On Being Mary Jane

Gabrielle-Union-Being-Mary-Jane-ScreencapJust a quick review of Being Mary Jane because you’ll read a million and three reviews of it by noon.

Simply put, it was awesome. Mara Brock Akil never disappoints in her stories about black women. With every project, her sense of realism and passion in her work elevates.

It was racy, thought-provoking and best of all, realistic. So realistic that people, myself included, had to blink a few times to make sure this was playing out on network cable on a weeknight before 11 p.m.. This wasn’t Showtime or HBO, this was BET. If that opening scene with Omari Hardwick didn’t make you clutch your pearls, I don’t know what will. Well, maybe her “pre-gaming” before “dinner” with her ex.

Mrs. Akil, honey, you didn’t miss a beat.

Being Mary Jane could have been Being Alisha or Being *Insert any black woman’s name here* possibly. Within the first 15 minutes, it seemed as if every obstacle imaginable was being thrown at her. From dealing with infidelity issues to family issues, including an ill mother and a niece whom she has to stand in the gaps for to fighting to have her—our—stories told on air.  Because we do matter. Atleast one facet of her life had to stick out to every woman watching. If it wasn’t her present life, maybe it was her past.

As Mary Jane zoomed away from her magnificent home in her high-priced car, immaculately dressed and seemingly put together, I wondered how many Mary Janes are out here, a pretty package on the outside, but tearing up inside from heavy forces like relationships or family pulling at her heart.

She’s playing second fiddle to a married man’s wife and loan officer to a lazy brother all while trying to ignore an ex whom even her iPhone tells her “Never Answer.” Just when we’d began to have compassion for her and her struggle, her emotions got the best of her, and she chose to inflict pain she already felt on another woman.

Unfortunately, it happens.

What stuck out to me most, though, was a line about her living this straight-laced life. She was the antithesis of ever member of her family: employed, single, had no children out-of-wedlock, responsible and overflowing with ambition and goals. She asked, “What do I have to show for it?”

So much, Mary Jane. So much. But we become so engulfed in what we thought we should have had by now, what we almost had or what everyone else has (if not a combination of them all) that we forget we actually have plenty to show for it. You don’t see when you have to look in the mirror in the quiet time like MJ did, and accept that for now atleast, it’s just you.

There were a ton of lessons and things to think about by the movie’s end, especially her effort to become a mother (totally left field!). The movie will become a series, and I can’t wait to watch. I don’t expect a weekly pity party for Mary Jane and black women, but a balanced story of what we deal with, good and bad because for every trial, there is a triumph.

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Kimmy K. Gets No Love…Again…But Why?

In case you missed it, Kim Kardashian is one of the worst people on the planet. Or atleast that’s what’d you think if you read any blog, tweet, entertainment news headline or listen to any beauty shop/barber shop debate about her. Outside of her incredible fashion sense and style, she’s a gold-digging, talentless slut. That is what they say, isn’t it?

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but lay off Kim for a minute. As of late, the poor girl can’t catch a break, even though some of those missed breaks she (or alledgedly her mama, Kris Jenner) orchestrated herself. In the last week, many an essay have been published complaining about Oprah’s Next Chapter interview with Kim and the rest of the Kardashian clan. Why would Oprah Almighty give those people an hour of airtime? For what? As if we don’t see them enough, right?

Yeah, judge me all you want, but I was front and center to check the interview out. I’m not a Kardashian stan by any means. I would drop dead before I pay more than $15 for anything from their clothing line in Sears, of all places, listening to Kourt and Kim’s voices is worse than watching paint dry and no, I do NOT approve of Kim’s relationship with Kanye (I refuse to believe that they are anything more than friends in fashion). BUT there is this unwavering curiosity about just how they came to be who they are.

Let Auntie O cook. She’s just as interested as we are about enigma of a family. If anyone can pull information out of people, it’s her, and she knows what people want to see and what they want to know. Many tuned in because they love the Kardashians and others because they hate them. It’s crazy how we insist on enduring what we dislike the most. It’s similar to making a breakup song playlist, and putting it on repeat, knowing you’ll cry by Track 2.

Pictures were recently released of Kim and Beyonce having the time of their lives at a Watch the Throne concert in Birmingham. The Beyhive is not happy that the Bedazzled One is hanging out with Killa K. Little Miss Perfect should not associate herself with the likes of a sextape-making whoremonger. Weren’t Kelly, Michelle and ‘nem good enough?

