Is Television a Mirror of Black Women’s Relationships?

Just when I thought I’d had enough of “hospital shows,” Hawthorne comes along. Between the legendary ER, Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, I figured there were only so many ways left to cause a patient’s death, fall in love with a co-worker or dying patient (Izzy) or sleep with the boss. I guess I was wrong and right.

This is Hawthorne‘s second season, and honestly, I only watched it the first time around because it’s staring Jada Pinkett Smith. It’d been a while since she’d graced the small screen. She’s a great actress, but I couldn’t get into the story line. Needless to say, I stuck with my other “hospital shows.”

After Hawthorne’s hospital closed down, she moved on to another facility. Enter Vanessa Bell Calloway (She will always be “Jackie” from What’s Love Got to Do With It?), who  plays Gail Summer, the hospital’s head nurse. Two words to describe her character: Straight Bitch. What kind of person denies the care of a woman in severe pain, belittles staff and has the dying patient’s boyfriend arrested to prove her authority? Apparently, the writers thought this was a great character for a black actress. Great.

Don’t get me wrong, Calloway does a superb job of playing the bitch. As she threw a tirade in the chief’s office over having her position taken away, she went on about fancy doctors who come in to change the way things are done, only to leave for a better job, leaving her to pick up the pieces in a struggling hospital. And let me tell you, that hospital was the worst.

The point is, after that scene, even I, a black woman thought, Well, just what we need. Another attitudinal black woman. Let the eye rolling begin.

Yeah, that sums it up. I can’t tell you how many shows I’ve seen where two women have butted heads over something. It makes a good story because everyone knows a bitch. Hell, you might be the one. I feel differently about seeing two black women at each other’s throats on television though. Unfortunately, art imitates life, and maybe these writers are showing what we see all too often: Black chicks who don’t like each other.

In Hawthorne‘s case, I think it’s more so Summer’s demotion that’s causing such an attitude. She seems to thrive on being the HBIC, thus dead set against the inevitable change coming her way. In many women’s cases though, it could be any reason why she doesn’t like another, even if the woman isn’t really sure herself.  How many times have you heard this?

Woman 1: Oh, I saw **Melinda** the other day. You know her?

Woman 2: **Major side-eye** Yeah. I don’t really know her-know her. I don’t like her.

Woman 1: Why?? She’s cool.

Woman 2: I don’t know. It’s just something about her.

I don’t doubt a woman’s intuition, her ability to see what the eye does not, but most times, there’s a reason for blatant dislike, that the woman just doesn’t want to admit. Could it be something as petty as the other woman’s attire, style, hair, career, accomplishments, relationship, etc.?

Are black women quicker to size each other up than other races? Why are we always pitted against each other? Have you experienced this?


4 thoughts on “Is Television a Mirror of Black Women’s Relationships?

  1. I think black women are more vocal and upfront. This happens with women period, but I find that with other races, 20yrs can go by with you thinking Mindy Sue was ur homegirl, only to find out she was the reason you didn’t get into the country club. Some would rather live in the pretend, and that’s ok…just don’t expect us to live with you.

  2. I think this applies to women in general. We can be cruel, rude, mean, bitchy, backstabbing and self serving… but we can also be caring, supportive, positive and uplifting.

    I think it’s important to acknowledge when you’re feeling a tinge of jealousy or envy and being a hater, just talking shit for fun, or being insecure. I try to give a disclaimer when I’m going through a mood swing, but I have no problem complimenting someone on a job well done, a great outfit, or awesome hair!

    There has to be a balance.

    • True! Insecurity causes so many rifts between women. Please believe I’m going to follow up sometime with a celebratory post on Black women. Even though we can be all of those things you mentioned, we still rock. And thanks for mentioning compliments. I see nothing wrong with giving sincere compliments to other women. Some people act like they’re giving a piece of themselves away to lift someone else up.

  3. I couldn’t get into it last year but thought I’d give the premiere a shot. Your point was actually what bugged me about Hawthorne, really with all the sister-on-sister haterade? All the head waggin’, back up off me yada-yada. Just HAD to be between the two black women? Le Sigh.

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