Last week, I wrote an article proclaiming the “outstanding” television drama,“Basketball Wives,” to be the “New Jerry Springer Show.” Some people didn’t quite see where the analogy fit, but since that time, a few sites — including The Grio — have seen the light and run similar pieces, so I must be on to something.
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To further prove my case, I thought I’d toss together an admittedly sarcastic list of things that “Basketball Wives” has in common with the “Jerry Springer Show”:
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1) They both tend to grab the most ignorant Black people they can find and put them on TV: I have discussed this with friends, and we are firmly convinced that the women on the show “Basketball Wives” are from another planet. Few women I know can fight that well in high heels, while keeping their weaves in place — all at the same time. Besides that, aren’t these women in their 30s? I don’t even know 30-something-year-old dudes who like to brawl that much.
2) It’s the only place where you can knock someone’s teeth out and not get arrested for it: “Basketball Wives” should consider cutting to the chase and rebranding themselves for either mud wrestling or pay-per-view street fighting. The idea that the producers would get angry at Jennifer Williams for filing charges after being slapped clearly shows that they are fully invested in their fantasy world. Personally, I’m wondering if there will be an episode where one of the women pulls a gun out from under her dress – I’m sure that one will be a ratings bonanza, since we haven’t seen this much beef unfold in the media since Biggie and Tupac.
3) The creator of the show pretends to be the mediator — when she is actually the instigator: Shaunie O’Neal has been laughing all the way to the bank, after realizing how profitable it can be to stir things up among her less intelligent girlfriends. While maintaining a carefully packaged “who-me?” attitude, Shaunie has done almost nothing to slow the violence that turns her show into the “Thrilla In Manila.” In fact, Shaunie reminds me of the CIA operative who puts kilos of crack and a 1,000 machine guns in a Black neighborhood and then wonders why Black men are killing one another.
4) You are only allowed on the show if you are either a dysfunctional person or have a dysfunctional relationship: While I am admittedly critical of all the beautiful brawlers who make their living on the show, I feel sorry for them. As they teach young women how to bully one another, it’s clear that they’ve been bullied themselves. Evelyn Lozada, the grown-up woman who somehow felt that it made sense to climb on top of a table so she could punch a woman who’d done nothing to her, should be the first of these women to make an appearance with Dr. Phil. I’d gladly make a contribution to her therapy.
5) Everyone complains that the show is trashy, but they keep watching it anyway: You see, “Basketball Wives” has you hoodwinked. You complain about the violence, talk about the influence that it has on young people, express disgust about how it perpetuates negative stereotypes about Black women, but you just keep watching. Shaunie O’Neal and her ghetto minions have figured out a simple formula: Sex and violence leads to ratings and money. That’s why, no matter how hard I work as a college professor, I will never make as much money as I would if I were the baby mama of an NBA player willing to embarrass herself for money.
Without question, “BBW” has become the new “Jerry Springer Show.” Instead of chanting “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” when a fight starts, we can chant Shaunie’s name instead. When it comes to trashy programming of the 21st century, VH1 has it locked, and we are all part of the problem.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.