First, Kim doesn’t deserve happiness, a husband who doesn’t sound like a dufus robot (sorry Kris, but it’s true) or a family. Now, people are denying her a close girlfriend, especially if it’s King Bey. Excuse me as I throw rose petals I picked with my bare hands on the ground.
There are three reasons why Bey befriending Kim won’t hurt a bit.

1. You, err, we fans aren’t going anywhere. If Lil Wayne can wear jeans as tight as leotards and Usher can keep that dreadful Mohawk and still maintain a healthy fan base, Bey can kick it with Kim. As long as they don’t record a duet, I’m good.

2. In a circle of girlfriends, each woman plays her role. There’s the good girl, the responsible girl, the party girl, the drunken girl (could be the party girl also)…and the hoe. She can be slick or overt or may not even realize she’s exhibiting such behavior. Now, I’m not saying Kim is a hoe. In fact, she’s been in relationships with guys (or something like it?), and no one really knows who she’s slept with. Who cares? Whatever it is, it’s no different from what many other “regular” women do, it’s just done on a larger scale and in front of cameras. It’s obvious that Kim is desperately seeking love. If you have a circle of friends, you know that each plays her role independently with no interference from the others.

3. Friends can influence each other for the better. Who knows? Maybe Bey’s Golden Girl ways will rub off on Kim? Do they really need to though? In a really insecure-y way, she seems comfortable in her own skin. Let her be.

*Pic taken from Necolebitchie.com

Justice, Choices and Other Bleak Things in America

In one of my favorite movies, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, just after playboy, Darnell, played by Martin Lawrence, discovered that a crazy ex-lover had stolen the tires off his truck right in front of the police station, he shouted, “Where’s the justice?! Where’s the justice?!” That’s long been one of my top quotables always resulting in a laugh or two when I or friends come across unfortunate, but hilarious circumstances.

Today, I’m asking the same question, but it’s no laughing matter. It’s beyond serious and deserves speculation, discussion and action: Really, here and now in 2012, where’s the justice?!

By now, you’ve got to know that our country is in an uproar. In just one week, I’ve read stories about a few things that have knocked me off my feet. In no particular order, they must be addressed:

Trayvon Martin and the Hoodie Effect

I could give you a run down, but that’s what the Internet is for. Just know this, an unarmed 17 year-old black man was gunned down by a self-proclaimed vigilante because he looked “suspicious.” The killer, Zimmerman, has not yet been arrested for killing someone who was armed with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. Did he shoot in self-defense? Would Trayvon have really harmed him? Up until today, those were the major questions swirling around the media airwaves. I log on to Twitter to find that Geraldo “I Got Knocked the Eff Out” Rivera says that black and Latino parents should teach their children not to wear hoodies, which was worn by Trayvon at his time of death. The hoodie killed him just as much as Zimmerman.

Wait. So an article of clothing meant to cover your head  (it was raining)  is the issue moreso than his race? Oh okay. Silly me. I don’t know how it feels to be a black man, but I know that they’re often told don’t “look the part” to prevent being pulled over by police, i.e., don’t play loud music in your car, don’t purchase a certain type of car, don’t sag your pants, etc. I understand that. Black men are already targets regardless of upbringing, social, economic status, education, etc. Why give them another reason to harass you? Wearing a hoodie has become part of  The Don’ts Handbook for Black Men now?

If that’s the case, should Caucasian men be allowed to wear black as to appear as a Goth or wear long trenchcoats, as they may shoot up a middle school or shopping mall? Plenty of skaters and your  fashion plate cool kids wear hoodies, too. Are they suspicious, as well? No?

Let’s be honest here, the bottom line isn’t a hoodie or anything you can take off of your body. It’s what’s there that cannot be removed: color. I pray that the Martin family sees justice for their son.

Take Birth Control, Lose Your Job

Arizona is showing out. Again. Earlier in the week, I came across this story on Slate. An excerpt reads:

The Obama administration recently issued a mandate requiring all employers to cover prescription birth control under company health plans. Arizona legislators recently introduced abill that would allow some employers to opt out. That’s not terribly exciting. An employee can just pay for birth control out of her own pocket. But here’s the troubling part: If her employer is seriously opposed to birth control, and wants to discriminate against her for taking it—even though she’s paying for it herself—a provision in the Arizona bill would allow that.

