Category Archives: Reality TV Connoisseur

Tia and Tamera, the Anti-Basketball Wives

I, like many of my twitter followers, tuned in to the series premiere of the Tia and Tamera reality show on Style Network. Not too far into the show I thought wow, this is different, in a good way!  The show focuses on the lives of Tia and Tamera Mowry from their sibling drama, to Tamera planning her wedding, to Tia preparing for her first child and both of their attempts to balance other obligations with family.  It was honestly refreshing to watch a show with two black women dealing with every day drama that I personally can relate to.  There is drama but the mild drama that we would see on sitcoms like the one that made them famous Sister, Sister.  The first episode revolved around the question of who would be Tamera’s maid of honor.  Her sister or her best friend?  I only have sisters and I can tell you this has been a discussion in my family for years and I am not even engaged.  In the end, just like the sitcoms we all grew up with, they worked out their issue and hugged it out.  There were no drinks or fists thrown to reach this conclusion.  The episode also showed cute moments between Tia and her husband.  A happy black marriage is not an element of most reality shows geared towards the African American community and I was really happy to see that.  Overall I thought it was a really good show and will tune in again.

After watching this new reality show I thought about the current debate unfolding in blogosphere, the negative image of African American women particularly in reality shows.  As a black woman and a lover of trash Reality TV (see previous blog post for explanation) I have been very tuned in to this debate.  Those against shows like Basketball Wives and Real Housewives of Atlanta argue that African American women are shown in an extremely negative unrealistic light.  I will admit I watch both of these shows faithfully but I really do not relate to it because none of stuff depicted in the shows would ever happen my life, mainly because I would never allow it.  I recently sat back and watched Tami from the Basketball Wives unleash on a woman for “talking about her” because well it is train wreck TV and I could not turn away!  After it was all over all I could say was really?  Did I just watch adult women consume themselves with what another woman has to say about her?  I could not relate to any aspect of this entire exchange.  Well after that I had to think that the anti-Basketball wives crowd may have a point.

Tia and Tamera’s show is just different and likely will never have the type of drama that unfolds on Real Housewives and Basketball Wives for several reasons.  For one, the show does not have wife tacked on to the title because their marriages do not define them or make them relevant.  They are both independent business women and I admire them for it.   Also, on their show we are watching relationships that began before the show and will continue after the cameras are turned off.  That is an element that will always make other reality shows fake to some degree.  Without these women being cast on the same reality show they would have never fostered any type of relationship and once the relationship became full of drama they would have never spoke again.  In reality, Kim would not have spoken to NeNe after the alleged assault.  Tami would not have traveled half way around the world with an enemy only to attack her in a club.   This creates the drama that we love and hate but at what cost?

I honestly hope that Tia and Tamera’s show does really well.  If it does it will show producers and networks that our community does not always need the drama to tune in.  The supporters of the drama filled shows including their stars argue that this is what the people want to see and anything less will not have viewers.  I really hope we prove them wrong! Shows like Basketball wives have their place because let’s face it; it does depict some African American women.  We all know an Evelyn or Nene but it does not show all of us! I hate to think that this is the image of African American women in media because that is not representative of me and majority of the African American women I interact with.  We should be concerned that this is the only image we are presenting to the rest of America.  It was not too long ago that the only image of African American women presented to mainstream media was the mammy character.  We have come a long way and we should continue to be concerned about the depiction of African American women.  A good balance is a great way to combat that.  We are not all “the angry black woman” and many of us can conduct ourselves out in public without breaking into a fight! Let’s have more shows that show that!   So with that said, I am excited about what Tia and Tamera’s show offers and hope that others really get behind the show and support it!

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I’m in Miami….

I met one of my favorite Reality TV stars and creators while in Miami last week, Shaunie from basketball wives! So we started the day off by walking the Miracle Mile (nothing like Chicago, do not be deceived) in the Coral Gables community.   Well this little strip is home to Evelyn’s shoe store!   I was not super impressed; I think camera lighting does wonders!  I will say the differences between the appearance on TV and in real life was not as dramatic as the Dash store, which we visited the day before in South Beach.  I think the Kardashian’s are filming the show at a fake more impressive “Dash Miami”. Anyway, while at Evelyn’s store, one of my friends recognized another patron as her daughter.  We left without buying anything and without taking any pictures inside either because a sign on the door stated “no pictures”.  I must admit I found that a little annoying but hey I suppose those working at the store find fans photos REALLY annoying.  I did take a picture of the outside of the store.





