Basketball Wives has been criticized since its inception for its portrayal of black women. Fans have tuned in for four seasons to see the women fuss, fight, make up and do it all over again. There have been some catfights but it was typically relegated to glass throwing, hair pulling and the occasional slap. However, it seems like the cast wanted to take things up a notch.
Reality television is one of my guilty pleasures and like many I tuned in to the latest Basketball Wives episode. There was not a punch thrown but the behavior of one of the cast members was just as disgusting.
Tami was angry at Kesha for talking about her behind her back and confronted her during a vacation in Tahiti. Tami yelled and screamed at a clearly frightened Kesha which sent the latter running from the scene. While she was gone, Tami snatched her purse and refused to give it back to her until she got an apology. Eventually, she got her things back and left Tahiti.
To the say the scene is shocking is an understatement. It was like watching a pitbull attack a Chihuahua. I don’t particularly like Kesha but in that moment, I felt really bad for her. She was clearly frightened and none of the other women stuck up for her or tried to reason with Tami. I used to consider her to be one of my favorite cast members but after what I saw, I felt ashamed for her. Instead of being the no-nonsense Tami people came to love, she just became another screaming drama queen. She was no different from Evelyn who was running across tables a couple of episodes before.
The women of Basketball Wives don’t have a luxury that a lot of their white counterparts have. Teresa Giudice can flip a table in Real Housewives of New Jersey and most people would just laugh it off and call her crazy. A Tami Roman and Nene Leakes would be used as examples to validate stereotypes of black women as loud, confrontational and violent. It is not fair but that’s reality. These women have other sides to them but those sides don’t generate ratings. A black woman throwing a drink will generate ratings quicker than one running a board meeting.
These women are business women, entrepreneurs and mothers but viewers rarely get to see that side of them. Tami has been honest about being sexually abused and she could be an example for people that have had to deal with the same issues. She has also done philanthropy work. I would like to see more of that instead of snatching purses. These women need to be held accountable for their actions and it seems like that is finally happening. There have been calls for boycott and petitions and it seems like VH1 is listening.
“We at VH1 agree with and support Shaunie and the show producers’ “no excessive physical confrontations” policy on the series moving forward,” said VH1 in a press release. “We are all committed to balancing the candid, bold excitement that the viewers have come to love in the series with storylines and representations they can be proud of.”
The show’s executive producer Shaunie O’Neal also pledges to stop the violence. “I feel that all these ladies take responsibility for what their actions are,” said O’neal. “After seeing ourselves this season, it definitely was a lot more bad than good. I’ve really tried to preach the whole “˜Let’s get some balance’ and now I think my voice is resonating.”
Hopefully, Shaunie and VH1 will stick to their promises but it is up to us to hold them and anyone else peddling negative images accountable. They can’t make money if we aren’t buying.
BMWK family, what do you think of the portrayal of black women and violence on Basketball Wives and other reality shows? Does this show make wives look bad? Does this show make black women look bad?