The lines between work and what one does after work. As an employer, in an ideal world, you’d like your employees to have the same morals, ideals as you. You like chicken, instead of fish, so I should, too. I am strongly opposed to smoking, I should be, too. Wake up, people. Aside from an extreme, such as murdering and/or abusing children, as an employer, your only concern should be my productivity and contribution to the bottom line. Me popping BC pills that I pay for out of my own pocket at 5 p.m. daily is none of your business. It’s my choice. Point, blank, period.

For starters, not every woman takes birth control for contraception. They regulate menstrual cycles and regulate menstrual pain, along with other things men have no clue about. Secondly, if taking them to prevent pregnancy is the issue, would you rather I become pregnant, take medical leave, leaving you with one less, possibly highly productive employee for a month plus, six to eight weeks for maternity leave? Does that make any sense? No. That makes for discrimination.

You have a right to know what medications I take as it could negatively affect your business and/or staff, similar to knowing if I have any criminal offenses on my record? Will that question be added to employment applications now? It’s ridiculous. Do better Arizona.

You Want My What?

Employers are asking for Facebook passwords these days, huh? Nah. I’m good. You have my social security number, my address and Google, plus an extensive background check. What the hell else do you need?

Again, the work/home lines are blurred. First, it was cool when you knew employers would search social media sites to see if you would be a good fit or a misrepresentation of their company. Everyone simply changed their privacy settings to ‘Friends Only.’ But to ask for an account password is infuriating. This quote from a story via the Business Insider says it best:

“It’s akin to requiring someone’s house keys,” said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor who calls it “an egregious privacy violation.”

Is it really that big of a deal, or does that tell us that we’re sharing too much of lives on social media sites? If we’re not posting expletives, raunchy music videos and pictures of us getting wasted at bars, shouldn’t we feel free to hand our passwords over? NO. It is a big deal. Where’s the stopping point? Accounts have passwords for a reason, right?

Any employer that requests my Facebook password or any other password won’t have to worry about me being a candidate any longer. If I had one, I suppose they’d ask for my first-born next.

Lessons from Love and Hip Hop

For the past two months, reality television buffs have been engulfed by the second season of Love & Hip Hop —whether we’ve wanted to or not. The original cast of girlfriends, baby mamas and singers-to-be were joined by three more ladies to serve up what we hate to love: DRAMA. From knock-out fights to more drink-throwing, this season held no punches, possibly topping the foolishness of Basketball Wives and Real Housewives of Atlanta. Like clockwork, essays and commentary about how the show falsely represents African-American women swirled around the media. They’re not even married to these men in hip-hop. In fact, this season focused on heartbreak more than love. How about calling the show These Girls Goin’ Through It, instead?

Weekly, I, along with millions, joined in on the Twitter discussion. It went something like this: Where do they find these women?  I mean, us college-educated, employed, “independent” women, we don’t know women like these, right? Wrong. We do. We might one of them. These designer label-wearing glamazons might have gone the extra mile by throwing a blow or some expletives around, but you know someone who’s stayed in a relationship that should’ve ended eons ago. You know someone who has issues in her professional life. You know someone who has “Mama and Daddy issues.” So as much as we’d like to throw the entire cast and producers under the bus, we could learn some universal lessons from these chicks. Feel free to add to the list.

Never mix business with pleasure. Ahem Yandy. Unless you’re in business with your SPOUSE serving up ribs and over the top affection like the Neely’s, feelings and money don’t mix. A friend recently told me that feelings are defined as “an unreasoned opinion or belief,” so many of our emotions can be based on pixie dust, which results making irrational and hasty decisions. You could be left with no money nor honey, all of which is a very bad thing. Sometimes it’s better to use your mind than your heart.

A man will always go to bat for his woman over his homegirl. That is, unless he realized the woman is schizo and needs a way out. Otherwise, no matter how well you “hold him down,” make a way for him to provide for himself and family or be that shoulder to cry on behind closed doors, remember, he sleeps with his woman (even if he sleeps with you, too). She may be crazy, but in some way, she takes care of him and even better, he likes it and loves her. Sorry, honey, but you’ll have to the “L.” It is what it is.