That teeny weeny sign to the left is Evelyn’s storefront.  Oh and yes that is a Supercuts two doors down…

So we headed to Aventura Mall in Miami after and while two of my friends were eating in Grand Lux they recognized Shaunie and her model boyfriend Marlon Yates in the booth behind them.   Later the two plopped right behind a few of my other friends in the food court.  Despite having a top reality show she was just sitting in the food court like any regular person.  We found out later that the Basketball Wives began filming the third season the night before.  We had a friend ask if we could take a picture she obliged and said he, meaning her adorable boy toy, would take the picture for us!  She said we were trying to get a picture of her looking a mess, but honestly she looked really pretty even without make up.  Seeing a Miami Reality TV star while we were there just made our trip!

Oh here are a few other things I enjoyed about Miami!

One of my boyfriend’s favorite movies is Bad Boys I and II. We stopped by the Historic Biltmore Hotel where a few of the scenes were filmed.  It was a beautiful hotel, and hopefully one day I will be able to afford to check in!

I loved all of the beautiful condos on South Beach!  If we stayed an extra day we were going to pose as perspective buyers and tour some of the condos.

Big Pink in Miami Beach was probably the most memorable restaurant we ate it during our visit.   Great prices and great food! I will definitely be back when I return to South Beach!

The fresh seafood! Calamari just does not taste the same when you are far from the ocean. I tried to order seafood for every meal in South Beach.

Inside Dash Miami in South Beach.

Great shopping area on South Beach.

Last but not least the beach.  I always love seeing blue water.  It is a far cry from the murky water at the beach in Galveston,Texas I traveled to as a kid.

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Ten Things I Learned from Reality TV

People often ask me how can I watch reality filth day in and day out?  As a law student I spend most of my day having my mind toyed with by the Socratic method.  When I get home I need a break from thinking and reality TV provides that it! Even during my mindless moments, a few good life lessons managed to seep through. Yes, I learned valuable lessons from reality TV! Although I do not think that was the intention of many of these show creators, I was able to come away with ten things worth sharing!

1. All that Glitters is not Gold

No other reality show, illustrates this better than the Real Housewives. Pick any location (besides Beverly Hills) and there are glaring examples of this.  These women are decked out in Gucci and Dolce. They drive Range Rovers and Porsches yet there are filing for bankruptcy or being evicted from the homes they rent. Come again?  All that glittery exterior has left their bank accounts empty.  Better yet they probably could not afford it to begin with.  For me this is what makes these shows hilarious!  Watching women, who want to be rich but really are not, work to put on a façade that they are, so that they can get on a TV show about rich women, and then really become rich is so entertaining.

2. Letting the world into your relationship is not a good idea

Some call this the curse of the reality show. No one knows this better than Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson.  After their very popular reality show Newlyweds the couple split.  The problem here was the world was able to be a fly on their wall during their first year of marriage and as the world will do, they criticized.   Letting the entire world into your relationship is probably not the best idea for a celebrity or even a regular Joe.   Socially networking can be the devil, just like a reality show.  We should be careful who we let in and more importantly keep some things private!

3. Money Can’t Buy You Class

Although she herself is guilty of many classless offenses, reality star Countess Luann said it best in her poorly sung song “Money Can’t Buy you Class”.  I guess I assumed that wealthy women went around saying “darrrrlllinnggg” and blowing air kisses on both cheeks and just being all around classy.  Well they do all of that but in reality it is a front!  These shows were suppose to show us how the other have lives and make us envious but many times the shows have done the exact opposite.  Clearly when some of these reality stars made their first million it was not accompanied with a book on etiquette!  As a reality show connoisseur I have witnessed physical altercations, verbal death matches and all out cattiness by so-called rich and classy women.   I have realized that rich and classy are not synonymous.  For one, I cannot imagine to many “classy” women participating in a reality TV show.  In the real world, these women are just like us…. maybe worse.

4. At 24 I am not ready to be a parent

Here recently I have been thoroughly entertained by the 16 and pregnant series and its spin off Teen Mom. For those of you under a rock, this show chronicles girls who become pregnant during their teenage years. From the “baby daddy drama” to just the financial aspects of raising a child at that age to struggling to continue their education, these young ladies deal with a lot!  Clearly I am well beyond being in their predicament but this show illustrates the selflessness a person should have before they have a child.  Some girls on the show step up and others do not.  Watching this made me realize something about myself.  I am just not willing to give up my freedom for diaper duty!  I may have to wait until I can afford a full time nanny.

