchet”…Momma Dee, but she isn’t ratchet as she is loud and unfiltered(also often filmed sans medication), but her personality appears to come from her struggles as a single mom looking to raise and protect her kids on her own. K Michelle could have been ratchet and started blasting her abuser’s name, but she used class and told her story without identities. I wish I could start a quick count of the many useful dialogues that crossed the social media forums dissecting the Mimi’s of the world and the women who can’t seem to let go of their turbulent relationships no matter how many times the man is caught disrespecting their existence. These women are present in this world. Why can’t we make room for their tales of woe?