Maturity does have a number. At no point in your 40s (or 30s and shoot, 20s) should you be scrapping like a 7th grader in middle school. It’s just not…sexy. If you  stand on being a real woman, jumping on another woman should be the last option in settling any disagreement. In the end, you look stupid, your makeup is smeared and you probably lost a track or two and one of those earrings you love so much. And we all know having only one earring in a pair is earth shattering. ALWAYS act like a lady.

There’s a fine line between holding on to dreams and being stupid. How many of us have dreams we’d like to fufil, but we know realistically that we have to start from scratch? *raises hand* Yeah, I’d love to quit my job and write full-time, but um, I got bills. I’m a proponent of “stepping out on faith” and not settling, yet, I have to make ends meet, so I pound the pavement Monday through Friday. Also, if an opportunity presents itself, why not show you can rise to the top standing on small beginnings? It beats standing on nothing at all, and the story is much sweeter in the end.

A sense of entitlement will have you looking crazy, but hard work will pay off. “Hey, look at me. You have to sign me to a bomb-ass deal because I sang hooks and put out one song back in 2002. I deserve this!” Sound familiar? Yeah, we can swindle our way out of blessings we think we deserve so much based on old stuff. While you’re complaining and producing mediocre results, that chick up the street is hungry for YOUR (old) spot and is putting in work to get it. (Reference: See Olivia vs. Somaya)

Your issues will deal with you if you don’t deal with them first. 

Everyone’s got atleast one. Some run deeper than others, but if abandonment, self-image and neglect issues haven’t been addressed as early as possible, you could be headed down a dark road. Who knew that seeing mama and daddy fight as a kid could affect your choices in men and how you begin/grow a family? Yes, there is a point where we must take personal responsibility for how we live our lives. Stop blaming others for our mess-ups. However, in doing that, it’s impossible not to figure out why you do what you do. In other words, get some counseling. No judgement here.

Peace of mind is better than lifestyle.

How many women have stayed in relationship to their detriment for fear that if they leave, they’ll be  scrubs (again)? I’m sure zillions, from lily-white multi-millionaires to rap stars and your run-of-the-mill dopeboy around the corner. Comfort does that to you. That job you have is killing you softly and affecting your family life and relationships, yet you stay because of the pay and benefits. Your car note is breaking you,  but driving a Benz feels so…exotic. Same thing with relationships. You can wrap yourself in minks and jewels for the onlookers, but you’re tore up in face from crying. At some point, a clear mind and light heart must win the game. If not, at least you can suffer and look good while you’re doing it. Make a choice.

Be careful who you talk to and who you call “friend.”

Newsflash: Everybody isn’t your friend, and they aren’t concerned about your story as much as they are in simply hearing it. So what, both of ya’ll were latch-key kids and ate cornbread and cold Pop Tarts every day? Just because two people share a common struggle doesn’t mean one won’t use your information against you or broadcast what was supposed to be confidential. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your experiences, as they can help someone else, but choose carefully who you share them with.

Relationships aren’t cookie-cutter.

Shoot me, but I think Chrissy and Jim will get married (eventually). I felt basic as ever as I shed tears when he proposed (I was probably emotional anyway at the time). The next day, his proposal was scrutinized because he didn’t put the ring on her finger, he didn’t get down on one knee, etc. And? That wasn’t his style. Know the person you’re dating and how far they’re likely to go. They’ve been together, and they still haven’t married, so he probably won’t. Huh? Says who? Let’s all do what works for us individually. Hell, some folks like shacking up. Who am I to judge?

Sometimes friends have to remain separate.

Remember that time you tried to hang out with your friends from high school and your new friends from college? Or your friends from work and your friends from around the way? How’d that work out for ya? Actually, in my experience, I didn’t have problems, but the lesson is it’s not our job to be Super Friend and bring everyone together. This is real life, not a “We Are the World” video. We are different things to different people, and realistically everyone won’t like everyone. So, if you must bring two separate groups together, if you sense friction, don’t do a do-over. You’ll be the one the headache, not them.

Jill Scott’s ‘The Light of the Sun’ Shines Bright

“It’s like BOOM, I gotta do what I gotta do, son…Shhii…Grown woman making decisions and choices, utilizing everything inside of me.”