5. Reality Fades but dumb is forever!

I have to say I questioned whether I was on the right career path when I found out how much Jersey’s Shore’s  Mike “The Situation” earned in 2010.  He made $5 million dollars just for hanging out at the beach and coming up with new lingo like “grenades” and “DTF”, all while I’m wasting away in law school.  After the cloud of envy disappeared I realized for the past few decades there have been many reality stars who rose to fame, made millions and are now appearing on a where are they now show.  Heidi and Spencer come to mind.  They blew all their money assuming that fickle America loved them enough to allow them to stay in the spotlight beyond fifteen minutes.   Americans tire of the same gimmicks so quickly!   Mike probably will not be able to raise his shirt to sell products in ten years. Forty-year-old abs just are not appealing.  So with said I think I stick with my education, it seems a little more reliable.

6. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

Break ups are hard for anyone but I am sure it is a lot harder when your ex is cast in a reality show just because of your relationship.  Shaunie O’Neal has received criticism for filling the cast of Basketball wives with women who like herself were no longer in relationships with basketball players.  Can you imagine your ex being offered a reality show just because of your previous relationship with them?  Yeah, neither could Dwight Howard.  He went to great lengths to prevent baby mama Royce Reed from using her new platform to bash him.   I can only imagine what Howard hoped to prevent her from saying, but in the end I think he made the right decision.  Their participation in the show is fueled by their disdain for groupies and cheating mates.  If their relationships ended peacefully I doubt they would have enough fuel to participate in this reality show.  So remember guys, be careful how you treat women because one day she may enact her revenge in a very public manner like facebook, twitter, or if she is lucky enough a reality show!

7. Don’t make someone a priority if they will only make you an option

We have all heard this saying before but there is no greater example then Holly Madison from the Girls Next Door.  The show documented her, and two other women’s relationship with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.  Despite these other two “options” Holly went on and on about getting married… to eight-year old Hef.  I enjoyed the show but I did find myself giving Holly the side eye.  She’s now living the life that she should have been living for the past five years and he recently became engaged to a young woman young enough to be his granddaughter.  At eighty I am wondering if he can even make it down the aisle.  Holly is of course pissed about the engagement but that is all on her! If he/she cannot make you their one and only then it is time to move on and fast!

8.     Don’t believe everything you see!

Clearly every reality show is not completely based in reality.  For me this is a small fact that does not take away from the entertainment value of the shows.  Shows like the Hills would have been just as great as a scripted series.  Even still I would be a fool to believe that everything I see played out in my favorite reality shows was not the result of some prodding and scripting.  I use the same level of healthy skepticism in my every day life.   My friends and family call me the google queen and with google literally at my fingertips with my iPhone I make sure to check any and everything.  In the information age there is no reason not to!

9. Importance of Family

Whether you hate them or love them, you have to admit the Kardashians understand this better than anyone! Kim Kardashain skyrocketed to fame because of a little video featuring her and former boyfriend Ray-J.   Not long after that she brought the rest of her family in on the fun with the start of Keeping up with Kardashians. Now every Kardashian is dabbling in something within the entertainment business.  They even tried to get the youngest member of the family, 1 year old Mason, paid for appearing on their reality shows.  Those who will admit to watching their reality shows (raises hand slowly) will tell you that there is usually a coming together family moment, scripted I am sure, at the end of each episode reminiscent of old school family sitcoms.  Many attack them for being fame whores, which they of course are but I will say I like that they are fame whoring together and sharing the wealth!

10.  Know yourself

At the end of a lot of reality shows they get together and have a “reunion show” where they go over all the drama from the season.  There is always that one cast member who is shocked about how they were portrayed during the season.  They generally blame it on editing, as if editing can put words in their mouths.  Although I would never go on a reality show I think anyone who is considering opening their home to cameras should do some self-reflection because they may not like what they see.   As for me, I realize I talk a lot (among other things) but I have embraced it!  Some may find it annoying while others realize there will never be a quiet or dull moment with me. J   Self-reflection is good for everyone! Take some time to get to know yourself and embrace it.

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