Thursday, February 23, 2012

The ONLY Black Reality Show Worth Watching

I regret to inform our nation's networks that generally, I couldn't care less about reality TV right now.  There's only one show that I'm watching regularly in that genre.

Weight-loss contests, white women competing to share a barely average guy and be "kinda" engaged for two to six months after a glam island proposal, singing competitions, psycho brides, Garden State trash, sperm receptacles of professional athletes and rappers...yeah, I ain't watching it.

Yes, unless you count my infrequent viewings of "Four Weddings" and "Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta," (and I don't--overbearing southern moms and catty, but otherwise normal brides competing for a honeymoon are essential TV for a lazy weekend afternoon) I'm really only glued to the set for one reality show right now.  More on that later.

I will confess that I did tune in to some of the worst of faux reality over the winter.  I had to see how badly the Kartrashian clan was going to portray that poor deluded biracial brother Kim married, so I checked out big chunks of "Kourtney and Kim Take New York."  I know.  I still hate myself for that, but it was interesting that the family would air a season of something that would cast Kim in such a negative, batsh*t crazy light (especially when you take into account the previous segments of the wedding "spectacular" that pretty much showed that she could've cared less about her then-fiance's feelings while planning the wedding).  The take-away from the series is that Kim's narcissism is without peer.  Not to mention her shadyness, moneylust and clean freak diva qualities.  Yeah, Kris had some jerky, cafe' au lait Herman Munster/Neanderthal tendencies, but she had to know that beforehand.  I think he was truly mesmerized by her huge a** in love and just couldn't comprehend the shallowness of the brand he was marrying into.

And don't get me started on the clumps of RHOBH insanity I saw this year, augmented with online recaps on and amazingly detailed Taylor(a.k.a. Shanna, a.k.a. Shana!)-centric investigative stories on The Daily Beast when it just became too tedious and childish to bear.  I apologize to myself for wasting my own time on anything other than Brandi's hilarious, Bring It On-inspired showdown scenes.

Since I told you waaay back last year that RHOA had jumped the shark peach, I'm not going to spend any time on them--the only reason to watch now is to see how long Cynthia's ill-advised marriage will last.  I feel evil typing that, but it's true.  I essentially tuned out after Marlo showed up curbside at Hartsfield-Jackson International uninvited and overdressed for a long-haul trip to the motherland.

With all that said, the only reality show worth watching, black or "mainstream," is...

"Braxton Family Values" on WEtv.

They win HANDS DOWN.  Oh, the sisters have let it all hang out in this astonishingly messy season. From some super-skanky admissions of adultery and revenge (my favorite Braxton sibling, Trina!!!); scenes of intense marital discord that really shouldn't be discussed on TV (Trina, Towanda, and some allusions to it by Traci); the politics of familial freeloading (Towanda); major health emergencies (Toni and Vince, Tamar's saintly husband); hooking up with your ex-husband (Toni); family counseling (EVERYBODY--after this, nobody can say that black folks don't go to therapy); extreme middle child syndrome (Traci); acute fame-induced egotism (Tamar--hers might actually be worse than Kim K's because she doesn't even try to hide it); just plain embarrassing sisterly infighting and tears (Ya'll couldn't even get a doo-wop routine together for Toni's Georgia Music Hall of Fame induction?  After all she's done for everybody?!); and more wigs and weaves than your local beauty supply shop, it's been must-see TV this year.  They have inadvertently fulfilled all stereotypes about preachers' kids.

It all made me wonder who the heck is doing their PR, and why aren't they keeping them from revealing so much, and oh yeah, shouldn't they be editing out the politically incorrect recollections in the commentary shots (like calling certain folks snowflakes, eye-rollers about the African trainer, and Towanda implying that she would basically date any race other than whatever Gabe is)? 

I'm not saying it's all real--the blind dates of Mama Braxton and Tamar's catchphrase-laden asides were clearly scripted or heavily outlined for TV, and had the clan ever gone to sisterly therapy prior to this show?--but you can feel authenticity in the majority of their interactions.  For example, you couldn't fake Traci's explosion of feelings at the therapist's office when Toni told her that she should lose weight.

Even with all of the drama, you can't say that they don't have talent.  All of the sisters can sing.  If they could keep from murdering each other in a studio booth, they would likely have some new hits on their hands.   In the meantime, I'll be watching all the way through to the finale.  I don't know how they can top what they've already shown so far, unless Trina and Towanda are caught making a pact to off each others' husbands (their spouses are some real pieces of work, embodying some of the worst stereotypes of men of color).

I hope that We is paying them what they're worth, and that they all stay sane and healthy enough to film a third season.

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