-Jill Scott

Boss.

The Light of the Sun exceeded my expectations. Ms. Scott never, ever disappoints. Possibly 65 percent of the album sounds like “Imagination” (musically and lyrically), and words cannot describe how I feel about that one. With this album Jilly has inspired me in more ways than one. She was so honest on this album. She put it all out there in tracks like “Le BOOM Vent Suite” and “Quick.”  One of my favorites, for sure is “Hear My Call,” a prayer to God to grant clarity and discernment about life and what it is and is not offering to us. She makes sure we don’t forget that she’s a writer and storyteller first. Her poem, “Rolling Hills,” sends a powerful message to women to look inside themselves for what’s real, instead of basing our lives and decisions off of our “fat asses.” She made me want to dust off my poetry journal. Uggghhh!!!

“Here am I again asking questions, waiting to be moved.I am so unsure of my perception.What I thought I knew, I don’t seem to…”

-Jill Scott

Have you ever heard someone do a poem or a song that makes you shout out all kinds of cosigns and foolishness at them even though you know good and well they can’t hear you? This is that all day!

 

 

Before I could plug my iPod up at work, I ran across this interview on Afrobella with Ms. Scott. While listening to the album, I noticed several themes tailored towards women, including having a spirit of discernment, which prompts us to make good or better choices in life and love and yes, even what goes on in our beds, and seeing the prize and value in ourselves. Her quote summed it up when she said this, “Now I have to look at myself and really pay attention to what I want out of life. And I don’t wanna be physically satisfied and emotionally lonely. That not good enough. Not for me.” Listen to the first two parts of the interview here.

The Light of the Sun gets my stamp of approval. Can’t wait to see her for Essence Music Festival.

Media and Black Women: Who Will You Believe?

As I sat and watched (and cursed at) the train wreck that is Basketball Wives last night, I cringed atleast a million times within the hour. The end scene where Evelyn and Royce fight at the swanky restaurant pushed me over the edge. I’ll be honest and say for a brief moment, I condoned violence among women, hoping Royce would’ve gotten atleast one more jab at Evelyn. Beyond that, I couldn’t believe that they conducted themselves that way in public (I’m lying to myself), calling each other “hoes” and “bum ass bitches.”

It quickly reminded me of an essay I wrote a recently about how black women shouldn’t believe everything we hear, read or in this case, see about ourselves. I used a couple of examples of black women being thrown under the bus, and for the life of me, I can’t believe I failed to mention media’s portrayal of  us and our relationships with other women. From just the first half of one episode of Basketball Wives, or any other reality show, we’re put on display to be bitter, malicious, messy and classless. We aren’t all that.  For consolation, I have to put on my Naive Hat and believe that women cannot act this immaturely in real life. It’s just a show; it’s just for a check. Right? Please tell me I’m right.

Ironically, my essay, The Milk’s Gone Bad: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear or Read was published on ForHarriet.com last week, but I just saw it yesterday. Read it and let me know what you think.

Beyonce’ and the Smarty-Art Syndrome: It’s Not That Deep

I haven’t written in over a week, mainly because there’s nothing I care to share my thoughts on, and unlike those who’ve taken the bravest step to freelance, published stories aren’t my bread and butter. I’ve been on mute until I  saw commentary on Beyoncé’s new promo photo for her new single, “Best I Never Had” yesterday.

Upon first glance of the picture I thought simple thoughts like, Go Bey! That’s different. Love the whole lipstick writing on the mirror concept. That never gets old.  NecoleBitchie.com later posted “Beyonce is Calling Herself a “King.” What’s the Problem?” Apparently, people have taken issue with Mrs. Knowles-Carter. Why does there have to be a problem? Maybe this is another alter ego she’s yet to let out of the closet. Let the girl do her thing. She’s promoting an album, for God’s sake!

People, stop with this Smarty Art Syndrome. (Please, tell me you’re familiar with my reference to Chris Rock’s Bring the Pain stand-up.) Maybe I’m not using my intelligence to its fullest capacity, but why are we making Beyoncé’s comeback so deep, let alone a promotion photo? First, it’s questioning if she’s now a feminist because she release “Run the World (Girls),” now we’re on to discussing gender roles because she wrote “King B” in Wet ‘N Wild Bubblegum Pink on a mirror? Use that brain power to work a math problem.

