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!