VH1 Women - What Are They Good For?June 22, 2012
Media savant T Tara Turk goes deep inside cable TV to reveal Video On Demand's Hidden Gems so even the busiest of our readers can get the most out of On Demand TV. Tell Tara what VOD shows you think deserves her attention.
VH1 Women - What Are They Good For?
When I was a kid, I used to watch GLOW (the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), the trumped up obviously scripted wrestling show featuring such stellar wrestling celebs as Hollywood & Vine, Debbie Debutante, Ebony and Little Fiji all under the helm of Jackie Stallone, mother of Rambo himself, Sylvester Stallone. GLOW knew it was fake, we knew it was fake...it was all fun and games.
Little did I know that some small microcosm of that kind of faux fighting would spawn itself into the type of “reality” shows that VH1 has now prided itself on airing. VH1 started off small in reality tv, providing fun shows like “Pop Up Video,” “Behind The Music” and “The Surreal Life” (all favorites of mine) but then something went off and we started to get things like “Flavor Of Life” a dating show with the most unlikely of bachelors, Public Enemies resident hype man, Flavor Flav. No disrespect but Flavor Flav is the type of bachelor that might want to find his loves off screen as it was more than difficult to understand why any single woman, as a stranger, would want to do date a rap fading star (no other known job or propsects on the horizon) unless she was trying to be a gold digger. One of those contestants actually found true love with former basketball player Shaquille O’Neal so all is not apparently lost.
But that show spawned several other shows that had me raising my eyebrows about the actual message VH1 was trying to send women. I don’t watch “The Bachelor” but at least that guy has a regular job and seems ripped from the annonymoity that match.com provides. Why you’d have a celeb as a bachelor for a bunch of strange women is beyond me. But it didn’t stop there.
With the current programming like “Basketball Wives,” “Mob Wives” and “Love & Hip Hop” and the recent “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta”, I really think VH1 should take a step back and reexamine the real message their channel is trying to promote. Coincidentally Shaquille O’Neal’s ex--wife Shaunie O’Neal is the mastermind behind “Basketball Wives”, a show that follows women who aren’t even really wives any basketball stars (just exes and baby mamas) and all the fights they get into with each other. It may be remembered as one of the first reality shows that actually has a cast member suing another cast member who assaulted her on screen.
“Mob Wives” is generally the same except with no African American women (for now all Staten Island Italian Women and soon to be Chicago Italian Women) who are also exes/baby mamas/almost exes/daughters of mafia men. We also basically seem to be watching these women fight each other instead of getting more screen time about how difficult it is to be in the mafia life with men who seem absentee from their families.
What really put me over the edge though is the recent “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta.”
Unlike its New York counterpart that follows women in hip hop (women who are either rappers themselves, trying to be rappers, dating rappers or exes of rappers) and whatever that struggle entails, this Atlanta version seems to be developed solely for the purpose of these women to fight each other. The only possible rapper begins by telling a thinly veiled story about a rapper she loved who took all her advance money and beat her (the rumor is that it’s popular record exec Memphitz Bleek but I’m sure she can’t say that on screen just like “Basketball Wives” star Royce can’t legally mention her baby’s father’s name even though I can - Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard). Not only did the Atlanta premiere have zero business about the hip hop industry, there seemed to be absolutely no love.
Twitter and other social media outlets have fun doing live updates about these shows but the consensus is starting to be the same: these shows are far from reality and seem to be telenovelas in reality clothing. If that’s the case, I think VH1 should be brave enough to brand that market as opposed to give young girls who watch these shows, a false representation of what it’s like to be in these industries. Reality TV is nothing like documentaries and we if we could categorize these shows accordingly, it would be better for all. Or we could just round them all up and have them bring back GLOW!
T. Tara Turk is a novelist/playwright/screenwriter, living in LA with her boyfriend and dog - all three successful TV addicts. You can find her at www.ttaraturk.com or follow her on Twitter @ttaraturk.