As far as her allegiance to women’s issues , she co-wrote “Independent Women” (throw your hands up at me) and gives us ladies the best divalicious and men-bashing anthems ever. Maybe she is a feminist, but so what? Above all things and issues you may think she stands for, what Beyoncé is a marketing genius. She and her team know just what to do to keep the stans continuously uterus-riding.

A friend pointed out that it’s all about reinvention. In just eight years as a solo artist, she’s dropped from ceilings, done the Josephine Baker fandango dance, made wearing leotards and J-setting fashionable again, created an alter ego and shitted on cheating men with just six words (“To the left, to the left”) all for the sake of giving Beylievers what they want: empowerment, bomb live performances and a certified club banger. This go-round with “4” will be no exception. You thought the “Girls” video was wack or lackluster, she gave you a killer performance on the Billboard Awards. You said she couldn’t sing, a video of her performance rehearsal was released. The girl just knows what to do. Am I saying that she really doesn’t think girls run the world or that she lacks substance? No, not at all. I’m #teamBey all day.

I’m simply asking these over-thinkers and Smarty-Arts to give it a rest. Why are you pondering shenanigans when Bey hits the scene? When you blast Bey’s music you should be doing one of two things: nursing a break-up, feeling yourself or p-popping with the best of ’em. Why? Cuz Bey taught you.

Now shut up and DANCE!!

My Girlfriends….(You know the rest)

A few days ago, I received an email from Essence Magazine declaring today, April 13, as National Girlfriends Appreciation Day. Ironically, today is my 8th Deltaversary and so many of my linesisters have become true friends to me (Hey girls!). I won’t write a book, but I will say a little something about my girlfriends. After 30 years, I realize how important women friends are. They are priceless, if they’re real friends. I’m always leery of women who say they only hang around guys because women can’t be trusted. There’s something wrong with that picture. I pity any woman who doesn’t have atleast one girlfriend she can talk to.

In the past six months, my grandmother passed away, I was diagnosed with fibroids (again), realized I might hate my job, had major surgery and thought I was going to spend my 30th birthday (partly) alone. Thanks to my friends here, near and far, all of those life events were made better. There’s nothing like those girls. From washing my hair when I couldn’t move after surgery to giving me my favorite candy as a small birthday gift to traveling from DC and New Orleans for a funeral and party or just calling to check on me during a hard work day, I couldn’t ask for more giving people in my life. They are more than my girlfriends, they are my sisters. All of them.

In a group of friends, every woman plays her part. There’s the funny one who provides comic relief in not-so-funny situations; the counselor who gives sound advice; the cut to the chase friend who you never want to go to because she will unleash the dragon, but it’s all done in love; the wild one who teaches you let go and live; the sensible one who balances the craziness out (“You want to do what?”) and so on. Friends can be so many things to you that you didn’t even know you needed or wanted to be bothered with. Most of all, they are a mirror of different pieces of you, even those you may not always see.

It doesn’t matter if you have that one best friend who’s been there since you were five years old or a group of girlfriends, you don’t have to talk to or see them every day. Real friends can pick up where they left off and never doubt that the love is still there. So, even though we get high off the drama between women and so-called friends on reality shows, and perhaps, we’ve been burned by those who posed as, I hope we all recognize what real friendship is. Lord knows, I thank Him for mine.

Whether you’re dishing gossip on the phone, going shopping or toasting to the douche bags and assholes, while you’re at it, toast to yourselves and each other. Happy National Girlfriends Appreciation Day!


*I so wanted to feature of picture of my girls, but I don’t have one picture with all them. No, it’s that many!

All Wifed Out: Who’s to Blame for the ‘Wives’ Obsession?

Alright folks, this has gotten to be a bit ridiculous. When MTV released the groundbreaking reality show, The Real World in 1991, we never dreamed that 20 years later, television would be dominated by reality shows. Out of all the reality show series that have come and gone, for some reason, a particular type of show has captured the African-American community’s heart: the Wives shows. You know, Housewives of Atlanta, Football Wives, Basketball Wives and the latest, Love and Hip Hop (I guess they had to be more original with that one.). These shows, which I like to call A Few WivesEternal Girlfriends, Baby Mamas, Jump-offs and Other Thirsty Randoms have become guilty pleasures, and addictions, even among African-Americans. Admittedly, I, too, have tuned in to each of these shows, tweeting about the foolishness and having full-blown conversations with friends about the drama and desperation of the various cast members. It’s acceptable though, because it’s only harmless entertainment, right?

After seeing Evelyn Lozada and Royce  argue over who could pull the highest-paid penis on Basketball Wives Season 2 Reunion, I made a pact with myself that I would not watch the third season, but eagerly clamored to the television to watch Chrissy Lampkin of Love and Hip-Hop verbally assault Somaya Reece for wanting to work with her boyfriend, Jim Jones, out of unwarranted jealousy and insecurity. I sighed deep sighs over the state of our black women, unlucky in love, but I knew that I would keep watching. It wasn’t until I saw the promo for Mob Wives that I threw up my hands. I’m all wifed-out, y’all.

Mob Wives? Really? First, it’s the sports industry, then music, now the Mafia? Even after watching the trailer and reading cast bios, I don’t know if I can take it seriously. Four women–allegedly wives and children of incarcerated mobsters– are going at each other over loyalty, “snitching” and family destruction. In the real world (no pun intended), that sounds like a disaster, but in reality television, it’s a first-place winner. The obvious thing to do is to shake my finger at VH1’s programming department, and question why they insult our intelligence with these cookie-cutter shows, but like Sean Carter once said, “Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t lie.”

According to Nielson Scan, the Real Housewives of Atlanta broke its own record bringing in 3.43 million viewers during its “Floridon’t” episode (also known as the Bus tour/Sweetie is a Slave episode). The reunion for Basketball Wives Season 2 brought in 2.3 million viewers and Love and Hip-Hop’s season opener brought in 1.9 million viewers. Oh, yes, VH1 and other networks know where our hearts lie: In drama

Come on, admit it. No matter how many intellectual and “above it all” we try to be, we  like drama, atleast in someone else’s life. To see bickering, degradation and outright stupidity unfold onscreen right in our living rooms is exciting. It has to be, otherwise, the ratings wouldn’t be what they are. What is it about these shows that makes women, especially African-American and multicultural women tune in?

(1)Perhaps, it’s getting a glimpse of how “celebrities” live, how easy it is to take exotic vacations on a whim, all while wearing designer clothing and shoes we can’t pronounce, let alone spell.

(2) We see some of ourselves and our friendships, good and bad, in these ladies.

(3) Watching the over-the-top, sometimes staged foolishness among people we don’t know personally provides an escape from our own boring or drama-filled lives. It’s oddly comforting to see someone else in a worse predicament that yourself.

(4) We’re taking what we can get in this television game. Gone are the days when we could see the Claire Huxtables and Whitley Gilberts flaunt their high-powered jobs, education and healthy relationships on primetime television. Though they may embarrass us  and make us cringe, we want to see us on television. The bigger question is: What cost are we willing to pay for that?

(5) There are just some things that women on every level can relate to, and that includes, but is not limited to dating a new guy, heartbreak, friendship trials and of course, fashion. All of this is covered twice-over in these shows.

(6) We enjoy the cast members, who are just that: cast members. They make us laugh! They are hilarious, delusional, mean-spirited, clueless, fabulous and a few are even a mess. Who doesn’t love/hate those kind of women?

For now, I’m holding my breath on the authenticity of Mob Wives, though I’ll tune in for the first episode. I’ve always wondered how they lived since my first time watching The Godfather. Will you be watching? Don’t worry, I already know the answer. Next thing you know, we’ll be watching this…(all in good fun. Loosen up!)

*Photo courtesy of Vh1.com

SYAD Awards: The Ladies, We Gotta Do Better Edition

There’s all kinds of ratchetness going on, and to think, we wouldn’t know about half of it, it weren’t for VH1’s Sunday night lineup. Between the f Basketball Wives finale and the debut of the new reality show, Love and Hip Hop, I should have worn a gown to my living room to hand out awards like Kiki Shepard. Let the presentation begin…

Evelyn (Basketball Wives)

I could go in on Evelyn for several things in this episode alone, but I won’t. I won’t talk about the Hoe Moment she had with Chad Ochocinco after periodic Skype calls and dinner with ice cream. I gather that everyone’s had a HM or atleast a semi-HM at some point or another. No judgement there (plus it seemed to work). It’s life, and it happens, but the fact that she’s taped and the episode will be on re-aired on television for all to see, including her teenage daughter makes me want to take her to the altar with my next Sunday. Actually, her having a daughter isn’t an issue since I’m sure she passes her awesome “get a baller” tactics down to her.

This, right here, is how she got this award hands down. So, after hanging out with Tami  for weeks on end, including a week-long trip abroad, she decides to share with Shaunie that she slept with Kenny Anderson, Tami’s ex-husband back in the late 90s.

*Shoulder tap* Ma’am, why has it taken you so long to tell Tami? Okay, okay, I know that Tami is damned near depressed and as paranoid as the day is long. She pops off on the regular, and that includes throwing hands. I can see how you would want to gauge her moods, hence your timing, but really, that’s not cool. For someone who prides herself on keeping it 100, you’ve lost credibility.

So, Tami spills her guts, expressing her admiration for you and the other girls (still a blank stare on that one), and suddenly, the guilt kicks in. You wait until she’s highly emotional and tipsy, forced to calm her nerves with a pack of Virginia Slims, to have confession time. Tami’s giving you the **slow blink** and going on about how she feels betrayed by you, when she was trying to build a friendship.

Your only comeback being that you didn’t know they were married wasn’t sufficient for Miss Tami. She’s not going saying, “Every b*tch walkin’ knew we were married.” I guess your idea that she would take your confession at face value would do, but to no avail…

Then you hit her with this: “Cuz you was a non-factor, b*tch!”

**Slow blink**

And that’s when you got your chin checked, as my West Coast friends would say. Anytime you are so self-absorbed that you miss the point of the beef at hand, you do need to be slapped. The issue wasn’t merely sleeping with Kenny, but it was the dishonesty. How dare you listen to her pour her heart out about her issues and hurt over her ex, and hold that? Wait, I know why. Because Tami is crazy as a box of rocks, and you didn’t want to risk getting your ass beat. Too bad that was inevitable anyway.

Do better, lady.

The Runner-Up

Chrissy (Love and Hip Hop)

Believe it or not, I’m not giving Chrissy, Jim Jones’ girlfriend of six years the award simply based on the fact that’s she even with him in the first place. I think Jim Jones is a handsome guy, but we all know he looks as dusty as a ceiling fan blade. I don’t know what it is. The braids? The five o’clock shadow? The clothes? Even in a suit, he still gives that grunge look. That’s not the point though.

Miss Chrissy will receive this award because not only is she giving the cast members advice on their men, or lack thereof, when she’s in the same boat, but she’s going H.A.M. on any woman who so much as breathes the same air as “Jimmy”. Really, lady? You’re acting a fool in public over him? Aw okay then. Because he’s a man, he loves that “crazy” in his woman, and I’m sure that keeps him coming back. Nevertheless, checking this new wannabe rapper chick for GP in the club was a no-no and so unattractive. Rather than ask about their relationship (which was still unnecessary), she went in on her appearance and attire. I wasn’t a fan of the sequin jumpsuit either, but when insecure, make personal attacks. Even though it was borderline ratchet, Somay’sa reaction to their run-in was classic. “You’re a kept bish. I’m kinda bish they keep.” Yeah, it would have been hard to top that one.

I actually like Chrissy. She doesn’t seem messy as of yet, but did I hear her say she “groomed” Jim Jones? Girl, bye. That’s a FAIL. And that upcoming proposal to him? Double bye. You don’t have children together. If you’re not happy, get out while you can.

Overall, this is what I’ve come up with. Ladies, we’ve got to do better. Women will have heartache and do stupid ish over men and for men for eternity. There will always be a pack of back-biting, shady women who hang together, yet refuse to split, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to make improvements. These things we’re seeing unfold on the small screen happen every day and even to some of us. Maybe that’s why we sit on our sofas and cringe with every scene because the truth hurts.  We should be setting examples for other women–for our girls. It all comes down to being willing to make sacrifices and changes for our own happiness.

We’ve just got to do better.

Note: VH1 and Shauni O’Neal deserve a separate post all to themselves, but they wouldn’t have an audience if we didn’t watch, right?

Photos taken from Vh1.com